Friday, December 31, 2010

Fiber-forward into a new year

I'm working on several little things right now, with an eye on bigger things ahead.

First, there's this little swatch. It's a 3"x3" garter stitch square knit on 3.25mm Addi Turbos from the two-ply longwool yarn I spun on my mS. (Can someone tell me what gives with a garter stitch swatch that is seriously curling? I thought garter stitch isn't supposed to curl!) This will go in my next load of laundry to see how it fulls. If it fulls nicely, then I'll get to work knitting a spindle quiver and a purse from this yarn.

Still knitting itty-bitty sweaters out of scrap yarn; I have a feeling this will be an ongoing pastime. They are quick and easy, make great little ornaments and gift embellishments, and nothing satisfies my thrifty soul like using up every last bit of something.

My miniSpinner and I are working on a new fiber. This is some Jacob wool I traded for some of my Shetland. Shannon said she really liked my roving, and now I can say I really like her batts! Love the color variations and it is softer than I expected (Jacob is a medium-wool breed). I'm thinking it would make a lovely, tweedy vest, plied on itself or with white wool or alpaca.

Things are not all fleecy-keen in our world; we just heard this morning that one of my cousins died in his sleep last night and was found by his 11-year-old son, whom he was raising alone. Heartbreak all around; please keep my cousin's parents, sister, older daughters and especially his young son in your prayers at this time.

That's it for 2010 from . . .

Thursday, December 30, 2010


The sheep have been cooped up out of the mud and rain, so when today dawned frosty and dry, out they went. Blake couldn't contain himself, challenging all comers and exploding off the ground in leaps and bucks. I couldn't capture his antics very well, but if you look closely (and maybe click to biggify) you'll see that all four of his little hooves are off the ground.

In contrast, Inky found herself a spot to sunbathe in the weak morning rays. They didn't last long; it fogged up soon after and stayed that way the rest of the day.

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

AM transformation

This morning when I woke up (in the dark), a crescent moon was shining through our south bedroom window, and the drumming of rain was noticeably absent. By the time I headed out to do chores, the clouds had returned and there was a skiff of snow on the deck:

While I was cleaning stalls, it really started coming down,
and by the time I finished, we had a pretty covering of white:

Then the sun came out, and certain lad had to dash out and slide down the hill a few times before it all melted. Never fear, Brian; it has started snowing again!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No ark needed - yet

We've had two straight days of heavy rain and it's still coming down, which is unusual for the Willamette Valley. Yes, we're known for our wet winters, but our moisture usually comes as drizzle, with occasional sun breaks. Not really worth breaking out an umbrella for, which is why most of us don't own one. No problems up here on the hill, but down in the valley the low areas are flooding. Boy and animals are all feeling pent-up and restless; I would be perfectly happy to be holed up in a warm house with fiber and fiber tools for a long time. Still, a friend and I hauled our horses to ride in a dressage clinic today, an anticipated event that has kept me committed to riding even when the weather, homeschooling, and other responsibilities make it a challenge.

That's today's report from . . .

Monday, December 27, 2010


There hasn't been nearly enough of this lately, and my shepherd-soul has missed it. This is, after all, why I got Shetlands in the first place - although I've since been blessed by their wool and all the people I've gotten to know through them. My gully girls are always up for scritches, but Inky isn't usually much of a hands-on girl. This morning, though, she was obviously enjoying the attention, even wagging her old tail a few times. Katie was busy eating hay; Annabelle hung back and watched. She's been letting me stroke and scratch her head and neck when she wants grain, but hasn't yet decided that human touch is a treat in and of itself. (Notice my legs clad in my new black insulated bib overalls? I finally did the needed strap-ectomy last night so I could wear them, and it is infinitely more comfortable to sit with the sheep when you're warmly clothed!)

While sitting with my girls I got to capture the young hens at their "grass is greener on the other side of the fence" routine. They reach through the chain link to drink from the sheep bucket and peck at the sheep bedding.

Yesterday I finished plying and skeining the yarn from the first bobbinful spun on my miniSpinner. I had a total of 11 ounces of white long-wool singles, out of which I produced 4 3/4 ounces of six-ply (approx. 151 yards) and 6 1/4 ounces of two-ply (approx. 486 yards). I decided not to wash it, since Brian is going to weave with the six-ply and full the results, and I'm going to make a fulled bag out of the two-ply (the yarn is not soft enough for clothing). Brian is anxious to wind "his" yarn into a ball and start weaving with it today; guess I'd better browse some bag patterns!

That's it for now from . . .

Sunday, December 26, 2010

More on the Jennie Plyer

I realized after my last post that I hadn't mentioned my Jennie Plyer here before, just on Ravelry, so thought I would share more about her. In hopes that Rick would indeed get me what I asked for (two more bobbins for my miniSpinner) for Christmas, I had been looking at Lazy Kate options. I had pretty much decided on the one I wanted online, but drove out to Woodland Woolworks after looking at their website just in case. After all, I would rather support a local business if possible. Most of their options wouldn't accommodate the mS's jumbo WW bobbins or were not very packable/portable, but then I spied a small device on a bottom shelf. I picked it up, checked it for size, and got interested. It looked like a well-made, compact, portable design, so I asked Diane for a price (it didn't have a tag). Disappointed to learn it was more than I felt I could spend, I had returned to looking when Diane stated that since it was her last one and the company (Forsyth) no longer sells wholesale, she'd make me a deal on it. Sold! Even more exciting was learning that it came with its own pouch and more little goodies and tricks than I at first realized!

