Today I wanted to do a wrap-up post of my November happenings! As I wrote a few days ago, November has been one of my most productive months! What with all the work for Wool of the Week and the SRA projects, along with Christmas presents for loved ones, I’ve been keeping busy. I worked my last several commissions which were all Inkle weavings, then kept on weave weave weaving as I just get so inspired by colour that I have to start more projects 😅
I finished my first test cardigan. I prefer wearing cardigans over pullovers just because I don’t like having to actually pull a pullover over lol. I made a few pieces of gem stone bead jewelry to go with it, and it went so well with my Christmas Santa hat I had made a few years ago in the same brand of yarn.
I made more tallow products—this time a body butter with shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E oil. It was so soft after I whipped it.
I made 9 yarns for a Christmas project for my family. Every year I make my immediate loved ones a new hat, and this year I decided to handspin the yarn and hand knit them (I usually loom knit them). The yarn was a task, and unfortunately I will need more white for the other four hats—not that I lost yarn chicken, just, I had enough for the first and so I started that one. And finished it! And look how cute!
I made a non-toxic stuffed pillow with discard wool. It needs more stuffing, but I love it!
Then the last thing I finished was this beautiful bitty bitty sweater. How I love it.
Thank you so much for reading my blog today! Much love! —August Lee
Easing back in to wool of the week project, this week’s breed is the Tunis sheep breed. Okay, so this wool was actually washed when I purchased it. It still needed to be picked a little bit since there was some remaining VM in it, but my combs made short work of it. I noted though, how difficult it was, upon first try, to comb it. The wool was dense, and had a relatively long staple. It also felt like it had a little more lanolin in the fibres, so it felt a little sticky with natural oils, it moved slowly on the combs. It almost made me think of something Evie said on the Jillian Eve YouTube fiber show, some people would warm their wool combs by the fireplace to work with the lanolin grease more fluidly. Before, when I had spun this wool on my drop spindle (it wasn’t prepared right) but it was significantly hard to draft the fibers. This time however, the fibers were organized and it made it easier to draft, and the yarn came together more evenly and consistently. I was tempted to make the yarn weight a little smaller, a thinner yarn, but I do have an end-goal for this project and I want all of my yarns to be close to the same weight.
Next week I will be announcing the end-goal for this project, which I will put at the end of that WOTW blog.
Although I didn’t work with this wool from raw raw, the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook has photo references to show what it looks like. True to the information in the book, my Tunis wool was creamier than white, and lustrous, Robson and Ekarius note, from genetics of Leicester mixed in. Reading that this breed is a dual purpose breed that does well in heat and humidity caught my eye… Do I like this wool better than Shetland wool?… the more I read about different sheep breeds and work with different wools, the more open I feel towards my options with what I’ll chose for my own sheep.
I combed for one ply, spun it, and then combed for my second ply. I tried on my second combing, to be more intentional about combing from the outside in. It did prepare much easier that way. After the yarn was spun, I did my regular dye routine. Not all the dye absorbed, though I let it go for over two hours on the stove, and the end color wasn’t as saturated as I was going for, but it ended up beautiful! I’m really thrilled to go ahead and get knitting with it!
Thank you for following along this week! Blessings!
Another month has almost flown by, and we are, as my mom said, at the avalanche of days! November has been one of my busiest months. I took some time to look back through my list (the list of every completed crafting project I’ve done this year.) Last year I worked very hard and completed 96 projects. I felt so accomplished and thrilled to see what I could complete in the coming year, this year. I remember in March, feeling defeated and underwhelmed with how I was progressing and the amount of completed projects on my list. Well, girl, have faith. I looked at my list today and wrote #196 down. I still have a lot on my To-Do List, and you know, I do not really care how many items I put on my list anymore. I know I’m productive, it’s not a contest of numbers, it’s a practice, a ritual of creation, a passion I must satiate with work.
Yesterday we put up our Christmas tree, and have been turning our workshop merry (though every day is merry in the Cozy Cottage). I have, yes been keeping busy, and do have time built in to the schedule to relax. But that time is not now, back to work!
