Mar 30

Today has been a very productive day.

I was at Sandy’s house at 9:00 this morning, and we dug right into work.  She had the Fiber Binder Club 95% packaged up, so the first thing we did was finish that up.  Then we dug into the T-shirts that we want to dye for sale this year.  This year we are doing the dyes completely different.  We have gotten tired of the same old patterns, so we decided to get out the book and see what else we could do.  Boy, oh boy, did we come up with some different ones.  Some of these actually take several rounds of dyeing, so we’ll get that started next weekend.  We folded and tied many, many shirts in preparation, though.

After that (and lunch), we dove into the fiber we brought home from Zeilinger’s.  Those set aside for the Fiber Binder Club were placed in their particular area.  Then we started going through the remaining bags.  I need to spin up samples of each fiber for sale, so we set up the sample bags for me to take home and spin.  I think I have 18 different types to spin up.  These will be for the price sign like we did last year.

Currentfiber

This is last year’s price board.  This year, there will be two boards set up and one whole section of the booth will be devoted to wool.  There will be two different Lincolns, three different colors of Shetland and some double-coated Shetland, Cormo, Corriedale in a several colors, Bond, Jacob, Columbia, Fresian, and a couple of mixed breed wool types.  And that is what we know of so far.  We will be bagging up what is needed for the Fiber Binder Club and whatever is remaining will go with us to the fairs.

Which is what we spent the last several hours of the day doing.  We bagged up the rest of the double-coated Shetland, Bond and Lincoln adult fleece so we can now sell what is left over.  Technically, we bagged up 264 half-ounce bags of fiber, which comes up to 8.25 pounds of the fluffy stuff.

Of course, we laughed, talked and listened to music while we worked (Billy Joel today).  I wish every day were as productive and fun as today has been.  I am blessed with great friends and with a wonderful business doing what I love doing.

Mar 29

Come and visit us at our booth!

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Mar 27

Monday night was the second of three in this series of beginning sock knitting.  And, yes, once again, I forgot to take pictures.  Too bad, too, because there was some great moments.

Like me explaining how to turn a heel.  I started the instructions by reading them, line by line, out loud and them doing what I said.  After a couple of backs and forths, they got the hang of it, although not knitting to the end of the row did make them suspicious.  Stephanie was the first to exclaim, “I have a heel pocket!!”  Soon others followed suit and you could hear the joy in their voices.

When Stephanie was finished with her heel, she had to wait a few minutes for the others to catch up, so I watched her hold her sock up with the heel turn just touching the table and bounce it around a little.  Like the sock was hopping on its little heel.  Cracked me up!

Also, Stephanie showed me her sock and I noticed that it was pretty tight.  I checked Caeli’s and hers had lots of stretch in it, but Stephanie’s sock didn’t.  So I looked at it closely.  Then I asked Stephanie to show me how she knit.  Yep!  All twisted stitches.  She was knitting through the back loop with every knit stitch, so I showed her how to knit correctly.  Boy am I glad that I am not the only person who learned how to knit with twisted stitches.  It took another teacher (not the one who taught me to knit) to straighten me up.  But because of it, I can recognize a twisted stitch a mile off.  Of course, that was after I had knitted a sweater vest (in worsted-weight cotton) and a baby-blanket (again in worsted-weight cotton).

So, after they had their heel turn done (and they all loved the magic of it), I showed them how to pick up the gusset stitches using some larger needles and some swatches I had set up with light-colored worsted weight yarn.  Once they could see how to do it with the larger yarn and needles, they had no problem doing it with the smaller needles and yarn.  That was the easiest I have ever seen anyone learn how to pick up the gusset stitches.

They left working on their gusset decreases and are to be ready for the toe next Monday night.  Once they have completed the toe, I will help them get their second sock started.

This is an amazing class of ladies to work with.  I already know how better to teach the next class (in April – if you are interested, email Susan at susan@starstruckcatdesign.com).  Also, don’t forget the spinning class each 2nd Tuesday of the month, and we are discussing a weaving workshop and a fleece judging/prep class in July.  The more we have interested in them, the more likely they will happen.

