I meant to post on Sunday, but then realized, wait, I'm not supposed to be working Sundays! Ha! I always manage to sneak a little work in. I was recently watching American Pickers, probably while knitting, and one of the old farmer collectors was asked when he was going to retire. His response was that when you love what you do, why would you retire?! Aaaah, yes!!! Agreed. Sometimes it is really hard to keep myself away from the mill, but then I remember... on a Sunday afternoon, when I tuck into the house with Mitch and we both settle in to do our hobbies, a day off is good!
But back to the topic at hand, farm chores! They are an everyday occurence and how I start every morning. The below explains why I can never seem to get anywhere before 10am.
So this is what an average morning looks like,...
We have some of our animals down the road at a local farmer's barn so my days usually start down there, after having fed the dogs that is! I run down the road to let the newest hens out for the day, collect eggs and deliver a couple scratches and maybe some treats to the ram lambs. Always doing a head count to ensure everyone is up and moving around as they should be. These hens are determined layers. We have 7 and the lowest egg count we've had since we brought them home is 4. Generally we are up to 5-6 a day. Wow!!!
Next up I head back home, grab Elsiemae and Norman and we head out back to check in on the animals around the house. First up are the chickens here. These are a mix of older hens and younger, but all have decided that they are molting and taking the winter off from laying. I fill their feeder, check waters and throw out whatever treats I may have for them, sometimes food scraps from the house, sometimes dehydrated worms. Yum. I always take a peak in their boxes to see if anyone worked yet, usually not these months.
Heading to the barn is up next. Elsiemae and Norman's favorite part! They tear into the barn to see what sort of animals have moved around in there overnight. It's a big job, but someone has to do it. Between the barn cats and the myriad of animals (a skunk for sure) that wander thru the barn in the night, they stay busy for a few minutes while I get the alpaca pellets ready. The alpaca get their pellets each morning, and they wait anxiously. They actually start waiting about an hour earlier when I let the dogs out to potty in the morning. The alpaca see this as the trigger for breakfast so head to the top pasture and wait. And of course the sheep in the next pasture head up too because well, you never know!
The sheep are next to be fed. During the winter months there isn't really much feeding to be done as they have plenty of pasture to keep them fed. But who doesn't like a treat? So a couple times a week I take them some hay or alfalfa pellets which they literally come run far and wide for. A sight to see!
And that is my morning routine. Sundays are generally a bit more work as it is the day of the week I tend to do more extensive cleaning. Chicken coops get cleaned every two weeks or so depending on the weather, the alpaca pasture gets scooped at least once per week, and then filling mineral bowls and giving extra scratches to those who will take them. Laborious work, but gratifying once its done. And realistically, all these farm chores are still less work than our dogs!!!
So if you show up to the shop one day at 10:03am and I'm just pulling up, don't be too surprised!
During the harvest season (grass seed harvesting) around here, August is the longest month. It's dry, its hot, dirt is everywhere and the long long days have been going for too long and it feels like it will never end. I can't tell you all how many times Mitch and I said to each other, "seriously, is it still August?!"
Well we made it thru August and now we keep saying to each other in disbelief, oh my gosh, how is it October, November... Time is flying by now! The reason I bring this all up is because, what the heck? I haven't blogged in several weeks. I apologize and promise I am back and much calmer and more centered. The only festival left this year is a fun craft fair at Peoria Road Farm Market this Saturday. So I feel like I can relax a little bit!
All of that said, where do I start? Vogue Knitting Seattle has come and gone. As has the 3 days we had to hole away and rest afterward. We had an eye opening experience really getting a chance to see the inside world of knitting and fashion. It was so fun to be a part of and we are so glad we went. We met some really great people who loved what Ewethful is about! We also made some good connections and most importantly, sold yarn and fiber to the world. In addition the experience helped me to realize the path I would like to go not only with the business, but with the yarn and fiber we create. I think I always had a good idea of where I wanted to go, but the week away helped me gain some clarity. The reality is I think smaller fiber festivals are more our market, at this point anyway. I feel more at home amongst the smaller festivals and I think a smaller sense of community fits what we are doing at Ewethful. So now I am faced with starting to calendar out next years events. Anyone have any suggestions of events that you love and I should look into vending at???!
