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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Plying with Thread

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

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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.

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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?”.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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A Snowy Visit to Rocky Mountian National Park

If you read yesterday’s post, then you know I went to Colorado. We spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Yarn Fest trade show in Loveland, but on Sunday, after it ended, we drove up to the mountains.

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I’ve been saying for a while now that I wanted to see snow. It’s been ages since I have experienced it.  It was snowing when we arrived in Denver, but it was a wet snow and driving in it made it hard to enjoy. What I wanted was deep fluffy white snow. My wish came true!

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On the way up we saw some wild Big Horn Sheep on the side of the road. No wool to spin, but still, they are Sheep.

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Then there was the Elk!

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And even some wild Turkeys.

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It was beautiful. Just beautiful.

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Of course the rental car was ill equipped to drive in the snow, so when the roads began to cover, we were forced to turn around. But it was a wonderful trip and one I will not soon forget.

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Interweave Yarn Fest Trip

I had the opportunity to go to Yarn Fest  in Loveland Colorado last weekend. It was fabulous. It wasn’t as large a show as I had anticipated. SAFF for instance in North Carolina is much bigger. But there were some excellent venders. Lots of yarn and roving, and several equipment venders, including Kromski (my personal favorite), Ashford my first wheel was an Ashford) and Schacht (they make the wolf looms that I have).

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Of course, I wasn’t in the market for any new wheels or looms. But a girl can never have too much fiber!

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My first purchase was from Greenwood Fiberworks. I picked up some 50/50 Yak/Silk in her Tribe colorway and Copper Hills bundle of the same fiber content. As soon as I touched it, I knew I had to have it. Crazy soft. I think it will spin up thin, so I’m planning a shawl. I don’t know what pattern I will use yet, but I have a plan for what I’ll be looking for. The Tribe will be used in the knit or garter section and then I will spin each bundle separately and use them in the lace sections.

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I also visited Black Water Abby Yarns and fell in love with 2 of their patterns.  They even had samples of each that I could try on. I bought the Hawthorn Vest with the intent of using some of my own wool on it. I also got the Celtic Triad and a ball in the color Pippin. The yarn is rustic and not very soft, but it is 100% Irish made and will make a wonderful hat. And naturally I had to get some buttons to complete my projects. My husband and I are planning a trip to the UK and Ireland this summer, so I had to have them!

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I also picked up two braids of 50/50 Silk/Superwash Merino from Redfish Dyesworks. There is no color name on it, but in looking at the website, I see it is #8.

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Now whenever I travel, I think it’s fun to pick up some local fiber as a memento. I found some natural CVM Wool Roving from Durakai Sheep and Fiber out of Livermore, Colorado.

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And my final discovery was some beautiful mill spun yarn from Your Daily Fiber out of Fort Collins. She calls it “With Love from the Kids”. Each skein is labeled with the animal it came off of. Mine is “Adam” and it’s a blend of Alpaca (Adam), Llama and Lambswool. It’s an ecru color that I may or may not decide to dye.

I didn’t spend all my time shopping, although it may seem like it. I also took a German/Scandinavian Band Weaving Class with Nancy Shroyer. It was a lot of fun. Now I know the basics of Backstrap Band Weaving! It’s a very portable project and I can see making lots of Dog Leashes, Key Fobs and some very cool straps for my Tote Bags! And now I have a use for my Kromski 4″ Heddle. It’s the perfect thing for this type of weaving. I’ll show you more about that in a later post.

Saturday evening we went to the Keynote Dinner. I was thoroughly entertained by Linda Cortright, editor and publisher of Wild Fibers Magazine. She educated us on several of her adventures in a wonderfully humorous way. She also showed us her heart when she discussed the Cashmere Craft Center she is building in the High Himalayas. The Center will help support the women of this remote village by giving them a warm place to gather and spin their precious Cashmere, which will be sold to provide an income for the village.

It was a very inspiring trip!

 

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Easter Photos – better late than never…

OK, OK, I know I’m late in getting these posted. But in my defense, we did take them Easter morning. And then it was time to enjoy the day, not sit at the computer.

Anyway I want to share more photos of my Grandson. He’s getting so big!

Someday I will hear from him about posting pictures of him in bunny ears… but for now he can’t talk, so here goes.

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Maybe he will believe it was all his Mother’s idea…

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Really – it was!

