Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fantastic Fiber Book

Just wanted to share this book that I received, Fiber Gathering. This is such a neat book. This book takes you to 10 of the top fiber festivals in the states, and gives a few photos and beautiful descriptions of each (and trust me, if you don't already attend, you'll be convinced you'll want to make a way to fit them on the calendar!) I want to go to all of them now! But wait, there's more.

There are lots of inspiring knit & crochet project instructions, such as sweaters, socks, scarves and mittens.

The book also includes really great instructions on "how to skirt a fleece", and "washing a fleece" "dyeing multicolored yarn" "andean plying" "spinning for speed" (in case you wish to enter the competition at the Tennessee state fair spinning competition!) "making a spindle from a knitting needle and a potato" and "making knitting needles using dowels, sandpaper and beads" "rug hooking" and even more.

I don't know how they managed to get so much information packed in this book! Yet, it was put together well and it is a book that I will greatly enjoy curling up with this winter while I plan my festival calendar for the upcoming year. (ok, I doubt I'll be able to travel this year, but someday)

Monday, December 19, 2011

An update

Wasn't I just blogging about how long it takes to sometimes finish a piece of pottery here? Well, that piece took 5 years to get glazed. This one, I couldn't believe it was all the way back in January that I posted about making it! That's nearly a year to get it glazed, but I guess it beats 5 years. (actually, this was glazed in October.. so that's not too bad, right?)

This is my second sculpture. (I was thinking it was my first, but I just remembered that I made a sculpture of Christ holding a lamb that I gave away) It is made from stoneware clay, fired and glazed. I have several ideas in mind for future sculptures, all in the theme of "Sheep Chores". I think I'll call this one "Getting to know the sheep".

Any shepherd knows an important aspect of caring for sheep, is knowing the sheep.

"The more you understand about their behavior, the easier it will be for you to spot problems" - Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep

As you can see though, getting to know the sheep really isn't a "chore", but a special time between sheep and shepherd.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Make Do" Niddy Noddy

For the longest time, I've been meaning to pick up, or order a niddy noddy. I have just been spinning for personal use, so my hand to elbow has been a substitute for the n.n. We had a few pieces of wood down in the shop that was left over from ripping down some boards and I thought it was worth a try.. scrap wood and 2 screws, what was there to lose? I cut the 2 ends to the same length and left the center piece as it was. If I was to be technical, I would have measured it to a length that would work out easy to calculate the yardage by the wraps, but ...ok, i didn't.

I'm just wondering now why I wrapped yarn hand to elbow all this time? The n.n. would be more comfortable if I rounded the edges in the center, but until I find that niddy noddy that I just can't live without, this one will do!

It certainly helped to make a nicer looking skein than my arm winding did!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How long does it take to glaze a pot?

Jimminy Christmas. I made this pot back when I was first learning to make pottery - the date on the bottom is February of 2007. (and it just got glazed a couple of days ago!) So, I guess the answer to how long it takes? Right now, up to 5 years.

I guess I waited so long because I didn't know what glaze would be best for the design. Some glazes are applied so thick that the design can get lost, so I guess I was waiting for the right glaze. As it turned out, I mixed up a new glaze to try - one I had never even sampled, and I glazed half a kiln load of pots. (risky, but I was just tired of looking at all the unglazed pots on the shelf!)I really like the new glaze and don't know if i could have found a better glaze for this particular pot, so this pot has a happy ending.
This pot on the other hand I left bare. It's dated January of 2007. Again, soon to be another 5 year old pot.

I don't really get attached to my own pottery, but this vase is one of two pieces that I've made that I think I'd like to hang onto. I made this just a few months after I started in pottery. (back when I was trying different shapes, and experimenting) For some reason, I have a hard time reproducing this shape? Anyways, I have yet to find a glaze that I think would work on this piece. At one point, it was going to be a copper red, but that glaze is too thick. I'm leaning toward the new denim blue that is on the iris pot, but we'll see... it's sort of ridiculous to put this much thought into it. Maybe something will come up in the next 5 years!

