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Showing posts from January, 2008

The UPS Man is Here!

Tuesday we heard the sound of a truck in the driveway. Our delayed observation guard (DOG) started barking--it was the UPS Man! (Apologies to any UPS Women--our drivers have been exclusively male.)

We brought away one of those big bags of raw wool to have processed. Magically, what was returned to us was cleaned and combed. Some of it was even dyed!

The kids were eager to help unpack all these wonderful treasures. Here is all the dyed roving (for spinning) leaning against our couch.

We spent Tuesday evening rolling all the roving into 8 oz. balls, ready to sell. Here are a few of them, ready to go back in the bags.



We need to sell some of this before oldest daughter comes home from college for her next home visit...her nice big room is being taken over as a wool storage area. It has nothing to do with how much we love her--we're just so proud of her and love her dearly! But she's hardly ever home, and it's a nice big room...

More Info on Handpainting

I'm glad to get the feedback and questions on handpainting. It really wasn't hard, and I will point you to two online articles that we learned from: here and here.

We did not use food dyes, because we had Jacquard Acid Dyes on hand. If you want to use Jacquard dyes, you'll have to find somewhere nearby or online to buy them--they are not available from the manufacturer. I like Jacquard because they are made in the USA, and the acid needed to set the dye is household vinegar. Not too toxic.

There may be books that also teach this technique (I'm sure there are). If you find one (the library is a great resource) would you let me know what you think of it?

I did list the yarn on etsy. I really want to keep it myself, but there will be more opportunities to dye (and there's plenty yarn!). I'd love to see that etsy store get up and running. So far, we've sold two items--a rag rug to someone in Pennsylvania and a cat toy to someone in Montana. Every little bit helps!

Makin' Messes

Last night we tried our hand at dyeing some of our wool yarn. We've kettle dyed before, but haven't tried what's called handpainting--directly applying several colors of dye to the yarn. Here's a photojournal of our learning experience.

Wetted yarn laid out on plastic wrap:


Applying the dye:

Yarn wrapped up in plastic wrap:

Setting the dye by steaming in a kettle:

Rinsing out the excess dye (in our case, loads and loads of excess dye):

Almost finished:

Final product:

Snow Day!

Yesterday schools all over the region were cancelled--Snow Day! In honor of the event, school was cancelled here, too. Later in the day, after the sun came out, a couple of us went cross country skiing. Perfect day for it--as long as we bundled up.


Tonight and tomorrow they are predicting 6-12" more. Let it snow! I love everything about the snow except the driving...

Hard Decisions

The wintertime is when farmers get to make some decisions about the upcoming year. Lately we've been chewing on decisions such as organic vs. conventional production, where to find an old row cultivator, and (again) what to do with all this wool.


This month and the next, our favorite wool mill is running a substantial sale on the cost of processing. And here we sit with almost 200 lbs. of raw wool. We haven't sold all the wool from last year that we had processed. It's hard (for several reasons) to begin stockpiling processed wool, in whatever form it takes.

Underneath the Carhardts, every farmer is a curious blend of gambler and believer. If the farmer shares his/her life with a spouse, it complicates that delicate balance. In our relationship, I am a hindrance in this area. I don't deal well with the "gamble" part of the balance. Perhaps I am the "governor" in this family. Or maybe just the drag!

So what to do with all the wool? Check out the etsy sh…

Sunday Post

Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called; I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up togther.
--Isaisah 48:12-13

A Bitterly Cold Day

It's 8 degrees Fahrenheit right now, with a wind chill that's unprintable. Yet even on the cold days, the animals must be fed and checked. Because of the cold, we fed a little extra food and took precautions to ensure that the waterers don't freeze.



This afternoon, after the chores were done, The Farmer worked on taxes. I sure wish we'd elect people who would actually do something about taxes. I don't like the idea of taxes at all--especially income and property taxes. But if I have to pay them (and I realize I do), it would be nice if our tax code was understandable to the average joe. Something like:

total income x 4% = total tax due

I could live with that.

A Day in the Workshop

I suppose it might sound better if we called it the "studio". But it's always been "the workshop" to us, and old habits die hard. The "yellow pole barn"? It's green now. The "green chicken coop" houses sheep, in the winter. Never chickens.

Actually, as nearly as we can figure, the studio / workshop / whatever actually started out its life as a chicken coop. So I guess we can call it whatever we want.

Saturday I needed a therapy day. So I ignored what needed doing in the house (and there's always something needing to be done in the house), and headed for the workshop with my earbuds in. "Don't bother me."

Despite my warning, The Farmer tagged along. He's between chicken batches, and not yet to lambing time, and actually can decide what to do with some of his hours right now. I showed him how I wasn't happy with the tie-on system on the cloth beam of Mrs. T's loom. He spent a couple of hours adding an apron. Ah, …

Sunday Post

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.




You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up thrown in to the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. --John 15:1-8

Fiber Frenzy

I haven't shown any projects lately (because, frankly, my Quickbooks data is BORING). So here are a few things we ("we" in this case means not me) have been working on.

This is a 100% braided wool rug started by daughter #2. The wool, however, is in roving form. The photo does not do it justice. The rug is beautiful! I will post a better photo when she's done.



The Farmer did some hand dyeing before Christmas, including some turquoise roving. Here it is, spun up.


It's about time for me to get back to weaving. Watch for photos in the coming couple of weeks. Somebody nag me if I don't get at it--it's good stress relief for me.

Busy, Busy, Dreadfully Busy...

It isn't that I don't have anything to say (people who know me well will vouch for that).

But it's the time of year where I must wrap up the old financial books (both farm and personal), and plan for the new year. A college-age daughter is breathing down my neck about the FAFSA--which is a form of governmental inquisition aimed at those who are fortunate enough to have kids who want to further their education. The accountant is wondering when I will be sending the financial data to her so that she can turn around and meet her own deadlines. Home school is back in session, with the added busyness of planning, correcting and chauffeuring. The Farmer is using the downtime between holiday and lambing to acquire some much needed tillage equipment (which means when I need the computer for my stuff, he's looking at photos of tine harrows and cultivators).

By the way, this is a section of a tine harrow. New.


This is an s-tine cultivator. Not so new, but in our price-range.

Two mon…