Sugarloaf spinning retreat

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Wow!  For the past week I have been meaning to post about the lovely fiber retreat at Sugarloaf ski resort that we had last weekend, organized by the Maine Spinner’s Registry.  It was a great time, hopefully had by all.  A wonderful way to remove ourselves from everyday busy-ness.  The weather started out by being beastly and hot, but up in the Carrabassett Valley on Thursday evening it rained and then it got decidedly cooler.  Not cold, but cooler :*)  Back home here on the coast they weren’t so lucky.

Of course being at the resort we had the use of all the facilities and we had a great time in the pool every day.  When it got hot in the afternoon, the pool was definitely the answer.  I am glad that I do not have a picture of me in the water, but trust me, we had a great time!  (The condos did not have any air conditioning).

Spinning, knitting, and chatting were the order of the day.  We did the potluck thing, and since we were in condos we had the ability to cook.  I brought a lasagna, 4 loaves of John’s bread and some goat cheese; Christine made a lovely chicken casserole with sweet potatoes, white potatoes and cream; Chris made an enchilada casserole that was delicious, and Sharon made lovely fajitas.  And then there were all the lovely salad things that Susan and Christine brought.  It was lovely and tasty!

Sampler bag with my nice green beaded orifice hook

I finished my worsted weight “sampler” drawstring bag, which I am thrilled over.  It’s a really nice bag that I think I will use for a project sack.  Instead of a crocheted string I knit one from i-cord so it has a little more of a solid feel to it.  (I used our own worsted weight Coopworth yarn in its natural color).  I had taken a number of spinning projects along with me and ended up spinning the prepared BFL/silk roving that I had gotten at the Portland Weaver’s Studio over the winter.  I worked at spinning it more thinly than I usually spin my yarn, and it is very pretty.  I finished the fourth bobbin when I got home so now it just remains to be plyed (my least favorite spinning task!).  The washed hoggett fleece that I took with me stayed in its pillow case.  I think it was too hot to do much carding, even though I find hand-carding a very enjoyable task.  I may just decide to spin from the locks, I just have not decided yet.

On Saturday morning Sharon and Susan brought out a wealth of beading supplies.  They had everything we needed to make stitch markers and orifice hooks.  It was just what I needed!  I don’t have an orf hook for my Jensen Tina, so I made myself one with green wire.  It was a hoot, and I love my hook :*)

On the way home we stopped in Farmington to browse in a used book shop where I found a few Ngaio Marsh mysteries that I hadn’t read.  It was a nice end to a lovely weekend!  Now it’s time to get ready for the Maine Fiber Arts Tour weekend, coming up this next Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  So far the weather looks sunny, clear and not too hot.

Chores and fleecy fun

Esther's fleece drying on the outdoor rack

Another crazy hot and humid week has come and gone.  They are promising us that tomorrow will be cooler and less humid.  The air is already feeling much more comfortable!  I have been catching up on some farm stuff, moving sheep and moving cattle panels and all sorts of things up at the house.  Every time I am down in the field I forget to take my camera, so I can’t show off the happy ewes.  Trying to do too many things at once to catch up from putting too much off during the school year!

In between some of the heavier work I have been washing some fleece that I want to process myself.  I had held back a hoggett fleece from one of my favorite keeper ewes, Esther.  (A hoggett fleece is the first full year fleece from a sheep).  Esther is one of the yearlings that I chose to keep as a replacement ewe this year.  Her mother, Norma, was the first ewe that we bought when we started with sheep.  She has been a consistently great ewe.  She has had twins every year since we first bred her.  Never needed any help with anything, just quietly had her lambs and took care of them well.  We knew that 2010 would be her last lambing and she had two ewe lambs, both silver-saddled and blue.  One was teeny tiny and the other was a giant by comparison.  Esther is the larger of the two and I knew that I would keep her if she grew well.  She is as sweet and mild-mannered as her mama was and she has a fantastic fleece.  Blue-silver, darker grey and brown/black around the edges.  So I am hoping to spin it up and possibly card it with some mohair.  I would love to get enough yarn from it to knit a cardigan for myself, but we will see.  This weekend I am joining some spinner friends for a weekend retreat at Sugarloaf (a ski resort).  I am really looking forward to the time away.  Hoping to totally decompress and regenerate some little grey cells :*)

The Tina II, cleaned and all dressed up for the big weekend

To that end, I also took some time to rejuvenate one of my favorite spinning wheels, my Jensen Tina II.  I didn’t take it totally apart, but enough to clean it with some Murphy’s oil soap and then I tried a new product, WoodBeams wood treatment by the online business Goodies Unlimited.  It has some beeswax and a lot of essential oils in it and I like the finish on the wheel.  I probably should do the treatment again soon, as this wheel was pretty dried out and under-tended for the last 3 years or so.  But she is beautiful again!  And she will accompany me for the weekend away.  I am really looking forward to this trip.  Not just for getting away, but also because I have never been to that area in Maine.  I am not a skier; my husband and I have stayed in the area of Sunday River near Bethel, Maine on the NH border, but we have never been to the Carrabassett Valley.  Yippee!  New sights to see and some wonderful friends to spend some time with.  I hope that I remember to take the camera!

