Happy New Year!!! (maybe a day or so late)

Well here I am starting our New Year! Not bad..only 11 or so days into the year. Guess the way 2010 ended for us makes this acceptable.

You know I read a lot of different Blogs every week. Some of those that I really like are listed in my sidebar (need to update). Many of those Blogs are about the day to day on the farm. Some are farm stories. I have a passion for anything vintage, so I do follow many of these Blogs too. I wish I had more time to read but fortunately, I am too busy!

I did, however, notice on one Blog that I follow that the writer shares with her readers “things you don’t know about her” and I find that I like that idea a lot. So, I thought I’d give it a try myself and share 5 things that you don’t know about me.

1. I am a very kind and giving person. Sometimes to the point that I give and have it taken.

2. I love to read..no matter the subject. Classics, reference, trash romance, picture books, magazines, everything.

3. I like Farmer’s and farm business owners who are real, not frauds. People who really do their own work and get their hands dirty, who honestly do spend the night in a freezing cold barn with a sick animal – not those who use the one time isolated event as a photo/story op.

4. I love, love, love a newborn lamb! Not having children, I tend to throw around terms like hope and promise when I hold one of our newborns for the first time.

 


5. Cooking is my heart and soul. From the time I was old enough to stand on a stool and reach my hands into fruitcake batter that my Grandmother was making, I’ve loved to cook. It is the most relaxing thing that I do. After 32 years of marriage, I still cook dinner almost every night for my hubby and me. Apparently he still likes it because he still comes in at night and asks “what’s for dinner” and he doesn’t run away when I tell him!!

Of course there are so many more other things you don’t know about me but I have an idea…why don’t you share something that people don’t know about you? It would be fun getting to know each other better. Don’t you agree?

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What Happened To The Fiber Samples??

Several months ago, I had posted information about fiber blends that I had on the list to offer this year and I’ve been asked by several, who had expressed interest, where are the samples? That’s an excellent question! The fiber is sitting on my front porch waiting for UPS to pick it up to send to the processor. In all of the craziness with Mom’s  illness, general farm stuff..I forgot to pack up the fiber and send it. This forgetting thing, no doubt, comes with age!

For those who didn’t see or hear what my plans are..here we go. We have approximately 100 Alpaca fleeces (20 of which are black and will not be included in this) in every color available in natural alpaca, 30 sheep fleeces in colors ranging from dark blue silver to white, a fairly large amount of Mohair and a little bit of Cashmere. I have taken 3/4 of all of these fibers and am having them blended and/or variegated, carded into roving, and 3/4 of that spun into yarn (dk weight). I’ve done a bit of this on the drum carder, it’s absolutely beautiful..not sharing a photo because I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I’ve even spun up some and taken it a step further and over dyed a little bit of it. All I can say is “Oh My!”.

If you want to get on the waiting list for samples, just email me at breezehillfarm@verizon.net and I’ll add you to the list. According to the processor, we’ve got about a 2 month wait, so by the time it comes in, I get the samples out and you place your orders..it’ll be a great time of year to start thinking about Christmas projects.

A Good Day

Had a good day yesterday. The Events Coordinator at the facility where my Mother is right now, got wind (wonder how that happened) of the fact that I am a handspinner and asked if I would like to do a demonstration for the residents. While I am typically use to doing this for Womens Clubs, Garden Clubs and childrens groups, I wondered how well this would work out at a Rehabilitation and Nursing facility. To my surprise, it was wonderful. I had to keep it interesting, with a little detail but not too much information and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. The men asked a lot of questions about how the wheel worked and about shearing. The women loved the beautiful colors of the hand dyed yarns, the softness of the fiber and the fact that I was the one spinning..not them! Overall I would dub this one a success.

I never realized, until yesterday, how badly the folks that are in a facility like this one, crave mental stimulation. People that I have seen when visiting Mom, that had never even said hello, were laughing and talking..asking questions and seemed to be loving it. To anyone who has a talent and would like to share, keep the retirement and rehab community in mind. Their days can be very long and lonely and they tend to retreat to within themselves as a result. Give them a reason to smile!

I haven’t posted much recently because it’s been quite busy here. By the time I’m ready to think about the Blog..it’s hours past bedtime and you wouldn’t want to read what I’d probably write anyway.

This is a picture of the field that just a month or so ago was covered in snow..just look at how much it’s come out for Spring.

With all of the snow and rain we’ve had so far this year..it’s starting to look like a mini jungle around here. Can’t believe all of the different flowers and new weeds there are that we’ve never seen before. It really is a beautiful and bountiful Spring!

