Two Steps Forward Three Steps Back

*This is just an update on my life, if you only want to read crafty stuff, hopefully the next post will contain that.  There is mention of Mice and permanent ways to get rid of them, if you are big into non-lethal rodent control then you will not want to read this post.*

I am still trying to get around to reviewing all of the things that I got myself for Christmas, but the ongoing Mouse Saga seems to be two steps forward and three back.  In the last two weeks I have found droppings on the counters and just today in a drawer.  Fortunately my handyman is amazing, he looked to see if there was anywhere they could get in from the outside and sealed those up. He spoke with a couple of farmers and old timers and they advised him how to keep the mice out with an indoor/outdoor safe spray that smells a bit like Citronella and is supposed to keep them out.  He sprayed all around outside and quite a few doorways, I put it around the doorways from the kitchen to the rest of the house (after locking the cat away) and am waiting for it to dry so I can let the cat out.

Neither of us have found any detritus anywhere else in the house, so I think that they are contained.  If I see any more droppings I will let him know and we will get some snap traps.  (Don’t bother yelling at me about killing mice, once they are in the house they will always seek another house to get into.)  He will also get some special traps for outside to keep them from coming in, that will be Wednesday after Christmas.  I will need to run all of my pots and pans through the dishwasher, I’m going to throw out all of my baking goods, the thought of using them is making me nauseous, (not that I have time to bake).  I also plan on throwing out all of the plastics that I haven’t used in years and possibly putting the pots and pans that I haven’t used in a while in a plastic tub with a lid once they have been through the dishwasher.  Getting the outside sealed up and the deterrent spray were my two steps forward, my three steps back are a bit frustrating.  The first step is having to run everything in the kitchen through the dishwasher.  Actually the next two steps back were in one action, some of the tiles along the peak of the roof blew back leaving something like a foot of the attic exposed to the elements.  Thank goodness my handyman is amazing and he managed to get a patch on, but I am so frustrated that it seems like there is always something else going wrong.  On a brighter note, I also remembered that Mom and I collected Beanie Babies and they wound up stored in the back hallway.

They were almost all packed away, but most of them were in cardboard boxes and I decided that since I had some plastics I bought for the organization I wanted to kill several birds with one cleaning.  I wanted to make sure that none of the beanies were compromised, get rid of any that I know I don’t want to keep, make sure that there were no mice in the back hallway, vacuum the back hall, wipe down the walls, get the beanies in better storage, and have them in a state so that my home organizers don’t even need to concern themselves with them.  So I had 8 huge plastics, I think 125 quarts each, and they are completely full.  I ordered another 4 from Walmart online and bought 4 more from a dollar store.  I plan to spend some time tomorrow finishing up packing the beanies, then perhaps rewarding myself with a movie. I have decided on two big garbage bags full of stuffed animals I’m donating which doesn’t seem like much but since I have memories attached to all of them it really is progress.  The unexpected benefit is, I get to remember the amazing times Mom and I had getting these beanies, we spent a few weeks eating tons of happy meals when McDonalds were having their beanie special, the flea market where her aunt worked, the shop in town where we used to get them, and so much more.  Sometimes it is hard to realize that you are able to experience all of your emotions at once, happy, sad, melancholy, angry, frustrated, tired, etc.

Well, that is enough out of me.  Things are progressing quite well.  I am moving forward on the cleaning, and remembering good times along the way.  The roof was sorted out before it became a big problem.  All entrances for the mice seem to be sealed, and a deep clean/disinfecting is on its way.  Wednesday my handyman will be up to work on getting preventative measures in place, Thursday and Friday my organizing team will be up here and I will find out what my Grand in fees gets me.  Then I will be able to start my New Year Fresh and Bright!

Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays (no matter what you celebrate), and I will be on again soon.

Happy Crafting!

Thoughts of Spring

I know, the year has not even ended and I am thinking about a Spring Dye Garden.  To be fair to me, January is National Seed Catalog Month.  I have just under 2 acres of land around my home, however much of that is either forest or too hilly to be useful for planting.  Fortunately I have 2 raised beds in the back of the house and one large raised bed facing the front of the house.  Throughout these past few years the beds have gone to seed.  I intend to put down some material that is supposed to deter weeds and cut around the few plants that I want to keep.  Then I intend to make some cement blocks, with inlaid glass designs on top, to hold down the material as well as further deterring weeds.  The cement blocks will also be a great base for the pots that I hope to use so that I can plant a dye garden out front.  I also hope that creating cement blocks is truly as easy of a craft as it seems so that I can use that as a craft at the public library I work at next year.

