Nov 27

On this, Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for the following:

  1. I am healthy.
  2. I have a nice home, food on the table and can pay my bills.
  3. I am loved by my husband and family.
  4. I have lots of friends.
  5. I have hobbies and activities about which I am passionate.
  6. I have enough confidence in myself to try new ventures and not be afraid to learn as I go.
  7. I can rely on God for all my needs and most of my wants. He knows the wants that I do not need in my life (sheep!).
  8. I am happy. No, I mean, truly, truly happy. Not many people can say that, but I can.
  9. I can teach. I love teaching. I love my students. I love bringing joy into others’ lives.
  10. I am thankful that I can be thankful of these and many other things. I am thankful for the feeling of gratitude in my heart.
Nov 24

The second episode of The Fiber Pusher Podcast came out a lot darker than the first one.  I’ll need to see about the lighting for the next one.

Show notes:

Podcast on Ravelry – Please join the group and introduce yourself.

Kethry socks by Spilly Jane on Ravelry

Turn a Square Hat pattern by Jarrod Flood on Ravelry

Starstruck Cat Studio

Dyed in the Wool

A Good Yarn by Maryann

History of Ireland on YouTube

Call the Nurse on Amazon

Suburban Stitcher

Yarnspinners Tales

Richert Ranch

LaMar Springs Farm Shetlands email:

Nov 20

Last night was the advanced spinning class +1 at Starstruck Cat Studio.  The “+1” part is a beginning student who can’t come to the beginning class due to a schedule conflict, but that’s just fine with us.

When I got there last night, I saw the finalized yarn-bombed spinning wheel sitting out front.


At least it will be warm this winter. 🙂

Pat was the first to show me what she brought with her.


This is all of the singles for her spin-to-order shawl.  Since the requirement is a three-ply yarn, her next task is to get it all plied together on her jumbo flyer.  I think it is going to make a lovely 3-ply yarn.  There is an entire pound spun up here.


Next, Pat showed me a felted bag made with her hand-spun yarns from the classes.  The bottom is superwash, so it didn’t felt, but the rest of the bag did nicely.  She’s debating on whether to make the opening into a gather for a draw-string bag, or to put a large zipper across the top.  What do you think?


Then she showed me the last of the Kool-Aid dyed yarn from the left-over Kool-aid that she took home last month.  I really like that top on!


Brenda, on the other hand, purchased this lovely pack of cotton from Cotton Clouds and it contained several types of cotton in several formats.


Spinning it was a lot different than spinning wool, or even short-stapled fibers like yak.  It’s going to take some concentration and work to get it thin and with enough twist in it.


Still, I think she’s getting it just fine.


Brenda has 12.4 ounces of her three-ply all done for her spin-to-order sweater.  Each ply of this yarn is a different protein fiber (cormo, alpaca and I forget what the other one is) so when she washed it, each ply shrank at different ratios giving her this lovely textured yarn.  She wants to dye it (maybe with indigo) before she knits it up, but she still has about a pound or so to spin up before we break out the dye pots.

After the Kool-aid dyeing experiment from last week, Brenda was elected to take the rest home (she has a blending board) and see what she could make with the dyed fibers.


She had several batts that looked like this one, and I think they are going to make a beautiful yarn.


She also had this batt.  Ooooo!!!!  Pretty!!!  I really look forward to seeing them all spun up.

The beginning student was up for an evening of learning long draw and I started her with a great Corriedale top in a grayish color.  She did very well with it and had this done by the end of class.


Seriously, this is her first attempt at long-draw spinning.  She took home enough of the Corriedale to spin up, ply and make at least one, if not two hats out of.  She and her husband are going to walk the Appalachian Trail this next year, and she wants to make some light-weight, but warm clothing to take with her.


I love the look of concentration on Heather’s face as she tries long-draw with a very fluffy Dorset roving.

I am taking the Month of December off from teaching (except for the postponed intermediate class on December 2nd) so I can get some things taken care of at home and to prep for tax season.  I am going to miss it (teaching, not tax season).

Nov 18

Last night I drove up to Thorntown to present my Fiber to Fabric talk to the local Home Ec Club.  The drive up was snowy, blowy and slow(y).  But I made it with ample time to spare and got permission to take pictures of the lovely, mission-style library.


