Spring has Sprung!

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Thank goodness the cold and snow is now behind us and we can look forward to (in my opinion) the shortest and BEST season we have ~ SUMMER!

I have been so busy this past 6-8 weeks, not just with work (my busiest time of year) but also ramping up my gardening chores.  The raised  beds have had their plastic rolled down to thaw the frozen earth and 2 weeks ago I was lucky enough to get some radishes, chard, beets and lettuce seeds sown.  These are cool weather veggies and have a much better appreciation of early Spring cold spells than the summer loving tomatoes and peppers.

Speaking of peppers, I am gobsmacked with how well they are growing now that we downsized our southern home to a condo.  It is so blasted hot in here that it is the perfect nursery for my plant babies.  Have a look see for yourself! DSC06002Some of the pepper varieties are now over a foot tall!  I started them a month earlier than normal too, mainly because I have the plastic on the raised beds, I can extend the growing season on both ends. DSC06008The tomatoes were started mid-March, and will quickly catch up and surpass the peppers, they grow like weeds once the seeds sprout.  I do give them a very weak fertilizer solution every 2 weeks though to get them in optimum green leafiness before planting.  I have also been saving up eggshells for the tomatoes.  Whenever I use eggs, I wash the shells and keep them in a baggie in the freezer, more on that in the next post though.

Aside from gardening, I have been up to my eyeballs in Alpaca fleece.  I lucked out on getting about 15 lbs of raw alpaca fiber from a nearby ranch (aren’t they the most adorable looking creatures below?)DSC05863 DSC05860 In the process, I scored my first “baby” alpaca fleece.  Just to be clear, they don’t shear the babies after they are born, “Baby Alpaca” fleece is considered the animals first shearing, which is usually when they are a year old.  It is much finer than adult fleece, so very soft and silky, and I managed to get a jet black one that spun up like silk in my test sample, which is so lusciously smooshy and soft (I have a special project in mind for this very special fibre) and is much darker than the photo shows.  It is very hard to photograph black!

DSC06000Along with the bags of alpaca fleece, I have also been weaving, finishing up a couple projects that were started at the beginning of the year.  My piñata fabric is done, and I have one of two straps left to weave on the little inkle loom, then I can start my big sewing project (saving that for another post too…most likely in the summer). DSC05829 I also gave my rear end some reprieve with a woven cushion for my loom bench.  Sitting on a board was getting old real quick! DSC05840 Not to leave any other fibre related items out, I have been knitting up a storm in the evenings (my down time while watching Jeopardy) as I had a request from my Aunt for a cowl and some more socks.  Cowl and one pair of socks done, 2 more pairs to go.

So when do I have time for myself you say? Well, when the gardens are mostly looking after themselves in a month or so, and work has slowed for the summer, I will be on the deck looking at the pristine view of the lake listening to the loons and sipping my tea and either spinning or knitting for the next project.  I can never sit still.  A rolling stone gathers no moss so the saying goes…and that is me to a tee ;)

DSC04767Deborah

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Not So Rainy Day Blues

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As the skies opened to overdue and highly welcomed rains on Friday morning (we have been in a drought of late) and the rain forecast for well into Saturday, the outdoor gardening tasks were wiped off the whiteboard for the weekend to be replaced by indoor ones.

Hubs had a passle of work planned for us in the crawlspace, but the deluge of rain meant the inevitable rise in water down under and within a couple hours, there was an inch of standing water in the front portion of the crawlspace.  He still managed quite a bit of work down there, but it wasn’t the weekend results he wanted.

For me, I could only help so much, so with a  lot of free time with no garden chores to do in the pouring rain, I settled into a quiet rythym with my Spin-Well spinning wheel finishing up a gradient yarn project that turned out exactly as envisioned.

My lovely daughter had given me 3 coloured rovings from KnitPicks for Christmas and after mulling over what to do with them, a plan emerged to spin half of each colour with itself and the other half with the next colour in line, blending one shade into the next creating a visually appealing colour run from light to dark.

