the Intrepid Fiberwizard

adventures in spinning, knitting, gardening and life

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Neither snow, nor rain, nor sleet...

Our postmaster gets big props today. She drove through snow and an inch of ice packed solid on our back country roads in order to deliver my Yarn Aboard box ! Yipppeeee..

Ferdinand Magellan has landed - and has now become ice bound. He will be delayed a few days from continuing his 'round the world' expedition, while we pick the ice off his rudder - and then hopefully be on his way to his next stop. It's been 20 degrees outside here lately - with a wind chill factor that makes it below zero.... (very unusual for this area) and they are predicting yet another huge winter storm tonight..... so this wizard is home spinning :-)
The kitties are enjoying their very first glimpse of snow - and are begging to go out and play (the answer's no)

So here's my goodies.
despite the box having seen better days, everything inside arrived in tact!

Jackie sent such a lovely assortment of goodies - and she gave incredible attention to detail. It began with a lovely note card and part of a book that she copied for me called Burd that was written by Stewart Mclean. Apparently, there is a reference in the book to "Cosmic Mother Fu...." that is quite hilarious, since our business is often referred to as CMF - Jackie has translated that now to "Cosmic Mother Fibre".. cute eh?! Even her note to me was a work of art - notice the hand sewn top and the perfect paper crane at the bottom. just lovely.

There was, of course, chocolate (yay) from Canada - Denman Island chocolate. That will be promptly eaten, now that it has been photographed (*grin*)

And just look at these hand made ornaments -the ball is handmade by Jackie - it is called temari. She made it with some left over yarns from silk scarves that she wove. I wonder how she knew that my husband and I love stars! (particularly the 8 pointed ones for me) It is almost too incredible to even photograph. And the origami ornaments are also so dear; a horse and a crane. Truly they will be good luck on our tree.
She also included a "lobster pen" - it's one of those eewwie-goowie rubbery things.. made me laugh. She said "what's a box from the maritimes without a lobster" tee hee.

Okay - now for the fiber.............. tah dah!

Luscious pink and fuschia alpaca roving (8 whole ounces!). I can't wait until my bobbins are empty so that I may spin that into a yarn for a scarf, or maybe even a shawl if I can make it thin enough. I haven't spun much alpaca, so I am totally in awe of this gift.. can't wait. Isn't the color vivid and wonderful?! It is totally me.
Beside the alpaca in the photo is a bag smashed full of silk rags. I have played with these a tiny bit before - flicking them into a dark yarn as I spin. Now I have a whole humongo bunch that I can mess with. wow. they are really fun guys.

And last - but by far NOT least, there is ..... (drum roll please) Quiviet ! whoa - this stuff is amazing! (and also is one of the very few fibers that we do not (yet) sell. Jackie must have read through every page on our website to find this out (and that's alot of reading!) Not only is it soft, delightful and begging to be spun, but Jackie took the time and care to pick through the entire bundle, removing all the guard hairs - This fiber was scraped from the hide of a musk ox. I think that I shall just sit and gaze at it for a long time before it is spun. My mind is already filled with glorious images of a lacey scarf (once I get brave enough to spin this stuff)

thank you, Jackie. Your attention to detail, the care in fiber selection and your handmade goodies have made my heart sing. Please hop on over to her blog and give her a big round of applause for this wonderful gift to me!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

...the goose is getting fat...

As we fast approach my most favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, I am also quite mindful that Christmas is coming just as fast. You'll find me humming christmas songs as I prepare this week.
Did you ever wonder why there are no "songs" we really sing for thanksgiving ? It seems to me that there should be. I just plain love this particular day. .. yeah, before you all write and chastise me, I know there's 'we gather together'.. but that song always feels more like church to me, and not so much thanksgiving... but I digress. Perhaps the thing I love most about this day is that nothing is expected of anyone, except to show up, eat and enjoy each other, while giving thanks for all our many blessings. That's just about perfect in my book.

I have been cleaning like the energizer bunny, and the house is ready for company. I even washed the windows. It looks glorious, and I am well pleased. Now all that needs to be done is to enjoy my family - that is truly the best part of this holiday.

Between dyeing new batches of fiber, and sending out packages (that's K's job) I've been doing a bit of knitting - hurrah!
Here's some completed Christmas gifts :-) and definately no hints as to who they are for! You never know who might peek into blogland!

First up, Socks:
Twist and Shout -
this is a pattern written by Heartstrings. It has hearts all around the ankle and top of the foot, and it definately fits this recipient (whom I dearly love) I'd model them to show you the hearts, but they're already washed and ready to go. You'll just have to imagine.

