Saturday, December 31, 2011

They Gotta Go!

Look at them. Aren't they beautiful? Look at the chocolate alpacas, too. All the detail. Well, They Gotta Go!

      I mean it people. Go. 

      Why, you ask?  This is why:

                               Each morning, I eat at least three cookies after breakfast with my coffee.
                             And the big but is--------The BIG BUTT! I can't go on eating that many.
                                So you may see a little Christmas angel giving them away.

                                                            Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


We are having a few days of unseasonably warmer weather here (it is about 48 today) and I decided to do some barn maintanence.

Percy, shown left, is growing into a gorgeous boy! The wool is now growing all over his face and his fleece is getting more dense. I am looking forward to shearing in the spring! again, I digress...

I dug out all the tank water heaters and the hose and the extension cords (or as they say in Southern Illinios--cards). I proceeded to scrub out all the water tanks and refill them with water. Yes, it is a job. But such a satisfying one! I enjoy working outside and with my son taking over alot of the day-to-day chores, it is something I miss. My back ached afterward but it didn't last long and the exercise is good for me. Time passes so fast when I'm outside. I guess it means that I do enjoy the work.

As I refilled the girls' water tank, they couldn't wait till I was done to get a drink. I've had Vidalia for a few years now. I don't know where she lived her first years. She is 13 now. She loves, loves to drink moving water. Maybe she grew up on a farm that had a stream, I don't know. She likes to drink out of the hose, too. Before the tank filled up, most of the girls had come by and gotten a drink. Hay makes a gal thirsty, ya know!

I couldn't resist taking this picture of my son and his designated helper. Vienna loves to 'help him' scoop poop piles. Its like she askes him what his fasination with her poop is all about because he collects it. She will follow him all around the pasture every time he does it. She loves her boy!

Being outside around the animals gives a feeling calm and contentment that is hard to describe. I enjoy it so and do not want to ever give it up. But now I do have to share it. But sharing it I don't mind too much. :)

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, December 26, 2011

Acid Sunshine

One last Christmas cookie picture before I begin the blog. It looks like the cookies are headed to that snowy, winter scene! Those are chocolate sugar cookies (my own recipe) with chocolate icing. Long live the
Cookie King! lol

And now on to Acid Sunshine...

This is the skein of yarn that I dyed last week. Yes, I know it is bright! I was going for bright--but wow!
I was already having doubts about the idea I had perceived in my head. I was looking at it and looking at it. I was stumped. I couldn't decide if I should keep it or throw it in the trash. I showed it to my son. At 19 years old, he has been a source of great inspiration for me. I asked him to go out into the workshop and take a look at it and tell me his thoughts on it. He came in and said, "Well-- its bright!" I told him I can't think of a name for it, let alone what to use it for. He said that he'd call it, and wait for it........"Acid Sunshine!" Yep! that's what it is!

So I decided to ball it up to get a different look at it. I thought I might like it better. And I did!

Well, I thought there was hope for this yarn after all. And I started to get some ideas for it.

The picture still doesn't show the exact colors.

In a ball, it shows that it is indeed a self-striping yarn. It is a bugger to make, but definitely worth it.

Ta-Daaah!! I decided to make a slouchy beret hat out of it and it definitely shows the color sequencing. And, this picture shows the colors. I took the yarn and the hat into the quilt shop to put them on the shelves for sale. I'm glad I made the hat to show how cool self-striping yarn is!

I am, though, going to do a line with more muted colors for those who do not care to wear such bright colors. But the bright ones are fun to do!

Here is the yarn in the skeins. To look at it, you would never guess that it would become the hat that you saw in the above picture. The yarn is in the shop. Look for it. Acid Sunshine. One skein makes the hat.

Well, I'm off. Bound for more dyeing adventures.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Cookie King

This is such a busy time of year for everyone. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, and at our house: BAKING! We hosted our annual cookie swap, but that was just the beginning of our cookie adventure. For me, it hit its climax last night. As I was pulling our dinner from the oven, I called to our son to come for dinner. He came into the kitchen and looked at me with big round eyes and gave me the 'head nod'. You know the one I'm talking about. The one where they are silently motioning you to meet them in the next room to talk about something private. Ok, so I sneak into the living room and he says, "When is he going to be done?! This is the third night in a row I have to eat dinner standing up! Mom, do something!" And he was right. My husband was in his annual cookie frenzy. He took the week off for vacation. He had been eating, sleeping, dreaming cookies. When he gets up in the morning, the first thing he does is get out one of his cookie books. He must have 6. Not cooking books--COOKIE books. He starts mixing in the morning and by evening, sometimes not even breaking for a lunch, this is what we have:


Well, when our son was complaining, the first thing I thought of was that all the years of making him sit down at the dinner table and have dinner together as a family and not in front of the television has paid off! He likes eating dinner together now and talking about how our day went or some other topic. All you young parents out there! Stand firm! it does pay off eventually. Oops! I digress.........