Truly Sheep To Shawl

We have several sheep that are a very light shade of gray and I love to over-dye gray wool, so I found a pattern for a shawl that I really liked (wish I could share the pattern with you but I can’t seem to find it!) and decided that I would do an honest to goodness “Sheep To Shawl” project. Armed with 3 pounds of fleece from our sheep Ivy, I set out to find the perfect color..ta da! It was Landscape’s Salmon. I dyed the entire fleece and I fell in love. The spinning process was rather lengthy because I only have time to work on my own projects when I’m not spinning for an ordered or making goats milk soaps and lotions. It took almost six months to finish spinning the yarn..once the singles were done, I had to ply all of it..another month!

Finally, after setting the twist I was ready to start knitting. It took almost a month to complete the knitting process but I have to say, I am very pleased with the result. The next step was to add the fringe and these really cool hand painted wooden beads that I found at a vintage clothing store.

Now that it’s done, I’ve decided that it really isn’t a personal project after all and have made it my feature garment of 2009 to sell as a Christmas gift and unveiled her at the Fall Festival last weekend. I had a couple of skeins of yarn left over, thinking that someone might want to make a hat or mitts to go with it. The first person that walked up to our table bought the yarn to use for a lacy border on a blanket she had just finished knitting. The shawl did not sell but it probably will before the end of the Holiday season.

Here are a couple of photos that I’d like to share.

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Participating in Fiber Arts Friday..click on the link and join in.

Cria Fleece Is No Good..I Don’t Think So!

My post today for Fiber Arts Friday is somewhat boring and possibly a little educational.

6 hour old Cria-Taken at Shady Nook Alpacas

A few weeks ago, someone, somewhere mentioned on Twitter, I think, that rumor has it – cria fleece isn’t really good for much. At the time I responded that this simply isn’t true so I thought I would use my post today to elaborate.

One could use the same statement for many “baby fibers”. For instance, Lambs Wool. Lambs wool is not the 1st years fleece from a lamb. It is the fiber growth from birth to the shearing done just before taking the lamb to market. That’s looking at about 4 months growth on the fiber. The fleeces are very small with short staple lengths and full of stress breaks from weaning, diet change and general growth of the lamb. Lambs wool is difficult to spin but it’s beautiful, soft and very much desirable. The first years fiber from a lamb is called a Hoggatt. This fleece is probably the longest, strongest, best fleece you will ever shear from that sheep in it’s life.

A Cria fleece is much like lambs wool only in that it has a very short staple length. The cria fleece has it’s share of breaks in the fiber from diet and stress changes too. The fleeces are tiny but absolutely gorgeous (as any Alpaca or Llama breeder will agree). When you have one, you want to do all kinds of wonderful things with it but the fleece is hard to work with. Where mature Alpaca and Llama fiber tends to be more difficult to spin, because of the lack of memory, the cria fleece is multiple times worse. The staple length often resembles dust, but keep in mind, that is all cotton is and it’s spun into very strong yarns and thread. So, from this seasoned spinners perspective, I don’t find cria fleece to be undesirable to work with at all. I’ve heard many alpaca and llama breeders, through the years, say, “Cria fleece, oh yeah, we have it micron tested (why I’m not sure), judged and then we chuck it!”.

I think of all of the wonderful things I’ve done with cria fleeces. I’ve spun them as is-makes awesome yarn for baby garments! I’ve blended it with a little bit of mohair and wool. I’ve even blended it with silk. It’s absolutely beautiful dyed and over dyed and added as fine strands to a stronger more mature fiber. If you raise Alpaca’s, and have fleece from one of your animals that’s not so great, cria fiber can be blended with it to soften up the yarns spun from that fleece. What is they say? “The possibilities are endless!” Don’t forget felting too. Tiny little fleeces can always be used in felting projects.

I don’t want to step on any toes here but sometime people will tell you something is no good and it’s simply because they don’t have certain fibers readily available or they’ve had one bad experience. I am not a Master Spinner but I have been a dedicated spinner since 1994. I’ve spun rabbit, chinchilla, kid mohair, sheep, cotton, flax, soy, corn silk, dog and cat. Every fiber has it’s place.

Me personally, I love the baby fleeces the best! There is no garment more beautiful than a baby blanket made with baby yarn. It may take 4 fleeces to complete it but the end result is to die for.

Be sure to check out Fiber Arts Friday and join in!