Yesterday was my first opportunity to put Jennie to work. First I used her as a kate to load her mini-bobbins. Then I used her to ply six singles together, which was an exercise in frustration - but I learned a lot. The wire loops on the center post didn't work well for me; they tended to grab and trap my fuzzy long-wool singles. I might find a dowel that I could put in the center instead, since winding my singles once around the post worked the best (until the wire loops "grabbed" them).

If you're interested in getting your own Jennie Plyer, you can go directly to the maker, here.

So, my mS and I are zooming along, and I am looking forward to working through my stash. Considering that my sheep are busy growing more, that's a good thing! Recently I put a size G coat on Browning, then washed the F he was wearing and put it on his half-sister Bronwen. Here they are uncoated, fleeces mashed but clean:
Browning, top, gets more white fibers in his fleece every year; good thing he's a wether. Bronwen, a fawn gulmoget, has always been lighter but I wonder if she inherited an iset gene from her dam as well. Their dam has moved on to a pet home because her fleece tested at well over 30ยต. These two will be tested this spring. Browning will stay regardless, since he is a wether and Brian's sheep; we'll see what Bronwen produces for lambs (along with her micron test results) before I decide on her future here.

That's it for now from . . .

Had ourselves a merry little Christmas

(Warning: Photo-heavy!)

Christmas Eve Rick stayed in bed a second day in a row, which wasn't much fun for any of us, but did give me the chance to make a solo run to Salem. Brian had seen a wee loom there during Magic at the Mill that he wanted, and after coming home and doing some online looking, I decided that it was probably the best of its sort for him to play with (my mom wanted to me to buy him one to have under the tree). The retail shops at the Mission Mill Museum were open, so I dashed down and did some last-minute shopping there, and elsewhere. I'm not sure I've EVER shopped on Christmas Eve before; Costco was a zoo but I had the stores at the Mill all to myself. I learned that the shops are separately owned but they co-op the space, and the lady on duty at the register was the owner of the yarn shop, Teaselwick Wools. We had a nice visit; I told her I had posted photos of her shop on my blog so she asked for the addy, and I purchased a book to support her. I also picked up this cute sheepy ornament in another shop there and a late little gifty too perfect for a friend to pass up, along with Brian's loom (I added the yarn at home).

I filled my first (BIG!) bobbin using my HansenCrafts miniSpinner, so Christmas Eve I got out my Jennie Plyer and set to work using it. I filled all six of her little bobbins as full as I dared, and still ended up with a huge cake of singles. I thought everything together on the table made a lovely fibery Christmas still life. (Rick says I have two more bobbins coming for my mS; yay!)

On Christmas Day we went to church, potlucked with friends and visited through the afternoon. I took along my supplies and knitted up my fourth mini-sweater - the pastel one that will probably be saved as a baby shower gift decoration (colors poorly captured). The other two are numbers 2 and 3 from leftover sock yarn; I just barely had enough yarn for #3.

Brian survived until we finally got home and opened presents last night. My sister and BIL sent him a very cool "tin can robot" kit, which he wanted to build right away. It proved a bit challenging, so he recruited Rick's help:

Of course, the dogs weren't left out. Jackson opened the package, and he and Dozer each got an edible Nylabone. Jackson devoured his within minutes; Dozer is taking his time enjoying his:

While Rick and Brian were working on the robot, I bit off probably more than I should have and tackled my first six-ply yarn from the Jennie bobbins. It was a tangled mess much of the time, but I got it done. Now to skein it off for Brian to weave with, and two-ply the rest from the center-pull cake. I think I'll use mine for a fulled bag.

This morning I helped Brian get started with his first weaving project. He did well and seemed to enjoy it; we'll see if he keeps at it or not. It's a good day for indoor activities; it is cold, wet and windy outside!

The fire inside's delightful at . . .

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sharing the Magic, again

Last year we discovered "Magic at the Mill" and enjoyed it so much we wanted to take our visiting family there this year. We headed down Tuesday night and saw as much as we could before closing - which wasn't nearly enough, so we went again on Wednesday night! We got to see and learn so much more than last year, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There were Christmas lights galore:
and not just Christmas lights. See the full moon over the mill race, above? Here it is, gloriously solo:

Brian told Santa what he wanted for Christmas:

We listened to music:

And toured the historic Mill Building to our heart's content:

Brian even got to try his hand at weaving - and promptly decided he wanted a loom. He might just get his wish for Christmas - although on a MUCH smaller and simpler scale. ;-)

We ended with some browsing in the extensive boutique which is set up as a bunch of separate shops - including a yarn store!
Brian dubbed this the "guys' corner," and indeed, this is where Rick, my dad and Brian hung out while my step-mom and I fondled fiber. I didn't buy anything there, but couldn't resist some old bobbins from the mill available in the museum gift shop for $2.00 apiece:
I don't know if I'll find a way to use them, or just display and admire them!

After that hearty infusion of holiday spirit, we'll probably have a quiet Christmas here. Rick has been in bed all day with something flu-like; I'm hoping Brian and I don't catch it. We'll go to church on Saturday (Sabbath) as we always do, and probably open presents Saturday night.

I read a wonderfully brief reminder of "the Reason for the season" this week. A little girl was asked if she got everything she wanted for Christmas. She replied, "No, but that's okay; it wasn't my birthday!" Whenever Jesus was born, that's a good perspective to keep in mind. May you be blessed with faith, hope and love this Christmas.