Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Preparing for a farm visit

Well the days are now within reach.  Will start officially packing for our trip to IL in 7 days.  Have list from sister and other things all stacked up in the spinning room.  Bundles of carded fiber, laundry bags of uncarded but picked fiber, some purchased fiber.  Now to decide just which spinning wheels to take...AHHHH she suggested the Joy would come live at her house....NOT...there is however an Ashford Traveler that might...there is a Babe Electric that definately will (although I might be nasty and keep the carry case as I'm really partial to tapestry bags....). 

Pearle climbing for kisses before plucking
It's so much fun to plan and yet I do stress myself unmercifully about all the little things.  Pearle (the fawn colored bunny) is acting a bit funny the past 2 days and now I wonder if she's ill...OH good grief...

Satan after being plucked is not a happy girl
Satan (the black bunny) decided once again that I am her personal scratching pad as I tried to reach for her food dish tonite.  She comes by her name honestly...Such a hateful personality but such beautiful looking  bunny. 

Anyhow will need to leave good instructions for the caregivers so that they know which one to get real friendly with and which to steer clear of or I'll return home to a very disgruntled employee.

The days are turning cooler here and I so look forward to time spent inside spinning.  I'm not one for loving the cold weather yet the thought of a winter day when I'm ''forced'' to remain indoors with my fiber and wheel are looking pretty tempting right now.  I've also just purchased a book called Knitting Green by Ann Budd that has so many wonderful projects that I'd like to knit.  I must however keep to my vow to myself that only one project on the needles at a time is the only way I ever finish a project...so the shawl I've been working on for a while must get done soon.  Hopefully I'll be able to knit a bit on the drive out to IL (or maybe will just need to spin up the rest of the Quivit so that I will actually have something special to work with when the needles are empty of this shawl.  Will post pics next time.

Yarn Counter by Eric
Hubby is still working on fiber equipment.  Has just finished working on my yarn counter.  I used it for the first time to count how many yards of Quivit I spun last week.  It works well.  The one pictured here is the 'prototype' and needs a bit more work and 'finish' but I love that he remains interested in supplying this fiberjunkie's needs.

Well enough musings for now.  Off to dreamland.  Til next time


Sunday, August 22, 2010

And the Fiber results are?????

Well, Hope you enjoy the little video of the beautiful fibers.  The colors in still pictures just didnt come through like they did with the video.   I "re-cooked" about 6 of the colors that didnt initially exgaust and added just a little more vinegar to the dye bath.  The remaining un-exhausted jars I added just a bit more dye and vinegar and re-cooked.  My next try will be with the Country Classic Dyes.  I am super pleased with the colors of the Jacquard but am concerned that either I'm not doing something correctly or there are certain dyes that are a bit more work. 
BTW the Emerald dyed fiber turned out to be a lot more work that I had expected.  As you can see from the picture I posted the initial dye bath not only did not exhaust but the water is very Blue. 

I thought  possibly I had not mixed the Emerald dye correctly so I emptied the jar, Remixed the dye and Vinegar and Water, Cooked the required time and left to sit with the others overnight.  This one color contimued to not only exhaust completely but when rinsing out the fiber I had a devil of a time with getting clear water.  I rinsed for at least 10 minutes.  I then read a bit to see if I needed to do something else, contacted another fiberholic to get some advice (thankd Beth) tried rinsing again in cold water for about 5 minutes...continually changing the rinse water  and when there was just a tint of blue water I called it quits!!!.  I let the fiber dry... Unfortunately all that rinsing also caused the fiber to felt some.  UGH.... Well out came the Hackles hubby made and just the outer fibers of the 'roll' were felted so I was able to seperate.  UNFORTUNATELY while working to unfelt this stuff my hands turned blue as they dye was still not completely out.  So now what??? Well, my next step will be to soak gently in Washing Soda and try the rinsing process again.  This time definately no agitation.  So enough fiber dyeing for now.

Tonite I spun about 350 yards of Quivit on my  little electric Hansen wheel.  Each year when I visit the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival I purchase a little of this precious fiber.  I think I will ply it with silk to stretch the yardage a little.  I would like to just save this yardage for a bit longer and see if I can continue to add a bit more after the New York - Rhinebeck festival.
Well, so much for my fiber filled weekend.  Hope all had a wonderful one also.  Until next time.....

