Monday, August 16, 2010

New adventures and some unsettled times.

Its been a busy few days.  I will let Fran speak of the farm happenings.  It's very proud I am of how she is handling the baby sheep and their illnesses.  As she can attest raising sheep (especially Finn who are suppose to be 'care free' animals) has been most trying amd a huge learning experience. 
Today there was a storm to beat all storms in Pennsylvania.  Roofs blew off just down the road a piece.  We luckly had minimal damage and all were safe.  Bunnies - Satan and Pearle truly though had their first 'bath' even with the doors to their Condo almost completely closed (not all the way though due to the severe heat) were drenched.  Their cages floating on a layer of water when the storm was complete.  The back yard having a river running through it.  But we do have to thank the Lord for the rain that's been so badly needed.  In this summer we've only had 5 storms since May, each lasting less than an hour, and putting down about 3" of rain.  This leaves our water table still wanting....
On a lighter note I spent a very special and pleasant day yesterday with the 'sisterhood of the traveling fiber'.  Beth, Amanda and I compared the Big Tom Electric carding machine with my Strauch 400 Finest.  They both have wonderful selling points.  I've never seen such a long batt that came from the Big Tom.  The Drum is huge.  My Strauch has it's magnificent aspects also.  I would still make the same choice if given the opportunity to 'do over'.  And it was fun to 'duel' with them.  We also utilized the hackles my husband made.  He made two types of which I will post pictures.  The initial set is approx 15" long, 3 rows of teeth that are 3 1/4 high and set at 1/2 apart.  The second set continued to be 15" long, 3 rows of teeth that are 3 1/4 high but set at 3/4 inch apart.  They work very well for opening Mohair fibers.  They will truly be a set for opening the fiber but not especially for blending fibers. The next set of hackles he used 14" welding rods (after beating the flux off) cut in half which were 6 1/4 high, 2 rows set 1/4 in appart.  This is what I used to blend Alpaca/Silk mix and will post pics.  Each has its own use and I am truly blessed to have a husband that likes to try his hand at making some of the tools to use in this craft. 
Now to my dyeing adventures.  The Cormo / Ramboulet fleece that I have washed more times than I care to count continues to give me grief.  I had soaked it in Orvis and well (that part is important) water for over a week, washed then with Joy dish soap in scalding hot water, rinsed mulltiple times in the same hot water, let cool to  tap water temp and run through my rinse cycle of my washer at the least 4-5 times.  It remained 'sticky'.  I then repeated the process of washing but this time with Palmolive Dish soap and the same water temp / rinse temps.  Then while damp solar dyed a batch.  The next wash cycle of the remaining fleece is what was used for the second dye batch which instead of Solar dyeing  I steam set the dyes and cooled overnight.  The results per the pictures posted last week show that the solar dye experience resulted in almost pastel shades and the steam dye in more brilliant colors.  Neither however removed the "sticky" feel of the fiber.  I will try one more thing before turning all these wonderful colors into felted innerds of dryer balls.  The "SODA" wash.  Per Alden Amos If it doesnt 'kill' the fiber it just might make it usable to spin.  Will keep ya'll posted on the results.  So my conclusion - 1. follow directions - when told to use soft rain water there is good reason.  2.  What doesnt come out in a four (4-5) minute wash might just not come out and a weeks' worth of soaking isnt going to make it any better...might just make it worse.

The 1/2 and 3/4 teeth set
Anyway.  Thats my story for this evening.  As I write the electricity has finally returned...the generator was a life saver but thank goodness for PPL elect. as the heat has only dissapated a little with the rain and fans are a good thing.  I'll attempt again to link some pictures to this posting.
The below colors are the difference from Solar Dye and Steam setting Dye.  Amazing how different.
Both the greens same dye lot, Pinks same dye lot

Well, rest well,  will talk again another day.  Off to dream of multi-colored sheep.  Aud

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