Friday, July 31, 2009

Return of the Picker

Himself, the picker, came to visit at my home for a couple of weeks. He was a busy little camper too. No rest for him, or me, for that matter. I managed to pick through about 9 lbs of wool, from 3 different sheep. One was a dark brown corriedale grown in Texas(yep, Terri, our fleece), one from a wonderfully certified organic soft white rambouillet grown in Minnesota, and one a very soft gray corriedale grown in Michigan. All very nice fibers. However, I think I heard the picker sigh a sigh of relief when I was done with the brown fleece, and asked me if the others were that dirty. :) I assured him they were not, that the Texas dirt was the

The pictures to the left show several different views of the picker. In the top one, I am showing you just a portion of the sharp nails along the bottom of the picker, that separate the wool fibers of the fleece. Separating the fibers, not only fluffs them up, but it helps to loosen the dirt that sheep naturally get into in the fields they live in. Can you imagine, the sheep get dirty? Shocker, I know. Anyway, this causes the dirt to fall out. Yes, you do wash the fleece before you pick it, but not all of the dirt falls out in the wash. Removing dirt will come in all stages of fiber prep, washing, picking, carding and knitting/crocheting. But, when you are done, you have a fabulous yarn and product.
The second picture shows the top of the picker and all of its sharp nails. You must be very careful not to cut yourself with this tool.
The nails are installed on the underside of the top and I have turned it upside down so you can see them.

OK, so this third picture may look a little warped, I know. But, I was trying to get the whole length of the picker (about 38 inches) into one picture and be close enough so you could see it. Notice the top is now right side up, and has a great handle. It slides back and forth on a ridge that is in the box. The left side of the photo shows where the unpicked fiber is fed into the picker. Then you slide the top across the fiber and over the nails that are on the bottom of the picker. As you slide the top back and forth the fiber collects in the opposite end and will eventually fluff its way out of the picker.

Voila! There you have it, out the other side, comes your white fluff. Oh, so soft! This is the rambouillet fleece that came from some friends farm in Minnesota. It a wonderful fleece. So, soft that it feels like cotton when spun, no kidding.

The next step is to the carder. I will show that another day.

On to the weather, because that is what Texans do. I guess because it changes all the time, and there really isn't a usual for us. We had almost 4 inches of rain at our home this week! Totally unheard of for July in Texas. Temps topped out below average all week, but we had humidity. Still the humidity wasn't that bad, not for someone from the east coast. Anytime I think it is bad, I look at the % and tell myself, that I have lived in worse, much worse. We have sun today, which is nice. I was able to get my morning walk in and my swimming time in.

Monday, July 27, 2009

She-Knits Mystery Bag, Finished

Here it is. After many a day of knitting and knitting, Emma, the bag, is done. She is put together, and felted! Well, she is almost done. I do want to line her, or maybe I should say dress her. LOL!
I felted the bag in cold water. I know that is a different approach to felting, because you usually throw your felting project into hot or warm water. But, the yarn tails, that had been left inside the bag while knitting, had started to felt already, just by the movement of the bag while knitting. So, I decided that I had better felt in cold water. I was also trying to control the felting of the fair isle design on the bottom. Fair isle knitting can tend to shrink up more than the rest. So, I took it out of the washer ever 5 minutes and stretched that portion. Yes, it was messy and I had dripping water all over. :) But, it was worth it. When the bag finally came out of the washer, for good, I did more stretching and shaping, to form its shape. Then I dug out some OLD tupperware and pulled it over that container for drying. You can see that it is stiff enough for JoJo to sit on top of it and not collapse it. Although it is still a soft sided bag. JoJo doesn't weigh a whole lot.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Show and Tell Day with Jon Rutherford and Santa

During the summer months, we have show and tell days at the UPS Store, in Lewisville TX. It is when we open up and let our business boxholders show their businesses off, if they want to.