100 years old!  I love that they were celebrating their 100th birthday this year.


In the stairs from the basement level to the ground floor was this lovely stained glass window.  By the time I got there it was dark, so we aren’t seeing the window in its best light (pun intended), but I love the pattern and colors in it.


The main room on the ground floor.  Those blue chairs at the right face a fireplace.  Lordy, this was a lovely, warm and inviting place.  I immediately felt at home here.


They even have a quilting frame set up in one area and there are ladies who come in and quilt on it.  What a happy fan pattern!

When I give the Fiber to Fabric talk, I start with raw fleeces – I took a Shetland (Amy’s) to show off a primitive breed and a Lincolnfolk (Mini-Truffle’s) to show off an up-an-coming breed.   Everyone got the chance to touch each one and comment on how lovely they were.  Also, they were amazed at the range of colors – from light gray through to black – on the Lincolnfolk fleece.  They didn’t know you could get that from one fleece.  I talked about dyeing it and one lady asked what I would dye it with.  I immediately answered “Cochineal!”  When asked why, I held up different parts of the fleece and named off the colors you would get from scarlet to purples to mahogany.  There are a lot of “Oooooo!”s at that and I could see ideas popping into people’s heads as to how pretty that would be

Then I take them through spinning, dyeing, knitting and weaving of the fiber and making it into something usable and wearable.  Also, I passed around the bag of half ounce samples from Vol 1 of the Fiber Binder Club (my copy) and let them feel the differences between different breeds, animal types, silk and plant fibers.  Of course, everyone loved the Cormo we had in there and the Coopworth also garnered lots of positive attention.


I brought several finished items I had created.  This one is naturally-dyed Shetland in a madder gradation that I did several years ago.  This is still one of my favorite things I have created and I am very proud of it despite the judgement boo-boo in it.


I showed them that weaving wasn’t just done on large looms, but on portable looms like the inkle loom.


If you have watched my first podcast, you will note that I talk with my hands a lot.  What am I doing here?  Climbing an invisible rope?

Several people told me that they learned a lot about fiber, its prep, variances and uses, so I am happy.

Other news!  I have my first sponsor for my Fiber Pusher Podcast!!  Starstruck Cat Studio in Greenwood, where I teach a lot of classes, is sponsoring me in this endeavor!  Thank you Susan!!!!

And, Kim tried on her scarf last night.


Isn’t she so cute?  And yes, that’s a real sheep skin on the floor.  I gotta keep my girl warm, you know!

Nov 16

I have some pretty exciting news for everyone.  I have started my own podcast called The Fiber Pusher.  The first episode is in two parts because I didn’t realize my camera memory card has a shorter limit than I thought – and I was so close to being done, too!  So, here are the links to both parts:

Part 1 of Episode 1 of the Fiber Pusher Podcast!

And here is Part 2.

If you are on Ravelry, please join the podcast group there.  Like some of the other podcasters, I’d like to do give-aways when I reach milestones.

The show notes for this episode is as follows:

My Facebook page

Dyed in the Wool

Ohio Valley Natural Fibers

Kethry Socks by Spilly Jane – Knitted on size 1 9″ Hiya-Hiya needles with 80% Merino/20% Bamboo yarn from A Good Yarn by Maryann.

Tabby Tree Weaver

Bev Larson – The Basket Lady

Clearance Sales at Dyed in the Wool

Knitting in Circles Podcast

The Dyer’s Notebook

Knit Girllls

Minerva Turkey

Decorate it yourself spindles

Nov 13

This time, it’s the inkle loom, though.  I showed Sandy how to warp it, and today she is off and weaving on it.


Soon, she was in concentration mode and humming to herself.


Pretty good for a newbie, eh?

I love it when students hum as they work.  🙂

Nov 11

And now a quick word from our sponsor!

Have you ever looked at your wardrobe and thought, “Man, that is so boring.  I wish I had more color in my life.”

Well, now you can have it and save 25% off the regular price to boot!

Dyed in the Wool is having a Clearance Sale on all of the tie-dyed items, except for the bags.  Want a colorful new shirt?


