Archive for June, 2012

Black Sheep Weekend

June 26, 2012

I guess it’s good to be busy. Keeps me out of the bars at night, hee hee!

Wednesday evening I came over to the valley to take Kid the Younger and his fiancee to the airport early Thursday morning. They are off to Cleveland for a couple of weeks. I also kitty-napped his cat to come spend the summer with me. While they are gone I am taking advantage of their house to be able to sleep in an actual bed instead of the van, which is what I normally do during Black Sheep.

Ah, Black Sheep. I love this show. I missed it last year because of my shoulder surgery. I didn’t bring sheep, but I did help with showing. I handled this Image(2nd place Romeldale ram lamb) and this Image(1st place Romeldale ewe lamb, and also Reserve Champion). They and 1 other lamb also won the Romeldale Young Flock, which meant they got to come back in the ring at the end of the day for the big trophy. They didn’t win, but they were pulled into the middle of the ring for serious consideration which was  a big deal. The ewe lamb went home with my friend Correy, the ram lamb went home with my friend Jan, so my budget was saved from depletion. He was so funny because at one point I moved my hand from under his chin and his head fell, because he had fallen asleep in my hand! They are both from Reflection Farm in Eaton, Washington. 

Judging the Spinner’s Lead was a hoot. The entries get better and better. My breed Association has been asked (and agreed) to take over management of the Lead, and now that I’ve experienced it from both sides I have some ideas on some changes that I think will make it run a little smoother. I will talk them over with the lady who was the other judge to make sure that I’m not missing something. As a “thank you” for helping out, I was given a copy of “New England Knits”, and there are a couple of things in it that are in my knitting queue already.

The other fun part of the weekend was hooking a new spinner. She was watching me spin on my wheel, and we got to talking. I showed her my Golding spindle and how it worked. Pretty soon she wanders off to look at the vendor booths, then comes back to ask if I’ll look at some drop spindles with her. She now owns a Jenkins Swan turkish spindle and lots of roving, and when I showed her what to do turns out she’s a natural spinner! She was spinning lace weight from the get-go! ImageThis picture is when she had been spinning for all of 10 minutes! I told her it was all about getting the right teacher. She had to teach a knitting class Sunday afternoon, but we got together afterwards to answer a couple of questions, and she gifted me 2 of her patterns as a thank you.

And what was I spinning all weekend you might ask? ImageThat’s one of my Blue Skies batts (2/3 Romeldale, 1/3 rayon). Two ounces worked into 416 yards of laceweight yarn. I started the 2nd batt last night, hoping to finish all 3 before the Tour de Fleece starts. I’m thinking of working it into a lace shawl during the Ravelympics.

I’m staying in the valley until tomorrow, since I’ll be picking up turkeys and chicks from the hatchery in the morning. I’m getting 10 poults (I’ve already pre-sold 4 of them) and 50 chicks. I went with what the hatchery calls their “Fryer Pan Special”, all cockerels, instead of the Cornish Cross, which I find grow faster than I can deal with them. I can handle processing a few birds at a time, which should work out just fine. Need to start seriously looking for a freezer so that I have someplace to put them all! Mom lets me keep stuff in hers, but that means I have to plan ahead when I want something.

One more day to relax, then back to the grind! 

Getting My Goat

June 18, 2012

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Not a lot of pictures to share, because they are all on the digital camera and I can’t find the cord to transfer them to the computer.

Started with the trip to Montana. Kid the Younger was supposed to come over after work but got sick the day before we were set to go. Too late to cancel the hotel reservation, so I decided to go ahead by myself. Wouldn’t have even hesitated in the past, but I’ve become a bit housebound lately. I left about midnite (napped early in the day in anticipation of the Kid coming over). With a couple of stops for gas and to shut my eyes for a little while (I have no problem pulling over if I’m tired), 18 hours later I was settled in the hotel room. Met with a very nice “Welcome” basket of assorted goodies which included the itinerary for the weekend. Just in time to meet up with everyone for appetizers and a drink. Then I went and soaked in the hot springs that the hotel is known for. For the first time since my shoulder surgery last summer, I even attempted a little swimming. No, I didn’t attempt, I did it! The muscles were weak, but I managed 2 laps of the pool, and it felt SO GOOD!

The wedding was moved into a tent the next afternoon due to uncooperative rain, but it was a beautiful ceremony. All 4 parents spoke during the ceremony, and the officiate was a friend of the couple, so it was all very lovely. Unfortunately, someone had placed the lace shawl I gave the bride in the reception hall, so she didn’t have it to wear during the ceremony, but the official photographer got some pictures of her and me with it, so I’m hoping to get one of those soon. It matched the color of her dress perfectly, and I got tons of nice compliments from several people. I danced way too much as far as my back was concerned, but the kids kept insisting. I do have to say that this group of young people are the most beautiful people I know, both physically and mentally. Daughter is still very much a part of their lives, and I feel very blessed that they continue to include me in her stead. I was introduced at one point as the “Spare Mom”, and they have all said that when babies start coming I get to be “Spare Grandma” too. I get to be the fun one that lets the kids play in the dirt.