It gives a free venue to advertise and find new customers. Also, helps to do marketing tests and make friends with locally independent business folks.

I have been taking my items and getting to know other business
owners and finding new customers and friends.
The top photos are some of my items.

The bottom photo has a story. As we were setting up, it was fairly quiet and I lamented to the UPS guy and to Santa that I should've brought my CD player. OH< yes, Santa was there! Can you believe it? Santa came to TX in the middle of the July heat!!! He said he had to warm up a little and wanted to check and make sure we, especially me, were being good. I assured him, that I was being good. Hahahaha!
Back to the story. So, I mentioned to Santa, that I wished we had music outside. It would make it so much nicer. I, of course, was thinking about a "boom box." Well, here it is July and Santa still granted my wish, and boy, did he fulfill it! Not only did I get music, but I got LIVE music! AND good music! Jon Rutherford, was there and singing for us in a heart beat. He had a CD with him and was also showing his window replacement business.

I'll take live music any day, over the radio, and then to have such a wonderfully talented singer, wow! Santa did a great job on that one. If you decide to click on his name, you will go to his site and then you can hear him sing too.

Notice Santa's attire. Bet you didn't know that he wears shorts in the summer. He also had on croc's, instead of his heavy and hot boots. He actually told me that he loves to go to parties in the summer and that people love to have him at their parties.

After granting my music wish, I am wondering if he will still grant my Christmas wish, oh well.....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mystery KAL with She-Knits

Last Monday, my friend Liz came over to knit. We have decided to get together every other week to work on our projects. Last week was at my house and next week we'll be at her house.

We are both doing the She-Knits Mystery Knit Along on Ravelry. So, when she arrived and said she was going to be working on her bag, I laughed and said, me too! You can see that we both bought the same colorwise kit, as well as a couple of our other friends did too. In working the bag, who's name is now Emma, we were given the option of doing a fair isle design or striping the bottom section of the sides. We both had chosen the fair isle. But, for the pockets, I chose stripes. We were running short of the yellow yarn, so by choosing the striped pockets, I had enough yellow, to bind off the top of the bag. So, on Monday I ripped out my purple bind off and knitted one row with the yellow and then did the bind off.

That night I was able to sew the pockets onto the bag and JoJo wanted to show it to you.

There you have it, to the end of Clue #4.
Clue # 5 is out and I am working on it. We are doing the handles now. This is the last clue and then the bag will be felted.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Busy Week

Wow! It is Saturday already. Truly amazing! Where did the week go???? OH, I know it was eaten up by 100+ temperatures all week. You know, after about 2 days, no 2 hours of that, I am back saying, "You know, snow isn't so bad in the winter." "You know, I will do allllll the shoveling." You know, the thermostat, oh forget it............" For better of for worse we live here, so we learn to endure the heat. Thankfully, the heat wave broke, after 9 days and the next day the high was 98F and I found myself saying, "Oh, it feels nice out here!" Hahahaha! It is always amazing to me, when we have had the type of temperatures that we had, 100F +, that when the temperatures finally do break and we are reading 98 on the thermometer, we are grateful for 98! LOL! But, I do have one question, this COLD front that came down from Canada and brought our "nicer" temperatures, is bringing 60's to other parts of the country, so why are we 98??? Why are we not 60? Oh, I know, it has something to do with the equator and living nearer to it and some high pressure system over New Mexico. But, in my non-meteorological mind, we should be having 60 too. :)

On the knitting front, I have finished clue #3 of the Mystery Bag, who is now called Emma. My friend Liz and I sat in my living room on Monday, working on our bags. Mind you, knitting with wool and it was 105 outside. OK, I digress, back to that temperature thing again. I have made a shawl this week. It might be a new pattern, it might not. Working on about 3 or 4 patterns right now. My friend Peggy suggested I try the pattern for the new shawl on my knitting machine. Well, I couldn't exactly replicate it, but I did get pretty close. Pictures will come on a later date.

