Friday, November 20, 2009


Well, friends, Wow is all I have to say. Just Wow.

Every year the Weaver's Guild of Minnesota has a Fiber Fair; I should have posted about it but I was too busy dyeing. It was last weekend. I was out of town, so I had helped with setup and brought down a good amount of fiber.

All the bamboo-and-merino hand blended batts sold.

All but four of the BFL braids sold.

All but one of the Panda braids sold (bamboo/nylon/superwash merino, not pandas).

All but three of the silk blend yarn sold.

Suddenly, I have no fiber.

I have a trunk show Sunday.....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Every now and then...

I get something done!!!

I've been fighting a cold for over two weeks, which has meant rather more rest and much less work. I think I've got it licked, though! Tickle, gone. Sinus crud, gone. Cough, gone! Yay!!!

I did a lot of blending today, including some new colorways which I will have to photograph. Also, tonight I am going to pick up my courage in both hands and start dyeing the alpaca yarn.

Photos forthcoming...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lack of progress

Well, no, not entirely.

I've been doing a spinning commission, and though it's perfectly good employment I feel bad that I'm not producing much in the way of dyed goods. There's only one of me, though...

Here, finally, are photos of Woodland Autumn, both the BFL top and the thick'n'thin merino.

I've also started dyeing up a lot of Panda top, s/w merino and rayon of bamboo and nylon. I must have been subconsciously thinking Christmas, because the first two batches were cranberry red and forest green. :-)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dyed today

For the first time in dunno-how-long, I actually did some serious dyeing today. Four skiens of silk blend in silver, two each of thick-and-thin in Midnight Blues and Woodland Autumn, and four each of unspun BFL in the same. Very pleased. Tired. Hot. I will post a photo of Woodland Autumn as soon as it's dry.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I have been away so long!

...and I'm not sure exactly what I've been doing. I've been doing a spinning commission--somebody brought me the prepared fleeces of her pet llamas. I've also really been working on a new living history project.

I have a small, primitive loom, made mostly of wood and rawhide. It has two harnesses and needs string heddles. It's *really* basic, and it's also fairly plausible, I hope, for 17th century Scotland. At the very least, it is a good example of just how primitive a loom can be.

So, I wanted a project for it. I've never woven linen. In our period, (1630, highlands of Scotland)
shirts and shifts were of linen. I want to weave reasonably fine linen on this primitive loom.

So, I've been making heddles. LOTS of heddles. I have 6000 yards of linen; that's enough to weave 22 threads per inch over 16 inches, or 176 heddles per frame. I have been making them by just tying waxed linen thread around a block of wood; that puts them all at the same size within a small fraction of an inch.

After I make the heddles, I take them off my block of wood and mount them on the loom. The bottom photo is the loom with some of the heddles on.

Off I go to the Weaver's Guild where I will be able to make a warp of 352 threads, each 7.5 yds. long. Wish me well!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Visit Susan's Fiber Shop!

Susan of Susan's Fiber Shop will be taking my fiber to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool; please visit her. She has absolutely *everything* for spinners and felters!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Oh, dear, I have so MUCH to do!

One of my vendors is willing to take my stuff to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool; I am very pleased and must send her as much as I can; they are full or I would go myself.

The yarn has arrived for A's tartan; I have to portion it out and dye it.

Along with that yarn came a great deal more; I have to start dyeing that.

I am still working on my Etsy store, AfterTheSheep.Etsy.Com, though it is much farther along than it was; please do go look!

I have yarn ordered from one of my local vendors; I have to dye that up. I have to call some of the others and see what I can offer them.

The house is a mess...

I have a couple of wonderful new colors in the silk blend yarn; I am starting a gemstone series. The photo today is Malachite; unfortunately, a photo cannot possibly capture the depth and richness of the color.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yarrrrrn!!! we say in Pirate-speak. I have finally posted some actual yarn on the Etsy shop along with my various unspun fibers. It's a luscious silk-blend worsted weight that I have had a lot of fun dyeing. My colors are very limited right now; must get out and dye more!

Today's photo is Silk Blend Cinnamon Toast.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

At last!

I got some yummy new dye colors the other week, but it's been so humid I didn't even like to open the jars! Yesterday the rain finally stopped and the humidity blew off; I now have beautiful colors to play with! I can't wait!

Today's photo is a new bamboo/merino batt, Blue Neon. This photo really picks up the shininess of the bamboo against the matte black merino.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Meanwhile, in the 17th Century...

I got a Great Wheel (Muckle Wheel, Walking Wheel) last month, and last weekend I took it to the Heritage Festival at Perham. Alas, I neglected to get a photo of myself or anyone else working it, but I did transport it (in a borrowed van), put it together, get it to work, and get it back home again. Yay!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm in a video!!!

Won't be the last time, either. Check out

This is a video that Jessie makes of the sample box to pique people's curiosity before the box goes on sale. After the Sheep is mentioned in the first third of the second video. There are lots and lots of beautiful things in those boxes!

I'm getting more bamboo into my etsy shop, but find I don't have all the photos I wish I had. It won't all get done tonight...I have many bamboo colorways; the one for tonight is Orange Fizz.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back in the saddle

I got an order in from my SIL (Hi, Anne!) for half a pound of Blue Midnight, so I dyed today; first time dyeing bfl since Midwest, for one reason or another. It felt great to get back into it; I can't wait to rinse and dry the yarn tomorrow.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Lots of good news

I am thrilled to announce that my etsy shop,, actually has STOCK in it! I found a wonderful tool called etsyhacks that puts a Copy button on your listings when you are logged in; I got almost all my BFL top loaded in one evening.

Other good news; my bank has actually offered After the Sheep a line of credit! Those are very hard to get these days and I feel wonderful that they have that much confidence in my fledgeling business.

