Friday, February 24, 2012

From Trash to Treasure

     It's funny sometimes when you finish something to go all the way back in your mind and think of where it came from. What little thing changed the course of events and ended you up where you are. This particular yarn came from spring 2010 and Zak's desire for a pig ear.

     We were driving through Rochester to pick up feed one Saturday and Zak promptly demanded I pull over at the farmers market and get him a pig ear. There is a local hog farm that has local smoked pig ears and they must be extra fresh and tasty because he loves them at the expense of all other pig ears, which are now basically crap.

     So I, dutiful well-behaved slave I am, pulled in and hooked him up to go get a pig ear. Down through the rows we passed a woman selling lamb meat. We got Zak's pig ears, and he trotted back for the car quite delighted with himself, and I paused at her booth and asked if she sold fleece.

     In fact, her husband had just finished shearing and pulled out a handful of nice fleeces, it was their first year of trying to sell them. She lived a little ways off, but as chance would have it I was trimming in her neighborhood the next week. I took her phone number, set an appointment to go look, and we went home. Zak ate all 3 pig ears while I went into Krogers and thus none of the other dogs were ever told we stopped at the farmers market.

     So the next week I was beyond ecstatic to get my fleece. I'd never spun Suffolk, but had heard good things. And the woman wanted very very little money for her fleece because she'd been told they were 'junk Suffolk' by other spinners.

     We went into her barn and there were 4 big plastic bags sitting on the floor. Tied shut. I opened the first one and about collapsed. The sheep had been shorn, the fleece put in plastic, tied shut, and left for a week. It had begun to ferment into a new life form. The smell was horrifically bad, and coming from me, that's pretty bad.  

     I was so excited about my fleece though, this was a small set back. I took a gulp of air and dived into all 4 bags. I picked the longest staple length amongst them, about 4" unstretched, snatched my bag and ran for fresh air. I believe I paid about $25 for my huge bag of very stinky wool.

     When I got home it was pouring rain, so the fleece came inside with me. After the 30 minute truck ride me and Zak were both quite used to it's aroma. I spread it out on the floor and did a quick skirting, because it was also quite filthy in general.

     But I quickly washed up a small batch and was amazed at the beautiful, soft, clean wool that came out. I was really quite pleased with myself when my mom arrived.

     Needless to say there were some very high pitched noises made over the large poo filled fleece spread over the living room floor, the smell, not of wet wool, but of dead-wet-woolly-thing-laying-in-the-sun-for-weeks-wrapped-in-plastic. I very much understand how Faithy felt when she brought me home the green, slimy, week-dead ground squirrel and laid it on my bed and I did not share her pride and accomplishment in the matter.

     So a different way of washing my prize had to be found. So for the next week I collected rainwater and set myself up a fermented suint mix. Basically, you put a really greasy fleece in rainwater in the sun for a week, and wonderful things grow in the water and eat the grease, thus giving you a washed fleece. It's a very stinky procedure, but my fleece was already very stinky so nothing lost there.

     It worked! The fleece came out quite nice, and with a lot of rinsing, stink-free! It got washed again by the usual protocol of Dawn in the sink, but this time there was no un-godly aroma to fill the house for days.

     So my fleece was then put through the drum carder to give me lots of beautiful white fluffy batts of loveliness. It's my starter kit of "the best socks ever".

     But then there is the rest. The belly wool was permanently stained yellow. Not a pleasant sunny yellow, but a sickly nasty yellow that would tell anyone it came from poo staining. Could I throw it away though? This hard-fought bit of wool? The last of my trash fleece?

     I'm way to cheap and crazy to do that. So through the drum carder it went, perfectly nice but stained yellow. It then went into my box of things to be dealt with at a later time.

     This fall I went to a fiber fest and got some more dye colors to play with. I dyed all my white handspun, some raw wool, and some roving. I wanted to try my new colors, but didn't really have an ideas for them. So into my box of 'things I also don't know what I'll do with' and out come these two yellow-ish Suffolk batts. If the new colors were total puke, no harm done. I threw color on like a blind man, and put them in the oven.

   One batt came out a multitude of greens, which is my favorite way to dye anything, and the other came out with my 3 new dye colors neon green, purple, and gold. But they'd bled together quite a lot to give me new blues, reds, and greens. They were both rinsed and dried, then put back into the box of things without a purpose.

     Now fast forward a couple weeks ago. I was supposed to be spinning some alpaca for a friend, but I was bored with it at the time and happened to wander over too close to my box. I stumbled into that loud strange purple/green/gold/all-the-muddied-colors-those-make batt. It became laceweight. But it was a bit poo-ish and muddy in places, plus not a lot of yardage out of one batt. So out came it's multi-green friend to become the second strand of laceweight. Plied together it eliminated the 'muddy' colors. Instead it became a field of wildflowers. With all the purples, blues, yellows, golds, greens, and reds. Plied with the wild greens it became a beautiful laceweight flower garden of a yarn.