So, if you have read this far, on yet another post with no pictures. I have a surprise for you.
I am knitting socks too. Of course, I haven't touched them in about 12 months. But, they are being made from the toe up and on one circular needle. Here is a you-tube video of a guy doing 7 pair on one needle all at the same time!! Truly, 7 pair.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Life of a Picker

A Picker, in this case is a box. It has sharp teeth, like sharpened 4 inch carpenter nails inside. The nails are spaced so that they will slide between the rows of nails above them. The purpose of this tool is to help us spinners, loosen up our spinning fibers after they have been washed. You can use the picker, as you will see, with many different types of fiber.

This particular picker is new. It was just bought by my friend Mary. She has been soooo very kind to share her new tool with our spinning group. We thought it would be great to write the adventures of THE PICKER.
First, thanks Liz for the photos. We will take more.

The first story we have is from Marlene.

On a Wednesday in June, Liz took me to achurch where a bunch of women were sitting around with their feet on this little wooden thing and they called it spinning. I was quite intrigued. I undertand that a person named Laurie was to pick me up but she wasn't there so Marlene took me home. I sat in her dining room for a while. I heard her say that her sister, who never visits her, was coming on Friday and staying until Sunday. I think on that Thursday Marlene washed some llama that she had been given. She said she had thrown about half of it away because it had little white thingies in it. After her sister left, I got to work. Back and forth, back and forth I went, almost like skating. When she was about halfway through, she started noticing, in the fluff that I gave her, a whole bunch of little white thingies that had been hiding. I am not sure but I think she called them nits. By this time, she was disgusted and threw them all in a sack, the fluffy stuff I gave her and then the not fluffy stuff I hadn't touched. I heard her say that she would give it all to Cindy for doggie beds. Boy, was I dirty, in spite of all the washing and rinsing.of that fiber that I fluffed for her. Marlene got the shop vac out and blew as much stuff off as she could and then, risking injury, she cleaned my tines. I must say, I cleaned up pretty good. The next Wednesday, I went for another car ride. I went back to that place that the ladies gather at with their feet on the little wooden things that make wheels go around and around.I got to ride in Joannes car but I went to Lauries house. I think I am in for a workout there. Thanks for listening, The Picker

The second was from me:
"Whew! I am so glad to be in your car. Maybe you won't work me as hard as that other lady. She had this llama stuff and worked sooooo hard. Then she had to throw it all away. I really felt bad though, like maybe it was my fault. I sat there wanting to say something to make her feel better. I noticed she was limping a little and thought, if I could just make it better somehow. THEN, she started cleaning me and it felt sooo good to get that crud off. So, I decided to cooperate with her and didn't hurt her as she cleaned. Now that I am back at that church building, I didn't even get to go insided! What kind of treatment was that, anyway???? Geeeeesh. Marlene's husband and you just carried me, gently and I thank you for that, from her car to yours, where I sat and waited. REALLY! I would have been quiet, if you had let me come inside. Finally, you were done. You and Maxine brought out your spinny thingys and fiber, OH, I thought I was going to work. But, no......... crumb. Off we went. Has anyone ever told you that riding in the back of your Blazer is bumpy?? You really ought to rethink where I ride next time. Phew. We stopped. Then all of a sudden I was being moved again and into another car. Don't these ladies know anything other than driving cars. OK, I get it, my vacation is over and I am going back to work. I am going to Laurie's. Bye, Joanne "

