Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No Knitting, No Kidding

Forgive me, but I'm going to go a bit off-topic in this post. I have to share some great photos of not knitting and not yarn.

We had a good visit with my parents this weekend. Highlights include finding an estate sale loaded with neat stuff (purchases were made) and hiking in Carter Caves State Park. Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet Grace this time around, but we'll be back.

The estate sale...I got an awesome brown ware crock for $15! It's about 8" high and in nearly perfect condition. There's a small chip on the rim, but it's so smooth that I figure it's been there for years. A cool hand loomed rag rug and a box full of vintage maps from the 1900s-30s also came home with me. But the best part of the sale was a poem we found scrawled inside a very old musty, moldy book:
Love is such a simple thing
It will flower like a blossom
If you want your finger bit
Poke it at a possum.
It's not as good as Zack's "Laws of Life", but has a certain quality about it. We laughed like hell!

The Dogwood Arts and Crafts Festival...total bummer. We had to pay to get in. Not much, just $4 each. It took us about 20 minutes to walk through. Quite a few of the booths were empty and many booths had very similar offerings. I don't want to offend anyone, but I was pretty disappointed. I've been to Tamarack, WV and that's what I was kind of expecting, especially since tickets were available through ticketmaster. However, there were some artists that had beautiful things. I especially liked the demo by the glass bead maker. She was very good and fun to watch. She was the only one actually demonstating her art.

Hiking at Carter Caves...awesome! The wild flowers were out in full force. After a while we almost became numb due to flower overload. The trilliums rocked! It's like they were on steriods. There are more photos in my flickr album. We trekked about 3.5 miles or so.

Zack's hand shows how large the leaves are. Don't worry, he's not going to pick it!

I don't know what these are, but they are pretty.

More trilliums...trust me, there were thousands!

One of many caves

A natural bridge...if you look closely you can see Zack climbing up the dirt.

Someone who just had lunch...or breakfast.

I hated taking this photo. The gap was narrow and very deep.

Fiddle head ferns.

It was a good visit, but I wish we had another day or two.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Not much time to post. Enjoy the flowers. It's dogwood season in southern Ohio (not where I live, but where I happen to be at the moment.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Bit of Show and Tell

I had a particularly rotten yesterday, which escalated into an unexpected trip to the doctor's office. All is well now, but there was some rupturing of a female kind that nearly did me in. It hurt so much that I couldn't knit or spin...and how cruel is that when THIS came in the mail???
It's 8 ounces of 100% merino top from Creatively Dyed Yarn. (Check out her store, she has lovely stuff!) It's as pretty in person as it is in the photo. Just looking at it (and petting it...trying not to drool on it) really helped me through my crappy day. I'll spin it up as soon as I get the shetland (Mama C) off my bobbins. I've heard tell that one can never have too many bobbins. I'm beginning to believe that!

Roadtrip weekend!
Destination - Chesapeake, OH (just across the river from Huntington, WV) Lots going on there this weekend--craft fair at Big Sandy, jazz concert at Pullman Square and an organ recital at the Methodist Church. We're planning on squeezing in hiking and a bit of geocaching. Maybe I'll even meet GoodnessGraciousWV! Oh the possibilities are endless!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Laws of Life, a Poem

I'm pretty proud of Zack today. His poem, "Laws of Life", was one of three essays selected to represent his middle school in a county-wide writing competition. I think he did a great job!

Laws of Life
by Zack

We have enough laws
Written in the books.
We all must follow them,
Or we’d be nothing but crooks.

But we all have laws
In our own hearts,
That make us better people,
But these laws aren’t on the charts.

The laws are how we live our lives.
They keep us happy, safe and warm.
We don’t know what makes us follow them,
But they keep us out of harm.

These are called the Laws of Life.
They’re around us every day.
When you’re kind to friends and neighbors,
You’re using them in every way.
----Copyright 2008 Zack

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Photos for a Saturday Night

It just occurred to me that I posted a photo of the rainbow fleece but not the finished yarn. I guess I got ahead of myself. Or it could be that I have severe lack of focus! Oh look...new fleece!


Navaho plied so the colors will transition from red-orange-yellow-green-blue-violet

Friday, April 11, 2008

Yes sir, yes sir! Three bags full!

I had every intention of posting these photos earlier this week. Didn't happen. It's been a bear of a week. Rather than bore you with a monologue of everything I've dealt with, I'll just post photos of fiber and finished yarn. Much better!!