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Once again we just used inexpensive props and a backdrop with a mattress pad on the floor, like we did for his Valentine’s Day   photos.  It’s very easy to do ‘at home’ photos – as long as you have a good subject! We did his St. Patrick’s Day pictures outside on a blanket.

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Somehow they never made the blog, but here’s one so you can get the idea.

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The trick is to get him to hold still while we snap the photos. He did pretty well this day.

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We couldn’t quite get a good picture of his “bunny tail”…

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After the photo shoot, we went to the park and had a picnic by the lake topped off with Easter Cake!

Hope your Easter was as good as ours was!

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Photo Editing Fun!

I started playing around with my phone the other day. Most phones now come with the ability to edit photos and add effects to them. I was having a great time creating cool looks to otherwise average snapshots.

Take this one of my Spinning Wheel when I was with my friends a few weeks back…

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I LOVE it!

So that lead me to take a second look at some of the photos on my computer. The first one I pulled up was of my friends Gulf Coast Native Sheep.

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With just some minor tweeking, he takes on an eerie syfy appearance.

Take a look at the photo of a deer taken on my last trip to Ohio.

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He goes from normal…

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To Autumn…

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To Psychedelic…

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to Creepy Evil looking…

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And even Albino.

All done by changing up the colors on selected areas. The program I used was “InDesign”. It’s amazing what you can do.

Take a look at these before and after shots.

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Anyway it was a good way to kill time…

 

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A St. Patrick’s Day Story!

The sun crept in through a crack in the drapes and laid it’s delicate hand across my face. The small dog asleep at my side stirred and wriggled closer to me in an effort to pause the day. But the enthusiasm of the sun grew more intense and began to radiate through the entire room. And in doing so, erased my ability to linger. It was morning.

And such a morning as I had not seen in quite some time. The sky was free of all the cold grey that was the winter. In it’s place was a bright fresh blue sky that brought song to the trees as the birds clamored in joy at such a day.. The air was crisp. Cool, but not cold. At last, the promise of Spring had arrived.

I felt an urgency to be outside. I gulped down a cup of coffee, eager for a walk in the woods. I called to my dog, who was even more anxious than I, and we were off. We traveled first down the tree lined dirt road for a bit before reaching the woods. Once we entered the woods, my surroundings started to change. I began to see more signs of Spring. There were flowering trees and patches of green poking up through the dense forest floor. Soon even the trees themselves were covered in leaves. It seemed strange that the greenery would be more evident under the cover of the woods.

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I felt an odd sensation, as though I was being watched. I even thought I heard laughter coming from within the shrubbery. It was not a silly or malicious laugh. It was more mischievous. Like someone was playing a trick on me. My dog seemed to know know that someone was there.  However, he did not bark or act fearful at all. In fact, he seemed like he was excited to see an old friend! He even ran off and came back with a stick as though he had just retrieved it. Could it be that someone had followed us on our morning walk??

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Soon I came to a clearing filled with wildflowers.

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And there in the center was a beautiful Spinning Wheel. I stared at it in a daze. What in the world? Who would choose this spot to sit and spin? And where are they now?

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As I looked closer, I noted that the wool was green. A lovely deep green on 2 of the bobbins and a brighter green on the wheel itself. It looked like the spinner had just abandoned it in the middle of the task. How very peculiar.

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Then it hit me. I knew who it belonged to. I remembered what day it was. It was St. Patrick’s Day. Of course! The giggles in the forest were from the Leprechauns! They were the one’s spinning fiber in the forest!

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And it was because of their presence that Spring was in full bloom inside the woods. I really began to hope that I would catch a glimpse of one of the little fellows, but I knew that they would only show themselves to my dog (dogs are lucky that way). So I stayed a while, admiring the beautiful wheel, and the headed home, disappointed to know that I would never see a Leprechaun.

But you’ll never guess what I found waiting for me once I arrived back at the house…

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Two skeins of green yarn and a pattern to make Shamrocks! My kind of Pot of Gold! Those mischievous, elusive friends must have know that I’m trying to work on my crochet skills!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

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Craftsy Class Sale

Craftsy is have a sale on ALL of their online classes! Up to 50% off!

I started looking through them to see what I may want to take next and ended up playing around for over an hour! They have SO MANY great classes. And with up to 50% off, it was hard to choose!

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I’ve already take most of the Free Classes. And I’ve taken “Lace Shawl Design”, “Next Steps in Intarsia”,

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“Quilting Big Projects on a Small Machine” and “Homemade Italian Pasta”. All were wonderful.

