Saturday in the Studio April 6, 2019

The weather is stellar today at the Cove. I can’t believe this is the same farm that was bare trees and mud just a month ago. My onions are up, the garlic is growing, and I even have a few small lettuce plants up. It’s a good thing I farm, because this wasn’t my week in the Studio. I broke the drum carder and hand carders. They’re at the carpenter’s.So, this week you’ll have to just grab a mug of your favorite beverage (mine is coffee) and enjoy a tour of the Kind Fibers sanctuary.I did complete two shawl. The details are in the video.https://youtu.be/rya8u8EfDooUntil next time,Craft No Harm,Moriah and the flock

Spring is here! Saturday in the Studio: 3/29/19

It’s spring! It’s spring! It’s spring! Yep. I’m excited. I know it actually began on the 20th, but spring plowing, mild temperatures, and blossoming fruit trees all showed up this past week. I’ve had a lovely week working in the field, in the greenhouse, and of course the fiber studio. I’m actually writing this early, so it’s going to seem like a light week. However, even though this is still going out a the usual time it’s only been four days since my last post. I’ve been a busy bee!

On the Wheel

Iris was the main project on the wheel this week. I spun up 325 yards of heavy woolen from his fleece. That’s about a third of the wool. His fleece should yield around 950 yards. I think that’s more than sufficient for a sweater. Since there is so much I might do a shawl as well. However, this spinning project is going into the casual category from here on out. I have way too much to get done, and with adding another festival to the event schedule this year I need to focus on work. So, Iris is going to be only one spinning session a week until he’s done.

I also did some quick spinning this week. This fun lace/sock yarn is actually four mini hanks. I have not measured the yardage out yet because I haven’t washed them yet. They’ll go in the Etsy shop this week as a test product for a possible new line – Stash Builders.

Since my current knitting project is finished I also squeezed in some spinning for a new shawl project. I’m not sure what pattern I’ll do – as usual – but I do have some basic ideas about the color. This is wool from four different Jacob sheep. I was in the studio matching fleeces to blend the colors since Jacob has such variations in their fleece color. I suddenly realized that all four animals were related through the same foundation sire. I’m thinking about calling this project “All in the Family”. It’s a woolen Navajo ply in a dk weight. There is a little variation in weight since the body of the shawl will be worked closer in gauge and then open up into lace. I’d like to use the same size 8 needles for the entire project. Therefore I began my spin with a heavy DK and ended up in a weight closer to regular sock yarn.

That brings up an interesting topic. Many knitters, even those who spin, either purchase or produce yarn without an end goal in sight. I know I do sometimes still. In the past I just sat at the wheel to spin. Now I spin or purchase yarn with a very specific goal in mind. Sure, I don’t always know exactly the lace patterns or body style, or all the design elements, but I do have an idea in mind. I pulled out all my yarns last week and took inventory. My stash includes yarns I created almost ten years ago. They’re still just sitting there. Something about that feels wrong. Like they’re just stuck in limbo. So, after this shawl I’m laying off the spinning for a while other than custom work (and Iris) and concentrating on knitting and weaving what’s already in the studio. I’m stash busting!

On the Needles

I finished up the silk shawl I cast on last Friday. I really wanted to give up several times. I had to frog it twice! I just kept dropping stitches in the body. I realized my attitude towards this yarn was not right. It sticks to my hand, it’s slippery, and even on the wood needles I have to really concentrate on each stitch. With all the work piling up for spring planting I just wanted something easy. Then I realized something – my attitude dishonored not only myself and the caterpillars that made the silk, it dishonored the person that eventually will wear it. As soon as I realized that I ripped it out a third time, got my heart right, and started again. Guess what? I stopped dropping stitches. I stopped struggling with the beading, and I completed the shawl in less than eight hours – with beads. I let go of the fact that I’m not pleased with my first attempt of dying it. I let go of my ego. I had a tangible reminder that even though something doesn’t start easily, or seemed “messed up” doesn’t mean that’s the end of the story. A simple change of heart. A simple shift to focusing on love and compassion and the entire experience changed. I don’t know who will eventually wear this shawl. But I know it’s going to be someone special, maybe even someone who can relate to the process and story behind this shawl. No matter though. I needed the reminder, especially right before busy season. So – stranger who will grace my work – thank you.