I'm not sure if I've published this photo; it's a very softly-spun silk/merino blend that takes dye beautifully. It has such richness and shine! This colorway is called Butter Cream. I'll have to go through my old photos and be sure I'm not duplicating myself; and I HAVE to get this yarn into my etsy store.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sorry for the Silence

After my last post, I got VERY busy getting ready for my mother to come and visit, and did not post important news. Important to me, at least. I figured out how to make etsyhacks work; this is a piece of shareware that lets you copy one listing and change details to make a new one. It will same me a lot of time.

Before I could really start working on listings, I had to finish my data entry from the Midwest trip, so I knew what my inventory was. That's done too, and I've even made a few new things. Today's photo is Roses at Midnight, a blend of red bamboo and a black Merino colorway. So often I have to say the photo doesn't do it justice, and I have to say it again. The red is just not red enough...

Look at, I'm working on it...

Thursday, July 30, 2009


It is with a feeling of letdown that I announce that my Etsy shop,, is open. The reason I am not overjoyed by this is that I find the adding of new items to be very cumbersome and time consuming; if I have six colors, say, of unspun bamboo top, I need to list every one with category, (there is no unspun fiber category OR yarn category), tags, price, shipping, etc. all re-entered every time.

I have a LOT of different things. This looks like a long process...

Bed now. I was stung by hornets yesterday and the allergic reactions seem to be taking a lot out of me...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Forgot to mention

I finally was able to get that purple dye to work, but I had to do some really strange things. Very odd and unsatisfying; I have a lot of dye in that bottle yet, and it's in many of my colorways; if it's going to be this hard to use I'm a very unhappy dyer.


I have untangled the yarn. I have started to tidy the guest room. If I get it tidy enough, I'll even be able to start the project that's on the loom that's buried in the middle of the room.

I also have a new challenge; G and I bought new kitchen flooring last night. The salesman, a really neat guy, sent us home with a whole book of samples. My mission? Find out how stainproof they are. I see marking various areas; fiber-reactive dye, acid dye, cochineal, and then seeing what happens.....

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I still have stuff all OVER the guest room, and my mom is coming in less than two weeks.

I can't seem to reproduce a purple that I've done a dozen times before, and it's really important that I get it done.

I have a skein of handspun yarn that is hopelessly tangled.

I've still hardly begun my bookkeeping data entry...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

I got home last night. I DID get to Canada and DID get the great wheel and it's beautiful; I've taken it down to the guy I know who fixes fiber machinery. I had a wonderful, relaxing day with friends in Holland and drove home from there yesterday.

Today's photo is of me (on the right) and my friend Lisa. I had a wonderful time seeing old friends. I love my life here in the Twin Cities, but I loved Chicago too...

You can see some of my stuff in the background...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Had a good show

...not a GREAT show, but a good show. Mad City Mike showed up and bought a lot of washed fleece; have a wonderful time, Mike! I got to see many friends; I enjoyed the kind friends who came out to help me. I did more than cover expenses, I learned a LOT, and I found a new distributor.

Tomorrow I drive across to Canada for the great wheel, then back to Holland, MI

More when I get home...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Going well

Just a quick note. Yesterday was setup, after that and a bad night and the long drive, I was exhausted, but slept well. Today was not bad for a Friday; did decent business; hoping for a great day tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This is IT

The van is half loaded. I have to learn one thing more about the credit card machine. Patrolling the house for stuff I need to load...

I'll probably be able to post from the road if I'm not too tired.

Wish me luck?


Monday, July 13, 2009

Not dyeing today after all

There's SO much to get ready before I go; lists to check and double-check; last-minute wrapping and labeling, errands. So, all the tubs are set out to dry; all the cloths I use to control the mess are in the laundry. The very last of the bamboo is almost dry in the sun.

Today's photo is bamboo Nutmeg. I really like it...

Wish me luck???

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The beginning of the end...

Well, there's starting to be a list of things I won't be doing again this week.

Won't dye silk blend yarn or panda top; I'm out of both.

Won't dye pounds of superwash or more panda yarn; they both need the skein winder and I've put that away.

Tomorrow will be my last dyeing day.

Making a list of things to take with or do before I go. Worried about my cell phone; sometimes it's fine sometimes it breaks up to the point where you can't converse...

The fiber today is a funky overspun wool that I've been dyeing with natural dyes. I have already done two shades of safflower, and here is the darker of two shades of cochineal. Cochineal is a beetle that grows on the prickly pear cactus and gives the most wonderful shades of red.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A personal best?

I've lost track of what my single best effort to date is, but today I dyed two lb of BFL multicolor braids, 1 lb of Panda yarn, 2 lb of Bamboo fiber, and a small skein of pure silk. That's slightly in excess of 5 lb of fiber and ten different colorways. Not too shabby...

Today's photo is bamboo Blued Steel. As usual, I don't feel like I did it justice, though I think I'm doing a little better.

Just three days to go!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


The Pygora goat is a cross between a pygmy goat and an angora; it's fiber is a cross between cashmere and mohair; lovely buttery softness with a mohair halo. Today's photo is of a 70% pygora laceweight in a coral color. Pygora of any kind is difficult to find and I am fortunate to have found a grower who will sell me yarn at wholesale.

Today I carded up four batts of baby white alpaca and three of gray shetland. These were very different experiences; there is no lanolin in alpaca; it is greaseless and fine, fine, fine like a cloud. The shetland was rich with lanolin (I generally wash with very mild detergents, to remove the other greases and leave the lanolin in). Both were lovely in their way.

I only have four or five dyeing days left! 8-O

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's *pretty*!

OK, guys, I promised I'd take more photos and post them, and I've taken them, but before I put them up I just HAD to share the photo that my friend Renee took! She's spinning up one of my blended bamboo/merino batts. Isn't she doing a great job? Isn't she a great photographer??? I've never take a fiber photo half that good, I'm sure....

Today I dyed up two pounds of silk/merino yarn; one pound in lilac and another in deep, passionate purple. I've also been selecting from my abundant stash of washed fleeces; I'll be offering half-pound bags of probably about six different sorts, so if people want to try playing with uncarded fleece they'll have some options.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Welcome Ravelers!