Ain't No Mountain High Enough -
these are in progress. I've begun the heel on one sock, and am about 1/2 inch from the top of the heel on the second. Please forgive the color being "off" in this photo - they are much lighter than they appear here. for accurate color, look here.
The pattern I am using for these is the Madder Rib, from Nancy Bush.
soft and yummy.

Fingerless Gloves-
I knit this up with Debbie Bliss, cashmerino. absolutely divine. The pattern is from Karen Alfke, I got it in a class that I took last year (where I knit my very first cables.. don't faint Carole, they are easier than they look :-) I just wish that I could figure out a better place to hold my cable needle than in my mouth (tee hee)
and yes, there is already a pair of these!
I made them a bit longer than normal, since the recipient has elegant long fingers (longer than mine *grin*) and I think that she'll enjoy them.
I have to hide them from my cats until they are wrapped. The cats seem to love all things goat - they continue to steal them, and prance all around the house with the glove in their mouth, like they have stalked some kind of prey. very silly.

And finally, I just began these fingerless gloves:
I am using some silk-merino by Louisa Harding to knit these. Can everyone say oooooooh-aaaaahh... yes, they feel like heaven. I will edge them around the cuff and the top with the multicolor green mohair-silk just to add a tiny touch of 'bling'. The recipient of these is certainly special enough to me to merit this divine yarn.
I am knitting with another cable design - which I am totally enjoying - this is one that I modified from a sweater pattern in the Viking Knits book that is also pictured.
The gloves are so satisfying to knit. They only take a couple of days, and there is no worry about whether or not I know what size someone's foot is. this is good.

How are all of you doing on your knitting for the holidays? I still have a bunch to do, and I'd better get it in gear, since almost all of my gifts have to fly their way to remote locations :-)

Happy thanksgiving to all of you - may you be blessed throughout the holiday season.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Oh my my

This blog is being brought to you via generator power... and it looks like it'll be that way for a few days at least.

It's been an exciting day here at Crown Mountain Farms in more ways than one.
We're experiencing gale force winds (and have been since about 7:00 am.) What I mean is winds that are peaking out above 60 mph. now that's windy!
The power has been out all day - and was also out all day on Monday. Trees and power lines are toppled - trees have crashed into our fence line (luckily it was a fence in the middle of the pastures and no animals have escaped) The rain is pelting the windows with a force that feels like the hurricane photos look. Several 10 foot high photinia shrubs have been broken off at their roots from my garden. It is a mess. The 30 foot cedars bend over almost in half it seems with each gust of wind that flies by, and our house on the hill is doin' the "Shake, Rattle and Roll".
This isn't supposed to happen in the Pacific Northwest.
They say it will continue through today, then we get a break and it begins again on sunday.
wow again.
All the power in our small city is out, every single business, gas stations, grocery stores, post offices, etc. is closed. It's like a ghost town in there according to reports. I wasn't able to go in to work today because live power lines lay across the major intersections en route.
Truly amazing.

In the middle of the storm this morning, we put our Sock Hop Yarn up for sale again. (great planning eh? :-) Now that was a hurricane in and of itself - yet it was the good kind ! Our spinners had been working like crazy for the past three months, and we sent out the emails to our wish list folks. We were ready.
At 5:50 a.m. the telephone began to ring... and hardly stopped, at 6:00 am, the website went live and it was off to the races. We could only sit and watch hundreds of emails flooding in with orders. Giggling and hooting with joy, we cheered each one.Smack dab in the middle of the flurry of sales, we lost power... whoa nellie! My husband raced out, hauled the generator out of the shed, and gave a mighty yank or two to kick it into gear. back in business.
We have about 1/3 of our lights working in the house, and are able to cook on the gas stovetop. It looks like we'll be "roughing it" for a few days. Hopefully the post office will be reopened tomorrow.

hank you to everyone for making this another rousing, successful day ! We had to turn off the sales on line at 8:15 am, because we were once again sold out. Hard to believe, yet true.

I am completely grateful for everyone's enthusiastic response to our handspun sock yarn. You have brought joy to a huge number of handspinners.

If you missed out on this round of sales, and would like to be added to the early notification email list, hop on over to our website and go to the Sock Hop Yarn page (see the link above) . You'll be placed on a wish list, and we'll be contacting you soon.
thank you to everyone for your patience, your support and encouragement.

