The DOT Project – Post #3

Here is the third post in the DOT Project series!

There are times that I consider myself fortunate that no one else is in the house when I do projects like this. Raw fleece has a certain pong. Not unpleasant, but the felines can’t leave it alone. I thought a blanket over the top of the bin I wasn’t working with would handle it.

Not so much!

I had to laugh at that particularly intense feline glare. The bins of fleece went into the back of my car to get them out of range for the night.

I put the fleece on my indoor work table and quickly realized that the table is not nearly large enough to properly spread out the fleece. I also realized that the fleece had been bundled up a couple too many times to make it possible to spread it out so it was facing all the same way.

I was able to do a bit more clean-up of the fleece, taking out a bit more of the dirtiest parts, some vegetable matter, and a few short cuts.

Then I split it into two bins. One bin was 2 pounds 10 ounces, and the other was 2 pounds 12 ounces. These are the dirty weights, and I expect them to be much lighter once I get them washed.

My kitchen sink isn’t my ideal set up for washing fleece. I would much rather have a pair of deep laundry sinks outdoors. The only difference doing the process in my kitchen sink is the amount I can have in the sink at a time. My process in washing is certainly not the only way to get the job done, but I haven’t had a felting disaster since I started using this procedure.

First, I fill the sink with the hottest water I can get from the tap, and some dish detergent.

Then I dump in a portion of the fleece. About a half pound at a time works well. I don’t swish it around, or rub it. No agitation! I just push it underwater. Then I let it soak for about 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes (or so) is up, I scoop the fiber out of the really, really dirty water using either a wire basket or colander. I put in the other sink to drain a bit while I fill the sink with clean water that is about the same temperature as what the fiber just came out of. The important part of not getting a huge mass of felt is avoiding a large change in temperature.

Next step is to do a few plain water soak cycles to get as much of the dissolved dirt and soap out of the fleece as possible. As you can see, it is already much cleaner! I usually change the water three times. Just make sure that each fresh sink of water is about the same temperature as the prior cycle.

The fleece is much cleaner, just compare it to the start of the process! The basket in the image is a wire waste basket from the dollar store.

Just as an aside, if I were doing this outdoors, I would be sure to put the dirty water on the garden.

At this point, I spread it out on a towel pinned to a drying rack. As hot as it is in north Texas this time of year, it will be dry within a day.

This is not all the way clean, but it is definitely far enough along that I can prepare batts for spinning on my drum carder and spin it. Most of what dirt and vegetation that remains will get knocked out of the fiber in the processes of carding, spinning, and plying. The yarn will get washed again once it is spun and plied.

I got the first bin done. The batch in the image above is now dry, and the other three batches are on the drying rack on the front porch.


Next post – carding and starting to spin!

The DOT Project – Post #2

Here is the second post in the DOT Project series!

Well, I was going to start sorting the fleece today. With the help of my neighbor, I even set up a work table outside.

It seems that northern Texas has five seasons. Spring, Summer, August, Fall, and Winter. And it seems that August has arrived a few days early. It is just too ( insert preferred expletives here ) hot for me to work outside for the amount of time it would take for me to do what I want with the fleece.

It still needs to get done, of course. I cleared off my work table indoors. It isn’t as large as the outdoor work table, but I should be able to get some good photos of the process.

I need to finish carding the second half of the Alpaca fiber that I’m currently spinning. I’m nearly done with the spinning of the first half of the Alpaca, so things are moving along.


The DOT Project

0bd44c02-2337-4753-9af6-630775d8c047I’ve started a new project.


Dot is a Rambouillet ewe from a small flock west of Fort Worth. The high quality of her fiber is even apparent in the raw state.

I’ll be starting the sorting and processing of the fiber tonight when I can set up a large table where I can spread the fleece out.

My plan for the “Dot Project” is to discuss every step from the sheep to the finished product.

Future posts will cover:

  • Examining the fleece
  • Raw weight
  • Skirting
  • Sorting the fiber for length and fineness
  • Washing / Dyeing “in the wool” if desired. (If dyeing is done at this point, it will not be necessary to dye as yarn)
  • Drying
  • Picking (if needed)
  • Carding
  • Spinning
  • Plying
  • Skeining and measuring
  • Washing the yarn
  • Dyeing the yarn if desired
  • Finished weight

Then we’ll get into the yarn to finished product steps.

  • What to make? This covers a LOT of area
  • Desired technique – Knitting, weaving, OR?
  • Choice of design
  • Choice of tools
  • Quantity of yarn needed
  • Calculations
  • Set up – Casting on for knitting or warp preparation and warping the loom
  • Working through
  • Finishing processes – washing, blocking, weaving in loose ends, hems or fringes
  • Final item images
  • Happy recipients!!

dot-closeupDot’s owners are new to sheep handling and products, but have sought out as many experienced people as they can.