     This was the trash wool off a trash fleece, that many would say come from a trash breed of sheep (as far as wool is concerned). It was dyed trashy colors, and made a trashy, muddy single. But adding it's bright trashy friend made it a thing of beauty. I'm delighted with this yarn. I have no idea what I'll do with it, and it will continue it's life in the box of things that have no current intentions.

     And Zak says this is why you always listen to your dog when he wants a pig ear. Because you will end up with 144 yds. of Suffolk laceweight.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Kewanian Mountian Lion

     I have been informed that not everyone knows what a Kewannian Mountain Lion is! Or more importantly who the Kewannian Mountain Lion is, as there can only be one.

     Fair warning, she's terrifying.

     She's ferocious, and only lets me live in her house because she can't quite get the hang of the can opener.

     She is violent and sends dogs quivering into corners.

     She wakes you in the night with a claw in the eye.

     Are you ready?


     You should be...

     This is Daisy. She is a 3 year old, 6 pound, long-haired black and white ball of death.

     Look at those eyes, they glow with evil.

     The truth of you existance is as you believe it to be. Daisy truly believes her existance to be that of a 400 lb. killer mountain lion, who very likely has super powers.

     So far fleece skirting has seemed to be at the top of her talents, and she spends a lot of time helping me with that. That is how she became, Head Fiber Cat.

     In my enjoyment of trying to learn butcher the Latin language I often talk to my animals, and describe their current state in Latin. This is how Daisy became Dasia. She prefers this title as it is much more noble sounding.

     Since she insisted upon telling me how to fix my floor, she was also given the title of Flooring Director. She also supervised the painting, and commanded the trim work, thus giving her the title of Painting Assistant.

     Her power over the dogs occurred when she was ill and they would get in trouble of bumping Daisy, stepping on Daisy, irritating Daisy, etc. So now she will strut right up to their food bowl and take something out while giving them the, "Go on, make me scream" look.

     Her long term illness gained her certain privilages. Plus she has many titles. She's really quite important and I'm pretty sure the world would fall of it's axis if she failed to tell it what to do.

     You never know where she will pop up to offer assistance. Once she even took it upon herself to save me from washing my hair wrong by leaping into the shower, then taking down the shower curtain and trailing massive quantities of water through the whole house and soaking my bed.

     She lives to give.

     So now you know of the fiercest beast on the planet. The violent Dasia, Head Fiber Cat, Flooring Director, Painting Assitant, Shower Inspector, and Kewanian Mountain Lion.

     You are warned.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Floor is Finished!

     After a month of irritation my floor is now finished! 3 coats of porch & floor paint on my carefully cut plywood and a lovely decorative trim and it's now DONE!

     In discussion of how I could make the floor "me" but without being electric blue and neon green, my mother came up with a hunter green and tan. These are my second favorite set of colors, you can probably tell by my business cards.

     My grandpa suggested while I was going through the trouble to paint the whole floor I should at least paint it something cool. Amish sometimes paint quilts and things on their floors. I vetoed that immediately and he said, "Well then what about animal tracks?"

     Well coolness personified. I love it. I traced the cow, goat, and alpaca tracks from a drawing cut out, and the rest are free hand. First there are horse, then alpaca (and I have to admit of the whole lot I like the horse the least. It just doesn't look real like the rest do)

     Then we have chicken, goat, and dog. The chicken prints are thus far my favorites, they came out great.

     Then it's cow and duck. The cow is for grandpa and his oxen. He insisted I had to have some cow prints.

     Then cat, rabbit, and goat.

     Then big dog prints, alpaca, and duck again.

     Then cat, cow, and chicken again.

     Coming back in the door is rabbit, dog, goat. 
     Then wee kitten tracks all around the register.

     Cow, duck.

Dog, alpaca.

     Chicken, cat, and mountain lion.

     Looking at those little green prints one might think, "Hum, that is almost like a cat ran in while the person was carrying in groceries, and ran across the wet paint floor while being yelled at not too, then left little green kitty prints in the trim." Of course that would be nonsense, none of my cats would do something like that.

    And then of course why do I have mountain lion tracks? Because Miss Dasia, my head Fiber Cat, Painting Assistant, and Flooring Director, asked why everyone else got prints on the floor and she didn't. I pointed out there were a multitude of cat prints, even wee kitten. She gave me her patented, "You are a moron and I will poke you in the eye while you sleep" look and pointed out that she was not a mere cat but she was the famous Kewannian Mountain Lion and a wee cat track was not exactly representative of that.

     So that's how I got mountain lion tracks on my floor.