Monday, September 22, 2008

Back From My Ag Day Demo

I went to Liberty Ridge Farm this morning for their Ag Day, where they bring schools through for different agriculture related stations, along with visiting the farm and going through the corn maze. I have to say, it went pretty well. Cooperative Extension sponsors it, and along with my fiber station, they also had one on grain, one on pumpkins, and one with the Dairy Princess. The kids were really good. I talked about different fiber sources, spun on a spindle and wheel, talked about the history of fiber processing, and showed off some finished products. Not bad for 15 minutes with the kids.

I did get a surprise, though. When I checked in, I was told to set up in front of the llamas, so down into the barnyard I go, and don't I recognize those critters as Paul Wiley's; the same Paul Wiley that gave me the llama fiber from my last spinning demo. Turns out, he lent them to the farm for the fall, along with geese, ducks, goats, sheep, and water buffalo. My favorite llama came right over and gave me a kiss. Boy, I'd really like to buy him and put him out with the girls.

My next spinning demo is for another Ag Day at a different farm on Thursday, and the sheep may be going with us. I'll find out more as we get closer, but Bernadine, our 4-H agent, may swing by with the trailer and take them along, as well as one of their Tunis sheep.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Felted Mittens: Take Three

I'm always looking for a new fiber project, so when my friend Deb showed me her mitten felting form, I decided to give it a try. I've had a lot of interest from people wanting to purchase mittens, and felting sounded quicker than knitting.

I checked around, and wasn't able to find the felting tool I wanted so I bought the whole kit from which came in a very timely manner, so I jumped right in with a very fine tunis lamb fleece from my friend. It was just a fast slick shear at the fair, and it had a lot of second cuts, making it unsuitable for spinning. It didn't take long for me to rip the fiber on the form, and I had the same results when I tried with some merino. At least I was able to salvage the merino fiber.

Last night I spent the time to try again with some alpaca that wasn't spinning up so well, and I embellished it with some wool roving I had left over from some yarn I spun last year ( I still have that yarn, and may make a hat to match). This morning I once again attempted to felt some mittens.

This time I was much more successful. I think the key is to use tons of dish soap and keep it good and slippery. I finished the felting off in the washer. I left the mittens big, because I found when you put your hand in, they just sort of conform to your hand, plus I have tiny hands, so I didn't want to go too small. They are outside drying now, and will need to have some fuzzies clipped off and the thumb needs the wool tightened up just a bit with the felting needle, but I think for my first pair, they are very good, and maybe even sellable in my Etsy shop, especially if they have a matching hat.
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Great Schaghticoke Fair

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Fair is done for the year, but I'll give you all a brief recap.
Chris did great with the sheep. Here is a picture of him with Gracie up on the stand. She was much improved with a bit of a rinse off.
For those of you who have seen pics of Athena, we have discovered that there is actually a sheep under the big mop of wool, and a pretty decent one at that. I had no idea how to fit her out, because she was just a big, matted, cottony mess. I ended up just dampening her wool and giving it a bit of a scrunching, cleaned her butt up, and trimmed her belly. As soon as the show was over, she got sheared, and under that big mess, she looked a lot like her mom. Before and after pics will be coming soon.
My dog kids did super, and I'm proud as heck of them all. They grew by leaps and bounds this year with their training ability, and I'm looking forward to what they have in store for me next year.
I talked to tons of people and did many spinning demos, in spite of my wretched bronchitis. I'm still recouperating, and planning fun, new fiber projects. First on the list will be felted mittens.