Their first decision – picking what sheep to start with – was a good one. The Rambouillet breed is a good fit for the American west. They are large, strong, fine-wooled sheep with strong herd and mothering instincts. They also got enough animals for a good base flock without overloading themselves or their facilities.

The fleece that I am starting this project with is the 2016 fleece from “Dot” – one of the adult ewes in the flock. Dot is named for the dark spot on her nose.  She is also the largest ewe in the flock, and the shearer took special care of the fleece.

When I got the fleece it had been skirted, and it has a fresh-from-the-sheep odor. It certainly is not at all unpleasant, but I decided not to bring it into the house to avoid causing any feline tizzy reactions! It is in the storage room / garage attached to my house until I can do the examining, weighing, sorting and set up for washing.

Next post will cover those steps, and will include more photos (and possibly video)

The “Making” Category

Since I do a wide variety of projects, I’ve decided to make a new category. “Making”

This will let me have a junk drawer of things that I do, including my various solutions for things that might otherwise require cash to handle. Since cash is rarely available, and needs are always present, I have had to come up with some interestingly creative solutions.

The entry in this category for today is a set of frames that I made for displaying my goods for sale at the farmer’s market and festivals.

These were made with recycled fence pickets and twine.


EBay Store Page Set Up


I spent a fair amount of time today setting up my eBay store. While I have been an eBay seller for several years, I have never tried to make ALL of my products available on eBay.

Today was occupied with listing nearly all my jewelry. More will be listed in the new few days. I plan to list my artwork, fiber arts, yarns, sewn and knitted items as well as some decor pieces that have ended up in my possession.

Please check out my eBay store:

Stitch Markers In Knit Or Crochet Pieces Can Prevent Frustration

Many times when a crafter is setting up a pattern repeat, getting the stitch count right is a pain in the neck. When family members or others interrupt us, the temptation to reply with overly-sharp words can be overwhelming.

Instead of trying to keep the stitch count right over the whole row or round, break it up into smaller pieces. Most of the time, the repeat will be under twenty stitches. A marker of some sort – a bit of yarn in a contrasting color tied into a loop, a bread bag twist tie, a paperclip, or a bead charm – placed at the beginning and end of the repeat will keep you from having to furiously strain to remember where you are in the pattern.

I make bead stitch markers. They are simple and I think much more appropriate to the making of beautiful things than twist ties or paperclips. Some of mine have earring loops so they can be placed or removed without having to be at that particular stitch in the row. Others have metal-worked loops that do require that the marker be at that particular stitch in the row.

They also make an interesting pendant necklace. I keep my personal set on a cord. As you can see, the set does not have to be of matching charms. I frequently use the little spinning wheel in this set as my first marker in a round to mark the beginning of the round. The matching charms are frequently used to mark placement of increases or decreases as in waist or neckline shaping.

I do have more charms than in the image, though on a truly large project I have supplemented with paper clips until I have the repeat set.

Please contact me if you would like me to make you a set. They are inexpensive, and I believe fiber artists deserve beautiful tools.

Handspun Yarns Available as of May 26, 2015

Currently, I have these yarns in varying skein lengths and weight.

I can re-wind skeins to lengths preferred. I recommend 100 yard lengths, though if you are looking for a large project size, I would keep them in the full skein lengths to minimize joins while you work.

PayPal is preferred, though if you don’t have a PayPal account I can process credit cards through PayPal on my end.

I want you to be happy with the fiber luscious-ness! BTW – All prices include USPS 3 Day Shipping.



Dyed yarns:

4 ounce, 266 yards 2-ply Blue-Faced-Leicester sheep wool

$20 per ounce – $80 for full skein





6.5 ounce, 500 yards 2-ply Blue-Faced-Leicester sheep wool. I have these wound in 100 yard skeins, 1.3 ounces each.

$20 per ounce, $26 for 100 yard skein. $130 for all five skeins.


11.6 ounce, 824 yards Natural brown Navajo-Churro & Corriedale dyed with madder root. I have this in 5 skeins of varying weight and length.

3.2 oz. / 274 yds. / $48

2.5 oz. / 160 yds. / $37.50

1.6 oz. / 100 yds. / $24 (this skein also has some natural grey)

1.9 oz. / 124 yds. / $28.50

2.4 oz. / 166 yds. / $36

11.6 oz. / 824 yds. / $174 for all 5 skeins




Natural Colors


This Navajo-Churro lamb fleece came from my own small flock. His name was Hershey (what else do you name a chocolate-colored lamb?)