Studio_20160711_095028_medium2Here they are sectioned out, ready to go with the first colour already spun.  Studio_20160815_100536And these are the final skeins of yarn, looking even better spun and plied than their bare state counterparts.

I have been cruising various knitting websites looking for the perfect pattern, hopefully one jumps out at me soon, meanwhile, I think I will leave these on display, like a bouquet of flowers, and at least yarn doesn’t wilt after a few days.

Happy knitting!

Deborah

 

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Meet Fert and Palladin

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10351730_10152717633959054_2321268615927224487_nFert & Palladin are Alpacas living on a farm just outside Niagara Falls, ON.  In October 2014, my daughter and her hubby went to go visit the farm on one of their very few days of the year that they allow visitors.  Unfortunately I couldn’t go with them that day (boo), but they did bring me back a piece of the farm.  In the form of 2 alpaca fleeces.  Not just a part of the fleece, but the-whole-fleece of 2 animals, which weighed about 3.5 lbs each.

Fert is a lovely brown fleece with highlights of red on the tips from the sun’s bleaching rays.  Palladin is as white as snow, after a good bath that is as both fleeces were pretty darn dusty but with minimal VM (vegetable matter, i.e. bits of hay & grass).1966716_10152717634219054_389215263030384962_nMy mind spun (get it) as to what I could make out of all this lovely, soft fibre.  An idea formed and it was time to get to work.  Once the fleeces were clean (which took me close to a month between other commitments), it was time to start carding and spinning.DSC02308_medium2

I first started with Palladin, whose newly washed fleece was brilliant white and as soft and silky as bunny fur.  With an idea in mind, I needed to figure out how much yardage required for the whole project and then back track.  Lots of math involved.   I hate math, hated it in school and always said to myself, “just where I am going to use all this darn stuff? No one can possibly use all this math stuff in the future”, well, here I am today doing tons of math not only in spinning, but weaving and knitting too.  Bah, anyway, back to math calculations and sampling, yes, sampling, not only do you have to do your math, you also have to make a small amount of yarn and then sample with it to make sure what you have in mind as gauge will work out for the intended project.  Like knitting instructions always say at the start of every pattern “To save Time, Take Time to check Gauge” (who me? guilty of NOT doing this? I won’t answer that)…..

Not wanting to waste 2 alpaca fleeces, checking my math and sett/gauge were even more important.

So I carded and spun up a small amount of fleece, then warped up my small Cricket loom to check how dense/open a fabric I wanted.  I started out at 12 epi (ends per inch) but the resulting fabric felt too stiff/dense.  I rethreaded the loom using my 8 epi heddle and while it appeared far too open, I knew that ‘wet finishing’ would tighten up the weave.  So I washed/dryed the sample and the resulting fabric was in the ballpark of what I wanted.  Time to finish the calculations now that I knew what sett (loom speak for warp thread spacing) to use.  The pic below shows fleece to finished fabric, yes, the two items on the right are gray as I was playing with natural dyes when I spun this last summer so took the opportunity to experiment at the same time.

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All that math behind me, it was now time to get into the groove of carding and spinning up all the alpaca, which took me almost a year between other projects/life.

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Once I had the last project off the loom, a blanket for a baby whose due date was looming (ha! another fibre pun!) it was time to finally get Fert & Palladin’s soft and luscious yarns wound and onto Bob the loom.

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After that, it wove up pretty quickly, a heck of a lot more time spent in prep than in actual weaving, but hey, that is the nature of the beast (another pun! I am firing on all cylinders this morning) when creating something from animal to finished product.

13260244_10156880387985291_875112006034015639_n_medium2This has been a great challenge in taking a raw material, applying newly learned skills and being self-sufficient.  I do believe I now qualify for being ready for a post-apocalyptic world, but sincerely hope that it doesn’t come to fruition.

