Basically Benita
Aug 13

You must think that all I do is work in my garden and wash fleeces.  Well, you wouldn’t be far from the truth – at least in what spare time I have.

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As you can see, the flowers are doing very well.  The bees are loving the extra pollen, and I am loving the harvests I am getting.  I have 2 full (and I do mean full) large freezer bags of Coreopsis flowers and a partial bag of sunflower petals.  There are more sunflowers coming in the future, so maybe, just maybe, I will have enough for a pot large enough for a few skeins of yarn.  As for the Coreopsis, there’s going to be more than enough for at least one fleece, although I do want to dye some yarn.  And, don’t forget, I have some ragweed plants in the freezer as well.

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And, yes, there has been more fleece washing.  The black bags contain a CVM fleece and the gray and blue bags contain two Shetland fleeces that are similar enough to combine.  They have been cold soaked, and the Shetland has been hot washed.  The CVM will be hot washed this week.  As of right now, there are no fleeces soaking due to Sandy and I vending at the Michigan Fiber Festival this next weekend.

Speaking of Michigan Fiber Festival, Dyed in the Wool will be in barn 8A.  Please come and see us if you  are going to be there.  We have several new fibers, as well as other items for your learning and making needs.

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I finally finished a pair of socks.  The first sock was finished back in June while I was staying at the hospital with my dad.  The second sock was started about the time he passed away, and it was been hard going back and working on it.  While, they are pretty, and knitted with West Yorkshire Spinner’s yarn, which I love, I am glad to see the back of them.  They were gifted to my co-worker, Colette, for either her mom or her daughter, whoever claims them first.  I may not knit socks for a while.  I knitted three pair while Dad was sick, and I just need a break from them.

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While working in the lighting department at his work, Scott found a glove to be used to install lamps in a fixture.  He already had a couple of spare ones from other fixtures, so he brought this one home as a joke for Sandy.  You see, Sandy is a huge Michael Jackson fan.  I think she approved.

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The only time I am tall.  Love the long shadows of the early morning.

Aug 8

This past week has been incredibly busy – which seems to be the norm for me.  Besides the normal day job, washing fleeces and trying to keep up with laundry and the like, Sandy and I are working hard to get ready for Michigan Fiber Festival the weekend of August 18 & 19.  Yes, this means, we have one more weekend to get everything done.  YIKES!

So, I am spinning samples up for the sample cards.  Sandy and I are revamping them so that they have more information on them to help people make the right decision for their spinning project.

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If you look closely, you can make out a darker yarn under the top light gray.  I am spinning each sample concurrently, just making sure there is enough color difference between each type to tell them apart when I go to Navajo ply them.  This top one is Hershey who is a Cotswold cross from Equinox Farm and he spins up like a dream.  While not next-to-the-skin soft, he would be great for a beginning spinner and I had a hard time stopping when lunch hour was done.  I may have spun way more of his fiber than I needed, but I was enjoying it so much.

The fun one to spin today is this one:

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This is a Lincolnfolk named Marshmallow, and it was dyed with red and yellow onion skins.  This is the second fleece of hers I have dyed this color, and the reason is it sells out almost immediately at the first fiber fair we take it to.  That will be Michigan Fiber Festival in a week and a half in case you were wondering.

And here is last year’s fleece all spun up:

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Looks like pure gold, doesn’t it?  This is a three-ply, fingering-weight yarn, and I loved spinning it up.  Again, this isn’t next-to-the-skin soft, but it will knit up into an awesome cowl, shawlette, or something – maybe with beads!!!  Add some sparkle to that gold.

And speaking of gold!

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See the bee as she gathers up her pollen quota?  I love the gold and orange of this sunflower so much.

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And this one, too, has a bee on it.  I am looking forward to dyeing with the petals of these sunflowers.  Once the bees are done with them, I am gathering the petals and freezing them until I have enough for a pot.  I have the feeling I won’t have enough for a fleece, but at least for a few skeins.  The joy these bring me is amazing!