We got them from 2T through 3X.

What about socks?


Yep, we have them, too, from children’s to youth to women’s and men’s sizes.

Shoe laces?


Oh yes!

Baby clothing and burp cloths?



We even have tank tops


and hair scrunchies!


And, with only 45 days left until Christmas Day, now is your opportunity to get some great, colorful and unique gifts and save money, too.  Just go to the Clearance Sale tab on the Dyed in the Wool site and start shopping!

And we now return you to your regularly scheduled Tuesday morning!


Nov 9
Richert Ranch Road Trip
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Support Your Local... | icon4 11 9th, 2014| icon31 Comment »

Yesterday, Sandy and I drove to Ft. Wayne to visit the Richert Ranch, see the sheep and buy some beautiful fleeces from them.


I could be very happy waking up to this scene each morning.  They are very lucky.


This is Sherman, their Lincoln ram.

Picture 007

Picture 006

Picture 004

And a few of the Lincoln ewes he’s been loving on this month.  I look forward to seeing the wee Lincoln lambs next spring.


Picture 008


Lincolnfolk is a developing breed from a Lincoln/Suffolk cross.  It has the bounciness of the Suffolk and the delightful shine of the Lincoln.  Sandy and I have three early Lincolnfolk fleeces (S’More,  Truffle, and Marshmallow) that we kept for ourselves.

Here’s a sampling of what we picked up.

Lincolnfolk Mini-smore

This is Mini-S’More and is S’More’s daughter.  Look at those Lincoln-style locks.  And her color is lovely.  In fact, it’s actually darker than the photo shows because the sunlight washed the color out quite a bit.

Lincolnfolk Marshmallow Jr

This is Marshmallow Jr, Marshmallow’s daughter.  She is a wonderful white like her mother and will wash up nicely.

Lincolnfolk Mini Truffle

This is Mini-Truffle, Truffle’s daughter.  Yes, so while we aren’t willing to share their moms’ fleece with you all, we can’t keep all the nice ones, and are sharing their daughters’ fleeces with you.  Again, the sun washed out the color and the darks are really dark in real life.

Let me show you how much the sun washed out the fleeces’ colors.

Poppy Jr

This is Poppy, Jr.  See how black she is?  She’s a Fresian/Lincolnfolk cross.  We purchased her fleece.  We had to!  I mean, just look at that?  And That’s Sandy’s hand feeling the lovely softness that is that wool.


This is the photo of her fleece – It really is a true, rich black in real life.

Fresian Poppy

The same with her mother, Poppy.  Poppy is a full Fresian, but her wool is less coarse than the Fresian we’ve had in the past.  Once this is washed and processed, it’ll get my personal, next-to-the skin test just like the rest will.

Lincoln Eowyn

We hadn’t intended to get any more pure Lincoln, but Eowyn’s fleece was too nice to pass up.  I’m not going to send this to Ohio Valley, though.  Instead, I’m going to wash it lock by lock and sell it as locks.  I might dye some of it, but, then again, I might leave it all white.  I think needle felters will love this fleece and it will make great beards or sheep locks.

Suffolk-Hampshire Gavroche

The last one we purchased is  Gavroche, a Suffolk/Hampshire cross.  This will make a nice, bouncy and warm yarn suitable for sweaters, mittens, hats and items like that.

While we were there, Sabrina (the youngest Richert daughter) showed some of her creations.  This young lady is a junior in high school and is a very talented artist.

Sabrina sheep painting

Isn’t this painting of some of their sheep wonderful?  I can almost feel the hot summer sun on my shoulders.

Sabrina Shirley

And look at this felted painting of Shirley when she was a lamb.  For those of you who have been a part of the Fiber Binder Club, or who have purchased the Vol I of the Fiber Binder will recognize Shirley since her lamb fleece was Month 7’s selection.

But my favorite thing Sabrina has done is what’s next!

Sabrina horse

I really love this horse she needle felted!!!  She got the face just right and even delineated the muscle structure of the horse.

Sabrina also makes spindles and we brought back 14 of them to sell on Dyed in the Wool.  They will go up in the shop this next week.  The proceeds of the sale of the spindles helps Sabrina, Alaina and their mom, Anita, support their flock.  Wait until you see how Sabrina has decorated them!