I posted this blog in the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art group, so if you're visiting from over there, welcome! I apologize profusely for the dearth of photos lately, but I promise to take some tomorrow. Honest! Good things have been happening here. Meantime, feel free to browse back and get acquainted; I was really good about photos in the first few months...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A break from vacation

We've been at a science fiction convention and are having a great time, but Midwest is pressing hard on me, and I wanted to get something done this weekend.

I often wake early (6:00 or so) at a convention, then lie there frustrated because I can't get back to sleep. If I creep out of the room so I won't disturb G, there's nothing to do out there.

Today I decided to make an advantage of this. When I woke at 7:00, I got up and came home. Home breakfast, cheap and very nourishing. One pound of Panda top on the stove, two pounds of bamboo in the vats, and it's about time to head back. There's a panel at 12:30 on Is Joss Whedon a Deity? :-)

I really MUST take some more photos. I've got interesting new colors!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Better Day

I didn't actually get much done today, but I did get an order from Knitter's Palette in Lakeville, so I will bring some things down to show her tomorrow; it's always encouraging to get an order. I still have a week after the con to get stuff done.....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hot, tired, and discouraged

I am appalled. It is Wednesday, July 1, and I have to leave in exactly two weeks.

I have had to do something non-fiber every *single* morning this week; meetings, errands, doctor's appointment. Tomorrow's that way, too, and then Friday G and I are going to be out of town for the weekend. It's very daunting.

I have been working on several things; some intensely colored Panda top, a multi-toned pound of superwash yarn, and a multicolor length of BFL top. The Panda's the only one that's going well. I have ideas about how to improve or fix things I'm less pleased with, but man, I'm feeling the pressure today.

I need to get Visa capability...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This one, not so good,

but I still got some good things done. Check-up took ALL morning. Boo. Couldn't find things I was looking for at the store, particularly another large, cheap stainless steel pot. Anybody got any stainless steel pots they don't want any more? Large ones?

I DID get four skeins of the pygora dyed; two in seafoam and two in midnight blue. Very nice. And, Pam at Knitter's Palette called wanting more goods; I'll take that any day!

Maybe tomorrow will go smoother...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another good, productive day

...or two, actually; a dyeing day is always followed by a rinsing and drying day. Bamboo in particular has to be rinsed and rinsed--the reds never do stop bleeding--and then it takes a long time to dry.

Tomorrow I do more...and go to the doctor for my strained knee. I banged it a while ago, and I think I'm doing too much with it, but it's not going to get any rest till the end of July. :-(

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A lot done

No new pix today; those really won't be coming so often as I am doing a lot with colorways that I have already photographed.

I am very pleased with what I got done today, though. One pound of bamboo blend yarn, one pound of silk blend yarn, one pound of BFL top in two colorways, and a pound and a quarter of bamboo top. I think that's a personal best.

I also did one entire colorway using only the new dyes; it remains to be see what it looks like after it's washed and rinsed, but I have good hopes that it will be recognizably the same colors as before.

I think tonight I will not be so inclined to lie in bed fretting about what didn't get done today and wanting to get up in the middle of the night and go to work.

Monday, June 22, 2009

One of the good things

about the Huge Moth Scare was that I found a fleece I had bought last winter and hadn't washed yet. It's washing up beautifully. I have fleeces in black, gray, and white, and I'm thinking of packaging them up for folks who might want to play with clean, washed fleece when I go down to Midwest.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


So much has been going on. Unfortunately, a lot of it isn't fiber related. Boo.

I have started dyeing up some beautiful silk blend yarn I have. I'm very pleased with it, particularly as it's a new dye formulation. I have had to switch to a vendor that can actually give me as much dye as I want when I want it, and I have added in the dry chemicals to make it work. The chemicals have much more bulk than the dye, which makes precise measurement much easier, and so gives me repeatable colors. AND, I can buy the chemicals by the 50-pound sack for extremely cheap. It's all good.

This is Silk Blend Medeterranean; this photo is too purple, it really is a deep, rich blue and I'm very pleased with it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I can haz pygora!!!

Sorry for the lol-cats speak; sometimes it just takes me that way.

I will have a limited amount of laceweight pygora/merino blend for Midwest. For those who do not know, pygora is a cross between the pygmy and angora goats. Angoras produce mohair, and the fiber from pygoras is yummy and soft; very special indeed. It is still quite rare and I am fortunate to have found a connection. I'll let you know more when my order comes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My dear patient friends...

I've been a Bad Blogger this past few weeks, and it's not going to be any better this weekend; I'm going Up Nort' for a living history show. But, when I get back, it will be dye, dye, dye until Midwest Fiber, so I hope I'll be a better correspondent then. Lately I've been stuck on questions like: how many colors beyond primaries should I keep on hand, and which ones? The fact that I have actual wool samples from Prochem and only printed colors from Dharma is not helpful...

Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm going to the Fair!!!

Yippee! I got the word this morning that I'm going to Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair, in Crystal Lake, IL, July 17-19.

I now need to cough up lotso money for the space and for an ad in the program book. And I need to buy yet more dye (I dyed bamboo last night and was shocked to see how much of my fiber-reactive primaries I'd used up.) Wow.

I think I might hold off on setting up the Etsy store until fall. How much can I do all at once???

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

OK, now it's getting scary

I had been doing my wool dyeing with Gaywool dyes, which come in nice colors and are very easy to use, but they are not cheap and it is not always possible to get what I want, when I want it. So, I'm going to have to go to Jaquard dyes, which require mixing with acid. So, I finally went out and opened an account at a chemical company; the minimum first order is $250, so I now have 100 lb of citric acid, 50 lb of alum for mordanting, 50 lb of soda ash and 50 lb of urea for bamboo dyeing.

I guess I'd better do some dyeing...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Recovering limited typing

Last week I was prying a plant out of my garden; it gave way all of a sudden and I fell to the left. I seemed not much the worse for wear, but over the next few days it hurt more and more to use my last three left fingers. Finally, on Sunday, we went to Fleet Farm for some stretch bandage and I've been taping my fingers every day. They are a good deal better tonight, so that's a relief. Just a mild sprain, I suppose, aggravated by bull-headed stubbornness.

