Category Archives: Fiber Arts

Names for the new girls

I don’t name all of my sheep… only the ones who will stay with us long term and I make this decision through observation and record keeping.  Criteria involved include health, wool quality and the criteria required to meet the requirements for the American Coopworth Registry’s Performance Designation.

From the Spring 2017 lamb crop, 3 ewes joined the breeding flock and have received a name.  Each year, I come up with a theme to select the names.  I had tree names  one year (Hemlock, Tamarack, Balsam) and hot beverage names another (Mocha, Cocoa, Java, Cappuccino), for example.

This year, to commemorate the unprecedented number of women who have stepped up to run for public office, I decided to name these 3 yearlings after famous female leaders from history.

Introducing:

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‘Empress’ Zoe, Cleopatra and ‘Queen’ Victoria

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Zoe

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Cleopatra

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Victoria

 

Here’s some info about the trend in women running for office at greater numbers: http://time.com/5107499/record-number-of-women-are-running-for-office/ and https://www.npr.org/2018/02/20/585542531/more-than-twice-as-many-women-are-running-for-congress-in-2018-compared-to-2016

If you are interested in running for office yourself (at any level), here are a couple of great resources: https://www.wfan.org/our-programs/plate-to-politicssm/ and https://voterunlead.org/

 

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Filed under Farm, Fiber Arts, Policy, Sheep

Raw Coopworth and Romeldale CVM fleeces available

Shearing this spring yielded lovely fleeces.  Then lambing commenced and I have been slow to share info about the fleeces – but here they are!

All of my sheep wear coats during the fall, winter and spring to help keep their wool as clean as possible.  Each of the fleeces have been very carefully skirted to remove vegetable matter and soiled wool.  In most cases there are two options available, 1: the main body of the fleece with virtually no vegetable matter and very clean wool – this is to be sold as one unit and 2: the margins which have a small amount of vegetable matter and are just a bit more soiled – this can be purchased in smaller amounts which I will weigh out and sell by the pound.

If you don’t see a fleece here that meets your needs please let me know.  I do still have some wool available from earlier shearings.

White 100% Coopworth raw fleeces:

Hoglah: 7″ staple, 3 crimps/inch, lustrous.  Full fleece available.  Also, 2.25# available at $10.50/#.

Tirzah: 5.5″ staple, 5 crimps/inch, very fine for Coopworth.  Full fleece available.  Also, 2.7# available at $10.50/#.

Seneca: 4.5″ staple (also was sheared in the fall), 3 crimps/inch.  Full fleece available.  Also, 1.6# available at $10.50/#.

Tamarack: 6.5″ staple, 3 crimps/inch.  Full fleece available.  Also, 1.8# available at $10.50/#.

 

Natural Color 100% Coopworth raw fleeces:

Noah: 6″ staple, 3 crimps/inch.  Full fleece available.  Her black wool has mellowed to a lovely silver/grey.

Cappuccino: 5.5″ staple, 5 crimps/inch.  Full fleece is sold.   3.4# available at $10.50/#.

Java: 5.5″ staple, 4 crimps/inch.  Her fleece is the darkest brown I have.  Full fleece available.

 

Badger color 100% Romeldale CVM raw fleece:

‘Flax’: 3.5″ staple, 11 crimps/inch – super fine – perfect for against the skin items.  Full fleece available (oatmeal color).   Also, 3.4# mixed oatmeal/grey/brown is available at $16/#.

Contact us with your questions or to reserve the raw fleeces of your choice.

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Filed under Fiber Arts, Sheep

Sheep of another Fiber

„TribuT“ by Jean Luc Cornec

My sister-in-law sent me a screenshot of these critters and I was so amazed!  I have an actual flock of sheep of a similar population.  And, I’ve been going through belongings trying to declutter and pare down on possessions and came across the rotary phone I received as a teenager – bright red.

I would imagine, as with roll down windows in a car, most of today’s youngsters would have no idea what to do with these phones.

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Filed under Family and friends, Fiber Arts, Reduce, reuse, recycle, Sheep

Winter is certainly here!

But, it took a long time to arrive.

I timed my final harvest of carrots down to about the last possible second.

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This was the first week of December and the ground hadn’t yet frozen.  If I had gotten to this job just a day or two earlier, it would not have involved snow.

