Friday, July 28, 2023

Big Moose - The Cliff Notes

This was his lamb shear.  Look at those curls!  The locks were all carefully separated and then hand washed by a dear friend.  I can't believe it's taken me this long to take them for a spin, but I've gotten almost as much fun out of just admiring them as they are :-). 

If you remember from the Blaze combing post, I lash some locks to my stationary comb and use the loose comb to transfer the combed locks from one back to the other and them pull off the combed "top".  It's slow going, but you can't beat that prep.

I was undecided about how to handle the different colors of gray in his fleece.  I love all the variations, but sometimes once it's spun, the charm of it gets a bit lost and just looks messy...disorganized...I'm not sure how to describe it.  Not being a "color" person makes life complicated sometimes.

I ran the combed fiber through the drum carder - one pass.  You can still see some variations, but maybe a bit more subtle.  I really like how the yarn turned out.  I will probably do another sample where I don't blend it on the carder and maybe one more where I run it through twice to further blend it.  

Wool is so fun :-).

Thursday, July 27, 2023

2023 Tour De Fleece Wrap Up

I didn't spin quite as much yarn as last year, but I'm not too far off.  I did spin at least 15 minutes every day, taking the Tour's two rest days when I needed them, and ended up with well over five hours of spinning in total.  I wish I could commit to 15 a day all year.  Or not "commit" to it, but just enjoy doing it without needing the structure.  

I ended up with a whole basket of yarn I really like. 

The red is the yarn from Blaze, my friend's sheep.  The dark gray is Tessa.  The creamy white is Ellie.

I love when the yarn looks just like the sheep.  Ellie is definitely round, soft and cuddly.

Murphy is quite a "sheep with too much character" most of the time, but he grows some beautiful wool.  This light gray skein is especially soft and I would bet most people would pick it as their favorite.

The beautiful medium gray is Mini Moose.  I spun a sample from him last year and it was one of my favorite yarns I've ever spun.  This skein did not let me down.

Another sheep who never lets me down is Muffin.  She's finally starting to get some gray hairs, but I actually like that better than her solid black lamb fleece.  I think it gives her yarn some depth. Can you believe she and Biscuit are six (!).  

I was going to link to the finished black and white sweater, but as I scrolled through the March posts looking for the best post, I decided 20 catching up with us on the trail might be my favorite.  Lots of reminders of what was going on and now that's over and I love my finished sweater, I have to admit it was all pretty fun :-).

I didn't get a great shot of Big Moose (the little dark gray skein), but it's too hot to go back out and try for a new one.  I took some "in process" shots while I was combing it, so he'll (hopefully) get some more attention in a day or so.

We are continuing on spinning this week in support of the women's race.  I decided I'd only spin ewes so I've spun a little bit of Emily and Annebelly for old times sake and am now working on a bobbin of Cheeto so Big Moose could bring his mom along for the ride :-).

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

No Mow May

The men's race Tour de France/Fleece is over, but now we are spinning for the women's race.  I'm using that as my "justification" for not having taken pictures of my yarn for a blog post yet.  I will do it.  In the meantime, one last gift from the camera card archives!

I'm not big on over mowing (even though it looks like it) and used the "No Mow May" campaign as my leverage to push Tim to not mow the back field this spring.  I thought it would mostly be used and enjoyed by all the animals, but I enjoyed it at least as much as they did. 

I loved walking back there, especially in the evenings.  Everything looked soft and magical and it didn't even feel like the same farm.  We got a bunch of rain early in the spring and everything was green and lush and the trees surrounding the Frog Pond almost felt like a little woods (the one thing I really wish we had here).

I wish I'd done a better job taking more pictures, but I'm glad I got these if for no other reason than it tricked me into putting them into a blog post so I'll be able to jog my memory for the rest of my life.
I love tulip poplar flowers and I'm glad our trees are finally old enough to really send them out.

I know most people consider wild blackberries a weed, but I think they are pretty and I know the birds love all the berries.  One year Paige picked a bunch and made a cobbler.  It was fabulous, but I'm not that dedicated and I just let them go.  I enjoy the blossoms as much as anything.  You could smell them from 15 feet away.

No Mow May was a huge success (in my books ;-) and I have added it to the maybe three things I like about spring.  If you have the opportunity, give it a try.

If you'd like to hang out in the meadow for a bit longer, here's a new puzzle.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Old Friends And New Friends

Meanwhile, back in May...or more from the camera card archives. 

20 has an international pen pal, a stuffed cow named Foro. Foro lives mostly in Switzerland, but gets to travel all over going mountain climbing, visiting friends and sometimes even for work.  His travel companion is my best friend from grade school.

When she was over here this spring visiting family, she and her sister (of TdF Blaze fame :-) came to our farm for a visit.  We thought it would be fun to take some pictures of Foro and 20, I thought just because they were our stuffed friends, but she said "And because of their names!"

Foro got his name by accident, if I remember correctly.  I think it was supposed to be Foto, but that got lost in translation or something and became Foro.  

"Um, okay, but what about their names?"

"Foro.  Get it?"  I didn't.

"4 0 and 2 0"  Oh, right :-D.

Luckily it was still cool enough that Foro and 20 were still able to wear their matching sweaters.  I made Foro a sweater a couple of years ago, but it apparently never made the blog :-/.  

Jared supervised the photoshoot.

And was his super sweet self.

Pinto never misses being part of the action.

