Friday, July 23, 2010

We Have Eggs!

Thursday's surprise...our first chicken eggs! The chickens are just 6 months old, and it looks like the buffs are going to be great daily layers. Not sure about the silkies, yet...a few eggs are smaller and have faint speckles, but all of them are brown. Hurray, Hurray! Fresh eggs every day!


This is my new (to me) rigid heddle loom. It is a LeClerc Bergere that a neighbor had. I gave it a little scrubbing, a fresh coat of varnish, and voila! A beautiful addition to my yarn yearnings!

A beginner project...cotton hand towels in plain weave.

A Room With A View....Of Yarn

Most people would call this a retreat, a master suite, even a nursery or study area. Not me. It's become MY room! The place where all my favorite fiber friends reside.

Spinning Wheel, Loom, Sewing Machine, Baskets full of Yarn, Cabinets full of Fabric - It's my own personal craft store, and a little piece of paradise!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Messenger Bag - Delivered!

Just finished this nifty Messenger Bag! It is made from a woven triangle on my 3-foot tri-loom. Just fold in the corners to the right angle corner, stitch on the diagonal and one side, and you have a pocket.

Add a fabric lining and a strap (lined with fabric for extra stability), then a button closure.

Ready to Go!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Getting a Little Warped

Learning about warp and weft, clearing the shed, and weaving loose ends.... It's all very relaxing and somehow, focusing for the self. This is a closeup of my own handspun yarn (Romney sheep wool and Bamboo silk blend) on the loom, as I attempt a looser weave. I hope to make 3 or 4 triangles, stitch them together, and have a large shawl.

A quick project - store-bought boucle yarn in fun colors for an accent piece or kid's scarf.


Between the ideas sparked at the fiber fair and my own adventures in spinning yarn, I guess it was inevitable that I would take an interest in weaving. With some scrap lumber, 250 panel nails, and a little help from David, I had a new triangular loom!

This weaving is done in a continuous strand, starting at one corner, and weaving both sides simultaneously to meet in the middle.

The finished piece is 3 feet across, and with a little fringe, ready to pop off the loom.

Wonderfully soft and warm, it's a perfect scarf, shoulder drape, or child-size shawl! Not bad for my first attempt!

Fiber Fair Souvenir

Of course, every great day deserves a souvenir. The Marshfield Fiber Fair memento for me was......

Ollie! He's a one-year-old dwarf angora bunny - a Jersey Woolie. Very sweet, and super soft, I've already harvested a small bag of fur just brushing him daily! Now, if I can just work up the nerve to shear him!

One of the highlights of the Marshfield Fiber Fair was the demonstration of sheep shearing. Sheep wranglers use electric clippers and a lot of muscle to get these girls ready for summer.

Now then, for a willing participant...

A firm grip and quick flip puts the ewe in position.

Even sheep run out of patience, so work fast!

And it's back to the pen - a newer, cooler ewe.

The complete fleece, ready to be skirted and scoured, then prepped for spinning!

Marshfield Fiber Fair 2010

The month of May is harvest time - for fiber-lovers, that is! Sheep need to be sheared before the heat of summer sets in, and a host of other creatures look to shed their winter coats. What a perfect time for an outdoor fair, like this one in Marshfield, Missouri, celebrating all things Fiber!

Vendors set up beneath the pavilions, offering bins and baskets of raw, cleaned, and prepared fibers. Sheep's wool, llama, alpaca, angora, mohair, and even silk, were among the choices. Several booths had various breeds of rabbits for sale, for those who want to try their hand at harvesting angora fur.

Many area groups, such as the Lacemaking Guild from Springfield, were on hand to give demonstrations of their art.

There were speed spinning competitions, a fashion show, workshops, animal exhibits, food, and lots of ideas on display - I even took first place in the speed crochet contest!

This man had a number of large angora rabbits - like Big Boy here.

All in all, it was a great fair. Though small, it's definitely worth the trip!

Weighing the ORPtions

Part of keeping our Chicken Journal is weighing the hens periodically to chart their growth. Here, Kendra weighs a Buff Orpington, then a White Silkie (who barely clears one pound). The girls don't seem to mind visiting indoors, as long as we keep them away from the cooking pot!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chickens Go To Kindergarten

The kindergarten class that I was substitute teaching had a tragic end to their incubated eggs. Fortunately, I just so happened to have some chicks at home for them to see! David brought in a buff and a few silkies, and all the kids loved petting them and marveling at their different features. (Chickens are NOT always yellow!)

Kendra sat with a buff and taught the little ones how to make pets out of poultry. They loved her and the hens!

The Water Garden

Our waterfall garden is finally finished! We used a pump and liner that Mom had, hauled rocks from the local creek, and topped it off with a few shrubs transplanted from the old house. The sound of the water is so soothing, and it adds a bit of mystery to know that somewhere beneath the rocks are 4 goldfish waiting to dart out and surprise you.

