Tag Archives: spinning

No sun yet

Bobbin full of single ply Romney/silk yarn

It feels like it’s been forever since we saw the sun.  For a moment or two this morning the sky brightened, but in the end it just led to more clouds.  The temperature feels like it is inching up, though, which is definitely a plus!

2-ply skeins of the Romney/silk

On these gloomy days I have been catching up on herd paperwork, and doing some plying.  I have spun up quite a bit of my backlog, but I hate to ply, so I frequently put that off until I can’t find another empty bobbin to put on the wheel.  I know, silly!

While spinning, I have been listening to Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising sequence audiobooks, and am on the 2nd one, The Dark is Rising.  I read this and the prequel, Over Sea, Under Stone, many years ago, but am enjoying it again.  I had never read farther into the series, though, so I am looking forward to the others as well.  Susan Cooper is a wonderful author who has written more than just this series, one of my favorites being The Boggart.  I am not a serious fan of heavy duty fantasy, but the battle between The Dark and The Light in many of her books is a timeless theme, and she does it very well, with believable, complex characters.  It also helps that these books take place in some pretty dramatic places, like Cornwall!

Peanut with her morning bottle

Peanut is continuing to do well, staying outside all day with the others, and coming in about dark.  She hasn’t made the transition to a three bottle a day schedule yet, but I think she is close.  She knows where to go when she wants a nap, and plays hard with the others when she wants.  I don’t fear for her safety with the others, but we will wait until after the Mother’s Day rain deluge to leave her out at night.

Oh my, I can see a slice of blue sky in the distance!  Shocking!

 

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October fiber fun

It’s been quite a month for fiber activities.  It finally cooled down, although the autumn continues to actually be warmer than usual.  Much nicer to work with wool when it’s not humid and hot!

I have had a list of fiber projects as long as my arm for many years.  Some of them on the list are knitting projects, but many more are spinning projects (I am not going into the weaving project list right now, that would be embarrassing!).  And so I have begun to prioritize them.  (Of course, spinning projects turn into knitting or weaving projects in the final analysis…)

Friends Folly Farm singles. I really need to ply these - I need the bobbins for my next project!
Friends Folly Farm singles. I really need to ply these – I need the bobbins for my next project!

First on my spinning list has been to finish a beautiful 50/50 mohair/wool blend from Friends Folly Farm.  Last week I finished spinning up the pound of singles, now it’s in the queue for plying.

Jacob batts on my old Fricke carder
Jacob batts on my old Fricke carder

Second on the spinning list is to card and spin the beautiful Jacob lamb’s fleece that I split with a friend 2 years ago.  As soon as we received it from our friend Debbie at Hearts of the Meadow Farm in West Virginia, I washed it and carefully put it away.  It has been floating around in the back of my mind for quite awhile, and I am very excited to say that I have begun to process it.  (Although, true to form, when I broke out my drum carder, it turned out to be so dirty that it took about a week to finally get it cleaned out.  My husband took it to work and used an industrial grade compressor to blow out all the little bits that were lurking in there for quite a few years.  So that put me back a little on the project).

Shetland fleece on the drying rack
Shetland fleece on the drying rack

Project three in the spinning department is the Shetland fleece that came home with me from NYS&Wool this year.  Yum!  I can hardly wait.  That is definitely #3 in line.

Romney/silk roving
Romney/silk roving

And number 4:  the lovely Romney/silk roving that I brought home from Rhinebeck.  Two pounds of it means that I really need to hunker down and commit to the project, and I feel like that will be a very good mid-winter project.  Particularly if The Polar Vortex returns to darken the doorstep!

Post-Rhinebeck week

Lovely yard behind our AirBnb house
Lovely yard behind our AirBnb house

I am finally able to write about my adventures at the NY Sheep and Wool Show!  Retirement has its benefits, for sure.