So anyway, I had to assure our son that I thought that last night was the 'last night' of it and that today I would be making cookies plates and we would get the kitchen back. And I told him he'd better beware. That Darrell's dad made cookies like this every Christmas when he was growing up and that his life has had cookies like this every Christmas and that when he gets out on his own, not to be surprised if it doesn't feel like Christmas unless he is surrounded by cookies! Odds are that he, too, will turn into a Cookie King! One of the other brothers is a Sous Chef in Chicago and the other won't let his wife bake much at Christmas because he is doing it. Take heed, young man! This could be you in 20 years! lol  It is worth losing the kitchen for a week before Christmas because the man makes a damn fine cookie!

Have a wonderful holiday season!  Tammy

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Houdini Rides Again!

Yes, here he is again folks! This is the third morning that I have gotten up to find Levi in the backyard. He is very content there and wants to take up residence. He has his own poop pile going and everything! But no. We walked down to the back gate together and I opened it up and he goes in. I guess he just wants some 'quality time' with the ladies.

It has rained so much here the past couple of days. We have "Lake Duensing" in the pasture, as you can see.

I really, really need to get the fencing fixed in the back pasture. Do you know of any traveling fence genie s that might be in my area?

Sunday, I volunteered at Christ Memorial's Christmas Tree Lot in South County, St. Louis. Over 25 trees were sold in that one day! I had a great time catching up with everyone and watching trees leave the lot. I wasn't much help with carrying trees, but I made up for it in socializing! lol  CMP has alot of nice trees this year. Check them out!

And a big shout out goes to Allison, who bought a Ladybug spinning wheel from me this week! Yeah!
Spin Happy!

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, December 12, 2011

8th Annual Cookie Swap

The 8th Annual Duensing Cookie Swap was held on Saturday at our house! It is an exciting time. This year, we had over 800 cookies at our house for an hour and a half. The rules are that each participant brings 6 dozen cookies and an extra container. We all swap cookies and you leave with 6 dozen 'different' cookies. All the while sipping on hot mulled cider. And some adventurous individuals spiked theirs with dark rum. Its a great drink if you haven't ever tried it! We had lots of holiday cheer going around! lol

These Santa faces are my husband's signature cookie. He makes them every year (by demand).

Do you see the Christmas mouse above right?

We had a great time talking and gathering our cookies. I will make a couple batches of chocolate chip and this day insures that I will have a nice plate of assorted cookies to take to all the holiday get-togethers we go to. Its also fun catching up with friends.

This is a picture of our grandson, Derek, saying 'cheese' with the icing from a Santa head all over his mouth! It was pretty cute!

I have gone two days without doing anything fibery as I was getting ready for the Swap. Its killing me! I will be catching up on things out in my workshop this week. I have started putting my yarn in the local quilt shop, Racoon Hollow Fabrics, in Waterloo. I am also selling knitting needles, Schacht spinning wheels and Majacraft spinning wheels. I will be adding more to the list and will keep you posted. Well, I'm off to eat a couple of cookies and dye some yarn.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Friday, December 9, 2011

Keeping Busy

We had our first official snowfall this season. We had enough snow "to track a cat", as my husband says. Days like these are gloomy and cold and all I want to do is curl up and knit on something. Sometimes I take a break and spin on something. I have been getting alot of knitting done! lol  Its time to get out the thermies, too. Thermal underwear. They're not just for grandpa anymore! They make them in this nice micro-fibery stuff (not a natural fiber by any means) that is soft to wear and doesn't leave polka dot indentions on your legs. They make all the difference in the world on days like today. I'm working at the Christmas Tree lot at Christ Memorial on Sunday and will be sure to wear them. And all the knitted plunder I can pile on, too!
I've been spinning some fun wild green yarn. Shown to the left. and some nice denim blue. Both alpaca yarn. I think I'll make some fun little scarves out of it. That green kind of glows in the dark, doesn't it?