So without further ado, here is the long-in-the-works alpaca throw blanket. Woven in a 2-2 Herringbone Twill pattern, it is soft, (seriously fuzzy, you should have seen the fuzzy dust-bunnies galloping around the condo while it was on the loom) and it has a beautiful drape and feel,  not too heavy, but with just enough weight to ‘feel’ like a blanket.  Incredibly warm too, although the temps outside this past week have been in the 30′s (Celsius), it will be put to good use come this Fall/Winter at the Homestead.

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Bob has been cleaned up and de-fuzzed but will most likely sit empty for the summer while I concentrate on my vegetable gardens and the next spinning project ~ a sweater currently being spun and knit from a whole Icelandic sheep fleece, then come Fall a couple of scarves are to be woven from gorgeous handspun and hand-dyed yarns that I have been working on.

Yes, I am busy, busy, busy, and I love it.

Deborah

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Cake Dyeing Experiment

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Sounds yummy doesn’t it?  Cake Dyeing….  Unfortunately no yummy cakes were baked, dyed or consumed for this project.

Cake dyeing is taking a skein of yarn and winding it into a “cake” with a ball winder and then dyeing it.  The word “cake” came about due to the resemblance of the wound yarn to a stacked layer cake.  This creates a centre-pull “ball” of yarn to knit from.

Ok, enough of word origins, on to the experiment!  I found 3 balls of sad looking yarn in the “free bin” in our condo craft room.  2 were an ugly golden-yellow colour, the third was a really ugly greenish-gray ball of what surely came out of a swamp.  No wonder they were cast off from whoever put them in the bin.  Nobody wants butt-ugly wool.  So I rescued them a few weeks ago with the intention of brightening them up in a dye experiment.

Enter cake dyeing.  The process where you wind yarn into the cake shape and submerse it up to half its height in a dye liquid, flip and do another colour and you come out with a wonderfully colour-patterned yarn.

DSC04434First off was to soak the 2 gold ones in water and citric acid (or vinegar) to prep the wool to accept the dye.  I then took a roasting tray with a rack and placed enough water in it to come up to halfway up the cake of yarn.  I then added my dye stock which was 1/2 tsp of Wilton’s Icing Gel red food colouring to half a cup of boiling water, stir to dissolve and dump in.  I also added another 3-4 tbsp of vinegar too.

DSC04439Add your yarn and bring the temp up to 170F and simmer for about an hour.  I carefully flipped the cakes over and let the second side soak for another hour.  Turn off the heat and left them to cool.  Once cool, rinse under the same temperature water, wind back into a skein and let dry.

The results are 2 very bright skeins of yarn now worthy of knitting.  I call these 2 skeins “Orange Sherbert”.

DSC04461Now with the other skein of butt-ugly greenish-gray yarn, I omitted the pre-soak to try and get the colour absorption to slow down.  Which worked a little too well as the colour didn’t penetrate as far into the cake of yarn as I would have liked.   The other steps were the same except for not pre-soaking.

DSC04453I added 1/2 tsp of cornflower blue Wiltons Icing Gel to one half, after an hour, flipped and added 1/2 tsp of violet.

The result?

DSC04468Burple ~ which is a combination of Butt Ugly and Purple.

I will re-dye this one solid purple as I really don’t like how it came out.  But heck, that is why they are called experiments as you never know exactly what you are going to get!

Deborah

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Meet Alexandr McIntosh

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He is a handsome fellow, showing very few wrinkles for his age, considering he was born in 1867.  He is of slight build and heavy for his actual size, which would be the dense hardwood that makes up the bulk of his body.   Although he may be heavy, he is delicate at the same time.  Lovingly carved spokes on his drive wheel, curvacious turnings on the maidens and legs, remind me of Marilyn Monroe…perhaps “He” is a “She” after all.  Ah…there you go, I have found her new name.  Marilyn.

I discovered Marilyn when I was least expecting her.  I usually cruise the kijiji listings for spinning wheels just to see what is out there.  Mostly large CPW’s (Canadian Production Wheels) as well as European and Scandinavian models that are quite striking in form and function and liberally scattered throughout Ontario.  But a couple weeks ago, I stumbled across the McIntosh wheel which happened to be located in the city next door to me.  I answered the ad immediately and later that morning, picked her up so she could join the rest of the herd.

