I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A day of spinning wheels, chickens, baby goats and friends

We had our SCAT meeting at a home in the "up country" foothills yesterday. I drove myself and three friends up above Mace Meadows on highway 88 to a place called Sherwood Forest. It's a subdivision that makes you wonder if you're ever going to find the right road or the right house. It goes on forever. Then, just when you think you've gone too far and that the road is never going to end, you get to a beautiful home, with beautiful gardens...
and lovely flowers... and artichokes growing on long stems...
and clothes drying an a line in the sun...
and chickens going every which way...
We were here for our once a month art meeting, but we had also been invited to lunch.
This is "J's" house and we came to have some homemade squash soup and learn to use a spinning wheel.
The living room was filled with spinning wheels, carders, fleece and yarn. This was going to be such fun.

We (four woman and one chicken) arrived on one of those iconic days that California is famous for....blue sky, big fluffy clouds, a little breeze and ... wait, did I say we arrived with a chicken? Yes, I did. This is the kind of world I live in. You pick someone up and they say... "You don't mind, do you, if I bring my chicken with me?" and, of course, I say, "No problem." So, she hops into the car with her little chicken carrier and a little baby Sizzle in it. What's a Sizzle, you ask?
This is a baby Sizzle..
.The Sizzle Chicken is a cross between a Silky and a Frizzled Cochin. Frizzles are the divas of the chicken world. The term frizzle refers to a gene that produces funky feathering. Any breed can be bred to created frizzled chickens.
This little chicken was tired when we got to "J's " house and was a little bit frazzled, so her momma wrapped her little baby in the sweatshirt she was wearing and little Sizzle hunkered down and settled in for the visit.
Then she ate and took a nap, like all good little babies.

We walked out back to the goat fort...
Where we met the new baby goats, Lily and Lulu.
"J" showed us how they have learned to bow for a cracker...
and bring her their food dish...
And look as cute...
as cute...
can be. You will have to give me a moment here... you know how I miss my goats.

We had a great lunch and some dessert... then settled in for a lesson in spinning.
I have to say that this is a lot harder than it looks. I have decided that I'm hand/eye/ foot challenged. This take a certain brain alliance and coordination that my body wasn't getting. I was encouraged with "It takes practice." and "You'll get it." ... to "Oops, the wheel is going the wrong direction again." and "You don't have to hold the wool so tight."
First we all picked out some wool roving and some pretty sparkly stuff and ran it through a carder. Roving is a long and narrow bundle of wool fiber that's made from wool fleece, which is fiber that is clipped from an animal. A drum carder is a contraption that blends, cleans and aligns the individual fibers with each other in preparation for spinning. This part was fun. We added different colors and little bits of thread and silk. One of us turned the crank and we ended up with beautiful roving that was ready to make into yarn.
Then the spinning began. "J" demonstrated and I, foolishly, offered to be first. Some of us were better at this than others. I think some of us had done this before... but not I. This seemed like a truly foreign and awkward task. I think that I will not be buying a spinning wheel. I think that I will probably be buying another lens for my camera. Cest la vie.
This is a sample of the yarn that we all wove.
If anyone laughs, I will haunt you forever. It's too skinny in places, too fat in others, too twisted and can only be used for unique knitting situations. I think I will call it designer yarn if anyone asks.

 I don't know how to get the twists out of it so they are going to stay that way.
I pulled on "the yarn" and when I let go, it snapped back into tight little twists again.
 I may be able to use this yarn as a bungee cord...just put some hooks on the ends of it and there you go... pretty and practical.
This was a day of humble admission of my limits as a diverse artist. I can use a sewing machine, knit, crochet, felt, collage, paint, create ornaments out of eggs and gourds and photograph anything... but that spinning wheel brought me to my knees. I finally handed over the reins to the Sizzle chicken's mom. She seems to have a better understanding of this roving to yarn process.
In my defense, I didn't give up. I went over to another wheel that had only one small foot pedal and did some plying (putting two yarns together). This was easier and the wheel, that I was suppose to turn in a clockwise direction (on the first wheel), had to go counter clockwise for plying... so I was finally going in the "right" direction on this one. That's a confusing sentence but I know what I'm talking about and it doesn't make any difference anyway, because that other wheel will never see me struggle again. I don't think it liked me. I think there might have been something strange going on. Maybe something magic.
Yeah... that's it.
 I read Rumplestiltskin.
 I know about these things.



  1. Connie this was a very amusing post. Your photos were great. This is first time I have seen artichokes growing and it was interesting. Have a blessed day and a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Madeline

  2. Hee hee! You did better than you give yourself credit for. If your "singles" yarn didn't kink up on itself, it wouldn't have enough twist to ply. When you turn the wheel in the opposite direction to ply, you are actually partially UNtwisting your singles, so you have to start with a good amount of twist. And yes, you created designer yarn, which is REALLY HARD to replicate once you get really comfortable creating yarn. And yes, you will get along with some wheels and not with others; that's why it's really important when shopping for a wheel to try every model you can get your hands on to see which one works for YOU.

  3. Hubby Rich and I were on a drive up very nearby about 2 weeks ago, and I thought it would be a nice area to retire to, when you don't need to get out during snow storms, and there is actually a golf course (for him). Nice to see there is good gardening up that way. I admire the way you keep trying new things. I need to do that! Tina

  4. I'm with Madeline...I've never seen artichokes growing either! I don't think I'd be able to do this either but it sure is neat to learn about it. Those goats are so cute! And so is Sizzle! Great post :)

  5. What a fun day! I've never wanted to spin, so I've not given it a try. I admire you for jumping right in - and making "designer" yarn! Ha. Love all the animal pictures too!

  6. Rumplestiltskin haha, that's a good one Farmlady! I think this yarn is perfect for one of your felted projects or maybe a gourd, one of those may turn into a golden moment!. I look forward to seeing it again………

  7. I remember trying a spinning wheel once and god forbid I would have to bet my life on my spinning! Needless to say I "didn't get it" either! Those goat kids pulled at my heartstrings too...miss ours as well.


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