Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Winter Wool Workshop - Part Two

Warning - very picture heavy. I would have broken this down into three posts, but tomorrow is Yarn Along day and I'm hoping to get my Iknitarod sweater swatch done in time to post for that. At this point I don't even have the skeins wound off, so it looks like some late "training" tonight...which is good practice for the actual race :-).

We'll start the picture marathon with Miss Mira because I fully realize that most of you are only here to see her ;-D.  Yes, she really is as cute as she looks and tiny, tiny, tiny.  She and Maisie weren't far off on birth weight, but she does seem smaller than Maisie...maybe because Maisie was born larger than life ;-).

So, we started with six freshly washed fleece samples and experimented with combing, hand carding, drum carding and flick carding.  I didn't get pictures of everything, but here are some bits and pieces.

Preparing to comb.

Getting ready to pull the "top" off the combs.

Yes, we used my fancy beer cheese plastic container diz.  I am nothing if not classy ;-).

Now this is classy.  Nistock Taffy.  Just a gorgeous fleece and a dream to work with, as was Freckles who I somehow managed to not photograph either day (?).  Both were combed and drum carded.  We didn't attempt to hand card them because the staple length was so long.  Hand cards work best between three to four inches.

The pretty gray fleece was another group favorite.  Note the difference in length from Taffy.  Wool comes in many different lengths, textures, colors, crimps (curls/waves)...  This fleece was hand carded, combed and drum carded.  

Combing catches all the too short parts of the locks and any debris that might be in the fleece.  See the short bits left on the combs?  The top (long skinny stuff coming through the diz above) that pulls off is perfect.

The two white fleeces were a good challenge for the hand cards.  I'd have thought the the finer fleeces would have preferred the finer cloth (spikes closer together) cards, but we actually seemed to have better luck with a coarser set.

But the finer cloth drum carder handled them best.  Always something to learn.

Some fluffed up Luna headed for the coarser cloth drum carder.  This was another stunning fleece.

Using the "stabber" to pull it off the drum.

After one pass through, ready for a second pass, already dreamy.

Like a cloud.

I'd forgotten I had a teasing board.  I found it when I was pulling out tools and I'm so glad I did. The board anchors to the table and you can easily flick the tips of your locks open and also catch any second cuts you may have missed when you skirted.  See how it quickly pulled off the sun bleached tips?  I am going to use this for Baaxter's fleece this spring!

A line up of beautiful, fresh from the farm fiber.  What a treat!

Nothing goes to waste.  All the leftover bits and pieces and mistakes and combing waste...got set out on the forsythia bush for the birds, because even though it sure doesn't seem like it, it's time to start putting out your collected yarn scraps and wool bits.  The babies might really appreciate some wool lined nest this spring!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Winter Wool Workshop - Part One

We had a great workshop! Everyone had fun, no one froze to death (although little Mira wasn't so sure about that!) and we all learned a lot :-).  This was my first farm workshop and I had the best of all possible students.  Super fun, well prepared, relaxed, patient, interested, interesting...  We also had fabulous wool!

Janbaby came down to help (thank you, thank you :-D) and luckily she thought to grab a couple  of short videos.  Here is a dorky (as always) one of me opening The Big Box from Nistock Farms.

I think this is Nistock Taffy (above) unrolled, but I didn't do a super job documenting everything so it may have been Nistock Freckles.  I should have added note taking to Janbaby's job description ;-). Next time!

How's that for a pretty lock?

On the other side of the spectrum, here is a shorter, finer Ile de France cross fleece.  Another shepherd offered to send three additional fleeces in exchange for some feedback and we were sure glad she did. In total we had six different fleeces from short and fine to medium and long and this super lovely gray fleece in between.

This is the daughter of the white fleece above.  The father was a Bluefaced Leicester and she sent the mother/daughter combo to show how well he'd upgraded the ewe.  And he really did!  



Nistock Luna was another favorite!

We ended up moving the skirting table outside in the sun after lunch.  It really was quite pleasant and I thought it was so neat seeing the wool out in the snow.  Something crazy that only I would like....except now I have some new crazy friends who'll be right out there with me ;-).

