Monday, July 26, 2010

The Hackle Monster

Aggh! I am going crazy! My spinning friend, Melissa, showed me how to make a hackle out of combs and a piece of wood. I have been experimenting ever since. I love to combine colors and fabrics into my alpaca fiber. This is my first shot at yarn art. The basis of this yarn is my new alpaca roving from Kahula the Kid and Marla. They are bay black and rose gray. Very beautiful roving. Any way I then combined peach, deep purple and hot pink wool (sorry I don't know what kind of sheep), silver angel hair, bits of peach tuile, and clumps of recycled sari fabric. I spun the hackled fiber and plied the single with silver thread. Oolala. I love it. I had one small break about 1/4 of the way into the yarn, but cleverly fixed it. The skein is 85 yards.

I am now working on fawn alpaca roving with purple merino and pink angel hair. I might add some bits of tuile, or a few buttons, wait..what about shredded wrapping paper? or sequins or.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Canning..

I have been having a lot of fun trying some new recipes. Two days ago I spent half the day chopping onions, grating ginger root and peeling lemons. I ended up with some delicious marmalades. The red jar is Red Onion marmalade. It has, obviously, red onions, dried cranberries, orange peel, brown sugar and apple juice. The small yellow jar is Quick Ginger Lemon marmalade. Miriam made fresh popovers and we ate them with a dollop of this sweet mixture. Yum. Yum. My only complaint is that it was not quick. It took me forever to peel the lemons, slice the peel thinly and separate the segments from the membrane. And the kitchen was a sticky mess! Yet it was worth it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cafe Latte and spinning

Today while spinning my new alpaca fiber I was drinking an iced cafe latte. And the results of both were fantastic. I am pleased with my newly processed fiber and was excited to see how it would spin up. The results are in roving and in spun. I confess I was also watching Hercule Poirot with my girls on the front porch while spinning and sipping some caffeine. It was a wonderful, relaxing afternoon

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Canning Blueberry Jam

Last year Taima made some blueberry jam that was fabulous. The recipe made about five small jars and was gone within a week. We loved the flavor so much we decided to give it a shot again this year. I ended up with 9 jars. Cannot wait to spread a dollop on a warm popover!

Spiced Blueberry Jam

1 1/2 quarts blueberries, fresh
2 Tbls lemon juice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 pkg. liquid pectin
5 c sugar

Remove stems and crush blueberries. Measure 4 c crushed fruit. Place in a large pot and stir in lemon juice, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and liquid pectin. Stir mixture on high heat until it comes to a hard boil.Immediately add sugar and bring to a full boil; boil one minute stirring constantly.
Remove from heat; skim off foam with metal spoon; stir and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar and screw down band. Put jars in canner. Completely cover jars with water and bring to a boil. Process for 10 minutes. Remove jars and turn upside down to cool. Enjoy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday

I just got in back some of my alpaca that was processed by Morning Sun Fiber Barn in Wapello, IA. It is gorgeous. I am so pleased and cannot wait to get my hands on it and spin it. Unfortunately I have to fix a few things in the barn..i.e. a fence that the Anna Nana the goat keeps wiggling her way underneath.

I had MSFB blend my white with fawn to create a lovely Cafe Latte roving. The black roving was blended with bay black and rose gray. This roving has a slight reddish tint that I don't think is picked up in the photo. Stunning. I haven't thought of a name for it. Any suggestions??

And for FAF I made a few felted flowers. I mixed alpaca and wool. The alpaca is dyed in horsetail weed, avocado and Kool Aid. The wool I purchased merino tops from the MI Fiber Festival last year. I added some vintage buttons to embellish them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fruit Fly Remedy

Due to the heat today I am lounging around the house in air conditioning and thought I would post a useful household tip. I found this nifty trick to get rid of the pesky fruit flies that frequent my kitchen. To eliminate fruit flies all together you must keep all food tightly covered or in the fridge. Then you must clean up any food residue on the counters or floor. Finally you can make this simple concoction to attract the flies.
Take a clean glass jar and pour in 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. Add 2-3 drops of liquid dish washing detergent and cover top of jar with saran wrap. Secure in place with a rubber band. Poke a few holes into the plastic wrap with a fork to allow the fruit flies to enter the jar. Don't worry they won't be able to find their way out.

The vinegar attracts the fruit flies and the dish soap ensures their demise. It works great and without chemicals.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Natural Dye Mistake

I have been mulling over what will be the next dye pot I will simmer my wool in. I have come up with some clever and interesting plants. I thought about virginia creeper, a native vine to the Northeast. It looks similar to poison ivy except that it has 5 leaves vs. 3 leaves. I also thought about berries as we have an abundance of black berries in our woods. But I am not partial to dyeing with edible foods. I wouldn't mind beets or carrots as long as I use the vegetable in cooking and save the dye bath for wool.
I thought I might dye with Queen Anne's Lace. A beautiful summer wildflower. I grabbed the scissors and a bucket to gather a pot full. But alas...I harvested the wrong plant. I ended up with woody yarrow. Oddly I know the difference. What was I thinking? I decided to try my luck. The dye bath was a yucky yellow/brown. I pitched it. Having decided I was going to dye today I opened 6 packets of my old stand by Kool Aid. And dyed 2 skeins of wool I got in Bolivia. They turned out pretty nicely but not at all what I had planned.
Stay tuned for Virginia Creeper...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wool Fest Placings

I sent some fleeces to Alpaca Wool Fest in Lake Farm Park, Ohio in June. I was a bit nervous as it was my first fleece show. I wanted to get some feedback from the judges as to the quality of my animals fiber.I sent in 3 cria fleeces and 4 herdsire 2oz samples. I was pleasantly surprised when I received the fleeces back with all animals placing!!

Delphine, our male cria is rose gray. He placed 1st.

Goyo a medium brown cria, placed 2nd.

Floreanna, a gorgeous dark silver gray with a micron of 19.1 placed 4th. A bit of a disappointing result. But I will try her fiber in another venue.

Our herdsires were as follows:

GA Kahula the Kid: bay black, 2nd place.

GA Captain Cavalier: medium brown, 2nd place.

GA Blazing Ben: light fawn, 3rd place.

GA Andrew the Great: light rose gray, 5th place.--I like the color of the ribbon!

For our first fleece show I am rather pleased. I will be submitting these to the MI show and possibly one more.
Now I have to get some great photos of the ribbons and post them on our website. I am leaving that to Sam. :)