Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pots everywhere..

Thank you to the crazy sheep lady for the invite to set up at your "Wool Open House" next week! I'm looking forward to the day, meeting your characters, and your friends. Also, I can't wait to see the wool house! (we are all going to want one!!)

In preparation for setting up next week, I have been throwing pots and pulling handles like crazy :) (well, like crazy considering Jack had the flu this past week and my belly is getting really big!)

I would suspect this will be the last batch of throwing and firing that we'll have here for a while - our baby is due in November. Meanwhile, in the coming week, these pots will be fired, glazed and fired again. All of the pots here are either Ewenice pots, or yarn bowls. New to this group, is Ewenice pitchers, serving bowls, a plate and ornaments.

These pots are drying in the throwing room downstairs:
(another beautiful sunny day like yesterday would be ideal right now!)

These are in the kiln room just finishing up with the drying stage:

And these are dry and packed in the kiln already:

If all of the pots aren't dry and ready to bisque fire tomorrow evening, I will repack them in my other kiln (which is a little smaller) and fire the pots that are ready so that I can get on to glazing. The other pots should finish drying out nicely with the heat from the kiln and be ready to fire when the first batch is complete....they'll be glazed, and finished just in time to be boxed up Friday night! Then the following week.. we'll start getting ready for the baby ;)

Any other last minute people out there?

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Actually, I think i might have a disorder here.. compulsive recycling. (but i won't go into all that)

I found another use today for the cardboard box.. between it's original purpose of shipping, and the recycling purpose here of "fire starter" the box has an added purpose now of being a disposable pottery 'throwing bat.

(for the non-potter, the bat sits on the pottery wheel head and once your pot is made, you lift the bat off the wheel head and set it aside for drying - put down another bat and you're ready to make another pot! - the other option is to throw directly on the wheel head and lift the wet pot off the wheel head, taking a chance on distorting the pot)

I have bats that i've purchased (anywhere from 13.00 to 28.00 a piece) and others that have been made out of scrap plywood, and masonite pieces.. but my collection of bats is limited to 7. So, after 7 pots are made, that's all the pots that i can throw until those 7 pots start to dry enough to remove from the bat.

All that being said - today I really needed to make more than 7 pots at a time. The cardboard was a great temporary, easy solution! In just a minute a bat can be cut out of cardboard with a utility knife and ready to use. I don't know how well they would work if using large amounts of clay, but i was throwing 1 to 2 pounds at a time and they held up quite well.

So well, i might just use them again before putting them back in the 'fire starter pile!

(after they dry out that is)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And on the 9th day of Christmas..

In the evenings, I try to have some kind of little 'something' to do.. (yeah, during csi.. i can listen to those shows, but i don't care to actually "watch") So, I worked on some Christmas ornaments last night. Thinking of just glazing them white and looking for some little 'sheep bells and wool ribbon :) We'll see. I made some little ewenice buttons too (up at the top) but not sure how those will go.. they are quite the little time consumers!

Now, is it just me, or does it seem like fall is going really fast? Seems like i heard the time changes this weekend.. i sure hate to lose 'that hour of daylight in the evening!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Beautiful fall day...

It was a fantastic day outdoors today!
The rain seemed to come at a time here when the leaves were just changing - knocking a lot of the leaves to the ground before they could be fully appreciated! (so we'll just appreciate them on the ground)

Took a few minutes to take a few pictures of the last group of pots that came out of the kiln a few days ago. I have been working on making more Ewenice bowls and mugs .. the weather has been just perfect for making pots. Not that the weather has to be nice, but it has been an advantage to throw a pot and set it outside for a short time in the shade to slightly speed up the drying time so that the pots can be trimmed the same day they're thrown.

I haven't seen the forecast, but hope this weather sticks around for a while!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Soon to be 'November Iris..

Pretty soon, we'll have to rename our October Iris to November iris. It has been thru a couple of frosts this week and is still shooting out new buds...
I'm still puzzled at how an iris knows to bloom this time of year? Have there always been a group of Iris that would bloom out in the fall, or is it global warming ? :)

little Virgil

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cows like to have their picture taken too..


Our Faith.. she seems to like to have her picture taken - the other one, Grace - she'd rather be eating.

We just turned the girls out in the new pasture a few days ago. They were very happy to get out of the barn! They had been cooped up for little over a week and even though the grain was good, they needed sunshine and grass :) Faith was so excited to be outside again that she ran right through the temporary fence separating them from the sheep pasture. (exactly why we kept them penned for a week! If they had got out when we first got them, we would have never been able to catch them.. it would have been like that dog on the movie "funny farm" and I'd be posting "sightings" of them running thru the town and small villages along the way) But all is well and they are settled in now.

