Sunday, January 18, 2009

In need of mittens

Last post, I told you how to make yarn from your Fuzzy Lop wool. Well this post should provide patterns for making mittens, hats, scarfs, and more to keep warm. Much of the country is unbelievable cold and snowy. Muriel K says a tree is down in her front yard and its COLD (she lives in Oregon where bad weather is generally held off by the Pacific Ocean.) Sherry C sends the photos in this post from Michigan. At least we expect winter weather in January in Michigan.

Below is a lovely coconut cake on a platter. No? Maybe you are right. That must be something else. Read on to see what Sherry has to say:

"The coconut cake on a stand is actually my taller birdbath about 15-18" standing on the ground. And the windchill is so low it could freeze a dog to a hydrant...-26 windchill yesterday! Needless to say the pet goose in in the garage and is so used to the trip through the kitchen she will walk it by escape cat dove out the open door today to chase a sparrow and when he hit the snow he literally flew back inside. Well, I should go down to the mailbox, but I'm having trouble motivating myself...those of you who have been here understand...those who have not my trip to the mailbox is a long walk! Keep warm and pray for us in MI to get some warmer air!"

All of us who live in the heat wave part of the country (its 70 deg in California today) are thinking of those of you who are in the new ice age. Stay inside (except when you have to feed and water animals), snuggle under the blankets and think warm thoughts.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Its Good to be Green

Are you thinking more about recycling and reusing then ever before? With concerns about the economy and the environment, we see how important it is to live "green". So how about our rabbit hobby; can we be more efficient and recycle there too? One obvious way is to compost the rabbit manure. It is a great natural fertilizer and can be used "straight" on plants. But what can we do with all that wool? Can it find a new purpose other than lining bird nests?

Without making a significant effort, I have collected about 2-3 lb of mixed colors of wool from my Fuzzies in the past 6 months. So yesterday, I decided to make yarn. Below is my spinning wheel set up all ready to go. My fiber is on the floor in a bag and I have a trash bag on the chair for little bits of hay and other undesirables found in the fiber while spinning. The wheel is a Schacht Matchless double drive. I also have an electric Babe spinning wheel and a small portable wheel (Louet Victoria), but I like this one for most work at home. Its fast, quiet and comfortable to use. Cat draped over the back of the chair is optional.
Here is part of my Fuzzy Lop fiber stash. I keep a basket or trash bag in the barn and add clean wool to it as I groom. I don't separate colors because I really wouldn't have enough of each, so this is a mix of white, tort, black, and sable point.

Fuzzy Lop wool has more guard hairs than angora wool, especially English Angora which is very soft. I started spinning wool directly from the basket, but it seemed that the guard hairs were very prominent and I had more knots than I liked. My goal was to spin a rustic yarn, with thick and thin spots (good thing that was my goal because I'm not great at spinning and can't spin smooth yarn anyway!). So I used hand carders to break apart some of the mats and mix in the guard hairs. Below is a spindle of "singles", the first step of producing a two ply yarn.

Aren't the colors pretty? In the middle, you see some black and at the ends there is tort mixed with white and sable point. Once I had two spindles full of singles, I plied them, which means I put them back through the spinning wheel to twist the two plies togehter. Below is the finished yarn, soaking in cold water with a gentle soap.

To finish the yarn, I squeezed out the water, whacked it on the counter top a few times to set the twist, and let it dry.

And here is the finished product! Its about 2.75 oz and 100 yd of yarn ready to be knit into a nice warm hat or pair of mittens. This is much better than just putting the wool in the land fill!