While we were gone I should make mention of the yarn shop we visited while away. Now I know, I was at a yarn event for 3 days, but I'll admit I held off on buying yarn so that I could be focused for this shop trip. We went to Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, WA. If you are ever out that way it is definitely worth the stop in. There is an amazingly large selection of yarn, lots of it naturals and earthy colors. And a lot lot lot of it made in the United States or just really cool yarns that you don't see in a lot of shops. My haul was very focused. I have shifted for obvious reasons to locally grown, specific project yarn, and/or something different. I found all 3 at Tolt. I ended up with Snoqualamie Farms natural dyed yarn, Jamieson Shetland which will become a Ba'able hat, and some really amazing lopi yarn that is so different that it has me excited. What a great haul!
I'm happily back at the mill now. Picking up the pieces of being gone, and also of being so focused on making yarn for the past 2 months. I am doing some custom processing for clients which consists of a lot of Shetland right now! Works for me! I will also be gearing up to start the next batch of yarn and get some of it out to our various dyers. In general, I'm breathing, planning and making.
I've of course attached a couple of my favorite pictures from the past couple weeks, because what is a blog post without pictures?
Enjoy and I'll be back soon. Happy making until then! And if you need any Ewethful yarn, please go to our online shop!
Well a lot more lessons have been learned over the last week or so and more beautiful yarn has been created! Today I pulled the first plyed skein of BFL off the spinner. This is 100% BFL from a local breeder just a bit up the road from me. I plyed a beautiful gray with white. The picture doesn't do justice to the feel. Oh my! A limited quantity of this small batch yarn will go up on the site Friday evening.
Along the way I of course made mistakes and learned. Two big lessons that will hopefully stick with me. One, keep the machine clean. Don't get me wrong, I do a lot of cleaning, but sometimes the smallest little area with a build up of oil and dirt on the spinner can cause all sorts of problems. Second, really double check my twist and go with what my gut and hands are liking. If the machine is not responding the way you want, run thru a series of questions first about if the machine is as clean and set up as it should be (if not, that is all my fault!). Do that twice, and then if all looks good start making adjustments to twist and draft.
In addition to this new yarn, I also received a picture of the yarn being dyed by Kristin of Blue Savannah. You all get a sneak peak here. It is the same yarn as the denim blue and natural light gray. I am in love!!!
A couple quick comments about the farm. Our new ISA chickens are busting out big eggs everyday. They are small hens with a docile personality. I'm really liking them!
The other, the ram lambs are loving their new space and got there just in the knick of time as one of them has started rutting. Basically this means he is ready to make some sheep love with some pretty ewes. His behavior has changed with him being much more stand-offish to me and much more dominant with his brother. And for the first time I even saw some air-humping (sorry for that rather distasteful phrase, lol)! He makes all sorts of crazy faces and as soon as I walk up he instigates head butting with his brother. Oh boys I wasn't planning on breeding them this early so I guess they will have to just tough it out this round.
Thanks for following and fiber on!....
A lot has been going on in the mill which is why not a lot has been going on here. So now I'll catch you up...
First, merino on the spinner. I decided to make this a personal challenge and see if I could get to a 3-ply fingering weight. This is more challenging because each single yarn must be spun thinner and with the right twist, too tight the yarn will feel less luscious and too loose the yarn will break. True to form merino, a very fine wool, added its own challenge to the mix. Getting the lead from the bobbin to attach to the roving proved a challenge. As you can see by the pictures, the floor by the spinner got more full of discarded wool as the day went on. Remember I am very much learning as I go and this was no exception. So after several times of the yarn breaking once I would get the bobbin going, my handspinner brain finally clicked...aaah, you aren't putting enough twist in the yarn so it is breaking. Why it sometimes takes so long to figure this out, I'm not sure? And I certainly hope that as I progress at this my brain will go thru a checklist of possibilities. I'm sure it will as it already does a million times more than when I first started spinning. At any rate, once I figured it out we were rolling and I managed to do what I had hoped but have yet been able to do...just let the spinner run! 800 yards of 6 single strand yarns smooth as butter. I did have 2 breaks, the machine stops spinning when it senses that, no big deal on this day. I was able to reattach the yarns without a big kerfluffle. Wahoo!!! They plyed up like a dream and I am thrilled with the outcome. They are soft and beautiful with plenty of life left in them.