For the record, in the horse doctoring section of Fleet Farm, you can get the stretchy, self-adhesive bandage that goes by the name Coban in the drugstore; $1.98 for a fetlock-sized roll in colors to match any racing silks... I cut down a roll and used 1/3 of the width for my hand...

More about fiber tomorrow. Glad to be back!

Monday, June 1, 2009

war injury

The garden got back at me--I have hurt my left hand & typing is difficult--will not be posting for a few days...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Henry's Attic!

I can't even BEGIN to put all this stuff into a photo!

Henry's Attic is a major source of undyed fibers. Silks, wools, cottons, linens, mohair, rayons, alpacas, angora, blends... I got a big, giant box full of natural-colored fiber samples and I'm still agog over it all. It will be really difficult to narrow down the selection for my first order.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

More fun with Bamboo!

I figured that it would be good to spin up a hank of the bamboo and see what I got. This is the result. It's yummy.

The first time I tried bamboo, when I was just a beginning spinner, it was really frustrating. It seemed like it wouldn't draft at all, or else like the yarn fell apart before I could get it on the bobbin. With a little more experience, and drafting from the fold, it really went very well this time. Now I have to figure out how much I've got and decide on a project! I wonder how pure bamboo is for sox...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I wanted to see how the skein of thick'n'thin yarn from my previous post would work up, so I started a scarf on the diagonal--it's almost done. I like it! I think I'm going to dye some more of the same yarn in the amber and use it for fringes. Funky!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oh, dear...

It's been a long time since I reported in, and I really don't have that much to report.

I'm not going to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool; they don't have space.

I am probably going to Midwest Fiber and Folk, unless their plans fall through, but they can't make any promises yet.

I need to look around for a local fall festival.

I have much dye and fiber in transit to me.

I am working on one custom order and have another lined up.

I am knitting that wild colored yarn from last time into a scarf, and will post a photo of that.

I have spun a hank of my purple bamboo, and need to go to ravelry to find a pattern for it.

I have a garden sale on Saturday to prepare for; I need to be very busy potting things up.

I'm sorry I haven't been more faithful; please don't give up on me!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Something New!

OK, I'm back on the horse!

The friend who got me dyeing used either Cushings acid dyes, which come in little packets and need the addition of vinegar, or Gaywool dyes, which come in jars and have citric acid and so forth put right in. (So forth may mean salt as a leveling agent, or else not.) The Gaywool instructions say that "One capful" will dye 1/4 lb; "one capful" turns out to be 2.5 tsp.

Gaywool dyes are hard to get in usefully large quantities, besides, there's something very stupid about importing a jar full of mostly citric acid from Australia. Cushings dyes are lovely, but I don't want to mess with little paper packets.

Jaquard Acid Dyes are available in one-pound bottles of pure dye powder. One pound dyes a lot of wool (1/2 oz. dyes two pounds). But, something this concentrated is difficult to measure accurately. Some people pre-mix them with a set amount of water, but sometimes the mixtures act up when they stand, they gel or separate.

Ta-dah! I have come up with a new answer! Turn the Jaquard powder into Gaywool; mix it with an appropriate amount of powdered citric acid; 1/2 oz mixes with 2 tablespoons. I tried it. It works. I'm going to be doing it this way going forward.

Behold thickl'n'thin yarn New Direction, the first Jaquard experiment!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wrong again...

There is one more task before I get serious about dyeing again; my inventory has lagged shamefully and I have to bring it up to date.

Maybe I'll get #1 Son to give me a hand with that...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The dust has settled

It's been a good week for me. I only tackled two fiber tasks: I brought my books up to date, and I washed fleeces. Both went well.

I've recorded all sales and expenses to date and backed up my books. I also washed the gray Shetland (very soft and beautiful; I'm happy with it), the black and white Colonial (The dirtiest fleece I've ever handled, but came out quite nice), and half of the black CVM (coming out lovely!). I have yet to do the other half of the CVM (it was nine pounds so I'm doing it in quarters) and the first-year white alpaca, which I'm saving for last. I'm not at all sure whether the sparkling white cormo, which I got as a luxury for ME!

I still have a little BFL and a lot of yarn to dye, and on Monday I am going to order more bamboo, and Panda if they have any.

I'm also going to order more silk blends. The biggest surprise for me is that the very softly spun silk/merino, which was far and away the most luxurious thing I had, sold very well indeed! I guess craft supplies count as a small luxury compared to many other things.

If you have any suggestions for anything you'd like to see, please comment or drop me a note at mia underscore mcdavid at comcast dot net. Cheers!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just a brief word...

I haven't updated lately; I've just been lying low and doing bookkeeping. I promised my garden that I would work in it this week. I don't know why all this is coming out in boldface; it's not supposed to. I may not be back for a couple of more days...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Home again...

All my questions from a couple of days ago have been answered. I had plenty of stuff, I made a lot of very gratifying sales, and everything really went as well as I could have possibly hoped!

I promised my garden I would devote a week to it; however, I will be checking in with my paperwork; my inventory was sadly out of date before the show; now is the best time to bring it up to date. I have to enter expenses and income, so I'll still be at the computer and thinking about fiber a lot.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this endeavor, particularly Glenn.

More later...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Two photos

Two photos of my table to make up for none yesterday. Laramie; see how nice your graphic turned out?

I am exhausted but very pleased. Stuff sold well; I am very clear that I am doing the right things and need to keep going. It's a lovely place to be. Nothing more to say tonight; I'll check in tomorrow when it's all over. I have stories to tell but am just soooooo tired..

Friday, May 8, 2009

My table...

was supposed to have a photo in here but it wasn't quite done when I left the show. I need a couple of more things for my display to look like I want it; I have some ideas about how to squeeze more stuff in; the photo will have to wait for tomorrow.

I have loaded up the two racks that G kindly made for me, and piled stuff on the table and above it (some extra shelving), and I have some reserves tucked in bags under the table. Enough? I don't know.....

