My Back Water Abbey Hat

Last April I had the opportunity to go to Yarn Fest in Colorado. In the midst of this trip were the plans I’d been making for my month long vacation to the UK and Ireland with my husband. Eager for travel,  I set aside my Irish itinerary and packed for Colorado.

I live in south Georgia, so it is no surprise that I was excited to see snow falling upon my arrival! I had not been able to play in the snow for years! This defiantly put me in the mood for fiber shopping.

2015-04-19 11.05.58

After perusing the vendor stalls and seeing may things that caught my eye, I was compelled to make my 1st purchase at Black Water Abbey Yarns. These yarns are made in Ireland at a small mill, and imported to Aurora Colorado. They also have a collection of patterns, written in America, but with a definite Irish flair. Perfect to compliment my upcoming trip.

DSC_0086

I chose the “Celtic Trio” pattern and some green yarn. The yarn itself is a bit on the scratchy side, but as I later learned on my trip, that is very typical of yarns produced in the UK and Ireland. However, I thought it would make a fine sturdy hat.

The pattern is well written. The cable is both written and charted. I prefer to work from a chart, but I found it to be easier to follow after I color coded the symbols.

DSC_0104

I love how it came out.

DSC_0187

My buttons are from Black Water Abbey too.

DSC_0188

 

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to add the tassel or not, but I’m glad I decided to. sliding a couple of complimentary beads on it really helped to finish it off.

Even the top has nice detail.

DSC_0193

I wasn’t able to get it done before the trip – but it’s done now and the weather is just beginning to turn. I can’t wait to wear it!

I also picked up the Hawthorn Vest pattern.  I’m planning to make that with some yarn I bought in Donegal, Ireland.

20150818_144907

As an added bit of interest – While on our travels, we stumbled upon Cushendale Woolen Mills in County Kilkenny. They offered us a private tour! I had no idea at the time that this was the very same mill that produced my yarn! Such fun, I even brought home some roving to spin. I guess that will need to be a new post soon (I’ve already spun it up). This was a highlight of my trip and now it means even more!

 

 

 

 

 

Share
Posted in Knitting | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

DIY Dryer Balls

These days it makes sense to look for ways to save on household bills.

One way to lower your energy bill is to add these colorful Wool Dryer Balls to your dry cycle when doing laundry. These simple tennis ball sized, felted spheres will help absorb moisture and shorten the time needed to dry laundry. As an added bonus, you will also see less wrinkles, thereby eliminating the need to iron many things.

DSC_0127

So how do we make them? You will be surprised at how simple it is.

You will need:

Wool Roving or Yarn that will felt.

Nylon Pantyhose (not your good ones!).

Small amount of yarn or string.

Washer, Laundry Soap and Dryer

All you need to do is roll the wool into a ball. That’s it, really! By layering several colors, you will be able to create uniquely colorful Dryer Balls. Or maybe you prefer solid or natural colors? Have fun and play around with your favorite shades and combinations.

DSC_0127

If you have any left over bits of yarn, this will help create a different look as well. The polka dot ball is made by 1st felting a solid color and then needle felting dots onto it. Then it is re-felted along with the others.

DSC_0128

Build the layers until the ball is approximately 3-4″ in diameter.

DSC_0123

Carefully push it down to the toe of the pantyhose. Stretch the fabric tightly around the ball and tie it off with a bit of string.

DSC_0130

Continue to insert additional balls, securing each one with a piece of string as you go.

Place them into the washer, along with some towels or sheets and wash with laundry detergent and hot water.

Place them in the dry cycle to finish. Depending on how quickly your wool felts, you may need to repeat the wash and dry process.

That’s it! Remove them from the pantyhose. Notice how they have shrunk? Place one or two in the dryer along with your laundry, for a quicker, more cost efficient, dry time.

Add a couple drops of essential oil to them to scent everything from towels to unmentionables.

 

Share
Posted in DIY, Felting, This and That | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

HAPPY HALLOWEEN !!!

DSC_0117

Have a safe and Happy Halloween! Don’t let the spooks and goules get you!

 

Share
Posted in Felting | Tagged , | Comments Off

Is There Fiber in a Pumpkin?

Well there may not be a lot of fiber in a typical pumpkin, but there is lots in my little pumpkin patch!

DSC_0090

I’ve been having some fun knitting up a few of these cute stuffed ones. I looked at several patterns on Ravelry, and found that I liked these the best. Although I did end up making a couple minor changes to the second one.

DSC_0104

I’ve also been trying to improve on my crochet. Let’s face it – there is lots of room for improvement there! I used this pattern and then, in my usual way, played around with that one too and made a larger version.