(anyone else have projects that sit around this long unfinished?)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Double Blessing

Today was a beautiful day.

My friend Donna offered to watch Wyatt for me today as an early Christmas present. How nice was that? Priceless. (not that I needed to get away from my lil guy, but I did have some things that needed tending to) So a welcomed Christmas gift that was.

The second blessing of the day was the incredible sunshine.

I needed to fire the kiln again today. I did a glaze firing last week (i glazed outdoors in 29 degree temperatures - not complaining, yet theres a possibility that the pots were very uncomfortable! I wondered if the glaze would freeze before it hit the pots, but all was well) The firing was successful with the exception of an element coming loose and the bottom shelf of pots in the kiln did not fire properly. Fortunately, things like that can be corrected by running them thru the kiln again, which brings us to today. In order to fire the kiln again, I needed to glaze a few more pots to fire along with the underfired - well today was just a perfect day for being outside glazing pots!

Sunshine on my face, I soaked it up. Sunshine drying the pots as I sprayed them - they were soaking it up too.

Just a perfect day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Designs

Sending thanks out to Kelly at http://mainelyewesfarm.blogspot.com/
and Christine at http://frontporchindiana.blogspot.com/ for submitting great photos and the opportunity to try something new! (and for the permission to reuse the designs!) I am excited to see how the designs turn out on the mugs. (they're in the kiln now, and will be glazed tomorrow)

I watched a show the other day on PBS where a lady would make animals out of gourds and she said sometimes she would get ideas while she slept. I thought that was funny, then last night while sleeping, I saw an ornament made from clay hanging on a tree that was an icelandic ram head - semi/side view. Even while I was dreaming i thought "here's an idea while i sleep..this is awesome" So I guess I need to get a good head shot of Leroy (because the ornament looked like him) Oh goodness, I have a list of things that I need to catch up on, but I'd better sketch this one out before it's forgotton. (or quite possibly, I might need to take a break from pottery?)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Birthday

Dear Wyatt, Happy Birthday to you!

Wow- 2 already.
Looks like someone might have got into the cake too before the candles were blown out! We had a great day, and hope his birthday was the best to date. Of course, we had cake and ice cream after lunch, and we wrapped up the day with a trip to the zoo with friends to see the festival of lights.

(hm, those lights make my hair look gray)

I have been noticing that Wyatt will address everyone by name now - Daddy is "Da'e" or "jack" papaw is "paw" but he's only said Ma, or Mom when he was fussing, and that happened some time back. (not that he hasn't fussed recently) Well.. this picture, when he saw it downloaded on the computer, I got a solid "mom"! So.. Of course, I had to hear it again and again... "who is that?" "who is that?"

His birthday was special for us, and hope it was for him as well.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New addition

We had a new calf born last Saturday. This is the 2nd calf we've had born here - the last one was over a year ago and we have one more cow due any day now. Aren't baby calves beautiful?

We borrowed a black angus from a neighbor, but a red bull from another neighbor was in our yard a lot just prior to that... hm... lil calf, who's yo daddy?

(i know now to write down dates of when we turn a bull in, and when a bull is just roaming... not that it's a big deal .. it would be if we had stray rams running the neighborhood though! Our sheep are the only sheep that run loose in these parts)

Looks like we had a good frost / freeze last night. The ground was just covered with white this morning. (Sara, is this the freeze you've been hoping for?)

Bet the boys (most of them) are glad they missed their fall shearing!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rough Sketch..

Ok, so this is 'off' a little, in more ways than one. (one?) But this is "the n'ewed beach"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Zig Wig

Whenever I start to work with a different fleece, that fleece becomes my favorite.. lately, the Ziggy fleece is my favorite! Working with his wool, I really want to make dolls - and use this for their hair. I pulled apart this section, and wondered what it would look like on my head? no photo available on that.. but here's the zig wig:
I spun a small amount of his wool for a scarf and even looking at the yarn, I want to use IT for doll hair too!