A little bit of this and that

Strawberry and fresh green onion/garlic scape cream cheese

I should have been working on this over the winter, but there just never seems to be time.  So in the last few days while our grandson was home with us (a stomach bug), I worked on some cheese equipment organization, some new flavors of cream cheese, and ended up making a bigger mess than I began with.  It’s always the way.  Although the cream cheese is awfully tasty!

Sorting fleeces is always fun.  I get started and I don’t want to be turned aside.  I am trying to group the fleeces to go to the processor so that they will complement each other as roving or yarn.  So I have my piles of white, piles of silver/grey, and piles of dark brown.  Sigh!  So many choices, so many decisions!  Tesser doesn’t seem to mind the fuss and confusion.  She just hangs out on the chair, watching all the fuss around her without batting an eye.

Tesser the Chihuahua makes herself comfortable

Don’t do this

The sheep field

I know, makes us all want to go out and do whatever that is, right away!  But seriously, we have been trying to get our breeding ewes down to the pasture for the past two weeks and it just has seemed to all go wrong.  Friday I was so sure was going to be the day and I went down to double-check the fence setup and realized I had the fence a little farther from the charging unit than we had it last fall.  The wire wouldn’t reach.  So while our son was waiting to help me load ’em up into the Subaru, I ended up in the field with John trying to make things work.  In the end I had to run home and get another length of flex-net and run that up to the enclosed net fence to get the electric there.  And yesterday was the farmers’ market and our son was out by the time I got home. So the day was over!

But today was the day.  We have been honing down our flock to the bare bones and we have chosen our 6 breeding ewes for next year.  It hasn’t been an easy process, but there it is.  I can’t even talk about the nights I have been sleepless over the choices.  But they are chosen; JD and  I got them down there this afternoon.  Now it’s their turn to do some work in the pasture.

2011 Roasters land

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This morning our 50 roasting chickens arrived at the post office.  We have been madly trying to get their little spot ready for the big day, in the back of one of our greenhouses.  (Hot working in those greenhouses at this time of year is an understatement!).  At 7:30 exactly, our post mistress gave us the call and we ran over to receive those beautiful little chicks.  I know that very soon they are going to be very tasty dishes, but there is nothing as cute as a baby farm animal, any and all of them.  They provide endless entertainment with their antics and their enthusiasm for the business of life.  And so begins another cycle of animal husbandry!

Our friend Jolly claims that our roasters taste better because I read them the New York Times.  I don’t, really, but we chat about world affairs and literature many times every day.  The discussion is always pretty one-sided, but it’s the one place I can go where no one talks back!

Felting with a twist

Last week our friend Chris invited me to her house to have a day of fiber and fun.  So we decided that I would travel down to Brunswick and join her at her house for some felting and spinning.  She had been to a felting workshop where they used sanders for the felting process, so Chris taught me her process and it was a lot of fun!  I made a piece of flat felt that came out pretty nicely!  I may make a pillow top out of it, or who knows!  But we had a wonderful time and had a great visit along with the felting.  It was marvelous fun and a great day!  I love felting with a hand sander.  I must now go on a quest for one :*)  (And yes, we did have some wine with lunch!)

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Lost that blogging mojo…

Temporarily I hope.  The last week or so has been hectic and just a little bit nuts.  When the day is over and it’s time to clean up from dinner I am more than halfway to bed.  In the summer break it’s always a game of playing catch-up from the school year and then suddenly we are back to work and my list is only half accomplished!

We are getting ready for our broiler chicks to arrive on Thursday; milking and cheese-making is getting into gear; general cleanup and organization is going on as well as getting ready to move the ewes down to the pasture (down the street).  We had a lovely 4th of July at the neighbor’s house for a big picnic after the Round Pond 4th of July Parade.  It was a very lovely way to spend the 4th.  Sawyer entertained us all and we got to chat with folks that we only see a few times a year.  So all is well.  I am doing a lot of knitting and will blog about that another day!  And soon, I hope :*)