In the Dye Pot

It’s empty. Come back next week 🙂

On the Loom

I finished up the last batt this week for the next meditation mat. I plan to warp Monday! I’m so excited to get back to weaving.

Around the Farm

Shearing is scheduled for the first week in April! YEAH!!!! My babies are so wooly I’m not sure how much longer they’ll fit through the barn door! Due to a major shearing accident last year I’ve been banned from the shearing shed. The cartilage on the left side of my ribcage was fractured along with two ribs when Andromeda tossed me into a support post and the wall. My kidney was injured as well. It’s been seven months and my kidney is finally healed. I still have some issues with my ribcage and back. So, I’m actually hiring another shepherd to do the shearing this year. I’ve always prided my brand on nick free shearing. I’ve watched this shearer in action before and he’s very gentle and compassionate. He’ll cut the wool before he’ll cut the sheep so I’m happy. The nice thing – I get to make a video this year AND not be the bad guy!

We are still dealing with downed fences at Serenity from the flood and getting the property back in shape. The front field was plowed this week. I’m currently cleaning cotton seed! That’s right. I’m expanding into cotton. It will be almost a year before it’s ready to harvest, hand clean, and spin. But it’s coming. I was able to get Levant cotton. It’s an heirloom variety and I’ll be able to keep the seed from year to year. This is something I’ve wanted for YEARS. It’s here. Finally. And the timing is perfect.

If you’d enjoy watching the video for this week please check out

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=teo8JHLpUU4

That’s it for this week. Happy Spring.

Until next time,

In all you do

Craft No Harm,

Moriah and the Flock

Saturday in the Studio 03/23/2019

I’m finally moved into the new Studio and more importantly I’m well again. This past six months has been intense. However, my workspace is up and going and I’ve been busy the past two weeks in the wool room. I had planned to revamp the blog and brand in January, but let’s just say life happened. So, along with the rebirth of spring, I’m doing a rebirth of the blog.

On the Wheel

Currently my darling boy Black Iris’ fleece in on the wheel.

As you can see, He’s not so black anymore! This is his gorgeous fall 2018 fleece. It’s short because it’s only four months worth of growth. So, I’m doing a traditional woolen long draw. I’m planning on a new sweater. I haven’t picked out a pattern yet. I’m thinking something with lace on the bottom. So, when I cast on I’ll do a provisional cast on so later I can either bind off or go fancy.

I’m spinning it in nearly a worsted weight two ply yarn. I have a total of three pounds. I hope to get most of it spun this week, but it might take until the end of the month to finish.

In the Dye pot

It’s been a busy two weeks with dying wool. Everything was done in the oven on low temps in small exhaust baths. I’m super happy with the way it all turned out. Locks go in the shop on Wednesday. And I have plenty of not so perfect locks to make art batts. All the dyeing was done with Rit this time due to a generous trash to treasure exchange!

On the Needles

I’m making socks! This week saw a pair of socks casts on and completed. They are Icelandic that my friend Kate spun up. The yarn is THREE PLY lace. I repeat. THREE PLY lace. The girl has some made skills when it comes to spinning lace. She also allowed little puffs in here and there so it has some light texture.

The pattern is Stacey Trock’s Easy Pease Socks. If you haven’t checked out Stacey or her patterns – do it. I LOVE the way this pattern is written. It’s like having a friend teach you how to knit socks. This is the best intro sock pattern I’ve found, and it fits my feet – my fat, flat, extra wide with no heel Cave Woman feet – and daintier peds, too. I was able to crank these out in one day.