My after Christmas project is going to be making little dolls for girls in India. The pattern is on-line, and they are simple little dolls. I have lots of wool set aside for stuffing and - of course, their hair! The little dolls will either get this "doll making" idea out of my head, or it will really give me the bug for it!

But not today.. today: pottery. Focus. Focus.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Custom Pottery Offer

I don't advertise special orders, because my time-line is terrible on getting them out. (and if you've asked for something other than what I have listed on my site, you know how true that is!)

I have been needing to explore new designs to add to the pottery, but it seems to get pushed further and further down the list.

I recently got a request to do angora goat mugs. (ok, so it was July - thanks for being so patient Devon!) I am working on getting those mugs ready along with a few other special orders so they will be ready for Christmas. I will need to make several pots in order to fill the kiln and while I can fill it with ewenice mugs and yarn bowls and a few personal Christmas gifts, I wanted to open a time of custom orders for my readers if anyone was interested.

So what's the deal? I will design a mug for you based on a photo you send, with no design charge - the mugs will be priced the same as the ewenice and sheep mugs (20.00 plus actual shipping charges). I am open to doing any kind of animal - cat, dog, alpaca, goat, elephant, ? (you never know) etc, and of course, your favorite sheep! (I only ask that I have permission to use the design that is created for future use on pottery) I am also open to designing barns/houses/church/buildings, etc. for the mugs too.

Also, with any custom order, Christmas ornaments of that same design can be made for 10.00 (a few bucks savings from what the sheep ornaments sell for on the site)

If you are interested, just email a photo of the subject to flatcreekwoolandpottery@gmail.com along with the size of the mug you would like, glaze color, and any other specific requests on the mug (thin lip, heavy, lightweight, 8 ounce 12 ounce, etc) and I will be in touch with you.
(currently I am using 3 different glazes -a gray/brown, blue and a gray/brown that is oversprayed with blue. You can see examples of these at http://flatcreekwoolandpottery.com/potterymugs.html

In order to have the pottery made/fired/glazed and fired again - then shipped in time for the holidays, I will need to put a deadline of Monday morning, November 21 on the offer.

Hope everyone is doing well and gearing up for the holidays! I am in awe at how fast the year passes - and I wonder - do I still have time to meet my resolutions I made for the "new year" ? Maybe I'll just wait on it and put it towards the next one coming up!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's a process..

Over the last 4 years, I have really come to appreciate what all goes into caring for sheep and harvesting their product. (isn't wool amazing?)

My goal is to offer exceptional raw fleeces. The first couple of years, the challenge was vm and cleaning the pastures. Oh, and shearing.. yes, that was a big challenge. (not only for the first year..lol) Even though we've continued to expand the pastures, the vm this year was not a big issue. The shearing was much easier this year - teetering on the "i enjoyed it" stage.

I feel better about getting the fleece off with minimum stress on the sheep and myself. Still need a little improving on the second cuts, but that's getting better with practice. We had some really nice fleeces this fall, and a couple of fleeces that seemed to have lived in the holler'. I can't quite figure how one sheep can get matted and filthy while the sheep that lays next to them stays as clean as a show sheep! I had one fleece (from our moorit ewe Sierra) that her belly wool looked and felt like the wool off of a lambs back - I didn't separate her belly wool because it was just too soft and beautiful to toss aside.

But this next picture is the delima for some of our fleeces this year - gummy tips. I've only noticed it on a couple of the fleeces, and I'm looking for advice if anyone has some "gum free tips" for me! I sheared the ewes after they lambed this year and as their fleeces started growing, I noticed these gummy tips. I am thinking that maybe i sheared too early? Possibly before their seasonal wool-break? (however, it didn't seem to early to be shearing.. May?)