To get an idea of what plants I want to put in my dye garden I am researching using several resources.  From Knitpicks I purchased The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes by Sasha Duerr.  So far I find it to be a fascinating resource that will help me a great deal toward understanding how to create dyes from plant materials.  I also purchased A Garden to Dye For through the Amazon Kindle Store.  These should give me a really good basis for understanding what plants I am going to need.  I am also trying to figure out what plants are native to my area of the USA so that I can avoid planting invasive species in my area.

In my two back beds I do hope to plant some vegetables.  Cherry tomatoes, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, spaghetti squash, and perhaps some others.  Again, I do plan on deterring the weeds and utilizing planters to create a garden with reasonable maintenance needs.

I firmly believe that this is going to take me several months, both to figure out what plants are good for dyeing and native (or at least not destructive) to my environment.  I would love to plant some cotton or flax but the reality is I am a little too far north for that to be a realistic dream.

So, I will keep dreaming, planning, and crafting.

Happy Crafting to All!

Beekeeper Update

I Have some things going on with Mom, she reacted badly to an antibiotic, so my sibling has had to come and keep her company for a couple of weeks.  I had two really busy weeks at work, 13 hours, 10 hours, 13 hours, 10 hours, was how one week went, and so having my sib. in the house for mom really helped a lot.  This does mean that I didn’t get a ton of crafting done.  I’ve really made up for this over a couple of weekends, but I really have to split it up into several weeks of posts or else they are going to be too long.  This week is going to be mostly the photos of the hexies I’ve done (or found since I had several completed but couldn’t be found).

So, here comes the hexies!

Beekeeper’s Quilt

I am working on the Beekeeper’s Quilt, the pattern is by Tiny Owl Knits and can be found on Ravelry.  Each little Hexipuff is knit as an individual project, stuffed, and put in a basket until you have a sufficient amount to piece together for a completed quilt.  I can knit about one hexipuff a day, due to time constraints and my very slow knitting.  It will take about 580 Hexipuffs to make a quilt 5.5 Feet X 6 Feet.  Since I like my quilts to be able to actually cover me this is the size I am aiming for.  A 3 foot by 4 foot quilt would be 384 hexipuffs but I would consider that a very small quilt.

If I were able to knit a hexie every single day it would take me about 2 years to create the hexie’s and probably another year to piece it together.  This would certainly qualify as a big project.  Well, I cannot make a three year project easy on myself now can I?  No!  I decided that I was going to create two different hexipuff quilts.  One will be made up of hexie’s that I knit from my own handspun yarn.

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The second quilt that I plan on working on will consist of scraps of yarn, usually some fancy yarns that I will not purchase an entire skein of.  For example JimmyBeansWool.com allows 20 yard samples of some of their yarns to be purchased.  While I find myself reluctant to purchase a skein of Madeline Tosh (MadTosh) yarn for $25-$35 a skein, I can justify spending about $1.25 for enough yarn to create a hexipuff and a half.  It really is still quite expensive, but it allows me to fool myself into thinking that I am being thrifty.  I have also discovered that the MadTosh yarn is really exquisite to work with and creates a very pretty, silky puff.  If I were really into clothing knitting I would certainly consider some of this.  The yarn to the left is a thin sock yarn, that I might need to use a smaller needle if I want to knit the rest of my sample skein into hexie’s, and the right is the MadTosh yarn in Swimming Pool colorway.

 

I really enjoy knitting up these tiny hexies on my size 8 Dpns out of wood.  I love how the needles work with the yarn, and I really enjoy working with my handspun so I get an idea of what works and what does not with my yarn.

Happy Crafting!

Alpaca Adventures and More

I love the alpaca seconds I was gifted with.

Due to the time consuming nature of cleaning these bags of alpaca I have decided to give Tour De Fleece a miss this year.  This is an event that lasts as long as the Tour de France and involves challenges, rest days, and more just as the bicycling event.  More than that it involves spinning everyday.  While that is an overarching goal of mine, I would also like to focus on ensuring that I have this alpaca clean and ready to spin for the fall and winter.  During these warm days as well as these rainy days I hope to take advantage of the weather, setting the fleece out on my brand new sweater racks while it is raining to wash them in a natural way, as well as setting them out in the sun to make sure that they are as dry as possible before I begin the next step in processing them.  I am also hoping to comb or card out the fleeces before the snow comes, this will allow me to dispose of the fluff I cannot use in an eco-friendly way.  Putting it out to be used as lining for animal homes or to decompose as mulch.

