Get to Work!

Great stuff, having room to move without cats attacking the fiber in my hand, basket, box, bag, or on the carder or the wheel. Great stuff. Here’s the bottom of a batt that will be making up a second ply for some avocado dyed *GCN. This batt is GCN Sammas, yellow silk/Merino blend, red Border Leicester, and pitch black alpaca.

*GCN = Gulf Coast Native Sheep

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First Batt out of the “new” Studio, with Lailie

TDF ~ Day 6

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Quinn

A rose tweed Gulf Coast Native 2-ply named after my granny.

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Day 6 TDF

Day 6: The day I learned that my cats really are the bosses around here. Daisy, literally, hangs on the wheel when it isn’t spinning. Maggie lays on my foot on the treadle when I am or am not spinning. Millie has a thing for the lazy kate. Daisy is going crosseyed (ok, she IS part Siamese) watching the wheel turn – for hours on end – head nodding as she is fixed on one spot. Ahhh, boy oh boy.

The good news, is that I am out of acid dyed fiber. Now…I have only locks I’ve dyed with flowers. And I like that SO MUCH MORE! I appreciate all you lovely spinners who are fascinated with color…and I leave all of those dyes to you. I’ve done so much dyeing in the past that my skin is very sensitive to dyes. Carding and spinning take me up close and personal…to the point of swollen fingers which I do not need. So, it’s off to the coreopsis, marigold, fennel, and avocado bins! See ya later, bye! *wave wave*

TDF Day #5 – More Corespinning

Cocoons

Tailspinning

Last night, I stayed up late. There was to be a webcast from CERN at 3AM, announcing success in the search for the Higgs boson. I’m working my way through jacey boggs’ swell book on textured spinning, spin art, and I welcomed the alone time in the wee hours – I could spin uninterrupted.

So, I picked up where I’d left off: Corespinning – Cocoons.

I collected a few bits of colored fiber (I’m not big on dyed fiber) and some of my lambs’ 2012 fiber (which I’d carded into batts) and watched the Corespinning section on the dvd again. Then, I read the bit on Cocoons. Clear enough.

First off, I pulled out a naked undyed batt of Curly Lumpkin, some yellow silk fiber, and some indigo dyed fiber from Curly’s Aunt Holly.  First attempt was not embarrassing, and actually, quite a lot of fun. Once again, I had a little trouble controlling the tendency for the yarn to be overspun.

My second attempt was spun from a batt of Mary’s fleece and her Mama Holly’s blue fiber for cocoons. This yarn came together well, was not overspun, but, I realized I was spinning a perfect thick-and-thin.

These little samples were a lot of fun to spin, and I know that I will be revisiting this technique soon. I can see these yarns knitted up, in my mind’s eye, and I like what I see.

Today, the 4th of July, is traditionally, a day for bbq and relaxation. So, I made a gigunda potato salad and a dry rub for a boneless pork roast, and picked some peppers and tomatoes and cukes and made a heck of a salad. We enjoyed a silent neighborhood. Not a firecracker. Not one. Not a car up or down the road. Not a kid yowling, hollering, or crying. We enjoyed the scene. We enjoyed strolling through the pasture. We enjoyed the day. I did not spin until the critters were all tucked in.

Next up was Tailspinning.

Now, it doesn’t take a genius to know that it takes clean curly locks to make a tailspun yarn. I had a handful. Literally, a handful. The locks I had came from a Border Leicester sheep, one of the funniest looking sheep, in my opinion, but one that grows some of the most amazing fleece around. I had dyed these locks with coreopsis way back when. Really, when, two or three years ago? So, that’s what I had. I used a superwash merino sockyarn as the core.

This was a very easy yarn to spin. Not a very easy yarn for my wheel to take up. The locks got caught on the spring clip that the yarn threads through on its way to the bobbin. Made me CRAAAAZY.  But, not much harm done to my psyche. That handful of locks was just enough to cover the few feet of unwindable core. Ta da. This won’t be a big favorite in my studio, until I add to my collection of, ahem, 1 spinning wheel.

TDF Day #4 Corespinning?

First Go at Corespinning ~ “Little Mud”

I get it! I get it! I didn’t understand before, but now, I DO!

Corespinning is a way to really show off a most excellent pile of gawjus fiber. Spin a killer beauty of a batt, and not one single fiber will be hidden as the “center” of the yarn. It’s ALL on the outside.

That said…the batt really should be a killer beauty.

My fiber was killer beautiful…Gulf Coast Native dyed with coreopsis, with marigold, with indigo, and with some purple acid dye, rabbit, and mohair too. But…I sorta overcarded this pile of beautiful stuff…and turned it into mud. Boo on me.

Still…I’m delighted to have spun a successful, soft, balanced 22 yards of corespun naturally dyed (for the most part) fiber. I used superwash merino for the core. Blecch, that stuff is so bizarre. But, it makes a fabulous core!