As you can see, the chickens have been moved into their winter quarters inside the garden fence where I can run an extension cord to plug their coop in for supplemental light and a heated water dish.

The garlic seed is snugly tucked into the ground and poultry net has been strung around the garlic beds in case the chickens get over exuberant.

At this point, the sheep were still getting most of their nutrition from grazing.  As you can see here, the lawn was still quite green.  Plenty of forage was available in most of the pasture.  This is really remarkable.  Often, by mid October I am feeding hay because there is no forage left, but this year it just kept right on growing until it got covered with snow in early December.

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I take pasture photos at 6 standard locations on the first of each month as a form of research and record keeping.  This was the 12/1/16 photo of Paddock 1.

Today, we are experiencing a real winter deep freeze.  The benefit of weather so cold that I’m reluctant to step outside is that I do finally get around to the paperwork and computer projects that had been languishing when I was working on outside projects.

I’m very pleased to have finally made a bunch of updates to my little online store.  Have a look: https://squareup.com/store/autumn-larch-farm-llc.  There you will find soaps, sheepskins, raw fleeces, roving, yarn and more.

If you live nearby, save the postage and contact us to set up a time to stop in and do your shopping in person.  If you live farther away, this little online store is a great option for having a look at the products available and getting them delivered right to your door via USPS.

Stay warm and enjoy the vibrant sunshine that usually comes with the bitter cold.

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Filed under Farm, Fiber Arts, gardening, Getting Organized, Research, Seasons, Sheep

Thinking about Christmas in July

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I started my 2015 Christmas cards on December 11th after getting a brainstorm to see how many I could knit.  Really, really not enough time!  (Apologies to those reading this who received a plain old paper card from me last year!!)  I highly recommend allowing yourself a bit more time, therefore I’m sharing this suggestion in July.

My favorite resource for inspiration in all things knitting (besides my fiber friends and family) is Ravelry.com, so I went there to search for patterns and ideas and found many, many to choose from.

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I already had blank cards and stamping supplies on hand, so I started a knitting frenzy and whipped out quite a few cards in a relatively short time.  One lesson I learned and that I’m reminded of while looking at this picture, is that newsprint is not a good choice for a work surface.  The print can easily rub off onto the finished card.  Better to work directly on a table that can be cleaned off or use a blank sheet of newsprint or kraft paper.

Another consideration is the thickness of the finished card and envelop.  These squeaked in under the maximum thickness allowed for standard postage rates in the US, but if I had used a bulky yarn or had applied felted ornaments on my trees, etc. they might have been too thick and required extra postage to mail.  Check with your postal service for current rules and regs.

Each knitted tree, etc. doubles as an ornament.  I secured a single crocheted loop at the top of each one and threaded the loop through a small slit in the card using a yarn needle.  The recipient was able to either keep the ornament attached to the card or pull it free and hang it on their tree.

These were really fun to knit up and were well received.  If you decide to create some yourself, I would love to see the results of your creativity.

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Filed under Family and friends, Fiber Arts, Seasons

New Ideas Part 2

In New Ideas Part 1, I introduced the Spring 2015 issue of Spin-Off magazine with the theme “A Celebration of Stash”, referring to the materials spinners, knitters and any other hobbyists have stored away for some future project.  I always try to look to my personal collection or “stash” before I look elsewhere when starting something new.

Earlier this year I taught a class on knitting with multiple colors, which is technically called stranded knitting, but is often referred to as Fair Isle knitting.  My introduction to the technique was through Norwegian patterns and basically you create a picture with each stitch by carrying the yarn behind (the strand) in a horizontal float and knitting with it where appropriate to the picture.

In preparation for teaching the class, I borrowed a number of books from the library.  I found one in particular that I really  like and have since added it to my personal library (Thanks Santa!):  Mastering Color Knitting by Melissa Leapman

The students in my class had taken the sock knitting class last year, and are now adept at working on double point needles, so we started off with a small project to learn the basics of working with two colors.  I found a project on Ravelry: Colour-stranded Cup Cozy, by Anna Daku that I thought would be a good way for them to master the skills of stranding (reading the grid paper diagram, creating the horizontal floats, etc.) before advancing to a larger project like a hat, cowl, mittens, etc.

cup cozy

Slide one of these washable wool cup cozies onto a cup from your local coffee shop and your coffee will stay warmer and your finger tips won’t smart.  And…you’ll be styling!