Traveling to Rhinebeck, NY, with a lovely group of fiber friends is the highlight of the year.  The Hudson Valley is usually at its peak of fall color; we rent a house, bring lots of lovely food and libations, and just have a great time.  The sheep and wool show is absolutely fantastic as well!  (Not an afterthought and certainly our reason for being there).  We also get to visit with many vendor friends who are there at the show.  Sometimes this is the only visit we get.

View from the porch
View from the porch

This year our AirBnb rental got a little mixed up, and we ended up staying in a different place than usual.  Lovely, large farmhouse, with all the seating and sprawl areas that we could have wanted, and a great kitchen as well.  You never know how those things are going to work out, but it was a great choice.  With the drought in the northeast continuing, we ended up having perfect weather, too.  Sunday was almost too hot!

Shetland fleece on the drying rack
Shetland fleece on the drying rack

Having had a lovely flock of Coopworth and Border Leicester sheep and crosses for many years, I really never need anything at a sheep and wool show (I have tons of roving and yarn left from our crew).  But in the last year or two I have been loving the adventure of trying out wools from different breeds of sheep.  This year I knew that I wanted to find a Shetland fleece, as that is something I have never spun or knit with.

Foster Family Farm yarn
Foster Family Farm yarn

There were a plethora of fleeces to choose from, and I had a difficult time deciding.  I knew I wanted a dark fleece if I could find one, but a reddish-brown one was second on my list as that is a color you don’t find in Coopworth or Border Leicester sheep.  And so I came away with a lovely small fleece, just enough for me to have some fun with, and maybe spin up for a small shawl.  This hogget (or yearling fleece) came from a farm on Cape Cod, Freddy’s Farm Shetlands.  Lovely, very clean fleece.  This one is not a dual-coated Shetland, as many are (Shetlands are considered a “primitive” breed, so they would typically have a hairy outer fleece layer with very soft undercoat.  And you really want to keep those two products separate when spinning!).  So I waited in the long line in the fleece area, got to look at what everyone else around me was buying, and had a great time!

Romney/silk roving
Romney/silk roving

I also found more little treasures at the show:  some beautiful Romney/silk roving, and two skeins of Wensleydale/Romney yarn.  I bought enough of the roving to possibly make myself a sweater or a vest.  The red yarn is for a cowl, Purl Soho’s pattern ‘Cowl with a Twist.’

And so it goes.  Yesterday was so beautiful and warm that I was able to wash the whole Shetland fleece, and it was almost totally dry by dark.  I also plied up some Coopworth grey singles yarn to use for the accent color on the red cowl.  It was a beautiful day all around, and our Rhinebeck weekend was pretty spectacular!

 

And we are off

Spinning
Spinning

Into retirement, which still does not feel like retirement!  It feels like most of my summer breaks, although I am not on a roll trying to fit all the “fun” things into a very short time span, and am enjoying the lovely summer we are actually having in coastal Maine this year.

Lots of milk!
Lots of milk!

I am now into milking, cheesemaking, training pigeons, and spending as much time with our grandson as possible.  We love to swim and go to the beach, so that’s been a lot of fun.  I am trying to get myself into a productive schedule, but have not succeeded yet.  That extra cup of coffee on the back steps, smelling the ocean air, is too powerful to resist.  I have not gotten much done upstairs where I need to get going on organizing the fiber space.  But I have been doing some spinning on a beautiful wool/mohair blend from Friends Folly Farm.  My eczema got really bad toward the end of the schoolyear with all the stress, so I couldn’t handle fiber for awhile.  But my hands are almost all better, and I am trying to get to a little fiber every day.

And so it goes.  Delightful!

 

 

The Deal

What I want to be taking time out for int he mornings!
What I want to be taking time out for in the mornings!

I have had plans in the works for a number of years.  The deal with my husband is that I would retire when I turn 62.  That happens to be this February 11th, and  I really can’t believe that it is real.  Where did the time go?  It has just snuck up on me.  (Of course, I would not retire until June, at the end of the school year).

