Thursday, November 20, 2008


THIS SHOWS THE RAINBOW DYEING ON PN SKEINS. This was all rainbow dyeing as talked about below



This picture above of the sock blank after it has been of rainbow dyed. This will hopefully make
an interesting pair of socks. This was done with Pro-Chem's wash fast acid dyes using the colors
of boysenberry ( darkest value) Mulberry medium value) and buttercream ( lightest value). It
is drying on a sweater rack.

The photo top right is the whole of 5 batches I did for punch needle embroidery. The burgunday colored ones are two batches of rainbow dyed ones using the same colors as in the sock blank on the left. There are 3 seperate batches of 3 skeins each in solids also for PN.
The colors used were Prochem Avocado and Spiced Pumpkin but neither at full strength. The blue is Kiton Acid dye turquoise, again not full strength. some of these were heat set in the microwave, and some heat set in the oven at 350 degrees.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Latest in DYEING

I've started building a palette of colors in yarn for my needle punching projects. I started with a skein of merino 2 ply yarn. I broke it up into useable skeins that average 25 yards each. I've since tried it in the needle punching and it works great with enough "bloom" to puff out on the right side. I need both solid colors, and varigated. I used squirt bottles and sponge brush to apply the dye to the skeins for both the solids, and the varigated. I heat set the dyes by: some in the micro wave, and some in the oven, speed. I used Pro-chem Wash Fast Acid dyes, and one Kiton Acid Dye . Here are the results.

Monday, August 18, 2008

ART...........scratch board

The brown eyed Susan's picture with the Painted Lady is # 3 and the American Copper on a daisy is #4 and the Monarch on a thistle is #5 and all are done on 5 x7" boards.

The giraffes drawing is a sketch for a future one, I plan to do in larger size. Next I am working on the horse to try that in a 5 x 7. I love this size because is you make mistakes or have flaws in some form, you haven't ruined as much material.
fun, fun, fun.

Finally here is step 2...the actual scratching part Things don't always go like I planned. this is the completed picture and it shows a Swallowtail butterfly on a tiger Lilly. This is a 5 x7" panel and is not step two but the final result. Somehow the second step got left out and I will try to add it now.

This is the first step in the process...adding the chalk lines.
Below is my first piece and it on a 5" x 7" board. The butterfly is supposed to be a Swallowtail on a thistle bloom.

I discovered recently a new technique of art for me. It was shown to my by my daughter Kathy who is proficient in the medium. It's a simple as drawing and goes quickly which I consider a plus. I will show what I have done already, and the progress of one of those so you can see the process. You start with an original drawing on paper, minus the details, so it is essentially an outline; then you chalk the back for transferring to the scratch board. Once it is done you lightly scratch over the chalk lines using a stylus or pen like scratcher. Then you remove the chalk lines with a soft cloth and begin scratching in the details. Afterward you can begin painting or inking in the color if you wish to do it in color or leave it in dramatic black and white. Very cool process.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Gosh...a long stretch of time has gone by since I entered anything into this blog. I will never catch up so won't even try.

In early July we picked up a new lamb from a Shetland breeder not to far from us, and she is a cutie. We named her CAMILLA. That is supposed to be German for Chamomile which is the name I wanted for her. We have loosely followed a botanical theme in sheep names. She's white because she is meant to be a replacement for Fleur who we were culling.

However, Fleur is still here, as she pulled a sly one at loading time and got away from us. We'll try taking her in when we load fall lambs now. She is isolated and feed until I think it safe to release her. That way she doesn't get knocked away from the feed, and can have some goodies that the others can't have. She is also somewhat more catchable ( but not very) for vaccinations, and physically checking over. It also allows her to get acquainted with the flock without getting harmed. Here's a few photos.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Skirting and Picking

These photos show various steps in the skirting and picking process. The two photos here, on the left, and below on the right are both from Priscilla. ( You can scroll down into the blog to learn more about her, and see her with her full fleece intact.)
The photo on the left is the skin side or cut side exposed. The photo below shows the mostly the top side, so you will see the tipped ends of the staples and wel and the gray undercoat.

The photo to the right shows, a small sectioned off portion of the whole fleece that I am working with. If a fleece is not intended for competition, but is to be used primarily as a hand spinning fleece this is what I do to ease the picking part.
The small section is moved away from the main body of the fleece and then I tease the fibers apart, and flip them over several times, sometimes shaking this portion in the wind so that the smaller parts of debri are removed and as much vegetable matter ( or VM) as possbile is removed.

