Tuesday, May 10, 2016

3rd Floor Guest Bathroom - Complete Renovation - Featuring my knit and woven pieces.

I am seriously slacking on updating this blog !!  I do post to our Facebook page and Instagram on a regular, almost daily basis because I can do it from my phone, but for the blog, I need to sit at the computer, which for an active farmer/yarn store owner/fiber artist/mom/wife . . .  is harder than it sounds.  Funny to think that when I was a consultant, I spent a good 8-10 hours a day at the computer and now it's lucky if I do that a week, my iPhone and iPad do almost everything I need.

In any event, we renovated this bathroom last year and I took my sweet time decorating it and took EVEN longer to get pictures.  I have included some knitted and woven items in the bathroom and am currently working on a handspun / handwoven wall hanging!

I hope this project gives you some inspiration on what a little bit of color, and a little bit of yarn can do to spice up a space and make it warm and inviting.

And now. . . .

The house on our farm was originally built in 1740.  There is a rich history of the generations of people who lived here and we love to learn all we can about the property and surrounding area. We are the first owners of the property for all of (written) history that are not related to the original settlers.  

This is our 3rd floor guest bath.  It is off of our office and adjacent to the guest room. 

This is actually a rather large room, but the space was not utilized properly.  The floor, which is linoleum had cuts and burn marks and is probably from the 60s.  Unfortunately it was glued down over original hard-wood floors that we could not salvage because of the damage of the glue, nails and uneven sanding in the past.  

The sink is TINY. . . and shallow.  It is impossible to wash your hands without splashing yourself.  The ceramic soap and tooth brush holders were cracked.  

There was a ton of towel racks in the bathroom.  All cheap and all needed to go.  

The medicine cabinet was rusted and grungy and the two florescent lights were glaring in your face as you looked in the mirror. The walls were a gross yellow and there obviously was a smoker in the house prior to us.  

The shower was also tiny and the walls were painted !!  The shower floor was just so gross, I never stepped foot in it.  

The toilet was not in terrible shape, but years (possible decades) of not being used left a permanent stain in the bowl.  It is rather close to the shower, but to move it would have been a huge undertaking in plumbing, so we decided to leave it and make it work.  The only storage in the room was plywood shelving that was not even sanded smooth next to the toilet.  The bare bulb had scary wiring and was just bizarre.  

We had already done all replacement windows, so the window is new.  The hot water radiator was in good shape, but needed to be refreshed with a coat of paint.  

We decided to do a complete gut of the room with the exception of the radiator.  We decided not to move any plumbing except for the shower head and regulator.  The shower head  was in the ceiling.


Tiny little sink. Small grungy medicine cabinet and 2 lights.

Tiny little shower, with PAINTED walls. 
Check out the shower floor!  GROSS! 
Bare bulb hanging down with scary wiring.
Plywood shelving - AND CHECK OUT the floor! 


I didn't take too many pictures of the work while it was underway, because it was during a heat wave and quite frankly it was HOT as heck on the third floor.  

New shower install


I hope you like looking at the pics and get some color inspiration and for all the fiber artists out there inspiration that your handi-work can also be used in the bathroom!! 

New EVERYTHING. Laminate floor, vanity, paint etc!  The ceilings are very low in this house,
so hanging the curtain rods a little higher than the window and pooling to the floor gives the illusion of height 
Blue and yellow make a bright and inviting space 

A birdcage found at a yard sale set the "bird" theme for the whole room.  The footstool
was a $10 find at a craft store that I painted with milk paint to make it look aged. 

Bird cage found at a "going out of business" craft store.  I then purchased
little birds and nests to make it look "real" 

A sunflower pic from a pro-photographer is bright and
cheery and made the yellow accents all tie together

A bookshelf purchased at an Amish store, woven table topper, made by me and featured on this blog,  a copper antique
oblong receptacle, blue vase fill marbles and battery powered lights.  The bird cage to the left
is 1/2 of a set of bookends.  The pic to the right is of our antique barn taken by me.  There is also a birdcage on the bottom found at a flea market. 
I knitted this tissue box holder from the left over yarn of the woven table topper. 
Another view, notice the other bird cage bookend on the back of the toilet
Silk Sunflowers in an antique bottle found at a yard sale.  
A bee in the middle of the sunflowers.  An homage to our own honeybees. 

