Sunday, April 29, 2012

You know it's gonna be one of those days when...

You wake up at the crack of dawn, look out your window and see your neighbour presser washing his moose.

At least there was one thing that happened today to make me smile.  I think I need to watch some Buster Keaton this evening.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Vintage sewing machine, Brother Galaxie 221A - RIP

After many hours and a vigorous go with a hammer, it's decided.  The Vintage Brother sewing machine is beyond redemption.  First time I've met a sewing machine I could not recover.

Built in redundancy seems to be the problem.  Despite being a heavy duty machine with cast metal body and wonderful features, there is this one essential cog/cam that was bound to break.  It's a mid-grade plastic and has to stand up to wearing against metal cogs all day long.

I put most of it back together, but have several bits leftover I didn't bother to reassemble.

What did I learn?

I learned all about how zig zag and fancy stitches work in a machine.  So many lovely springs and leavers to boggle the mind.

I learned not to put too much energy into cleaning the machine until you find out if it works and whether it can be repaired.

Most importantly I learned when to walk away.

Some of the machine I could salvage for parts later on, I suppose.  This dial in particular has a real steampunkish feel to it.  It might do for my Mystery Project later on.

But as for the rest of the machine, I can't think of anything better to do with it than put it all in a box labelled 'dead brother'.   Wish I could find some inspiration to give the remains of this machine a new kind of life.  I'm not really big into jewellery making... what else could I do with it?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Williams Antique Sewing Machine - Needle

A while back I acquired a New Williams sewing machine, circa 1884-85.  

I took it apart, cleaned it (photos currently MIA) and got it almost ready to sew again.  Problem is, I only have one needle and the local sewing machine repair shop, usually so good at finding parts for me, cannot get me any new needles.

While looking for parts for another machine, I came across this list of needles on the ISMACS page.

ISMACS Needle List

There's more on their page, so if you don't see what you need here, follow the link and have a look.  It's well worth spending a few hours bumming around their site if you are interested in Vintage and Antique sewing machines.  They are THE main source of information on the topic.

Right away I could see that GG looks just like the needle I have.  What do you know?  That's what the list says I need... now, the new quest begins: Where to find more vintage sewing machine needles for my Antique New Williams Sewing Machine?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vintage Brother Sewing Machine Galaxie 221A - Taking it all apart to get at the broken cogs.

Decided now that the machine is useless unless these two broken cogs and broken cam can be repaired.  Of course they are the only plastic bits in the whole machine, and burred deep within the guts.  So it's time to take my Vintage Brother apart.

If I can get the bits out, I can either find a machinist who could make a new one out of metal (Hopefully not too expensive) or get some hard plastic, a mask and a lot of effort and make one myself.  

Taking the machine apart isn't that difficult a job.  The thing that takes the time is documenting where everything goes, what order it came out, keeping the screws in the right spots, &c.  If I didn't plan on putting it back together again, I could have this thing in pieces in 20 minutes.

Now this is where I need help.

I need to get this plastic cam off this main horizontal shaft here.  How?

Any advice on how to do this?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vintage Sewing Machine - Brother Galaxie 221A - problem found and cleaning

The first thing to do when you get a used sewing machine is to clean it.  It's a painstaking job but will usually fix most problems.

This is a job I absolutely love.  Given the chance, I will spend hours cleaning lint and dust from each and every tooth of each and every cog.  Be it typewriter, sewing machine, or any mechanical device, I don't care.  There is something about obsessing over detail that puts me in a state of calmness.  I imagine that's what mediation is like.

This Brother Galazie 221A has enough dust and guck in it to keep me happy for a month.  It spent it's life teaching sewing in the schools, but I don't think anyone ever bothered to learn how to oil or clean it.  You know something is odd when the bit you thought was metal turns out to be felt...over and over again.

I found this interesting panel on the underside of the machine.  It looked out of place, so I decided I needed to see what's in there.

Ewe!  Looks just like ear wax, don't it?

Grease.  Someone very thoughtfully provided a whole bunch of it.  What I did was cleaned off the gear and the parts of the grease that where black with bits of metal.  then redistributed the clean grease so that it generously covered everything that could possibly move.