The next day I left for home via Yellowstone. The weather was still cold and rainy, but it was great. I’d never been before, and I’m already planning a trip back! The nice thing about being alone was that I could take my time and go where I wanted (not that Kid the Younger would have objected to anything I wanted). I saw lots of buffalo moms and babies (yeah, yeah, I know they’re really bison). At the very end of the drive I also saw some elks with their calves, including one with triplets! Not newborns either, they were at least a month old and looking good. I was very impressed with her mothering abilities. I also took the side trip to go see Old Faithful, arriving just in time to see it go. Timing is everything!

The final push for home took longer than I had anticipated, mostly because I took so much time enjoying the park. I had told Kid the Elder that he’d have to feed if I wasn’t home by 5, so it was no big deal other than having to pay for a night in a motel again. Better than sleeping in the car!

This weekend I got to pick up my raffle goat. The breeder made me a deal on a 2nd doeling too, so now I have 2! Meet Clara (on the left) and Clover. Both are registered Alpines, and I can hardly wait until I start milking! 

The original plan was to keep them segregated from the lambs for a few days while they got used to me and their new surroundings, but they vetoed that idea by jumping over the panels locking them in the barn. Clara even got in with the rams for a while, but we’ve fixed that hole. Clover is a little more stand-offish, but they are warming up to me. Clara is actually a snuggle bug. I’ve already started rubbing her all over to get her used to the idea that I’m going to be touching her everywhere. I’m taking things a little slower with Clover until she quits thinking I might eat her at any moment. She watches carefully while I handle Clara, just out of reach most of the time. I’m allowed a couple of scratches, and I’ll take that for now. The lambs have accepted them completely, which is nice. This afternoon they all got to go out on the pasture and were very good about coming back into their pen at feeding time. The ewes were sure that my not letting them out was the result of some horrid clerical error, and complained loudly, at least until I gave them the results of spending an hour with the scythe yesterday morning. There is something so satisfying about feeding home-cut hay. I don’t have enough to do it full-time, but a couple of hours work will help cut the hay bill this summer, and it’s easier than putting up fences. I am not an expert with my scythe, but it gets the job done. My back is good for about an hour of cutting. Not as fast as the mower, but I won’t feed mower clippings to the beasties. A little exercise for me, a little fresh hay for them. Sounds like a winner to me!

The Muse Spoke and I Jumped

June 5, 2012

I believe that we all have the ability to be creative in one way or another. However, as children there are constraints put on our creativity. “Color inside the lines”, we’re told. Especially as women, we are taught to take care of everyone else, and maybe if there’s any time or energy left we are allowed a few moments to take care of ourselves.

Listening to the Muse is important. It feeds our soul, recharges our batteries, nurtures us. Too many adults wait to have time or ignore this important aspect all together. It doesn’t matter what your creative outlet is. Singing, dancing, painting, writing, whatever. Figure out what is right for you and do it. Don’t wait for time, make time. If the kids are little, enlist them. Teach them to enjoy the things that make them happy. Buy good supplies; you are worth it! I’m not sure where or when I learned this lesson. It certainly wasn’t at home growing up. But by the time I had kids I knew that I had to create. How the Muse spoke to me has changed a bit over the years. I’ve sewn, quilted, painted, written a bit. Now I mostly spin, dye and knit. Ideas flit through my mind, and I try to jot them down if I can’t jump right in. More ideas than I can possibly accomplish in my lifetime, but that’s ok too.

Last Wednesday night the Muse spoke pretty forcefully. I tried to tell it there wouldn’t be time to finish a shawl before we left for Montana. After all, the re-do of the wedding shawl took 2 weeks to knit, and I had a pattern for it. The Muse insisted, so I pulled out a needle and cast on. This afternoon I finished the last point of the edging, and this is now blocking on my bed:  It’s not huge – about 66 inches across the top and 34 inches deep. Even looking at the picture makes me smile, and I’m glad the Muse was so insistent. I will happily wear it at the wedding. I’ve got 24 grams of yarn left, which I’m hoping will be enough to make a pair of short fingerless mitts for someone.

I forgot to share this picture of the third bargain amaryllis blooming last time I posted. Enjoy, and listen to your Muse!

Where Does The Time Go?

June 4, 2012

The kiddos and I always twisted the standard saying, so we always say “Time’s fun when you’re having flies”. Funny how many people just nod, not realizing what I’ve really said.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I’ve continued to do a little baking for Kellie, usually at the last second (which is normally just fine). Driving. Knitting. Dealing with the beasties.