And of course, the Coreopsis.  I have a full, gallon-sized freezer bag and another one that is about 3/4 full.  When I drove away this morning, I realized I might be filling that second bag with this next harvest, if not more so.  I do so hope I get to dye at least two fleeces with these lovely flowers.

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Love these happy flowers so much!

 

Aug 1

It has been raining for several days, now, and everyone is complaining about headaches and foggy brains.  I know I need an extra cuppa this morning.

Still, I have managed to get more fleeces washed and will be boxing up 5 to be sent off to the mill for top and yarn.  Slowly, but surely, I will get these all caught up.  I am hoping before the end of the year.

I just emailed out the August issue of Dye-Anna’s Dye-Gest, so if you haven’t received it and are on the list, let me know.  And, if you are not on the list and would like to receive it, just email me at dyedinthewoolbiz @ yahoo . com and I will send you the latest issue as well as all future issues.  This issue is 31 pages long, and packed full of the kind of information I have always wanted in a magazine.

Now, where’s that cup of tea?

Jul 30

After a 3-week gap, I finally found time to produce an episode.

 

Jul 29

So, when I tell people that I have over 100 fleeces in my garage awaiting processing, I wasn’t kidding.  Yesterday afternoon, with the weather being in the upper 70’s and lowish humidity, I pulled all of the fleeces out of the garage, sorted and organized them, recorded them for a spreadsheet, and put them all back in in the reverse order I intend to process them.  On one side are the fleeces ready to wash, and the other side are the ones needed skirting before washing.  Unfortunately, the ones needing skirting out number those ready to wash by 3-1.  Luckily, the skirting table is set up and I can do a couple a night after work.  There were 119 fleeces in total, but 4 of them are currently coad soaking, so there are 115 fleeces in the garage.  I’d like to reduce that number to less than 100 by the end of August.

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That short row showing in the upper left are the skirted and ready to wash fleeces (they do continue behind the shipping boxes so you aren’t seeing them all).

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And all of these need shirted before washing.

It’s supposed to start raining this afternoon for the next several days, so my outside work will be curtailed a bit in the evenings.  I can get 2-3 fleeces shirted a night after work, which I will be doing.

In the meantime, I shipped 4 fleeces out Thursday and 4 fleeces out Friday to Stonehedge for yarn and top.  And I will have 3 more ready to ship out Tuesday after work.  I am hoping an additional 4-5 will be ready to ship out by the end of the week.

So, I have a lot of fleeces, and I can prove it!  They will look so nice up in the shop when they get back.

Jul 25

Basically, my title means I have been on vacation beginning last Friday.  Or, I should say stay-cation since I stayed home and worked on the house and stuff.  But, Sandy and I did make a road-trip on Saturday to a Merino farm in northwestern Ohio where we helped skirt fleeces as they were being sheared.

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Merinos are huge sheep!  This is the ram and just take a look at the size of him.  His fleece was super soft and super fine, but not the finest of the day.  We helped choose three fleeces for them to take to the Ohio State Fair – and we will be buying those same three fleeces to be made into top and yarn once their state fair is finished.

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A bunch of naked merino ewes.  These are all bred and will be having their lambs this fall.  They breed for a fall lamb crop and when I asked why, the answer was “Because it’s not 10 below.”  Can’t fault them on that.

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Then, this late fall, these lovely Rambouillets will be sheared, and Sandy and I are hoping to help with that shearing as well so we can pick out the best fleeces for the shop.

Other than Saturday’s farm visit, I washed three fleeces, worked on the house, and worked in the garden.

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The sunflowers are just beginning to bloom, and I am harvesting the petals for the dye pot.  I’m freezing them for the time being so I can save enough for dyeing.

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The same for the Coreopsis Tinctoria.  I’m cutting the flowers off and freezing them as well.  There are several hundred flower buds for more flowers, so I will be harvesting every day or two until they are done.  I really want enough to dye an entire fleece as well as 4 skeins of Polypay yarn that I have in reserve.

