Sunday, October 30, 2011

How did it get to be Halloween already?

My, how time flies around here.  I have no idea what has happened to the last few months.  Mother nature has finally decided to treat us to typical fall weather...rainy, windy, chilly and the possibility of some snowflakes over the next few days (not supposed to add up to anything, but who knows?)

About a month ago, these pheasant were visiting us almost every day.  We haven't seen any pheasant around here for 20 years.  A couple of them were showing off for the ladies!

On Facebook, there's been a picture of drunken pumpkins making the rounds.  Well, I couldn't resist.  Stopped at a farmstand, got 3 pumpkins, carved them, gathered up some empties and set off to our daughter's house.  She wasn't home at the time and was greeted with this sight when she finally rolled in:

Just like FB said, do not trust your pumpkins!

To ensure that we do not get too settled into a routine of work-for-someone-else, be self-employed, holidays are looming, dust buffalo are roaming the house under their own power and all the other day-to-day stuff, we are now foster parents to Molly, a lovely Airedale whose owners have to move.  I suspect that she will be staying here.  There have been no issues with Daisy, the cat.  Disputes have been minimal with Magic over toys and those are getting less frequent and less hostile sounding, so I guess they are working that out.  Otherwise, they get along great and spend a lot of time following each other around the house.

I've got quite the following when they all decide that it's time to follow Momma!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's Not Work

Many times, at previous employers, we would often get dragged into yet another program-of-the-day, leadership workshop, attitude adjustment workshop, time management, aren't-we-wonderful-presentation, etc.  You see, training was important, didn't matter what the training was for, just that you went.  At many of those, I would hear something along the lines of "If you love your work, it's not work anymore."  Right.  Are they on crack?  Work isn't called work because it's fun, but because it's something you have to do.  It's part of being grown-up and self-supporting.

Over the past few weeks, I have found that those "experts" weren't on anything.  If you love what you do, it's not work anymore.  Really!  I can't wait to get out to my garage and mess with fiber.  Doesn't matter to me if it's mine or a customer's.  All of it makes me happy.

If it's a fleece that I've picked out for either it's good qualities or it's bad qualities, I'm really into seeing what it becomes on it's way out of the carder.  Yes, in addition to some truly lovely fleeces in my stash, I deliberately got some undesireable ones to practice on.  Like this one...dirty, stained tips, lots of VM, old, dry and a fine wool.  It's surprising how nice the finished roving is...still has some VM but suitable for some projects (maybe one of those Shepherd's Rugs?).

Customer's fibers are even more fun in a way...they're full of surprises...I just don't know what I'm going to find when I open up that bag.  These surprises run the range from premium fiber to lower quality, strong fleeces to weak ones (that break),  fine fiber to coarse, lots of VM to none at all, natural colors to wildly dyed and sometimes all in one bag.

This is a customer's fleece after being picked.  Next time I'll put something in there for scale.  Believe you me, 5 pounds of wool fluffs an amazing amount!  That pile is about 5 feet x 6 feet x 2-1/2 feet deep.  This was 2 different gray wools blended in the picker, then carded; the roving is really nice.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the next bag contains...bring it on!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Trust My Instincts

This last week reminded me that I should listen to that little voice much more often, at least as far as textiles are concerned.

Listen Up #1:  My latest traveling sock has had pattern issues.  It's one of those self-striping yarns in a somewhat subdued colorway (navy & gray mostly), so I set about finding a pattern that offered a little bit of patterning without being ridiculous to remember.  I am now on my 4th try.  The first two contained double decreases, which, while are a nice look, are kind of a pain on a traveling sock.  Ripped out both of those starts.  The third try was a pattern from an online source, which said to *K2tog, K2, yo, K6*, repeat and do every row.  Well, while nice, it was making quite the ridge in the sock.  Right along, I kept wondering why isn't there a plain row in between the pattern rows?  I would read the pattern again, still the same.  I finally came to my senses, tried it with a plain row and was much more satisfied.  Frogged it yet again, and now it's clearly working out.

Listen Up #2:  While stash diving to find already washed fiber to run through the picker, then the carder, I came across some what looked like really nice white wool.  A mystery wool and really clean.  I handled it, squooshed it and thought it seemed a bit dry, but went ahead with picking and carding anyway.  Picking did not really show up any problems, but carding sure did.  I should of gotten to know this wool a bit better (like checking for weakness) as it "broke" while carding.  That was quite the mess of a huge number of little nepps and very little fiber that didn't break...looked more like snow than fluff.  Arghhh!  That earned me a couple of hours of serious cleaning time on the carder.

Listen Up #3 (where I actually listened):  Another batch of fine white wool:  this one was a give away at guild a couple of years ago by someone who was destashing.  The tips were still stained, full of veggie matter and quite dry.  I gave it another wash, which helped the dryness and got rid of some more dirt.  Picking went  just fine and when it came time to card, I checked for any weakness (seemed good).  Really looked at the fleece, definitely on the fine side (likely a merino cross), so slowed down the feed and take off a lot.  Son-of-a-gun, the roving coming off looks really nice (other than the previously mentioned VM...less of it, but still a fair amount).  Then I got to thinking, gee, it looks really good, should I try speeding it up in the interest of time savings?  At that point, the little voice said, "NO!  Leave it be.  It's fine just the way it is." 

In the "practice pile" of wool, there are two fine fleeces of known heritage.  One is a merino and the other is a CVM/Romeldale cross.  After this last batch, I'm feeling more confident that they will come off looking very that I've had it proven to me that the little voice has really good instincts when it comes to fiber and textiles.

Update on the practice pile...the CVM/Romeldale cross is just lucious.  I can hardly wait to show it to Amy, that particular sheep's shepherd.  The merino?  I decided that it should probably be washed a couple more times, but tried a handful anyway to verify.  Good decision...noiled up right away.

PS:  As far as "Am I open yet?", I'll say "Yes, Acorn Works is ready to go.", although there are a few loose ends that need tying up (things like a flyer and a website).  I imagine any start-up has those!