(vintage family pic of Grandpa checking on his cows..or them checking on him)

Monday, October 19, 2009

A little frost

We had our first frost yesterday morning. Apparantly in celebration of the summer ending, the boys slept outside that night, and were silvered by the frost until the sun quickly melted it all!

It didn't seem to effect the iris that's blooming though - it's still full of blooms!

Friday, October 16, 2009

When wool and clay mix...

It's a fun mix that i enjoy. Of course, I think that wool makes a nice mix with just about any media.. watercolor, oil, anything but polyester.. well, maybe in some cases that's great too. (however, I did run across scripture in the bible not to mix the two... but maybe it was "the old law" ?) (Hm..) I'll have to look up that verse now. Hope it's ok to mix wool with clay!

This was my project for the evening last night after dinner. I had been wanting to carve an icelandic ewe in clay to possibly make a mold of and use on pottery. This particular carving is probably going to be too large for mugs, but I'm hoping to use it on large vases, etc. I think that after i make the mold, i can modify the image to use the head/bust for mugs .. and there's possibly a process that i could do to 'shrink the image too that I'm going to experiment with. (it would've been wise to just make it smaller to begin with.. but where's the fun in that?)

(and here it is.. in Leviticus "do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material") Wonder what the background was on that rule? Maybe it would itch and ..? hm, no, wool by itself "could've" done that.. (but not necessarily) lol.

things that make you go hm? .

hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ewenice update..

I have had a few inquiries on how Ewenice turned out, so here's a little update:

I had an opportunity to have a photo session with her yesterday while the sun was shining and have posted a few listings on etsy this evening.

Ewenice is doing well. Although she has been through a lot. The firings were terribly hot and I imagine she wished she weren't wearing wool for all that! (2400 degrees is more like 'bikini' weather - maybe next time Ewenice) All said and done, she's doing well and is ready to move on.

There are many more pics and items that i hope to add to etsy in the next few days.

Next design on the list: Icelandic ewe mugs

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Additions...

We've recently added a couple of cows to the list of animals here..

We got them last week, and will keep them in the barn for a few more days until they get used to us and then we'll turn them out in the pasture.

And our October Iris is blooming. Looks like it better hurry and do it's thing, it's getting close to frost time!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spinning Icelandic Wool - from the lock

Here's a little information on spinning Icelandic wool from the lock as requested. I feel that i should preface this with a warning label - I am not an 'experienced' spinner and I don't always follow rules. ;)

That being said, the following is the way that I spin from the lock, and what has worked for me. However, I am always open for suggestions and trying new techniques, so if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to comment.

Just a little info about the icelandic wool: I had assumed that the Icelandic was considered a "longwool" because of the length. It can grow up to 18" in length in a year if not shorn in the fall! (ours, on average is around 8-9" for the fall shearing and less for the spring shearing) It is a dual coated wool, and actually classed a medium to fine wool.

The long wool, the Tog, is considered a medium wool. If separated from the tog, it is ideal for heavy use - such as for rugs, and warp yarn, embroidery thread, etc.

The undercoat, Thel, is considered a fine wool. If separated from the Tog, this wool is great for baby garments, socks, hats, etc.

Spun together, and spun with a light twist, the yarn is soft and makes a 'lopi' style yarn.

I spin the tog and thel together and I have only spun it as a 'single'.

Below is a picture of an Icelandic lock. The Thel (undercoat) on this particular lock is approx. 3" and the Tog is approx 9" These measurements will vary greatly from sheep to sheep, and even on the same fleece it will vary depending on what part of the fleece it is.

If the wool appears clean, and it is a good fleece, I have spun it "in the grease". Icelandics do not have a lot of lanolin in their wool and I have found that when I have washed it first, I end up spraying a bit of 'oil water' on it to ease in spinning, and to keep the static down. There's several different opinions on spinning in the grease, and I personally think that it depends on the condition/lanolin level in the wool, and the amount of the twist that it is spun in. If it is spun with a light twist, I feel that the yarn can be properly washed and the lanolin can be removed after spinning.
I generally prepare the fiber for spinning by combing with single row combs and pulling it into a slyver - making a combed top. This is a simple procedure, and is easy to spin from. However, combs can be quite an investment. I made the ones i use.. they're primitive looking, and i'm sure not near as nice as the ones you can buy, but the price was minimal.. like a few bucks. (If there's any interest in making combs out there, i'd be happy to pass on that info as well.) That is the method of prep that I prefer, but there's another method that requires even less in the line of 'tools', and that's to spin from the lock.
You can prepare the lock for spinning by 'flick carding' the lock, (with a flick carder, or dog brush) or combing, (I have used the wide tooth side of a dog comb as you see in the picture) or.... if the lock isn't twisted up, you can just use your fingers to straighten out the fibers. I start by holding the cut end and comb the tips. You want to hold onto the thel so that it doesn't separate the tog from the thel. I'll then turn it around and still holding the thel, I lightly comb the cut end to align the fibers. (If the fibers look lined up already, it's not necessary to comb, you can just tease apart with your fingers) The idea is to align the fibers without separating the thel from the tog.

