Blog Archives

Where Ya Been?…ahhh..farming…

I am at a place where the farm kind of runs me. If I am not taking care of animals, working on products, getting ready for a festival….I am trying to earn extra money for the farm while working as a virtual corporate travel agent…while sitting in my farm house. Yes, I have found the perfect job for a farmer…an off the farm job, but I do not have to leave it to do the work. Technology allows me to talk to my clients from virtually all over the world and I still have view of my sheep while doing it. For instance, I spoke with a gentleman in China, coming to Newark from Shanghai. The company I work for books travel for many corporations and businesses. They route calls to me via the computer and I use the company’s software to access the traveler’s profile and book flights, cars, hotels and such. But also we use an airline system to go into a reservation and perform exchanges as well. It helped that I learned the formats and codes needed to work in that system while a travel agent for American Express some 20 years ago. Anyway..still there was a learning curve and now that I have been with the company a year..feel I have good grasp of the job now.

As you can see, life is busy. My focus of late has shifted a bit regarding my processing. I love the results I have been getting from the mill…but creativity in creating roving and yarn is limited…and the cost of any mill processing is not  in line with a farmer trying then to sell the yarn produced. The  numbers simply do not work. The only entity making any money is the mill…because once a farmer works in the cost of that processing as well as growing the wool itself, he or she would have to price yarn and roving far above what the market could bare to make any money. One day perhaps, mills will realize this…but now..for me…I am processing the fleeces myself, the ones that spinners have not purchased. And to be honest, while it is slow work, I love it..and have been able to experiment with blends and dyeing in the fleece. And what I am able to produce is one of a kind artisan type work. I have blended batts with silk and angora and mohair…and some lovely hand spun yarn.

image

image

image

Oh…big news..a new acquisition…are you ready?  Ok then…it is an antique sock machine. I have been seeking and studying and researching like crazy for three years…and finally was able to get one. They are pricey…but managed to sock away (haha…you see what I did there?) a bit of money. So now I just received it from Quebec. And the sock machine and I are bonding. I have learned to do cuffs and am now working on heels. I hope to get good and produce Sweet Tree Hill Farm socks in the near future

image

image

image

Some other news…I follow Shetland News…and Shetland Wool Week will be in September…some day I will attend…another thing I am saving for. In the mean time, I share with you the information and perhaps you can go in my place. There will be lots of neat classes and a tour of the islands….oh I so want to go…sigh.
https://youtu.be/VVqvg9bsuDo

Dye Studio Day, Shetland Roving in the Pot

Sharing my little dye secrets as I go about applying color to some Shetland roving I grew and had produced at the Virginia Fiber Mill.
I start off by winding the roving around my forearm. I place the ring of roving in the pot (steel or enameled) so I can distribute the dye through out the roving.

image

I add water until it just covers the roving. I don’t want it swimming around.

image

Then I set the pot onto a portable burner and set the heat to 180°. I let it come up to temperature, takes about 20 minutes. This allows the fiber to become saturated too.

image

Now to formulate the plan of action. I draw a circle and make a map of how I will pour the dye.

image

The Landscapes dye I use is an acid dye that contains all the additives. So no mordant required. It is in powder form.
image

image

I use old plastic tumblers to mix in.
image

I add the appropriate amount of dye, and mix with hot tap water. Once the temperature of the heating fiber is at 180°, it is time to pour.

image

image

I pour across the the rows of roving according to my map. I let the simmering continue for another 20-30 minutes. Then I let cool, usually over night.

Then when cool, I drain off the water which should be near clear. I rinse the roving in my work sink, being careful not to agitate.

image

I hang to drain the water and let dry…And there you are.

image

I bag up to sell in my etsy farm shop or at one of the fiber festivals I attend. It is fun to work with wool I grow in my own pasture. It is lovely stuff, great to spin, to felt with. The sale  of our hand dyed roving helps to support our farm and allows us to continue providing wonderful fiber for you.

Young. Female. Cancer.

I have no filter. Welcome to my brain.

Homeplace Earth

Education and Design for a Sustainable World

SockerMom

Where socks are a party!

ella gordon

textile maker

Outlander Online

Your #1 Source For All Things Outlander

Terry Dresbach

AN 18th CENTURY LIFE

Mark Lipinski's Blog

Where creative people can be themselves. . . at last!

Wovember

Celebrating WOOL for what it is.

Dairy Carrie

Live, Love, Eat Cheese

Chris Martin Writes

Sowing seeds for the Kingdom

Uist Wool

North Uist's Spinning Mill

Sheepy Hollow Farm

Home to Wooly Tyme Shetlands & Kids Play Dairy Goats

February Twelve

To knit, knit, knit

weestorybook

recording creative ideas, adventures and finds

I can do that!

An optimist's guide to D.I.Y.