F Words

Last week I shared the story of getting Frank and Felix sheared with a co-worker. A few days later, she presented me with this poem, which I think is sweet and hilarious

Since then I’ve been getting fleece sorted and washed, and couldn’t help but notice that Frank and Felix have added to their alliterative accomplishments one very unfortunate F word: Flakes.

It’s hard to get a good picture of it against the white wool,, but there, my friends, is the dreaded Scurf. Ugh

So prepping their wool for spinning has gotten a little more labor-intensive.

I’ve decided that the most efficient way to get it out is to just cut it out. So once the fleece is washed and dried, I’m examining the cut side, and using scissors to trim about 1/8 to 1/4 inch off the butt ends of the locks where the scurf is located, before it is disturbed and gets jumbled up in the fleece.

Once it’s mostly out, I pick the heck out of it, and drum card it a few times, which will fling out a little bit of debris, and spin it fairly finely, hopefully letting any remaining crud fall out while fibers are fanned out in the drafting zone. I have done this pretty successfully in a smallish sample skein-

I think I’m going to prep and spin the best of F&F all this way and reserve it for a sweater project for this fall.

In other news, I got inspired by some folks on instagram yesterday to do something with my rhubarb this year! (last couple years it has gone to flower before I got around to harvesting) I’d not ever made rhubarb syrup, but it looked so pretty and sounded so tasty I decided I had to try. And it turns out it’s super easy.

4 parts rhubarb, 1 part water, 1 part sugar. Cook it down, bring to boiling, let simmer until slightly thickened (20, 30 minutes?)

Then drain it through a cheesecloth, and you have rhubarb syrup

now, you might be thinking, “Gee, the syrup looks pinker than the cooked rhubarb…” and you’d be right. 🙂 My rhubarb isn’t the really red variety, so I added about a half a cup of frozen raspberries to the rhubarb mixture for extra pink color. I’m thinking that it would be awesome drizzled over poundcake, in lemonade- or would make some amazing cocktails.

And I had all that partially drained rhubarb pulp left (which still tasted amazing), so I pulled the frozen raspberries back out and baked it into a pie with them.

And last but not least, the baby chicken update-

Welsie seems to be a pretty attentive mama, and they are growing fast- I’ve taken to calling them my little “poppers”, because of the way they pop around. Have a great week!

Spring Chicks!

Welsie now has herself a little brood.

Five sweet little baby chickens

I could sit and watch them for hours

And as if that wasn’t enough excitement for the week, the rain afforded me the opportunity to get Frank and Felix sheared!

So that was cool.
Think I got more usable wool off them this year than last, but it’s going to take quite a bit of prep to get it ready to spin. More on that next week.

In the meantime, here are some things that caught my eye in the garden today 🙂

Fig tree

Lipstick strawberries

Rugosa hedge

I think that perhaps May is my favorite month-

Scenes from my Mini MayCation

Took a couple days off last week to enjoy a bit of a summer preview-

Hanging with the sheeps -though sadly, I didn’t get any more shearing done 🙁

Dottie fleece in the suint bath-

Esther singles fresh off the wheel

Yarn drying in the sunshine

Gustavo on yard patrol

Boo Kitten catching some rays

And chickens partaking in cabbage tether ball

It was a good couple of days 🙂

So, the thing with the mitten finishing-
I’m working on these really cute mitts,

but have never been a big fan of pointy tips. So I though a bout it a long time, and then, after decreasing about half the number of stitches, I decide to knit the three “sidewall” stitches over the top, and connect it up with the three edge stitches on the other side.

The details: after completing last decrease round, knit the three edge stitches. Then wrap the next two stitches one at a time- one with the main color, and one with the contrast color. knit back across first two edge stitches. Knit last edge stitch together with next two mitten stitches, then wrap next two stitches one at a time, first with main color, then second with the contrast color. Continue in this manner, eating up two mitten body stitches at each edge, until all mitten body stitches are worked. Then graft the edge stitches to their corresponding edge stitches from the other side. Voila!

A little fiddly, but I really like the result!

May the Fleece be With You

Yeah, I know- I’m a day late for the Star Wars tie-in.

But I’m very pleased to have finally gotten Dottie’s heavy coat off of her.
It was not an easy feat- we wrestled for a while, and in the end I had to call for backup- with an extra pair of hands (The Man) keeping her under control I was able to get her tidied up.

Crazy amounts of wool on that girl!

About a third of it went straight in to the suint bath that I started last weekend with seconds from Esther’s fleece.

I’d almost forgotten about the suint bath method, but was reminded of it by a recent podcast by Lydia Christiansen of Abundant Earth Fiber.

I used the lesser quality parts of Esther’s fleece to get it going- left it for 6 days. The wool that came out on Saturday looks pretty good now that it’s had a couple of rinses. It’s still drying, but seems nice and clean, except for some tips that are still a little bit junky.

Now that the suint mixture is charged up, I might use it to do a fair bit of the wool washing this year. Takes a while, but it really low-input.

This weekend also saw another improvement to chicken infrastructure- introducing the Chicken Atrium!

Still hope to move entirely away from netting at some point this summer, but this is a step in the right direction!

And Welsie is still sitting on her eggs, (due date is May 15).

In knitting news, I’ve got some cool mittens on the needles right now, but this post is already getting kind of long.
I’ll show you a interesting new mitten finishing technique I’m working on next week-