While I'm slowly cleaning everything, I discovered what's wrong with the Zig Zag function.

See this plastic cog?

Broken.  There are two plastic cogs in the machine and both of them are broken.  This is putting the timing out.  Where on earth am I going to find replacement parts?  Who on earth thinks to make such an adorable machine (with goose shaped stitches) and then puts stupid plastic cogs that will wear out quickly?  Shakes head in dismay.

(edit to add: it's actually the hidden plastic cog that is making the zig zag timing off, but the damage is very similar)

The hunt for replacement parts begins!  Not sure if I want to keep cleaning this if I can't find the parts to get it fully functional.

Vintage Sewing Machine - Brother Galaxie 221A - gutsy

I don't normally deal with these modern machines (post 1935), but I couldn't resist this little Brother.  

The Brother Galaxie 221A has a stitch that is in the shape of a goose!  Um, yes!  That's me!  The sewing machine loves me!  It just needs my help to reach it's full potential.

The moment I got it home, I started taking it all apart, only later did I think to get my camera out.  oh well, I'll take a photo of the finished machine at the end once it's all polished up.

This particular machine was owned and used by the school board for many a year.  After they were finished with it, it passed through the hands of a couple of owners.  It looks like the electrics were re-wired within the last ten years.  

A couple of problems with this machine, the worst being the HUGE amount of lint and dust in it.  Second problem was much easier to fix.  The wiring for the light and the motor were switched, so when you plug it in, the motor goes at full speed. 

The final problem is not so easy.  The timing is off.  Basically, when you do a zig-zag stitch, the needle should move from side to side.  The needle should move from side to side at the top of the stitch, but instead, on this machine it moves at the bottom (or just about the bottom).  This is not good.  

Not sure how to fix the timing, thus all these photos of the sewing machine's guts.  Experts, here's your time to shine.

No, I'm not going to take it into the sewing machine repair shop.  Half the fun is learning how to fix it myself and I have enough machines already, I don't really need another one even if it has geese shape stitches.  

As for manuals, I haven't found one yet.  Yarnhog has the best information about this machine anywhere in google-land.  Here is a threading diagram from a sight that will gladly sell you a manual.  

Stinging nettle dye for wool

4 Lb stinging nettles (gathered early-mid spring, overcast weather)
1/2 lb wool mordanted with 1/2 oz alum
Bring nettles to boil for 1 hour, leave to cool over night, strain.  Add mordanted wool to dye bath, bring slowly to almost boil (took 3 hours), turned off, left to cool in dye bath.
Washed dyed wool.

Very mild yellow-green.  Kind of feeling it wasn't worth the effort

How to design an etsy shop banner - the quest continues

The great etsy shop banner quest is more of a challenge that it first seems.

Last time I talked about the banner, I came to realize more of what I wanted it to represent.  You guys had some awesome ideas.  Thank you everyone.

So here is where I'm at with the banner now.  I could really do with some more opinions, if you have a moment.  Please let me know what you think.

Current banner (Big thank you to Jennie for getting me started with this - she makes great bags, you could even put knitting in them, but it would have to be extra special knitting, the bags are beautiful):

My attempt to improve banner:

Another take on the banner by Sara (Another person with mad sewing machine skills. I feel like I spend half this blog talking about people who are more creative than me, but then again, I do try to share what inspires me, and seeing such wonderful creations really do help me feel inspired about life)

What I like best about this is the new goose!  He's got such spirit and livelyness (spellcheck says that putting 'ness' on the end of 'lively' is not a word...but I couldn't think of a better word for how this goose makes me feel, so we are just going to have to ignore spellcheck today.)

Another thing I really like about this is it has a better sense of balance.  I also really like the background, how it's textured and just slightly off white.

What I wonder, is if the word 'geese' is easy to read for first time viewers that don't know what it says already?  I have to admit that my brain is a bit unusual (you already noticed, eh?) and it has a devil of a time trying to read non-standard fonts.  But I'm in the minority, so can you let me know if this is clear to you.  It would really help me out.

So, what do you think?  Am I there yet, or shall I keep on working on it?  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Zombies are after me in my dreams.

