Archive | June, 2015

Why I Haven’t Been Posting

30 Jun

1) I caught a summer cold and have shut down for R&R.

2) Gianna had another softball tournament. She pitched well (2 games – 8 Ks per game, 2 BBs, 1-2 hits). We won both those games. In the games she didn’t pitch, we lost but she hit a second overโ€“the-fence homerun.

3) I’ve slowed down on my spinning and it appears that I won’t get the entire fleece done by the end of June. I’m close though.

I have eight skeins there and I think I have two more to spin and ply.



26 Jun

This rain has got to end! We continue to do things inside but it sure would be nice to swim in our pool, landscape, do ANYTHING outside before having to go back to school!

I made a dryer ball without yarn – just leftover scraps of the wool I’m spinning.

It got all hairy the first time I used it. I don’t like that.  I’m going to wrap it in more yarn and refelt it.

Gianna and I made a newspaper basket yesterday.


She made the flattened tubes of  newspaper throughout the day and then after pitching lessons, we sat down and made this basket. It has one coat of a glue / water mixture on it to stiffen it up. What will we use it for? I don’t know. Why did we do it? I don’t know that either. Probably because we can. We wanted to figure out the process. Hobby Lobby sells baskets like this and we figured we could easily make them ourselves. It’s actually pretty sturdy with that glue mixture added. Another coat and it will be nice.

More Jam

24 Jun

Gianna wanted to make canned jam instead of freezer jam. Why? Because of the cute jars that we had for jellies. Canning is kind of a pain as opposed to freezing, but I like that she is wanted to do it.  So I went to Aldi’s to get some good fruit. The strawberry picking season is over here in mid-Illinois and blueberry season isn’t beginning yet. Aldi’s has great fruit and good prices. I bought a variety and we decided on a mix of strawberries and blueberries. 

Neatness is not Gianna’s strong suit. 

It took two hours from start to finish. We used a lot of dishes. We got 7 containers (5 small, 2 medium) of jam.

Those labels were at Dollar General. They are water soluble so they wash off when you wash the jars.

Even though freezer jam is SOOOOO much easier, it was good to make canned jam to see the difference in taste and amount of work. My parents usually find some peaches for a good price by the bushel, so that will be our next canning project.  

Dryer Balls

23 Jun

When I spin raw fleece, I have some waste. Either it’s fiber that was cut a second time by the shearer (called second cuts – they are very short) or it’s fiber that has a lot of VM (vegetable matter) and I can’t shake it out, or it’s just mistakes that I break off in inch segments or so.  All the spinners and growers talk about making dryer balls out of this fiber so last night I thought I’d try it. I watched a few videos and it’s super easy. I decided to just bunch the raw, washed fiber together and then hold it in shape by using some yarn that I purchased years ago from a farm but don’t like to knit with. Then repeated with more fiber and more yarn. It worked out very well.

The dark bits that you can see poking through is the Wensleydale fiber I’m working with now. The yarn is shown in the picture. I have a lot of that yarn! 

So what do you do with dryer balls? They replace the fabric softener sheets in your dryer. Some people don’t like the chemicals in those sheets so this is a natural alternative to absorbing the static. Also, like the plastic dryer balls you can buy, they roll around in your dryer and fluff up your clothes making drying time quicker (inserting air) and helping to cut down on wrinkles. I read that most people use 3-4 in their dryer at one time.  They don’t fall apart because they are felted. You can add lavender or other essential oils. I did not. 

So apparently I’m making dryer balls now from my scraps. ๐Ÿ˜Š


22 Jun

I saw an alpaca named Benny get sheared today. 

He’s a new addition to the local alpaca farm. I brought home LOTS of his fiber!


That’s about 3 pounds of fiber! I soaked 4 ounces and it was not very dirty at all!  Just a bit dusty.  A beautiful color, don’t you think? I can’t start to spin it until my current FOREVER project is done. I’m ready to ply another 4 ounces tomorrow morning. But I still have about 12 ounces to comb and spin.