She now joins the stable with Beth, Blanch and The Grand Dame.  Unfortunately, when Marilyn entered the household, someone had to go.  Blanch was the logical choice as she was the most recent acquisition, but her large size was a hindrance in our downsized existence.  With a wee bit of sadness, I let Blanch go to a new home, to someone that will appreciate her quirks and put her through her paces to spin some fine yarn.

A brief history lesson on McIntosh wheels:  Alexandr McIntosh (not a typo, the “e” doesn’t appear on his maker’s mark) and his family, came to the East Coast of Canada in the 1700-1800′s.  Father and son (presumed son, information is sketchy about  the family lineage) made spinning wheels in Nova Scotia.  A lot of really good looking wheels of that era were made use of every day.  Prized for their well-built construction and small stature, they were very popular wheels along with F. Young, McDonald’s et al.  Seems a good amount of wheel makers came from Scotland seeking their fortunes in the New Land.  A lot of these wheels then moved from Nova Scotia to Ontario as they were easily transportable due to their size and the ease of which the drive wheel came off.  Hence, why there seems to be a good amount of them here.  This one came from a well known collector just outside Hamilton, and when he turned ill, his collection was sold off.  The woman who purchased this wheel had the intention of learning to spin, but upon realizing it wasn’t for her, she decided to sell the wheel.  My lucky day indeed!

20160404_112200_medium2Marilyn needed an intense spa session when she first came home.  After a good bath in Murphy’s Oil Soap followed up my 3 liberal coats of Howards Feed n’ Wax (marvelous stuff, can’t say enough about this product), she now shines and doesn’t look a day over 100.

DSC04364 DSC04369Hubby worked his magic in reaming out of the bobbin and cleaning up the pitted flyer rod, which he has had to do on all my wheels, he’s a definite keeper.  She now spins like the day she was born and its’ time to get down to business and see what gorgeous yarns come from this fine example of old Scottish workmanship.

Now, about cruising kijiji for spinning wheels, I think I can stop looking  ;)

Deborah

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I’m Not A Deer Hat & Scarf

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I thought I made a post last Fall about the hat that I knit for deer hunting season….but upon close inspection of past articles, nope, found nothing.

To back track a wee smidgeon, last Fall I went for a walk, around the first week of November, or whenever deer hunting season (with guns) starts in Ontario.  As I am walking down the road (my daily ritual), hunters in full gear on ATV’s whizzed by me with their guns strapped to the backracks.

Hmmm I thought, not a good place to be out walking with all these hunters around with nothing to differentiate me from the woodsy surroundings.  So when I got back to the Homestead, I opened my laptop and promptly placed an order from Knitpicks for their Swish yarn (super durable and excellent for hats/scarves and mittens) in their “Hot Tamale” colourway.  This ought to make my head a beacon as I walk in the wooded areas I thought.

After a week, my hat was done and I was safely able to continue my walks without fear of being mistaken for a deer in the bush.

20151113_074908_medium2Pretty bright there eh?

I had ordered 3 balls of the yarn with the intention of making either mitts or scarf out of the rest, but once hunting season ended and winter set in, the hat was set aside for a less toned down version and the remaining yarn set aside until the right project came along.

Enter my last post (Atomic Sunrise), after experimenting with food colouring and turning out a vibrant skein of yarn, the project leaped to the forefront of what to do with both the handspun/hand dyed yarn and the leftover hat yarn.

I scoured the Ravelry website for a pattern that would utilize the amount of yardage I had on hand as  I didn’t have enough for a full blown winter scarf, but plenty for a shorter, narrower “Fall” scarf that would be enough to cover the neck from chilly Fall air.

It took some time to locate one I liked out of literally hundreds and hundreds of patterns, and settled on one called “Dragon Skin“, because the pattern looks…well, like dragon skin!

I started with the part ball of leftovers, which was really about 85% of a ball, then used the handspun, followed up by the last full ball of the Hot Tamale and voila!