Picked up this bracelet made from a fork recently from CandleBrightCreations on etsy.

The Lord of the Rings quote, "Not all who wander are lost" is somehow printed into the metal.  Personally, I think it's fantastic, and even if I had the tools to make this I don't think I could ever come up with the idea on my own.

An old, everyday object, transmogrified (great word Transmogrified) into something familiar yet unique.  It represents moving forward in a way that is no longer wasteful like our throwaway society.  Honouring the past, yet forging a new style.  Cutlery always reminds me of civility - so many pages of etiquette manuals are dedicated to which spoon goes with which course.  And yet, there is something so earthy about this kind of item as jewellery.

This bracelet inspired me to make a 'matching' necklace.

The necklace is made by putting a jump ring on a vintage sewing machine shuttle (Singer 127).  I can wear it around my neck in case of emergency.  Given the way my life has been going lately, you never know...

 It's from an old machine I'm toying with.  The body is quite rusty, so I might take it all the way apart just to see how it all works... not sure if I want to put it together again or make more jewellery.  But that's a project for another day.

Something I haven't told you yet, I've been having bad dreams.  

We are talking so scared when I wake up I can't even turn on a lamp for fear that the zombies will be see the light and burst out of my dream and through the window, so I lay awake in bed shaking, for 6 hours until the sun comes up - that kind of bad dream.

The dreams are about zombies.  Two nights ago one of them bit me.  He wasn't a real zombie... well he was, only he got sort-of cured.  His mind was cured, but he was still rotting and stinking like a zombie (dream zombies smell terrible!).  Freud would know what to think of that, I sure don't.

I was thinking maybe I should warn everyone about my zombie bite.  Instead of wearing a sandwich board sign around my neck, I found a far more fashionable way to declare my condition.

Better sell some more yarn so I can get this quick, before it's too late.

2012 goals and dreams

My goals - my crafting, fibre arts goals  that is - for the rest of this year look like this at the moment.


  • polish my etsy shop (especially banner, feel of shop, policies and profile).  Get it established so that it can just sort of continue on at a moderate pace.
  • Wash and process fibre like mad.  Maybe acquire a few more fleeces if something special comes along, but otherwise work through my stash.
  • Mostly work on the farm
  • Participate in the Tour de Fleece
  • Try and find some people for an indigo-a-long, either online or here in town.  Really want to dye with indigo, but nervous about doing it on my own.
  • Play with some natural dyeing - whatever plants and such I can find around the farm.
  • Wash fleece like never before.  Fleece dries quickly in the warm weather.
  • Spin like a mad woman
  • Spin yarns to sell in the local fibre arts shop: Knotty by Nature.
  • Participate in Fibrations
  • re-join the local Handweaving and handspinning guild, I let my membership lax due to health issues this year.
  • Learn to use my knitting machine!
  • spin away those long winter nights.

All this is subject to change of course.  What are your fibre goals for this year?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Identity crisis... averted?

Up until now, my online identity just sort of happened.  I participate in groups I like and I practice writing (with varying degrees of success) here on my blog.  But opening a shop on etsy, and actually selling stuff, has got me thinking about my story and how I present myself online.

After much wrestling with myself and a bad dream about zombies later, I've decided to keep the name Trampled by Geese.

I just love this name so much, it has a memorable ring to it, it means a lot of positive things to me, it get's people's curiosity, and don't we all feel like we've been trampled by livestock at some time or rather in our lives?

Next thing I want to tackle is my banner!

Here's what Sara C on Etsy said about it.

Raven from Trampled by Geese - I like the name (not sure how it came about but it's provocative), also like the ball of wool road & the goose on a bike. The goose could be bigger & bolder. Also I like the typewriter style text but I think it needs to be bigger. The elements are all there, fun, quirky, relevant it just needs more punch.

I think she's spot on!  (check out these awesome birdies.  They make me think of chickens)

Why a goose on a bike?

I love getting around town by bike.  It's represents good health and freedom to me.  The feeling of independence when you overtake a bus full of students that you would have been stuck waiting for if you hadn't taken the bike - this is awesome to me.