I feel the beginnings of the Christmas Crazies coming on. That time when there is so much to do in a very short time frame. Then one day, Dec 26, its just over. But for a few weeks there is so much to do! So, off I go to get some of the things done and scratched off the top of my (way too long) list.

Spin Happy!

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dieing for Dyeing

Yesterday, I taught another Beginning Dyeing class with 3 Sisters' Workshop. We had a fun day full of color! We ended up with so many colorful yarns that it was hard to choose a favorite.  I really liked this red, pictured below. We must have dyed over 4 pounds of wool! Yes, it was a busy day!

This is Joan in her "I'm the queen of dyed yarn!" pose.                   And I must admit, yes she is!

And here is some of the yarn that came out of the class.   I enjoy dyeing yarn. It makes me appreciate color. And it makes me realize that I don't really have a favorite color. It seems that my favorite color ends up being the one that I am currently using. I do prefer darker shades more than pastel ones. Even for babies and young children. We are fortunate that we do not live in a black and white world. Thank goodness!

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, November 28, 2011

False Start

At the beginning of this year, I made a resolution to finish up my old projects that have been laying around for who knows how long. I have finished a couple. And as this year is drawing to a close, I feel pressure-ized to keep to my resolution. So I got out an old chesnut of a project. I had the body knitted of a 50/50 mohair and Border Leicester sweater. I started it 12 years ago. Yes! I said 12! The wool was from a ewe I had, named Angel. After I blew all the dust off this one, I realized I only had the part of the sweater pattern that I had finished. I couldn't find the rest of the pattern! So I decided to make it a vest, instead of a sweater, and make it up as I go (which you know I like to do anyway). So I put an easy finish on the armholes and then came some fun. I had to choose buttons. That was one whole evening as I got out every button I own, had them spread out on the table and tried to choose. I had trouble staying 'on task'. I kept wanting to organize the buttons more, by color, by shape, by decade! I think I get a little A-D-D disorder when the buttons come out. But by about 3 hours later, I had chosen 4 buttons. I am very pleased with my choice. You see, I couldn't start the front facings with the button holes until I had chosen buttons so I knew how big to make the buttonholes. I had many 'false starts' on the finishing of this vest. I couldn't decide how long to make the front facings. I ripped them out twice, each time going longer. When I got to the neck edging, I decided I wanted a shawl collar. I ripped that out several times until it suited me. It took me every evening for a week to get it finished, but I did it! I wore it yesterday to the Christmas Walk in Waterloo.
Oh yeah, I knitted pockets on it, too. The 4 buttons that I used match, but the top two are a size smaller than the bottom two. They appear to be bakelite (I haven't had them tested to be sure) in the tortoise shell color.

I definitely got in the Christmas Spirit yesterday! It was the 30th Annual Christmas Walk in Waterloo and I was demonstrating spinning at Raccoon Hollow quilt shop. I now have things for sale there. Yarn, knitting needles and stuff. I will start teaching beginning knitting there as well. I am looking forward to it! Stay tuned for more info.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Thursday, November 24, 2011


So what are you up to today? For us in the States, today is a day of thanksgiving. Counting your blessings. I am counting mine today, also. I am blessed in so many ways. With friendship and family. Thank you all for sharing my life with me.

I am also thankful that I finished one more of my 'old projects' last night. I'll be posting more on it later.  Eat some turkey for me.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

                                                     Diesel and Yahctzee

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hat Trifecta plus one

I have made  three knitted hats in the past week. Yes, alot of knitting. Alot of doctor's appointments and drive time. But I have some nice hats to show for it! The first one, the brown one, is alpaca with some wool blended in it  Its made from Roadie's fleece. A nice, basic watchcap with a little different knitted rib pattern. Instead of K1 P1, or K2 P2, I used a K4 P2 K2 P2 pattern which turrned out nicely. So much in fact, that with the second cap I knitted I used the same pattern. Its for my son and he wants it dyed black so in the dyepot it will go! The third hat, the blue one, is made of a alpaca/silk combo (80/20) and is very soft. I took a basic hat pattern and added ear flaps for warmth in the cold, windy days of winter. Right now I am just collecting them. Not sure where they will end up. It is fun making them.  I like to always have a project to work on.