And I will do my best to remember to take pictures next week.  I even had my camera with me, too, so I can’t use having no camera as an excuse.

Mar 26

My sister-in-law, Missy, has Lupus, and after getting her monthly treatments, she just freezes.  So, I decided that one way I could help warm her up was to make her a pair of wool socks.  Knowing her color choice isn’t the same as mine, I picked out yarn that I hoped would be more to her tastes and started knitting.  These are 80% wool and 20% bamboo and were hand-dyed by Mary Ann Habeeb of A Good Yarn.  If you get the chance to check out Mary Ann’s yarns, please do so.  They are so lovely and so soft!

Last week I finished them, and, on Sunday, I got to deliver them to her.

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She purposefully did not wear socks that day because she was so excited to be getting hand-knit socks.

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She loved them!  They are so bright and cheery, and they fit her perfectly.

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Of course, they are slightly fraternal, but that didn’t bother her one bit.

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Oops!  I got caught doing my wee photo shoot of the socks.  She is such an great and fun person!

Mar 25

I thought you might find the following information interesting.  It is a detailed list with calculations of the amount the fleeces weighed that we took to Zeilinger’s before processing and after processing.

Weight Lost.xlsx

This has been an interesting learning experience for us, and will help us with future fleece purchases, especially with the Fiber Binder Club.  We know how much we need processed for all of the members, and this will help us determined how much raw we will need to purchase in order to have enough.

Mar 24

Sandy and I did it!  We brought all of that processed wool home from Zeilinger’s.  When we got there, Kathy Zeilinger started laughing and asked if we had brought a truck.  Nope!  Just Bettie the PT Cruiser, but we reassured her we could get it all in.  She grinned and said let me show you something.

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Except for that bag of dyed stuff, every bag you see in this picture is ours – as is everything under the pile that you can’t see.

Here’s how it all fit in:

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Plenty of room!

18 bags equaling 81.4 pounds of wonderful, clean, fluffy stuff.

So how much weight did it lose in the cleaning and processing process? 35.22%.  Gosh, Cindy, you really couldn’t have guessed it better.  No wonder no one wanted to go against you in the contest.  It looks like you are getting 8 ounces of that sweet Cormo that we have.

Some of this is tagged for the Fiber Binder Club, but most of it will be for sale at the Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Show in May and at Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival in June.  After that, any remaining will go up in the Dyed in the Wool site.  I’ll let you know when that is done.  There is lots of Cormo and Corriedale, plus Shetland, Jacob, Lincoln, Lincoln/Suffolk Cross, Texel Cross, CVM, Navajo Churro, Bond, and Border Leicester in this lot.  That, together with the Columbia, East Fresian, and Corriedale that we already have, makes for some really exciting stuff to play with.  And the colors!  Everything from bright white down through browns and grays to the purest black.  Sweet!!!

Mar 22

Dark and early tomorrow morning, Sandy and I are headed up to Frankenmuth, Michigan, to Zeilinger’s Wool to pick up all of that wonderful wool that we took up there in January.  While we are there, we will be dropping off the two fleeces we bought last weekend in Kentucky.

It’s going to be a long day, 5 hours up and 5 hours back, plus the time we actually spend there, but it is still so much cheaper than having it shipped back.  Plus we get the bonus time for planning the next year for dyeing, shows and fleeces we want to get for the Fiber Binder Club.  And Sandy will get in lots and lots of knitting time because I am driving this time.  Let’s see how full Bettie will be on the drive back.  Clean wool is a lot fluffier than dirty wool.

Now for some fun!

Please leave a comment stating what percentage of weight will be lost in the processing of the wool we took up in January (for example – 25%).  The person who guesses (or is closest) to the correct percentage will get 8 ounces of award winning, white Cormo top.  This contest will end Saturday night (3/23/13) at midnight EST.  In case of multiple people guessing the correct answer, I’ll use a random number generator to chose the winner.