DSC_0101

Then, because I was on a roll now… I made a needle felted version.

DSC_0115

The knit and crochet pumpkins are all made of handspun yarn. I used Kromski Polish Merino for all of them, including the needle felted one.

I have some of the brighter orange all spun up and ready to be made into more. This yarn is spun much thinner that the other, so I will either get teeny tiny pumpkins or I’ll have to play around with the patterns again!

DSC_0107

These quick little projects really have me in the mood for some Fall weather! And for Pumpkin Pie!

Share
Posted in Crochet, Felting, Knitting, This and That | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Fox Paws – Not Your Average Knitting Pattern

Have you ever seen a knitting pattern and instantly knew you HAD to make it? It’s happened to me more than once.

20160221_121907

My latest must do pattern was Fax Paws by Zandy Peters. What’s more I knew right away that I wanted to make it using handspun yarn.

And what’s better than handspun yarn? Hand dyed yarn of course!

And what’s better than handspun, hand dyed yarn? Handspun that was dyed using all natural dyes.

So in case you haven’t figured it out – that’s just what I did.

If you follow my blog on a regular basis, then you’ve seen the posts about the dye days.

1st there was the Goldenrod and Goldenrod with Iron. Dyeing Fiber the Natural Way.

DSC_0358

That was followed by Natural Logwood Dye on Wool.

DSC_0356

I did some Cochineal after that, but it was too vivid to use on this project. I mean REALLY!

DSC_0369

But then came the Madder Root. This was a perfect color to add to my project.

DSC_0372

Next up was Black Walnut. Always a favorite.

DSC_0024

And finally, something I hadn’t tried before – Chestnuts! This was a pleasant surprise to say the least!

Now that I had all of my roving dyed, I needed to concentrate on getting the yarn spun. Knowing that it was all for one project, put some added pressure on to ensure that all of my yarn was the same size (more or less). I checked my singles regularly to be certain I did not stray too far from the desired thickness. My 2 ply needed to be a fingering weight to work well with the pattern.

Finally, after many hours sitting at my Kromski Spinning Wheel, I had achieved my goal and I was ready to begin working on the knitting pattern.

2015-04-10 20.46.42

I drew out my plan on the included worksheet, did my gauge swatch, and cast on…

Oh, my… This is not a pattern for the faint at heart! I repeated the sequence in my head with such intense concentration that I began to hear it in my sleep! Knit one, yarn over, knit again in the same stitch, slip back 2, knit one, yarn over, knit again in the the same stitch, slip back 2… over and over… Then there are the knit 5 together, slip back 2, knit 3 together, slip back 2, knit 3 together… etc… wheew.

2015-04-11 16.26.29

After reading some of the comments on Ravelry, I opted to use stitch markers to help me keep track of things. They had to be moved one or two stitches on most rows, but they still helped tremendously.

The most difficult part was on rows 4 and 5, simply because the it got so tight on the needles. It was physically hard to knit . I literally wore the edge of my needle off making this!

Yet, it truly was worth it. The pattern, although difficult, was very well written.

It took many hours of hard knitting – not the relaxing kind of knitting either. However,  the end result is stunning. I’m anxious for cooler weather so I can wear it!

And as a final note – I won 1st Place at the Georgia National Fair AND the Sponsor Award for Natural Dye!!!

20151014_160059

 

 

 

Share
Posted in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

KC’s Not So Great Adventure

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything. Life has been very busy – in a good way. But I have a story that I’d like to share before I begin to try to catch up on the rest of my life. What has inspired me most to write this post is how the events of what could have been a tragic tale, reminded me of how good, kind and caring most people are. Especially when it involves a dog.

Meet KC.

DSC_0235

KC is 15 years old. She is nearly completely blind, able to see only very exaggerated changes from dark to light. She is also almost totally deaf, responding only to a sharp noise or clap.

DSCN2793

Now that may sound like a sad way to live, but she knows her way around the house and yard very well. She continues to play with the other dogs and loves to ride in the Ranger.

DSC_0245

Her story began at the Kern County Animal Shelter (hence the name KC), where we found her as a 3 month old pup and adopted her. She has been a perfect companion and pet.

DSCN2198

So imagine how devastated we were when, upon returning from a lengthy trip to the UK and Ireland (another post I promise), we learned that just the day before, she somehow got out of the yard. You see KC has a fear of thunder, like many dogs. She paces and pants until she is let into the house. My daughter who was house/pet sitting for us while we were gone, was at work that day and somehow, KC found her way out. But not her way back in.

