Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summertime - and the Living is Great!

I love summer for so many reasons: home grown tomatoes, fresh flowers, fruits, vegies and herbs, a different vibe at the college, long evenings on the porch, the list goes on.

This morning I was watering the garden and admiring the flowers and vegetables that are coming along. The tiny yellow cherry tomatoes have volunteered in spades and are starting to ripen. The Brandywine tomatoes and other heritage varieties are taking their time, but I can start eating all the little yellow ones that I want. The volunteer squash have turned out to be butternut (yeah!) and the herbs are in their glory- I need to keep them deadheaded almost every day. The heavy mulch has turned out to be a very good thing, keeping weeds down and easy to pull. And, yes, the baby butternut is sitting on a cushion of fleece, both hand dyed and natural! It is so slow to break down in the compost bin, but it does make an excellent mulch - and it's a good way to get rid on the fleece I will NEVER use. I don't think it's just the economy, I have always been drawn to growing food. My friend Beth at An Urban Plot is working toward creating a CSA in her urban yard. That is beyond my goals, but I hope to add a bed each summer that will expand my growing area and result in less grass to cut. I am properly jealous of her rainwater catchment system and hope to start my own in the coming months. City water is an expensive way to go.

Last evening I picked about 2 quarts of blackberries and raspberries at my sweetie's place. But for the rather precarious footing and arms that were not 8 feet long, I would have picked many more. Yum!!

The summer crock pot dyeing continues in force, in both hot and cool colors. I've been spinning up color change yarns at Locally Grown on the weekends. Sally, Kathryn and random little kids are arranging the order of batts to be spun, coming up with color combos that I would not select. I find them surprising and exciting. I can't wait to start knitting them up. Between Locally Grown and the Etsy shop, the fiber business has been quite busy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Carding Jacob in its Many Colors

OK, I'll get off the diet kick (125 1/2 lbs! thank you very much!). After all this is Smoky Mountain FIBERS!

I spent much of last Friday carding wool for spinning. I have a lovely Strauch's Finest drum carder (in cherry!) that has been languishing of late. I purchased a beautiful Jacob fleece at last year's SAFF and it's been a bit lonely too. So I finally got them together for a play date. Perfect Spot Maeve, meet Otto!

After picking the fleece, I separated it into white, dark brown and mixed fiber. For those of you who don't know, Jacob sheep are spotted. The colors can be black, brown or 'lilac' combined with white or cream. The sheep also have lots of horns - up to 6. you can learn more about them at the Jacob breeders' page, but suffice it to say, they have extremely cool fleece. Some is a bit 'kempy' but not Maeve or last year's special friend, Sienna. This is Maeve, but her brown fleece is much darker than that picture shows.

So once I carded the 3 basic colors, I made some interim blends. Last evening I started spinning the darkest of the bunch. I plan to spin finer that usual - about a worsted weight - in a number of colors and a few color change yarns, maybe a random blend or two. My actual plan is to knit 7 different hats from the same fleece. Why seven? Just a good number! I hope to enter a couple of hats in the NC Mountain State Fair and in SAFF and see how I do. I am mostly interested in just seeing how I can take these yarns in the same color family and create a number of truly beautiful pieces.

I have also been dyeing bright colors to reinvent the color change yarns that were so much fun to make last year. I'm working my way around the color wheel and may take Otto to Locally Grown Fine Arts at the WNC Farmer's Market this weekend. Enough just sitting and spinning - I'll card a bit too. It will keep me moving around!

Destashing continues on the Etsy site and at Locally Grown.