Mar 20

Okay, let me start at the beginning.  I grew up around cows.  My dad’s family had a good-sized dairy farm, we kept lots and lots of calves at our place and my mom’s family always had a cow or two plus some extra calves here and there.  They knew cows, understood cows and loved cows.  Except for an occasional horse thrown in here and there, and a few chickens, ducks and geese, I, primarily, was around cows from birth until I went to college.  I have milked cows, helped pull calves, let calves suck on my fingers, beat on a cow’s side to get her off my foot, chased cows and feed fresh grass from the mower bag to the poor bull in the barn because I felt sorry for him.

My mom’s dad hated sheep.  Called them snotty-nosed and a few other choice words.  He had nothing good to say about sheep, which was odd because he was such a funny, loveable and loving person.  Sheep, though, were one of his few exceptions to the list of the things he loved.

And here is where I have to break both sides of my family’s hearts.  I love sheep.

This is not just because I am a spinner, knitter, weaver and natural dyer.  It’s not just because I love wool and what I can do with wool in all of its varied types.  I do love wool, and love all the things I can do with it.  But my loves goes deeper.  I just plain love sheep.

Tootsie-Roll

tootsieroll pretty&black handsomeisashandsomedoesBP-&-Galadriel Galadriel Brownie-the-CVM kyS&W2 Willow-Shetland-knuckleheads Marshmellow-Shetland-knuckleheads Corn-the-sheep

Sorry, Pappy.  Sorry, Grandpa.  Sorry Uncle Ernie, Uncle O.D. and Dad.  I appreciate cows, I love milk, cheese and ice cream, I love things made with leather, and I am glad I was raised on a farm.  But cows have been replaced in my heart and my life.

I love sheep.

Mar 19

Last night was the first class of three for this round of beginning sock knitters.  Three of them learned a new cast on, all four learned how to “join without twisting,” and all got into the K2, P2 rhythm of their first sock cuff.  One even learned how to tink!

At one point I was showing them, on a sock I brought from home, the different parts of the hand-knitted sock, trying to explain where the heel flap starts so they would know how long to make the leg to suit their tastes.  I could tell there was some confusion.  I realized I should have taken one of the mannequin feet with me so I could put the sock on it to show them.  What else could a teacher do except take off a shoe and sock, put the hand-knitted sock on, and prop that foot up on the table so they could see how the heel flap, heel turn and gusset worked?  None of the students even batted an eye.  They all came over and looked at the different parts of the sock as I explained everything.  Goodness I love teaching!

So, this next week, they are to have the leg and heel flap knitted and be ready to turn the heel and pick up and knit the gusset next week.  I gave them a choice of knitting the sock in stockinette as per the pattern, or continuing the 2-2 rib all the way down.  All opted for the ribbed leg, which, even though it will be slower to knit, I don’t blame them.  I just like the look and feel of a ribbed leg myself and I think the socks stay up better versus a stockinette leg.

Also, I mentioned that if they bought a second set of needles, they could start their second sock from the other end of the ball and be ready to turn the heel on two socks next week.  The idea of having a finished pair of socks at the end of the class, rather than having to knit the second sock separately appealed to them all.  If I, as a teacher, can help them avoid the second sock syndrome with this first pair, then there is a good chance that they will continue knitting socks long after the class is over.

Of course, next week, they will get to start the class with my favorite part of the sock – turning the heel.  Watching that sweet little heel pocket form is so much fun and I never grow tired of it.

So, this morning, I am in the clouds mood-wise and woke up singing and feeling so good!  Why?  Well, it’s my student’s fault.  They are so enthusiastic that it is infectious and they just make teaching an act of sheer joy.

And notice there are no pictures?  Yep!  I was having so much fun, that I never thought of the camera the entire night.  I’ll try not to forget next week.

Mar 17

Sandy and I started off at the dark and early hour of 6 yesterday morning on our trip to Kentucky – the area around Lexington and Frankfort to be exact.  Sandy drove and once it got light enough (just before hitting Cincinnati) I pulled out the second sock of the pair I am knitting for my SIL, Missy, and had the gusset and about 2.5″ on the foot done before I had to start reading the instructions that would get us to our first stop.

