Monday, February 22, 2016

Sheep coats

We've been having an issue with the two Jacob ewes and fleece loss.  I'm not sure if someone has been chewing on their wool or if we're dealing with some other issue.  I sold the buckling, Picasso - he's kind of "mouthy", and I'm pretty certain at this point that my does are pregnant, so that was one possibility down.  External parasites are a possibility (although I didn't see anything), so I got some Dectomax and applied that topically.  And now we have sheep coats!  I corresponded with Rocky of SheepSuits and ordered two coats for the girls.  He assisted with sizing, and produced and shipped these very fast!  Exceptional customer service!  They arrived today, and I put them on the girls immediately.

I think we now have all the bases covered.  If another critter was chewing on the wool, the Jacobs are now segregated from the others (two Nubian cross does, and two Shetlands) and coated to protect the wool.  If they continue to lose wool under the coats we will look for another cause, but I believe we have all the bases covered at this point. 

I am planning to get more coats next fall.  I'm hoping to coat the Shetlands all fall and winter.  They really make a mess of their wool with hay!  They will be sheared a week from tomorrow (they start "rooing" or shedding their wool if I wait too long) and I will coat them (as well as the Jacobs) when I start feeding hay in the fall.  Looking forward to clean fleeces next year!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

New old machine

Another new old machine has found its way to my house.

This is from a friend who bought it with all good intentions, and never used it.  I looked up the serial number;  this is a Singer 99K, manufactured at the Kilbowie factory in Clydebank, Scotland in 1918. It was very little used, if at all.

The decals show very little, if any, wear.  The inside of the machine - under the slide plate and underneath the machine - shows no lint or accumulated oil.  It came with a couple of attachments, two small screwdrivers, a few corroded needles (although the one in the machine looks fine) and a couple of bobbins (Class 66).  The bobbins had thread on them, and one of them may have been used, because the thread was almost gone.  It is a hand crank, and shows no sign of having had a motor attached, but the hand crank, strangely enough, is a reproduction model.  Perhaps something happened to damage the original hand crank and that was replaced.  Odd, nevertheless.

I oiled it (with my favorite, Super Lube), wound a bobbin, threaded it up, and tried to get it sewing.  It took quite a few adjustments.  The stitch length was set to the shortest length (or nearly so), the tension was set far too tight, and the back of the fabric was very, very loopy.  I adjusted and played with it for about 20 minutes and finally got a nice stitch length and a good stitch.  Here you can see both sides of the stitched fabric as well as the very loopy tension problems I started with.

I've managed to do quite a bit of knitting lately as well.  I've been working on a new cuddle blanket for the grandchild.  I bought 3 skeins of Bernat Blanket, but it's already big enough; I may end up using only two.  I was only able to get two in the main color (on the bottom of the blanket) and bought another to do a center stripe.  The color in this picture is WAY off.  The blanket colors are blue, brown, dark blue, and the sheet in the background is navy.  Regardless, I may end this at two skeins.  This yarn is so bulky I find it difficult to knit.  On the other hand, making it with all 3 skeins would certainly give it a more useful life - the boy is nowhere near done growing!  There is no pattern for this; just straight garter stitch.

This is my other recent project.  A good friend recently announced she was pregnant, and I decided to knit a baby blanket.  This pattern is ABC Baby Blanket, free from the KnitPicks website.

I'm almost a third of the way through this one.  I spent quite a bit of time after starting this, browsing through all the free baby blanket patterns on Ravelry.  There are some beautiful ones, and a whole lot of free ones.  If my ambition holds out, I may start Levi's Baby Blanket next.  That's another free pattern, and one of the prettiest ones I've seen yet.

I really need to get back to the Perimetera shawl, too.  Too much inspiration, too little time!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's a workday

It is raining today, but it's been warm (well over freezing...  a couple of days in the 40s/ 50s, even!) all week, so I decided today was a good day to clean the chicken coop.  It's a lot easier to get it all cleaned up when everything is soft instead of frozen.

It was a lot tougher than the bodypump class at the gym!

Before I headed outside I finished this little skein.  This was the sample roving I received with my Hansen electric spinner, shortly after Christmas.  End result is about 114 yards, 0.42 oz (12 grams).  After I did this, I found another bobbin with probably a couple dozen yards on it.  Figures.  This little skein has been washed and is now drying.  It looks very curly here, but relaxed nicely in its bath.

Next up on the wheel will be this "skunk" roving.  I bought this from Sally's Fen Alpacas, at last Saturday's Fuzz Fest in Exeter, NH.  This is 10 ounces (282 grams).  I'm hoping to spin something heavier than laceweight - maybe a sport or DK weight, for a sweater for the grandson.  I love a marled yarn!  This was labeled as "mystery roving."  I'm guessing it's a wool/alpaca blend.

In my attempt to spin a little thicker, I'm planning to spin this with the WooLee Winder flyer.  That should help some.  I'm curious what I'll get for yardage.  This feels like so much more than 10 ounces.  The bump is definitely bigger (fatter around, anyway) than a loaf of bread!