16.5 oz., 1,876 yds. in 5 skeins of varying weight and length.

3.4 oz. / 400 yds. / $34

3.2 oz. / 362 yds. / $32

2.7 oz. / 290 yds. / $27

3.6 oz. / 406 yds. / $36

3.6 oz. / 418 yds. / $36

16.5 oz. / 1,876 yds. / $165 for all 5 skeins










Dark Grey Wool / Mohair / Silk / Alpaca blend 2 ply

This is a wonderfully soft natural color blend. It was a delight to spin! I have 4 skeins of varying weight and length.

14.8 oz., 800 yds. In 4 skeins

4.4 oz. / 210 yds. / $66

3.6 oz. / 216 yds. / $54

4.6 oz. / 260 yds. / $69

2.2 oz. / 114 yds. / $33

14.8 oz. / 800 yds. / $222 for all 4 skeins





Light Grey & Light Tan Wool / Mohair / Silk / Alpaca blend 2 ply

This is a wonderfully soft natural color blend. It was a delight to spin! I have 2 skeins of each with varying weight and length.

Light Tan

4.0 oz. / 220 yds. / $60

4.4 oz. / 238 yds. / $66

8.4 oz. / 458 yds. / $126 for both skeins

Light Grey

2.4 oz. / 146 yds. / $36

3.8 oz. / 232 yds. / $57

6.2 oz. / 378 yds. / $93 for both skeins

As you can see in the image, these two blends are very close in color. Alternating colors in rows will give rich color to a project. (The center two skeins are the light grey)



Natural Cotton does come in more colors than just white!

This is a high-mileage fiber at over 150 yards to the ounce. I have 6 skeins of khaki color, 3 of white, and 2 of cream. All are organically grown in the USA.

2.6 oz. / 428 yds. / $52 Khaki

2.8 oz. / 446 yds. / $56 Khaki

3.2 oz. / 560 yds. / $64 Khaki

3.1 oz. / 536 yds. / $62 Khaki

2.3 oz. / 368 yds. / $46 Khaki

1.7 oz. / 280 yds. / $34 Khaki

15.7 oz. / 2,618 yds. / $314 for all 6 skeins




3.0 oz. / 470 yds. / $60 White Acala cotton

3.1 oz. / 514 yds. / $62 White Acala cotton

1.6 oz. / 230 yds. / $32 White Acala cotton

7.7 oz. / 1,214 yds. / $154 for all 3 skeins




Cream Acala Cotton

3.7 oz. / 560 yds. / $74 Cream Acala Cotton

1.9 oz. / 330 yds. / $38 Cream Acala Cotton

5.6 oz. / 890 yds. / $112 for both skeins







365 Blog: Day 104 – T-Storms

The spring storms in north Texas must give meteorologists ulcers.

How do they communicate the real dangers of severe weather without being the boy that cried wolf?

In the past few days there have been several storms in the vicinity. One hit the neighborhood with 70 mile per hour straight line winds that broke a number of trees and caused several crashes on the highway a few blocks north of the house. Another had a high number of lightning strikes nearby. The latest one had all the severe storm warnings up, but made a right turn and went south of the metro area, missing this area entirely.

And this is not the peak of the storm season!

While my decision to raise the garden area on the thick layer of mulch has been advantageous – the garden area was above the water accumulation in the back yard – many of the plants I put out succumbed to the pounding of the heavy rainfall.

I’ll be direct seeding replacements in the next couple days.


365 Blog: Day 103 – Car Crazy


Oh, my poor little car!

I ask a great deal of it, and it has nearly a quarter of a million miles behind it.

The latest issue has been the brakes. I had the back brakes replaced a little over a year ago. I thought there was an issue with them, and a local shade tree mechanic thought so also.

Nope. I spent money on a “new” (junkyard) master cylinder and still had the brakes lock up.

I was then told that the front calipers needed to be replaced, so I went shopping around the local junkyards for them. Not easy finding parts in the junkyards for a twenty year old car!

Fortunately; the shade tree mechanic asked a real pro about the problem. the pro said that the locking up was due to the anti-lock brake system malfunctioning. He disconnected the anti-lock system. While that stopped the locking up, he did say that the front calipers and brake pads urgently needed replacement.


No kidding!

Now my car is stopping without tearing itself up!

365 Blog: Day 102 – More Food Thrifty

In my last post, I talked about a community center program that offered a great deal on produce.

Another option for getting foodstuffs inexpensively are liquidation stores. These are places that get over-stocks, near expiration date, or close-out stocks.

There is one of these stores in my town. While some of their stock is the same price as large chain grocery stores, an observant shopper can find some great deals.