I'll take a photo when we open tomorrow. I'm in Barn A. Come and see us!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


OK, now I have time to be really nervous. Do I have enough stuff? Will anybody like it? I mean, it would be cool to sell out, but not cool to show a bare display to all the Sunday customers, and, what if nobody likes it at all? What if I get out there and my display looks awful? Eeeek!

In my list of Things Done, I have purchased a banner for the front of my table, and a signature stamp for any cheques that may come my way. The new business cards came today--hooray!!! I have a list that I add to of Things that I Must Bring.

The friend who was going to help me set up can't, so I'm on my own. :-( It's not that it will be that hard, but I would have loved the moral support.

I have a new favorite BFL colorway! My living history group went down to a friend's farm recently for a training event. He's a fun guy with a lot of cool things on his land. One thing that caught my attention was a bird house painted fuschia and chartreuse. So, here I give you BFL Jack's Birdhouse!

Wish me luck...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Coasting in

Well, yesterday I hit it so hard that I hurt all over again when I went to bed. I find this annoying; in my head I'm still 25 and can do anything. In my legs and back, not so much...

A friend came over yesterday and wound skeins for me; a different friend came over today and helped me with packaging and labeling. I so appreciate their help; I dyed all day yesterday because I didn't have to wind skeins, and having a friend to help with the labels made it go much more quickly and pleasantly.

So, today's photo shows my feet, lying at ease, in front of the Pile that is Going to Shepherd's Harvest.

I feel really proud of myself.

Last-minute errands tomorrow, set-up Friday. Come on out to the Washington County Fairgrounds if you get the chance this weekend!

Monday, May 4, 2009

It hurts...

Today I spent most of the time running full dyepots up the stairs, or back down the stairs, or running finished dyed goods up to dry outside. It was a *lot* of running, and I hurt.

I got a pound of BFL done today, and a pound of silk blend and two pounds of Panda. Not bad. Tomorrow a friend is coming over to help me wind skeins.

In other news, I find that many braids of BFL I have done lately have been less vivid than what I was achieving before. I think the issue may be that I have a second microwave, and it may not be as strong as the one upstairs. I'll have to try it tomorrow on a higher setting.

Today's photo is a mock display, because the fiber shows I have applied to have asked for a photograph of my table, and I haven't really had a table yet. We used part of this as a background for my new business cards.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Not quite done...

with either the day's work or the home stretch, but I think I'd better post before I keel over dead. I have taken up my courage in both hands and dyed all of the lace-weight alpaca (that might not all make it to market!) and half of the silk blend. Photos to follow very careful rinsing and drying.

I also found a cache of bamboo that didn't have labels yet, dyed the very last of my Panda top, and still have to do a pound of thick-n-thin. I've got some Panda yarn skeined off for tomorrow, and should probably do some more Falkland superwash.....

A while ago I dyed up a half pound of wool/mohair blend in shades of red. It came out uneven, and not in a good way, so the other day I ran it through a drum carder. I now have a yummy Watermelon Sorbet. Truly, there are no disasters, just creative opportunities...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Home Stretch

I did a fair amount today, but was exhausted after yesterday. I have started rinsing and drying the bamboo (always a major chore). I have several more pounds of the superwash Falkland to dye, as many pounds of Panda yarn as I can skein off in the next day or two, and a number of 1/2-lb skeins of Thick'n'Thin, which I am doing in colorways to match my BFL top.

Also, four 1/4-lb skeins of the most gorgeous lace-weight alpaca, and some skeins of merino/silk. I SO have to get these right....

Today, a photo of Shades of Blue superwash Falkland.

Bed now.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Stuff done...

Vat dyed two pounds of yarn, veil dyed two pounds, dyed 1.5 lb of bamboo (all I have left!) and ran two pounds through the drum carder.

Very productive. Totally exhausted. Photos soon, I promise...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Equipment issues

I had bought a handsome new cherry-wood skein winder; it came on Monday. It had a clicker attached to count rotations; one arm was slightly longer than the others so it would hit the clicker once every time around.

By yesterday I had worn down the end of the long arm so much that the clicker no longer registered. I put a domed thumb tack on the end of the arm to fix that.

Today I bent the slanted stem on the clicker flat. Now, instead of depressing the stem, the long arm is just as likely to hit the stem and bounce.

I have thousands and thousands of yarn to skein off, Real Soon Now...


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Working on it...

I've dyed off 1 lb of the Panda, and another is skeined and ready for dyeing.

I have also dyed 1 lb of my remaining Panda top, of which there isn't very much.

Have dyed 2 lb of superwash Falklands yarn, one in a shades of blue colorway and the other in shades of red. It comes in 1-lb skeins, after it dries I will re-skein it into 4-oz put-ups.

Have dyed 1 lb of bamboo, tomorrow will rinse it.

Am dyeing 1 lb of thick-n-thin, using the colorways I use for BFL top. That will be 4 lb today.

The thick-n-thin comes in 1/2-lb skeins; I wonder if people would rather I put it up into half that size.

Today's photo is Sun Kissed bamboo, at least that's what the photo label says.

Must go dye...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ramping up

Getting serious now. I dyed three pounds today; a new indigo colorway for Panda, both yarn and top, the Strawberry colorway for Panda yarn and top, and more of Woodland Spring and Cedar Hill. I got all my dyes and all my chemicals in, so I'll be a very busy woman for a while.

The Panda sock yarn is on cones; I'm having my son help me skein it off. All the other yarn is in 1/2 lb skeins; I plan to dye it first, and then some of it I will re-skein into smaller skeins. I don't think I'll find many takers for half a pound of merino/silk at $45 a skein. Lovely stuff, though, and great for a little scarf or cowl or some such.

Today's photo is Panda Cranberry Crush. Cranberry may be my very favorite color, if I had to pick just one, and I will be making sure to do up some sock yarn in this as well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"...your love comes shining, red and gold..."

That's a line from a Dire Straits song; I particularly like it.

The red/gold blend of Desert Gold is like a medieval brocade. I can't get the photo to do it justice; the red is more mysterious, the gold more tawny. I guess you'll just have to come see it at Shepherd's Harvest.