In addition our new yarn tags came in this week. A picture of them is posted. Love!!!
And finally today on the farm we moved the ram lambs. They are down the road at the beautiful old original homestead that our street is named after. They are next to the new chickens that also came home to the farm this week. ISA (breed) chickens that are laying very large eggs like champions. The hens here at the house are mid-molting (shedding all their feathers and taking a break from laying to regenerate) so it is nice to still be getting some eggs from the new ladies. The plus side is that fresh from the chicken eggs are good for about 6 months, so we tend to backstock for the winter as best we can. Farm fresh eggs are the best!!!
I'll be putting yarn up on the website for sale this Saturday, but for you all, it will likely be up Friday night and Saturday morning before I announce the shop update, so get it while you can!
Thanks for reading!
We've returned from my brother's wedding in Virginia. It was a wonderful time being with family and what great weather we had! And I got some good knitting time in during our travels!
Prior to leaving, I finished up another batch of romney/alpaca/silk yarn in a very light gray. I sent some of it out to be dyed by Kristin of Blue Savannah and while I was away Kathy of Despondent Dyes (she has her dye studio in the back of the mill) dyed up some of it. I've included pics. This batch gave me more of a headache on the spinner. I think it new I had a deadline! I had a fair amount of cockling which basically is when the yarn is spun into what looks like slubs. In reality that part of the yarn can be pulled out by hand and it appears as normal yarn again, but by hand doesn't quite work in this situation. The romney wool was a pretty long staple length which meant I had a bit of a learning curve. So I ended up getting lots of learning in about how much control this fiber did or didn't want on the spinner. In addition I also had yarn fly off the side of the skeinwinder, get caught up on the conewinder, wind up in the pin-drafter, etc.... It was one of those weeks and while I kept telling myself "you are learning a lot of valuable lessons," what I was feeling was like, if I had superhuman strength I would have picked up each machine and thrown it out into the street. Lol!!! Instead I would stomp my feet, take a few deep breaths and realized it was definitely time for a vacation!
Given all of the week's frustrations I was more than ready to be back at the mill! I've been prepping the next batch of yarn which is a beautiful stark white merino grown out in Eastern Oregon. It's been carded, pin-drafted and is sitting on the spinner waiting to become yarn tomorrow. I'll get some pics of it up this weekend. Fingers crossed I have less of a headache!
All on the farm is well in the meantime. The ram lambs moved into their temporary pasture as they were starting to sniff out the alpaca ladies a little too much the last couple weeks. We will likely sterilize one of the boys, but have been waiting to see which one was going to have better horns, fiber and personality for the job. I think we've decided on our darker boy, but we'll give it a couple more weeks. He definitely is starting to look less like a lamb and more like a ram as his horns come in bigger and thicker and his nose is starting to block out a bit. Hopefully they will move into their permanent pasture next week. It's a very nice space although I will have a little separation anxiety as it is down the road about half a mile. Hahaha!
My posts should become more frequent again now that I am back on a schedule and focused on vending at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle which is only 3 weeks away. Aaaahhh! If you are in the area, check out the website, there are some pretty impressive teachers and vendors alike. I hope I'm not too far out of my element. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty intimidated by this event.
Thanks for reading and fiber happy!
BFL/Shetland hand-dyed in the wool yarn is up on the website. Get it quick! Very limited quantities available.
I've been feverishly working the last couple days on up-ing my yarn game and you all get to get first dibs. I'll be putting the newest yarn up in the online shop on our website tomorrow (Friday) night. Saturday will be a day of posting all the spinning fiber stock that is leftover after OFFF. I'll announce shop updates Saturday so shop early!
I had a great day on the spinner today and had to run back into the shop this evening to see how the first batch of yarn is turning out. No patterns or programs; today's yarn weight, draft, twists per inch (tpi) and rpm speed on the spinner were all determined by me. Phew! It took about 10 yards of spinning for me to lock down what I wanted, but my first glance at is has me very happy (picture of it on the spinner below).