The next photo shows the skin side of Irish Frost's fleece prior to the small sectioned off piece. You can see also some smaller pieces, that are called second cuts, and all of those as you can reasonably find are removed as well.
Once the smaller section is picked over it is placed back in the plastic bag, and another small areas is removed and worked on until the whole fleece is done. At this point I then weigh each fleece again, and that is my yeild weight...both the raw weight and the yeild weight are recoreded. I also decide that that point what I am going to do with a fleece. Sell it, or use it myself. I usually have more than enough for myself which is why my stash is so huge, but I normally offer the best ones for sale, because I can deal the fleeces with too much VM later in the process, but you can't offer it to the public.
This year, out of the fleeces I have I am keeping Nightshades, Cinnamon, and her black wether because there is just too much VM. The rest are cleaner fleeces. Nightshades fleece has a wonderful soft handle and is a solid jet black and a non fading black which is very rare but it is just too contaminated. The black wether is the same, but he has just started the greying process. And Cinnamon is too small a fleece weighing only about 1 1/2 lbs, and there are those annoying tips, from last years fleece which occur because Shetland "roo" or molt after shearing.


So the fleece is off the sheep. What happens after shearing?

The next step is skirting. Usually at shearing when there is enough help there is someone designated the "skirter." That person or persons is the one that handles the fleece and starts the process called skirting. Normally they are set up at a skirting table near the shearing area. They retreive a fleece once it is shorn off the animal, or it is brought to them by someone else. A skirting table is some kind of a perforated top set up high enough for the skirter to work without hurting their backs. I've seen some pretty neat skriting tables especially made for the purpose; even round ones that even revolved so that the skirter did not even have to move around the table, but instead turned the table to reach the various areas of the fleece. The fleece is laid out on the table and then the skirter proceeds to remove the icky parts, like the manure tags, clumped wool at the tail end, and normally skirts an area about 2 inches wide all around the fleece, as this removed wool of a different texture, and most of the belly wool, and shortened areas, and a lot of grosser dirt. When there are a lot of sheep being done and pressure to get the fleeces out of the way the skirting is brief, and relatively incomplete. The skirter does a visual inspection of the overall fleece, tests the strength of the staple, skirts as described, and then rolls the fleece and bags it. If is is a larger operation the various colors might be bagged together instead of each fleece into an individual bag.

How to roll a fleece. With the skin side down, starting at the neck or the rear, 1/3 of the fleece is folded over across the center, lengthwise. Next on the other side 1/3 of the fleece is folded over that.. then the rear end is rolled towards the shoulder area. So that when finished rolling it should be the skin side or the cut area that lies exposed for viewing. In the old days these rolled fleeces were each individually tied, but no longer. After the rolling practice each fleece is bagged, and labeled. Clear plastic bags are used for competiotns or if the owner just wants to visually see what's in a bag.

For hand spinning fleeces. The skirting practice is carried a bit furthe. Again depending upon how much help you have this can all be done at shearing. but in our case, since we are a very small opeation. Skirting is not done at shearing time because often it is only myself and husband to help the shearers. So it is bagged and labeled, and I do the skirting job later myself when time and weather permits.

( I was going to include photos at this point but this program will not let me. I suppose I should feel lucky because for over a week now it has reported "network error" and not even let me I will try posting the photos later.)

What I do is called "skirting and picking" I first weigh each fleece for the raw weight. Then it is removed from it's bag and spread out on my skriting table. My "table" consists of a rectangle made from 1 x 1 wire that we put onto wooden framework. I'd estimate it is about 4 1/2' x 5 1/2'. Then I stack my two picnic table benches on top of each other about 3 to 4 feet away from the picnic table and lay my wire skirting board down as the table part of the contraption; the benches and picnic table are the table legs. That puts it at a good height so my back doesn't ache during or after the process. ( Hurrah, it accepted my photo) so up above you can see the skirting table before any fleeces are put on it.)

Monday, January 28, 2008


Baby Nightshade below and to the right is what he looks like as of yesterday and he is almost 10 months old here.

This is our new ram. Meet NIGHT SHADE.

He is a tiny fellow. He is 3/4 Shetland and 1/4 Romney. Black as coal and it doesn't appear to have luster. Very long staples, and appears to be a single coat, but that remains to be seen for sure. He came from the flock of LaVonne Stuckey in Belgrade, Montana. We got him as soon as he was weaned and he started out with these tiny little spike horns you can see in the photo above. I expect him to have a long staples wool in the lower medium grade range. It has a good handle. I would love it if he would develop some luster. We think he bred the ewes this fall as there was a lot of commotion but some of the ewes laughed at his efforts
Next is IRISH FROST. She is a beauty and is a daughter of Priscilla by Donegal and so that makes her roughly 70% BFL and the rest Shetland. She is 10 months old now, and is shown standing behind her mother who is eating on the photo to the right. The small black one you see the behind all is a lamb.