Flicking open the locks where I am able to and carding what does not flick is a time consuming process.  For some of the coarsest seconds I attempted to turn the fur into batts, I managed to get three batts done, but I do not know if they will spin up very well.  I plan on trying to spin them in a regular manner and if that does not seem to work, core spinning them.  If it turns out that I hate spinning these batts, I do plan on gifting them to whomever wants them from my Guild.  I hope to do this before my next batch of fleece is dry, that way I will know if this is a viable option for preparation.

That may have to wait though, I am currently spinning my June Box from Paradise Fibers, I am spinning the last third of those singles.  The first two are pictured below.

My original intention was to ply the three bobbins together, however it is possible that they will be too muddy when I am done.  Because of this concerns I will probably do a test sample to knit up, once I decide if I like that or not I will either ply all of them together or spin up a white single to ply with these.

Whew, that will keep me busy for a while!

Happy Crafting

On Vacation

Leno Lace

3/2 cotton woven using a combination of Leno Lace and Brooks Bouquet lace weaving.  The Leno Lace is with an open shed bringing the two bottom threads over the top threads and then I go around one more time so that the threads are in their starting positions but wrapped around each other.  I think that this gives the lace a cleaner look.  Then I do seven plain picks followed by a set of brooks bouquet, which is wrapping your weft thread around three of your warp threads on the up shed twice so that it forms a little bouquet, all the way across.  I have a different number of threads across so I have five in the final bundle, but I really like how it looks.  You can do the brooks bouquet in any combination you like.  I follow this with seven plain picks and repeat the brooks bouquet twice more before starting over with a Leno Lace.  This is the project pictured above.

I am currently on my first vacation in over ten years that does not involve a family reunion or major family obligation.  I love family reunions, but travel with mom is really difficult at this time.  I did go to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in the beginning of May which could also be considered a vacation, however I really consider this my first vacation.

So far I have gotten the kitchen scrubbed, the repairman came to look at the oven which has been broken for a while.  He will be back later this week with the right part to finish fixing the oven.  It’s been broken for a few years, so this is a big move!  I also managed to drop the car off at the garage, there was some major body damage because a little bit of the bottom of my driveway washed out so every time I exited the driveway I would bump the bottom of the car and it caused some major damage.  The car should be done by the end of the week and they will pick me up then.

I have been doing more then just getting caught up on major chores, though I am happy that I am getting more crafts hauled down into our new craft room, I have also washed the first back of alpaca seconds one of my spinning students gave to me.  I have learned a lot of great lessons from this.

* Do NOT wash a whole bag of alpaca seconds at once if you only have one sweater rack to lay this out to dry on.

* DO let the alpaca soak in the water for at least 30 minutes, do not run the alpaca through the water and call it washed, it isn’t.

*Do NOT set your fleece out underneath a tree that is shedding a ton of those whirly gig things.

* If you left your hand cards at work, this might not be the right time to wash fleece.

Despite these, hard won, lessons I have been having a ton of fun with this alpaca.  I Have my flick brush and the bee hive decappers that are working as wool combs.

There are two knitting projects I am working on as well as a crochet project but I think that will be separate posts when I am done with them or when I am so sick of them I need inspiration to get back to working on them.

So this is my vacation, I am trying to get some work done around the house and some crafting accomplished so that I can go back to work relaxed and re energized.  I just wanted to post this update, and will try and get back to updating next week.

Happy Crafting!

 

 

MS&WF 2- Wools and Sheep

I managed to add at least 13 new breeds to my fiber study.  There was one booth that had over 60 breeds, but mostly unwashed wool.  Since my mother has COPD (and is recovering from double Pneumonia) I am unwilling to bring unwashed fleece into the house.  While I am certain that the sheperds do their best, Wool Washer’s Disease is also known as Anthrax, so I am not going to take chances.

Below please find some of my amazing finds, I cannot wait to get started spinning them!D9786F29-BD2F-4F4A-B1A4-796420E78E90522df623-edcd-4526-be6a-4540e5008031.jpeg

Above are my two braids of Rambouillet from two different vendors.  As you can see one is white and combed top while the other is a natural brown and I believe carded.  The preparations and probably micron count are so very different but both are extremely springy.  I cannot wait to get my hands on them to test and spin!152BD26D-40F5-4FD8-9A9C-3E6957FA59F2

Above is my Tunis top, I have half of this section already spun into a single, I hope to ply and create samples over this weekend.  It was an amazing spin, if a bit coarse.  The dyed blues and pinks have mixed together in places to create an amazing purple effect that I am fascinated to see plied.2CBA7F34-70FA-481C-B641-8523292E1013

The extremely rare hog island I obtained is extremely full of vegetable matter.  The texture is very springy and I am looking forward to working with this fiber, but I also believe I might try to use the Hackle to get out a lot of the vegetable matter before attempting to spin this fiber.