Once a year, the Tour de Fleece is a spinning event that coincides with the Tour de France.  Due to the time zone difference, for three weeks of the year, I wake up at 3am and spin for hours while watching these fellows cycle around France.  I look forward to this year round.  June and July end up being my most productive months when it comes to crafting - it's far too hot during the day to do anything physical on the farm, all I do is sit in the basement where it's cool, playing with fibre.

So, that's where the bike comes in.  In think generically the bike talks about sustainability, moving forward while being traditional, and it has wheels, like a spinning wheel has a wheel...human powered, my crafts are human made...

This is why I like the bike... but I wonder, would a penny farthing tie in better with traditional, human powered, looks a little bit more like a spinning wheel, or would a penny farthing just be pompous?

Why the typewriter font?

Again, it ties in with technology, old fashion technology that leads to the new, forward moving technology with a backwards looking view... not explaining this well, am I?

Ball of yarn?

Well, you know.

On the whole, I like the sense of motion this banner has.  I also like how it is clear, has lots of clean space, I can change the background and add text for different events, sales and stuff.

What I don't like - mostly the fact that I can't draw.  I think it could be bolder or clearer or something-er.  There is something missing.  There is also something off balance, it doesn't feel like there is enough emotion or motion or tying in with tradition.  Worried that (because of poor line drawings) the goose on a bike is incomprehensible to first time viewers.

Wondering if I can find someone who would like 100yds of spun just for them, handspun yarn (alpaca perhaps?) or 100g of suri fibre for a revamp of my banner and profile pic.  Trying to search on etsy for custom banner makers, but there seems to be a lot of clip-art like banners (all very beautiful, but not what I'm looking for).

Wondering if I should just scrap this banner and start from scratch.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

If there isn't a word for it, there should be.

I think there is a word for what I feel when I see these pretty things.  I'm not sure if the word is in English or not, or maybe I dreamt that there is a word to capture this feeling.  If it was just a dream, then there needs to be word for it (something with 'yarn' in it).

The feeling is: Serge of joy at seeing beautiful item that inspires the heart.  Such gladness that my humble efforts can have a new life at pretty things.  Very slight envy that I no longer have the ability in my hands to make lovely creations from yarn, but quickly overcome with more joy that someone else does.

Big thank you to Alladania for letting me use her photos.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Singer 128 - How to use the vintage buttonholer (it makes button holes so you don't have to)

I don't know if this might help or interest anyone out there, but I'm putting together a series of Getting to Know my Antique/Vintage Singer Sewing Machine. Today I learnt about The buttonhole attachment.

I would like to ask any sewing machine experts to please point out anything I'm doing wrong. I'm a self taught sewer and am learning about the machine by working my way through the manual.

This is a Singer 128 hand crank sewing machine.

It's a nice little portable machine and takes the same bobbins and shuttle as my Singer 127.

I need to make some button holes, and just in case you didn't know yet, these vintage machines don't do a zig-zag stitch.  Gasp!  Whatever will I do?

Never fear, I have an attachment for that!

Vintage Sewing Machine Buttonholer attachment

The buttonholer, or button hole attachment is a marvellous thing.  It works on almost any of the old straight stitch vintage machines with a low shaft foot.  I think you can get a high shaft one, but I have yet to see it.

Very First thing to do is to check your thread tension.

The first second thing you need to do in order to use the buttonholer is to cover the feed dogs.  They are the teeth that move the fabric along while you sew.  The instructions are to use this little plate that comes with the buttonholer to cover the feed dogs.  It just floats over top of them so that they don't get damaged.

Vintage Buttonholer feed dog cover

If you don't have a plate like this, another option would be to remove the feed dogs temporarily while you use the attachment.  You need a screwdriver and to get underneath the machine.  I haven't tried this yet, but I'm told it's fairly easy as feed dogs often need to be replaced over the years.

Next you set up the buttonholer with the right size cam.  There are a bunch of different size templates that can go inside the buttonholer to make different size button holes.

Vintage buttonholer attachment cams

upside-down buttonholer
Now for the real tricky part, attaching the buttonholer to the machine.  There is an arm that needs to go over the screw that holds the needle in place.

