Friday, April 27, 2012

Spinning Beaded Yarn With A Drop Spindle

 Two weeks ago I stopped into a local fiber Mill to check out the set-up and see how they processed their fiber. I was planning on placing a wholesale order with them and since I was in the area I figured it would be nice to check-out the mill. It is always fascinating to see the workings of a fiber mill. The amount of fiber they move through on a regular basis is simply amazing! While there I purchase a little bag of felting fiber. The staple length was long enough that I was able to card it up into rolags for spinning. I only had one color that   
I could not use. This one was set aside for needle felting, or perhaps for making felted soap.

 For quite awhile now i have been wanting to try my handat spinning beaded yarn. I did a search online to study various methods of bead spinning. Everything I read was tailored to spinning beaded yarn on a spinning wheel. But I figured with a little finagling I could probably make one or more of the techniques work on a drop spindle. I picked the method that seemed easiest for using with a drop spindle. First I strung a small handful of 6/0 seed beads onto a spool of cotton quilting thread. The thread was going to be used as the core of my yarn. I set the spool of thread on my lap, picked up one of the rolags and began to spin, using the thread as my core. Every 10-12 inches I would pause in my spinning and slide a bead up the thread to the join where my rolag was attached, and then continue spinning. I'll have to include a photo of this in my next post concerning this yarn. 
 At the time of taking this pictures I had spun about two roalgs worth of Romney. I added that to the beginning of my yarn for another lighter color in the mix.

I am VERY excited to see how this yarn turns out! Seeing as this is a new technique for me, and that there was no beading directions for the drop spindle, I'm kind of winging it. and seeing what happens.. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. I am not sure if I am going to bead approximately half of my fiber and then ply my two ends together, or if I'll bead it all and ply it together, or bead it all and ply it with something else. I'll keep you posted!

Right now I am on a road trip, headed out of state to help our friends with the children while they are at a conference. Thanks to my new notebook, I am able to blog as we drive. Blogging on-the-go is a new experience for me, I find I am enjoying it. 

Any new techniques or tips you have learned recently? Be it spinning, knitting, crochet, or sewing....I would love to hear about it!
That's all for now. Take care my friends, and I'll be back with you soon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring: Part 1

This year spring arrived early because of our bout of warm weather a month ago. In between we have had some cold days, but overall it has been very spring-like and altogether lovely. It has been nice enjoying such a lengthy, drawn-out spring. 

The pictures in this past were taken over a couple weeks, going from oldest to newest. I was on my way back across the state and everything was beginning to burst into bloom. There were photo opportunities everywhere, but I was on a schedule and could not stop very often. However little unexpected chances arose, such as these gorgeous flowering trees in the walkway by the music store.

About a week ago I started working on the raspberry patch. Because of the early warm weather the weeds have gotten a wonderful jump, thus it was not a pretty sight that met my eyes the first time I went out there. We have clay, and in-between rains the ground gets as hard as rock. So after a rainfall, and as soon as the slippery, clumping clay is remotely workable, it is best to rush out and get things done before the crazy winds on our hill dry the ground back out. Sometimes if we do not have wind the ground will stay soft longer.
I did some weeding, raked away a great deal of dead rubbish from last fall and then called it quits because I was in need of thick gloves before I pruned. I came back a few days later with two helpers and got more weeding and raking done, as well as pruned back dead  and/or wild growth. The patch is not quite ship-shape. But it is looking pruned and respectable. Every time I scoop the boys beans I spread a bucketful or two around the base of the raspberry canes. Alpaca beans are mild enough that you can use them straight in your garden. There is normally some straw interspersed with the beans, but it will help keep down the weeds and eventually decompose and add nutrients to the soil.

Crabapple tree

Apple tree.
Maple tree.

The leaves are coming on ever so slowly, but each week the hazy green in the distance deepens and the woods look fuller. The field behind us has been planted already. Corn. Not at all a happy thing for me, as well as other members of our family. We were never allergic to corn, but something about this new GMO corn is not good for our allergies. Lets just say for about a month and a half some of us can not even go outdoors comfortably, nor have the windows open in the house. Its a relief when we can get away from the corn and are able to breathe without sneezing constantly or having running eyes.

The Applemint has spread and is doing nicely. It is almost impossible to eradicate it, (short of a huge excavation and some sort of poison I suppose!) so everywhere we have been it has done nicely. But here with all this lovely(?) clay, it grows huge and happy. It is nice for tea, however we haven't dried a whole lot of it in recent years. Though I do believe I will try drying a bunch of it this summer. My Mother and my sister-in-law both make soap and it would make a nice add-in to certain scents.

