It was still almost 90 degrees last night when the dogs and I took our daily hike so as usual, Rowdy found a "cool spot". It has been HOT and muggy since Sunday and it is Wednesday as I write this. I think a cold front is supposed to move through tomorrow and hopefully it will bring some rain as well. I don't think we have had any rain since Aug 31 and I have lettuce in my garden which could use the rain.
Speaking of the garden, Sam and I have been really enjoying our sweet corn. The ears are small, but they are really good. We hope to get a few more meals from it as there are still a lot of ears on the stalks. Fingers crossed that the raccoons continue to stay away.
I also tried something new to me that I heard about on a video podcast. I did a "progressive" pot of tomato sauce. Basically, instead of waiting for enough tomatoes to be ripe all at once (which never happens without many of them becoming overripe), I harvested whatever was at peak ripeness one day, tossed them in a big stock pot and cooked them down a bit, then refrigerated the whole pot. 2 days later, I repeated this, tossing the newly harvested tomatoes into the same pot and cooking everything some more. I did this a 3rd time and the pot was full, so I seasoned with onion, garlic, and fresh herbs , cooked it all down and then used a hand-held "stick" blender to kind of homogenize it and then canned it. I got 4 quarts and 1 pint and it tasted good before canning. One quart did not seal, so we will probably have that tonight. By the way, that hand held blender....awesome! I had to acquire one and I wonder why I never had one before.
As alluded to by my post title this week, most of what I have for today has to do with fiber. I am preparing for the Wool Gathering which is only 10 days away. I have been working on some layered spinning batts and got them finished this week. I had previously dyed and carded up some 100% alpaca in red and blue and carded in some purple "firestar" which is a sparkly synthetic fiber. I also dyed about 1/2 a pound of 100% silk top, which is silk already prepared for spinning. This was dyed in the 2 colors of red and blue mixed together, to make a variegated purple.
The next step was to put these elements together on my drum carder.
I first put the blue on the drum carder in 2 layers with silk in between.
Here is the blue with some of the purple silk being added. Then another layer of silk before I started to add the red alpaca.
The red went on in 2 layers with another layer of silk in between. I am not blending these together, it is just layered, like a sandwich. Then I pull the whole thing off the carder and roll it up. I did some with the blue outside and some with the red outside, but all are the same. They are all about 2.2 to 2.4 oz.
Here is how the batt looks before rolling it up. Blue on one side, red on the other and purples in between. I have enough silk leftover to do a sample batt for myself and I need to do that and spin it before the festival next weekend. I am looking forward to seeing how it looks spun up.
I also finished the sweater I have been working on. Watch for photos of that next week. I just set in the sleeves yesterday, so I have not had a chance to get photos done.
Somewhat new on the needles is a cowl using some of my own hand-dyed alpaca. This will be knit like a scarf until it is about 4 feet long and then I will join the ends together to make an "infinity" scarf which will wrap twice around my neck. This is so soft and I love the color.
On the farm, we are expecting 2 crias later this month. Both Miracle and Micki were bred the last week of October last year and so will be 10 1/2 months along in just a few days. That means that they could deliver anytime from now until the first week of November, though in our 14 years of alpaca births, fall crias are usually a somewhat shorter gestation than spring crias. Almost 2 weeks shorter on average. Why? I have no idea. Miracle is huge and this will be her 3rd cria. Micki is not so huge and this will be her 4th. Her track record for crias has not been good. All 3 have been very small even at full term, and none have thrived. The last one died within 48 hours. So I don't hold out much hope and will likely not breed her again if this cria is not healthy. It's a shame since Micki retains a very nice fleece and I would like to carry those genetics on, but not the genetics for unthrifty crias.