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Catching Up… And There’s A Lot To Catch Up On!!

DSC_0541Wow, cannot believe how long it’s been!

Life has taken some twists and turns around here over these past few years – some exciting, some amazing, some surprising, lol.

My husband and I have embarked on an exciting and challenging adventure! We are working on a small property we are planning to move to and live on, sustainably and off grid. ย We have just around two lovely acres – some of it forest, all of it beautiful!

In the beginning, we camped…

By year 2, we built the itsy bitsy cozy cabin ๐Ÿ™‚

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It’s a very good example of doing things on a budget! Most of our materials came from job waste and stores such as The Re-store. Definitely a project that I would never have predicted but super satisfying!

This year we are expanding a little and yet to add is the cutest wood cookstove ever. I am pretty excited about that ๐Ÿ™‚

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Going to get more done this weekend so I shall continue in my next post. ย Have a fantastic day! Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

Domain Change

Just a quick note – due to financial reasons, I did not renew the knitsnthings.com domain and this blog is now knitsnthings.wordpress.com. Hopefully links are working – please let me know if anything doesn’t seem to work; I’ve repaired anything I’ve noticed so far ๐Ÿ™‚

Our New Shihtzu Puppy!

Good morning! ย I have the CUTEST little guy to introduce today – his name is Charlie and he is a nine week old shih tzu puppy.

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He’s from a local family and is so well adjusted and has settled in with barely a squeak. ย Yes – he squeaks instead of making more likely ‘dog’ noises at this point. ย I’m sure he’s going to have lots to say once his voice comes in!

For a little bit of perspective on his size…

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His toys are mostly cat, lol – a small beanie stuffed with catnip, a few of those balls with the bells inside and a bunny rattle which the bunny never liked but Charlie thinks is awesome lol.

He even managed the steps up to the deck. ย Next? ย Learning how to go down stairs….

Have an excellent day ๐Ÿ™‚

Spinning And Knitting And Getting Things Done!

Happy New Year ๐Ÿ™‚

I haven’t been posting much, I know, but I HAVE been getting things done, which is very unlike me lately….

handspun shetland gaptastic cowl

Despite my ‘sweater guilt’ – caused by my recent inability to finish a full sized project’s – I fell in love with Aidez, a free berocco pattern which I found on Ravelry. Since it requires bulky yarn, I thought I would spin it, of course! I decided on the silver shetland fleece which I bought last year from Devine West Ranch – lovely, soft and I was sure there was enough fleece in the pillow case to make the required approx. 800 metres I wanted (since I am tall and always add a few inches in sleeves and body).

handspun shetland, singles and bulky 3 ply

We all know about the best laid plans, right? Yeah. Not nearly enough, I ended up with approximately 400 metres of lovely soft, spun in the grease, bulky shetland yarn. I washed the yarn within an inch of it’s life to get out the lanolin and last bits of straw and then felted it slightly to make a really nice yarn.

Then, of course, I (queen of five or more projects on the go at the same time, lol) decided it was irresistable and knitted the Gap-tastic Cowl with it, a little bit wider than called for, about 16 inches. It’s awesome AND I FINISHED IT IN ONLY A DAY ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL, did I mention I finished it? That’s my worst habit lately – not finishing things.

Today’s obsession is to spin up some suffolk fleece into a beautiful soft substitute since I still crave Aidez, lol.

handspun suffolk

It’s coming out nicely!

Aram! I’m So Glad You’re Here :)

She love to spin

Isn’t she lovely? I think so!

Please welcome my newest wheel – another little piece of Canadian fibre art history. She is marked “Aram Paradis” and was made in Quebec in the latter half of the 1800’s. To make her even more special, we purchased her from her original family. A lovely woman sold her to us, after refusing to sell her to someone the seller suspected was an antique dealer, because we would love her enough!

Bless her. She was right though, you know – I really will love her enough ๐Ÿ™‚

The wheel belonged to the seller’s great grandmother, who used to spin on her often – I was even given a small amount of cotton sliver which was, according to the seller, her great grandmother’s and what she would commonly spin on the wheel. This same seller has another wheel (her grandmother’s) which is a Canadian Production Wheel, in perfect pristine condition. If she ever decides to sell it, she’s going to call us. I’ll let you know ๐Ÿ™‚

It seems she has been modified to work with a spindle – somewhat like a great wheel. What remained of this modification when we got her was the whorl but no spindle piece. There was a second hole drilled (perfectly, might I add) in her mother of all for the front maiden, to facilitate the modification. She looked like this;

Just a little bit dry

the modification

First off, she needed a coat of blo/turpentine – the poor baby was parched.