Now your lock is ready to spin. It's quickest to get a lot of locks prepared then head to the wheel (that way you can keep your hand on the twist and hold it there as you join on new locks)
Join your lock on your leader. I spin from the cut end- holding the thel (the undercoat) and keeping a light twist, i use the 'short forward draw' method of spinning...

You can't see it in the picture, but I am holding the entire lock in my hand. Again, I am spinning from the cut end, and it is spinning - pulling the tog and the thel together evenly. When you get near the end of the lock,(a few inches from the tip) hold the twist with your twist hand and draft on another lock with your drafting hand.
That's all there is to it! When you have your skein complete, provided you have spun in the grease, just wash it as you would the raw fleece, using a gentle detergent and really hot water. (at least 120 up to 160 degrees) Generally, one wash and one rinse is sufficient. Then dry, hang and weight it as you normally would.

(the white yarn is handspun icelandic- spun from combed top. click to biggy-fy if you would like to see the texture of yarn)
** ok... can anyone tell me why some pictures can be clicked on and viewed larger and others, when you click on the picture, it does nothing? **

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not more fleece pictures...

Yes. it is. Sorry, I'm starting to become a fiber junkie.

Her wool is more cream colored - but this picture looks like it's bright white.. must have been the way the sun was shining.

So the shearing has begun... Has anyone seen Lambie? There's not much left of her after all this came off! (I'd show a picture of her if I had only finished shearing her - lol) Being 7-1/2 months pregnant, (at least that's the excuse i'll use) I couldn't reach her back side and didn't get under her belly! (oh what will we do?) Anyways, it's the wrong way to go about shearing... I'll finish shearing her tomorrow. hey- don't most people shear in 3 minutes or something? (youtube -search 'speed shearing' .. seems like the record is 18 or 28 seconds! It's amazing and a 'must see for slow do-it-yourself shearers like myself)
a lambie lock. I'll try to get a post together this week on spinning icelandic from the lock. (thanks Deb for the suggestion!)
Hope everyone is having a great week!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sheep and Wool after a nice rain

Well I still haven't started the shearing.. just been really exhausted lately. It seems that mid October is the standard time for shearing the Icelandics, but I thought I had better get a head start since it will be slow going for me this year. They are calling for rain most all of this next week, so we'll see how it goes. Otherwise, mid-October it will be!

It poured Friday morning, and then turned out to be a nice day. The sun came out and the wool soon dried - i couldn't help but to take a few pictures.

Wool was 'sparkingly' clean. (come to think of it, is that even a word? sparkingly? maybe it's sparkly? it's late.. i'm Maybe I should just say 'shimmering' .. that's easier to spell.

This is from little Leroy -

And Carlie- it's not very often that i can get a picture of her standing up that she's not eating! Generally, the pics of her are laying down and eating, and standing up and eating.. she has a very healthy appetite! (If you remember Moose-black ewe, from pics in the spring, she is her daughter!) She is a yearling and we look forward to her first lambing next spring!

her wool-

Cheyenne - a 2 yr old ewe, also out of Moose.

and one of our non-wool creatures, Tanna.

(who is currently seeking a new home!) Poor Tanna, nice goat - but not always so nice to the sheep. Think we're going to have to try to sell her and her buddy Hank. I'm afraid that she's going to hurt the sheep with her horns --- i might just try moving her and Hank to another field or keeping them with the rams. However, if anyone out there is in need of a couple of efficient weedeaters....

hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Get that camera...

Out of my face!


get that camera OUT of MY face!!

Poor Emmy, i don't think she got a lot of sleep last night. She's a sweet little lamb. (despite how mean she looks in the othe pictures)

And here's an update on Myrtle:
She seems to be fitting in well with the other sheep


Maybe a little too well...
That's maybe pushing it a bit Myrtle! (not your mommy!)

Ky Wool Festival..

Best wishes being sent out to all the fiber artisans / vendors that will be attending the wool festival this weekend in Falmouth Ky! I hope the weather clears up and the crowds are great!

I unfortunately had to cancel my space due to being under the weather this week, :( , but hope to at least make it down to take a quick stroll thru the fiber tent before the weekend is over.