Rhinebeck Adventures

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It’s been a couple months since my last post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doin’ nuthin’! Just busy in all aspects of life but this morning I made myself sit down and finally write out this post from my adventures in  NY State back in late October to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival, fondly nicknamed “Rhinebeck” after the town it is held in.

I didn’t go alone, but went with my trusty weaving/fibery sidekick Kathy, Northern Homestead neighbour and all around great gal to get in trouble with.

She drove to my southern home after flying in from Seattle, WA where she had taken a week long weaving course, since her southern home is another hour and half beyond mine from the airport, I said you may as well crash at my place and we’ll head out in the morning. After a short night of sleep, we got up, loaded her SUV with our luggage and we were off.  A short 45 minutes to the U.S. border and we were on our way to Rhinebeck, NY

The way down was an uneventful trip, about 6.5 hours from the border until we arrived in Poughkeepsie, NY where our hotel was booked.  Hubby has boatloads of hotel points from his years of working out of town so this trip was arranged utilizing hotel points, thus saving us more money to be spent on fiber goodies!  After arriving at the hotel, we dumped our luggage and headed out to explore the nearest bookstore (Kathy is a book fanatic) as well stop in at the local JoAnns for fabric I had pre-ordered to be delivered to that location.

Once our initial shopping was done, we hit the Texas Roadhouse for dinner, one of my favourite restaurants due to their buttery pillows of yumminess that they drop on everyone’s table.

20181019_153404with whipped cinnamon butter! I could feel the lbs gaining momentum ready to leap onto my hips with every bite.

After supper we headed back to the hotel after stopping to pick up adult bevereges for the room (beer of course!).  The next morning we were up early, showered and after downing the free breakfast offerings in the hotel lobby, we were on our way to the little town of Rhinebeck and NY States largest fleece and fiber festival.

20181020_095841The fairgrounds in Rhinebeck are set against a lovely backdrop of rolling hills adorned with the colours of fall. It was a gorgeous day with sunshine and a bright blue sky with mild temperatures.  After paying our admission, we looked at the map of the fairgrounds to scope out what to see first.  There were literally hundreds of vendors in many, many buildings sprinkled throughout the fairgrounds. It was going to be a fun day of yarn fondling and sheep ogling!

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20181020_104857 20181020_144249 20181020_145855 20181020_161727 20181020_150837 20181020_14592220181020_12175720181020_121854 20181020_121710After a very looong day of wandering around and well past the 5 p.m. closing time of the festival, we made our way back out to the car with our ‘loot’ and headed back to the hotel…where our adventures were about to take a turn.

We arrived to see several plumbing company vehicles backed up to the exterior door at one end of the hotel with a generator running….uh oh…not a good sign.  We head up to our room to drop off our booty….

20181020_184019and then down to the front desk to see what the commotion was about.  No water. The entire hotel had no water due to a watermain break under the floor of the east wing of the hotel.  We were on the 2nd floor and immediately above where the workers were jackhammering up the floor of the room below us.

Lovely. Just lovely…..

The hotel had no idea when water would be restored and they were handing out bottled water to all guests…um…wouldn’t you just need to use the facilities after drinking bottled water and the facilities didn’t work? Well, we were not going to hang around and find out.

I emailed hubby to have him look for another hotel that we could  move to and after a few minutes, he came back with one room left in a hotel just outside Albany, which was a good hour north of Poughkeepsie.  With the festival in town, every hotel within a 50 mile radius of Rhinebeck was full, so we packed up, checked out of the drought-ridden hotel and headed up to Albany, which meant we would not be able to head back to Rhinebeck for the 2nd day of the festival (insert sad face).

By the time we pulled out of the hotel lot, it was dark, which meant the drive up to Albany wasn’t going to be much fun in the deer infested state of New York. For those that have never been to NY State, it is one of the most heavily populated states in the north-east for deer, and sure enough, I lost count of how many were browsing at the side of the interstate, their eyes glowing in our headlights as we passed them.

We safely arrived at the hotel and proceeded to check in to the last remaining room of the hotel, a spacious room with an even bigger bathroom but with one hitch, there was only one king sized bed. Oh well, good thing Kathy and I are good friends! Since we didn’t really get any supper, we wolfed down the leftovers from the night before at Texas Roadhouse, which included these rattlesnake bites that were amazing the second time around.

20181019_160424After slugging down a couple cold beers with cold leftovers, we hit the sack to make the trek back home the next morning.  Since we were already 1 hours drive from Rhinebeck, it made no sense to drive back down for the day and then turn around and head back, plus, we only had the room for one night and it wasn’t available the next night.