In addition to the socks I cast on a new prayer shawl. I spun this yarn in 2012. It was the first time I attempted silk, or dying. I have never done anything with it mostly because of the color. However, I plan to redye the entire project after I’m done knitting. Right now I’m just doing the body and haven’t really picked out what lace I want to do. I do know it’s going to be a SMALL shawl/ collar type piece. I’m also adding some beading.

On the Loom

My loom has been quiet for months now. I think she’s lonely. She calls to me. I moved her in front of the window. The warp for new prayer mats are ready. With any luck this week will be quiet and I’ll at least get the warping done. I’m still thinking for a name for my loom. So far I haven’t found anything for her quiet dignity.

News

I now have a YouTube channel.

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCq0hfI4MOmsS1mzMh9gkUqw

If you enjoy it, please like and subscribe. Yep. That’s me.

Until next time,

Craft no Harm

Moriah and the flock

Winding up Wednesday: My Scrappy Blanket Vest (Stash Busting!)

I’ve managed to whittle down my stash to just a few yarn I really love and have project appropriate amounts of in stock.

I love to snuggle up in a blanket on cool mornings while I sip my coffee and write or on summer evenings while sipping tea on the porch listening to the crickets. I have a small purple blanket I often use for this purpose. However, I’ve been wanting something heavier, sheepier, something I can wear while pouring that second cup of coffee or the walk back to my house from Mom’s.

I also have a tote of scrap yarns from spinning tests, left over projects, and that ever present “what was I thinking” yarn. Since I’m in need of a serious stash busting and I want a specific item I decided to put the two together with my own variation of the sweater vest I knitted up a few months ago.

I’ve managed to whittle down my stash to just a few yarn I really love and have project appropriate amounts of in stock.

To keep my yarn thickness consistent I held multiple strands together. At first every time I changed yarn I was dropping the yarn, picking up the next strand, and weaving in as I went. That got to be too much work. Enter the magic knot. It’s not something I would use on my shawls or socks, but for this project it’s perfect.

I still have a ways to go on my shawl blanket. But it should be done in the next week or two. I’m so looking forward to snuggling up in it.

Until next time,

Get creative, bust those stashes, and

Craft No Harm,

Moriah

PS. I’d love to see some other stash busting, so feel free to post in the comments!

Winding Up Wednesday: Back in the Saddle

It feels so good to be over my aching back and up to spinning and knitting. Shearing season has started and I’m very excited about this year’s fleeces. So, without further adu, let’s jump into what I’ve been up to this past week!

Off The Wheel

I’m working on Charlemagne’s fleece. I’ve gotten his kempy britches all spun up into a three ply. For britch it’s not THAT bad. I’ve spun it in the grease, and just as it came off him – freckles, stains, and all. I ended up with right at a thousand yards.

I’ve also spun up a few fleece samples from this year’s shearing so far. Lilly has given us a beautiful fleece. It’s pretty dirty, and the spine fleece is worthless due to her being so short, but the dominant fleece from the sides is lovely.

Minerva is my surprise fleece star this year. She’s a whopping thirty five pounds after shearing and gave us a pound of Smokey black and silver wool. I was not expecting this at all. Her texture is similar to her grandfather’s Charlemagne’s, but she inherited the Merino softness from her grandmother Buttercup. I’ll be spinning this myself and then putting it in the shop. It is pretty high in vm, and it’s going to nep in a drum carder. I’m looking forward to her fleeces in years to come as she lightens up. She’s SO PRETTY!

On the Wheel

Charlemange’s 2016 dominant fleece in on the wheel currently. I’m working on a two ply light fingering weight yarn. It’s mostly white, but I’m allowing the dark bits just to sit in wherever they pop up. With all the bamboo sprouting I’m going to test some and maybe dye it a turkey red. That should knit up nicely. I’ve just washed it in hot water at 165 degrees and nothing else. I seem to be anti washing lately… except for Lilly’s fleece.