When I read Jackie’s blog post on Butting Heads Farm – the Art of Aging, Part 1  about aging and what can be accomplished home on the farm while working a full-time job,  I realized that we have been maneuvering ourselves toward this goal for a good number of years (I have had to let go of our sheep, our yearly meat chickens, and our yearly feeder pigs in order to keep things sane).  I have only told a few coworkers and close friends so far, but it’s finally here for me.  I am retiring at the end of this school year (!), and I am hoping to be able to totally give myself over to the farm and to weaving, spinning, knitting and felting from then on.  The money issue will be difficult for awhile, but hopefully I won’t have to go out and get a whole other full-time job.  I feel bad for all my coworkers who retire and a year or two later have to go back to work full-time, but most of those folks are single.  I am blessed to have a partner who has a few sources of income, and with my NJ pension, my Maine pension, and a little bit of Social Security, I might be okay.  (Although Maine is one of the two states in the U.S. who believes that getting SS and a teacher’s pension is “double dipping,” so the SS that I paid into in NJ is going to be drastically cut back when I start collecting because of my Maine teacher pension.  It’s a real bummer).

And so it goes.  I am frantically trying to make sure that things at work are going to be perfect for whoever replaces me, but we all know that that is a losing proposition.  It will be what it will be.  But I am having a wonderful time reading the seed catalogs and thinking that I can actually do a little more in the garden because I won’t be starting back into work by the middle of August, and unable to process the tomatoes and the eggplant that are just really coming ready at the end of August.

I can’t believe that I only have 80 some workdays left in my job as a Library Media Specialist.  It’s been a wonderful career, and it won’t be easy to give up.  But I do think that I will be having breakfast or lunch with my retired teacher peeps on the first day of the new school year.  And there will be champagne or wine involved!!!

Home again, home again

My slice of sky with a morning moon
My slice of sky with a morning moon

I don’t have much jiggity jig in my step, however.  My husband and I had to make an emergency trip down to NJ because his 90 year old mother was unwell and we really didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.  So off we went, really early on Sunday morning,  and blasted down.  7 hours driving with a quick stop or two.  My hips and back don’t do so well on long travels anymore, but it wasn’t too bad as we were able to share the driving.  And the traffic even in the suburbs of NYC is so bad these days, we had massive culture shock!

Yes, definitely my baby
Yes, definitely my baby

My mother in law is now on the mend and we came north yesterday.  My older son had been taking care of the goaties, and a friend of ours did the pigeon care.  It was a total relief to be home, and when I got outside this morning I was wonderstruck by our peepers, the quiet, and my very own slice of Maine sky with the moon still hanging there.  What a relief!

Goat kid selfie
Goat kid selfie

Pippi is warming up for her big event, but I believe she is still a few days out.  I am looking forward to spending some time with her as she gets closer to kidding day.  SnowPea’s babies are on a tear around the paddock, and can always be found out by the big rock.  They allowed me to take a “selfie” of them looking over my shoulder.  And then mama called them over to the feeder and she asked them to hang out by her for awhile.

Okay, Mom, we won't go far!
Okay, Mom, we won’t go far!

And then tonight was our monthly spinning/knitting group.  Great laughs with some wonderful women.  Can’t get much better than that!  What an amazingly great day.

More holiday cheer

My 30" 1996 Jensen Production wheel next to my 2005 Tina II wheel
My 30″ 1996 Jensen Production wheel next to my 2005 Tina II wheel

My husband and I do not usually give each other gifts at Christmas. We tend to plan for and get what we need as the year goes along.

Last October I invested in some really wonderful pigeons for John to add to his loft.  So he decided that he wanted to do something special for me. I have two Jensen spinning wheels, a 30″ production wheel, as well as a Tina II smaller wheel. (I take the Tina with me everywhere, and of course the big wheel stays home for other projects). For a number of years now I have wanted to get some fast whorls for the wheels as I have been spinning a greater variety of fibers recently, and some of them are finer, necessitating faster spinning speeds.

Whorls, bobbins and new flyer
Whorls, bobbins and new flyer

Getting a high speed kit was not as simple as ordering one online because of the age of the wheels. I was able to email and speak with both Jerry and his lovely wife Audrey on a number of occasions, and we finally got a plan together. I received the parts last week and am now in the process of oiling them before I get to try them out. But I am close!

