Stasia's Place Of Grace


Saturday, May 03, 2003

Current Fibery Pursuits

I have finished knitting the feet, and am now past the heels on both of Jeff's bison/Navajo-Churro/qiviut socks. The feet fit him very well and he's pleased with how they're shaping up.

I'm still working on the Cottage Creations "Rambling Rows" afghan which I continue to find very therapeutic and peaceful to work, as it's all in garter stitch. The reason that I'm still working on it is that I didn't pay attention to gauge (gasp!) and it is going to be big enough for a king-size bed when I'm finished, so it's taking longer than expected!

I have read "The Knit Stitch" and have fallen in love with several patterns. What a great book! I spun some yarn (pictured below) to make one of the scarf patterns. I tried to match the colors in a magazine photo of Utah, using naturally-dyed wools and silk (dyed with Kota, as well as Dandelion and Goldenrod from my yard). I didn't exactly duplicate the colors as I'd liked (I have green, rust, and pale yellow, but no blue or rose), but it was a fun experiment:

Naturally-Dyed "Utah" Yarn Of Wool And Silk

I discovered that carding dyed silk caps along with wool is not a good idea; next time, I would have blended in some shorter-stapled silk tops instead. The silk and wool I used are of different staple lengths and it was tremendously hard to spin this yarn. I used the Ashford Scholar wheel and, as always, it worked like a trouper.

I've been busy carding up the three pounds of wonderful wool I purchased from Running Moon Farm - to see photos of the sheep who "donated" this wool, please click here.

Carded Batts Made From Lyle, Ingrid And Merlene's Wool

To wash the wool, I placed it in lingerie bags in my washing machine, which I'd filled with hot water and Aubrey Organics' all-natural Earth Aware soap, which is gentle, smells of oranges, and works for everything. I soaked the wool for 20 minutes, made sure the cold tap to the washer was shut off, and then put the washer on the spin cycle (some washers spray cold water during spinning, and I didn't want the wool to felt from the temperature change!)

I removed the net bags, re-filled the washer with hot water and another dash of Aubrey's Earth Aware, and soaked for another 20 minutes, repeating the spinning. I then followed with three hot-water rinses.

Keys to successful wool washing are to fill the washer completely so there's enough water-to-wool ratio; to wash only a pound or so of wool at a time; not to let the water cool off (put a towel over the top of your washer) so grease doesn't re-deposit onto the wool; and to rinse thoroughly. Voila, wool that is clean but not over-stripped! It's soft, retains some lanolin, and is easy to card or comb and spin. It's also non-irratating to skin. I made sure to dry it completely (three days) before placing in a Rubbermaid storage tub.

To card the wool, I used a Fricke Petite drumcarder. I have used others, but I like this one the best so far. It works wonderfully. However, I'm in the market for a larger drumcarder, with all this fiber processing of late! Perhaps if I just get a brush attachment, it'll curb my "wants" for a while, and since I'm almost finished with all this wool and don't plan on purchasing more large fleeces... I guess I'll wait and see!

I received great carding advice from Margrett Stretton of Running Moon Farm: make sure the fiber is well-teased prior to carding (the carder is only to align the fibers, not to separate them!) I do the prep-work with my hands and with a Fricke Teasing Tool and a flicker brush used gently together. I have also learned to card very slowly - if you go fast, the fibers SNAP rather than stretch out gently, and you'll end up with a bunch of snarls (neps). Blech! Save time by taking the time to do it right, and you'll find you only need to make one pass on your drumcarder!

What's New In Wisconsin?

Our yard has been designated a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Our sign is on the post of one of our Bluebird houses.

Bluebird House And Habitat Sign

And what is in that Bluebird house? Three eggs, with more expected soon!

Three Bluebird Eggs So Far...

Today I also came across a Mourning Dove nest in a pine tree near the house:

Mourning Dove Eggs

Grateful For...

Fresh mozzarella, Roma tomato, and basil salad. Drizzle with organic, extra-virgin olive oil, and toss on some freshly ground pepper and salt. Yum!

Tomato, Basil, And Fresh Mozzarella Salad

Have you seen the movie The Birdcage? No matter how many times I watch it, I end up laughing so hard that I cry. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are utterly fantastic! If you haven't seen it, rent it right away - it's hilarious!

Where I've Been

Jeff was recently diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. It has been kind of scary around here lately. Jeff's had to have a lot of blood tests and is probably going to have to have a spinal tap. Several of his relatives also have neuropathy, but Jeff doesn't seem to have the hereditary kind, and his has struck very early (he's just 34).

I've been limiting my online Blog and discussion list time in order to be available for him and to do more around the house as I can. I never really realized how much time I dedicated to online fiberarts discussion until I took a break from it!

However, to ease my own anxiety over Jeff's situation, I've been getting a lot of wool washing and carding done in the wee small hours. Within a week or two, I will probably have no raw fleeces left in my stash. It's a good feeling!

Jeff has a really good, young doctor and he's extremely fit and has a healthy lifestyle, so if anyone can handle this condition, he can. This is going to sound strange, but in a way, I'm grateful for my own experiences - I think they make me more patient and understanding of his concerns. I feel, too, that Jeff is strengthened by the fact that I work hard not to let things get me down, so I'm grateful I can provide a good example.

Speaking of good examples, I would like to thank the wonderful WSKWers for all their support in recent days! You guys (and you know who you are!) are the BEST! Better than a family! XOXOX

Anyway, that's why I haven't posted lately. I don't want to get kicked off the Fiber Arts Bloggers ring (link in sidebar), so I figured I'd better make a post!

Hope you have a productive day and find things to be grateful for, too!

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Welcome To Stasia's Blog

Stasia is a knitter, spinner, weaver, writer, reader, and musician from Wisconsin, USA.

Join her here as she journals about beauty in nature, the joys of fibery pursuits, special people and pets, and great places to shop. It's her hope you'll leave spiritually inspired and creatively motivated. Thanks for visiting!

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