It's been a wild ride today - hold onto your hat, 'cause it ain't over yet!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sit and Spin a bit with me

Over the past 5 1/2 years that I have been spinning, I've been blessed with many friends who have taught me some of the "tricks of the trade". One of my favorite aspects to this creative art is how freely spinners share their knowledge. While I am by no means an expert, I'd love to share with you something I have learned. Will you spin a bit with me?
Our Sock Hop spinning has greatly enhanced my skills. (perhaps it's the gazillion pounds I've spun?) and Cheryl - of New Hue Handspun has taught me alot. (Cheryl has been our highest volume spinner of Sock Hop Yarn since we began last spring - alas, she has no blog..) While there is no "perfect" way to spin, there are indeed a few wonderful techniques that have made my life easier.
Many of you have written and asked me questions about how tight to ply, and how to add on to plyed yarn - so here's a small pictoral view of what I've been talking about:

When we spin for the Sock Hop, we add a bit of "overtwist" when plying - instead of having a completely 'balanced' yarn while you are plying, you'll want to have it twist a bit more snuggly on itself. The result, after you have washed your yarn will be a springy, snug sock yarn. How much overtwist, you ask? well - here's what I'm doing... this is what it looks like if I relax the tension on my newly plyed yarn:

I've been a tad bit fussy about certain aspects of the Sock Hop (*grin*) - One of my requirements is that the skeins have no knots in them. (it's a pet peeve of mine - to buy commercial yarn that has knots - ). Anyway, here we are, spinning along.. a pound at a time, wanting six skeins/pound with no knots.

I don't know about any of the rest of you, but my bobbins do not hold a pound of plyed yarn :-) So what do we do about adding on new singles to the plyed yarn remnants that are left on the bobbin? The following is the cool technique that Cheryl taught me.

Step One: Pull about 6 inches of plyed yarn back out through your orafice -
Untwist the yarn into two singles once again... about 4 inches worth.
Break one of the singles off so that it is about 3-4" shorter than the other end. Hang onto your two seperate ends, for they will want to twist back together..

Step Two:
Split the short end that you've just broken -
opening it up into two pieces, so it looks like this:

Step three:
Pick up the end from one of your full bobbins of singles that you want to attach, and lay it between these two split ends (from step two) Gently wrap the two split ends around the new single, and roll a tiny bit with your fingers (all the while holding onto it a bit firmly. (yes, it feels as though one needs six hands at this very moment! - I've been known to use my knees to hold one end of the loose singles.. but feel free to use your mouth, toes, husband's hands.. whatever) You'll get the hang of this - trust me.. it gets easier with practice.

Step four:
Next, you want to advance your wheel a few turns, allowing the twist to move down over the previously wrapped section of the yarn... all the while, holding tightly onto the second single end that you are going to be working with next... don't let go of this second end, or you'll have to start all over again.

Step five:
Split the second part of the yarn from your wheel, exactly like you did with the first half. Lay the end from your other full bobbin of singles between the split, and again roll a bit with your fingers so they stay together. (a little mositure helps now and then)

Step six - the finale !
Advance your wheel a little bit more, and you have now completed the invisible join onto the plyed yarn that was left on your wheel , and you're ready to continue plying along :-) No knots!!!!
At this point - I usually take a large exhaling breath, get up from the wheel, stretch my legs and grin like a cheshire cat for a few mintues. I love it when it works.
If you end up with a tangled mess, (as I still do at times - despite the hours of practice) - you can always go back to step one and try again. Isn't it great?
Let's all take a moment to send out a cheer to Cheryl.

And on the local scene, it stopped raining enough this morning for me to catch a snapshot of a few of our critters. We've added two young girls cashgora goats to our flock. (I think that my shepherd was missing his enormous flock of goats) These two lovelies came from our flock a couple of years ago, and the new owners have graciously allowed us to "borrow" them. We're noticing that our billy goats have been a bit randy as of late, and we're hoping for some babies in the spring!

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Almost Sock Hop Yarn

It has been a grand adventure to create the hand spun Sock Hop Yarn. Over the past 5 months we have been working to add more spinners - and have been successful with quite a few (yay!) Five new spinners have joined our team, and our feet and fingers are racing along to create yarn for you. Each pound of yarn takes the average handspinner (me) about 14 hours to spin the singles - and then another few hours to ply it/wash it/ and dry it. Every pound has about 1300 yards total. It's alot of mileage that is running through our wheels. :-)

While in process, some yarn has been handspun that doesn't quite fit the specifications for our Sock Hop Yarn...... and thus I present to you at a reduced price of $13/skein....
Almost Sock Hop Yarn

Here are some photos of what is for sale - We won't be selling this through our website, since it is non-repeatable - and so I offer it here. Please email me at the address you'll find at the bottom of this post. When it's gone, it's gone. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do...Beautiful hand dyed, hand spun yarn.
Each skein is approximately 200 yards - and they are $13 / skein + shipping

Number One: a lovely reddish brown yarn. It is perfectly spun - but was washed in hot water, and thus the colors bled into something that isn't quite the usual colorway. Total of 5 skeins available.
5 skeins sold