I fluffed and aired out the fleece. A huge improvement from when I purchased it. I had that "what have I done??" feeling as I opened the bags when I got home. The fleece was damp and just didn't look good. (Damp because of all the stinkin' rain we had last week!)

Ok, this is the Bag 1, Mr. Crete. He's a white llama with tan spots. He is really about half and half. His fleece is quite long and curly. There's a lot of fiber in this bag. Maybe 3 pounds or more. He was shorn last Friday.
Close up of Mr. Crete. YUM! So soft. This is the fleece that did me in. This is from "Just Call Me Black", who is a black male alpaca. He is jet black and so soft. The brown on the fleece is dust. Dude really liked to roll in the dirt. Last summer was so dry that it's no wonder he was really dusty down deep. There are about 2 1/2 pounds in this bag. Isn't he glossy?Firefly, a male alpaca, donated this bag. This is from last year's shearing so I got a pretty good deal on it. Since it was dry and didn't need any airing out, I decided to spin a bit of this straight from the locks. I grabbed a handful out of the bag and set about to pick out the vegetable matter (VM). That was not an easy task, as the VM is about the same color as the fiber. I was able to shake soem of it loose, but the smaller bits required a tweezer.

After I got it fairly clean, I washed it. I put the fleece in a colander and set the colander in a sink full of room temperature water. I let it soak for about 15 minutes, then changed the water and soaked it again. I did this about 4 or 5 times, until the water was relatively clean. For the last soak, I used a little dab of wool wash to make it smell a little less like a dusty alpaca. I was very careful not to agitate the fiber or run water directly on it.
I set it out in the sun to dry. Every so often I would fluff and pick and turn the fleece. It didn't take too terribly long to dry.

Now for the fun part--spinning! I didn't comb the fleece or do any additional preparation. I just spun "woolen" directly from the fluff of fleece. It was a bit slow because I was still picking VM as I was spinning. I had to draft with my left hand in front, and in my right hand I held a tweezer to pick the VM while fluffing the fiber for drafting. I tried to keep it fairly thin, but it was a bit tricky. I think this fleece might be the entire alpaca rather than just the blanket. There were quite a bit of shorter, or second cuts that slowed me down.
I plied the yarn and ended up with an ounce of pure alpaca softness! I particularly like the light and dark. The color is a rich caramel with a touch of vanilla streaks. It's totally yummy. Up next: a swatch knitted from this alpaca sample.

After that: spinning a carded batch of alpaca (I bought a set of antique carders off ebay...$10! Woo hoo!)

The weather promises to be completely sucky this weekend so I can't wash the rest of the fleece. It's only supposed to get into the low 50s tomorrow and even colder on Sunday. How, pray tell, can we go from 80 degrees one day to a chance of SNOW (yes, snow!) showers 2 days later? I'm glad I'm not one of those sorry suckers who planted pretty spring flowers last weekend. Will they never learn? I guess memories fade in the presence of trays of impatiens, petunias and marigolds. Fools. They'll be lucky if they don't end up with a garden of ectoplasmicky muck by Monday. (Similar to what you find in the veggie drawer of the fridge when you forget about the lettuce you bought a couple weeks ago...nasty!)

I guess this means I don't have to mow the lawn. A good weekend for dyeing!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Sweney's Alpaca Farm

Every now and then Craigslist coughs up something really interesting and unique. On a wild hair I did a search on the word "fiber" and came across an add for alpaca and llama shearing. What are the odds? I called the farm and found out that she's also selling alpaca and llama fiber. I got directions, met a friend for breakfast and then we headed to Dickson, Tennessee.

We got lost.

Dickson isn't a very big town and I thought I had committed the directions to memory. Nope. I made a bunch of phone calls to people who I thought would be sitting at a computer and finally got in touch with my 11 year old nephew (who lives in Michigan). He Googled it for me and was able to get me directions.

We were amazed at the amount of mud and poo.

Also amazing were the animals. We were able to walk among the llamas and alpacas as they were waiting for shearing. Enough with the words...the photos are better.

Could they be any cuter? But the bigger question is "what did I buy?" I got a bag of jet black alpaca, a bag of cinnamon alpaca and a bag of caramel and white llama. The black alpaca is to die for! I've spun up a little bit of the cinnamon alpaca and it's so incredibly soft. As I wash, pick and spin, I'll post more photos and info.