Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th!

Not only is this day remarkable, being Friday the 13th...but it is also the birthday of my sister Sue. Being 2 years apart in a big family, Sue and I, at one time shared a room, a bed and even bathwater! We may not be as present in each others lives now, but we share some similar memories of where we came from and who we once were. Happy Birthday, Sue.

Here in Corbeil, we are still enjoying a very mild and sunny November, although it is frosty in the morning. This is a picture of Benecio in the barn this morning...notice the frost on his head and back.

Velma, the silkie chicken, is very eager to sit on her egg. Perhaps, she's the smartest's a whole lot warmer in the hen house than out on the ground outside. Isn't she pretty? She won't move when you go to get the egg, she's quite protective.

I did some yarn dyeing today. I have some white alpaca\merino blend that was spun at the mill into thick singles. It wasn't what I expected to get back as it's a bit overtwisted, but, that just gives it some other possibilities. I am having fun with the dyeing though. This is what I dyed in the crock-pot last week.

Today, I tried a bit different method of crock-pot dyeing with the 3 primary colours. It's still cooking. I'm not sure if it will be to 'clownish'. I layered the skeins and the ones on the bottom got kind of muddy...but perhaps a nice muddy? We'll see when it is done.

I also did some immersion dyeing with just purple. It's still cooling in the pot, but it looks like the purple took differently at different places. This is probably because I soaked all the white yarn in vinegar, instead of soaking the immersion batch in a soap bath. The vinegar made some areas take the dye too quickly. That's my theory, anyway. I'm still learning...always learning.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

16 Celcius on November 8th!!!

What a gorgeous weekend this was! All the more appreciated after having the first day of winter driving through snow and slush on Thursday.

The alpacas were taking advantage of the beautiful weather to try to get the last of the pasture goodness. It's amazing that there is actually green grass at this time of year, but all the rain and fairly warm fall has helped.

The sky was so blue today, compared to November's usual gloominess. I feel uplifted.

The spring cria don't know how good they have it. They'll get a taste of their first winter soon enough. Actually, alpaca take the winters here pretty well. They have lots of fleece to keep them warm, access to the barn and shelters with straw bedding to cuddle into.

This fellow is MHA Vivaldi. He was named by one of the fibre artists who gather at my farm on my annual 'Fibre Fun with Friends' day in June. I call him Valdy for short. He's a handsome lad with promising fibre. It's been hard to get a good picture of him...he'd rather hide behind the other cria or his momma, usually.

Having lived most of my life in Northern Ontario, we know better than to take this weather for granted. Today, we got the snow equipment ready and put away some more firewood.

This week, wear a poppy. Say thanks to a veteran. Say an extra prayer for the men and women serving our country today and for their families. Talk to your children about why we observe Remembrance Day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spinning Faster...

I'm spinning so fast, it's making me dizzy :)

No, not really, but...

I remember when I bought my first wheel, a Lendrum DT, my DH offered to "put a motor on that thing". I gave him a look and told him that he was missing the point of spinning.

Someone once likened spinning to the "new Yoga". Well, I have to agree. Spinning for pleasure is meditative and relaxing, as any spinner can tell you.

However, every June I have the job of turning a trailer full of fleece into dollars. Most of the farm's harvest gets taken to the mill to turn into rovings, batts, yarn or felt. However, those special 'best' fleeces or the odd-ball colour\grade fleeces are washed, carded and spun by yours truly for sale as skeins or garments.

I had been half-heartedly looking at the Roberta on the internet. An Ertoel Roberta promised more consistent yarn in a faster rate while saving my ankle joints from treadling.
But, I didn't know anyone who actually used one and the new sticker price was beyond my current gambling limit.

Then about a year and a half ago, I had the great luck to hear about someone in my region selling an electronic spinning wheel. It turned out to be an Ertoel Roberta.

And the price tag on a used one was worth the gamble. Especially, if I could process more fibre at home rather than paying mill processing costs (I can justify any expense :)).

Well, even though it has taken me a year and a half of 1) findling around with it 2) getting frustrated with it 3) swearing at it and 4) staring at it for Roberta and I have finally bonded. It took some adjustments and oiling, and use to both wear it in and get comfortable with it.

The on\off switch and the speed control are hand knobs on the front of the unit. This is a bit awkward when you start out. I was going to either get a pause-switch foot pedal or have DH make one, but it never got done. Now that I'm used to it, I don't think I actually need one.

I used some Polworth from my old stash to test drive her. It ended up quite overtwisted, but I'll use it for some spare mitts.

Then, I started spinning some of my 70% alpaca\30% merino rovings. Since I don't have a 3rd bobbin for plying on my Roberta, I plied on my Lendrum.

I'm really happy with the result. It's very consistent and wasn't overspun.

I'm starting another batch of the same yarn and I'm going to track my time this round.