Wool

Felted Chicks

adorable, right?

You have no idea.  the picture only shows a few examples of their cuteness.  

Each chick comes alive depending on the combinations of color and the amount of time you spend.

Like so many of my best ideas, these were the result of a mistake.  

Had one or two of those yourself?


I had a large number of wool dryer balls that just got too small, they felting too tightly. 
So, what are we going to do with a large basket full of felted wool balls?
The holiday's were approaching and I thought, hmmm, a great base for ornaments.  
Being a farmer, selling at farmers markets I concluded... farm animals!

So, grab your felting needles, don't worry about which number or size needle, any will do for this very easy project.  Get some colors of wool roving, (you'll definitely need orange for the beak) hopefully from your favorite sheep farmer.  You can even buy your favorite sheep farmers wool and easily dye your own. (Future Blog) using things from your kitchen pantry, cool aid,  turmeric, or onion skins to name a few.  Very small amounts of wool will go along way with these felted ornaments.

Take a very small amount of the orange roving and fold it in a triangular shape, hoping to see some resemblance of a chickens beak, now place the soon to be finished beak on a felting foam surface and  "poke" it with your needle to firm it up.  Keep "poking" until it holds its shape.  Admire it for  a brief moment, then "poke" it to attach it to the wool felted ball.  Now you have the beginnings of your chick!
From there, let your imagination GO

Have fun...there is no wrong .

Be careful, you'll have so much fun watching these critters come alive you might find yourself making pigs!


For those about to ask me why a sheep farmer isn't making sheep....I did.  They all sold.
I am too lame to make more before posting this...sorry.

Maybe before I have a chance to replenish my inventory you can make a few and share your creations with the rest of us?

Happy Felting 

DIY Wool Dryer Balls




On this farm, we raise sheep. 

You'd never know from my blogs that we raise sheep, would you?  I write about farming and such and occasionally show pictures of our sheep.  I do talk about farming chores but I haven't spoken of wool, our wool specifically, the many attributes of wool in general, or the many fun and useful things you can do with it.

I think I'm way over due for a blog about wool, don't you?

I have pondered and pondered the topic of wool.  Where to begin?  I've thought about the many phases and facts regarding wool.   I get so overwhelmed with the possibilities for a blog that I put the idea away thinking I'll get back to it another day.  I read a post about knitting from a friend over on Google+ ,  Lynne Knowlton. As Lynne described getting out those knitting needles again I was quickly reminded it's the very basic stuff that folks would enjoy. 

It hit me, yes, let's make    wool dryer balls!

Stoney Mountain Farm Wool Dryer Balls

What the heck are wool dryer balls you ask?


Well they're just the coolest laundry alternative out there, of course and I am biased!

wool dryer balls:
....replacing those chemical laden dryer sheets, one household at a time ... we should all be happy about that.  


This is not intended to be an ad so please don't be offended if I send you to our website for more details about the many benefits of wool dryer balls.  Here, we're going to roll our sleeves up and make our very own felted wool balls.

If your not inclined to use them as a laundry alternative they make great pet toys, juggling balls, pin cushions, and even the base for more felting projects.   I even have one customer that adorns her home with bowls of these natural felted balls of wool, quite nicely too.

So, take this project as a crafty one...that is the intent after all!


Grey wool roving

I am going to show you how to make them...the best way!  There are alot of folks making them out of yarn and that's fine but they won't last as long.  We're going to make them from wool roving.  Roving is the wool, after it has been washed and carded.  Roving is the stage just prior to spinning the carded wool into yarn.

Maybe you have a stash of yarn on hand you'd like to use?  Whether yarn or roving, the process we are about to engage in is felting.

For this project all you will need is:

  1. wool,  I would suggest 2 ounces of roving for each ball, totaling 6 ounces. I would also suggest you make 3 wool dryer balls as the desired affects from the wool balls require a minimum of 3.  You can purchase roving from a variety of craft stores, our farm, our shop on Etsy or many others, and many other places.  I would encourage you to buy it from a farmer or someone that knows the source of the wool and how it is handled..  Like food, wool is being treated in ways you would find criminal...at least I hope you would.  Do you know 80% of the wool grown in this country is being sent to China for processing because the chemical restrictions are lighter there?  The wool then returns to you, the unsuspecting buyer.  On our farm we only send our wool to U.S. mills that do not use chemicals in any stage of the process...that's hard to find. If you want colorful wool dryer balls you can find roving that has been dyed.  We don't use any chemicals or dyes on our wool...just au naturale,  only the shades of the sheep.
  2. a sock, either mens cotton tube sock or a womens trouser sock will work
  3. rubber bands
  4. washer& dryer
  5. laundry soap
Lets Begin:

First, divide your roving into 2 ounce sections.  Don't be afraid to pull the roving apart.   We are going to roll each 2 ounce portion of roving into a ball.  If you are using yarn, the process is the same.   If your roving tears, do not fret, just pick up the next piece and keep going.
As you roll the roving be careful to always keep a round shape.  If your "ball" gets lopsided you need to focus on the underdeveloped side.  You want the ball to be taut but not tight.  Do not be afraid.  Regardless, you will have a felted ball at the end of this process.