Another view

The vanity close up.  

We opted for period style fixtures all in oil rubbed bronze. 

Sconces in bronze again

The new shower.  roomy and new. 

Found at a yard sale, these bottles look perfect just sitting on the vanity. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Open House Announcement and Spinzilla 2015 Savings

Open House and SPINZILLA 2015 savings

Fuzzy Butts grazing
Come join us for National Alpaca Farm Days here at Alma Park Alpacas LLC
  • Who - You're invited!
  • When - 
    • Saturday September 26 10am - 4 pm
    • Sunday September 27 10 am - 2 pm 
  • Where - Alma Park Alpacas - Directions
  • Cost - FREE
  • What: 
    • Meet an alpaca or several :) 
    • Feel the fleece
    • See spinning demos
    • Hang out and knit or spin with us
    • Enjoy the beautiful fall weather!
    • See the progress on the new store / studio
    • Shop for yarn, fiber, roving, gifts, clothes 
  • Why: Why not? 

Can't join us? 

Well take advantage of FREE SHIPPING (US only) through Sept 30 on all orders $25 and over (including clearance items).  No coupon code needed.  Just go to www.yourLYSonline.com and browse. New items listed daily! 

ALSO - since Spinzilla 2015 is right around the corner (starts Oct 5th) we have a CLEARANCE section of fiber to get you ready or to feed your stash.  

Here's some items in stock RIGHT NOW! 

Pixie-Stix™ Hand Dyed Sock Weight
Dryer Balls

Tons of batts, roving, top and other fiber

Hand Spun Hand Knit Fingerless Gloves
With Antique Buttons

More Yarn
Alpaca Scarves

Friday, July 10, 2015

Series (Installment 3 - Icelandic Wool): Spinning my way through the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

This is the third post in the Series.  Follow the links below to view the 1st and 2nd posts in this series.

Installment 1 - Huacaya Alpaca
Installment 2 - Corriedale Wool

Icelandic Wool 

"This breed originated in Iceland and is hardy and adapted to harsh, changeable climate and marginal pasture and browse conditions. Ewes are prolific, good milkers and possess exceptional longevity. The Icelandic has historically been a meat breed, but is also a noted source of wool for lopi yarn. Fleece colors can be white, tan, brown, gray or black. The breed is both polled and horned with both sexes capable of horn growth." 1
  • Fiber Characteristics - Icelandic fleece are dual-coated.  There is a long outer coat called the tog and a downy soft undercoat called the thel.  The can be separated or spun together.  Icelandic fleece is a very versatile fiber and  the tog/thel combo can be spun into a single ply lopi type yarn (although a true lopi is actually slightly twisted roving) , 2-ply tog/thel combo or can be separated.  The tog is long and strong and can be spun for warp or a variety of uses.  The soft thel undercoat can be spun by itself or blended with fine fibers such as alpaca to make a next to skin soft yarn.  Micron of the tog (27-30) with an average staple of 4-18 inches, micron of the thel (19-22)  with an average staple of 2 - 4 inches. 1
  • Grades  - There are not typical grades like that of alpaca, but from my experience, lamb and hoggett fleece are softer than adult as one might expect.  Also on a lamb/hoggett fleece, the tog and the thel are closer in micron and the resulting yarn is softer.  As a sheep ages, it seems that the tog gets coarser, much like alpaca fiber. 
  • Blending  - The thel is wonderful blended with other soft fibers like alpaca for next to skin wear! Blending the tog and the thel together and spinning it is very common and makes a wonderful strong yarn for outerwear, but on young fleeces, the tog and thel can be blended together and still be next to skin soft.    
  • Prep Work   - most often, I like to card this fiber into batts or rolags to spin, but Icelandic can be spun from the lock as well.  It is best if you feed the fiber cut side into the carder. If I am going to separate the tog and thel, I like to do so before washing, but it can also be accomplished after.  I separate by hand, but you can also use a single pitch comb if you prefer.  Do not use double pitch combs as all of that beautiful thel fiber will end up as waste.   Careful washing is VERY important for this wool more so than other wools as Icelandic fiber is some of the best fiber on earth to felt with.  I have even found that the fiber in my draft hand will felt from the moisture in my hand, so I take only a small amount to hold at any one time.  Any agitation in the wash and you will find yourself having a solid mass rather than fiber to spin.  It usually requires only one wash in hot water to remove the lanolin and 2 hot rinses as they are not a really lanolin heavy.  My experience is a loss of 15% or less to lanolin.  (I will be doing a video of tog/thel separation in the near future and will update this with a link
  • Spinning Ease -  When well prepared, Icelandic spins like a dream.  I have seen many folks afraid of this fiber on discussion groups, but for me it is one of the most fun fibers to spin.  It is so versatile!  I would not recommend it for a true beginner, but after some experience conquering other wools and wool prep, I say jump in and enjoy.  True traditional Icelandic Lopi (from native Iceland) is defined as a "slightly twisted" and is very light and airy and is more "roving" like.  True Lopi should not be confused with a "single", but many people use the two interchangeably.  I have never spun true Lopi, but I do have a single pictured below. 