Not sure if you noticed the hay in the earlier picture.  We called this sheep The Boudreaux Cousin...and she actually probably is.  A beautiful long, soft black fleece that was just ripe for collecting everything.  In just a short while, with minimal effort, she was picked clean and ready to wash.  Now, if I can just get them to come back after Boudreaux's sheared ;-).

We pulled off chunks of each of the six fleeces, washed them and set them out to dry overnight. Tomorrow I'll post some pictures of how we processed them.  And probably another picture of Miss Mira ;-D.

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Mug Update

Um, you guys, they are sold out!  I don't even know what to say.  Well, the first thing to say is Thank You!  I kept a few as gifts for our vets, sheep shearer, one for me... but there are nearly 100 mugs headed all over the country and one to Scotland!  Our funny little family waking up with our funny big family everywhere just makes me...I mean, how sweet is that!!!

Single mug orders are going out today and multi mug orders will go out tomorrow.  I'm sending quick emails as I copy down your address, so if you haven't received an email by the end of the day tomorrow, let me know.  We have enough mugs to fill everyone's order as of last night.  I placed a second mug order this morning and they should be here on the 13th.

Coffee and cookies for all!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lamb Camp Begins!!!

We had a special guest at the workshop today. Say hello to Mira :-).  If you don't already know who she is, you can read her story on Sarah's blog, Shepherd Life.  

We had a great day today and were able to get a little wool work done...between lamb snorgles :-).

Ain't Skeered

First off, Holy Moly on the mug orders :-o.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  With the Winter Wool Workshop this weekend, it's going to take me a couple days to get caught up on emails and probably Monday to start shipping.  I am so excited you like them!  

Speaking of emails, I messed up my email link in the mug post, so if you sent an email and it bounced back, I think the link is fixed now.  I will respond to every email, so if you don't get a response from me by Sunday, definitely re-send it.

And speaking of the Winter Wool Workshop, we won't be having any more of those!  From now on they will be called SPRING workshops as I've apparently jinxed us all.  We are still covered in snow and it's going to be 8 degrees this morning.  We'll be fine though.  We "ain't skeered" :-).

There will be snow ice cream for all!

That we can enjoy while sitting on the front steps.

Or out back.

Or maybe we'll just take a nice nap in the warm sun.  It really felt warm yesterday morning even though the thermometer said it wasn't.

I know we'll enjoy hanging out with our old and new friends.

While we ponder life's mysteries.

And pig out on goodies from the local bakery.

Or just bask in the sun.

We might have to bring out the scissors, because I don't think Rebecca Boone is going to make it to shearing.  She needs some eye holes!

I don't think Buddy's going to make it to shearing either!  "What?  The sun's shining?"

We will NOT be looking smug about having some new punching bags!

But mostly we'll be glad it's not -23 degrees.

Even Kate's excited by what might be in those two boxes of wool :-D.

Back Sunday!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mug Shot Mugs

Sheep Tested and Approved!





Baby B aka Baaxter aka Baadxter (remember, the more names you have, the more we love you ;-).

Woolliam, looking on as Baadxter decides to make a grab for it.  Photo shoot over!

*      *      *      *      *

The mugs turned out really nice :-).  I was a little a lot nervous about ordering them because I had to order in bulk to get a do-able price and was worried they'd be terrible and I'd be stuck with a mess. Not to worry!  They look good, feel good, are microwavable and safe for the top rack of the dishwasher.  Thank you for the great idea!  They really are cute and yes, they are now officially for sale :-).

They mugs will be $12.50 each and as we did with the calendars, you can just send me an email with your mailing address and how many mugs you'd like. I'll stick an invoice and return envelope in the box and you can drop a check back in the mail.

I wish I could say "Shipping will be X dollars" but I can't.  They weigh over a pound so they "have to" go Priority Mail (grrr) which is calculated by weight and distance.  The best guess is going to be $7 to $10(ish) for one mug $8-$12(ish) for two mugs.  For folks on the west coast, it might be cheapest to send using a Flat Rate box, which would be $12.65.  If you'd like to know the actual shipping cost before you order, just let me know and I'll find out!  

Cheers :-)


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