Maggie’s Shuttles…

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My younger daughter, Maggie, loves to work with wood.  She makes signs and other nifty things but lately, she’s been making some amazing and beautiful weaving shuttles.  She already has a little fan club of weavers!   She has been taking exotic hardwoods that she gets from the woodcrafting store and with a design that we worked out, she cuts them out with her scroll saw and then carefully sands and then polishes them to a gorgeous sheen!  They are really amazing.

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She’s also been working on restoring old looms for us!   We actually have two for sale and she did most of the restoration work on the actual loom.   Jessy, my older daughter, has a knack for tying these old looms up, and restringing the working cords and such, just making them weave fantastically!   I love to see them working as a team on these things.   When we sell the looms, they well split the profit for their effort.

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A batch of smaller hand weaving shuttles waiting to be buffed and waxed!

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She is also making stick shuttles, out of beautiful red oak.   I have woven with one and they are just amazing.   So nice to work with!  Jessy loves them too!   We had her make us a pair because we were fighting over them.

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Just beautiful shuttles.  She calls this one the Finger Pick Shuttle.  It’s fantastic for inkle weaving, tablet, or card weaving.  And that thin finger is so amazing, you can use it for picking out strings in your warp and just really working the shed and all in a lovely way.   I just adore mine!

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When she debuted the shuttle to a large inkle weaving group, the response was amazing!   She sold over 2 dozen shuttles in one day!   It was amazing!   She was so happy.  Look, even Luna was excited.  (haha…  not really)  DSC_0971 DSC_0973

But Maggie sure was!   I don’t recall seeing her smile so much as that day when she took all those lovely shuttles to the post office!   It was so delightful.  It really was.   Now, she’s selling a few a week and that is good, keeps her busy!   She tends to work on a nice batch and then move on to other woodcrafting projects.  When her supply gets a little low, it’s off to the woodcrafting store and another batch gets made!  Of course, she has to get a few other things for other projects!

DSC_0977_2 shuttle reviewsShe’s had such lovely reviews on the Etsy shop!  Just so thankful for the lovely response she has gotten for her work.   It means SOOO much to her!

Our link to our Etsy shop is:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/WindhavenFarm?ref=hdr_shop_menu

 

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Learning to Dye Wool…

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On of my dreams is to be able to open a sort of fiber studio some day.  Where I can work with fibers for spinning, weaving, sewing and crafting and also share this space with others and to offer my wares and such from my efforts and that of the fleeces of my lovely little fiber flock.  I feel that I can forge ahead well enough with the spinning, weaving, and care of this dream…  but one thing has been out of my reach and that is learning to dye my fibers.  I just never have tried!

So when I kept reading and learning more about dying natural fibers, one of the first things several sources said was to try Kool-Aid dying!   It’s simple, cheap and easy.   And it will give you a chance to try it out without a huge investment.   They were right!   It is simple, cheap and easy…  and FUN!

First up, you need a wee bit of wool.   I am using some of my cream Shetland wool.   It has been carded and washed.  About 2 ounces of wool in each jar.  You want it light but you can cram a bit in there.   I decided quart jars would be a perfect thing.  You first soak the wool for about 20 minutes in some fairly warm water.  Don’t agitate and fuss with it.  Just get it nice and soaked.

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Then add in a packet of Kool-aid!  If you want a very intense color, use two.   And you can mix and match colors, but it’s probably best, first time, to just stick to the same color packs in the same jar.   I did see some fun charts online with combinations!  Just google Kool-Aid dying color charts.

Now, to make it colorfast, you have to do two things.   Add a good dollop of white vinegar and then heat set the color in the fibers.  You know, I didn’t measure the vinegar.   I pretty much just added a good big glug. Why so cavalier?  Because all the recipes I found varied a good deal.  3 to 1, 4 to 1, 1/4 cup, 1/8 cup…   Apparently, you can also use citric acid if you had it.   So I thought, I’ll just add a big dollop and see how it goes.  It went fine.   DSC_0764

Stir it up a bit, get the pack mix to stir up nicely with the vinegar water.  I suppose you could mix the vinegar with the mix in a separate bowl and pour in once mixed, but I wanted easy and not a lot of clean up.  It worked great just mixing in the jar.   I used a pair of chopsticks.  One for dark, one for light colors.

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Once mixed, I popped each one into the microwave!  It’s 2 minute blasts and check to see if the dye is being absorbed.  Mine took about 8 minutes, or 4 blasts.  My microwave just has one setting, so I guess it would be high?  Again, just go simply and watch.   You can also do this on a stovepot in a pot but that meant making more dishes and such.   I wanted simple.  Very simple.

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As you can see, the water is much more transparent.   I never achieve perfect clear water, I guess that is the holy grail of dying.   But it was much much more transparent then it began.  And very hot.