I got my shipment of yarn today; I've been skeining off the Panda sock yarn; everything else is already put up in skeins and ready for dyeing. So many possibilities....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This weekend

Taught wool prep, spinning, and knitting with my Living History group. In my copious free time I need to write up what I've learned about period wool and wool prep; it will be a great article if I ever do it...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Quick photo for today

Today's photo is bright yellow bamboo with gold highlights; I haven't thought of a name yet. Suggestions?

No post tomorrow; we'll be out of town! Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So much done; so much to do

Today was crazy busy; I measured out a lot of fiber, worked on packaging, and, very important, set aside six pounds of finished goods to send Toni of The Fold in Marengo, IL; she has kindly agreed to take some of my stuff on commission to some shows.

Forgot to put business cards in the package; will have to send them separately...

I also got my beautiful skein-winder from WoodenSpinner on Etsy. It's all set up and I've wound a few turns of alpaca lace-weight on it; I think I'd like to clamp it to the table, but it works great!

Today's photo is something a little different. No, a lot different. Safflower contains a yellow dye that is readily soluble in cold water. I rinsed that out of the flowers. It also contains two dyes, one red and one yellow, that are soluble in alkaline water. You soak the flowers in water that has soda ash or some other alkali modifer, and then when they have given up their dye you add vinegar to make the water acid. At this point, silk will take up both the yellow and the red; cotton will take up only the red. I have soaked three silk scarves in the liquid (top), along with some cotton towels (bottom). I have removed the silk to dry; it is finished. The cotton I can discharge into another alkali bath, and then I can acidify that and dye silk in it. The remainder of the bath, now that I have taken out the red with cotton, is dyeing three more scarves yellow. It's very exciting and I will post more as things go...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


It is two and a half weeks until Shepherd's Harvest. I am awaiting a major shipment of dye chems. I am awaiting a major shipment of dye, and don't think it has been shipped yet. I am awaiting a major shipment of yarn, and it won't come until Monday, when I'll have TWELVE days to price it.

Edit: I wrote I would have twelve days to price the yarn I'm getting Monday. Don't know what I was thinking of; I'll have twelve days to skein it, dye it, wash it, dry it, package it, and price it. Yeah. Like that's going to happen....

Blended two new colorways of the bamboo/merino today. Like them a lot. Photos soon. In the meantime, have we had Panda Dreamsickle? I hope it is!

Oh, nooooes!

No post again last night; I came in reeling from a late meeting... :-(

Let's see: yesterday I had three silk scarves soaking in the safflower to take up the apricot color (yellow + red), and a cotton towel to take up just the red. The bath was still really red so I added two more towels and put the bucket in the sun.

I rinsed and dried five skeins of purple bamboo that I had stabilized, and petted them back into shape. I also shaped the four different colors of bamboo that took dye strongly; they're marvelous and I now have two weeks to produce about 50 more...chemicals are on order....

More photos tonight, which should be better than last night.

Monday, April 20, 2009

So much going on!

I have ordered more dye chemicals and more dye.

The silk scarves came, I have three in the apricot safflower bath, and six soaking so I can put three in the yellow safflower bath and three in the red. The last three will go into the indigo vat, which went out on the back porch this morning to bask in the sun.

I really like the marbled, watery look of my earlier bamboo experiments, but I can't have them bleeding all over or fading away to nothing. I'm trying a soak in nitrogen solution to stabilize the color the way it is. The bamboo I dyed the other day is drying and looks great!

I'm still waiting for all that yarn. Any day now...

That's about it. I wanted to blend fiber today but didn't get there. Tomorrow's busy. I packaged a ton of finished fiber but now have to make labels.

No photo today. I've lost track of what I've already put up and what I haven't. More soon, though.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wrong again!

I had tried this, that, and the other thing to get reasonably quick, intense, stable colors on bamboo. I know it was possible, and I had done it under the tutelage of Candy at the Fiber Center dye lab, but it wasn't happening here. Except for yellow, which was my first experiment, fast, easy and solid, and I couldn't figure out why nothing else was that easy.

In any case, I had not been using enough nitrogen, which is required to bond the dye. I did four experiments in different colors and they came out really well. That's the good news. The bad news is, what do I do about the stuff that won't stop bleeding? I think I need to introduce it to a nitrogen bath and see if I can't get that dye to set better...

I have heaps and piles of fiber that I packaged today, and I need to print labels for all of it. Today's photo is Jade Panda. I actually got a half pound of bamboo the exact same color, but by using a different dye formula. I really hope I can stabilize that one...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Drowning in Fiber

It's only 3 weeks till Shepherd's Harvest, and I am starting to panic. I have on order: silk scarves for safflower dyeing (they didn't come today, I sure hope they come Monday); large tubs of acid dye (backordered for a month or so, but now I've been billed, so they should be here sooooon); 30 lb of yarn of various sorts, because not everybody spins; and, just ordered today, a skein winder because I have to be able to wind yarn off of cones. Hoo boy. I sure hope I can pull everything together in the time left.

It's made complicated because I am also doing some natural dyeing; this is earmarked for my living history group's sutlery. I belong to Col. Gaffneyis Regiment of Pike and Shotte; we portray a recruiting camp in the highlands of Scotland in the year 1630. I have enjoyed working with natural dyes; I'd been dyeing in the fleece, but scored a lot of kind of funky overspun white wool yarn that I thought would be fun to dye up. So, that has to be ready at about the same time, and represents a completely different project...

Today's photo is my new BFL colorway, Woodland Summer. I had an idea to do something in yellow, brown, and green, and it came out reminding me of the woods in high summer, with green leaves, golden sun, and the brown of tree trunks and bracken.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rinsing Day

I dyed three pounds of fiber yesterday, so today was perforce Rinsing Day. Rinsing the Panda and the BFL is relatively easy; I swish them through some fiber wash and then drop them into a washer full of plain cold water. I turn the washer to spin and spin them out.