I also started the next batch of Romney/Alpaca/Silk. It is fresh out of the picker (the machine that opens the fiber locks and blends) and is ready to be carded up tomorrow. I have included a sneak peak of it in all its fluffy glory this evening (above).
For anyone close by, we do still have spots in our Long Draw Spinning class that is this Saturday. I was a short forward spinner prior to taking the class myself and I fell in love with this style of spinning. More loft to my yarn and I am able to spin at least twice as fast. All the details and registration are on our website.
Look forward to seeing you in the shop either online or in person!!!
I'm back! I swear I didn't forget about the blog. I got a little crazy prepping for Oregon Flock & Fiber last week and was gone all weekend at the event.
Lots of fun happened at the mill leading up to the festival, including success at the first yarn blend I dreamed up. My first 3-ply also and I am in love!!! And I'm not the only one. I took the skeins to OFFF and they were scooped up by a woman who said they were the first thing she had seen that day that she couldn't walk away from. Aaaaw! She made me so happy!
More is in the works this week, in fact October is "make yarn" month at the mill as I now start to prep for Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle. This is a big event for us in early November as we will be putting our yarn out there to the world at a big intimidating event. I'll be sure to keep you updated with pics and will put a few skeins up on the website with you all having first dibs - I'll let you know here on the blog first.
The festival was amazing! A fantastic turn out and the most perfect weather made for a truly fun event. Our booth turned out just as I had hped and we sold a lot of fiber and other goodies as well. I met some amazing people including vendors, shepherds and visitors alike. I didn't arrive back home on the farm until 8pm last night and my head was buzzing. The intention is to take the next few days off. The reality is, I have so many yarn ideas, I just want to back to work! My house does really need to be cleaned though. Hmmm...I'm sure I'll figure out something.
Thanks for following the Ewethful adventures. I'll be back soon!...
I feel like last week was a marathon of making and meeting. We have had so many visitors to the shop the last couple weeks, it has been very exciting. Last weekend we were a part of The Traveling Ewe fiber day tour. We were the last stop before their return to Portland. It was a whirlwind of activity as I gave tours of the Mill and Kathy showed a bit of her dying technique. Then there was a flurry of shopping and they were gone in a flash. So fun to have them. If you haven't heard about these tours, check out their website. So much fiber fun and totally stress free!
Last week I also had the pleasure of showing off the Mill and talking about what I do and the great community I live in with Lara Dunning. Lara has a travel blog that focuses on small towns in the PNW. Follow the link to check out her page for great ideas of places to travel on your next trip. Small Town Washington
This week I had all sorts of visitors to the store. Two were Instagram followers/friends. The first was Jessica who is from Australia and started following Ewethful on Instagram. She is in the states with her husband and children on holiday and detoured over to the Mill for a quick visit. It truly made my day to meet her and see her reaction to the shop. Next Instagram friend came in Saturday. She is wildhair_homestead on IG and her business is tanning sheep pelts. We've been following each other for several months. It was so great to meet her! Talk a little shop and find out she has family right here in Halsey. She has a very interesting life and is a fun person to follow. Check her out!
We also had lots of marketing fun this week too with Friday bringing a young couple named Danielle and Walker of BarnYard Saints Art. We are now carrying their "Skein Scarves" in the shop! These are super fun and hip hand-dyed and spun fiber jewelry. It was a two fold visit as they also came by to do a videotour of the mill with me. I'll be sure to let you all know when the video is done! A super cool couple, we had a great time talking fiber! Check them out via the link provided.
Finally Saturday brought Shannon Welsh of PNW Fibershed. She came to both the farm and mill to film a video for their "Producer Stories" series. PNW Fibershed was founded as an affiliate of Fibershed and seeks to support and develop regionally grown natural fibers. I had a great time with Shannon and she even left the shop with some of my handspun from my first boy Tweedle! I'll of course let you know when this video is out as well.
Hope your week starts out wonderful and if you are around tomorrow, Monday September 18th, we are having our monthly fiber group at the mill from 3-6pm. Grab your current crafting project and head our way for some good company and a slice of pecan apple cheescake!