    "The machine-carded roving is produced in disc-shaped rolls. This is the original unspun lopi first used for knitting c.1920's. More recently, lightly spun lopi yarn in different thicknesses has become available." 2
  • Dye Uptake :  you can see from the pic below that Icelandic takes dye wonderfully.  Healthy fiber (from healthy animals), like the ones I have had the pleasure of working with has a natural sheen and beauty and produces wonderful jewel-toned colors.  
  • Setting : Wet setting is accomplished like any other wool yarn.  Submerse in hot water, no agitation and hang to dry.  With "Lopi" style yarn, I do a tiny bit of fulling by a submersion in hot water followed by a submersion in cold water, no agitation and then some good  thwacks (4 - 5)  and hang to dry.  I also let my "Lopi" yarn sit on the bobbins for at least 48 hours to "relax" before skeining. It makes a world of difference! 
  • Knitting : Icelandic is wonderful to knit with and can be used for next to skin garments for all but the most sensitive of people.  It is durable and can be used for almost any project.   The lamb/hoggett fleeces are very soft if not overspun, and can be enjoyed next to skin by almost anyone, even if not separated.   

    Some of my work with Icelandic wool.  I spin a lot of Icelandic, so I chose this selection to show the versatility of Icelandic.

    Batts blending both tog and thel.  Dyed a raspberry colorway.
    A lovely soft natural copper color to the right.  Fiber from my friend Tracy. 
    Tog and thel blended together into a 2 ply yarn.  Fiber from my friend Connie
    Tog and thel blended together into a 2 ply yarn with guineau
    feathers incorporated.  Fiber from my friend Connie
    Thel only.  So shiny and soft - 2 ply.  Fiber from my friend Connie.

    Tog only.  Strong and tightly spun 3 ply because of it's intended
    use.  Fiber from my friend Connie.

    Tog and thel blended together into a 2 ply yarn.  Fiber from my friend Connie.

    Tog and thel blended together and then plied with a cut up
    silk scarf.  
    Fiber from my friend Connie. 

    "Lopi"style yarn still on the bobbins - fiber
     from my friend Deb - Sheep "Agnus Dei" 
    Finished well "relaxed" Lopi Style yarn.
    Fiber from my friend Deb - sheep "Astrid" 

    1 - https://www.sheepusa.org/ResearchEducation_Literature_BreedDirectory
    2 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lopi 

    Thursday, July 9, 2015

    Tour de Fleece Days 4 - 6 - July 7th - 9th

    Not much spinning was done on day 4 :(  I did manage to get my Jacob blend in for a photo shoot however and now it is hanging to dry before skeining and breaking them into smaller skeins.  This will be for sale in the shop this weekend.