Sunday morning dawned and after showering and packing up, we hit the Starbucks across the road for coffee and tea and headed west.  About 2 hours into the drive, I began to notice an unusual hum somewhere in the drive train of Kathy’s SUV.  We stopped at an Interstate gas station to fill up and use the facilities and when pulling into a parking space, her car “clunked” when she put it in park. We both looked at each other and thought the same thing….uh oh, what the hell was that?!

After using the loo, we got back in the car and drove around to the other side to fill up, the car behaved when put into park so we thought maybe it wasn’t engaged into park fully the last time….so onward!

After another couple hours, we stopped again to use the loo (what goes in, must go out!) and as we coasted into the parking lot, her car suddenly went out of gear. She coasted into a parking space and shifted into park. Well, not only did the car CLUNK loudly like last time, it lurched a good foot and a half forward!

Much swearing ensued….

After using the facilities again, we came back out to the car and after starting it up, it would not go into gear, any gear. Not forward, not backward, nothing. More swearing….

Next to the service station was a satellite State Trooper building so we walked over to ask for some help but the station isn’t manned as it just for troopers to park their civilian cars and take their cruisers out on the interstate. So we walked back to pretty much deceased vehicle and while Kathy was looking up a non-emergency police telephone number, I was emailing hubby to tell him of our latest demise. We were still a good 3 hours from home, just outside the lovely hamlet of Geneva, NY, so hubby jumped into action to find another hotel room because clearly, her car wasn’t moving without either divine intervention or a dealership garage.

Within 20 minutes a tow truck was on site and the dead SUV and ourselves were loaded onto the tow truck…

20181021_132338Fun times!

The driver of the tow truck was also the owner/operator and a fabulous sport posing for a photo with Kathy. Since it was Sunday and pretty much all garages were closed, we headed to his compound and he graciously allowed her vehicle to stay there while we tried to sort out where we would take it the next morning. Meanwhile, hubby had found us a hotel room in Geneva and the tow truck owner’s wife was on her way to pick us up and drive us to our hotel. Totally unnecessary but seriously appreciated! We piled into her pickup with all our luggage and fiber purchases and headed to the cute town of Geneva located on the northern shore of Seneca Lake. Smack in the middle of NY wine country and highly scenic to boot.

On our way to the hotel and telling the owners wife of our adventures to date, she said you must be in need of a stiff drink, well, yes, but we didn’t have any and where would be a good place to get some for the room we asked? She said the closest grocery store is about a mile from the hotel and since we were going by it, she amazingly offered to stop there so I could run in and grab a 12 pack of cold ones. Seriously, this tow company went above and beyond for us, we could not thank them enough, if you are ever stuck in Geneva, NY area, call Hart Towing, they will not let you down.

Once at our 3rd hotel in as many days, we checked in and looked around online as to where we could go for dinner, there was a nice restaurant a stone’s throw from the hotel so we walked over for some much needed sustenance.  The name of it was The Cobblestone, a gorgeous old farmhouse turned into a restaurant.

20181021_190927The main bar reminded me of a quaint, English pub. We were herded to the dining room where we had the most delicious dinner, we both cleaned our plates as we were absolutely starving by this time.

20181021_182845 20181021_182840A glass of red wine definitely made her forget about the car trouble….

The next morning she was up early and phoning the 2 dealerships in the area to see which one could get her vehicle in for assessment and repair. A couple hours later the tow company dropped her car off at the chosen dealership and we waited for several more hours while they performed an in-depth examination.  Meanwhile, we only had the hotel room booked for one night hoping that the dealership would be able to fix her car that day (praying it was something easy!), but by 4 pm, we still hadn’t heard from them and we had to check out of our room. We were able to hang around in the lobby while we waited as the sympathetic hotel staff said to take as long as you need to figure out what to do.  Not long after Kathy got the call that the car needed a part and of course, they didn’t have one in stock and it would be couriered to the dealership the next morning. Back I went to hubby via email and he booked the room again for the night, thank goodness for hotel points!

We moved our luggage et al back into the same room we vacated an hour or so earlier and sat down in the room for a much needed adult beverage (or two or three) until we started to get hungry.  There was a restaurant in the plaza beside the hotel so we decided to walk over and check it out. It was a small, craft brewery type place called Kindred Fare and we both decided on the Chef’s Menu offering of a 3 course prix fixe….oh my yummy goodness, it had the best duck confit I have ever tasted! (shhh…don’t tell my duckie buddies up north) and the most amazing ice cream for dessert.  Normally I don’t eat desserts at restaurants but with our adventures to date, may as well splurge! If you are ever in the area for a wine tour, definitely hit this place up, you will not be disappointed.  You can view their menu here: http://kindredfare.com/

Once we were stuffed to gills, we waddled back across the parking lot to our hotel and plopped down for an evening of tv and cold bevvies.