The 'plus one' in the blog title is this one. I was remiss in posting this one last month! How could I forget this fedora? It was like Cinderella's slipper at the Weavers' Sale. It must have been tried on 6 times. I could have sold it 6 times, too, except for one person it was a little small, the next time a little too big. It is a natural brown alpaca with a black silk band. I am very pleased with the way it came out. I will definitely make some more of them. Some a little smaller and some a little bigger! lol  And who knows? Maybe Cinderella (or Cinderfella) will come along and snatch up this one.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Great Class!

We had another great spinning class on Saturday! The picture was taken by 'my lovely assistant, Darrell'. All the ladies left with hanks of yarn and smiles on their faces! We had a wonderful lunch and after this weekend I gained two pounds! Yikes! That food was good. and plentiful. and I ate twice. lol  At the end of class all the ladies got to try spinning on the different wheels we had available at the class. Several Louets, an Ashford Kiwi,  a Schact Ladybug, and a Majacraft Pioneer. Some were single treadles and some double treadles. Usually, you won't find this many different wheels in one place to give a test run on.

On another note, this is our grandson, Davin. He and grandpa pulled from the garden the biggest radish in Illinois! lol

Talk to you soon, Tammy

Friday, November 11, 2011

Here's To You

Here's to you, grandpa, on Veteran's Day. Grandpa didn't talk about WWII much, if at all. Grandma talked about it more. About how hard it was with two little kids and having to work in the factories. The world my grandparents lived in was much harsher, in my opinion, than our lives today. Sometimes, we may be watching our pennies (or dollars with inflation) and have to make cheaper choices at the grocery store but at least we always have an option. What I mean is, there is always food at the store. We haven't ever been faced with being hungry and there not being food you can purchase at the store. I can't imagine being hungry and no where to get food. I know it seems like I'm going off on a tangent here, but my grandparents grew up like that during the Great Depression. Followed by WWII.  It made them tough--sometimes hard. But I appreciate what they went through. It is what has made our country what it is today.
Grandpa told me he went through the war so that his family didn't have to grow up like he did. He wanted better. And I believe he got it.     Thank you, Grandpa! And Grandma! She'll tell you that she sacrificed, too.

For the fibery part of this message, this is a scarf I recently felted. Its a merino/silk.  Its alot of fun to wear! And looks nice against alabaster skin.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Free Kisses

I taught a beginning spinning class at my farm this past Saturday. And as with all classes at my farm, each participant receives a free kiss from Vienna. She loves to give away kisses when people come to visit. She is giving a kiss to Rebecca.

Here's the class with the yarn they spun. Everyone left with their own hank of their own spun yarn! How fun!  We had a great day.

Check out my barn cats. I had to take a picture of this today. They are hot on the trail of a mole. They were taking turns digging in its hole trying to catch it. Have trouble with moles tearing up your yard? I have mole-digging barn cats for rent. pm me if interested.
Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Good Problem To Have

Last year, when my mom became ill, I spent alot of time in Missouri with her. As a result, I had to talk (and sometimes bribe) my son to help me feed and care for the pacas. As time went on, it got easier and easier to get him to help. This summer there were many days that he'd ask me if I wanted him to feed that day. He'd say I could work on some fiber stuff to get caught up. I thought, 'how cool!" Recently, I was in the barn feeding on a class day for him and he came home and came out to the barn where I was and scolded me that he said last night that he would feed for me that day. Sometimes, I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer. This was one of those times. After another heart to heart talk with him explaining that I like to come out and spend time with the pacas. It settles my nerves and I think about things going on in life and the time in the barn in general improves my mood and thinking. It was then the light bulb finally went on for me. He explained that was the same reason he liked to feed them, too!
So now my problem is that I have to share custody of the pacas with my son! It is a good problem to have. As you can see, the girls like him, too. Little Vienna loves him. She can be across the pasture and see him coming toward the gate and comes running to meet him. She doesn't do that for me! The boys really like him, too, and he can scratch their necks.

This is a picture of Venus. I sold a couple of felted hats at the Weavers' Guild Annual Sale made from her fiber. In the above pictures, yes, Rendezvous was last weekend. You can see the tents and teepees set up in the background. Its been a busy time around here. But when isn't it?
Talk to you soon,  Tammy