    Day 4 - July 7th 
    First skein of #TdF2015 all complete and photo'ed. #handspunyarn #HotOffTheWheel #TourdeFleece2015 #TdFsapgap2015 #igspinners #spinningfiber #spinnersofinstagram #almapark #AlmaParkAlpacas #igknitters #knittersofinstagram

    Day 5 - July 8th - 11:04 AM
    Finished the first of four skeins of the "Lopi" style yarn from Icelandic wool, from a sheep named "Agnus Dei".


    July 8th - 7:55 pm
    Finished 2 more of these skeins - no pic :)

    July 9th 6:23 am 
    Finished the last skein.  I will let them sit for at least 48 hours to relax.  I like to do that with singles.  Here are all 4 together just hanging out.


    Started an Icelandic/silk (80/20) blend.  This will be a 2-ply when finished.


    Tomorrow, I am expecting a package from one of my handspinners and I need to do  something with color.  Stay tuned !!

    Monday, July 6, 2015

    Tour de Fleece Days 2 & 3 - July 5th - 6th

    Day 2 - Sunday July 5th 

    After yesterday with 4th of July fireworks and fun .... I wanted to sleep in, but my dogs had another idea.  I was jolted from a peaceful sleep at 6:15ish to my Mastiff, Gus barking, which is a rarity, so always cause for me to take a look. I just wanted to sleep to 7am <whine>.  I normally get up at 5-5:30 each morning to get things done before my daughter (4 years old) wakes up.  So what was Gus and my pain-in-the-butt-bark-at-her-own-shadown  Boston Mastiff, Dizzy, barking at?  My husband fixing the power washer outside. Sunday morning peace shattered. . . well at least coffee was ready and I half-asleep got a cup and settled in with George (my Hansen mS).

    2:04 PM 
    I finished the second bobbin (1st bobbin was done pre-tour) of my Jacob, bamboo, nylon, Angelina blend.   I will ply it tomorrow.

    12.4 oz ready to ply.  6.2 completed during #TdF2015.  #HotOffTheWheel #AlmaParkAlpacas #almapark #spinningyarn #handspunyarn #igspinners #spinnersofinstagram #TdFsapgap2015 #TourdeFleece2015

    Day 3 - Monday July 6th 
    12:04 PM 
    Plying complete!!

    Wow, that did seem to take forever! Of course other chores were also on the agenda this morning, so it really only took a total of about 2.5 hours.  I will skein it tonight or tomorrow as more store and farm chores, among other things need my attention.

    I plan to break it into 3 equal skeins after it soaks since it is 12 oz total for easier sell.  Currently before soaking and the possible poof that Jacob is know for, it is about 24-26 WPI which is a fingering weight.

    Done with the ply.  Took forever!!!  #TdF2015.  #HotOffTheWheel #AlmaParkAlpacas #almapark #spinningyarn #handspunyarn #igspinners #spinnersofinstagram #TdFsapgap2015 #TourdeFleece2015

    7:08 PM 
    I am done for the day and am just finishing up this post (after dinner) and before heading into the living room for some family time.

    What's on the agenda tomorrow? 
    1 - Skein up my Jacob blend and put in the soak.
    2 - Soak my All Colors™ TnT
    3 - Start spinning this Icelandic Wool.  This will be spun as a single in the "Lopi" style that Icelandic is so famous for.  It is a combination of the thel and tog spun together.  It is washed and then carded all together on the drum carder.  I took it off the drum carder in fat rolags.   This will be spun on my Ashford Joy wheel because I find it easier to do a single on that wheel more so than any other of my wheels.   It will be a thick yarn - worsted to aran weight of about 12 WPI.   I will be publishing a post on Icelandic wool in the next week and all the different ways and techniques (with pics) that can be done to this very versatile wool.
    4 - Make some fun funky super fat coiled art yarn from this pile.  It will be a corespun yarn, coiled on itself and then wrapped with silk hankies.  I will be videotaping part of the spin for you all to watch as well.  The silk hankies looked a little washed out in the pic, but they are the same colorway as the top on the left.   I will be doing this on my Hansen mS.

    I will switch between the 2 yarns so that I don't get bored :)