David fixed up some lights so we would have a nighttime feature too. It's so beautiful!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Has Officially Arrived!

I just wanted to put it on record that Spring has officially arrived. Sunny days, gentle showers, borning babies, and dated calendars don't mean a thing until the flowers come up!
Here are a few of my tulips - the first at our new home! When I planted them last fall, I wasn't sure if they would survive the hungry creatures that share the dirt, but they came up beautifully. More are ready to bloom any day, along with the jonquils, weeping cherry, flowering crabapple, and almond bushes around the house.
NOW, it's Spring!

"Deep In The Garden, Something Is Moving"

Inspired by the gorgeous Spring weather, I decided to put in a garden this year. David built some raised beds and filled them with dirt, but before we could plant a single seed, we had to evict the current tenants.

"The earth shivered and shook itself. SOMETHING was moving under there. An ancient creature working its way to the surface? A hideous monster seeking its next meal? No, it was much worse than any imagination could conjure."

Drew promptly named the mole "Bottles", placing it in his wheelbarrow and watching it bury itself again and again.

After a near miss with the strolling cat, we released our new friend in the field, where he wasted no time in disappearing, leaving us all to wonder, "Who was that blind mole?"

Kitten Update

At three weeks old, our litter of six kittens has hit their ultimate cute phase. Their eyes are open, their ears are perky, and they wobble about on uncertain legs, exploring their new world.

Kendra keeps them entertained with homemade toys. They haven't quite decided what that is all about just yet...

A few love to be held and cuddled.

Others, not so much.

Baby Boom

Well, the chicks have flown the laundry room and headed out to the coop. Our finished coop is adorable and roomy. David added some extra details and trim, and I painted the whole thing to match the house...gray with red accents. You can see the nesting box area on the left, the enclosed section is the henhouse with roosting poles (and 2 tiny windows!), and a ramp leads down to the ground for some quality scratching time during the day.
The chicks are still too small to negotiate the ramp themselves, so we help them out every morning, and tuck them in again at night.

The chicks loved the new coop right away, and it wasn't long before we had to add more feeders and waterers to accommodate their fast-growing appetites.

Ahhh, the unavoidable ugly phase. The buffs look the worst, with their scruffy feathers coming in at all angles. The silkies still manage to look cute no matter what they do!

These little darling Silkies look like they're wearing bloomers! I love it!

The kids are thrilled with all the activity, and love to go out and check on the chickens. (Just wait 'till the day they find a freshly-laid egg!) Of course, Kendra has a way with every animal...even pushy little pullets!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nelson's Nursery & Maternity Ward

March 15, 2010 brings more miracles to our spring! This morning David discovered Smokey in the basement with 4 kittens...and more on the way. One was literally frozen stiff on the cold concrete. He rushed it upstairs to the chick's heat lamp while I moved the mother and kits to the guest bathroom. A few anxious minutes later we had 6 healthy kittens - even little chilly-willy! He started moving again as soon as he got warm, and we placed him back with his mother. Whew! Talk about good timing! This was one day I was glad there wasn't any work and David was poking around outside for lumber!

The best mother cat in the world... with her babies only 3 hours old.

Already their tummies are full of milk, their fur is dry, and they have a nice healthy squeak! We have 4 yellow tabbies, and 2 black/grey/white striped ones. One even has its mother's characteristic gold spot - right on the top of its head!

All's well that ends well ... especially if it ends in lunch!

Chicks 'R Us

Work began on the chicken coop, with David building a frame.

It will have a henhouse enclosed in the coop, and be covered with wire mesh to keep out predators. Kendra helped each day, and then it was time to paint.

Here is a Buff Orpington pullet - a future egg-layer at 3 days old. They are alert and curious, very strong and stable on their feet, and the first to figure out how to eat and drink!

Only days after they hatch, the buffs have a few delicate adult feathers peeking through the down!

The Blue Silky Bantams will one day sport a topknot on their heads and feathers on their feet and legs. They will always be small, but are known for being excellent mothers and having agreeable little personalities. These little cuties are noticeably smaller than the buffs, and are quite wobbly on their feet. They often fall over if they run into a fellow hatch-mate, and get tired easily. The runt of the group drops off to sleep without notice - tipping slowly forward onto his beak and taking a little snooze!

The blue and white silkies get distressed unless they're in a group. Let's face it, everything is better when you can cuddle!

This is a White Silky Bantam - the kind my family had years ago, along with our Rhode Island Reds. They're like the French Poodles of the chicken world - all flash and fashion! Of course, their blue and green "peewee" eggs are practically useless, but with this kind of cuteness, who cares!

A little glimpse of the future! Blue skin and feathered feet!