Sandy and I enjoy our time with the Richerts and we cannot wait to get the fleeces back from Ohio Valley.  They are going to be so pretty!!!

Nov 7

This has been a very interesting week.  On Sunday evening, my oldest niece, Kim, moved in with us so she can have a place to stay close to where she would like a job.

The adjustment of 30 years of only the two of us to having a third person, an adult at that, in the house has been easier than I thought it would be.  Of course, it really helps that Kim is a very sweet, loving and out-going person.  Kim has a key to the house, and comes and goes as she wants (the only rule is “Don’t let the cats out when you get home”) and has a boyfriend who lives about 20 minutes from us.

Last night, both Kim and I were home together, so I had her pick out some yarn in the color she liked, and we went to her room, where the lighting is better, and I showed her how to do the knit stitch.  She’s crocheted before, several years ago, and she picked up the knit stitch pretty quickly.  She had about an inch done (at 40 stitches wide) by the time Scott got home from work.  I’ll let her practice knitting for a couple more inches before I show her how to purl.

I showed her the scarf I am knitting for her, and the hat pattern I am going to kit to go with the scarf and she liked them both very much.  Also, I showed her the Kethry socks I am knitting and she loved the lace pattern on them.  I think that she is creative enough to be able to knit her own lace items by the time this next year.

So, it’s a new adventure for us having someone else living with us and a new adventure for Kim living in a new place, finding a job and leaning how to knit.  I think it’s going to be a grand adventure for all of us.

Nov 3

That’s a rather long title, but that is the class I taught at Starstruck Cat Studio on Saturday.  There were five students and we had a lot of fun.

I went over a list of items to look for when looking for a fleece – Canary stains, soundness, scurf, veg matter, coated versus uncoated, etc.  Then we took out a lovely Shetland fleece that I had brought (from a sweet ewe named Amy).  This fleece was unskirted (the belly and britch had been removed at the time of shearing, but nothing else had been done).

dirty Amy

This is Amy’s fleece dirty.  It had poopy tags, second cuts and hay in it, so we thoroughly skirted it and cleaned it before starting the washing process.  The students were amazed at how dirty the water got just seconds after dropping the laundry bags of fleece into the hot, soapy water (I use Dawn to wash my fleeces).  I wish I had gotten a picture of the clean fleece (And I might take one tonight and edit this post to show you how clean Amy’s fleece got).

While the fleece was washing, we discussed different ways of preparing a fleece for spinning.  We used combs, cards, flicking the tips, the drum carder (both dizzing it off and as a batt) and blending board.  Guess what almost everyone liked the best.

blending board

The blending boards were hugely popular.  I can see several of the students buying one in the near future.  The fact that they could blend their own rolags while traveling in a car was interesting to them.


And then there was Susan, the owner of Starstruck Cat Studio.  She fell in love with the drum carder.  I think I have created a fiber monster. 🙂


The idea of making her own blended batts to sell in the shop really intrigues her.  I hope she gives it a try.  It’s a great way to play with color, and dizzing the batts from the carder will give her lovely roving to sell, too.


Both of these were made on the blending board.  I really like the one on the left, but everyone else liked the right-hand one.


While playing with the drum carder, the students put colors onto the carder and kept adding them until it was full.  We dizzed off half and took the rest off as a batt and reblended it onto the carder.  The yarn on the right is from the dizzed, one-time through fiber and the yarn on the left is the twice-blended batt.  Again, I was a minority of one as I love the left one and everyone else loved the right one.  And that’s the fun of experimenting like this.

One of my students, Tina, brought the shawl she is knitting from her handspun Lincoln roving she got from Dyed in the Wool.


Learning to spin her own lace-weight yarn was her reason for taking my spinning classes, and look at what she is doing with it.


Here it is stretched out showing the pattern.  Lovely!

Now that winter is approaching, and it is getting colder, I pulled out my Hip to be Square blanket that I knitted last winter.  I don’t think I ever showed a picture of the completed blanket.

hip to be square blanket

Isn’t that fun?  And it’s toasty, too!

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Can you believe it’s November already???