DSC04277 DSC04274A scarf that matches the colour intensity of the hat, albiet with a strong textural difference.  Sure, it may not be matching and symmetrical, but heck, I like to live dangerously.

I am looking forward to this coming Fall to be able to flaunt my hat and scarf to the hunters like a matador waving a red cape to a bull!

Deborah

 

 

 

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Atomic Sunrise & Goosebumps

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I tried something new on the weekend and ended up with an Atomic Sunrise and Goosebumps.  No, those are not new cocktail ideas…although they could be, I will have to think on those a spell.

Anyway, back to my new adventures.  I have oodles of Wilton’s Food colouring gels in the kitchen not being used up since I don’t bake as much as I used to (lots of reasons, and hubby being one of them).  With closing the Northern Homestead for the winter, all my natural dye supplies are up there waiting for Spring to arrive and me with it.  So instead I went looking for another way to flex my creative muscle on two freshly spun skeins of yarn.

Food colouring and Kool-Aid are 2 very good mediums to use on animal fibers (wool, alpaca, silk, etc.) but they do not work on plant based fibers (cotton/linen/hemp) so skip those.  The added bonus of using food based dyes is that it isn’t harmful to ones health as some of the natural dyes and mordants (or acid dyes) can be and you can use the same cooking equipment as you use for your home cooking.  For the natural dyes, I have a whole set of pots/utensils just for them.

For the making of my food colour dyes, I employed the use of my crockpot.  A great heat source that you don’t have to coddle like a pot on the stove.

First up was to soak the yarn in an acidic solution to help bond the food colouring to the yarn.  I let the 2 skeins soak overnight in a pail of water mixed with 2 Tbsp of Citric Acid (Fruit Fresh) or plain White Vinegar or Lemon Juice would also work.  The Citric Acid I had on hand to use up along with the food colouring.

Studio_20160222_093344Next was to plop the yarns (processed one at a time) in the crockpot with just enough water to cover the wool along with 1/2 cup of white vinegar or lemon juice.  Let it heat up on high for about an hour and a half or until the temp reads 150F.

Studio_20160222_093508While the yarn is coming up to temp, take 3 glass jars (or however many you need for each colour) and using wooden popsicle sticks, scoop out about an 1/8th of a tsp of gel colouring and smear it all around the insides of the jar.  Pour in half a cup of boiling water and stir to dissolve.

Studio_20160222_093412When the yarn has come up to temp, pour the dye in whatever colour pattern you like.  Try to keep to the same colour families (like red/orange/yellow or blue/green/purple) or you’ll end up with an unpleasant brown (unless that is what you are going for).

Studio_20160222_093435Do not stir, just place the lid on the crockpot and let it sit for an hour or until the water in the pot has turned clear.  This means the colouring has been exhausted and sucked up by the wool.  Remove the lid, turn the crockpot off and let it sit until the yarn returns to room temp.

Remove from the crockpot, squeezing the water as you go and rinse in the sink in the same temperature water as what it was sitting in (or you risk felting the wool with a shock in water temperature).  Hang to dry and voila!

Atomic Sunrise and Goosebumps.

Studio_20160222_093546Studio_20160223_093107 I named the blue/green/purple Goosebumps as it reminded me of a cover of a Goosebumps Series (R.L. Stein) book that my son read long ago.  As soon as the skein came out of the crockpot, that is what I though of.

The Atomic Sunrise is self-explanatory and is actually a lot more vibrant (think neon) in person.  I have a ball and half of bright orange wool left from my “I’m Not a Deer” hat that I knit last fall for my daily walks during deer hunting season so I will combine them into a matching scarf.

So now I must get back to the spinning wheel(s) to make some more yarn to dye with in this newest creative outlet.  If you want to try this at home but don’t want to spin yarn, you can over-dye commercial yarns (wool/alpaca/silk, etc only – do not try on acrylic as the colours won’t take) or you can buy ‘bare’ yarns from various yarn companies to play with.