On the Needles

I ended up with five skeins of Charlemagne’s britch yarn. Each skein is about two hundred fifty yards. So, I’m making a wrap sweater for this spring and next fall. Not only did I spin it in the grease, I decided to be crazy and knit it in the grease. I washed up a swatch sample, counted, and now I’m knitting. It’s really kind of gross, but at the same time enjoyable. My hands are getting very soft, too. It squeaks on the metal needles. I think next time I decide to do something like this I’ll soak the fleece in cold water first. Grease minus dirt and a little less smell sounds good.

I also made a new shawl this past week. It’s Wendy’s Fern Shawl off of Ravelry. Great pattern, totally free. I used this green Romney yarn I made years ago when I was first learning to spin and dye. The spinning, or I should say plying isn’t my best. I dyed it with copper pennies and carrot tops with a splash of spinach. It’s bright. I think I may over dye with walnuts in a gradient. Or just leave it until this fall and see if someone picks it up at a festival. Either way, it was a pleasure to make at each step.

On the Sheep

I managed to shear Lilly, Minerva, and Night this past week. I’m hoping to shear Daisy this coming week. Lilly was pretty chill by the end of the process. She stomped her foot more than once, but as soon as the grain came out all was forgiven. Minerva left me with a swollen eye. Yep. That’s right. A thirty five pound ewe lamb decked me. Her Aunt Dagney would have been proud. I was dreading shearing Night. She’s a bit off, and frankly a little crazy. But she was actually very well behaved. She actually is friendlier with me now. I guess it was bonding time? Who knows. Sheep are funny that way.

Until next time,

Craft No Harm,

Moriah

 

 

 

 

Sunday’s Sassy Stitch and Spin: Tramp Cat and Mittens 

*This post was started weeks ago, but due to technical difficulties it’s just now getting finished and posted. Now to figure out how to replace a charging port…

I am blessed with three good barn cats. They do their job and are sociable with people as well as the sheep. I fact, they often nap with the ewes and out tom Clive loves to go out to the big field with the flock on a sunny day. So, with the cold weather we’ve kept them in carriers in the house at night. The strange thing: we’ve heard a lot of bumps under the house.

Sophie Ann LaClaire is a hybrid someone put out. As far as she’s concerned we’re BFFs.

Now, bumps under the house are normal when Otis, the resident possum, is doing his cat impression at night. He and Sophie the cat are besties. But this is something larger, and well, doesn’t smell like Otis. All the critters have been on edge and I’ve been bracing myself, concerned the foxes had made a new den. But no. It’s a big orange cat tramping around, looking for food. Now that the mystery is solved I can rest a little netter and concentrate on my night knitting.

Cloe. When it’s super cold I let her sleep on the foot of the bed… where she actually stays.

On the Wheel

My piles of Romney fleeces are spinning up nicely. Spinning in the grease means no prep time. Usually I spin up a pound of prepared with plying included in fourteen to fifteen hours (and I’ve done it in a single insane day). When I spin in the grease my average is half a pound in eighteen hours. However, it usually takes me about twice that long to really prep the fibers. So, with the massive cold front still clinging to the country, it’s enjoyable to not scour.

Off the wheel

I completed my mitten spinning! I wasn’t sure about mixing the courser Targhee and Jacob wool with my gorgeous fawn alpaca. But I’m truly pleased. The alpaca really softened up what is traditionally sock yarn in my house.I had planned to felt, but it’s thick, warm, and comfortable just like it is.

Since the mitten yarn came out so nice I dug out the coveted Hopkins fluff left over from combing on my viking combs. Most people toss it, but, well, that’s not my style. I picked through it to get out the neps and noils, then got busy with the hand carders. I’m even more pleased with the softness of this yarn. I may snag Go Lightly’s fleece this year from my neighbor. He’s Hopkins’s son and the fleece is very similar. In short, I want to reproduce this blend for both color and texture.

On the Needles

I’m finishing up my mittens. Honestly, I’m not sure what to knit next. I know I’ll need a sweater next year, and maybe a hooded cowl, but otherwise the household is set on knit wear for a few years barring mice and moths. And, I’ve got to concentrate on spinning and weaving along with up coming farm work for spring.