And a bar that attaches to the pressure foot vertical-up-down-thing-I-can't-remember-what-it's-called-right-now.

Insert the fabric between the feed dog cover plate and the buttonholer.  Lower pressure foot.  Sew as usual.  In theory the buttonholer will hold the fabric for you and move it as needed, so all you need to do is make certain the thread does not tangle, the machine moves at an even pace and the weight of the fabric does not pull at the sewing.

Not so sure about this 'add caption' option, what do you think, is it helping?

buttonholer in action
 The thing I don't like about this attachment is that if you want to change the size of the button hole, you have to take the entire thing off the machine, change the cam, put it back on again.  The manual suggests that you make a test strip of all the different sizes.  I might just do that when I get a chance.

Buttons are happy, the hole fits!

Yarn Goodies!

New goodies for the shop are finally here:

Beautiful silver grey Romney blended with silk.  Slightly textured handspun lace yarn, has a smooth, sensual texture.

Sock weight, superwash marino.  Fibre was originally dyed by Knitted to a T (who's blog address I've lost somewhere along the way)

And this stunning, hand spun silk thread.

Haven't been able to do much online lately.  But at least I'm starting to turn the corner with this latest setback.  Might take a break from posting new items on my shop and do some sewing just for me.

On an entirely unrelated topic: anyone know the ratio of fresh stinging nettles to wool and if it needs a mordant for the colour to take?

Monday, April 16, 2012

KbN - Knotty by Nature

Visited Knotty by Nature today. This is a very happy place for me. It's full of yarn-ie goodness.

Here's a few photos of the things I saw. As always, there is so much stuff, it's overwhelming in there and I only had 10 minutes. Still, I managed to capture a few fascinating things with my camera.

This is really interesting. I think I'll have to get one next time I'm in.

And then there was this just lying on the table.

Absolutely beautiful... I suspect Ryan has been at the dye-stuff again. Wonder what fibre it is.

The reason why I went to Knotty:

Silk and merino fibre. Hope to spin some lace from these.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tea is good

Spent most of the last three days in bed (don't ask) with a good book and lots of tea.

Although it's nice to get a bit of rest, it's also right at the busy time on the farm. The weeds are growing like stink, and I have no end of seeds wanting to go in the ground, and the poor old chickens need mucking out. Have a little bit more of the garden left to dig, and here I am frustrated that my body won't respond to the pain pills.

I figure I will probably feel just as bad doing nothing in bed as pottering around, so I've been preparing some more yarn for the shop. Here's a teaser:

Did you read the label that talked about handpun thread? I spun that up about two years ago for embroidery. Only I didn't realize how small amount you need to decorate a hot water bottle cosy. It's gorgeous, but I don't see myself using it any time soon. I can always make more if I really want some, so I'll stick it in the shop just as soon as I get some proper photos.

Next job is to start writing the text for May's Crowing Hen Guide to Household Management. Thinking of writing an opinionated survey on different methods of small scale composting, how do to them, what kind of lifestyle each one is suited for, pros/cons of each method. Either that or a booklet on how to clean floors properly without chemicals. Any requests?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Trampled by Geese

Contemplating changing my online name from Trampled by Geese to ....?

Advantages of Trampled by Geese
  • I've had the name so long that it's somewhat known among yarn people
  • it's a good reminder to me to be more positive online
  • it's unusual
  • ties in with the natural/farming theme in my life
  • it's sort of memorable
  • it's universal - not subject specific
Disadvantages of Trampled by Geese
  • it's unusual - and therefore difficult to remember
  • It's too universal - does not say one specific subject
  • it's not readily understandable - you have to read the profile to find out why I have it
  • has a slightly negative connotation unless you know why I've chosen it - word 'trampled' is a negative word.
  • Kind of boring to stick with one name for so long.
I'm still playing with the idea of changing name. It's probably no more than a passing fancy. I think it would be more hassle than it's worth.

The reason why I started thinking about the idea is that I wanted to buy a stamp with my shop logo on it, but then I began thinking of goose on bicycle... that's a bit unusual and possibly (due entirely to my inability to draw, I'm sure) difficult to understand unless you already know me.