Enjoy and let your fun side out!

Deborah

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The Great Avocado Dye Experiment!

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Yesterday I posted a recipe using avocados, and in that recipe I said to save the pits and skins for later use.  I guess I *should* have been more specific, but I thought it would be interesting to see how many people would be wracking their brains wondering what the heck would you use them for.  I mean, they are inedible after all, and unless you are wanting to grow an avocado tree, why save the pit?

So here is what I do with them….

To one 500ml canning jar, I added 3 oz of chopped avocado pits. Combined 3/4 cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup ammonia and added it to the jar. Topped up to about 1 1/2” from the top.

To another 500ml canning jar, I added 3 oz of chopped avocado skins. Combined 3/4 cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup ammonia and added it to the jar. Topped up to about 1 1/2” from the top.

I screwed the bands down snugly on the jars and the heat/steam from the boiling water  sealed the jars after about 15 minutes.

DSC04087Here on Day 1, the colour starts almost immediately, but it is necessary to let the jars sit for a minimum of 30 days for the colour to develop, if you tried it now, you would not get any colour to stick to the fibers, it would mostly rinse away.

Here they are on Day 3 they are darker, but they still need to sit.

20151202_091140_medium2I put these jars up on November 30th and left them until after Christmas.  Close to one month later while we were up at the cottage, I finally cracked the jars and dyed 2 skeins of yarn.  The larger skein went into the skin dye, which looked purple/green, the smaller one went into the dye made from the pits, which looked rosy-red.

Here are the results…

Studio_20151229_110736_medium2The skein on the left was in the skin dye bath and it came out a gorgeous, soft beige colour.  The pinky-rosy one on the right was in the pit dye bath.  The colouring on the skein from the skins was much more even, but the pit dye bath took up the dye very unevenly, so it was a more rosy/tan mottled look.

I really liked the colour of the skein from the skins and have another batch fermenting now, but will let the jars sit much longer this time to deepen the colours.

** Tip if you are going to try this ~ when you first get the pit out of the avocado, chop it up into small pieces immediately, if you wait, the air gets at it and it turns rock hard and you will be unable to chop it.  I store pits and skins (washed) in ziploc bags in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch with.

There, aren’t you glad you asked? If you want to dye yarn (or fabric), this is what you can save your avocado skins and pits for. ;)

Deborah

 

 

 

 

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From Ewe To Me

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With Love.

DSC04118Which is absolutely spot on.

Over a year in the making, I have finally completed a project that started with roving from sheep fleece, spun it into yarn, then wove it into a blanket.

This is my ‘practice’ blanket.  I have another one planned for the alpaca I am still spinning, but this was a test to see if my handspun can hold up to the high tension requirements of loom weaving.  It is comprised of rough, lumpy, bumpy yarn that were mostly spun a year ago, which I then spent last summer experimenting with natural dyes and dyed a variety of yellow/gold/pale orange shades from 10 skiens of yarn.

DSC03473Once my tea towels were off the loom (which languished for 3 months, but in my defense, Christmas/life/cottage was hindering my loom time), it was time to prepare the warp for the blanket.

Warping a loom is time consuming, it can take anywhere from 1-2 days for thicker yarns to a week for thinner ones, luckily, all my practice yarn was roughly the same size.  Nice, thick and quick to wind on the loom.

Studio_20160108_091309_medium2Once the yarn was on the loom (special thanks to hubby for his help!) it was time to get down to business.  In just 3 days, it was finished and cut off the loom.  I knotted the fringe last night and just need to trim to an even length, then into the washing machine on a wool setting for the final finishing to plump up the fibers and soften them.

DSC04116Simple, Satisfying and Useful.  This is what people HAD to do before the days of the cheap cr@p made in China that filled our store shelves.  I know that there isn’t a lot of folks out there that are able to do what I do (either in need or want) but we have a choice to either buy the overseas garbage or make our own, I choose to make my own.  Yes it takes time, but in the end, I have an item that will stand up to a lot wear for a very long time.

