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Archive for the ‘Spinning’ Category

It’s been a banner week in the New Stuff department!

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First, the chickens got a new fence.  One that can’t fly over.  It significantly enlarged their yard, so we’re hoping they won’t try to dig out either.  A huge Thank You to my brother, Bennett, for building it for me to my exact specs.  Need anything welded?  I’ll put you in touch with him!

Bench pickerStationary nails in pickerUnderside of moving handle

 Then, I got to unpack and play with my new studio-sized bench picker made by Ron at Fancy Kitty.  I played with some free fiber that I had washed but hadn’t done anything with yet.  It did a wonderful job picking the fiber, opening it up, and freeing up all the dirt and VM that I didn’t realize was still in it!  I fiddled with adjusting the needle bed (what a nice feature!) and experimented with different ways to run the fleece through.  I even let the granddaughters run the picked fiber through the carder once or twice.  In the end, I threw the fiber away (it was yukky), but the picker worked splendedly!

Fiber prep sink

In addition, I finally found a prep sink that I didn’t have to take a 2nd mortgage out to pay for!  I’ve been looking on Craigslist, and bidding at restaurant sites, but either I can’t find what I want or someone who doesn’t have to work a day job outbids me at the very last second.  I was thrilled to find this one AND actually not have to pay more for it than I wanted.  Ken put it up against the house under the patio cover.  Once I get some water hooked up to it, I’ll be ready for fiber washing or dye day or filling bunny water bottles without having to go into the house.

apr09-009Finally, we’re trying something new in the Bunny Barn.  I’m trying to make it a little easier on Ken who does most of the feeding and watering.  I’ve moved all of the rabbits to one side of the barn — the only side with windows at the moment.  All their feeders and water bottles are lined up on one end, so he should be able to zip down the row in no time.  I checked the hay feeders before I came in tonight, so he’ll not have to worry with that in the morning.  We’ll see what he thinks after a few days!

Tommorrow (I hope) a view of the angora fiber the bunnies have given me in the last week!

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“All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.” Isn’t that the way the little nursery rhyme goes?  No matter; that’s the way I remember it, and I consciously REFUSE to be a dull boy .. er, girl .. er, whatever.

We worked like Hebrew slaves over the weekend (that’s the way Ge’mar put it, anyway, and since he worked harder than me, he’s probably right.)  It was musical storage around here.  Thankfully, part of the storage problem was solved by sending stuff to other people’s houses!  Yes, folks, I’ve given up my desire to continue my Martha Stewart ways.  The bare truth is that we haven’t decorated for Christmas in several years.  Something about the cats climbing through the nativity scene and breaking Mary’s arm, and then that year when one of the big dogs knocked down a tree, it’s just taken the joy out of it for me. Nobody ever comes over anyway which, I think, also has something to do with the 4 cats and the 3 big dogs, which is okay, really.  My husband likes the cats and dogs better than most people.

Anyway, getting all the Christmas decorations out of the shed and putting them on the porch with a big FREE sign on them meant that I could take all the things I had stored in the Bunny Barn out and put them in the shed.  Mysteriously, all but one box of decorations disappeared during the day; what was left went to the Good Will!

Next, Ge’mar labored like the aforesaid Hebrew slave to put a bunch of insulation (donated by my brotheBunny Barn Updater) and another piece of radiant barrier material up on the underside of the roof in the Bunny Barn.  Before long, it’s going to be as well insulated as my house! New hay racks and feeders were installed, the water bottles all washed out and put back, the litter trays dumped and refilled, the floor swept. Woo Hoo!  I now have a bright, clean Bunny Barn with lots more room for the bunnies!  Fantastic!

I refused to give in completely to work all weekend, however, because that would put me in the “dull boy” category.  Once the sun went down I started spinning up a luxuriously soft mix of alpaca, Jacob sheep’s wool, and angora.  The alpaca/Jacob fiber came from the animals at Jacob’s Silver angora and spun singles ready to be pliedReward Farm.  I added the

Angora fiber; Angora/Alpaca singles ready to be plied

angora.  What a wonderful mixture, and what a delight to spin!  I still need to ply it, but I can hardly wait to knit it into something really luscious.  I’m thinking about knitting a lacy smoke ring such as this one from Heart Strings Fiber Arts.  I hope I have enough yarn! If not, I guess I can spin some more!