I let it cool for about 15 minutes or so and then into a colander and a good rinse.  Remarkably, the wool only ran color for the first quick rinse and then was clear!   It had absorbed most of the dye into the wool easily.  I wrung it out tightly with my hands, careful not to really aggitate and felt the wool.

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I laid it out on some towels to dry.   It took a good 24 hours to really dry out nicely.   I turned the wool a time or two, allowing the whole wool hunk to dry nicely.   It was super easy.  I was a little worried about how intense the colors were!  Crazy deep!  But after I began to work the fibers again, hand carding to open them up and then carding them on my blending board and spinning, they were still strong, but less with all the work done to them in the processing and spinning steps.  

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Since that was a success and easy, I decided to take on some mohair!   From my angora goats!  I washed it and gently picked the clean locks apart.   And then I took two groups and dyed one green and the other red.  Lime and Cherry.  You can see that the white mohair REALLY accepted the dye well!   Even better than the Shetland.  It was super duper vibrant!   But it brushed and carded out a bit less intense as well!  Beautiful stuff!  DSC_0808  DSC_0814 DSC_0902

And look at the lovely yarns that I made from this dying batch of wool!!!  Just beautiful!  I blended orange with natural brown for the first skien…  and then purple and cherry for the middle and then berry and grape for the bottom purple one.   Each had both wool and mohair in the mix.   Along with a little alpaca and rabbit angora as well as a sparkle of Firestar!  Just a fun fun project and I am HOOKED!   Can’t wait to order grown up dyes in more, well, natural colors!   But the Kool-Aid was a lot of fun and I think I will play around with it again!   

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I actually did one more thing…  I overdyed a skien of Shetland that I had spun and plyed with a commercial green sparkle yarn!   And I just love the results.  Instead of rather stark green and sort of gray cream natural wool?  The natural dyed a light green and just made it almost tweedy in nature.   Just really pretty!!!   I saved some and then some are in our Etsy shop!   Just super fun and interesting.   I just can’t wait to give grown up fiber acid dyes a try!   Just gotta wait a bit and order some from an awesome fiber everything company…   www.DharmaTrading.com!   Yah!  DSC_0812

 

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Bunny Haircut Day!

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Around here, we like to let the bunnies stay a bit hairy until it warms up good.   During the summer we trim a little more often, but late in the fall, we stop and let them keep their wool for warmth.   They get groomed, but still they end up a little messy, especially the boys for some reason.  But it’s just a few little icky spots and we get them all nice and clean in a jiffy.  Yes, Corneilus is INDEED a big boy!   He is not that much smaller than Ratchet is!   Saffron, the carmel bunny is a little better at keeping his hair nice.   DSC_0917 DSC_0918

Once I start trimming, Saffron is white underneath!  He has a beautiful fiber and I can’t wait to spin from his pretty top locks.  This picture above show him half trimmed!

 

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Bunnies are so weird.   When you gently lay them on their back, most will go to sleep.   I do wonder if it’s just a weird response and they think life is over, I’m going to die and they fake death or something.   But Cornelious really likes to do so, and he just seems so relaxed.  I may have to look into this further.   I know it really helps when it comes to trimming up his belly and legs!  They all do it and seem to like it.

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Two trimmed up boys!   We use scissors because electric trimmers for Angoras are really expensive.  Maybe some day…  but my little collection of scissors does the job well enough.  I just go very calmly and carefully to avoid any nicks.

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Lilly is very unsure of the giant kitties…   I’m pretty sure she has no clue what they are.   Everytime they come in the house for grooming or to visit, she just is so perplexed!    This is a picture of Saffron relaxing on his back.

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Tora is pretty good about grooming and all, as well, and she produced some lovely gray fiber for us.  She looks a little wild in that picture!  I think it’s just the texture of her fleece and the lighting or something.  She was really pretty good about her haircut.

I didn’t get any pictures of Momo…   she was the only pistol of the group and was a bit mad at us.   Twice she stomped her foot, and put her ears back!   It was kind of funny to watch her little temper tantrum.   I think she would prefer to do her own hairdos, thank you very much.  But in the end, I won and she was trimmed too.  I do think they like it though, afterwards they are always very active and run about, rub and scratch.  Then they stretch out for a little snooze.   I would love to let them have free range of the house, but they are definitely not litter trained.  Guess they will have to settle for grooming visits.  Soon, they will be able to go out in their little grazing pen!   They like that a lot.  We would love to build something big and more permanent for them, just not totally sure what and how.  There are so many good ideas on line, but it’s hard to figure out what might work well for us and our bunnies!   We will keep looking around.

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I did, however, manage to put together my very basic turntable, Lazy Susan-Bunny groomer!   I just duct taped a piece of old carpet on it for footing.  It’s a lazy Susan that I got at the Goodwill for a couple bucks.   It really did make a huge difference!  So much easier to move the bunny around for good angles with trimming!   Really neat!

Spring must be here…  bunny trimming means lovely weather!!!

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