Friday, February 26, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday-Felting and Spinning



This week was a bit of a hodge podge of activities. I felted a batt of alpaca to see how that would hold up. I experimented with different fibers by needle felting onto the batt. I also felted a few flowers, knitted some more and played around with beading them. I finished spinning the skein for MOPACA show and sent it off. I am excited for the feed back from the judges.
And I spun Tula my bay black alpaca's fiber and added a bit of gold bling to it. I spun the skein on my Lendrum. The fiber was from some roving I had sent out last year. I used a short backwards draw to create a woolen fiber. Ratio: 7:1. It is rather chunky, but I like it.


Off to finish washing dirty fiber! And I am still planning to dye in avocados, but I have not met the goal of 300 g of dried skins. I am getting sick of guacamole!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dyeing with Avocados on Fiber Arts Friday


I had hoped to have some fiber dyed in avocados today. I have been eating avocados constantly for a week! My kids are sick of them. I have mashed them, diced them and pureed them in everything I could think of. I need 300 g of dried, cleaned skins. This is a lot of avocados. I think so far we have eaten 15 and I have about half of what I need. Never fear, there are 10 more sitting in the fridge along with a huge bowl of avocado soup that my family balked at! Any takers??
So unfortunately, I won't be able to post this project today in spite of my best efforts. As for dyeing using natural elements, I suggest the book Natural Dyeing by Jackie Crook. It is supposed to be one of the best. Crook demonstrates how to dye with wool, silk and cotton. She demonstrates the cool water and hot water methods for mordanting. Each step is illustrated by a picture and the directions are clear. The photos are lovely and very easy to follow especially if you rebel against directions and only look at the photos (as I do). The book is then divided into chapters on roots, woods and barks, flowers, leaves and stalks, fruits/vegetables, and special colors. There is a fabulous color chart at the end. As you flip the pages you will be mesmerized by the range of colors produced by the dyes. Crook also has a chart indicating what dye works best with cotton, silk or wool. Here I found a slight glitch. I feel in love with the red cabbage dye. She profiled the dye on silk but also had wool dyed in red cabbage. From my experiences red cabbage does not work.

I don't how she did it..but it doesn't work. I spent four days trying to dye that wool to no avail. Then I finally googled red cabbage dyeing...and found no one else can do it either. So? I ended up using grape Kool Aide. And it turned out nicely.
I am slowly working through the book and will post as I finish each and every one of the dyes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A New Goat



Two days ago we brought home our new goat. Her name is Christina Moon and she is a registered Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat. I am planning to milk her a little bit. I am working on my cheese making skills and cannot wait to try my hand at goat cheese.

Christina Moon is a sweet little goat. She is shy and has not bleated too much since her arrival. I was worried because the first 24 hours she did not eat anything. I was worried, but today she is doing much better. I actually put her with Anna Nana,

but AN was so obnoxious and head butted her right in the side. AN kept her head bent low ready to attack. She stood in the center of the stall and waited for CM to move and then AN would jump forward and smash into CM full throttle. What a naughtikins! Typical. I think Anna Nana has an identity crisis. She does not think of herself as a goat. What she thinks she is I have no clue. She follows me everywhere, head butts the cats and enjoys chasing the alpacas..if I let her. The minis are the only animals she doesn't mess with. And then that is Juliette's realm. If AN comes near the horses Juliette grunts, snorts and pushes her away.
They are really hilarious. I am hoping the three of them will sort it out in the next few days.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Felted ring


So I am trying to work out a few ideas to create items from fiber. I always test on wool and then alpaca after I get the basic idea. The picture is a felted ring that I made yesterday and today. I think I am a bling kinda girl. I love crystals and they compliment fiber nicely. I wet felted the ring and then needle felted it after it dried. I then sewed on the crystals. I didn't like the way I could see the thread so I needle felted more wool on the inside of the ring to hide the stitches. I typically don't wear jewelry, but I sort of like this one.
Needle felting/wet felting is an amazing process.
I did check out Etsy to see what others are doing. There are some beautiful and talented artists. I really liked

http://bohogirldesigns.com/mixed_media_jewelry and
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=39565191


On another note, I found a pregnant Nigerian Dwarf, tan in color, that I am going to look at on Sunday. She is due in June! I am so excited. Baby goats are almost as cute as crias. And since I don't have crias coming this spring (they are coming in fall) the goats will be a nice substitute.
I had to update this part because Miriam was sitting next to me whining for the computer and my thoughts were so scattered. What made me think of the pregnant goat was our own goat, Juliette. She is in such a strange mood. She screams baa baa all the time, sticks her tongue out, throws her weight (and there is quite a bit) around in the paddock, and refuses to come into the barn at night. Apparently she prefers staying with the minis than with her goat pal. But the strangest part of all is the noises she is making. A really low Ruur, grurlll sound. Then she sticks out her tongue and wags her tail. Hum. I googled weird goat noises and found she might be excited or nervous. Then I called a goat farmer who told me that she probably is in heat. There was my Ah Ha moment. This hasn't been the first time she has acted this way and it usually lasts only is a couple of days. I wish I had a buck!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cheese Making






