Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sheep Shearing Season!

 For a girl in love with all things fibery, it's the most wonderful time of the year...sheep shearing season!  These sheep live right down the street.  For years (even before learning to spin) I have watched with anticipation, the arrival of the Spring lambs. Now, I also have an interest in how long their fiber has grown during the past year. 

Here are some photos from earlier this week as the sheep are being sheared.

This is a grey Coopworth sheep, the wool is sun bleached on the tips.

The shearer is settling the sheep to begin shearing.
It is amazing how still they lay seemingly unbothered  by the shearing.

The process takes about 5 minutes.  This shearer told me he has been doing this for 30 years.  In keeping with the family tradition, his son shears with him.


Shearing complete.




Back out in the field to enjoy the Spring sunshine.


I brought the fleece home and began my part of the processing.
The fleece is picked over, skirted, washed, then laid out to dry.
Warm freshly washed fleece!

Thank you Leonard for allowing me to watch the shearing and especially for the fleece!

Love to all,
Deb

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Fleece And The Wheel

I have fallen down the rabbit hole and I am not looking for a way out.  Spinning wool fleece has become my new obsession....I hate to call it an obsession, as that can lead to losing interest.  You may remember the washing of the wool fleece in my last post.  In that greasy (lanolin) dirty fleece, a love developed.  

I have helped with the shearing of sheep.


local Sheep Farmer David Merchant
his daughter Lindsey

 There has been a parade of spinning wheels come through my front door.
First a JSW wheel, bought from a fellow spinner on Ravelry.  The wheel was pretty but we just did not get along, so I sold her, that happens with spinning wheels. 
 Next came the Ashford Kiwi, a new wheel and a keeper, we spend time together daily.



I found another wheel at an Antique Store:
An Ashford Traditional from the 70's, a little replacement of parts and she spun like a dream...did you know most wheels are girls?  But I really did not have room for 2 wheels so I sold her to a young man in Cincinnati.  (Hey Kyle, I hope you are well!)  I miss that wheel....

An auction brought me my next wheel:
Under lots of dirt and old finish a beauty emerged!  The wood appears to be walnut or maybe oak and she spins like a dream.  Currently she is for sale on Craigslist.

Now for the latest challenge:
 Late 1800's or early 1900's Canadian Production Wheel (CPW).
A previous repair, not a good one but it works.

 The maidens with leather to hold the flyer.

A CPW (Canadian Production Wheel), in rough condition, found on Craigslist. The last owner used her for decoration only and had the receipt from where she was purchased.  22 years of standing in a corner with nothing to do but look pretty.  There is a group on Ravelry devoted to this type of spinning wheel.  I am seeking out their guidance on how to proceed.

Have I spun any yarn....only about 100 miles of it!  The first few skeins were pretty scary but, now I am developing a feel for it and able to spin a smoother finer yarn.  Of course lumpy and bumby is good too, they call it "Art Yarn"!
My storage cabinet...a home for all things needed for spinning....well most of it!
 Wool yarn, I dyed the fibers.
 First attempts at spinning...always keep the "firsts" of new things you try.  One day you will be amazed at how far you have come.
 A wool (from a sheep down the street) spun single.
On the Kiwi Wheel
BFL roving spun into a single.  I will ply with the grey single above.
That has been my life for the past couple of months!

Love to all,
Deb

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Preparation To Doll Making and Falling In Love