Alrighty, then. Time to move along to the next technique in jacey boggs’ lovely book, spin art.

First Knit of the Year

A big fat pair of mitts. Note the color scheme. Now, note the color of my glasses. Yeah, how about that. I was halfway through before I realized I was knitting to match my eyewear.

This yarn is a worsted weight singles, corriedale, spindle spun. Twisted rib. Pretty much a plain vanilla 32 stitch fingerless glove. Wanted something long enough to cover my wrists.

Oh, the tan yarn was dyed with black tea. The brown, I can’t even remember. Some bark or other. Multi accent fluff is marigold dyed border leicester/coreopsis dyed GC/grey GCNI.

NaKniMitMo and 112 in 2012. Rah.

Spinning Winter Yarns

Gulf Coast Native Thick & Thin with Natural Dyes

This is a skein of extra special EXtra soft GC Native yarn. An ounce and a half and 46 yards. Outrageous.

Purple Ruffles Basil meets Mohair Blend

We had an outstanding year in the basil garden. I grew both Genovese for the farmers markets and for our own pesto cravings, and Purple Ruffles Basil for dyeing. I sold some of the purple basil plants, and kicked myself after I found out what a great dye it makes.

This is a 2 1/2 oz, 74 yd skein of Mohair/Wool blend handspun. The locks were dyed with Purple Ruffles in an acid bath. This is a heavy lustrous yummy yarn. This skein screams “HAT.”

I found, quite by accident, that a pH shift makes for interesting changes to the color. This steely gray shifts right over to a dark celery green with an alkaline rinse.

A Funky Hat Yarn

Kinda gorgeous, n’est-ce pas? This is 4 1/2 oz and somewhat over 200 yd of Gulf Coast Native/Mohair blend. This was spun from a handpainted handpulled roving, plied with natural brown and cream GC fleece. This cbp is destined for at least one more hat…tho this ball of yarn is definitely big enough for 2 hats.

I’m out of hat kits, and figure that after knitting one more hat (O the Holiday Season!), the 2nd half will go into a funky hat kit. I have a new pattern that is pretty exciting…a spin-off of Ray’s Hat. This yarn would be stellar. Then again…a 1 x 1 ribbed elfish hat would be outrageous, too.

Gulf Coast meets Marigold

Here is a 3 1/2 oz/174 yd skein of natural brown GCNI and cream GC singles, flecked with marigold. A big soft hearty skein. I find myself not putting it in my etsy store, not taking it to the farmers market. I love this skein of wool.

Fleece Study – Navajo Churro

This began as 3 1/2 – 4 oz of raw Navajo Churro that I received as part of a fleece study. I spun this yarn in the grease. What a lot of grease. This would be the perfect fleece with which to start an FSM (fermented suint) project.

The final clean yarn weighs in at a bit over 1 1/2 oz and 200 yd. This is a soft yet hairy fingering weight yarn. Ooo La Laaaaaa!

Florida Buttercup Meets GC Ewe

This dye job was a complete surprise. About a month ago, the fields were just full of masses of a tall weed with teeny yellow blossoms. The golden fields were too pretty to cut. At the end of their blooming, I decided to throw some in a dye pot to see what would happen. This intense cinnabar green is what happened. A dusky yellow verging on green. Oh Yum!

Here’s the start of something good…I’m thinking a fine 2-ply would be just the ticket. And what’s left will get spun into some bulky wacky hat yarn!

The behinder I get…

roselle 1b

Roselle – aka Florida Cranberry

This picture was taken exactly one month ago. I can’t seem to get myself in synch. Here you can see the hibiscus-like flowers and little buds rising from the stem. Wait’ll you see how the plant looks now!

This plant is, officially, my favorite plant. Here are things you can do with this plant: 1) eat the leaves – in France, this plant is called sorrel; in fact, the leaves taste just like sorrel, 2) make tea with the calyces – just like rose hip tea, 3) make jelly with the calyces – yum yum, 4) make a jellied “sauce” like cranberry sauce with the calyces, 5) make dye with the spent flowers, 6) make fiber – yes roselle is a bast plant! Quite a lot of bang for the ol’ buck, yes?

sesame sept

Kurogoma – Black Sesame

Back in August, TT gave me some seeds at the downtown farmers market. They were black sesame seeds. Of course, we couldn’t wait. Planted 6 of them. The all germinated. A month ago, this is how Miss Sesame looked. Great little flowers! Now…well. The seedpods are – well…I have to take more pictures tomorrow.

I suppose I should be taking pictures of the wonderful sandspurs that Sally and Holly have discovered. My fingers are bruised and sore from picking the damn things out of their fleece. No. I’m not dignifying the sandspur with a photo.

