Friday, September 20, 2013

Crochet Techniques and Projects

Well, in between canning processing times..and watching boring movies that The Bald Man rents from red box I've been getting quite a bit crocheting done along with spinning...
Here's just one part of a "winter wonderland" set I'm crocheting out of this nice handspun Jacobs yarn my mother spun. The set is fingerless gloves, a cute winter hat and purse... loving it and I'll take pics of it when ever its all done... I know... winter wonderland set in TN???
But even when it gets down to 40 or 50 degrees here I'm cold! and bundle up! 
so, the need for winter wonderland sets... I have another set I'm working on from handspun East Friesian wool, Cormo and Romeldale!! Its a set scarf, headband so far... maybe more gloves.. I adore fingerless gloves! Making and wearing! Since we have mild winters (usually) I can get away with fingerless gloves... I'm sure if I lived up North I would have to rethink the whole fingerless thing!
Handspun Jacobs yarn, one strand natural brown, one strand dyed with indigo
 New techniques!!! well, kinda,,, before we moved to the farm I had played around with Tunisian and hairpin crochet alittle... I bought a couple of new books on the techniques and have been playing around with them...Here's several different Tunisian stitches  ...

 I like Tunisian crochet... it does look alot like knitting... which is cool for a different look on some things I like to make.. and I hate knitting... so I can get the look without having to knit (ick!)

Below is some hairpin crochet ... I love the look of hairpin crocheted things!!! Its a technique I would really like to get good at... someday :-)

Also in the works ... a new sweater! which will be done.... well, at some point!
Its my own pattern so it will take awhile... I'm using a commercial yarn I had in my stash but also incorporating some handspun from my Friesian sheep... 
I've made up scarf & glove patterns before but never a sweater! Its a lightweight short sleeve sweater... doesn't make it any easier though!

Ok,,, blackberries all canned and sealed.. yay! Time for the Bald Man to cook up some lamb chops :-)

Have a Great weekend!!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall babies, projects and harvests!

What a lovely time of year... the temps have cooler here... things are busy but not to crazy... babies are exploding everywhere! My hen Buff hatched out 5 baby chicks... my d'uccle hen Bubbles (meanest chicken ever!) hatched out 2 keets... Our star LGD Annabelle had much needed puppies (whoo hoo!)and our American Guinea sow Phebe had piglets!!!!!!
She had 7, one died, she laid on her :-( but the others are thriving and growing so fast!!!! Here they are a couple of days old.... cutest baby animals!
Phebe and her piglets
 Our wonderful Guinea flock hatched out over 20 keets! They are incredible mothers! This batch of keets already flies, forages... best batch of keets we've had! Looking forward to them growing up. They provide the best tick control... without them, we and out livestock would have a very bad summer...
Guinea hen and a few of her keets!
 My herb garden... almost 3 years in the works... its a hot mess this fall. So time to clean it up! Laying newspapers then mulching... works better than anything else we've tired in the battle of the weeds here!
Fall herb garden project
See how pretty its gonna look... and see what a mess I have left to deal with! I work for an hour a day till its done..
alot of work to go....
 My spinning wheel has been busy... anytime I come in for water I hit the wheel for just a little bit!
and I have made quite abit of yarn :-)  I bought my wheel in Gatlinburg, TN at the Spinnery.... which was the best thing because she let me try any wheel in the store! Made choosing a much better process... and I got the right one! I was in there for about 2 1/2 hours, trying wheels, different fibers...... the people at the Spinnery are very nice, patient people!
My spinning wheel!!!!! Ashford Joy! 

I Love the fiber below... and the yarn it is now.. I tried going for a thicker yarn... like a sport weight...
Wool & Seacell blend.. Thanks Mom!
It spun up easily and beautiful! Now I need to find a crochet project for it... its very soft!
Made beautiful yarn!

Romedale samples from Wild Hair Fiber in Crossville.... I loved spinning the Romeldale... spun up fine and thin...and pretty easily... next to the skin soft...I am hoping to buy about 12 oz. of this to spin.

Romedale samples... a Romeldale ewe may have a future here :-)
My moms friend Marilyn has the biggest fig tree in TN! I have been lucky enough to get figs from her this year and I am so grateful! I really love figs... I made Italian fig cookies... a delicious Fig Pie and canned Red Wine Fig compote.... and ate figs til I thought I was gonna blow up! 
It was great! Looking forward to opening that first jar of Fig compote this winter :-)
Figs explode at my mother friend Marilyns!!! Thank You Marilyn!!!!
 And MUSCADINES! Oh! my goodness! could there be more muscadines this year... my moms vines are exploding... and even some of the Bald Mans young vines are loaded!
I froze 4 gallons to make wine this winter and canned some muscadine juice... and ofcourse ate a ton ;-) They are soooo good...
Muscadine juice

2 Muscovy Males
 Muscovy ducks are one of the favorites on our place... so beautiful.. so quite..I love the little whisper noises they make... watching them fly in to land on the pond is a nice site! Hope to add more this fall or next spring. They are a great bird for the homestead...

