Thursday, June 30, 2016

Experiment #426 Continued

Try, try, try again. . . 


Ok, so I wanted some more color on the cloak with copper and sepia dyes
It already looks like rust to me, so I thought I would give rust dyeing a try.


I laid the cloak out added found rusty objects and 
sprayed it down with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. 
I added salt in various places to hopefully speed up the process.

Next after spraying it down multiple times I realized that it was just too hot and the whole thing was drying out too fast. So I wadded everything up and crammed it into a tote. Covered it in the vinegar water solution for 2 days!!


Unfortunately, it didn't work. Part of me wonders if the cheep vinegar is already watered down. Next time I will use full strength brand name vinegar. 


 The second round of eco dyeing at least had some success.
The only thing that seemed to take well were the sapling Catawba leaves. There's a faint print from the asparagus leaves in one or two places, but nothing dark enough to show up well on camera. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Eco Dyeing / Experiment #426 Fail

I was so excited when I woke up in the early morning full of energy! That doesn't happen very often these days. I went out and got the morning feeding done early, collected all of my supplies and set about giving eco dyeing another try. First I did some research using a book called North American Dye Plants. I've bookmarked everything I remembered seeing easily accessible to me, which was quite a lot actually. 


I believe these are called Cow Parsnip. 


I found a friend! Don't worry I put him/her back in their parsnip patch.


I think this is Bindweed, which resembles morning glories when in bloom. 


And last, asparagus fronds.


I laid everything out on half the cloak, then folded the second half over. It was so pretty and I was sure it would work this time. Then I rolled everything up into a long cylinder and again into a spiral. I tied it off with a synthetic cording and boiled the package in water and alum for 3 hours turning occasionally. Then I let it cool until I could comfortably unwrap it. 


Unfortunately what I gathered this morning and the mordant I used (alum) together seemed to not produce the best results. There was almost no color transfer over the entire cloak, even after boiling for 3 hours and letting cool to the touch. I couldn't even bring myself to take a final picture. 

I did bring the cloak inside and am soaking it overnight in soda ash. Maybe it will help, maybe it wont. I'm also going to try using iron as a mordant next. 












Monday, June 13, 2016

Experiment #425, Can I easily* clean belly/nasty wool? And an update . . .

Well, we're done with lambing!! I think. . . 

We added 18 new sheep to our flock last fall, 3 of which are weathers. Which means we have a total of 25 ewes. We knew all of them wouldn't be bred because the new additions are older, some a lot older. However we've only had 4 ewes lamb so far. 3 sets of twins and a single! 7 isn't bad but I think its time to clip our ram and replace him for someone more productive.





Recently we hired someone to come out and shear the flock, mostly because at 6 months pregnant I just can't wrestle them like I did last year. partly because professionals are a lot faster then I am and a bit because the new sheep are quite a bit larger then the Finns and a bit more squirrely. They were not very happy during shearing but were much cooler and obviously more comfortable afterwards. Now I have 32 fleeces to add to the 30+ from last year! I'm going to process some into yarn, some into roving and some into locks. 



Now, onto the experiment!
The one more experienced shearer went ahead and skirted all of the belly and dirty wool. After 32 sheep that's quite a bit of "throw away" wool, it filled 2 - 30 gallon lawn bags. I got to thinking maybe if I could clean it up, I could process it to use as core roving in my needle felting projects. But I also don't want to do a ton of washing, rinsing and carrying of heavy wet wool. I get tired easily these days and its just going to get worse. So this is where the experimenting and the weather come into play. Yes, the weather. I'm going to let the rain wash the majority of the yuck from the wool. 






Ignore my fat finger. As you can see its filthy. It was thrown on the barn floor, walked all over and only picked up as an after thought. Its a mix of Finn, Lincoln and one red Tunnis, in all different colors. The first 2 pictures are of the wool laid out on a make shift skirting table, after its been in a light shower. Unfortunately with as dirty as it is, its going to take a serious rain, or 3, to clean it up enough I'll be willing to send it through my picker. Fortunately for me its supposed to thunderstorm on Wed. So I will have to update you later this week. For now here are some more pictures to tide you over. 