DSCN2780

Immediately notices went out on Facebook and posters were placed all around our small south Georgia town. Within hours, we received the 1st call. She had been sighted that day, about a mile off.  We drove to the spot she had been seen and drove all over (in the dark) but did not find her. The caller joined us in our after hours search in their golf cart, flashlight in hand.

The following day we heard of 5 more sightings, most from the day before.One guy saw the poster just after seeing a dog like her. He drove around the area for an hour and a half looking for her, while we did the same. Word spread like wildfire. This dog needed help finding her way home!

Every day we searched and clapped as we walked along every road in the area. Even my 14 month old grandson clapped in his stroller as we searched.

We drove the Ranger hoping she would hear it.

DSCN1841

All the farmers were on lookout in their fields.

As the days turned into a week, and the phone stopped ringing… I began to loose hope. It could not be possible for an old blind, deaf dog to survive in the wild for so long. She was not even capable of finding a garbage can to eat out of. My heart was breaking. This was no way for a faithful companion to go after so many years of devotion.

DSCN3767

After a full week, another thunder storm rolled in. I had a hope that it would start her pacing again… We drove down a dirt road near her last sighting, but slid off the road and got stuck in the mud. Again, helped by the kindness of a stranger. Someone drove by in a 4 wheel drive and offered to return with his tractor and pull us out. It took him longer than we thought it would to return. I began to think he would not. By then it was fully dark. Then – here he came. He was longer than expected because he had to help someone else too! He spent nearly 3 hours helping others that night and asked for nothing but a smile and a Thank You. And he promised to keep an eye out for KC. But I could tell, he thought it was too late for her.

At 8:30 the following morning, the phone rang. “Your dog is in the field across the street. She won’t come to us so Jimmy is following her at a distance in the truck.” I flew to the field. The woman from the phone was waiting by the roadside and pointed to the area where Jimmy was in the truck. I drove around the back of the property. AND THERE SHE WAS! I jumped out of my car and called out to her. Of course she didn’t hear me… I clapped. SHE  RAN! Yes Ran! She was frightened and confused. I took off after her on foot. No way was I letting her get away from me! She settled to a trot as I neared the end of my ability to continue at this pace. As a last ditch effort I threw myself at her in a “first baseman tag” sort of maneuver. As the tips of my fingers tapped her hip, she spiraled to heap on the ground, dazed. I flung my arms around her and as I gasped for breath, I could hear Jimmy in the truck, laughing with delight.

20150906_082240             20150906_083416-1

She weighed 45-47 lbs when she left. More than a week later she returned home at 30 lbs. At 1st I’m not sure she really knew where she was. It was 3 days before she did much more than sleep or even waged her tail. And another week before she played with the other dogs and joined in on the daily routine of horse feeding and daily chores.

Now she is back to her  normal self. Still too thin, but we are working on that. She still bumps into things, but she no longer panics if we get a few feet away from her. She will not be with us much longer, I am certain, but when she goes it will be surrounded by love in the comfort of her family, not alone in the woods.

A big shout out to the community and all the efforts that went into finding this old gal. THANK YOU ALL !!

Share
Posted in Animals, This and That | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Simple Summer Weaving

Ever notice how in the Summer, you just want things to stay simple? I often find myself putting off those complicated projects and reaching for something easy. That way if somebody suddenly yells, “Last one in the pool s a rotten egg!”, I don’t even have to think twice about stopping right where I am to join them. After all, that’s what summer is all about!

DSC_0024

My latest Ridged Heddle Loom project fit right into that category. It was easy to set up the loom (called warping) and easy to weave!

I’ve chosen a light rayon/cotton yarn in cool Summer colors to create a plain weave scarf.

DSC_0017

Oftentimes plain weave is the best choice, not only for it’s ease of structure, but also for the final effect. This particular yarn is variegated. While not producing an actual plaid, it does give the appearance of such. Weaving is probably my favorite way to use variegated yarns. Too many times when knitted, the colors pool in an undesirable fashion. Weaving alleviates this tendency and instead offers up a steady blending of colors.

DSC_0021

I’ve chosen to weave this on my Kromski Ridged Heddle loom because the great outdoors was calling to me. I love the portability of it. It’s so soothing to sit out by the pool in the early mornings, before it gets too hot. However, in south Georgia, it doesn’t stay cool for very long. My Kromski Loom is easy to pick up an carry inside once the heat proves too much for me.

DSC_0020

I only used one small skein of this yarn, 2.6 0z/340 yds. I warped my loom with 62 ends in a 10 dent reed, making it just a hair over 6″ wide. I also made certain to keep my beat soft for an even weave. In other words, I did not pack the yarn in tightly as I wove the scarf. Something else I like about the ridged heddle looms is the small amount of waste. On a larger floor loom there is generally 27″ of yarn that cannot reach the actual weaving area. That yarn is called the ‘loom waste’ and gets discarded at the end of the project. On the Ridged Heddle I am able to avoid most of that, discarding very little of my yarn.