Off the Needles

I made two new hats for chores. They’re leftovers from other past projects. I didn’t use a pattern. Both are knitted flat and then stitched up the side. My ears are much happier!

Out of the Pot

Last autumn when it was Kavass making season I tried dyeing with beets. I crave a red dye that’s deep and substantial. However, beets are not a color fast dye. So now I have a three pound Jacob fleece with a weird yellowish cast coupled with pink streaks. Not good.

Last week I pulled out my dye pot and cherry koolaid. Can I just say “Yummy”? I’m calling it Cherry Cola Float. The red with hints of the Jacob browns with just hints of pinks and whites is so lovely. With the puni style rolags I added a touch of firestar. When I’m done working up this batch they’ll being the Etsy shop. I’m thinking next is green, or yellow. I feel a soda themed color way collection coming on!

Weaving

My little wrap is off the loom.

Even though it’s off the loom, the work isn’t over.

I’m warping for a double width throw blanket. Frankly, I AM NERVOUS. This is my first time using only my best handspun to double width. But hey, slow and steady wins the race, and that’s my plan.

Hopefully my technical issues are resolved.

Until next time,

Craft no harm,

Moriah

Winding up Wednesday: The “Trash” Fleece

Digital Camera

The problem with perfect fleeces or “Did you have to tell me that?”

If you’ve been following this blog then you know I have a policy of no fleece left behind. Simply stated there are no trash fleeces in my world. However, like so many sectors of Western culture, wool processing has become severely detached from reality.  There’s an unvoiced expectation that raw fleeces are fluffy, free from vegetable matter, long in staple legnth, and cheap. Any other fleece is simply unworkable and unworthy. This puts pressure on both the producer and the sheep. Remember the sheep?  You know, those cute prey animals we’ve bred to produce wool, some to the point of wool blindness? Those darling lambs who love nothing more than to play in brambles and don’t mind sleeping in their own berries? Those cuddle bugs that burp fermented grass and smell, well, like a barnyard? Yep, they’re pretty gross when it comes to personal hygiene.

The reality of keeping sheep coated, changing those coats four times a year, and acting in best interest of the sheep is more complex. Have you ever tried to dress a toddler that doesn’t want to be dressed? Now imagine that toddler is the same weight as you, or more. Ever dressed a two hundred pound toddler? I have. It’s not exactly easy. Then there’s the ethical considerations of adding weight and heat to an animal in the summer along with increased risk of injury if the coat fails (fancy a broken leg anyone?). Or, you can just leave the sheep on pasture away from the hay and hope they aren’t eaten or just horrifically mauled. So, that leaves the majority of fleeces with higher vm than most drum carders can handle with just a pass or two.

What to do!

Grab a lock of your fleece and a hand carder, or a dog slicker if you’re starting out.

Digital Camera

Place the carder on your lap.

Digital Camera

Now it’s just like brushing hair. Start at the tips, and work up.

Digital Camera

When you get past the middle, turn the lock around and do the same on that end.

Digital Camera

Repeat.

Or watch me do it on YouTube for a bit more details:

*Yes, there are cats in the house since it’s extremely cold. Lily’s fleece is being used for personal garments, so I’m not concerned about contamination. My studio is animal free!

That’s it?

That’s it. Once you’ve done every lock your fleece is ready to card or spin from the fold. You’ll loose some wool, but if you’re paying a fraction of the cost, or nothing, it’s worth it. I’ve done this on fleeces less than two inches in staple length. Yes, there were a few sailor impressions along the way, but it was worth the time and skint knuckle. Here’s a pro tip: don’t attempt this before coffee or four a.m.

20171213_123302~2-1260054861..jpg
This is the final results from using this method then spinning in the cloud.

And that’s it for this Wednesday! Don’t be afraid of those lower end fleeces with real potential. A little work, a little patience, and you’ll be amazed what you end up with!

Until next time,

In all you do, craft no harm.

Moriah