April 29, 2009

Fiber Whiz Kid!

The Fiber Whiz Kid Strikes Again!!

Lil' Pea is a wonder. She has wanted to spin for some time. Like a good mother, I said No. But, I have finally relented. Just days before her 5th birthday we sat down and had a little spinning lesson.Here she is learning to treadle. She is really quite good at it. She can treadle all day. The hard part comes when she has to have her hands even with the orifice & her feet on the treadles.

Here she is sitting on a small chair with a phone book on top so she can reach the treadles & the orifice. She is spinning, I am helping a lot. There were lots of breaks & I would fix them & she would go on. Here are the results of our spinning. I can't quite say this was all spun by a 4 yr old, but a whole lot of it was. Pretty cool, eh?

She also has a Groovy Girl scarf she knitted for sale to raise money for her ballet recital costume. Nothing like motivated children.

April 28, 2009

My Bathroom Smells Like a Barnyard!

Oh my, have I got myself into something!

I got an offer of some free fleeces. Any offer of "free" things should be taken with a large pause and deep thought. It could be a great thing or it could be the first steps down the road to insanity. I immediately said yes to the free fleeces. Then I (almost as quickly) said, "I have to see them first". Make sure the barn isn't coming home inside the fleeces and all. I didn't know where they were coming from so I had NO idea of the cleanliness. On the spur of the moment Lil' Pea & I drove up to Wasilla to get the fleeces. After many things going wrong--we got there, only an hour late. My friend hopped into the car & we drove to her neighbor's house. The fleeces looked fine to my very virgin eye. I had only seen fleeces once before, a year ago. I do not hang with "sheep" people. I buy very nice clean roving. Not fleeces removed from the animal less than 24 hrs before. I was rather surprised at how clean the fleeces looked. After some reading (once I got the fleeces home, heaven forbid I read up on this BEFORE diving in.) I learned that "meat sheep" can have less than desirable fleeces. I think these are pretty decent for free fleeces. Here is a picture of the brown fleece as it fell out of the garbage bag.
There is also a white fleece, but we will visit it another day. It is still in the bag. The brown fleece looked pretty cool. Here is a shot of the underside of the fleece, very tight, lots of lanolin...all in all, I think it came from a happy, healthy sheep.
Then I unrolled it.
It is a HIPPY SHEEP!! Talk about a bleach job! The roots are a rich dark brown & the wool is long, shaggy & blonde at the tips. It is SO cool looking. Sorry for the faded pictures. I think the big window I was standing by wreaked havoc on the photos. I have opted for posting them instead of wasting all my time trying to tweek the color balance.
ah, the pretty curls...

The short pieces are 3"-4" and the longest part in the middle of the back is up to 8" long. Wow! I have no idea if this is good or bad, but it really looks cool.

So I started washing the fleeces today. Below is the first batch of soapy water after a 15min soak.

WOW! There is a lot of dirt in there. Each batch has gotten progressively cleaner. I am making classic newbie blunders and hopefully I will not have a ball of felted wool at the end. My first blunder came while staring at the manure filled water in front of me and REALLY not wanting it to touch my bathtub. I had the brilliant thought, "This would make great fertilizer for my soil outside!" Some of you might catch on to the fallacy of that statement right away. It took me quite a bit of time. Enough time to take the tub outside, pour it onto my hillside full of plants waiting to come up, refill it for the next soak and start adding the dish soap again. Again? Yes, that last batch of water that I poured all over my hibernating plants was full of dish soap. I hope I didn't kill an entire hillside of summer joy. The next mistake came when I carried the next full tub of water out to dump it AWAY from my plants and dropped the tub full of water. It busted. It was a really nice tub. Arg. Now my fleece (or rather a small portion of it) is sitting in a clean water soak to get the soap out. Next will be a vinegar soak to get the remaining barnyard smell out and then I should be done. Just have to wait for it to dry...I hate waiting.

April 20, 2009

Yes, I am still alive.

I am almost embarrassed to post. It has been so long. I realized that I had been avoiding my blog because I was embarrassed that I had totally slacked off. I have retreated from my online life. The real one has been getting in the way. Go figure.

Here is a quick review of my life...

In my fiber life I have been knitting wildly on My Man's Durrow sweater. I have ditched the pattern and am following the ideas of The Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee to finish the yoke & collar. I am also continuing the cables up & over the shoulders. Why stop a good thing early?

In my spinning life I have tons of natural camel 3ply ready to dye or skein up & post on Etsy. But, sadly, there it sits. I did have a friend over to spin and that was way cool to spin with someone. I actually didn't spin, I taught my 4yr old fiber wiz-kid to spin. She did a fabulous job seeming how she couldn't treadle & keep the fiber at the right angle to enter the orifice smoothly. My majacraft is set up pretty high and her little body is just too short. I will post pictures when the cows come home. I am thinking about getting another really short band that goes around the wheel so I can adjust the wheel to fit her. She really liked spinning. As her mother it is really fun to watch her balance (or really try hard to) all the different parts of spinning.

My dying life is comatose. Talk to the camel about that.

My sewing life is all about Needle Cases. I just finished my first 5 roll up cases for single & double point needles. They have graduated pocket sizes, labeling strip on the pockets, roll up, hang up & come in lovely colors. You can find them at my LYS The Tangled Skein! Now I have to make more of the hanging ones because all but 2 have sold! I am changing the pocket sizes on the hanging ones to make them more user friendly for the larger needle types. I think I might keep some in the old style for all the sock & other fine knitters out there.

My real life is quite exciting! I went back to school this semester to start learning how to be a computer drafter and actually make a decent wage when my children are all in school. I really like it. It has slowed the fiber life, sadly. That is part of the reason for the lack of posting. The REALLY exciting part is that I had applied for a grant way back in December. I found out about it on the internet. About 5% of applicants are chosen. I thought I had about a snowball's chance in hell.

I am not a Heller for no reason.
(note to readers: Heller is my maiden name.)
They picked me!!
They are going to give me lots of money to learn how to be the best lil' Computer Drafter out there!!!

yes, I realize that the use of exclamation points has gone a bit over the top. I am REALLY excited though!!!!

I think I will end on that exciting note. Ya know, someone has to get all that money out on the internet! Today, it happens to be me.