Another harvest I made was about a gallon’s worth of ragweed plants (they aren’t even close to flowering, yet) that were taking over a portion of the garden.  They are all gone, now, for which I am very happy.  Also, I found another plant growing in with the coreopsis, but I need to look up what it is before I decide what to do with it.  I am hoping it is another plant I can put into the dye pot.  I just put a new plant identification app on my phone, so I am hoping that will help me identify it.

As for the work on the house, I had the house power washed Monday, and it really needed it, especially the north side of the house.  Scott and I have installed drapes in his and my bedrooms, although I have more that need to be hemmed before they can be installed.  Also, I am going through my fiber supplies and books in anticipation of moving some of them on.  I do have some yarn in the Fiber and Yarn Destash 2 group on Facebook.  Sold all of the fiber yesterday, so there is only yarn left at this time, but keep an eye out as I will be putting up lots more.

I hope you all are having a great week.

Jul 19

55 years ago today, this happened.

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My mom and dad were married at the home of her parents.  Nothing fancy because neither family could afford it, but it sealed a deal that lasted over 49 years – until death did they part when Mom died in September, 2012.  Today, they are celebrating together in heaven.  Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!!

Jul 18

There is a joke among my family and friends that I am like a freight train.  Get me going on the correct track and it’s hard to slow me down.  Well, I’ve been running hard for about two months – beginning with Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, cutting sod, tilling and planting a garden, my dad’s illness and death, washing fleeces, cooking and cleaning, writing articles for and contacting people about Dye-Anna’s Dye-Gest, my day job, and everything else that has happened since the middle of May.  Last night, my train came to a sudden halt.

I was sitting at work when, all of a sudden, it was like someone pulled the plug on my energy reserves.  I literally  could feel them drain away from me, and I felt exhausted.  Getting through the remainder of the day was tough, and the drive home wasn’t fun.  When I finally arrived home, I went straight to bed.  I was asleep by 6PM and I slept through until about 6:15 this morning.  Holy sheep, but I needed that.

As I roll out of the roundhouse, all cleaned and re-oiled for the next run, I am feeling pretty good.  This is the first morning in a while that I have just wanted a cup of tea, not NEEDED a cup of tea – or two, or three.  I hadn’t realized how sloggy my brain had been feeling, but today, it is clear and I’m gearing up for the next run.

This morning’s weather is lovely!  It’s clean and fresh, with just enough humidity to give us another layer of cloud over the fields.

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I am taking Friday, Monday and Tuesday off work. I have plans to completely revamp my bedroom, as well as wash more fleeces, have the house power washed, take the trailer in for some electrical work, and make a trip to northern Ohio with Sandy to look at and buy Merino and Rambouillet fleeces.

See, the freight train is back on track and running on time.

Jul 17

It has been really dry here lately, that is until last night.  I almost watered the garden, but the maple leaves were turning upside down, which is a sure sign of rain, and about 20 minutes after checking everything, we received a good soaking.  Before leaving for work this morning, I stopped and checked on how the garden was doing.

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The sunflowers are anywhere from 2 to 3.5 feet tall right now.  Remember, I planted them late, but they seem to know where we are in the season, so, even if they aren’t going to be tall, they are going to bloom.

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These are a dwarf variety, anyway, but they are really dwarf.  So much so, I may have to bring Lizzie out for a photo shoot once they are blooming well.

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Even the normal varieties are getting ready to bloom.  This one should be 8-10 feet tall, but it’s about 3.5 feet.  That’s okay.  Since I want the flowers for dyeing, the bloom is far more important to me than the height of the plant.

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The thing that thrills me the most, though, is the Coreopsis bed – see those two flowers?  There are buds all over these plants, so I will need to start going out there on a nightly basis and harvesting the flowers.  I’ll put them in a freezer bag and freeze them until I have enough to dye with – or until the season is over, depending on my spare time for dyeing.

I need to get into the garden this weekend and finish weeding two beds that haven’t been touched since the beginning.  I have the feeling my marigolds are going to be sparse, but that just means I’ll buy the plants next spring rather than planting seeds.  The same will go with my mint plants, purple coneflower, and other dye plants.