I want to make things simpler for people who don't know me. First impression kind of stuff. I know I look at other peoples banners and profile pics &c. and I have the hardest time understanding what the pictures are suppose to be about - to the point where I get frustrated and wonder off somewhere else. I know this is a particular function of my brain, and most people seem able to understand jumbles of pictures like snell. But I think it would be a good reflection of my personality to make the pictures simple but telling a story.

So, in order to get a stamp, I need a new logo/banner/profile pic. In order to get one of those, I need someone who can design/draw/interpret the feel I'm trying to achieve in exchange for handspun yarn. But before I do that, I need to be confident that Trampled by Geese is the name for me.

But what if it isn't?
What name would I choose to replace it?

Well, I'm writing my zine under Crowing Hen guides... so Crowing Hen would be a choice. I like the sound of it, it's simple, my hen has been crowing like mad the last three days (all the earthquakes). But Crowing Hen has the same advantages and disadvantages of Trampled by Geese.... only TbG is better established.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Moving out

Moved out of the yurt and back into my warm bed. This makes me happy.

Take the yurt down tomorrow if it's not too wet... this makes me a bit sad and nostalgic. Not sure why.

Still Getting Storied - still working my way through the etsy symposium workbook

To continue on from last week.

I'm working my way through the Get Storied section of the workbook from the recent Etsy Success Symposium: Get Found

This section is designed to get you thinking about your back story. Where do you come from, what defines you, stuff like that. I managed two of the questions last time, there are three left to go.

Just like last time, it's a first draft that I'm writing with intent of mining it for something to update my profile with later on. Similar to last time, I'm doing this with very little sleep, so please be kind.

3. When have you felt like a misfit or outsider? What have you had to reject or give-up in order
to follow your path?

When haven't I felt like an outsider? Now that I ask myself this question, the first time I didn't feel completely disconnected from the flow of people in the world was when I found yarn people. Yarn people are amazingly diverse. I love them for it!

With yarn people it's all about the small details creating a greater purpose. Just as individual stitches go together to make a sweater, so do individual people gather together to create the most amazing things. Be it the vast body of knowledge at Ravelry, the community at my local yarn store, or what Yarn Harlot said about Doctors Without Boarders.

Yarn people are seldom judgemental of each other. Yarn people realize that every kind of thread has a purpose that it is good at, and even that lonely ball of yarn can find comfort in someone's stash.

Attention to detail is necessary in yarn craft. A sweater is made of thousands upon thousands of stitches, but just one out of place, can spoil the look of the entire garment. A woven blanket can have enough threads in it to boggle the mind, yet each one has to be precise. A treadle error, a threading mistake... A weaver notices these things.

Before I found yarn people, I worried that I wasn't made to be in this world. Interacting with people face to face has always been awkward for me. Although I try not to show it, but I am terribly shy. I've let more than one friendship laps out of my fear of using the telephone.

I see my future self, growing old on a farm, with the chickens, sheep, and growing fresh vegetables for some small restaurant. Hopefully selling enough yarn on the internet to get the roof repaired by winter.

All the knowledge I collect over the years like how to repair a typewriter or manual sewing machine, how to grow and preserve foods, how to cook on a wood stove - I often think that all these things I love to learn would only prove useful if the world as we know it were really to come to an end. You know, if the zombies attack, it might prove useful, but otherwise - it's really all that I'm good at in this world, and that makes me feel rather like a useless outsider at times.

4. Are you in service to something larger than yourself? How would you describe this calling?
Who are you here to serve? Get specific.

I don't know how to answer this one.

The chickens think I'm in their service. The earth wants tilling, the plants watering, the food cooking. But is tilling the land a 'calling'?

When asked my religion, I often tell people that I'm a Whole Wheat Pastafarian. It's not actually a joke, even though I say it in a light tone. But people think I'm making fun or making light of religion. But I'm really not. I wasn't raised with religion. I'm not agnostic, atheist, or religious in any way - to be one of those things you have to have some relationship to the divine. Even an atheist exists in contradiction to God. That's a kind of relationship. I've never had religion in my life, and I'm absolutely fascinated by the idea of how much improved the world must look for those who do feel a connection to a divine force.