We knew we had reached our destination when we saw this:

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So where were we?

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The Woolery!  This is a trip we have been wanting to make since they moved to Kentucky.  And when we walked inside, we we not disappointed.

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I could have dropped some serious bucks in this place.  I restrained myself and kept my tight budget in mind and came out with a Woolery T-shirt, four packets of seeds for dye plants Joe Pye Weed, Dyer’s Woodruff, Gypsywort, and Amaranthe, and some cutch to replace the supply I used at last year’s Dye Day.  Sandy and I did buy for The Fiber Binder Club some fiber that I have never seen available before although I have tried spinning it at last year’s State Fair.

After grabbing a bite of lunch (Subway will turn any sandwich into a salad and I tried the Sweet Onion Teriyaki as a salad with Balsamic Vinegrette dressing – oh my, it was awesome!), Sandy and I headed out to Sara Dunham’s farm for a visit.  Funny story on Sandy and I though, first.  Frankfort has a lot of one-way streets and we must have made three figure-8’s trying to figure out how to get out of there.  We make such a great team.  🙂

Sara, better known as thecrazysheeplady of Punkin’s Patch, had invited us to pay her a visit and to meet all of the sheep we all have read about on her blog.  We were met by her and Maisie, Miss Tilly and Iris.  What a lovely place she and her husband have.  The view of the horses and sheep in the fields, all of the lovely wooden fences, the barn and her wool house created quite a bit of envy in me.  Maisie follows Sarah like one of the dogs and she shows no fear of anything.

We went out to the field behind the barn to meet the sheep.  Sara took some vanilla wafers with us, and the mention of cookies raised several sheep heads from their grazing.  Then, poor Sara accidentally dropped the box.  Cookies scattered and the next glance up at the sheep showed a stampede in our direction.  Sara was frantically scrambling to get the cookies, I reached down to try to help her and the sheep were upon us, all shoving us and each other to get to those cookies.  We all laughed at them and us.

sara&sheep

It was so much fun getting to meet everyone.  Graham and I became friends (he’s a big boy!) and I got to scratch on and feed several of the others.  Blossom was really working it hard for the cookies, and Woolliam, Popcorn PeePee Pants, and all of the rest were determined not to be left out.  They were all so much fun.

topknot

I love the topknots.

After washing up a bit, we went into the Wool House.  I fell in love with the place.  Light, airy, with lots of storage, a loom, three spinning wheels, a couch, and 20 all there just made it so inviting.

sandy&20

Sandy and 20 really hit it off, but they are both Packers fans, so they had plenty to talk about.  Look in the upper left corner at that wee spinning wheel.

miniwheel

It really works!!!  Gee, I would love one of these for Lizzie, and Sara said she got this off of ebay, so I am going to start looking.

sheep angels

Everywhere you looked in the Wool House, there was something to see.  These three sweet lambies were watching over us from above.

Saras bit of heaven

What Sandy and I would do with a place like this to do our dyeing and processing in.  One day…

From there, we went over to Kathy Meyers and visited and bought fleeces.  We got a lovely fleece for the Fiber Binder Club and another one to have processed to sell.

Sandy-&-Bull

Of course, Sandy made a friend there as well.  This over-grown puppy was in heaven!

All through that area of Kentucky (and I assume others) there were quilt blocks painted onto barns.  Sandy and I enjoyed looking for them as we drove around.  Both Sara and Kathy had one on their barns as well.

barnquilt

This is Sara’s and it represents one of her ponds surrounded by Native Kentucky plants.

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And I loved the 4-leaf clover on Kathy’s barn.

All said and done, we could not have had a lovelier day.  Meeting Sara and her four-legged family was a highlight.  She has invited us back down for a relaxing day of spinning on the porch.  And getting to see the sweater she spun and knitted out of Marcel with a bit of Woolliam in person was a treat, too.  It is beautiful and will be a blessing for her to wear.

Next Saturday is another road trip for Sandy and I, this time in the opposite direction.  Yep!  It is time to drive back up to Zeilingers to pick up all of that wool we took up in January for processing.  I can hardly wait.

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