And the third is Lauries:
....I think I'm in for a workout there..... AND it's a dang good thing I got to recline on the antique-velveteen-camelback-couch for a week before the workout began, because I needed a rest. Within a day or two, I began to notice soft stuff on my head, and pretty soon I couldn't see out at all. Then, the house got really, really hot, and I began to wonder if my tines would go limp in the scorching heat, and if I would ever be able to pick the same....Eventually I got disoriented in the hot, dark front room, but I had the feeling I was in the northern part of the metroplex, and thankfully, I could hear lots of voices and a dog (whose bark rivalled my dear owner's). I knew I had not been abandoned to a totally uncivilized nation, because just as my gorgeous, sleek, wooden body began to overheat, I noticed a cool breeze. Aaaaaaaah. I do declare, that feels like AC. Two glorious days later, I was gently uncovered, and carefully hoisted from my place of rest to a very ugly 1970 kitchen table on the driveway. Morning shade and fresh air did me well. I was quite clever to conceal the details of my operation, and had the most fun watching the blonde attempt to figure me out. Yep, she was a blonde. I know she didn't notice my convulsed laughter, because her head was buried in those papers I tote around. " Hmmmmm ", she said, "what the...?" All my fun was over when she dialed our dear friend, Liz. Liz knows everything. I met her already. She's a nice lady, and she likes skinny dogs. They're real good dogs, but they don't have much to pick. One big honkin' screwdriver later, my 4 honkin' screws were loose, my flaps were down, I was fit, and ready to rip! And PICK. I'm thinking, "Just you watch this, Lady."Then, I took a look. Just how many bags of fiber does that blonde chick think I can handle? I know "fo sho" that I can handle more than she can. I took a few cleansing breaths, and off we went with some simple soft stuff. Alpaca. Lots of tiny pieces of grass. I did my best to pick it right and the lady says " Dern it. The grass isn't gonna pick out." Heck no, I'm not no grass picker, I'm a fine-tuned, sharp tined, hard wood, FLEECE picker. Sometimes the grass falls out, and gets in my teeth, but I'm not willin' to pick all the grass out maself. NOPE. That costs extra. Pickin' that alpaca she called Gizmo, was a breeze. Then, came the tougher stuff. Clean wool, and dyed the most gorgeous color, but kinda stuck. "HEY LADY, LOOSEN THAT UP A LITTLE !! WOULD YA?" She did. I can't believe how strong that lady is. And relentless. Sometimes I had to chew up the same bite twice before she would let me spit it out. " Girl, I'm not a ruminant!!" I told her. Many bags later, I felt like I'd run a great marathon. I've never been more fit. I hope she enjoys that red spot I gave her hand from all the back and forth. ( just like those wonderful blisters people get from ice skates) I tried to tell her to put on a glove, but she didn't listen..."I don't know where my gloves are." I think she just didn't want to stop the rhythm and go look. But I did notice she looked at her hand a few times. Good thing, too, because that's when I had time to take another deep breath. Honestly, we made a really good team, and I got the feeling that she might kidnap me if she could. I mean pickernap me. I wasn't worried because she treated me with such tender care. I wouln't even mind if I never left this place. You know, when she put her face dangerously close to my needle sharp tines to blow the grass away, I tried to kiss her. She was too quick. That's ok. She doesn't have enough hair for me... Well, I'm all clean and happy now, resting on yet another antique velveteen couch in the garage. Now, I'm really close to lots of bags of fiber, and I feel right at home. Don't know for sure if Laurie has more work for me to do, but she'd better get on with it, because I was born a ramblin' Picker, and I'm just living to do come cotton pickin' if I can. Signin' off for now -- Mary's Best Fancy Fiber-cotton-pickin-wool-flickin-alpaca-lickin-bunny-slickin-face-kissin-finger-jabbin-fiber-spittin-BENCH PICKER
Hope you are having a good laugh now. Signing out and stay tuned for the next visit the picker makes.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July to everyone! The day we celebrate our country's independence. Thanks to all of our brave soldiers for what they do for us each day.
We had fun last night when we went to our daughter's home and had barbecued chicken and later we watched the fireworks, put on by the town of Roanoke TX. It was fun and we enjoyed the fellowship and the fireworks.
Now to all of you who knit and read my blog, well even if you don't knit you will probably like this, here is a video. The gals singing have written the Mason-Dixon Knitting books and are really funny. Here's hoping you enjoy the video.