The next morning we got up, showered, had breakfast in the hotel and then packed back up to hopefully head out once her car received whatever transplants it needed.  A couple hours later we piled into the dealership courtesy car and headed to pick up her beast….and we were finally on our way back to Canada…

20181023_122327Happy smiles all around!!

Just before we crossed the border back into the Great White north we decided to stop at the Niagara Falls outlet mall for some last minute shopping and a quick bite for dinner.  Several hours later we were finely pulling into the back parking lot of my condo building and as she eased her car into a visitor parking space…it promptly “clunked” loudly and lurched to a stop.

Seriously, we could not make this stuff up.  We decided her car was possessed and got out and unloaded my luggage and purchases and hauled everything upstairs.  I had hubby go down with her to check on the vehicle and after trying to drive around the parking lot with it coming in and out of gear, it was left for a timeout in a parking space.

She called her hubby who ended up driving the hour and a bit to our place to pick her up and take her home.  A few days later, a tow truck was sent to pick up the possessed vehicle and take it back to her hometown for burial…or cremation…or something.

1,300 kilometers and 5 days later, our Rhinebeck adventure came to a close.  Memories we will surely laugh about for many years to come!

Deborah

 

 

 

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Alpaca Throw Blanket ~ Take II

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3 years after I started spinning alpaca fibre for my very first alpaca blanket (Fert & Palladin Throw Blanket) that was finally woven in 2016, I am back for more punishment (?) to spin and weave a new one.

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Why you ask when I already have this gorgeous one? Well, because after its first season at the cottage, I needed to wash it to put it away for the impending close of the cottage and it partially felted in my dumb washing machine.  Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike my washing machine? Its mainly because I didn’t get to choose which one I wanted, this one came with the purchase of our condo down south.  Now most women prefer to select a washing machine that will be best suited to her needs, but this one is far from it for me.  Unfortunately it will have to do until it keels over, and it most likely will not just to spite me.

So I soaked the blanket in the bathtub with some Synthrapol (textile detergent) and then popped the blanket in the washing machine and selected the ”spin” cycle to get the water out, but, said dumb machine stops and starts its spinning every 15 seconds and with all the flopping around the blanket started to felt.

Not impressed.

At All.

So, last year I picked up a whole bunch of alpaca from a nearby ranch (where I picked up the cria fleece from Fuerig, remember the black shawl I made last year?) and have started spinning for a new blanket.  I have 3 skeins done so far.  This is a 3-ply, worsted weight (about 9 wpi) and with being a 3-ply, will take me considerable time to spin enough for the new project.  I started spinning the white alpaca fibre and after the 3 skeins were plyed, decided to dye them.

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The 2 outer skeins were dyed using dyestock derived from avocado skins that had been fermented in a 50/50 ammonia/water solution for 4 months.  Since I used natural materials for these 2 skeins, it is a slightly lengthier process to prepare the fibres for dyeing than using commercial acid dyes, but the results are worth the effort.  The end colour is a soft beige, which is hard to tell in the photo, but trust me, they are not the bright white they were before dyeing.   I just love when my minds eye is rewarded with what it sees.

The reddish skein was kettle dyed using commercial acid dyes in a rust-brown colour  with a splash of bright red.  Kettle dyeing gives the classic appearance of a tonal yarn. Again, pretty darn close to what I was going for. Since I only have white and brown alpaca, I wanted to dye some of the skeins to increase the colour palette for the blanket.  So far so good!

I just need to finish up with the overabundance of garden produce and canning activities this month so I can get back to carding and spinning…hopefully by Spring I will have enough yarn to be put on the loom!

Deborah

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September KAL (Knit Along)

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For those knitters and fibre enthusiasts out there, you know the feeling of completing a KAL with a great bunch of like minded folk. For those that aren’t into fibre-arts, you are missing out!

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For the month of September,  I signed up to knit a shawl for a KAL group on Ravelry, which by the way, if you are not a part of and you are a fibre geek, then I suggest you head over pronto to sign up (its free) and you will then have access to oodles of patterns from mitts to socks to hats to sweaters and blankets in every style,  for every age, and most are free patterns!

Anyway, back to the KAL.

The group I am a part of is called the DIY & DYE, where we spin, dye and knit our creations from raw fleece.  I joined in with some alpaca that I had spun and hand-painted and included a commercial skein of yarn in a contrasting neon peach colour.

The pattern was somewhat simple, but it still took some concentration after making a….design element, yes we call mistakes “design elements”.  Aside from the impromptu changes to the pattern, I finished the project just one day outside of September, even with life getting in the way.

The pattern, called “Metalouse” by Stephen West (a well known knit designer in the knitting world) features a striking pattern created by slipped stitches in a contrasting colour that melds beautifully with the variegated handspun alpaca.

