Basically Benita » 2018 » July
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.

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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.

Jul 13

The alarm went off this morning at 5AM and I spent the next 2 hours currying about and gathering everything needed to take with me for the Fiber to Fabric talk I will be giving in the morning.

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I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this event.  I have far more than I should bring, but if there is any one thing that I have with me that sparks some creative thing in one person, then it would have been a shame to not bring it.  I am not the Fiber Pusher for nothing.  So, the back of the car is full, and we have all of the fiber, yarn, and other such goodies loaded into the trailer for the “Pop Up Shop” portion.  I have been working diligently on the new sample cards, but they all won’t be done.  I wish there were more hours in the day away from the office that I could work on these, but I will have them done by Michigan Fiber Festival and that’s really what we want, anyway.

I’m still washing fleeces and have Marley completely done and ready to go to Ohio Valley Natural Fibers.  I have all of the brown Corriedale done and ready to go to Stonehedge with the BFL.  I am getting really excited about this.  All that lovely wool finally becoming something someone can use.

Scott’s still getting used to his new schedule.  He’s still coming home, taking a shower, then a short nap before going up to his studio to work.  Getting to work at 5:30AM is not easy, but he loves having a second “day” out of every day to work on his art jobs.

I’m trying to get up earlier each day.  Eventually, I’d like to have at least an hour each morning to clean house before going to work, then focusing on fleeces and creative stuff at night and weekends.  This is the first morning getting up at 5AM and I’m feeling good.  Let’s hope I can keep this up.

Next week, I am taking a few days off work (20 – 24) to work on my room.  Also, Sandy and I are going up to northern Ohio to a farm with Merinos and Rambouillets.  Having them so local to us is wonderful!

 

Jul 9

What’s this?  A blog update?  Yes, I am announcing a new podcast episode, but I have decided to get back to blogging.  I didn’t realize how much I had come to rely on this blog to keep track of events and how much I have missed being here.

I had a really good weekend.  On Saturday, Scott and I picked up my Clun Forest sheep, Kaala Hiraka, from Brenda’s farm (she’s moving to CT, so has dispersed her flock and I bought her half of Kaala from her) and drove her to Sara Dunham’s Equinox Farm in Cynthiana, KY.

Kaala on her way web sizeIt was easier to get her into the car than I thought it would be.  Yes, she fought it, but once in there, she curiously looked around, munched hay, and with the boring interstate, she laid down and relaxed.

When we got to Sara’s, we opened the gate, carefully took the halter off her, and let her jump out of back of the car on her own.  She stamped her feet a couple of times at the Corgi, but once she was in her stall, she settled down.  Sara gave her a hoof trim and soaked her feet with some anti-fungal, then we removed her collar and tag, and Kaala was given some hay to munch.

Kaala’s first sighting of a chicken was interesting, too.  She has so much to learn in her new home, but she’s in paradise, and she will have a fantastic life of making wool.

Kaala lying down web sizeYesterday, I got up at 7 and went out of weed the garden and wash fleeces.  The garden is a 19 X 30  and is cut into 6 8X8 sections with a 3 foot walkway separating them.  At the first of June, I planted 6 different types of sunflowers, Coreopsis Tinctoria, Coreopsis Mardi Gra, a couple different types of marigolds, peppermint, and purple cone flower.  Then the rains came and the crabgrass tried to take over.  A couple of weekends ago I weeded two sections (the coreopsis and one of the marigolds) and yesterday, I reweeded the coreopsis (only a few weeds had worked their back in there) and the peppermint bed.

I am really disappointed in the peppermint.  Out of 5,000 seeds, only about a dozen germinated.  So, I might see if I can get some catmint plants and plant them in that bed.

Speaking of catmint, I  bought some new catnip at the pet store.  Well, it must be strong enough that Dylan can smell it, because this is the first batch ever that he has gone nuts over.  Then, bless his snotty heart, he sneezed his head off for about 5 minutes.  So, I am going to get out the toy mouse with the pouch for catnip in it and fill it with the good stuff for him to play with without sneezing.  And when we give some to Annie, we will shut him up in the bedroom with his mouse while she can have fun, then vacuum the rug so Dylan doesn’t have another sneezing fit from it.

While weeding, I also was re-cold soaking Marley’s latest fleece (natural colored Horned Dorset) and a fleece from a Corriedale named Felvet – they had been cold soaking for about a week, and needed to be taken out for hot washing.  Once they were done, I started the cold soak of two white Corriedale fleeces, Cloudy and Hannah.

At about noon, I came in, took a shower and rested a bit before taking my podcasting equipment and projects back outside for the recording session you see above.  It was 80 degrees at 1:30 and there was just the very gentle breeze – Perfect!!!

Once that was done and edited, Scott and I went to Red Robin for supper (I got the Avo-Cobb-O salad (550 calories)), then we went to Noblesville.  I bought a new stainless steel saucepan from Meijer ($34.99!!! Yikes!) while Scott went to Barnes & Noble for his Imagine FX magazine.  He also “rescued” a little, stuffed dragon.

When we got home, I went back to washing fleece, but this time hot washing.  I started hot washing 2/3 of Marley’s fleece.  I’ll finish it tonight, then begin hot washing the last third of Marley’s and 1/3 of Felvet.

Scott started his new position at Menard’s this morning, which means he now starts work at 5:30 every morning and gets off work at 2:00.  No evenings and NO WEEKENDS!!!!  We are so beyond thrilled.  It’s going to be an adjustment to get his circadian rhythms realigned, but it will be worth it.  He can have a regular writing and art schedule, and we can do things and work on the house every weekend – well, those that I’m home.  I still have my own schedule to contend with, but it will be so lovely having him him more when we can be together.

I think that catches you up with what is going on.  Goodness, it feels good to be typing out my thoughts and events once again.

Jul 5

Clinton Crowder Obituary