Friday, August 20, 2010

19 August Dye adventures

Well I had a whirlwind dyeing adventure last evening.  Hubby purchased 12 (1/2 gallon)  and 12 (quart) canning jars for me at the hardware store.  I seperated the fibers I planned to dye -

Merino/Ramboulet into 5 of the 1/2 gal jars;

Alpaca into 7 of the 1/2 gal jars;

Gray Mohair

dark gray Mohair into 5 of the quart jars

White Mohair
and White Mohair into the remaining 7 quart jars. 

All (nah) the colors of the rainbow on my table
I used a different Jacgard Dye color for each of these jars.  Following about the same method as the last dye adventure - I used 1/8 tsp of dye in the quart jars along with 1 Tbsp & 1/2 tsp vinegar, then filled with hot water.  The 1/2 gallon jars I increased the dye to 1/4 tsp and 2 Tbsp vinegar.  I simmered each batch for 20 min in my big canning pot. Then left all to cool and placed on back porch.  This morning I checked each to see which had exhausted and was quite pleased to see that 9 of the 24 had.  Of the remaining 13 only 8 were not fully exhausted.  The other 5 just have me stumped.  One of the 5 though really had me stumpted.  The Emerald green appeared to have taken up the color but left the dye bath a beautiful shade of BLUE.  I will permit these to sit in the sun for the remainder of the day.  I may add a bit more vinegar to those that really didn't exhaust and cook a little again.  Those that exhausted fully or partially I will rinse later this evening or tomorrow morning then will post pictures of the resulting colored fibers. (with how physically tired I was last evening when completing the adventure I may just have to do the next part in shifts....this getting old is for the birds....But I never tire of working with the fiber.  I just wish the body had the same bounce back as these fibers do.  I cant wait to be able to blend.  The Mohair is just the most wonderful looking stuff.  I also have quite a bit of Angora, Silk and glitzy stuff  that I will dye maybe next week.  The process (from what I've read) is a bit different as the Silk can not tolerate very hot temps, the Angora will felt easily, and the 'glitz' is a bit fiddly to work with.
Well, I've played enough for one session.  Happy fibery day to all.  Until next time......

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Morning Window

For the last two weeks it has been over 100 degrees everyday, finally relief. This morning I sit at my window, almost with a little chill as the cool breeze is blowing in and running the fan for free. Early morning is one of my favorite times of the day. The livestock is just starting to wake up, a few will wonder out to graze, some are just content to lay and chew yesterdays cud and no one is expecting anything from me, I can just "be".
The early birds are up.. chattering away, probably some feathered wife yelling at her man to go get those babies food. Then there is my little sparrow friend, who dust bathes every morning in the same spot.. yesterday he brought a dozen friends.. they hopped and rolled.. fluttered their feathers.. for what seemed like forever. This morning my 100 pound puppy, Jack had found a rag I was using the other day and didn't bring in.. he was romping like the fool.. throwing it up in the air.. then doing a few back-flips for fun.. he is such a goofball and has no clue how big he is.
All this beauty, such the contrast for the last few days of pain hurt and suffering our little finn ram lamb, Tommy endured. You see the little pig was having a grand time.. found himself a 5lb bag of horse, apple & carrot treats. And ultimately ate himself to death. Odd thing is, I don't have any horses, I bought the treats because they smelled so good.. they didn't have a bunch of junk in them and I thought they would be tasty, healthy treats.
Even with all the hurt, I learned so very much.. as I try to do with each thing that happens around here. Instead of morning Tommy, I choose to thank him for the many lessons he taught me.. and will think of him often. He started out as a non-human, stay out in the field, to a follow on my heels, soft fluffy buddy. I know that is a no,no with a ram.. But it was nice to be idolized for a while.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Hackle with 6 1/4 '' tines

