Cute as a button

As promised, more pictures of the lambs born last week.  However they still look wrinkled and I can’t seem to get a really cute picture.

Some of the lambs, like these, are born black then their fleece turns white as they grow.

They will keep their black face and legs.

This is the boy, who is more curious then his sister.

A couple of weeks ago I said that I felt there were changes in the air.  One of the reasons was because we stopped making cheese here on the farm.  My father started this almost 10 years ago, but for many reasons, (different depending on who you ask), the cheese “business” never really worked.

It seemed sad to finally admit that this was something that wasn’t going to work, but for me it has been a change for the better.  The building we made cheese in has now turned into my new fibre studio.

Unlike my old room, this building has electricity, water, no dust or bugs eating the wood in the ceiling!  It is spacious and secure, with lots of room for all my stuff.  Because it has electricity I have also expanded my wood working tools so that I can make looms, drop spindles and other woody things, like buttons.  I will post pictures soon of my new studio when it is organised.

So back to the buttons.  Last year when the trees fell down behind our house, they broke the top off one of the flowering trees.

Branches of different sizes were cut and some were left under the tree.

I collected some of this wood and cut it into disks to make buttons.  The wood is quite hard and I was very happy with the results.

I know it is a cliché, but beautiful things can be made from waste, and new beginnings can come from sad endings.

Building a wool picker

I have wanted to build a wool picker ever since I saw photos of them on the internet and learned what they did.  A wool picker is a machine that pulls wool apart to make it more open.  This helps clean the wool, and makes it easier to card, (or even spin).  It opens the wool with the aid of sharp, smooth nails that hold and pull the wool.  It is a very dangerous piece of equipment, with some having over 400 nails.

I have not been able to build one because I could not find nails that were smooth.  Normal nails would snag and tear the wool.  Well, a couple of weeks ago I found nails for a nail gun and they seemed perfect.  They may not be as sharp as the nails used in a wool picker, but I think that is okay.

Holes drilled for nails

Once I had the nails I started planning what type of picker to make.  There are two basic types, one that swings and a box or bench picker.  The box type seem easier and safer to build so I decided on a wide box picker.  My dad has some wooden boxes so I used one as my base.  These are not instructions on how to build a wool picker, only my attempts at building one.

Getting ready

The nails are set into the wood at an angle of about 45 degrees, in groups that change direction.  When I learned how to build the solar ovens I became comfortable using an electric screwdriver/drill, and I used one to drill the holes for the nails.  I drilled a hole in a spare piece of wood and used that to guide the drill so I had the same angle for each hole.

Wool picker

I drilled each group of nails, (four rows for the bottom sets and three rows for the top sets) on separate pieces of wood so I could adjust the position.  I screwed three sets into the bottom of the box and three sets into a sliding lid. The lid slides back and forth across the box pulling the wool different directions with the nails.

Unfortunately I realised that the box needed to be longer to allow the lid full movement across the nails.  I took both ends off the box to see how much extra movement I needed.

Ends removed

When I did this I could also see that my nails were too far apart.

Too much space between nails

I put some extra wood between the lid and the nails to move them closer together.

Nails are almost touching, (some are actually touching)

I put the ends back on to keep the box strong, with one end shorter so the lid has more movement.

Wool goes in at the open end and comes out where the wool is in the photo

Then to give it a test.  And it works!  It is probably not as good as professional wool pickers, and it only has 200 nails, but I think it will help prepare my wool before I card.

I am so pleased that I could make this myself!

front end of wool picker