Number two: a version of Pink Cadillac. It is plyed a bit looser than we'd normally hope for. There are a total of six skeins for sale.
6 Sold

Sold Out

Number three: a version of Say a Little Prayer - again this is a very soft ply - and a tad bit thicker than normal for sock yarn. It would make a fabulous shawl. please note that some of the skeins have a knot in them where the yarn was joined. Seven skeins available
7 sold

Number four: a version of Wild Thing - this also is a softer yarn, plyed loosely and a bit thicker than sock yarn. Like the yarn above, some skeins have a knot in them. Six skeins available

6 sold

Number five: A version of Twist and Shout. This yarn is a bit too thick - it knits up on a size 2 needle (instead of our normal size 1) . We have three skeins available - a pair of knee socks anyone?
All sold out

So there you have it - Please email me at : teyani AT crownmountainfarms DOT com and I will let you know how to purchase these. (The softer yarns are very suitable for a shawl perhaps?) I'm delighted to be able to offer this sweet handspun to you at a discount. As we continue to have 'spinners-in-training', we might be able to offer more yarn like this in the future - but for now this is the full "stash".

Saturday, November 4, 2006


I've been back from my jaunt to Florida for a week and a half - and it seems like only yesterday. A good friend called me the other day, and asked what I had been doing...... I actually had to pause and think - nothing really came to mind that was big enough to share.. life is ordinary.
So I began to truly contemplate what 'ordinary' is....... here is an average day for the fiberwizard here in the rainy Autumn of the Pacific Northwest.

6 am: awake, make coffee, feed kitties (and of course play a bit)
answer some emails, read a few blogs

7am: wash the dye pots, refill them with a new batch of fiber

8am: skein off yesterdays dyed fiber, label the fiber from the day before

9am: shower, get ready for work and head out

10am office time: prepare billing for insurance companies, see clients, answer a gazillion phone calls, and hopefully spin and knit a bit between the clients. I also chat with the landlord and neighbors about felling the dead tree that is threatening to land on my garage, return calls from a local doctor's office about potential clients, water office plants, dust and vaccum the office..

7 pm: stop at the grocery store for odds and ends that we need, cook and eat dinner (fortunately K does the cooking during the week - hurray-)

9pm til bed: spin a bit more, talk on the phone with spinners-in-training for Sock Hop, play with the kitties, and read a bit before falling sound asleep.

Somewhere in those average days, I also talk with my daughters, parents and friends; K and I discuss new products, restocking of hand dyed fiber, and make the plans for what we need to order up and prepare (dyes, fiber, trips to the processing mill, post office trips, etc etc)

Every now and then there are a few 'glitches' thrown in - perhaps it is the fairies just keeping me on my toes:
* Yesterday on the way to work, I drove down our hill and spyed a sheep stuck halfway out of a fence. Her head and one leg were sticking thru - as she danced back and forth. The cell phones don't work out where we live, so back up the hill I drove - rounded up K to come down and rescue her. By the time we got back down (in the rain) she had freed herself :-) Back off to work I went.

* earlier in the week, I left the office around 7pm, and began driving home.. a flat tire. sigh. I did pretty well in the changing of it -jacked the car up, freed the never-before-used-spare tire from under the car, and began... well,sort of, all except for the fact that the lug nuts were on too tight for me to loosen, (despite jumping on the arm of the tire iron). makes a funny picture in your mind doesn't it?.. me all dressed up in skirt and heels, jumping on a tire iron.. a few choice words were spoken. I ended up calling K and he came to help. thank you!

* three of my clients yesterday called to cancel or reschedule.. sick kids, work conflicts etc. I didn't mind at all, since I have lots of Sock Hop Yarn to spin, and it meant more time with my Rick Reeves wheel at work :-) I happily began my spinning and plying with the three hours I now had free - oooppppsss, the drive band on the wheel broke.. sigh... it broke once, twice, three times, four times, and finally FIVE times. I ran out of cotton drive bands, and then resigned myself to no spinning today...I sighed again, and picked up my knitting with a smile. It seems that what I had time for was holiday knitting instead!

So when my friend asked... "whatcha' been doin'?" I answered........ "Oh, not much - a bit of this and that."
The days roll by, the leaves are still sitting in the lawn at the office. It has been raining here this week. I love it when it rains - because it means more time for me to sit and spin / knit without the tug at my heart from the garden work that needs to be done before winter.

Today the wind is strong. The weather forecasters are predicting a power outage. I put the dye pots in early, and hope that the power stays on for a couple of hours so they can finish cooking.
this is ordinary time.
Ordinary is good.