For my larger project – I’ve been wanting to make myself a hat with ear flaps for a while.  So, I started digging through my collection of yarn but didn’t find any that was the right thickness or color.  I’m currently trying to bring some semblance of order to my office space and so I had my collection of dribs and drabs from classes, workshops and my own experimentation pulled out and I found something I could get really excited about!  But, was it enough for an ear flap hat?

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Handed carded Coopworth wool dyed with fresh indigo leaves

Background on the dyed wool: My friend Terry grows her own Japanese Indigo to use in dyeing wool from her Shetland sheep flock.  A while back, when she was gearing up to do some dyeing, she decided to make a mini workshop out of it.  I was thrilled to participate and brought along a small bag of white Coopworth wool from my flock to see how it would take the dye.  What you see above is the result!  Terry soaked the indigo leaves overnight in rain water at room temperature and from that preparation extracted the deeper blue.  The icy pale blue is the exhaust from the same preparation.  The warm caramel tan is a second extraction after boiling the leaves.  What a range!  What beautiful colors that are completely comfortable together!  If you would like to learn more about dyeing with plant materials (it is on my bucket list), a good source of information is The Dyer’s Garden by Rita Buchanan.

OK, so now I’m determined to get an ear flap had out of this little bit of lovely wool.  I spun singles and plied them into a two-ply yarn.  If felt like I was over plying, but I finally got a yarn that was balanced after washing to set the twist.  The gauge swatch knit up to about 7 sts per inch using US size 2 needles.  I started out with 74 yards of darker blue, 58 yards of lighter blue and 64 yards of tan.  To keep this challenging, my search uncovered many hat patterns for two colors of yarn and gauges of 6 sts per inch.  I knew it was crucial for me to use all three colors in order to have enough yarn.

So, I adapted several patterns I like.  I started with the ear flaps from Cap for Learning Stranded Knitting by Cynthia Wasner.  Then I moved on to the star pattern from Norwegian Star Earflap Hat by Tiennie.  But, to make the hat large enough, I added one more star.  From here, I alternated between the three colors and looked to the peeries and borders shown in Mastering Color Knitting for inspiration.  I pulled out a pad of graph paper and drew my pictures for each section.

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The end result seen from the stranded side

Coopworth wool is on the coarser end of the wool fiber diameter spectrum*, which makes it extremely durable, though perhaps a bit itchy on my forehead.  For this reason, as well as to eliminate the risk of snagging the floats and to make it extra warm and wind proof, I chose to line the hat with a thin polar fleece.  I made a search online to get ideas for how to shape the polar fleece lining and discovered a marvelous resource… from right here in Wisconsin!  TECHknitting: Fully lining hats with polar fleece a blog post by TECHknitter was just exactly what I was looking for.

Even though I had added stitches, my hat was still a bit snug when I finished lining it, so I searched the house for something to slightly stretch the hat over while blocking it.

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Lined hat during blocking

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The smallest ice cream bucket in our collection was just the thing.  My new ear flap hat fits just perfectly now!

And here’s what is left.  Phew!

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*Coopworth fiber diameter = 35-39, Merino fiber diameter = 18 – 24

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Filed under Fiber Arts, Natural world

Can Knitting Improve Your Health?

I know that the answer is: OF COURSE!  But, it was fun to have my hunch reinforced through science.

Have a listen to the following 7 minute To the Best of our Knowledge segment: Can Knitting Improve Your Health?

You’ll hear about examples of therapeutic applications of knitting to control pain and improve well-being.  It can be rhythmic and calming.  The action of knitting and the end result of something you can use provides rewards to the brain.

I often find it hard to sit still in a conference or workshop and if I bring along a simple knitting project, I can work on that and pay even better attention to the proceedings than I could without the knitting project.

The knitting segment at the link above is part of a collection of stories broadcast on To the Best of our Knowledge on December 6th, 2015 called Handwork.

I’m sure there are many other activities using the hands that can provide the same benefits, but I have to say, knitting is my personal favorite!

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Filed under Fiber Arts, Health, Research