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I also took the “Amigurumi: Woodland Animals” a while back and loved it.

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I made the Bird –

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and the Deer for my Grandson.

But I still feel like I want to learn the basics of Crochet on a flat piece. There are many terms I am still unfamiliar with.

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So I’ve signed up for “Crochet: Basics and Beyond”! I’m excited to continue my learning experience with Craftsy.

So if you’ve never taken a Craftsy Class – take a look at all they have to offer. I’m sure you’ll find a class that’s right for you!

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But act fast – Sale ends 3/16/15! Craftsy 50% off Sale

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Spring Time is Lambing Time!

Gulf Coast Roving for sale!

It’s Lambing Season!

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I have a very good friend who raises Gulf Coast Native Sheep here in South Georgia. This is the perfect breed for our area. And here’s why.

These sheep have been bred through necessity to thrive in hot humid climates like ours.

They are far less prone to parasite infestations than other sheep. Trials conducted at Alabama A&M University in 1997 noted that Gulf Coast Sheep had one eighth of the fecal parasite egg count than Suffolk sheep under similar conditions. Many ranchers have maintained flocks for many years without the use of dewormers.

They are less prone to hoof rot than other breeds.

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And let’s not forget the fleece quality. Lovely low grease wool, wavy to crimpy with a  2.5 to 4.0 inches staple length. Perfect for all types of handspun projects!

Gulf Coast sheep, also known as Gulf Coast Native sheep, Florida Native, Woods sheep, and Native sheep, originated from the Spanish flocks brought to our shores during the 1500s. The early settlers brought flocks of Churro sheep, a multipurpose animal used for meat, milk, and coarse wool, and they possibly contributed to the breed’s foundation. The fleece on these animals is quite soft, which leads experts to believe that some early Merino type sheep were also part of the breeds foundation.

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Now the breed is part of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, and when last recorded there were 2,000 or fewer registered breeding animals in the United States. They are currently listed on the “critical” list.

I’m pleased to report that the breed is flourishing  at Cindy’s farm!

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And they are so cute! Here’s Charlotte and her baby.

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There are some twins too. This is Lee and her babies. Named for Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

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Who cares that the grass hasn’t greened up yet. It’s just fun to run in the field!

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Just don’t get too far from Mom!

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The farm is also home to several beautiful Shetland Sheep as well. Notice the difference in the fleece? This is Tater (yes as in Tater Tot).

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There are even some Jacobs Sheep, noted most for their 4 horns, but they also have wonderful soft fleeces. Unfortunately you will find them currently on the “threatened” list.

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And let’s not forget the Cherri. Every herd needs protection and these guys do that plus give you fiber. Does it get any better? Llamas are well known in the livestock world as great protection for the flock. They will fearlessly run off coyotes and other predators, including large cats. Fiber needs to be de-haired prior to spinning, but the extra effort is worth it. Many Llama fleeces are an equal to an Alpaca!

Interested in a Gulf Coast Native fleece? Or perhaps you would prefer some processed roving??

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Cindy’s roving is available in my Etsy Shop! It sells for $3.25 an ounce. Soft, springy and feltable. It’s a lovely natural cream color. Ideal for dyers.

The fleeces will be available after spring shearing. The prices will be determined based on quality and size. Just message me if you are interested in reserving one of these now. We can put you on a notification list. You won’t be held to it until a price is agreed upon.

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And next year maybe you can have this little guys fiber!

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New Look for an Old Wheel

Lately I’ve been side glancing at other spinning wheels. I’ve had my Kromski Sonata for many years now and like most people, I long for a change now and then. The only thing is… I LOVE my Sonata! So why would I want to change wheels?

Well, I’ve come up with a solution to my wanderlust.

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I simply replaced some of the parts on my existing Clear Finish wheel with some Walnut Finish parts.

I think it looks pretty cool!

Of course Kromski doesn’t sell these parts normally, but I purchased them as replacement parts and was lucky to find that they were all in stock.

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As you can see, I changed out the Treadles, Footmen and Flier.

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I also swapped out the knob that holds the Mother of All in place.

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From there it made sense to change the knob that holds the upright and the Lazy Kate as well.

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And finally the Threading Hook and Brake Peg.

I still have all my old parts, should I ever decide to switch back, but for now I’m happy with my “Custom Finish” Sonata!

…but I have to admit, I would still love to own a Polonaise or Symphony…

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