It's funny how one thing often leads to another.  This past month I was to make preparations for my doll making adventure.  Fabric was purchased and the pattern was copied onto card stock for ease of repeated use.  If like me you have wondered why Waldorf Dolls are so expensive...it is because of the materials used to create them.  100% cotton knit, Wool Stuffing and lovely soft mohair yarn for the hair, no polyester fiberfill or fabric would do.
My Sister-In-Law raises sheep and she generously offered to send me a fleece to create the wool stuffing.  Sounds fun, wash a little wool and have some stuffing...yeah right, that's what happened.  The wool arrived about a month ago in a box, I peaked inside and promptly closed the box!  That wool was dirty, this would be a project for another day!  The box was taken to the basement, out of sight out of mind.  Every trip to the basement was a reminder of my task needing to be done.  I recently had some foot surgery and was told to stay off my feet and keep the foot dry.  Why is it when we are told not to do something, the thought of doing something opposite seems so enticing?  That wool was calling my name, so I began reading about the washing process and watching youtube videos....it all seemed very doable and not as scary as I thought.
I brought the box outside, sat up a table and chair to begin the cleaning process.  The fleece had been skirted which means most of the raggedy edges and poo tags had been removed.  What it does not mean is, that all of the hay bits, chaf, ticks, burs, twigs other poo tags and items you would find in a barnyard had been removed.  Those were there all mingled in with the wool, did I really want to do this?
 Yes I was determined I would clean this fleece, muck and all.  I sat there picking up a handful of locks and began the process of removing what I could, it was a beautiful day and really not a terrible job.  What I did not expect was my mind began to wander, the fleece was full of lanolin and felt so good on my hands and the smell....well, surely it must be what heaven smells like.  I was head over heals in love with my task at hand.  It took me 2 days to pick through the fleece (the box weighed 11 pounds).
The washing process involves using HOT water and soaking, more hot water, more soaking and lots of rinsing.  Yes,  that water is as dirty as it looks in the photo!
After rinsing I took the fleece out to dry in the sun.
It is amazing how much cleaner it is!  There are still small bits of hay they call that "vm" or vegetable matter.  I was so caught up in the whole process I called my SIL and told her I would be buying a spinning wheel next!  I did pay a visit to a nearby fiber store The Woolery and sought some advice on fluffing up the wool and removing the remaining vm.  That conversation led me to purchasing hand carders and a drop spindle.
I have been carding and rolling up rolags of wool for using with the drop spindle.  My resulting yarn is a bit lumpy but I was assured with practice it will smooth out.  I still have small bits in the wool and have read Wool Combs will remove all the vm. The wool combs are expensive so I am thinking of making my own, that will be another post!  
So, the idea of doll making, lead to the pattern/book buying, which lead to the fabric buying, which lead to the wool stuffing need, which lead to a generous gift from my SIL, which lead to studying, which lead to finding heaven in a box of  dirty wool, which lead to  HOT washing and very red hands, which lead to drying on a screen, which lead to a trip to the fiber arts supplier, which lead to wool carders and a major crush on a spinning wheel and some wool combs, which has lead to me drop spinning every day...and all I began wanting to do, was make a doll!!!

Love to all,
Deb

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Doll Making Together

The Puppenmitmacherei (doll making together) has begun.  You will find more information and other participants on Marie Gold's Blog and Nature Children.  The first month we are brainstorming and have been given some questions to think about.  The questions and answers are to help us find the doll that is living in our heart....the doll we will create during these upcoming months.
This process is new to me...the thought process.  I usually jump right in without considering if what I am creating is actually from the heart....from my heart.

Question One:  What interests me about doll making in a group and what do I want to learn?
I have already learned to stop and consider what is I want to achieve.  There are so many different ways of creating and I have always heard 2 heads are better than one so a group environment should be a wealth of information.

Question Two:  What is important and what makes a doll beautiful?
I have a pinterest board Waldorf Inspired Dolls which allows me to collect lots of inspiration and ideas.  It also allows me to notice what features I am drawn to and like.  Most important to me would be that doll is huggable easily loved, no hard edges or stiff attachments.  Beauty is in the face, the eyes and a sweet simple mouth.  No need for a big smile as not all of life can be handled with a smile.  A simple expression that allows for secrets to told and hearts to be poured into.  We all need someone that will listen.

Question Three:  Who am I sewing the doll for?
That is an excellent question....I have no little ones here and no grandchildren on the way.  I often think of those children that have no one that they can call their own.  I guess this comes from volunteering in the school system as my children were growing up.  I saw children that were hungry for love and attention, those that their face lit up when they were noticed.  I guess I am sewing for a child like that someone that needs a friend.

Next we are to consider if we will use a pattern or create our own.  For me I will be using the book:
Simple Cloth Daisy Dolls.  Marie Gold did a review of several doll making books...this one seemed to be perfect for me.
So my notebook is out and I will be giving this new adventure much thought and planning.