I'm actually very fond of the basic ideas behind Pastafarianism , but I would love for it to go a bit further. Thus the Whole Wheat part. Pastafarian deity basically looks like pasta. Pasta is food. Growing food in a way that is sustainable is the closest you can get to the divine.

So I till the land. I grow vegetables and good things to eat. I make my food simply out of basic ingredients. The only impact I leave behind on the earth is to improve the fertility of the soil.

I try to do this with every aspect of my life, including crafting - although I'm not 100% there yet with crafts, I'm working towards it steadily.

5. What is the larger mystery or mystery you are trying to solve? The bigger ultimate question
you want to answer? What is about the world you want to put back into order?

Why are you asking me such difficult questions!?

mystery...question...solve...answer...put back into order?

To put back into order... there is something there that resonates.

I've met so many people over the years who feel disconnected from their world. They feel that they work all day and yet they don't contribute, they don't make anything. I don't know how common this feeling is outside the people I know, but judging from my sample size, the greater population might be feeling a bit out of sorts with their place in the world.

To paraphrase from an advert: There was a time when people made things by hand, when they took pride in their work. It might be a romantized fiction, but I think there is something to it.

The people I know that work with tangible objects. It might be their day job or their hobby. But these people who create physical tangible things that you can see, touch, taste, smell, and hold in your hands. These people seem to be less lost.

Speaking about lost, the knowledge needed to create tangible things by hand is fading fast. Even with the internet to teach us everything, I constantly find gaps in what the web knows.

Even in people the information is dissipating. How many people cannot tell an apple from a carrot? IT IS SHOCKING! There was a day when everyone knew that mosquito grow in standing water. That leaving the fridge door open while complaining about the electric bill was a stupid idea. They knew how to choose the best pineapple or that storing apple with other fruit will make them go bad quickly.

To make things by hand, to take pride in what you do, to pay attention to quality, to make things that last.

This is what I would like to put to right. I just can't figure out a good way to describe it. Try again when I'm less tired perhaps.

That's me done.
There was a bit of yarn at the beginning, but then it just faded into farming and a rant about people being ignorant and lazy. oh well. Come back to it again in a few days and see if there is anything here for me to use.

Anyone else working through this part of the workbook? Love to see what you wrote.

Preparing Alpaca Fibre for spinning (or felting, or whatever)

Alpaca fibre is a lot like wool, if you don't know much about working with fibre. But the more experience you have with fibre, yarn, and textiles in general, the more you come to understand just how different alpaca is.

First off, unlike wool, alpaca does not have much grease in it. This means that you can wash alpaca fibre at a lower temperature using less soap than washing wool. However, alpacas love to roll around in the dirt and have an uncanny ability to seek out the most dusty places. Even though it looks clean, the fibre can hold a huge amount of dirt in it. It's really quite shocking to see such an innocent looking critter get that dirty!

So I do tend towards hot water for washing alpaca, as it seems to allow the individual fibres to relax and realise the dirt.

The first few batches of alpaca I washed, I used net bags. I found that the fibres felted together and for all my efforts didn't get very clean. Now I'm washing small handfulls of fibres loose. It's a bit more tricky and does not retain the lock structure, but the result is easy to tease apart and much cleaner.

Next it's carding.

I like the Ashford Wild Carder for carding Alpaca. If I am careful about how I tease apart the locks and feed the fibre into the carder at an even rate, I can make an excellent batt in only one pass. Although, I usually do two passes to try and blend the brown into the fibre a bit more.

These photos are of Herman's fibre. He's one of our rescue alpacas that lives on the farm.

I'm still trying to decide how I wish to spin this. I think if I was knitting this, I would use it for a light cardigan. Alpaca is too warm for anything heavier than that. Maybe the background for colour work. A fingering yarn would be nice, but should I try a smooth two ply or a lofty one ply? Time to start sampling.

In the end, I'm a huge believer in putting most of your effort into the prep of the fibre. The better prepared the fibre is, the easier it is to spin the yarn you WANT to spin.