Deborah

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2016 ~ The Year of the Wheel!

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Happy New Year to everyone!  Yes, it has been awhile, but how many of you had the time to try and keep up a blog AND do all things Christmas-y?  Baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping, visiting, etc?

That is my defence and I am sticking to it.

I can also add spinning, knitting and weaving into the above as many of you who follow me on Facebook can attest to as I  regularly post pics of FO’s or WIP’s (Finished Objects or Work in Progress) to brighten the days of those cruising on FB.

Now that the holidays are fading in the rear view mirror, it’s time to concentrate on a New Year.  I have a couple resolutions, but these ones I am sure to stick too.  I gave up on the ‘must lose 10 lbs!’ or ‘stop eating chocolate!’ resolutions a couple years back.  Moderation is the key, you can still have your chocolate, just make sure you walk that stuff off the day you eat it.

My resolutions this year are to refine and hone the skills of my latest obsessions um…hobbies.  Weaving and Spinning.  I am well on my way in the weaving world, but there is always room for improvement and while spinning is a fairly recent craft, I am generally happy with where my spinning skills are at, but again, there is always room for improvement.  I am spinning yarn to not only knit with, but to weave with on my looms.  There is something so satisfying from taking a lump of fluffy fleece and turning it into yarn, then weaving it into a finished product.  Whether it is a scarf, blanket or fabric for clothing, it’s like taking raw food ingredients and assembling them into a Five Star restaurant type meal.

To aid me in my quest to hone my spinning is the addition of another wheel.  Yes, I clearly hear you when you scoff – “another wheel?! she’s turning into the crazy cat lady of the fibre world!”  No, not really, as there are many others that have many more wheels than I do.

20160105_134117Each of these 3 wheels are vastly different in function and spinning style.  The one on the far right, the small, boxy shaped one is a Spin-Well.  Made in the 1930′s in Sifton, Manitoba, she is the youngest of the herd and is a workhorse of a wheel.  She was built mainly to make thicker yarns, but I love her for plying 2 or more yarns together as the bobbins on her are just huge.  This is the one that I *obtained* from my Aunt & Uncle a year and a half ago that started me on my spinning odyssey.

Next up, the one in the middle, is the wheel I picked this past summer.  She is a sturdy little wheel that will spin miles and miles of thinner yarn, and even though her bobbins are small, I can fill them to the max and then use the Spin-Well for plying.  I am not sure on her pedigree as there is no maker’s mark on her but she is similar in style to the Young family of wheels (there were 4 makers in the family) from Nova Scotia back in the 1800′s, which is where she came from and is estimated to be between 150 and 200 yrs old.  She is in exceptional condition for her age too.

My latest wheel is the largest of all, she certainly didn’t look that big when I picked her up yesterday.  Not until I brought her home and set her beside the other two – eek! her drive wheel is huge!   This means she can spin thinner yarn, faster than the others.  This wheel also has no maker’s mark but the owner said she was made in Quebec, which is info she received when she obtained the wheel last year.  I am currently on a hunt to narrow down her style/maker and while she is similar in stance to a CPW (Canadian Production Wheel), she lacks the tilt-tension which is the key to her not being one.  She is also very, very similar to a Louis Bisson, but again, lacks a very important detail, a swooping treadling piece along  with no maker’s mark.  She was incredibly filthy too, I spent a good hour cleaning her up with Murphy’s Oil Soap (excellent product for any wood furniture), she now functions as she should and looks much better for it.

20160106_081914And if I haven’t sounded crazy enough, I have names for all the wheels (and looms too).  As soon as I brought the new wheel home and sat her beside the other two, she just paled in colour against them…so I named her Blanch.  The Spin-Well (Grand Dame I call her) is much darker and Beth, is more reddish-orange in tone, so I have Grand Dame, Beth and Blanch.

I am looking forward to finding out as much as I can on these wheels, as well as to further my knowledge and skill in using them.  Cheers to 2016! ~ The Year of the Wheel will be a fun journey!

Deborah

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