So this holiday was a little different than most, but it’s been a good one. I am psyched to get going with my new Jensen whorls. I have a stash of some cashmere, silk, and some combination fibers that I am dying to try out.

I need to put some WoodBeams on the parts next, and after buffing I will be able to give it a go. Maybe as soon as this weekend :*)  More to come on that!

Post-race week

Has been a crazy one! One of our pigeons came in second place in Monday’s race, which certainly isn’t too bad for not knowing much about this whole thing. Next race is on Sunday, from Jackman again. Of course, this week we thought we had lost two pigeons during training runs. They eventually found their way back, but one came in with a damaged leg and a hurt wing. I still can’t believe that they all keep coming back, but we have been lucky in that way. So we shall see.

The other craziness is getting ready for the school year to begin. I worked in both of my buildings this week at least 3 days, and will go in again for a few days next week, and then we start full time on Wednesday. I really have to get into the school groove again, and start getting up earlier than 5:15 or 5:30. Dare I even say that I have lolled around until 6 a few times recently! I will have to get up early tomorrow because I am lucky to be taking a workshop on silk, it’s history, cultivation and the spinning end of it, in Portland. Have to get going early, but it will be a great day.

Taking a deep breath

Ready to ply
Ready to ply

For many reasons. First of all, the summer is a little more than half over, from my teacher point of view, and there is so much I want to accomplish, and so many people I would like to spend a little time with. And the biggest reason I have had to stop and take a deep breath is that I have been trying for 7 months to get my NJ teacher’s deferred pension going. With very little success!

Needless to say, things are very different from when my husband filed for retirement in 2001 in NJ. At that time everything was done on paper, with people talking you through it on the phone, and now, there is a mire of a website to navigate, with very little help on the phone to be had (well, I hung in there at one point and was on “hold” for 1.5 hours). State bureaucracies are all pretty complicated, and in a state with the the population of NJ, I guess it’s more complicated than most. And I imagine that the workers at the pensions bureau have a lot on their plates, too much to do, and not enough staff to handle the volume.

In the last few weeks I have been contacted directly by a very lovely person at the Pensions division, and it’s been a huge help. Hopefully I am coming to the end of the paper trail nightmare. But on Wednesday when I received two letters requesting information that I had already provided, in two different formats, my frustration level soared. So on Thursday I declared a Wallow Day. Worked on cheese and did a lot of spinning, had a Harry Potter movie marathon going in the background, interrupted by some time spent with the goaties, interrupted by fruitless phone calls. Yesterday I did a few errands and popped in to work to get caught up a little and also spend some time with colleagues. For a bonus, I got a phone call from my NJ school district telling me they have sent their end of the documentation to the pension people (or the documentation that they can put their hands on, 13 years later!). Yay!  And then I continued spinning our new lovely roving (Coopworth/alpaca). I think I may be ready to do some plying today. I think my blood pressure is probably back to normal now, and it’s a beautiful day!

Spinning, knitting and visiting

Kid mohair, colors not looking quite as well as they do in person
Kid mohair, colors not looking quite as well as they do in person

Today turned out to be a very lovely day. I had some errands to do in Freeport, and our friend Chris invited me to lunch and a spinning/knitting afternoon. So I toodled off and did my errands, forgetting about how much traffic there would be in Brunswick, trying to get from Route 1 to 295. Aargh! But I had my trusty iPad and listened to some good music and some podcasts, so it was all good. And during our lovely visit this afternoon, on a very lovely day, I worked on my new Hitchhiker shawl and we had an amazing lunch.

I have been working on spinning some hand-painted kid mohair, in a range of reds, oranges and golds. I am almost finished with it, and it is beautiful. I have to find just the right thing to ply it with, and then see if there is enough to make a small project. (The photo does not show off the colors as well as I would hope, but the iPhone did its best!).

And so the day was a good one. I have plenty of work to do here on the farm, but a lovely day out was truly a gift.