For years I have been making yogurt and a type of Arabic cheese called labne. It is quite easy to do and contrary to all the books I have checked out at the library-you do not need a silly yogurt machine to make the stuff. I just use a big pot, a gallon of organic whole milk and organic, plain yogurt for the starter. Pour the milk in the pot, bring milk almost to the boiling point, I stick my finger in it to check to be sure it is not too hot, then I add a huge spoonful of yogurt. If it melts, the milk is too hot. I let the milk cool down a bit. Then add the yogurt. I gently stir once or twice, put the lid on and cover it with a couple of tea towels. Sam laughs because I always put the pot under the buffet to sit overnight. It should set up and be ready in the morning. I then stick it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before we eat it or I strain it and make labne. Easy right? So should be cheese. At least that is what I think.

I found a recipe for 30 minute Mozzarella. Click on the link below for the instructions.
http://www.hobbyfarms.com/food-and-kitchen/cheese-making-14872.aspx#mozz

I am not a recipe or pattern or instruction follower. But I tried really hard on this one to follow every single detail. I got all my utensils out first and even had citric acid and vegetable rennet ready to go. I heated the milk to the right temperature. (first picture). I waited until the milk curdled and then squeezed out the whey. It was really hot! Then there is this whole technique about heating the curds and quickly kneading them so they become pliable. O.K. this did not happen with me. I kept heating and kneading and burning my hands. Heating, kneading, burning..Nothing. The stupid curds would not work with me. So I was not able to make mozzarella cheese, but ended up with this great tasting concoction that is tasty on crackers with tomatoes! If you try this and have better success, please let me know. I think I should have waited for the curds to jell up better before I removed them from the pot. I will do it again in a few weeks to see if I can figure out what went wrong.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What is going on today.


The farm has been quiet today. We are supposed to get a huge snowstorm. We will see. Last time there was to be a huge storm we ended up getting only 2 inches of snow. The kids love snow days and frankly it is fun to stay at home and relax. Well as much as one can on a farm. Plus for me it is free labor! Three more people to help with chores or better yet to do the chores!
What ever tomorrow will bring, today is beautiful and sunny. The animals are basking in the sun. Sienna, the mini, is spread out on the ground. The cats are soaking up the warmth at the door of barn loft while the alpacas stretching their legs and roaming around the pasture.
Meanwhile I have been busy inside finishing up a few fiber projects. I have felted up a few alpaca balls for jewelry I am making. I washed a couple ounces of seconds and a newly spun skein of yarn. I am trying to get through the bags of fiber that I am still processing. It is taking me forever as I am easily distracted by other farm related activities.
This week is going to be a catch up and finish project week. I am also working on few things in the barn. Noah helped me yesterday to clip the goat toe nails. Nana and Juliette held up pretty well and I confess it had been a while. They both got peppermint/alfalfa horse treats after their manicure. We also trimmed up the cria nails. They did not particularly appreciate the whole process, but overall there were no mishaps. Floreanna, especially, was glad when I let them back into the pasture.
Next Sunday is the adult alpaca spa day.

The picture posted is the necklace that I just finished with swarovski crystals and alpaca felted beads. I think it turned out pretty nice. It is a prototype that I am trying out before I use sterling silver.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Alpaca Seminar

I attended an alpaca seminar over the weekend. It was fantastic to see many other people who have chosen this unique lifestyle. I learned many new ideas and concepts to apply to Via Verde yet I was worn out with all the work I have yet to accomplish. My problem is the tendency to want to work on 10 ideas at the same time. This is not at all reasonable. So I have implemented a plan. Here goes:

1. I am going to finish spinning a skein of yarn and send it to MOPACA. I am not going to be self conscious about it. I am just going to do it! (I will post a photo when it is finished).

2. I am going to figure out how to start a paypal account and get my ETSY site up.-Friends this is NOT up and running. I will send you all an email when I do get. Goal by Wednesday.

3. I am going to finish the necklace from hand spun yarn and get it on Etsy. Provided #2 is done.

4. I am going to do the taxes...Not so fun.

5. I am going to buy a drum carder. Hey Sam, are you reading this???

6. Finally I am going to congratulate myself for what I did finish today....
cleaned the house, fed animals, cleaned one paddock, joined the area chamber of commerce.
Not bad for one day.