Love to all,
Deb

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Doll Making Online Follow-Along

Maria and Naturkinder are offering
an online doll making follow along.  
You choose the doll and
post your progress.
Here is a bit of an email
from Maria on the subject:
Hi Debbie,

good know that you want to join our initiative. Actually it is not a doll making class in the sense that I instruct you how to make a doll. It is more that every participant is making her own doll and reports about it on her blog. You can decide on your own what kind of doll you want to make. Of course you can purchase a Mariengold e-book and material kit if you want so. Please see my shop atwww.etsy.com/shop/mariengold.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I was recently asked to restore this doll
to her former beauty.


                   She had lived in the home of a smoker
and really needed a good bath.

Luckily the doll was signed on the
back and the doll maker 
still makes dolls.
I contacted the maker, I
was told the doll really
only had sentimental value
and would best be left as is.

The problem was her facial features
were drawn with colored pencils

 a bath was out of the question.

The clothing was fragile, I 
carefully replaced the elastic 
in the waistband of her knickers.
The shoes had been created with
wool felt.  Making them a nice 
snack for some hungry moths.
I carefully removed the sole
and stitching to create a pattern.
New shoes were made and the
socks carefully washed.

The doll was returned home not looking
much different than she did when she left.  
For me it was a great learning experience
 and so surprising that through
 the internet I was able to contact
 the original maker!

Love to all,
Deb

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On Their Way

The time had come....yes, they were ready.

They had a job to do...not like a superhero,
but a pretty heroic thing to do.  They would
travel to lands unknown.
Their hearts were large and they longed for
a friend.  Each dreaming of sharing secrets 
with someone who cared.  Finding a home
filled with love and compassion.


 Where meals were prepared and yummy scents filled the air.
Hugs would be plentiful and frequent. 

 What fun to lie in the grass and watch the clouds, while feeling
the warm sun on your face.

  To play games, climb trees,

fill your pockets with rocks, feathers and other treasures.

Yes, a home....a loving home...with a friend.

The time had come, they were ready to find a foster
child they would love. 

These dolls will be sent to the Soft Toy Drive to Benefit Children in Foster Care

 Two  of the dolls will also be entered in the Spectacular Softies Contest


Love to all,
Deb

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Process

Everything we do, involves a process, a list of steps, an orderly way to progress. Doll making like everything else has it's own routine.  

When I began this journey, I really did not have a certain doll in mind, my dream doll. I was focused more on the steps involved... that continues to be my focus.



 I began by pinning to a pinterest board "Waldorf Dolls"....the more photos pinned, the more I realized they were "Waldorf Inspired Dolls" even naming a pinterest board is a process.
 Then came the notebook:


I wish I had used a beautiful journal to fill with ideas, but on that day I grabbed a composition book and began to take notes. There are many videos to watch online, so I watched them...many times. Pausing the video to jot down an idea or note a tool being used. Obsessed is a fitting descriptive word.

In reflection a new hobby, was always learned for a goal or finished product...needlepoint from wanting to make a needlepoint belt, learning 
to crochet meant a Granny Square afghan, an admired stained glass window had me purchasing glass and soldering equipment. 


 In each of those examples, I was focused on the final project. I did learn to needlepoint, crochet and to cut glass with ease.
But, I really did not focus on the process of learning each
new skill.

Jillayne mentioned a James Clear quote in a recent blog post:
"it's not the things we learn nor the dreams we envision that determine our results, but rather the habits we practice each day".


That quote brings to mind the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team and their Coach John Calipari...the team has been top rated since the beginning of the season. Lots of talk about being undefeated, being the champions....and all along Coach Cal has said their focus is on practice and being better...each being the best player they can be.



After Jillayne mentioned James Clear, I signed up for his newsletter.  In yesterday's newsletter he makes the statement:

"it's not the things we learn nor the dreams we envision that determine our results, but rather the habits we practice each day".


From this statement, I am taking this thought.....practice, enjoy the process of learning, strive to be a bit better.  Do things a little different each day, learn from your mistakes and be happy for the experience.




Love to all,

Deb


 GO CATS!!!!
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