I plan to double the size of this bed this autumn with the help of a landscaping company that Scott and I know well.  If I can hire them for about 6-8 hours, we can get it all ready for next spring.  I think I will take parts of this garden area and plant some dye plants that need more than one season to grow to produce dye – like madder.  It’s needs a minimum of 3 years, but the closer to 7 years you get, the more dye the roots produce.  I think I will plant one of the 8 foot sections in the current with madder, then plant another one the year after and so on until I have the whole plot planted.  That will give me six years of maturity that I can rotate out as I use them.  Luckily, madder root dries very well for future use.

I am hoping the coreopsis will reseed itself this year, which means I will have to leave several flowers to mature and produce seed.  As for the sunflowers?  Well, it depends on the variety and how well they produce dye.  This being a particularly dry year so far, they ought to contain quite a bit of dye.  I may put a mesh bag around one of the seed heads of each type so I can harvest the seeds before the birds can get to them.  They can have the rest.

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You can tell it is humid this morning.  Look at the low-lying cloud hovering over this soybean field.  I think it is lovely, but, then again, it’s early morning and still only in the low 70’s.

 

Jul 16

Sandy and I drove down to Evansville on Friday evening after work.  That is a long drive, even with the new extension of I-69 South.  The long and steep hills didn’t help, and if we hadn’t removed the tables and fixtures from the trailer, I’m not sure how well we would have fared with the drag on my engine.  Still, we made it, although we had to make a quick stop when we were nearly there to get gasoline.  It used as much gas as we did going to Lexington!

I got to sleep by myself in a camper that night.  I cranked down the AC, fought and killed a couple of mosquitoes, and slept like a baby.  Debi Hassler, our hostess, made a delicious breakfast casserole (gluten free!!) and there was fruit to eat as well.  I heated up water for a cup of tea, and while I was drinking it, I noticed this sweet little spinning wheel with a mother-of-all set up like I had never before seen.

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Look at that bar between the maidens.  At first, I thought it was a quick fix on something that was loose, but then I took a closer look.

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See that string running from it and under the bobbin whorl?

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It goes to a peg.  This is a scotch tension system!  It’s really different.  So, what kind of wheel is this?

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Debi and her husband found it in an antique shop while in Scotland, took it apart and brought it home in their backpacks – except for the actual wheel, which she had to carry on the plane.  And, yes, she said she did get some odd looks from other passengers.  Still, cool!!!!

So, Saturday morning, I gave my Fiber to Fabric talk with the hopes of sparking interest in people who would have never considered creating their own yarn.

From the audience

This is from the audience view.

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A close-up of the table on the left, and…

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a close-up of the table on the right.  I started with the raw fleece (a lovely and clean Romeldale in this case), and worked my way over to some finished items through washing, prepping for spinning, spinning, dyeing (silk, acid and natural) on to knitting and weaving, finishing up with some ready to wear/use items.  I really hope what I said helped people learn something new, and gain the new Tri-State Fiber Guild some new members.

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Post from an attendant on Facebook.  I think it worked.  😉

Afterwards, we packed up (thank you Hasslers for helping!!) and went to the local yarn shop SheepSkeins.

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What a cool shop!!!!  And yes, I might have bought a few things.  I’ll show them off in the next podcast.

Other than that, I did finish washing the rest of Felvet.  Now I need to start hot washing the two white Corriedales, Cloudy and Hannah.  I’ll begin them tomorrow tonight.  I have the four BFL fleeces all boxed and ready to go to UPS, which I will do tomorrow after work.

Tonight, I have to do the cooking, so I need to get home asap after work.  Meals this week for Scott include power oatmeal for breakfast, Chicken Marsala with asparagus, carrots and onions sauteed in butter, and Philly Steak & Cheese with green beans and scallions.  My meals for the week include oatmeal, a home-made chicken vegetable soup, and Greek yogurt with fresh cherries.  Yum!!  But all this means some cooking.  Luckily, the Philly Steak and Cheese goes into the crockpot, so that will be an overnight thing, but the rest needs to be cooked.

There’s more, but I need to get to work, so I’ll talk about them later.

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