The boys... where the girls at?????
My boys... getting ready for breeding season! Head butts and trash talking... thats what the rut is all about!

Its gonna be a Blessed day...

Have a Great One!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

So Many Sheep Breeds....

How will I ever choose... how!!??? There are so many sheep breeds in the U.S.... most dual purpose..  Triple purpose and then some.
 I freely admit... I'm on the band wagon for sheep... I'm crazy about the 4 sheep I have... they are SO easy compared to goats! 
And now that I've been bit with the spinning bug they are much more useful with all that fleece they have to offer. Sure goats give mohair & cashmere,,, and I'm actually crossing my 2 only dairy goat girls left with a cashmere buck... but sheep give up SO much fiber... I know Angora goats do too.. but they don't have enough milk for dairy uses and they are to bony for a good meat source... maybe someone has a good cross out there?? As a fiber animal... sheep get the vote!

A few weeks ago we had a ram processed... the dress out was incredible! So much more than a goat his  size/age...and all he needed to stay in shape was grass!!! Way more economical than raising a goat for meat. We were really shocked at how much we got!
So as a meat animal, sheep have my vote... 

I've stated before in posts that for cheese, sheep milk has my vote over goat also.
 Still like my goats milk...great for soap! and drinking (as long as its a goat that has sweet milk, not goaty! which my rock star goat herd queen doesn't! but  goatiness does happen to alot of goats... which is another plus for sheep milk... its never 'off' tasting ) and I do like goat/sheep milk blended for cheeses.

So I have 3 Ewes,,, and 1 ram.... do I really need more sheep??? 
I honestly do not know if I want to breed more than 3 or 4 sheep a year... because I only want to milk 2 or 3... I would like to have a couple of different breeds of sheep just for fiber variety. Which is why I'm thinking I may just get a couple of wethers... I don't know... but it sure is fun looking at all the different sheep!

Huge Ram Lamb!!!
These are just a few breeds represented at the sheep show in TN... there are 100's!

Sweet sheep in their coats

The Bald Man petting the attention hog Hampshire ewe!

This is a baby... not sure about the breed but shes cute!

The attention hog Hampshire ewe again in her pre-show wear!

Southdown Babydoll sheep (pasture poodle)

A Tunis Ewe
Yarn I spun last week... already spun twice as much this week! Maybe I really do need more sheep... :-)
I am considering adding a Tunis ewe... the Hampshires are almost to big!!! But were so sweet! I also really like Leicesters... all breeds of them! Corridales and Cotswold....
Also considering a Romeldale CVM... maybe as a cross.... and maybe a couple of Shetland Sheep wethers...I don't know!

I know I need to get lots of fleece and try spinning all kinds of different breeds.. that will probably help me decide!

But what if I like spinning them all.....

Have a happy Blessed week everyone!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fall is almost here...

Fall is right around the corner,,
It has to be!! My gardens need cleaned out so bad... only one is cleaned and planted for fall so far. I still really want to plant one bed with garlic and try some fava beans too!
Meanwhile, reducing my goat herd tremendously has reduced my work load. 

 And I've had more time for fiber fun!  lots of learning about sheep & their fleeces.

Below is some East Friesian Fleece I just washed... it was filthy! But washed out all clean and fluffy! This was my first time washing fleece and I'm pretty happy with the results. It wasn't hard at all. I actually liked watching it go from a scary filthy mess to the soft clean fluff it is now!
I'll know more if I can ever get around to carding and spinning it! Its so nice and 'springy'!
 Here is the first yarn I spun!!! a blend of dyed wools, natural Lincoln & Cotswold from a local TN farm... This crazy looking first yarn (my "art yarn") is now a pretty fabulous handbag... pic of it later :-)
 Here is an awesome ball of yarn my mom processed and spun for me... from MY own sheep!!! Still haven't decided what to make of it... probably some fingerless gloves. I adore fingerless gloves and never have enough..
This is really pink...

And above more cheese from some sheep milk I had thawed out... Sheep milk really does not lose it quality at all when its frozen... quite amazing! It tastes great even after being frozen, no separation or anything!
I also made yogurt ... sheep milk yogurt has ruined & spoiled me so bad I now can not eat any other yogurt!
Its like eating your own homegrown pork... then trying to buy some at the grocery store.. does not work!
I also took some cheddar out of the cheese cave... it was a goat/sheep blend... to good to talk about!

My EF ewes better get ready to be milked next year! and give up lots of beautiful fleece for yarns!

Love my sheep...

This week we are going to a sheep show!!! I'm so excited! There are so many breeds of sheep and I would love to add a couple of different breed ewes to my small flock for some variety of fleece,,, so going to this show and the fiber festivals this fall will help me decide which one to add.

Have a blessed week!