The bamboo is another matter. The dye is strange stuff, and you can rinse and rinse and it doesn't all come out. I rinse with hot water, then cold water with dye fixative, and let that one sit a while. Then hot water again, then cold water with fiber wash, then rinse and rinse and never DOES stop bleeding, but when I've got all the fiber wash out I figure it's time to hang the stuff to dry.

I've also spent much too much of the day reading Corambis, by Sarah Monette; it's the last of four and I've been waiting for it for months.

Today's photo is Ambergate, the other new bamboo blend. Good night, all!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Very different days

Yesterday was a running-errands-all-day kind of day; not much fun and not much time at home. But, I did buy some linen to cold-dye in safflower yellow; I just washed it and put it right into the cold dyebath; I left it overnight, then washed it again and dried it in the dryer. There's a theory that the Scotsmen of the 17th century wore yellow shirts; reference is made to saffron shirts. Saffron is very expensive, but safflower, which is named after saffron, is not, and was a well-known dyestuff. I will be doing further experiments with the safflower later this week. I also dyed two skeins of mordanted wool; the linen was unmordanted, but it still picked up a pale yellow color.

Today was both more relaxed and more productive; I never left the house once all day, but I skeined up a pound of bamboo, a pound of Panda, and a pound of BFL. The bamboo is split between half a pound in purple (again!) and half a pound in green; I am using much more nitrogen this time. I mixed both those colors myself and am happy with them. The Panda is in a green I mixed myself. The BFL is half in Ashes of Roses (more intense this time), and a new colorway of yellow, green, and brown. We'll see how that one turns out.

Today's photo is one of the batts I blended earlier this week. It is merino in a soft green colorway blended with lavender bamboo; I was very happy with it!

My goodness!

Yesterday evening I didn't even make a post! That's the first time I've failed to do that. I have a lot going on this morning, so will attempt to make up for it this evening. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Very busy day

I blended two pounds of merino/bamboo batts; that's 16 batts, each through the drum carder three times. They're really pretty, but it's late and I don't have photos yet. So, tonight's photo is of Caramel Panda, which, on further consideration. I should have called dulce de leche.

Tired now. Good night.

Monday, April 13, 2009

So many things to think about...

First, here is a pretty good representation of Sunshine Panda. I'm really pleased with it!

The new Shades of Red has major issues; I used the dye relatively tepid so that it wouldn't all strike at the top the minute I poured it in. So, instead, most of the pigment settled to the bottom and struck there. Bad. Very bad. I really like the bottom.....

I evaluated all of my bamboo tests, and the clear winner of the four options is: More Dye. I can also try More Nitrogen, which is a variable that I had not messed with before. More testing is in order.

Today I had to do a lot of other stuff, but tomorrow I will be at the Guild, blending. It's been too long. I have lots and lots of new merino to blend with; where to start?????

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Let's see....

It was Easter, so most of my day was not about dyeing.

I did, however, take the safflowers out of their soak; they had released so much yellow that it looked brown. I put them into a new soak, and dyed 1 lb. 4 oz. of wool a rich gold; there's still a lot of pigment left, too.

I also tried a new variation of Shades of Red; more hues, and pouring instead of squirting for less even color distribution. I think it's going to come out really pretty. I have a pound of bright yellow Panda cooling. I have part of a fleece that I washed that will be ready to dry tomorrow.

Not a bad day's work.

I am going to be ordering yarn, so I can offer yarn as well as unspun fiber. I will dye it up in some of the same colorways that I've been using elsewhere; should be a ton of fun!

Today's photo is buttercream Panda; tomorrow I will photo and post the bright yellow!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Progress in purple

I rinsed three of the skeins today; the one that had water softener in it was perceptibly darker than the others, so that's clearly a direction I need to go.

In other news, G made me a drying rack that slips over the railing of our deck. Space to dry stuff and to store finished, dried stuff is going to continue to be an issue....Thank you, DH!

I started a batch of safflowers to soak. Safflowers give a yellow color similar to saffron, though they aren't nearly as expensive. Furthermore, once you have rinsed out the yellow, there is a red and a second yellow that will only come out of you push the Ph high enough. After they are dissolved out of the flowers, you push the Ph back down to acid, and they can take up in cotton or silk.

HOWEVER, the cotton will only take up the red, not the second yellow. So, to get red on silk, you take up the red in cotton, put it into clean water, make it alkali again to loosen the dye, and then re-acidify it and add the silk. I'm going to try this with a white silk scarf I have. Fascinating.

Today's photo is of BFL Tulip Time. They have Tulip Time every year in Holland, MI, where I went to college; they plant them in big beds in the park and lining the streets, and they have parades and klompen dancers. To show how everything connects to everything, in my living history group we wear klompen, or sabots, as the French have it. Wooden shoes are period correct for working people all over Europe.....

Friday, April 10, 2009

The color purple...

So today I started my bamboo experiment, all very scientific. We shall see what happens over the next few days.

In the meantime, I dyed a pound of Panda purple, too. I have a ton of dye ideas crashing around in my head; I thought of a different way to do my shaded monochromes, I still have more ideas for summer colors for the BFL.

Today's photo is Cranberry Crush Panda; I'm really curious how the intense red will spin up with the white streaks in it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Getting ... less ... of it done...

Didn't feel that good today. I washed the second half of the lamb fleece, dyed a half-pound of mixed fiber, and washed out the purple bamboo, but not too much beyond that.

The purple didn't stay as purple as I had intended. It's still very beautiful, but I need to learn to get good, solid, consistent intense color. I have measured out four new skeins of bamboo, and I am going to try the following:

More soda ash, because I've only been using the minimum.

More time

Water softener

More dye

All of these will only have half the fiber, so that will be one more variable. In a couple of days I'll know more........

The photo for today is Zinneazzz!, a new BFL colorway. Zinneas are a quintessential midsummer flower, bringing non-stop color to the heat of July and through the late summer...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Getting it done!

I have, I think, maybe 40 lb of fiber around the house; dyed and undyed, blended and unblended.

Abby at Borealis Yarn wants some "intense" colors.