Enjoy the video documenting my sweater-making journey! A slouchy, luxurious wrap-sweater, with belled puff sleeves in Lion Brand Homespun acrylic yarn.
For the first week of the Southern Roots Alpaca Project, I blended up some of my washed alpaca and gulf coast native breed sheep wool. A wool blended with the alpaca gives the best of both worlds between the two: the silky richness of alpaca mixed with the spongy bouncyness of the wool. Alpaca alone is luscious, but it doesn’t have the springy rebound and elasticity that wool gives it when blended.
For this project, I’m going to spin all my blends and make hats and fingerless gloves with them, but I think I will spin first, then choose which ones to use for hats and which are more suitable for hands based on next-to-skin softness.
Currently, my studio is a wreck with all my projects strewn out across it for the holidays. I cleaned up everything for the Thanksgiving Holiday, and am putting all my efforts into getting a sweater done by Thursday. So this might be a break week for the SRA but we will be back next week. I also want to thank you for staying with me along my Wool of the Week Project as I took my midway break after the big video post from last week! Blessings!
If you have enjoyed reading about my Wool of the Week series, then I know you’ll enjoy watching my video compilation of my work with all the wools I have covered in the blog so far: GCN, Suffolk, Merino, Romney, Targhee. Please take a moment to share this with your fiber friends to help my project grow! This Saturday I’ll be back at it with this week’s installment of the series, and may even get to upload some shorts onto my YouTube! So please, give my page a view, and thank you for your support!
Hello, my friends! Today I wanted to just take the time to go down a rabbit hole for a minute. I feel at this moment like I am in a liminal space with my career. I finished my bachelors in agriculture a few years ago, started out my journey with farmers markets, and tested out and explored my passion with my content-creation and writing skills. But a few weeks ago I have noticed that things are really changing. I’m feeling grown-out of my original iteration of my business. I’ve tested things and retested them and seen the results. I’ve had time to observe what others do, how they do it, and even been able to ask many of these people their advice. I’m feeling, right now, that change is coming, and although I am hesitant and anxious about it, it’s also a good anxiousness, an anticipation of adventure in newness.
I’m trying to take time to listen to my heart and map out what I imagine and dream of for my life, and how to get there. Planning and planning and thinking and doing. And enjoying along the way.
Last Friday I had the opportunity to go to a KY First Farms workshop put on by the UKY extension service of Bullitt Co. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they sent ahead an exciting agenda with seminars like agroforestry and beekeeping on it, as well as the more down and dirty legal sides and planning sides of setting up a business. I arrived at the extension to a bright group of people who were genuinely thrilled to be there and share what has been successful to them. There were a lot more participants than I thought there would be because the program was a free offering, but there were a lot of participants, a wide panel of speakers (who were all very inviting and gladly talked with us and answered extra questions), a great selection of mostly directly-useful information handouts, and not to mention biscuits and sausage gravy and Panera lunches. I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of these “getting started” events and programs, but I really do think there’s a lot of value in constantly starting over, constantly racking through the basics to make absolute sure that my foundation is right. Right based on how I wasn’t to to be, what my heart is feeling currently, how the climate and weather and topography dictate the land and farmstead be organized and cared for. I feel like keeping going over the basics is giving me the courage to “start before I can start”… before I actually start building a farm to build a homestead practice and business. I can’t have sheep now, but what CAN I do now with actually working with KY sheep and wool? My question now is: how can I streamline? How can I simplify? How can I narrow down what I’m doing and focus on my zone of genius?
I felt like I had a plan on narrowing my work down, really focusing my efforts, but then I sit down and really dream about what I really really want to do. Not just what I want to do with my career, but what I want to make sure I do in life. I really want to have a successful market garden, I really do. But I also really want to wash wool, spin yarn, dye it, sell it. But you know, I hear my momma saying to me, “you can do it all. Just not all at once.”
And as Billy Joel says, Vienna waits for you.