What a differenc oil makes

I moved the maiden back to the original hole and made her some new leathers (made from an old full grain leather belt, bonded together for the front maiden to create a sturdy bearing)…

Making new leathers

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For the back leather, I used a single layer of the same belt leather but since it’s a bit on the stiff/thick side, soaked it in water for a couple hours and then clamped it to create a tight bearing…

Clamping the leather for the back maiden

My baby had no flyer/bobbin whatsoever so I had to look around the house for something suitable. Thankfully the other wheels LOVE to share. My first attempt was an old lithuanian flyer that I have. Quite sadly (since this is my only flyer without it’s own wheel), it was too short and had some issues with spinning properly – sort of a dud. Second attempt was to try one of the cpw flyers (a Vezina, in fact). This was too long…

At this point it was very ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ and, just like in the story, the third try fit just right ๐Ÿ™‚ I ended up fitting ‘Grandpa’s’ flyer to her – a very close to perfect fit. In order for it to be a PERFECT fit would mean finding a flyer with about the same length of arms/bobbin BUT with a longer tail end for the back bearing. Since I didn’t have such a flyer, I added a rabbit skin ‘sleeve’ inside the back bearing, to hold the shorter tail end. Grandpa says he’s happy to have helped ๐Ÿ™‚

Rabbit skin sleeve for back bearing

Did I mention her perfect hub?? Really awesome for her age…

No cracks in the hub

She’s stamped but this isn’t the clearest picture…

marked aram paradis

And in her glory – all glowing and spinning!!

Pretty!

We had a few issues as we began spinning together. I don’t blame her really since she’s not used to working after all these years ๐Ÿ™‚ Her treadle kept trying to fall out of the leg nearest the spinner on the wheel end – there was an old injury to that leg and a groove there so I used a bit of belt leather and made a split washer which I placed on the other end of the treadle bar, at the leg closest to the mother of all. This keeps the treadle from moving over as far as it wants and falling out on the wheel side. Also looks very appropriate, which I like ๐Ÿ™‚

The cross piece that the treadle sits on is so old and brittle with an old staple repair underneath. It did snap shortly into our spinning together BUT I didn’t want to replace it with a new piece of wood.

Cover your eyes now if you are particular about correct repairs! My solution was to fit the shattered old wood back together underneath and then bond the whole thing back together with some 5 minute epoxy. Yes, a woodworking sin. BUT! She looks original and that was what I wanted. If this doesn’t work in the long run I can always replace the cross bar. I wasn’t approaching the project in terms of resale value but from a working/original wheel perspective.

Finally…my little helper has been by ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve convinced him that the winder is ‘his’ wheel…

The little spinner and 'his' wheel

He has, however, gotten older and now he has noticed that ‘his’ wheel doesn’t seem to do it right. LOL. He brought his bobbins over to my wheel to see what was going on last time…

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He really is the cutest little guy ๐Ÿ™‚ Plays piano when he’s not spinning….babies are awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

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Have a fantastic day!

So That’s Where All The Pillowcases Are…Taking Inventory

Good morning!

Another ‘weekend’ for me and I’ve decided to include fleece inventory in my cleaning – more ofย  a thorough spring-type-cleaning than I usually do ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I *think* I’ve gotton most of my clean fleeces together now and WOW – I think I can spin for the next year without really needing to buy anymore, lol.ย  Here’s a pic…

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Yep, lol.ย  A little bit carried away.ย  But (in my defense), quite a bit of this was free so how could I help it? ๐Ÿ™‚ย  There is still some awaiting washing, in bins, both alpaca and woolย — as well as the bin of clean soft-as-a-babys-skin alpaca, of a much higher quality than the alpaca here in the pillow cases.

The group includes;
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Free meat sheep fleece – three bags full! – black, very springy, good for socks/mittens/scarfs and outerwear.

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Free meat sheep fleece, I presume suffolk/suffolk cross – both lamb and young adult – great for socks, mittens, outerwear, felting – springy and very white.ย  I have managed to stuff this into one oversized pillowcase and one of those shopping bags.ย  I believe I have more of this if I get around to washing it.

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Silver/black and red mohair – great for blending for socks/mittens/outerwear.ย  ‘Nature’s Nylon’

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A full bag of mid grade alpaca (free!) which I’ve found is excellent for spinning for mittens and the lighter shades dye wonderfully for stranded colour work.ย  I blend this with wool to give it a little bit of memory.ย  I also have this in two lighter shades….

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And yes, there’s more…

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This is some Border Leicester that I purchased last year – lovely, long and silky – great for blending for socks or anything where you want to add some silky strength.

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This is absolutely lovely silver shetland fleece (about 1.5 to 2 fleeces left) which I absolutely think is a staple fibre.ย  I’ve belended this with so many things! Spins up lovely on it’s own too ๐Ÿ™‚

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This is probably my current favorite fiber.ย  Purchased from Raspberry Hollow, it is a mixed breed lambswool which I cannot remember, with excellent crimp and beautiful softness.ย  Love it.

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And finally – some really wonderful icelandic lamb fiber purchased last year from a local ebay seller.ย  soft and silky!

More to come – I’ve got to see what I’ve got in bins and then there’s going to be the yarn to go through, lol.ย  Oh yes, and the cotton.ย  And the silk. Probably a little bit of superwash merino to rediscover as well…

Happy fiber addictions people!ย  We could do worse things ๐Ÿ™‚