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

Friday, August 13, 2010

1/2 ounce Cormo/Ramboulet fiber and Jacquard Dye

Beginning Pictures

First and Second Dye experiences

First Time Blog

I am very very new to this Blog business so I will muddle through and just enter random thoughts this first time.  I am female so the spagetti mix of thoughts is normal and usually understood by other females.  I have been working with fiber since buying my first spinning wheel on a whim in New Jersey at a street fair back in 1980.  It was an Ashford traditional wheel and the lady I purchased it from also threw in a couple of "balls' of roving.  I have no idea what type sheep this came from but thinking back to the type of yarn it became I would say it was not something you'd want to wear close to the skin.  I learned to spin from books and lived through the times when it was not 'cool' nor understood by friends and a few family members.  My fondest memory though is a very understanding and helpful brother in law (sis's super husband) who made me a spindle.  I still have it on a shelf with my Spin-Off issues and admire it when looking through those older magazines very often.  From spinning very coarse fibers in the beginning to now having experienced both Quivit and Cashmere...I have since then advanced to a firm belief that the most natural of cloth we wear should come from our fiber producing friends.    I am blessed to have a sister who has taken up this interest; has the space to raise the animals and the incentive to learn all there is to learn about running the best fiber farm we can.  We are from an age where we had to do without or learn to use what we have on hand and so the name of this farm is very appropriate.  Like my sister I never visit a store and purchase items to be used for the purpose they were originally designed for.  Tonite I needed clamps for a home made Hackle my husband is making and found square U clamps that once cut in half on the horizontal end will work very well.  Where my sister's world is held together by zip ty's and duck tape; mine is PVC pipe and electrical tape.  We are quite a pair.  Once we learn to download pictures I will begin to post about my experiences with Dyeing and some spinning pictures.  Well, off to dream of fibery things....Nite to all 

I Officially have TWO (2) working dogs

Jack, a 6 month old Great Pyrenees / Bernese Mountain Dog.. He pretty much barked all night.. just a basic.. I love my own voice bark.. I knew all was safe because Cole the 7 year old black lab had not barked..
Around 3 I realized I had left them cooped up in the workshop.. utoh.. I got up out of bed and went out and opened the workshop door... wow was Jack happy to see me... they both ran out like they were on a mission... but no more barking the rest of the night..
I woke up extra early this morning.. went out to feed and do my good-morning rounds... I usually let the back-door slam.. it's kind of like Pavlov's theory.. all the animals know breakfast is coming.. WHAT... no dogs to greet me... I immediately go into my somethings wrong mode .. I called them several times and still no dogs.. Now everybody is making farm noises because I have not started my routine.
I have one empty pasture in the far southwest corner of the property... It is resting..(no animals in it) and I had left the gate open.. inside the fence are my 4 male goats.. laying at the gate are my two GUARDIAN DOGS .. They had rounded up the goats.. who I accidently let out... there is a back-door to the workshop that leads to the goats yard.. it was open and I did not know that.. and I had opened the front door in the middle of the night to let the dogs out.
WOW Thank you boys... you get extra treats today!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blogging beginnings

I have spent a lot of time today reading and re-reading on how to make our little blog here complete with tabs and other pages. Reading up on photos and all kinds of cool stuff. I am self taught in all I do and just have to muddle through for a few days.
So all this means is.... : Please listen to the entire menu, as we have made several changes, and change will continue so patience is required.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Welcome to ZipTyAcres

ZipTyAcres is a little place we call home..
Our attempt at Ultra Fine Fiber Farming, chicken raising for meat and eggs, goat milking, soap making, spinning accessories and crafts.. all zip tied together .
Everything we do is a learning experience. We are striving to do all with as little as possible, to reuse what we can.. of course without looking like a dump.

We shop via free-cycle and craigslist.. we have many friends that call with leads.. and of course it helps that I have a great imagination and a very handy spouse, A sister that never stops with the ideas.. and a brother-in-law that nods, smiles and says... yup. Between the four of us.. we usually succeed at what we were attempting to accomplish.

Please join us as we muddle through.. and make our dream a success..

All suggestions are welcome.. sharing of your own tried and true.. and of course.. lets toss a few things around.. nothing is impossible when we all put our heads together.
Welcome to our little place in the world.