Saturday, February 2, 2013

It's a Good Day for Spinning....

.....with a cup of something warm to drink.   After a few days of 70 degree weather, we are now in the 20s.  Yesterday it was 5 degrees in Lexington (!), and we have a couple of inches of snow.   Nothing better than hunkering down to do some spinning - and maybe knitting later. Glad I don't have outside animals when the weather is like this.

Once again I have been asked/volunteered to spin some pet hair.  As always, it is an ageing pet that may not be around much longer, and the owner wants a memento.

Who couldn't love this face?  She is soooooooo sweet and cuddly
This is Mardi (as in Mardi Gras), a St. Bernard of indeterminate age.  Miss Mardi was rescued from a puppy mill, where she was used as a breeder.  Her age was unknown at the time of rescue, but her owner has had her for a number of years.  I met Mardi when I was working at Cardinal Hill Rehab Hospital, and she was/is a therapy dog there.   Since then, her owner just happened to move into the townhouse next to mine, along with her 'brother' Great Dane.  Since he works 24-hour shifts every couple of days, I am the dog-sitter, and Mardi and I have gotten to know each other very well.

Her undercoat makes great spinning material.  I plan to spin enough to make into a scarf, but didn't get it done for Christmas, so today is a good day to get back to that commitment.

On the other end of the spectrum, three of my hens are molting.  Abigail and Grace are pretty much done, and are at that tatty, half-grown-in stage. Nigella, the self-blue Cochin, began molting earlier this week.  Both of the 'buff girls' molt gradually, but Nigella's feathers have come out in clumps.  She only has a couple of feathers sticking up where her big poufy tail was, her wings only have a couple of feathers left and there are bare patches - with sprouting feathers growing back in  - on her body. She is normally very friendly and affectionate, but when I tried to take her out of her coop to get a picture, I got firmly pecked!  She wasn't about to have her picture taken when she's half nekkid!   There are feathers everywhere.  Nigella isn't very typey as Cochins go.   Jasmine is my really fluffy girl.  When she starts molting, it will look like snow in her coop!   Messy as it is, if they are going to 'pick' this time of the year to molt, I'm glad that they are inside instead of out...they would freeze!

Maybe, if they are molting now, that means they will start laying earlier in the Spring than last year.   Then they didn't start until JUNE!  - and three of them are still plenty young enough to lay regularly.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


This felted and embroidered wool brooch is on the way to me:

The fiber artist is Aileen Clarke, and I found her on Etsy....dangerous place, Etsy.   Aileen lives in Scotland and makes a variety of things using fiber and woven felted wool from her region.  (you have of course heard of the famous Harris Tweed)   This piece has fiber (or fibre, as Aileen spells it) from Orkney incorporated into it.  She was nice enough to agree to use a brooch base I also found on Etsy  - Marco Suarez - Artbase.  Is represents a small flock of sheep on the heather moors, with hills rising in the background and blue sky above. 

Aileen couldn't have been nicer, and in the "small world" catagory. she knows Nicola Brown  fiber artist, whom we are in negotiations with, to be an instructor again at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival  in May.  Through Aileen, I have hooked up on-line with all kinds of artists  - in Scotland especially.   I would love to be able to get them over here for KSFF!  

It's hardly buying local, but I couldn't resist.  I often troll Etsy looking for inspiration - never to copy directly,  but to get ideas for new and different ways to incorporate my interests in fiber and also jewelry making.  In this case, both.   

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Garden in Winter

I ventured outside today since it was so nice (sunny and nearly 60 degrees).   We have had some bitter cold lately, so I was surprised to find so much green in the garden.   A nice bunch of chickweed was growing on one of the compost heaps, and a chard in a protected place still had some green leaves, so the chickens got some vitamin-packed treats.   The Yarrow is putting out some green shoots, (so have to divide it and re-pot   1/4 of it when Spring comes) anyone local want some red-flowering Yarrow?   Brussels sprouts are growing, but the plants are still small.  It will probably be Spring before they produce anything!  

I finally put the compost bucket outdoors so I will stop keeping those scraps.  Yes, I know compost still 'cooks' in the winter, but so slowly that I still have a lot of un-broken-down big stuff when I want the compost to spread on the garden.

The 'girls' stopped laying sometime in December.   I had kept lights on them through November so I could get a few more eggs, but they need a break.   I had them out of the coop this afternoon so they could get pedicures, and it seems Emilie ( what I ended up naming my new dog) is a little afraid of them.  After all, when they get close-up-and personal they are as big as she is, and from her perspective those faces are a little weird looking.   Much less intimidating when they are behind 'bars!'

Sorry for no photos.  I'll try to do better next time.