This past weekend Gianna was in another softball tournament. This tournament drew a lot of teams from the suburbs. We went 2-2. We played well on Saturday and made a lot of errors on Sunday. Gianna played really well. She pitched two games very well, and one game not so well.  She hit 3 doubles and one OUT-OF-THE-PARK homerun!  That was really exciting. Her goal this year was to hit a ball over the fence and she accomplished it.  ๐Ÿ˜Š

Back to spinning the wool so I can get started on the new alpaca fleece!


18 Jun

Softball, taxi-driving the kids, and spinning are all that’s been happening here.

We were able to get in one softball game last night. It’s been raining so much that it’s been tough to practice or play! It was a very exciting game too! We only had 9 girls so no one could get hurt. Gianna was the only pitcher so she had to make it through all the innings! We played 7 innings and won 7-6. Gianna had 14 strikeouts but 7 walks. She needs to still get those walks down but she pitched a fabulous game. She also had two doubles and 4 RBIs. So it was a good game for her.  The girls on this team are a fun bunch. For the most part, they WANT to play. There is never an attitude problem. They get along great with each other. What they lack in skill, they make up for in scrappiness and effort. I really enjoy the games and I think they do too.  Dan and I have had to step up and coach more than usual because our regular coaches can’t make it a lot. Yesterday we even recruited my oldest son, Cory, to help. We believe in positive coaching. One play, one hit, doesn’t win or lose the game. Shake off the mistakes. No one yells at the girls for making a mistake. It’s going to happen. You play your best in the moment. I think that’s the only way to coach girls. They will shut down on you if you berate them for mistakes. They know when they’ve screwed up and they get down on themselves. You don’t need to add to that. Cory has a phrase that goes something like, ” Play to succeed. Don’t play to not screw up.” I like that attitude.

Fiber report:

Same thing! Still working my way through that Wensleydale cross fleece.  I have over 20 ounces and about 875 yards spun and plyed now. I only have one batch of fiber to wash. I still have a lot to card and spin though. Because of all the rain, it is taking forever to dry!  That bobbin there represents 4.1 ounces. I’m trying to get each skein as close to 4 ounces as possible. I took this picture so I’ll know what 4 ounces looks like and won’t stop short. 

Bad Luck

14 Jun

You know the saying that goes, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all?” That’s me this week.

After having to have that tooth extracted on Tuesday, and getting so sick from the pain meds, I had more misfortune yesterday! I started getting severe abdominal pains followed by severe vomiting.  Thinking it might be my appendix, I went to the emergency room after being sick all morning.  It was not appendicitis, but kidney stones.  I had to stay overnight and had surgery this morning to remove them (or it – I think there was only one. It was 5mm in size and the doctors didn’t think I would pass it because it was so big).  But I’m home now and on another cocktail of drugs for the coming week.  I feel wonderful now though! That pain was like labor pains!

I’m really putting my insurance to the test this week.  

Fiber-wise….  There’s always a fiber part of the post….  I couldn’t knit while nauseous but Gianna brought my travel sock project to the hospital anyway. They are coming along nicely.

It was laid out and two nurses were very curious and asked all kinds of questions about them. When I told them I spun and dyed the yarn, they wer really amazed.  And not that here’s-a-wacko kind of amazed but a hey-that’s-cool kind of amazed.  I told them that a local business may soon became spinning wheel dealers and they seemed interested.  One of the women said she owns Nigerian Pygmy Goats. She asked if their fleece can be harvested and spun.  So in my drug induced state, I went on Wikipedia and then Ravelry and the answer is YES.  It’s actually a very desirable fleece and may be close to mohair or cashmere depending on the age of the goat and other factors. ๐Ÿ˜Š Turning lemons into lemonade!  My question is: How do you harvest the hair? Combing like an angora bunny? Or actually cutting like a sheep? I went back on Ravelry and asked. I haven’t checked back yet to see if anyone answered me yet. 

So I’m taking it easy and plan on doing a lot of spinning this week.  We are predicted to have more rain. I just need to taxi-drive the kids to their events and get some work for the college done at home. And spin…. And knit…