So.. I spent a few hours picking the tips off of Alice's fleece.. and by the time I did that, I was invested! I was looking forward to washing and carding and spinning her fleece myself... I still have a lot of wool to skirt, and I'm hoping that i don't get attached to all of them!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Product tester

I was trying to get a few pictures of new mugs for etsy listings when I had a helper arrive on the scene...
I guess calling them 'sheep mugs' really does have a double meaning.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Zig and Henry

It's quite a chore to get a good picture of these guys.. and as you can see, I still have some work to do! (since the best picture i could get has a wire running thru it) But this is Zig (left) and Henry - twin brothers, both sporting their summer fleeces.

Zig really is a calm and gentle ram. When the others want to butt and bully around, he is just off to the side. (Him and Joe.. neither one likes to get involved in disputes) I told Zig he looked a little mean in the pose, and for him to just let his personality shine thru....

Then I got this....

No.. that's not quite that either.. Zig is really sweet, but these pictures just don't describe him well. Maybe it's because he doesn't smile much.

Henry on the other hand, well.. this picture fits him.

These boys have the thickest, richest thel coat. (the undercoat) Their wool last year, as yearlings, made such nice rovings, that i'm looking forward to seeing how the wool from them works up this year!

I'm hoping, that with all the thel they produce, to separate some of the thel from the tog (the outer coat of wool) and felt just the thel to see how that will work up.

I made a cobweb felted scarf a few days ago from last years fleece (Ziggy's) and as far as the experimenting is going here, this is my favorite yet. I am still working on the scarves - learning what works.. what doesn't. This one needs to be felted more. I'm finding that with the layers being so thin, it takes a lot longer to felt than if they were solid, thicker layers.

This scarf took less than 1.5 ounces. It is light, yet, when wrapped around my neck, (or the neck of a headless form) it's a nice shade of warm.
And hey- the dyes I ordered just came in! I am really excited to try handpainting the scarves.. yet, I have promised myself I won't get the dyes out until things get a little more caught up around here! One thing (well...30) at a time.. dyes will put me over the limit, but it's great motivation to knock a few other things out of the to do category.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Here's a fairly recent photo of our new ram, Val. He, much like Leroy doesn't mind having his picture taken. Several weeks ago, I was making a poster for the wool festival to advertise icelandic sheep in my booth and I had Val in mind - he was so patient allowing me to take a lot of photos, and he seemed to pose for each picture!

We'll be using Val with the majority of the ewes this year. He is a young ram (from this spring) yet he seems to be up for the job. When we put him in with the girls, he went up and introduced himself to them all. I hope his recent shearing hasn't effected his confidence. I'm hoping the girls haven't laughed at him - he looks so much different without his wool. He's still beautiful, but he is looking more like a lamb than he did with all the wool. (some of the older girls might feel a little funny about it?)

I suppose we will assign someone the job of clean-up ram later in the year, (something i need to be thinking about) just in case some of the girls think he's too young.


Leroy, Whatcha gonna do with all that wool? (rather, what am I going to do with all your wool?)

I am somewhat of a "collector of rams" - We seemed to have an abundance of ram lambs born here the first two years and I didn't send any of them away, so here we are. They're not any trouble though- we keep them in a separate pasture than the ewes, and they just hang out producing fiber.

As you can see, he's somewhat proud, and likes to have his picture taken. When all the other sheep are busy with heads on the ground, Leroy notices the camera and he will stand still with a pose because he knows my camera takes a minute to focus!

If only they were all this easy to get photos of! Our new ram Val is much like Leroy with the camera, and then there's Lambie that loves to have her picture taken, but the rest? For the most part, not so much

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cobweb Felting

We had a great time at the Kentucky Wool Festival this year. In the sheep & wool tent, we each demonstrate a fiber related skill - from carding, to spinning, knitting, weaving, and much more. My demonstration was wet felting. I have so much to learn about wet felting, but the basics of it are really simple: Wool + Soapy Water + Agitation = felt. I was motivated to try new projects while at the wool festival, so I made a little goal to experiment more with purses, and scarves using the wet felting technique.

