I can’t believe how quickly fall went for me. And the holidays passed me right up. I didn’t get to finish as many projects as I would have liked to, but people know my schedule and tend to be pretty understanding. I think they also know how much time goes into each project, and the fact that December is the busy month for us dog groomers. Many give me plenty of time for their holiday gifts. Luckily, I don’t have anything too Christmas specific, so they can enjoy their gifts all year long. I also had to take some time out to celebrate my baseball team finally winning the world series. My husband may be a south sider, but that won’t stop me from celebrating!
So after my last post, I had a few things happen. I made a cat for my friend. The cat has glow in the dark eyes and a pipe cleaner in the tail to allow it to be shaped. I’m actually pretty proud of how it turned out. I wanted to try a more cartoon figure rather than a more realistic animal. Just to get some understanding on shapes. I really struggle with getting the eyes the same size and shape. I either had one that was more almond looking or one that was larger than the other. I really need to practice making the same shape. I’m hoping to purchase some tools to help me out with this in the future. But for now, I have to rely on making my tracing patterns a bit more consistent.
After Halloween, I had to take some time to prep my poodles and westie for competition. Took home some more medals, and I got to take home some mohair. They had kind of a petting zoo there, and I was talking to lady about the Huacaya Alpaca she had. When I did the alpaca days near my father’s farm, they only had Suri Alpaca, but I wanted to touch, what I call the poodle alpaca type. She mentioned she had two over grown goats that I could shave so, I had the luxury of shaving two angora goats and they allowed me to keep the fiber. They were barely a year in age, so the fiber is extremely fine.
I have never worked with mohair before, so I asked around as to how I can work it and I got a lot of mixed reviews. Some say they use it with felting, and others say it won’t felt. It smelled, clearly, like a farm, so I kind of kept it outside. It’s pretty chilly her in Chicago for November, so it didn’t seem like it would harm anything. They were double wrapped in bags and in my screened porch, so it ended up working for me. It also gave me time to research how to clean the fiber, and what I would need to finish the process.
I was lucky enough to have found a really good deal on a drum carder a couple weeks later, and I snatched that up, as soon as I was able. So on an unscheduled day off, I decided to try and clean the fiber. I skirted outside, it smelled really bad, and pulled out all the gross parts that were stained from the fiber being so matted around the potty areas. Once those areas were gone, I grabbed one of our 5 gallon buckets from all the construction in my house and boiled up some water on the kettle. I have, literally, zero kitchen, so that is the only way I can really get really hot water. The tub facet water is warm, but I can stand under it on it’s hottest setting and with the fiber being so gross, I thought I might need a little extra heat. So I did 1/4 hot tap water and a 1/4 kettle boiled water leaving the bucket only half full. This left enough room for me to add the entirety of the pelt to be put in for cleaning. One goat had a finer feel than the other, so I didn’t want them getting mixed together.
After I was done cleaning, I needed some space to allow this fiber to dry. I don’t really have a set up (yet), so I kind of used some of our shelving that was pulled during construction to make some drying racks. It actually worked quite well. At this point, I remember thinking, ‘this isn’t very much fiber, what will I do with it?’ Until I got to the drum carder and started carding the fiber, did I realize that I actually had a lot of wool. I’m still not done carding all this wool, and that is with the help of an extra pair of hands to kind of pick the wool while I took pieces to put on the drum.
The carding process was definitely a process to kind of figure out. My mother and I, who were both curious about the whole process, kind of just threw it onto the feeder and let the drum do it’s thing, but it was tough to turn and I was loosing a lot of fiber on the first wheel, and I also learn it’s a pain to get it off. So I researched and found that with a finer fiber, it’s easier to self feed onto the main drum, and then take it off when the drum fills. Then run it through again through the whole process. That helped a lot. And with that, I got my first batt of mohair.
I still haven’t used it for anything. I’m deciding if I should wait to learn how to spin and use it for that, or if it will wet felt and I can use it for the inside lining of some cozy slippers. I’m also wondering what the adventure of dying fiber is, but I kind of need to wait for a kitchen before I can do that. Because you know, you kind of need a way to keep the water heated. So I just keep it stored, and when I have down time, I card away. I have a feeling, I’m going to be carding for a while. I’m also going to see if my handy brother-in-law can make an electric carder, as I have a bad shoulder, and while it doesn’t seem like it would cause much problem, it does add up. Did I mention he is also very handy? He redid all our electrical for our up and coming kitchen, so I’m sure he has some brilliant ideas to turn it into an electric drum carder.
I also tried to make a more realistic dog. I thought I would try a breed that I’m not as comfortable with, so I tested out my corridale fiber on a westie. I’m still working on perfecting the breed, so I thought I would see what I’m struggling with to get an idea. I also didn’t want to jump into a poodle right away because they are mostly just hair, and I’m struggling with duplicating pieces, so I thought I would see what it would be like to add ears with a head full of hair. I’m still not satisfied with the ears, but over all, I think it turned out nice for my first one.
Not that I’m entering my slow month, I have a list of projects I would like to start and ones I need to finish. I’m trying out some wet felting. I’m really interested in making some slippers. We have had a pretty mild winter, but January always blast us with some intense temperatures, so I think some slippers will be nice. I also started making my mother a purse, or laptop bag, and I need to finish. Just needed some more colors to be able to finish up the strap.
For Christmas, everyone was wondering what they should get me. I just told them keep in small, I really don’t like the idea of people having to spend money on me. Especially those I know that could use it towards their kids or have tight budgets. But being able to buy a bit of wool and still keeping the price down was perfect this Christmas. I knew they weren’t spending a ridiculous amount on me, and they still felt happy to send a gift. So my color collection has grown, and it will allow me to give back to them through creation. I like the idea of making gifts for people anyways. I really comes from the heart.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday and I am excited to ring in the new year with some time to sit down and felt!