Windfall & Mounty
And now on to the animals on the farm! The alpacas are doing well, there have been some temporary modifications to their living arrangements.....

.......And for a while there they were not sure how they felt about it.  But now everyone is settling in nicely and getting used to the change. Meet our newest members.....

.......Guinea Hens!

The ladies are about 6 months old. We purchased them from my Aunt. Due to her other animals they were not very compatible on her farm. Her poor bulldog pup had to be on a leash and was getting chubby from lack of exercise. Not to mention they can be a little noisy when alarmed.
But so far we've not had any trouble with them. They have to be kept enclosed for awhile, so they get used to their new home and do not try running off. They are all just starting to lay, and we get four or five eggs every day. It is a nice steady amount. Not enough to give eggs away very often, but also not so many as to overwhelm us. Guinea eggs are different from your standard chicken eggs. They are quite small, we've heard two guinea eggs equals one large chicken egg. To me they just look like small chicken eggs. The shells on the eggs are quite thick, they feel like little rocks when I hold them in my hand.
The ladies do not have names as of yet. It is not like we will be able to tell them apart! But we do like to name our creatures. 

The first time let the ladies wander around the boys pen Mounty has tried to chase them. But he and Windfall both are learning to listen. After getting after him, he has since left them alone. Sunday while I was taking care of the guineas water they escaped out the barn door behind me. I had not had that happen before and I was envisioning them flying over the fence and escaping entirely. Mounty instantly went on the alert and let out a little hum, taking a step toward them. But I firmly told him no, and after watching them a moment he went back to eating. Windfall ignores them unless they are let out in the lawn to eat grass and bugs. Mother did that once, last week, and he was quite agitated. I don't know if it was because he thought they were somewhere where they didn't belong (since they are usually kept locked up) or if it was because he wanted to be outside his fence. The grass is always greener you know....

That is all the farm news for now! 
Next up:  a new (for me) spinning technique!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Catching Up

I have a new design in the wings and I am so excited about it! Last September I was visiting my sister-in-law and somehow did not have a project to work on. I can not remember now if I forgot to bring something, or if it was simply a case of finishing up what I did bring along. Either way, my hands were empty and I needed a project. She rummaged in her craft room and came back with yarn, needles and the stitch dictionary and basically  said "design something". So with plenty of quiet and spare time on my hands, a new pattern was born. I only knit the left mitten, then it got put on the back burner as other projects came along. This week I puled it out and sorted through my notes, determined to make a go of it and finish it off. I'm pleased to say,as of this evening, I finished the mitt! Well, all except the top part of the thumb. I need to jot down how to do it, as I failed to make thorough notes on the first time around. 

While visiting a new yarn shop this week I picked up this yarn for a test knit of my new pattern. The yarn is "Rustic" by Cascade Yarns, Fiber content is 79% Wool 21% Linen. I purchased two skeins as I am hoping to have enough yarn left over for a complimenting accessory. I am looking forward to sharing more with you about this project in the near future.

I have several Christmas presents that I never showed you. The first being this adorable hat. I knit this for one of my sisters. 
Yarn: Handspun Blue-Face Leicester
Pattern: Kim's Hats from "Last-minute Knitted Gifts."

Up-close detail of the hat.

Jillian & Bilbo
Christmas 2010 I made Jillian as a gift. She was made out of hand carded, hand spun Alpaca/Angora yarn,
Christmas 2011 I made Bilbo as a gift. He is made out of hand carded, hand spun Merino/Corriedale/Dorset/Angora yarn.
Pattern: Loveable Toys from "Last-minute knitted gifts.
The rabbits are quite different from each other, because of the differences in yarn. Jillian is more soft and floppy, and thanks to lots of angora, she has a nice fuzzy halo. Bilbo is soft but sturdy, with a nice firm hand. He does not have nearly as much halo as Jillian does, seeing as I did not card as much angora in with the the rolags.
I suppose it could also be due to the fact that he is only 4 months old, whereas Jillian is over a year old and has had time to grow fuzzy.


Such a sweet little face!

The boys were exceedingly interested in the goings-on of the photo shoot. I do believe they thought the rabbits were edible. I couldn't get a single photo without the alpacas in the background! Not that I minded though. They are inquisitive fellows, and so sweet.
Difference in ears.

I also made a pair of wristlets for another sister. These are from one of the older issues of Spin-Off. Though at this precise moment I do not remember which one. If anyone wishes to particularly know I will gladly look it up. This is the fourth pair that I have made. They only take a small amount of fingering-weight yarn, and work up very quickly. The only modification I made this time was to lengthen the ribbing.

Next up: Spring updates!

For now, farewell my friends!