So I’m going to practice imagining the long haul and trying to streamline for success before expanding. I have time.
Thank you all for supporting me through your viewership and patronage! I am going to close commissions for the year next week as I am starting to be slammed with holiday and end of year surprises and gifts. So get your spot before I close!
The Southern Roots Alpaca Project: Phase 1 Results
Hi All! I wanted to go ahead and announce my newest project, the Southern Roots Alpaca Project, a partnership between me and my cousin Angel Rockwood. She runs a farm/animal rescue, her Ark, in Lower Alabama, where my Bobbie’s mother, Other Mama, and her daddy lived and raised their family, and our roots have spread from there. Bobbie moved to Atlanta, then with Granddaddy Longlegs to Jax Beach. Momma bopped all around Florida and Georgia but eventually our little family moved to my Dad’s family home place in Louisville, KY. We’re from all over the south, we are southerners.
When Angel heard that I am a fiber artist and I can work with raw fiber, she was thrilled to have someone who could use the alpaca fiber she’d been saving. She mailed me a great big box stuffed, stuffed, stuffed with the most lovely, luscious, cream-colored fiber. Oh my gosh! I spun some up right away, it was meant for spinning! And it made absolutely gorgeous yarn.
As the first phase in the project, I did two yarns. The first was a blend of the alpaca combed with some angora from the bunny project I did a few years ago. I spun the blend on my drop spindle, and entered it in the Kentucky State Fair. It won an Honorable Mention ribbon! The second yarn I spun was also spindle spun, and when I entered both in the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair contest later in the year, the alpaca won an honorable mention and the alpaca and angora blend won a third place ribbon.
I mailed these first yarns back to Angel so she could enjoy them and our little victories, and show the Alpaca’s hard work in her agrotourism education.
In the next phase of this project, I will be washing, blending, spinning, and knitting more yarns into some sweet little accessories to test out what breed blends we like for which purposes, and how they look dyed. Please stay tuned and enjoy the stories and pictures, and I’ll post here when I do a YouTube video hilighting this process. Blessings!
This was by far my most fun spin of my wool of the week series so far. It also made me the happiest with the results, and when I was considering which colour would look good to dye it, I couldn’t see any other way than to keep it naturally undyed. All of the other wools I have worked with in this project have been white, but this Romney breed wool was a beautiful, mild grey/warm silver. It had a long staple (length of the individual fibres, and was relatively coarser to me (having just worked with merino. The micron count of my meting was far lower (finer) than the Romney—which is actually a fine longwool). The Romney breed is one of those resilient breeds well adapted in their evolvution in their original homeland, well-drained salt marshes in England. I had to look up how much they weigh (it just wasn’t listed in the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook easily locatable) and it seems depending on ram or ewe that they range between 150-225 lbs, making them a medium to small sheep breed build. I was curious as the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook does list their average fleece weights between 8-12 lbs. I thought, well, gee, that’s kind of small relative to what I have been working with, those breeds’ average fleece weights. So perhaps this WOULD be a really good consideration of a breed for my area of the country (mud country) and my processing limit as a very small wool processor, starting out. I do have to say, if the breed specs haven’t fought my eye as s farmer yet, the fiber has caught my eye as a spinner, and seeing the finished yarn made me pull it to my face, smell it, squish it, and admire it with inspiring dreams bubbling up in my brain. Ooooo could I pair it with Gotland breed wool for a grey sleek sweater outfit??? Amongst other dreams.
I really loved working with this fiber. The lanolin natural grease was low and easy to cut down in the wash, the fibers didn’t hold a lot of dirt or VM. The crimp was lovely and the locks weren’t hard or felted. It combed well and puffed up and held together beautiful in my combed top sweet rolls. I love the look of a worsted-spun yarn. It spun effortlessly and strongly, and ended up looking like a classic worsted spin. I can’t wait to knit with it!
Disco Chicken of Love
sTate fair ready!
seed starting 2019
ky state fair quilt
A sustainability major at U of L, beginning farmer, crafter, and writer.