Tag Archives: Sheep wool

Slooow Wool and Slooow Bread

This is a cozy time of year around here. We’ve only had a little snow so far and I don’t usually need a jacket when I go out to quickly  get the mail or  to check on the chickens. But on cold days we get to experience that gratification that comes from going from the cold into a warm house. Making a hot beverage. It’s nice.

I have been gravitating to hibernating activities this week. Hibernation time is never fast and feels so right when it arrives.

First, I am making some sourdough starter. It is magic to mix some flour and water and within a few hours find it bubbling with yeast. What I am told is that there is wild yeast in the air that will join it. We can’t see it or smell it or taste it but it is there waiting for some flour and water to come along.

sourdough starter

Sourdough Starter Keeping Warm. It will be covered.

For a few days I will take away half of the starter that is there each day and add more flour and water. In time I will make tangy sourdough bread with it. In the meantime I can throw what is removed each day into other baked food to add flavor and texture. Yesterday I threw it willy nilly into  banana bread I was making and suffered no repercussions. One day it will be in waffles. My next sourdough adventure will be a new one. I will dry what I remove that day as a way to preserve it. There are claims it can keep up to a year or more dried and quickly be alive again. I guess that is why the early settlers used it so much.

But for now my little concoction is living quietly on top of the tv. Not so I can keep an eye on it like a helicopter parent but because the box is warm and yeast likes warm. I wasn’t about to put a heating pad under it or even keep it in the oven with the light on which is recommended if you keep your house below 68 degrees which we do. Finding something that already gives off warmth is best I think.

From a more colorful perspective I decided to dye wool with marigolds and onion skins that I have been letting dry for probably two years now.  I do both chemical and natural dyeing and decide what to do based on my inclination at the time. Natural dyeing with plants begins with soaking them for several hours in tap water so that they can give out their dye. Isn’t it pretty at this stage?

 

marigold and onion skins soaking before dyed

Marigolds and Onion Skins Soaking Before Their Hot Bath

This dye is very strong willed. Some of it comes out even in the cold soaking water. I can dye more than one set of fibers in the same warm dye bath because the dye doesn’t get used up quickly. The jar on the left is dye that came out in the cold soaking and the dye on the right is from the hot dye bath. I diluted the dye from the hot bath when I used it.

 

I simmered the botanicals for an hour, took them out, added my fiber and love the results. Some of this fiber was light gray initially before its golden bath, most fiber was in the first bath, but others in the second and third baths because the dye just kept hanging around. The blue/yellow/green one that sticks out so much was an experiment. I sprinkled a little of a chemical dye that is blue on top of the bath to get the variety.

The appeal to me is not to spin miles of yellow yarn but instead to use it with other colors for colorful spinning  batts and unique yarn. The only problem is that I have to let it dry overnight. I have trouble not touching it and pulling it apart a little to see how it will spin or how the dye permeated it. It would felt if I did that and right now I don’t want felt.

wool dyed with marigolds

Kerry Hill, Cotswold, Bluefaced Leicester, Leicester Longwool Cross and Gulf Coast wool

So, this a calm time when slow projects, that cost very little money because you use what you already have, are fun to pursue. I have really only just begun both of these activities because in time there will be bread to bake and colorful fibers to combine at my whim. In time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurray for Sheep Festivals!

The Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival was this past weekend. I wasn’t driving so I decided to engage in risky wool activity. Using combs with many sharp points in a moving car.

combing in car

combing fiber in the car

Steve expressed concern that if I liked combing in the car I might try to buy a picker at the festival and use it in the car on the way home. 🙂 But I didn’t.

picker with fiber

wool picker

Cotswold family

Cotswold mother and babies

The cutest thing I saw was a mother Cotswold sheep with her two babies.  Cotswolds are rare sheep and their fleece is long and curly. For some reason I loved the mother even more than the babies. I think it was her calm but observant demeanor and lovely curls.

I learned a lot about processing flax plants to be spun into linen at a very informative display in the fiber tent. It is quite a process to get it ready to spin but it is  durable. She had linens from the 1800s still in perfect condition. Funny how we still call sheets linens even though mine at least are cotton.

Hetchels to process flax

Hetchel to prepare flax for spinning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needless to say I found it exciting to see more sharp pointy tools.

Our friend Dorothy had her booth full of beautifully naturally dyed yarn and fleece from her Icelandic sheep.

dorothy's booth

Dorothy’s naturally dyed Icelandic skeins and fibers

Dorothy's fleeces

Dorothy’s Icelandic fleeces

She can be found at https://www.facebook.com/dorothy.benedict

We had a covert fiber meet up at the trunk of the car and later this lovely box of alpaca fibers Alpaca fiber boxto spin resulted. Even though half of them are mine I still want to buy it.

 

All in all  pretty good day. Spent time with friends, saw lots of sheep and learned new fiber information. What more could I ask?

I returned home with car combed fiber  without impaling my head or piercing my arm. They will look so pretty in batts. and I felt so efficient.  Should I keep a set of combs in the car that I can use at traffic lights? 🙂 Or use to fight off car jackers?

combed Gulf Coast

Fiber combed in car

The blue fiber is from a Leicester longwool sheep and the coral colored is from a Gulf Coast sheep named Fernando. They are both rare and both live on Iris Creek Farm in Scotland CT.

Lots of good memories made on that day.