I was particulary inspired by a small sample of merino that I wet felted at the festival. It felted with such thin layers and draped so nicely. I wanted to try this with our icelandic lamb roving. (after all, we get a good deal on icelandic wool.. a little grass, little hay in exchange for the wool, and not to mention, we have a good deal of it - especially now that it's shearing time!)

This is what came from that experiment -

This scarf was made by layering very thin layers of roving and felting using soap and water. The wool was from a moorit badgerface lamb. The scarf draped nicely, like I had hoped and was soft to the touch. There were a few places on the scarf that were very thin -almost holes, so I went on-line to research scarf making and was surprised to learn that this style of felting actually has it's own name- Cobweb Felting. It is intended to be very thin, sometimes with some holes even!

I am looking forward to felting more scarves using this method, and have ordered some dyes to experiment with hand dyeing the scarves also after they are made. There are just so many things that you can make with wool (and other natural fibers) and so many different techniques to try!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sir Charles

This is one of our new additions here, Sir Charles. His given name Charlie being already taken here, we modified his name a bit, and just call him Sir. He's an icelandic/Border Leicester cross. I've been waiting for one of those pictures that show his personality - like him reaching out to accept a kiss from a little boy that's reaching for him..but this lil guy said he's too busy for posing, he's got work to do.

Maybe another day.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wyatt, How'd you get that bump on your head?

Could it be from trying to do something like this while Mom wasn't looking?

Who is watching you anyways?

I needed to check a few lambs today to see if they needed worming, and Wyatt insisted he'd rather go to the field than sit in the truck and watch a DVD. (educational of course) oh no, wait.. it was the cartoon about the fish, so scratch that "educational".. it would have served a purpose though - like keeping him safe while I checked the lambs. I was attempting to catch the lambs where they were resting in the shade, and while I had little success, I turned around and saw that Wyatt wasn't having trouble catching sheep! Fortunately, Roxy is a sweet sheep and didn't jump and run with him on her back. (likely giving him a matching shiner on the other side)

Thanks Roxy for taking care of lil guy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

All this dirt...

All this dirt, and so little time to play in it!

Footers are in, gravel is scattered.. basement walls and slab coming soon. (we were bumped back a little, but sounds like they'll be here next week now to do that.)

Meanwhile, we're working to catch up on some projects that need to be finished outside of our place - drywall, tile, beadboard ceilings...

And sheep! Wyatt and I picked up our new sheep from M&K Farms this week! We'll have them out on pasture soon, but here are a few 'barn shots' of the new additions.

This is daphne, a moorit mouflon.

Below here is Val, ram lamb and a gray moorit ewe lamb.

I really like Val and glad we chose him. Although it was a tough decision - H&K had so many nice lambs to choose from!

Not pictured here is Sir Charles. Charlie is his given name, but since we already have a Charlie (a sign we already have too many rams.. duplicating names..lol) we've renamed the new Charlie, "Sir Charles" and we call him "Sir". He's an Icelandic Border liecester cross and he's just something. (Thanks Mary Anne, we just love him!) He was raised on a bottle and he loves attention. I will post some photos of Sir when we get him out on the pasture (if i can get far enough away from him to take a photo)

Wyatt, what do you think of your new sheep?

He is becoming quite the helper around here! From shutting the sheep in the lot for the evening (even if it's not time) and watering and feeding the sheep, he was even helping stack wood last night. (not that we've given a 20 month old chores, he has just jumped in to help..) At this age, i'm sure this all looks like fun.

And well, it is! Isn't it?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Glorious weather

The heat spell that went through was-well, just - hot! These past few days have been so beautiful! It's hard to believe that fall is just around the corner.

Things have been busy around here, like everywhere. The big hole in the ground is still a big hole in the ground. They are coming Monday to start on the footers/ foundation and we should have a basement in the ground by this time next week.. meanwhile, I need to get a load of pottery glazed, some wool washed, and several miscellaneous projects finished. Looking forward to wrapping up all those loose ends and fraying some new ones with the next project.

Hope everyone is being blessed with cool breezes this week!