Wednesday, September 26, 2007

4th Ave Street Fair

I got the news on Sunday that I have made it into the street fairs for both winter and spring. A relief, since that is where I make the most contact with people, who later come to visit the ranch. Most of my business is now from the internet (people out of state visiting Arizona), from the yellow pages in the phone book, and from the fairs that I attend.

I am heading out to Taos at the end of next week to check out their fair. I went two years ago. I would not be going this year, if I had not signed up for the Pluckyfluff camp on novelty yarns, which is the following Monday and Tuesday. It should be a lot of fun. The THSG gave me and Margo, who is going with me, a partial scholarship to help defray the costs. We are obligated to give a short power point presentation on what we learned. We will have lots of photos!

Change of plans

Well, things never go quite as planned. A friend called early Saturday morning saying that one of her bucks was paralyzed from the neck down. The best guess is that he was taking on the much older buck. Anyhow, I spent the whole day depressed because this was one of the bucks that I had just sold her that has the awesome Texas hair.

On Sunday my friend calls me up to tell me that the buck seemed to be moving his body and trying to sit up. Since she works, I offered to keep him for the week, so I could see, if I could get him up and moving. Monday and Tuesday morning, I was ready to give up on him. He was sitting in a daze and he had to be bottle-fed and hand-fed. I was thrilled on Tuesday afternoon to see that he had moved from one side of the pen to another.

I came home from the Tucson Handweavers and Spinners Guild today to discover that he had made it out of his pen all of the way over to No Size's on. Of course, he was doing all of this by walking backwards and dragging his left front leg. A strange, but welcome sight. Not a small feat! I left him out to stand around with the does. In between raking and emptying the wheelbarrow, I would massage the leg that seems to be more sore than the other. I could not believe it when one of the does started nudging him and he started walking forward. He did not use his left foot very well, but he did use it, so there is hope after all. Of course, the doe kind of spoiled the moment by butting and knocking him to the ground. He got up quickly, so he is much improved. Maybe he will be walking normally tomorrow?

He still has no name, so we are calling him number three. That will have to change!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Time to move animals

No Size looks pretty calm in this photo taken yesterday. He is now in the snorting mode, so it is time to put him in a larger pen with a few does. The does have been rubbing up against the pens with males. One doe seems to go for the Shetland ram, which just won't do!

Anyhow, tomorrow afternoon is going to be busy moving animals from one pen to another and pairing them up. I spent two hours raking pens this evening, so their new homes will not reek too much of the one that has been moved out.


Marc got back from Germany last week and brought me some chocolate candy. It provided the name for my new black dominant buck that I bought from Chata Clayton of California. He is gorgeous and knows he is special. I had a visitor today that looked at him and said that he thought Edelbitter struts and knows that he is being shown off. Actually, I think he holds his head high to be able to see around all of the facial hair. I will agree that he is special. He is going to have quite a harem this year. I am going to use him with all of my colored does. No Size is going to get all of the older white does. I am going to use one of the young bucks with the kid does that I breed this year. Some will not be bred, since they are too small.

Edelbitter is going to be shorn on the 3rd or 4th of October. You are welcome to come out - after 10, of course! I am not a morning person and have reserved that time for the animals and getting myself in gear for the day. I am a night owl and get the bulk of my spinning done in the evening while watching DVDS.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Impressionists

I watched a BBC program on Netflix called "The Impressionists." I would never have sat through it, if I had not been spinning and needed a distraction. I can tell that I would never have been an artist, if it had meant living in poverty and going into debt like Monet, Renoir, etc. That must have been a nerve-wracking way to live. I could not create, if I had to always be worrying about where the next meal were to come from. Anyhow, I selected the program because so many people have been comparing my work to Monet's. I love his use of color and his garden, but I would never be able to do multiple copies - never mind 60 copies - of the same idea. I am sure that he perfected it, but I would have been bored after the second one. I did like how they presented the fascination he had with how light changed the colors of the landscape. I am always watching the sunsets when I feed the animals and I am caught up in the same way at the way the clouds play out against the mountains and at the way the colors change as the sun moves across and down behind picture rocks.

Thick and thin

The above is the yarn that I started spinning from the freeform dyeing that I wrote about in the previous post. Below is the resulting yarn. It is gorgeous and a lot softer than I expected. It is not kid mohair (first haircut), but it has a great lustre and the shift in colors was a lot of fun. Since most of my sales are yarn, I am trying really hard not to start knitting the yarn. It will work up like the sample a previous post. So, to keep from knitting it, I am busy spinning more of a different freeform roving. This time I am spinning it at a fingering weight and pulling certain colors. This batch is obviously (to me at any rate) a red mohair that I have over dyed.. There are patches of darker mohair that are popping up randomly. The subtle shifts in colors are what keeps me in the chair!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dyeing to die for?