In other urban homesteading news, Ken & Ge’mar moved another garden bed.  We think we finally have them all in the sun!  Ken planted about one-quarter of the yard in Inland Sea Oats, a native Texas grass.  I hope it comes up and will survive in our yard.  The dogs, and the shade from the pecan trees and the patio cover, are hard on grass.  Nothing we’ve put in yet has survived more than a year.

We are expecting rain later this week, so it’s time to close the faucets on the rain barrels and be sure they are in position. One of them needs a little screen repair.  This Saturday, The Three Sisters (granddaughters Lizzie, Ally, & Georgia, ages 8, 6, and 4, respectively) will be joining us for a few days.  Their father will bring his saw over and cut a few more windows in the Bunny Barn.  I’ll go buy a big, industrial strength fan and a suitably sized worktable in anticipation of the upcoming fiber harvest.  I think, then, we will be ready for summer!  Stay tuned!

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Fiber Fun!

I spent most of the day at the University for a session on Teacher-led Inquiry research.  It was interesting, and I walked away with a lot of ideas. 

But I was glad to leave.  I went to the feed store and picked up some rabbit feed, Calf Manna, and some laying mash for Ken’s girls.  Then I picked up Ge’mar and Jenny.  Ge’mar cleaned the rabbit cages for me today all by himself (for which I was very grateful) and I combed the rabbits.

Eventually, after running G & J around here and there, and eating a most wonderful dinner cooked by my most wonderful husband, I stayed up and played with some fiber I have had sitting around for a while.  I recently bought an Ashford drum carder from Joanne of Terrific Fibers, and I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t had a moment’s time to play with it.  Tonight would be the night!

The fiber I had to play with was washed Merino/Romney cross (3/4:1/4) from Humble Hills Sheep & Wool.  This is a completely different kind of fiber for me, and once I got it, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it!  Fortunately I have friends who know these things.

I picked it and pulled it and fluffed it up by hand, then I ran it through the drum carder twice.  It is really lovely!  Soft but very springly.  I’m thinking of blending some of Caramel’s combings into it – one more time, maybe two through the drum carder — spinning it up, and knitting it into something luscious.  Wonder what it will want to be!

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Only Star Trek fans will understand the title.  Remember the whale movie?  That’s all the hint I’m going to give you!

We have baby bunnies!  They are a week old today.  When I came home from work last Thursday, Ken met me at the door to tell me that Callie was in her nest box and was being really still, not jumping out to see what snacks he might have for her.  Further investigation (she was out of the nest box by this time) revealed five cute squirmy baby bunnies.  Beautiful little bundles of life! 

And Callie is taking SUCH good care of them.  She pulled out a tremendous amount of long fur to cover them in — amazing how rabbits know to do this — and they have been snuggly warm even on our coldest night.  (Hey, it’s Texas, and we think 30 degrees is *really* cold.)

I get them out and hold them and fuss with them a little every day.  Callie has gotten her appetite back and is eating everything I put in front of her.

Meanwhile, Carter is shedding buckets of beautiful, soft, airy, angora, and I see lots of happy spinning in my near future.

Isn’t nature great!

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2008 Alpaca Day

Yesterday I had the time of my life playing in piles of alpaca fiber!

Alpaca Fiber

My good friend Cindy of Jacob’s Reward Farm invited Ann Mayes of Alpacas D’Auxvasse to come all the way from frozen Missouri to educate a group of fiber enthusiasts about alpacas. It was a WONDERFUL day. Not only did we learn about the different types of alpacas, we learned about the different characteristics of fleece. We learned how to pick a good one and how to avoid a bad one; how to process the fleece for spinning once we had it; and how to spin various types of fiber. Ann had even brought different blends of fibers with her that she generously handed out for us to spin! I was in fiber heaven!

I found out how truly useful my iPhone can be by taking a lot of pictures! I also was reminded about how wonderful PayPal is for shopping with Ann! I can hardly wait to start spinning!

Thanks, Keely, for a wonderful farm tour as well. Your animals are really special!

Cookie

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