I have my first real fiber show on Mother's Day weekend.

I figure if I get all the fiber in the house dyed and possibly blended by Shepherd's Harvest, that's a worthy goal, isn't it?

Today for the first day in a long time, I didn't have to go anywhere; so I got busy. I dyed up two new colorways of BFL, a new color in Panda, and a half a pound of purple bamboo. That's two and a half lb. of fiber today.

The photo for today is the Ashes of Roses that I spun last night. I Navajo-plied it; if you don't know, this is a method where you're essentially crocheting your single-strand into a three-ply. You draw out your stitches very long so there aren't too many little bumps in the yarn. This is a good way to ply a multi-dyed yarn to keep the color divisions clearer; in this skein you can see considerable variation in intensity.

Because it's Blue Faced Leicester, which is a long-stapled wool, I was able to spin it quite fine without a lot of twist; when it plied up it was very soft and lovely!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Whorling Spinsters

I had so much fun at the spinner's guild tonight! It was great to see everything that people had done with the egg dye challenge; one guy is a real overachiever; he dyed wool in all the different colors, spun each one up by itself, carded them all together and spun up the blends, and had them all organized around a giant embroidery hoop, with labels! Some other people trusted their precious silks to the egg dyes, with lovely results. I got to sit near Sue, who is one of the weaving teachers, and made a new friend of Ruth Ann. And, it's hard for the evening to go wrong when you sit down and look over, and there's someone spinning one of your batts that you had for sale.....

I had decided I was curious as to how Ashes of Roses would spin up. It was beautiful, but I'm not happy with the photos I took, so that will have to wait for daylight. Then, I was going to show you the batt my friend was spinning, and was stunned to learn I didn't have a photo of it; it's one of my first ones! So, I will leave you with Daffodil Shoots, a nice springy bamboo/merino blend, and I will have to dye up some more bright green so I can recreate Springtime in the Garden.


Monday, April 6, 2009

All about the yellow

I belong to a spinning group called the Whorling Spinsters; our meeting is tomorrow. The topic chosen for this month was dyeing with Easter egg dyes.

I don't have any of those, so I hope it will be in the spirit of the thing to have done an experiment with Winton's food colorings.

Winton's is available at Michael's craft stores and, I am sure, other places; it has many more shades than the supermarket stuff and is very intense. I used yellow, orange, and leaf green, and used a generous 1/4 tsp gloop of each color, two of the yellow. I tried it out on some wool I had lying around (maybe 3/4 lb?). It worked beautifully, giving me orange to olive, green, chartreuse, and yellow.

Tomorrow will be very busy. I have to visit dear Detta (, which is on the other side of town, and in the evening I have the spinner's meeting.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I wash the way I learned from K.P., the GaelicWench. Turn off the cold feed to your washing machine (must be a top-loader). Fill it with the hottest water you have and a little soap. I use Orvus horse shampoo, which is well known as a good shampoo for fine fibers; you can buy little, expensive containers in some fine yarn shops, or big, cheap containers at the feed store.

Once the wash tub is full, turn off the washer and add the fleece; somewhere between a quarter and a half of a whole fleece depending on size. Gently push the fleece under, turn off the washer again just in case, and leave it to soak for an hour. I put a couple of sheeps' hides over the washer to keep the heat in and the family out.

After the soak, spin out the contents, take the fleece out and wrap it up to keep it warm. You are trying to avoid temperature changes. That is also why you have turned off the cold water; the washer would otherwise spray the spin cycle, and the pounding and temperature might felt the wool. Refill the washtub again with hottest water; add soap if you think you need another go-round. When the washtub is full, turn the washer off, put the wool back in, turn the washer off again,soak, spin-dry...rinsing is just the same without the soap. I wash twice and rinse twice, and the second time with a good shot of vinegar to counteract the soap and smooth the fibers.

After the last spin, scoop the fiber out for the last time and air-dry on screens, sweater-dryer, etc. Remember to turn the cold water back on.

I go through a lot of Orvus and vinegar this time of year...

Today's photo is a lock of Carly's wool; a beautiful light gray. It's coming out so lovely I hardly think I'd need to do anything to it before I spun it...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I neglected to mention...

Today I learned that I am to be a vendor at Shepherd's Harvest; I had put my application in about a month ago. I am elated and somewhat intimidated; I've been doing business for a little while now, but never on this scale...

Go here to see their website!

Shearing Day

Today was Shearing Day at Woolen Meadow Farm ( I went down to sell things, buy fleeces, help, and generally hang out. As always, I had a blast. Sue, the owner, gets a professional shearer in, and friends and family help catch the sheep, skirt the fleece, label and bag and weigh it. Skirting means pulling off the icky bits around the edges. The photo shows a black-faced ewe. As you can see, sheep are very messy creatures, so Sue keeps hers covered in light coats all year long to keep the straw and so forth (Vegetable Matter, or VM, as we call it) off the coats. Besides the belly, which is always discarded, and any dirty bits around the edges, the neck is always a total loss; the continual movement of the head and the feed that gets in the fleece means that it's always matted and useless.

I got fleeces from Gritta, who was bred on the farm but is now a neighbor's pet, Carly, who is a beautiful silver-gray, and Lola, who had the prettiest white lamb's fleece I have EVER seen. AND, I sold merchandise to several people, so I am now officially happy and exhausted.

I still have to WASH all of these...

Friday, April 3, 2009

A very mixed day

I had nightmares last night; I don't even know what they were, but I woke up and spent half an hour cowering under the bedclothes. (Don't like crawling out from the bedclothes on even the best day...)

But, I persevered, rinsed and dried a pound of BFL and some fleece naturally dyed with cherry-wood chips. I went down to SP-IT night at Knitter's Palette and had a great time. So, I was all energized when I got a note from Sue Ross saying that she was looking forward to me bringing down stuff to sell at her shearing tomorrow. I can do that!

One of the colorways I dyed last night and dried today was Berry Patch; it was my very first! I still love it a lot. I've packed up all my wool and printed out a price list, so come one, come all!