Thursday, September 20, 2007


It was a really busy summer and fall. I don't know where the time went -- it always seems like I could use another week before the guys go back to school to do all the things we'd like to, and to see all the places we plan to go see. I really like not having a schedule during the summer, and now that things are back in full swing, I find myself wishing for a night off now and then.

But on to the fun stuff... one day in late June I found this on my front porch:

150 pounds of Dorset roving, processed by the fine folks at Frankenmuth Woolen Mills.

Where on Earth does one come by this much fleece? Connections... it's a small county, and everyone here is related to or knows everyone else and their business (makes road rage dicey at best -- especially when you drive an ancient Jeep that people tend to remember).

A's friend J's mom is a realtor. She happened to ask me one day if I'd be interested in some fleece, because she knew of someone who had sheep and was about to have them sheared, but didn't want the fleeces.

(pause for a moment to let that phrase sink in... didn't want the fleeces. evidently this is not that uncommon, sheep need to be sheared to keep them comfortable, etc... but still.)

So I called him up and had a nice conversation, and went by on shearing day. Nine fleeces, still warm, all bagged and ready to go. We deliberated for a while, and after he told me what he wanted for them, I doubled his asking price -- wanted to make sure he got at least what he'd paid to have them sheared.

Total price? $5 a fleece.

(pick up your jaw from the floor.)

So he mentions (now that he can see I am a shameless addict) that he has fleeces from the past 2-3 years in the shed. I arm-wrestle the spiders out of the way, and come up with 8 more bags of wool that are in decent shape.

Then, the coup de grace, he says, "Well, I have last year's up in the barn there, but it looks like your car will be full with these."

I eyeball the pile of bags, sigh heavily, and say, "When can I come back?"

Several days later I return, and cram 16 more bags of fleece into my groaning van. Then the fun started -- skirting and sorting raw Dorset until my back was screaming. Only a couple of the fleeces were unusable; breaks, too gooey or dirty, mice, bugs, etc. I kept back eight to process myself, but the rest went to MDS&W, and arrived on my doorstep in the four enormous boxes above.

And what became of some of the contents of those boxes?

Ahhh, yes.

I realized the other day that when we moved here and I was first learning to spin, four years ago now, that one of the things I most wanted to do was to spin color.

I think I made it.

A bit overplied, but I wanted to use it as sock yarn. It's still got a lot of sproing, and is reasonably soft. I'm very pleased with my first effort. 335 yards, 4 oz., hand dyed with acid dyes, colorway "Lonely Hearts Club". This spins up really nicely, drafts easily, but much of that is due to the fine preparation -- I do like Frankenmuth. I also dyed up some in a light blue/silver/yellow, and did some silk to match that I plan to ply with it, perhaps more as a wrapping around a bulky wool single.

And then there's Serenity:

Another local farm, with a sizable herd of mutt and rescued sheep. They invite us guild folks to their shearing every March, and encourage us to take what we want, because what we don't take goes into the big plastic bag to be made into "wool".

This is from a little guy that no one else wanted. The fleece is a beautiful dark brown with gray flecks, much like the hair of an aging African-American, just lovely. I washed and carded it myself, and it spun up like buttah into almost 700 yards of DK weight, sproingy loveliness. I have enough left, carded and waiting to be spun, to make a sweater, and was lucky enough to get this year's fleece too, which looks to be just as nice.

The whole Dorset affair was rather nerve wracking -- I knew I couldn't pass it up, but I also knew how much it was going to cost to have it processed (and it was a small fortune). But I also think that prayers get answered in the strangest ways. Though it was a scary process, and I did a lot of homework trying to decide if this would even make a decent yarn, I never once felt like I could not do it, more like I had to do it. Maybe we find our paths by not second guessing; when you tune in to that inner voice and listen to it, then no matter what you do, it becomes the right thing. A bit woo-woo, okay, but the old adage about following your heart is true. You gotta do what you love, and I do love me some dyeing and spinning. And weaving too, but that's for a later post.

At least, that's how I'm feeling about all this.

Peace out.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

@#$!&*^! life gets in the way of fiber

Oh, for the yearbook to be done... this is, I swear, the last year I am doing the yearbook, elementary or otherwise. It's been fun, but all good things must come to an end. Between that, work, and other stuff, I have had precious little time to think, much less blog, spin, knit... But at least spring is in the offing (even though we were sorely teased with warmth on Saturday, and it's now freezing and windy again... sigh...)

More later, once I catch my breath.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Can spring be far behind?

It's cold and icy here, and most of us are holed up where it's warm. The muskrats are in their lodge in the creek marsh, just below our deck... they'll be out to eat the green cattail shoots when the weather gets warm.

No matter how often it snows, it's still magical. As a native Floridian, I didn't see snow until I was 21 and went to Connecticut for grad school. I've made up for lost sledding and skiing time since then!

Some of us prefer the company of a good friend on a cold day, and a warm spot (and hey, if you match the sheets, so much the better!)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Work never sleeps

Doggone, but I don't know where the past two weeks went. I think part of it is work; when I crank and try to get a lot done, I lose track of time. Since I'm playing catch up right now, I seem to have lost a couple of days! Ah, there are days when I love telecommuting, and others when it sucks... it's always there, the 24/7/365 (unless the system or Comcast is down), the eternal guilt trip. But I have learned to put it aside, or else I'd be a crabby stressed-out harpy. Not that I can't get crabby and harpy-ish anyway, but better to remove the stresses that predispose to that condition!

At least yesterday's nasty ice/snow storm left without too much damage or hassle... we were without power for about six hours, but all is OK. Pretty much everything had melted by the late afternoon. The creek has a nearly complete crust of ice on it. It hasn't been that frozen since the first winter we were here (2003-4), and it froze over completely -- pretty rare for a tidal creek. The boys missed one day of school, had an early dismissal on Tuesday and a late start today, then they have tomorrow and Monday off. I love having them home, but it plays havoc with my work schedule.

