Two Gray Hills

Made more baby steps today. I have moved 1/4 of the excess soil where I want my bermed house. It is all going into the 3 raised beds I made this year.  Into the 4th one soon.

Thawing chicken for dinner. Simply baking it.  I will use the leftover meat for stir fried rice tomorrow.  Yum.  My old boss was Chinese and taught me a few tricks for such things.  I even learned a couple words.  English and Spanish are close to my limit and Navajo is impossible.

I have been studying rabbits and decided on French Angora.  I raised rabbits as a kid, but they were meat rabbits.  I have been online watching spinning techniques and although French Angora are not as productive, they seem easier to maintain, like most heirloom varieties.

That leads to turning their fur into yarn for knitting.  I have knitted all my life but never used Angora yarn; it is expensive and too hot for Texas or Seattle.  In Alaska, my mom knitted elaborate ski sweaters with colored designs but I tended toward single color fisherman cable knit designs.

If I am going to invest the time, energy, and money into spinning yarn, I go back to cost basis.  Angora is a top fiber, and well done is very expensive.  It is the warmest fiber, a consideration for someone who has -20°F weather for short periods.  Wind chill around here doesn’t bear thought.

My immediate reaction was that I needed a spinning wheel to convert fur to yarn.  After some research, I discovered that drop spindles have been used for millenia and easily produced sufficient yarn for a family’s needs… keeping in mind that most American closets today could have clothed an entire village back in the day.

Spinning wheels turned spinning for the family into a mechanized cottage industry.  One person could give up their general self-sufficiency and shift to producing and selling yarn.  Also shifting to purchasing the services they could no longer do themselves.

I would not have many rabbits, so a drop spindle would handle my production unless I got all commercial about it.  Facing slave labor overseas, probably not.  A little goes a long way.

One of the ladies in my knitting group has Alpaca and sends their fleeces to be turned into yarn.  She tried spinning but found it time consuming and boring.  She won’t sell her wheel, just in case.  She will teach me to spin and provide me with Alpaca fleece.  I prefer Alpaca over wool.  No place for Alpaca at my house… that is what neighbors are for.

She loves dying her yarn but disdains vegetable dyes as being non colorfast.  I don’t know what mordant she used to set the colors or even which plants.  Truthfully, natural dyes are much softer in color than modern chemical dyes.  That is what I like most about them, but I have autumn coloring and soft plant dyes are my best colors.  I will check into the mordants.

In any case, I am keeping my eyes open for a used spinning wheel at a good price.  If I don’t like it, I will sell the wheel to someone who does.

My favorite New Mexico rugs are Two Gray Hills Navajo Rugs.  They grow sheep, shear them, separate the wool by color, then card and spin it.  They work on large looms and make the most beautiful rugs out of the white, brown, gray yarns.  You have to see one in person to see the depth and subtlety of the colors.  They never culled for white sheep, and don’t dye the yarns.  I would love designing that way, using natural fleeces.  Not in Navajo designs, which belong to them and their culture, but in my own.

No possibility of owning a glorious Two Gray Hills Navajo Rug!  That does not mean that I cannot weave a wall hanging or pillow cover of my own one winter day.


About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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