DSC_0075

Once I finished weaving and tied off the fringe, I finished it in my washing machine followed by a tumble in the dryer and an iron. My finished scarf is the perfect accessory for Summer. It’s so light and airy, I hardly know I’m wearing it and of course the cotton/rayon blend is also a great choice for the warm Summer evenings in Georgia.

Share
Posted in Weaving | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Raising Silk Worms!

They say that interesting people have interesting friends. I must be pretty interesting, if you go by that!

image1

Take a look at what one of my friends has been up to!

She’s been raising Silk Worms! I’m so jealous…

Now mind you this is not a large scale adventure. She just wants enough silk to make some Hankies for spinning. A Hankie is the form silk is generally accepted in for Hand Spinning into yarn.

image1

The problem is, even at a small scale, they go through a tremendous amount of Mulberry Leaves each day.

15558

Handfuls and handfuls of fresh Mulberry Leaves EVERY day. Naturally it is important to have easy access to a tree. And of course what goes in, must come out… So they need to be cleaned as well.

15476

The commitment is not a very long one. Only about 5-7 weeks. Before long they will begin to spin. Simple toilet paper tubes or egg cartons provide the perfect, cozy spot for the worms to spin their cocoons.

15356

One by one at first, then several at a time until everybody is neatly stowed away.

image1

But seriously. How cool is this??

15302

Soon there is nothing left but cocoons.

17736

But then comes D-Day…

The cocoons are… well, roasted in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes. I know, sounds rather harsh after caring for them so carefully. But the thing to remember is that if the moth is allowed to emerge, they are doomed to die shortly after. They do not eat or fly. They simply mate, lay eggs and die. Now that’s harsh!

The next step is to simmer the cocoons in soapy water. This removes all the gummy stuff that holds them together. The carcass must be removed and then the silk is spread out on a frame about the size of a handkerchief (hence the name Hankies).

Then they are ready for spinning or dyeing. I hope to have some photos of that process to share with you soon.

As for me – I need to find a Mulberry Tree!

Want to spin silk – or any other fiber?? Lisa, my Silk Worm raising friend, is now a Kromski Dealer! Find her spinning supplies at The Hillbilly Rabbit!

 

Share
Posted in Animals, Spinning | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Marley

We said good bye to Marley today.
He’s been going downhill for a while now. We did all that I know how to do, but he was continuing to fail, so I made the decision to have him put down.

DSC_0194

It is the downfall of having animals in your life. He’s been a part of our farm for many years and I’ve grown attached.

DSC_0173

I know Michael will miss him too. They have been sleeping apart in an effort to monitor Marley better, so he has had a chance to get used to that and hopefully that will help.

DSC_0172

He was an Angora Goat and provided me with beautiful Mohair fiber. I have a great shawl I made from some handspun yarn from him. It won 1st prize at the Georgia National Fair. I will always have that and all the other things I made with his fiber.

DSCN1041
But I will miss the silly guy. He was a great pet and very personable.

Share
Posted in Animals | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Plying with Thread

I go to a spinning event every year and always come home with a door prize or two.

IMG_1801

This past weekend I decided to spin up one of them. A beautiful hand dyed BFL roving.

It spun up nice and thin, perfect for a shawl. But I had only 4oz and thought that may not be enough to do a shawl. I’ve seen other people ply their spun yarn with silk thread. I’ve not done that before, but this seemed like a perfect opportunity to give it a try. However, I wanted a more even look to my finished yarn. With that in mind, I knew I would need something more substantial than thread. I wanted something similar in size to the single I had spun.

DSC_0071

I rummaged through my stash of weaving yarns and came up with a 5/2 mercerized cotton that was the perfect color. Normally I am inclined to ply like fibers together, but I thought, “why not?”.

DSC_0078

As I began to ply I realized that the weaving yarn would need to have some twist put into it if I was to achieve a balanced yarn. When plied strait off the cone, my yarn wanted to twist back up on itself. So I ran it through the spinning wheel as I would any fiber I spin.

DSC_0080

My finished yarn is very well balanced and absolutely beautiful. See how evenly it hangs. The small skein in the photo with the cone, is the yarn I plied before running the cotton through the wheel. See how it twists upon itself? That’s how to tell if it’s properly balanced or not. It should hang like this right off the niddy noddy.

Now I just need to pick out a pattern for it!

 

 

Share
Posted in Spinning | Tagged , , | 1 Comment