I must have jiggled the camera an extreme amount while trying to photograph this Black Welsh, but the fiber is divine anyway.  A little coarse, but with that deep black color who cares?  24caf879-a0f6-44e0-a96c-b67c4ef94c82.jpeg

 

I managed to obtain lincoln roving as pictured here, and lincoln lamb locks as pictured below.  I will admit I made a mistake, the lincoln lamb locks are not the beautiful long locks I envisioned, they are quite short and I will probably use them to add texture to a batt instead of flicking them open for a true worsted yarn as I first envisioned.  The roving is luscious, though a bit coarser than I was expecting.F9B71DA4-4BB3-4F26-91CE-1F4ECBBAE662

This half pound of Karukal is just begging me to sink my fingers into it’s pretty softness and spin like the wind.  Soon, I promise soon!C839AED6-AF55-47BE-A7F7-DB5581FEB20D

This beautiful black braid of Zwartables is going to be a blast to spin, again it is on the coarser side of things, but who knows what it will do once it is spun and washed.  The guessing is half of the fun!694FFC24-009C-4604-8C3C-22B4BAA684A5

I went a little overboard with the Wensleydale, but I cannot for the life of me regret it.  I have this amazing half pound that I can use to spin worsted and see how well the finished yarn takes to dye as well as a braid of yellow Wensleydale near the bottom of the post that I can spin up and see the different shades of yellow pop out!99B83696-ACD8-42D6-864C-BBDAE22412C4

This braid of Textel seems to be on the downy side of wool, it should be a fun, soft spin, and the resulting yarn will be amazing (in its own way just like the rest of the yarns).714329AA-6DFF-4C20-8E65-B340C4891842

At the Coopworth booth they didn’t have any prepared roving but they did have an amazing selection of curls.  I love how they look in their bags and did manage to comb out a tiny portion on my new hackle.  They comb out beautifully, I think that as I have time I will pick apart the locks that I can find for combing and then use the drum carder for the rest.  This will give me a great chance to explore differences in preparation and how they effect the finished product.  So much fun and so much to learn!4CD66172-5F89-47F8-A734-B2F4FE163DEB

One of my patrons assured me that I already had some Finn that they spun as a part of their breed sample.  Oh well, I didn’t have it written down as a breed that I own, but even so this is such a fluffy bunch (and I was able to practice on an electric wheel for the first time with some skirted finn at the Folk Art Booth, so there is a special memory in this wool already).F1BC11E6-57B0-4035-9532-CDD205ABD86C

This mohair along with the pink locks below were obtained at a booth with two amazing ladies that offered to let me go see their goats anytime I wanted.  Even though I don’t live in Maryland I am tempted anyway!  At least I have this amazing roving and curls to play with!15633D07-5A4C-4293-AA33-771153D5DB4580BEA30B-B92E-4F76-B946-1F7FD546E4BC1CDB9AB4-EE61-46EF-ACF3-3E430363AF4B

No one ever told me that Cormo is one of the softest breeds ever.  I don’t know how this is going to spin up, but for now it is like petting my faux angora, so soft and beautiful!

The Cotswold below is such a delight to pet.  I cannot wait to spin it up.  The Ross Farm was one of two booths at which I found Four different Breeds that I had not spun yet. It was so much fun finding these different companies that raised or processed different heritage breeds.

7D9C0379-E0AC-4D5D-9E48-7D73DA6BEDF8This fiber is like trying to spin very coarse hair.  I have not gotten a chance to even pull it out of the bag other than the tail sticking out the top but I can already tell that spinning this is going to be interesting.  I cannot wait!93A291E2-CFBD-4828-A7FB-3F69B766DC8565BD7A1B-91DF-4006-8059-F0C4032B8F334885860F-0036-4032-981D-F46DCE671153

The last, but certainly not least, bit of fiber I purchased was some Superwash Targhee from a vendor that is friends with my father’s cousin who took me to Maryland Sheep and Wool on Saturday.  The colors are interesting but more than that I love spinning Targhee for it’s springy texture.  I am not thrilled that it is superwash, I have heard that some people have skin troubles with the chemicals used to make it superwash, but I look forward to working with it anyway.C7CBF171-AD58-43F8-AEC5-967E8E1CB892

So, there you have it, my stash haul from Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I cannot for the life of me believe that it was two weeks ago already.  Oh well, more time to save up for next year!

Happy Crafting!