Let’s talk about driving first. For the long weekend, Kid the Younger came over and we went up to North Eastern Washington. He hit town Friday and we went and saw The Avengers. He’d seen it already, but I hadn’t. It was a fun movie, but then we like that kind of thing. Saturday morning I caught up all the sheep, haltered the ewes and treated them all with ivomec (the pour on I applied apparently did nothing, since my shearer found plenty of creepy-crawlies). Then we left the lambs locked in the barn and Kids Younger and Elder helped me move the mommies to a new pen. I love weaning when I won’t be there to hear the worst of the noise. Unfortunately I didn’t have a place to put the ewes that would be out of sight of the lambs, so weaning is a bit louder. By 2 pm, Kid the Younger and I were on the road. The plan was to get about half way to the wedding site (about 8 hours north of us), but the back cooperated and despite a little side trip that my phone GPS sent us on, we got to the party about 10:30. A few of the kids were drinking and dancing, so we joined them for a little while, and I got to swing dance with the groom (he’s much better at it than I am).

The wedding was lovely. The weather the day before had been rainy, but Sunday was beautiful if a bit windy. Friends of the bride’s family had done the flowers, and each table had a bouquet. During the ceremony there were 2 big gusts of wind, and when we came back around to the reception area, 3 of the bouquets had been tipped over. Only 3. And they were at the table that Kid the Younger and I were sitting at, the table where the bride for the next wedding was (she’s also Daughter’s college roommate), and the bride’s table. They were not the most exposed tables. We agreed that it was Daughter making her presence known (as if we thought she would miss the occasion).

I also managed to make the young lady who was Daughter’s roommate cry. As we were saying our goodbyes, I told her I had something in the car for her. I told her I would have knit Daughter a wedding shawl, and if she wanted one, there was one in the car for her. She could not have faked her reaction – she totally melted. I gave her the Snowflake Peacock, and it fit her perfectly (I was a little worried because she is very tall).   (pic is of shawl on my mom)

We didn’t go by the accident site because Kid the Younger was having an allergic reaction to something blooming in the pretty little valley. We got half way home that night, and back into town in time to go to the movies again. This time we saw Men In Black 3. Again, not a movie likely to win Oscars, but we both love the MIB movies.

The whole drive there was a little hiccup in my steering wheel. At high speeds it just shimmied. Didn’t feel like the car needed realigned, but something was weird. Well, on my way home from baking on Friday, the tread just peeled off one of the rear tire. Luckily I was almost home! Saturday morning Kid the Elder helped me put on the spare and I took it into our tire shop. Shimmy was still there, so I mentioned it. Tire guy said it sounded like I had another tire getting ready to fail. Short story – I now have 2 new tires. The other 2 look ok. I’m so glad this didn’t happen on one of the long trips!! Last weekend’s would have been bad enough, but this week we are headed out to the middle of nowhere, and if they had both failed at once it could have been really ugly.

Kid the Younger will hit town really early Friday morning, so rather than letting him sleep for 3 hours I’m just going to load him into my car and we’ll head out right away. We are facing a 13 hour drive, so I figure if I nap heavily on Thursday I can drive while he sleeps and then he can take over for a while. That way we’ll get to the party early enough to enjoy ourselves a bit that evening and get a good night’s sleep before the wedding. Sunday we’ll leave after brunch and head into Yellowstone. Not sure if we’ll take the side trip to see Old Faithful.

The sheep all survived my absence, but the ewes have figured out that the fence on their pen has been weakened (alpaca kept pushing through it when he was in the pen to get to grass on the other side). We have had several break-outs. The ewes left behind always rat out the escapees, and we round them up and I lace up the holes with more baling twine. It’d be funny if it was happening to someone else. The lambs are all fine. When I get back from Montana I’ll tackle halter breaking them.

On the knitting front I’ve made some progress on the monster socks. It’s a whole lot of plain white.  I’m most of the way done with the legs, but I set them aside for a while because the Muse struck. Yes, I knit both socks at the same time. That way when I’m done, I have a pair instead of having to start all over to make the 2nd sock. I alternate back and forth between the 2 so I can keep track.

So, what did the Muse demand? Four years ago, after Daughter passed I happened to have a cone of sock yarn waiting for color. I took the whole thing and dyed it in her honor. I call it “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching” (that was her motto in life). From it I knit socks for all the important people in her life (except Kid the Younger, who requested gloves). There was slightly more than 6 ounces left, and Thursday the Muse insisted that it become a shawl for me to wear to the Montana wedding. No pressure! I used the formula I came up with for the Ochoco Memories shawl and substituted leaf and rose patterns. I’m done with the first 2 points of the edging now, and I should be able to crank out the edging in a day and a half, so there is hope. The variegated yarn isn’t the best for showing off the lace, but this yarn makes me smile every time I look at it, and I know that the kids at the wedding will recognize it. That makes me smile too.

 Like most lace, it doesn’t look like much yet, but you can see how colorful it is. It won’t be a big shawl, since I’m dealing with a limited amount of yarn, but it will be super special. A bigger version will follow, probably with handspun during the Ravelympics.