Just a different way to lay out more wool for washing. These baskets have a woven bottom so the dirty water can drain through. I'll set them up on some blocks for better drainage. 


Little lamb getting their head scratched. 

Its very tiring, just being born. 





Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lots of Updates

My goodness, there have been so many changes and happenings, its hard to know where to begin.
There are a lot of areas I wish I was doing a lot better, parenting for example. I suppose I'll just jump right in.



Gardening:
I know its a little early but it always makes me feel hopeful when I plan our garden. The goal is to save some money and eat better as a family. We now have 8 square foot boxes and 2 patches where I try and grow potatoes. So far 1-2 dinners worth of sugar snap peas, beets and potatoes grow in spite of me. This year i'd like to grow a bit more then that. Its also a good plan to rake up any leftover hay and crud from the sheep pens and use it as fertilizer around the fruit trees. It helps the grass come back in the sheep pen and helps the trees. 

Parenting:
Here is where I feel like i'm failing the most. I yell way too much. I get wrapped up in my own stuff and need to pay more attention to my 2 wonderful children. My goals are to start and keep up with family fun/game night. To read a lot more books to/with my kids. Spend a half hour of quality one on one time with them every day. And finally, not yell so much.



Professionally:
I'm starting finally get some where as a professional artist. My Etsy shop, www.BittyKittiesPlace.etsy.com, has been picking up in views and a few sales. I've been trying to increase my exposure through events and using sites like Tumbler and Facebook. I'm going to be selling at several craft/art shows locally. I have 2 major ones lined up so far and a few small ones. I'm hoping to add a couple more larger ones towards the end of the year. I'm also going to try adding a countdown for each one, here on the blog. I've started teaching felting at a local craft store on Wed. nights, both needle and wet felting. Though i'm waiting for warmer weather for the wet felting. 



Critters: 
We've had a rough couple of years. We're down to 3 full time ewes, 1 ram and 2 weathers. That being said last years lambs are still here, so we have a total of 15 sheep at the moment. Lambing season will be interesting to say the least. We have 4 horses, 4 dogs and numerous cats. Want a cat? Yes, i'm being serious. There are also several major projects that need to be addressed this year. Adequate access to water for winter. Several of our tank heaters are not working. The pasture the sheep are on needs a rest. We're hoping to move the sheep to another area this spring.  The door fell off the hose cabinet and consequently does not keep the hose from freezing. There are at least 2 gates that need to be fixed/replaced. The chicken and turkey pens need cleaned out and fixed up, as well as the outside dog pen. We're planning on raising meat chickens and a few turkeys this spring. The barn in general needs a good thorough cleaning. The more we get done this spring/summer the easier it will be next winter. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Yes I smell of elderberries, no my mother is not a hamster. . .


On a whim yesterday morning I decided to check the elderberries. We have a small patch behind the barn and it was loaded!!! 

I spent next half an hour - 45 minutes picking / climbing in and out of those bushes . . . 

And the amount that I got from that little patch was AMAZING!!!

A whole 5gal bucket plus a smaller 6qrt bucket!!!!



When I finally got the berries off the fronds, and got them washed and clean, I had 3 quarts of berries! Add them to the peaches we have ripening on the trees and I've got at least 2 batches of jam to make! I'll be checking the patch again today for more ^.^

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fall crops




So, I found some seeds from 2 years ago, when i was crazy into gardening. I have no idea if they're still viable but I'm going to plant them anyway. I had already bought some beets, carrots and sugar snap peas, they're mostly planted, though I still have some carrots and peas left to plant. I'm going to plant them in containers on the front porch this weekend. I'll also be putting in a rain water collector and planting some other fall veggies that I will pick up at my local greenhouse. 


The peas and carrots I planted at the beginning of the week are starting to sprout YA!


I have them planted among the tomatoes. There are still a bunch left to poke their heads up and I will have to thin them when they get bigger but I'm hoping for a bumper crop :) 


My mint and lemon balm on the other hand are trying to take over the world! I've already harvested pounds of each. Pictured above is my pineapple mint and below is the lemon balm.



That's all for now tootles!