I simply love how this turned out and have another one planned very soon.  Have you been a part of a KAL or CAL (crochet along) or even a WAL (weave along)? If so, I would love to see your creations, feel free to tell me all about them or link your projects below!

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Fuerig The Baby Alpaca

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I really wish I could have met Fuerig in person.  With his glossy black locks and cool demeanor, I could envision him strutting around the paddock like a camelid version of Fabio, beckoning to the ladies housed in the next pasture over with a “hello gorgeous, come here often?” line.

Since the owner sold him for breeding stock before I arrived at the ranch, the next best thing was to acquire 2 of his fleeces.  The first fleece being his ”cria” fleece (cria is what a baby alpaca is called) with a 4 1/2″ long staple length and slight crimp, the lustrous jet black locks are incredibly soft and as fine as angora bunny fur.  Unfortunately it is full of VM (vegetable matter) and the processing mill had sent it back as they didn’t want to deal with all that VM.  I figure I have plenty of time to painstakingly pick out bits of hay knowing full well that the end product will be well worth the effort.

DSC05876The second fleece was from his next (2nd) shearing, it still needs a light skirting as well as a bath but it is currently housed in an airtight tote bin while I finish processing his baby fleece. I have big plans for both fleeces, but first I was itching to spin some of the baby fleece as its reputation of being an exceptionally soft fiber is prized by knitters the world over.

For those that have yet to spin alpaca (or other camelid) fibers, the weight and feel of alpaca yarns are nothing like that of yarn made with sheep’s wool.  Wool fiber ranges from rough to ultra soft, depending on the breed, they have somewhat denser locks but with a distinct bouncy feel.  Alpacas don’t bounce, they just lay flat out on the ground and snooze and their fiber feels exactly the same, heavy and with great draping qualities.

10351730_10152717633959054_2321268615927224487_nAfter a week of picking, washing and drying, the silky black locks were ready for further processing.  I automatically chose to use my hand cards for this one over the drum carder for two reasons.  First being the drum carder was up north at the cottage and I and the fleece were not and two, the fineness and length of the staples called for a delicate hand while carding so as not to damage or break the fibers.  Combing could have been another option for processing, if I had a pair of hand combs that is, but I don’t, so hand cards are the weapon of choice.

I spent a wet and dreary Saturday afternoon picking and carding 2 ounces of fiber to spin for a test skein.  Once prepped into rolags, I divided the batch in half and eagerly sat down with my antique Nova Scotian wheel and got to work.  Wow, this fiber spun with ease.  So soft and silky and at times a little slippery, but it was a real pleasure to spin, with the exception of stopping to pick VM out occasionally.

I wanted the finished yarn to feel as close to commercially spun baby alpaca yarn as possible.  Once your fingers touch one of those soft, squooshy and smooshy hanks of yarn, it’s impossible to put it back down and next thing you know it’s in your shopping bag and your wallet is noticeably lighter.  So the trick to getting that baby soft feel is to keep as little twist to the yarn as possible.  Only add enough twist to hold the single together if you are keeping it as a single.  If you are plying with 2 or more singles, then add a tich more twist, being careful not to add too much though or you will end up with a skein of kitchen twine.  Desirable only if you have a turkey to truss.

After I spun a few meters, I pulled a length of the single back off the bobbin and plied it against itself for a sample.  Perfect.  It was turning out exactly as I envisioned.  It was about a light fingering weight for the 2-ply, but that will most likely change with wet finishing, so for now I cut that off and added it to my control card and then spent the next day spinning up a couple bobbins, each holding an ounce of fiber.  I let the bobbins rest for a day, and then plied them together into a gorgeous hank of jet black, shiny yarn.

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I ended up with 177 yards out of the 2 ounces of fiber and after a wash and set at the salon, the yarn bloomed to 12 wpi, about a DK weight yarn.  I was aiming for Fingering weight, but overall was happy with it as the intended project is a shawl and gauge isn’t terribly important in shawls.

With the test skein of Fuerig’s cria fleece complete, I need to finalize what shawl pattern to use.  Normally I spin for an already chosen project, like my Fert & Palladin Alpaca Throw Blanket (http://www.ournorthernhomestead.com/meet-fert-and-palladin), but acquiring this fleece at the last minute left me with no time to search for the right pattern beforehand.  I was also somewhat affected by the ‘oooo shiny’ syndrome of wanting to play with the fleece immediately after obtaining it.  I am sure a lot of fiber enthusiasts out there can relate or attest to the reality of the ‘oooo shiny’ syndrome, it often afflicts even the most disciplined fiber-holic.

Now it’s time to cruise the internet halls of Ravelry, window shopping for shawls from the comfort of my arm chair with a cup of tea in hand, then back to finish spinning up the rest of Fuerig’s fleece…… unless the ‘oooo shiny’ syndrome strikes again.

Deborah

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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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