I am going to call my style of dyeing freeform, since I do not measure and I am mixing without keeping a record. I am surprised at how cool these colors turned out. The stuff in the bottom of the pot always looks the best. I end up with the dilemma of do I sell or spin myself? The above is a middle layer.
The above is the top layer.
The above is three pounds of commercial merino that I dyed in the above method, using a different batch of colors. I really did this one to see why everyone I know is selling the merino and it looks and feels felted. This did not turn out that way, so I am not sure what other dyers are doing. It takes a lot more dye to get brighter colors in the commercially processed stuff. The bottom still turned out to be the coolest part of the dye bath. I am out of vinegar, so can't throw any more fiber in the pot until I hit Costco again!

Ugly yarn, lovely fabric

I spun the thick and thin yarn above and thought it looked kind of ratty to try to sell, so I decided to knit it up. The piece of fabric below is the result. I used a size 11 needle and cast on 31 stitches. It was 60 yardsof yarn, so now I have an idea of how much yarn it would take to make a vest. Too bad, I could not tell how well it would turn out. I only had the one batt, and I could have taken several other batts and spun bits and pieces to create enough to make something.
I plan to spin up thick and thin to sell in hopes that there are some adventuresome knitters out there willing to experiment!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Clean shop and studio

This is the cleanest that my studio has been in years. Of course, I will not show you the picture of my garage! I am rewashing all of my fleeces. I have discovered that Eccoscour is great for getting the grease and lanolin out of the raw fiber, but it leaves some of the fibers feeling pretty sticky. I am soaking the fleeces - dyed or not - in shampoo in the washer and then rinsing them. The mohair seems to be responding the best. Talk about a lovely shine. I am not losing any of the color - and the water is as hot as it comes out of the water heater - so I am impressed. I have a dozen more bags to do (at least 5 washer loads) before I will go back to washing new fleeces.
This is a photo of my shop on one side as it is today. It could change at any time, since I am experimenting with new ways of displaying items. I am trying to make it look a little less cluttered. A new shipment will be arriving from Wooly Knobs any day now and I am in a space crunch!

Knotted yarn

Last night I tried loading multiple pictures in one post. I got fed up and decided today to try one picture at a time. It seems to work, but means that I have to do numerous posts to get one idea written.

Anyhow, the above photo is a llama/mohair yarn with knots in it. Since I am goin gto the Pluckyfluff class in October, I figured that I shoudl start playing around with the novelty yarns that I already know. This and the coiled yarns are my favorites. It will be interesteing to see what I come out of the class liking the most.

Mohair yarns

I have been busy spinning kid mohair. It is more time consuming than spinning wool or blends, but the lusciousness of the washed yarn, is well worth the effort. The white, red (brown), and black mohair are naturals. I think they are the loveliest, but I crave color, so I mix them up.

Monday, September 3, 2007


Marc and I took another trip down to Patagonia. It has been several months and they still have not resolved any of the issues with the property. I was at the point of scratching the whole idea of moving, even though it would mean having to do a herd reduction every year, if I want to keep getting kids and lambs. Each new baby would mean one adult had to go. Not the way that I want to be thinking!

All of the details involved, if we do move, are mind-boggling. I worry that enough customers won't care to do the drive and that I would have to depend on more shows to make up for it. Having more acreage and the chance to build a house and barn from the bottom up would be a dream come true. of course, it all depends on the price and the issues. Oh, well. More waitign is in store.

Felted bears

I like to give my customers a test before they leave the shop. It helps me determine their perspective on art. It is a fun bit of market research. Which of the two bears do you prefer? It does say something about you. It is not a right or wrong type of question, but it will help you understand why you like doing some things and not others. My friend, Rosey, made one of the bears and I made the other. Can you tell who made which one? Let me know when you visit the shop. I try to guess and by the end of the visit, I can usually tell which you prefer, before you even tell me!

Felting spree

This is the finished black bowl that I showed in the last entry. I ended up felting the bowl again to make it sturdier. Too much llama for it not to be really well felted. When my husband made the comment that it is a little too (never mind the word he used), I knew I needed to rework it!
This bowl is my favorite. It is mohair mixed into brown Shetland and looks best in natural sunlight. It is reversible. I really am drawn to the earth tones right now. Reminds me of the colors of the Patagonia property that we are looking at.
This is the bowl that I think of as the Southwestern bowl. It has the blues and oranges of the west over a brown Shetland.
This is the inside of the bowl that I think of as the spring bowl. It is reversible and has a side that looks just right for fall and winter.

The prices for the bowl and the reverse of the spring bowl are on my web page on the fleeces and felted page.

I am back to spinning again. I need to have a lot of yarn, since I am doing several shows back to back.