I have some exciting actual fiber things to show, too. All weekend, I prepped fleece. Washed, mordanted, dyed…mmm. And now…I’m in the carding and roving pulling process. Next time…

Hello Fall, Goodbye Coreopsis

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My stand of coreopsis was reduced to 3 or 4 spindly, hacked up plants around the terra cotta chicken fountain. The hennys did a pretty good job of dismembering said stand. So, I was reduced to trolling the county roads. My very own personal county road, also called 232, was loaded with the 3rd blooming 2 weeks ago. I had not had time all summer long to even pull over and snip some blossoms. So, this was it. I made sure I had a big ol trash bag with me whenever I went out. And finally, I said to myself, “Today’s the day.”

I set out for the feed store, expecting to see masses of yellow flowers, but when I turned out onto the road, all I saw was new mown grass. A mile later…5 miles later…8 miles later, there was a tractor, mowing ’em down. I turned onto 27. Tractors mowing everywhere. It was one of those early fall days, you felt you could be outside, I guess. I got the feed. Not a flower in sight. Decided to take an alternate route home. And there, by the bottling plant near the springs, OH HA! The Last of the Coreopsis.

So there you go. I mordanted a variety of fiber…some of Holly’s hoggett fleece from last April’s shearing, some fine GCNI from a sheep in Dry Creek, Louisiana, some Border Leicester from Maryland. Then I made a dyepot with half of those coreopsis. The result…not intense oranges, but milder, softer shades. I’m totally delighted with the “overdye” effect on the gray GCNI. I want to wear THAT.

greencotton

Here’s a close up, sans flash, of this season’s green cotton. We had quite a time with cotton this year. Permitted by the state, boll weevil trap planted in the garden by the Division of Plant Industry, and inspected by Wayne every three weeks this summer.

This is our 2nd year of growing cotton. We planted only green. I selected bolls with the darkest fiber, and was pleased with the outcome. Most of the cotton is medium green. Last year’s batch was all over the green spectrum…but mostly very very pale.

beauberryssm

These are beautyberries. An entirely different color.  Pretty intense. I’ve been cutting stems and making wild bouquets with goldenrod. For years. Well, this year, I heard tell of a jelly made from beautyberry. Lenore, daring wench that she is, went first. She found “the mother lode” on her 10 acres. She was so daring she even added wine. Well. I tasted her jelly. I tasted the berries. I knew I had to make some.

Lenore the Enabler showed up at the farmers market with a big fat bag of berries. Almost enough for the “recipe.” On one of Smitty’s morning sojourns, I picked enough to make enough jelly for the Western World. I didn’t add wine. Just berries, pectin, and sugar.

beautyberrysm

Here you go. Five half-pints of jelly. Scarlet jelly. Now, how did that happen? The violet berries produced an amber colored juice. When the pectin hit…instant color change! I’d never used pectin before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The jelly set right up…ka-boom! Heck in a handbasket, it’s just like store-bought. Except it tastes herbal, wild, and like nothing that Publix would ever carry. Yum.

Thanks Lenore!

Oh…and the recipe…should anyone out there care to dare:

1 1/2 qts beautyberries
2 qts water
1 pkt pectin
4 1/2 c sugar

Start a boiling water canner rolling. Prepare 5 1/2 pt jars, lids, and bands.

Rinse and pick over berries. Ditch the stems. Cover the berries with the water. Bring to a boil…let boil for 20 minutes. Mash the berries a bit. Strain.

Use 3 c of the berry juice. (You’ll have another 3 c left to refrigerate to make more at a later date.) Bring the juice to a boil. Whisk in an envelope of pectin. (I used Ball brand.) As it boils, whisk in the sugar (all at once) and bring a 2nd boil. Let it boil hard for a minute.

Remove from heat. Skim off the “stuff” on top. Pour into sterilized 1/2 pt jars with 1/4″ headspace. Process for 10 minutes.

Back from Barberville

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All I spun today was a bit of coreopsis dyed Gulf Coast Native. I cannot resist showing off the first skein from my little girls along with that apricot colored yarn.

We screamed to Barberville last night, after the Morningside shearing/festival day. Played a very hot dance. We were joined by Katie Bailey Waller and Joe Waller on the stage. Pat Czar called. Dancers come from all over the state to have a weekend of non-stop dance with a different band/caller every hour. It was great to have the honor of playing the last dance.

Today, we had a performance gig and an afternoon dance with Roy Moye calling. Katie and Joe were up for playing again, so we had a Turtles Wallerv sound. Now, we had a lot of down time between gigs. So…Mr Spindle came in handy. But, not for long. At music festivals, you end up, well, if not making music, then talking about music, or getting together to laugh with musicians you haven’t seen in awhile. It was one of those days. So, most of the spinning was of musical tales.