Just keep rolling until the full 2 ounces of wool roving is used.  Round and round, trying to keep the roving from twisting as you roll.
You will want to feed the end back through your final pass.  If you are familiar with needle felting this is where you would felt the end down therefore leaving a smoother edge.

Now, your ball is ready to place in the sock.  Sometimes I put my hand in the sock first and grab the wool ball with my sock covered hand, then pulling the sock over the ball.  Tie off the sock with a knot or the rubber band,  Repeat the process until your sock is full with the 3 balls.

Now, place the sock in the washing machine in a hot soapy cycle.  Remove the sock from  the washer and run them through a dry cycle.

Remove them from the sock.

Voila!
your very own wool balls....

So easy!  

You'll be so impressed with the ease and quality of your results,  you may just become a wool junkie!


Ready to try some felting?



April. Did I miss it?

Where does the time go?  We always hear folks ask that.  If I didn't have so many notes all over the calender for April 2013 I'd swear something happened to that whole month.  Like a whirl wind, come and poof...gone!
Shearing Day over 100 visitors
Fact is April is a very busy time for us.  When April appears we have usually just finished shearing all of our sheep and wool is everywhere.  We always hope our Shearing Day event will reduce the numbers of fleeces we have to deal with as folks in attendance buy them right off the sheep.  We do have fewer but we still face what seems like a mountain of wool!
 Yes, I must admit, the quantity of fleeces can be overwhelming and it takes me longer then it should getting round to sorting through them deciding which will go for yarn, roving or which will be kept to sell as raw wool. Several of them will be too full of vegetation, some matted, or not the quality you'd want to sell to someone in any form.  So, what to do with each bag of wool?  As I have them stored under a shed roof for now it's a BIG task that smacks me in the face each and every time I walk out the front door of our house.  Guess I should have picked a better place to put them?  Maybe if I didn't have to see them they'd disappear like April.  
Mi Sueno


Yes, April is also a BIG month for lambing.  In the fall we put the ram in the pasture with the ewes for 60 days.  That's much longer then most farms would leave the ram with the ewes but our primary ram, Mi Sueno, has my husband speaking for him...get my drift?  The primary downside of leaving Mi Sueno in with the 28 girls longer could be that our lambing might take longer.  Mi Sueno is not a romancer, he's a, he's a, how should I put it?  Wham bam kind of ram?  How do we really know that...lambing was DONE in less then 30 days.

Anyway, basically 149 days from 1st exposure to the ram you start preparing for the possibility of lambs.  Over time you learn tell tale signs and you get used to your girls.
Soon Please!
March 29th was the 1st possible day, no lambs.  March 30th, nothing.  Then on April 1st the lambing began with one ewe and twins.  Within a few hours the lambs take on personalities and we're able to assure them the nursery will be full very shortly. 





As the days progressed we were gathering sometimes 6-8 lambs per day.  Mind you, were a small operation! Each lamb happily greats the new one(s).  Each mom is different, some very protective, others experienced and calm others know they have a responsibility and they'll give off their lamb specific bleat to let the wee one know where they are but other then producing milk and feeding it they're kind of like..."What?  I'm over here!"  Regardless, It's an amazing process to behold.  I am sure some would accuse me of being too imaginative with this whole process.  Maybe I am to some degree but mostly I'd disagree.  Each of these animals is unique, with personalities and feelings.
This year we were blessed with 37 beautiful lambs and only one didn't make it.  Sad fact, they say 10% loss isn't unreasonable. So, as farming goes we'd have to chalk it up to a very good year even with the loss. For those that follow us on Facebook you know about our loss, it was a very tough day.  After 6.5 hours of hard labor she gave birth to the biggest lamb we've ever had on our farm.  A real beauty!  We checked the mom for milk and made sure they had bonded and a few other aftercare protocols.  They were both exhausted!  He didn't make it through the night.  You beat yourself up, what could I have done, what didn't I do/see...this the hardest part about farming to me.  We face a lot of life and death realities around here.  From the raccoon eating our chickens to the lamb that struggles to be born only to pass before his romp through the green pastures.  We often cry but mostly we carry a heaviness for awhile.  Then we find ourselves standing on the fence line watching 36 lambs jump and play without a care in the world.  They gather in a bunch, all of them, and like a swarm of bees they run, kicking up their heels, happy to be alive!

That's where April went!


Triplets

These harsh realities of nature are not easy yet we know we are in a close relationship with Mother Nature and knowing her we feel grounded. 



Nature reaches out to us with welcoming arms, and bids us enjoy her beauty; but we dread her silence and rush into the crowded cities, there to huddle like sheep fleeing from a ferocious wolf.   Kahlil Gibran