Irish is another black English blue pattern like Priscilla but she is a suntipped black which means her black wool bleaches to a brown shade whereas her mother remained a charcoal black. She is long stapled with a semi luster, and is too young for a micron count, but her wool has a softer handle than her mother.
Below is a head profile of Irish Frost; she was born on a snowy St. Patrick's day

THIS IS FLEUR. She is a daughter of Cinnamon by Donegal, who was a BFL/shetland cross ram that we had for one season. She has the Shetland size but is larger than her mother and she is 2 years old. She has a bit of luster to her wool and appears to be completely single coated. Her wool is short and thick, and has a medium crimpiness, and good handle. Her micron count if 30. Her first baby was last year and she was a good mother. Her pretty face, and long back and luster came from her father. Her wool went into the BUNNIES OF JOY skeins I had spun up in 07 at 13 Mile Mill here in Montana.

This is a sheep called PRISCILLA.

She is from Judy Colvin's flock and she is 50/50 cross of Bluefaced Leicester/Shetland. She is about 5 years old, and makes maybe 2 and a half Cinnamons. She loves to eat. She is the "boss" ewe. She is friendly as well, but not as affectionate as Cin. Her wool I consider to be luster long wool. It is about 6-7" staple with a semi-luster and it is single coat with a loose crimp. Her micron count is 34. Her last years fleece is made into a charcoal gray roving. She does not "roo." She is a good mother and raises a bigger lamb
2008 photo of CINNAMON.

She was named for her reddish moorit color. She is a purebred Shetland from a dear friend and mentor who is now deceased. She is about nine years old this year. Her wool is very soft, and fine and there isn't a lot of it. On a good year she will give me 2 lbs as sheared, and after skiring and picking it might weight 1 1/2 lb. Her Micron count is 23. I consider her a single coat Shetland, but she has whisps of hair that stick above the rest so I guess those are the remnants of a double coat. She's fairy tiny around 55lbs as a fullgrown ewe. She is also a sweetheart and likes to be petted. She would love to be the "boss" sheep, but she is too small so no one pays attention to her. She used to single for several years, but in the past three years she has twinned. this past year, she again had twins but one was so big, that she could not deliver it unassisted, and by the time we got it out it was dead; the 2nd twin came fine and was a normal small one and is now bigger than she is.
This is our flock with the exception of the two lambs we are raising for meat after they get shorn. This is about all I can manage with our resources any more...but it is enough. If I had my druthers I would keep them all...but that is not practical.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I am hoping that I can get this to do what I want so I will just start out and see what happens.

First, after shearing, there is the fiber. This summer I entered some of it in a an wool compeition at the Eureka Fiber Festival in Eureka Montana, and this was the result. There were no guide lines issued as instructions so what I did was I took all the prime wool for a years duration from one rabbit, and put it in a clear plastic bag for display, and labeled it as required. I figured that by doing that the judge, or anyone else, could see how much prime wool was produced by one rabbit in one year, and could see and feel the texture, and color and crimp. This is the result in the picture above. It was fun....I wish that more fiber festivals has a competiton for angora fibers as well as their wool compeition.

This past year, I took 5 lbs of prime angora wool and took 10 lbs of unwashed white fleeces from my Bluefaced Leicester/shetland cross sheep and sent them off to 13 Mile Mill here in Montana for processing and spinning into 1 ply yarn of 1600 YPP. Since the wool needed washing, picking, and cardiing prior to blending it was reducded in volumne so that the blend came out about 60% wool and 40% angora. It is not as lacey looking as merino blend, but has more substance, but the hand is marvelous, and it is a great knitting yarn. It is also perfectly white.

I plied it it through my spinning wheel into a 2 play yarn... for the most majority. However, I also plied 1 skein of bombyx silk 5/1 with 1 ply of the angora-wool blend as far as that would go, and another skein of 8/1 bombyx with some more of the blend. I wanted the picture inserted here, but I see it went to the top. Fortunately the photos have text added so it can be identified.

The next picture is a close up of the 5/1 silk plied with the wool blend's just that the luster did not show up on the silk much but it is there.

Then there is a photo of complete skein of the blend and the 5/1 silk yarn. I took all of this and dyed it in rainbow fashion in bright colors and call this batch "SANTE FE" because of the colors remind me of the SW country. There are four color coodinated skeins but each one is different.

Next I did more single skeins of the blend in rainbow fashion in the microwave, and these two singles are the result. They are the blend 2 ply only without the silk ply.