Time to get baking -- I have a meeting tonight and it's my turn for snacks, so I'm making one-bowl brownie cookies... mmm... hopefully I'll get to finish the sock I'm working on.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Yarnshine and cold cuts

Another gray day... cold and raw outside. This is not a bad thing, though, since the fridge has died. Luckily, I think we salvaged most everything except the milk and a few frozen items, and got them onto the screen porch in time. The repair will be covered under warranty (just barely), but it will be another two weeks before they can get here to replace the compressor... so it can stay cold until then, but not too cold!
This, however, put a significant ray of sunshine into my day: Sock yarn, from The Loopy Ewe! Left to right: Yarn Pirate merino/tencel in the Malamute colorway; Claudia's Handpaints merino in the Ingrid's Blues colorway; Sweet Georgia Speed Demon in Black Orchid colorway; and Zen String BFL in Living Lights colorway. I'm usually a blues/greens/purples person, and am a sucker for bright, intense colors, and anything in rainbow colors, but the grays and browns interspersed in these particular skeins are just breathtaking, especially grouped together like this. They've been sitting on my desk, and every now and then I have to stop and just look at them. I particularly like the Sweet Georgia yarn, as it's a heavier weight than regular sock yarn; when you have large feet (women's 12+), socks made with regular sock-weight yarn on size 0 needles become something akin to the Bataan death march after a while. Alas, both boys are well on their way to a good understanding as well; Boy 1 is only 11 but wears a men's 10 already. I'm about 8 rows from finishing the first of a pair of socks for him from Opal 6-ply that he picked out, using the International Sock of Doom pattern.
Speaking of sock yarn and the wanton purchasing thereof, I seriously considered joining the Knit from your Stash effort for this year, but decided not to -- instead, I decided to join in with the spirit of the UFO Resurrection folks and get rid of some of the projects that are lurking in the dark recesses of the guest/stash room. This is the second sleeve of a Lopi sweater I started last year, out of Lopi vol. 18, sweater #18. I got the yarn when we lived in MA at the Reynolds/JCA warehouse sale for about a buck a ball. A couple of nights' worth of effort should get this baby done. I'm not too fond of the bright red color, but I'm thinking it might have a meetup with the dye pot. I've never tried dyeing an entire garment, so this should be interesting, if not potentially a disaster.
What else... the next Eagle hat is well under way, thanks to the cold weather and a couple of good long treadmill sessions (I am a native Floridian, and though I love cold weather and have lived above the Mason-Dixon line for 23 years, I am a wuss when it comes to going out to exercise in it -- I have visions of freezing to death in a ditch somewhere!) and a book on tape. So many other projects vying for attention, but by remembering to focus on just a few keeps me from getting so distracted that nothing gets done.
Mmmm... baked pasta is done, and so am I.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pawprints in the snow

Well. I suppose that's it, then... I've thought about doing this for so long, and finally decided to jump in and join the fray. Hopefully, I can add something to the mix, or at least stir things up a little now and then.

It's finally looking like winter here. Last week's warm weather was nice, but just... weird. Not right for it to be in the 70s in mid-January. Luckily, it was a snowy Sunday and all we had to do was hang around the house -- evening plans got canceled. The dogs were not pleased to go out into the wet cold, and were more than happy to stay on the couch or near a human all day, as were the cats, which made for much warmth, cuteness and several random bouts of cat-chasing.

I wove in the ends of my second FO of the year, which was a hat identical to my first FO. The first was a gift for our neighbor, Boy 2's best bud, and the second was for Farm Witch's Knit for the Kidlets project. Quick and dirty, made out of Encore Chunky on size 10.5 needles with a turn-up brim. B-man the neighbor boy loves his, and I hope the recipient of the second hat is pleased too. Next up are a passel of caps for Boy 1's (the lovely model shown at right) scout troop. The guys that make Eagle get a funky multicolored ribbed... (minds out of the gutter, y'all!) stocking cap. Somehow, in the Byzantine social network that is a small town, I got tapped to take over the position as Cap Mistress, which means that I inherited the stash of R*d H*art in vile colors with which the caps are made, along with a list of recipients-to-be. It is fun trying to see just how disgusting the color combinations can be, but oy, the acrylic. My fingers are crying out for something natural. I'm told, though, that the guys love the hats, and the more garish, the better. We aim to please!

Due up next is a second skein of what I spun up for a friend as a Christmas gift for her aunt. I forget what kind of wool -- I think it's Shetland and something else, gotten from the local fiber pusher at the farmer's market. Spun it fairly thick and plied it, then dyed it with three colors of Jacquard acid dyes. You know when you envision a project in your mind, and it turns out exactly the way you saw it? Me neither... until now. I couldn't have been more pleased with the result. Squishy, soft, sproingy, and luscious. Now I just have to do it again -- ha.

I love the way the colors blended in this skein. Hopefully I can get close enough to the first one so that the recipient can just alternate skeins as she knits and use the two in the same project. This was nearly 400 yards; the bobbins on the Lendrum were full.

I watched the premiere of "The Dresden Files" on SciFi last night... I think it is going to be my one weekly show this winter. Schedules are so convoluted around here that I don't plan to watch TV, only listen when I'm spinning or if we have a movie, so it's nice to have a show to look forward to. I've read part of one of the later books in the series, but then went back and ordered the first few from Amazon so I could get the story from the beginning. My only gripe is that on SciFi, you get as much commercial time as show time. I love Showtime for the fact that you get 50 uninterrupted minutes of whatever series you're watching.

Yo ho -- Onward and upward!