Baaxter joined in, too.

And Foro told him some stories about seeing sheep up in the mountains near where he lives.


Foro's superpower is listening, but he looks pretty good at watching, too.  I'd love to know what these two were thinking.

Until next time, Foro :-)

Friday, July 21, 2023


No, this account has not been hacked.  It's really me, posting three days in a row :-o.  

I saw a beautiful goldfinch working the sunflowers this morning and did a quick grab with my camera.  I didn't have enough time to think about my camera settings.  It's not terrible and I'm glad to have it, but hopefully I'll get another chance.  

In the meantime, here's a fun new puzzle.  


Thursday, July 20, 2023

Yarn Shots

First I was just going to quickly post the new and improved yarn shot, but then I thought it might be interesting to share the before and after pictures to show how different they actually were.  I loaded the big girl camera shot...

 ...and...that's not what it looks like on my camera and computer and in real life.  

Oh right, I'd forgotten that Blogger "auto enhances" our pictures to "improve" them.  There is a way to turn that "feature" off, but it's fairly complicated and involves services I don't really use, so...whatever.  Yeesh.  I'll post the picture directly to IG and see what happens there.

Here's a picture of a smiling Wool House :-).  This little fence has been used for way more than stopping chickens from digging up my flowers this summer.  I love hanging yarn on it and it's perfect for drying towels and sheets as well.  

The main Tour de France/Fleece is wrapping up this week, but there's still the women's race next week so our group is spinning on.  So far I've spun Tessa, Blaze, Murphy, Muffin and Ellie.  I'm counting Tessa even though she was technically a warm up spin.

If you've been spinning for the Tour, how's it been going? 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

What A Brain

I've been trying to take pictures of the B Garden all spring and summer and had yet to get even one that I'd liked.  The B Garden has been Beautiful.  So much color, so much depth, sooo many bees, some butterflies and a few birds...but none of the pictures ever captured any of that.  I've been unhappy about it for Many Weeks. 

Of course I was using my iPhone...that does take some really nice pictures...but when it doesn't, I have a tool that can fix that.  I even set out it where I had to step over it to get in and out of the Wool House.  I stepped over it for Several Weeks and then finally put it back away.

This morning I tried to take a picture of some yarn from the Tour de Fleece and could not get a picture that truly reflected the softness and the rich creamy color with just a hint of halo and shine.  Even adjusting some settings on the phone didn't help...but I knew what would.

(blows dust off big girl camera)

Yep.  Sure enough.  That was the picture I was going for.  The picture of Ellie's yarn...looked just like Ellie's yarn.

Hey, while you've got your head out of your...  you have the camera out, why don't you go take some pictures of the B Garden!

Oh look!  A pretty picture of some of the flowers...and a hummingbird and bumble bee thrown in to boot!  Do you see the bee?

This is pretty much how most of my life has felt this summer.  I'm not happy with the way things are going...and I have the tools to fix them...but I just keep stepping over them.

I had fun taking some nice flower pictures.  When the hummingbird buzzed in, I happily set up my camera to best capture her.  I thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the bench next to the garden to wait.  I even ate my lunch out in "olden" times.

I love my iPhone and I take a lot of great "memory pictures" that I'd completely miss if I had to carry around a heavy DSLR all day.  The camera you have on you is frequently your best camera.  Still, there are many times I miss the days when phones really weren't very good and I mostly used the big camera.  

There are many things I miss from the days before we carried computers in our pockets.  I hate thinking about everything I'm missing now because of that computer that doesn't stay in my pocket as much as it should.  And all the things I should be missing.  

I'm going to try to fix that.  I have the tool to do it.  I've been tripping over it all summer. 

If you'd like to hang out in the B Garden for a bit longer, here is a video from this morning and a new puzzle :-).


Monday, July 3, 2023

Tour de Fleece Detour

The early part of my Tour de Fleece is making a detour through Indiana this year.  One of my challenge projects is spinning some yarn for a friend, from one of her sheep. Blaze is a Shropshire/Border Leicester cross and this is definitely a Sara fleece.  I like wool that feels like wool.  Not scratchy by any means, but not cottony or too silky either.

The light gray color is her most recent growth (nearest her skin) and the red, sunbleached tips are what had been on her the longest.  Unfortunately this beautiful fleece has a fiber break, or a weak spot, about 2/3 of the way up the growth.  This is fairly common with ewes raising lambs.  The weak spot is in the red area.  The staple length is quite long though and I pulled out a big chunk of what I thought was the best and gave it a wash.

My plan was to comb off the ends and see if what was left was still a good spinnable length.

I lashed on small groups of locks by the strong clipped (as opposed to the tips) end.

Combed the fiber from one comb to the other.

This is what came off.

I did two passes with the combs (one to comb it off the stationary comb and one to comb it back on) and then pulled out a long thick "strand".  I do this by gently pulling from the very end, pull, pull, pull, not letting the "strand" break apart.  This is called combed top.

I wrap it around my hand and then tuck in the end and it's ready to spin.

I started with 8.8 ounces of raw wool.  After washing (which removed oil and dirt) it was 6.4 ounces.  After combing (which removed broken ends) I have 3.6 ounces left to spin.  I started spinning it last night and we are good to go :-).

The following is a short video of the yarn being spun.  I also show how I join the next "bird nest" of combed top.  

I'll post updates on IG/FB as I go and I'll share a picture of the finished yarn here.  Don't let me forget!



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