Monday, June 30, 2008

Ghost Riders in the Sky

Finally started the freeform yarn that I mentally designed last week. I am naming it ghost riders in the sky based on colors and elements added.
I crocheted small flowers to add. I spun the yarn and then set the twist before making them. I tried to crochet a flower straight from the bobbin. That was a big mistake!
The buttons that were the original inspiration for the yarn.
In progress.
I decided to try crocheting some flowers using the cotton that I have been using to add embellishment to the yarn. They are really small, but will stand out against the yarn. Definitely will not add too many since it would eat up time. Thought they were cute and could be different.

I am photographing the whole series of textures, including the way I have been adding all of the embellishments. Marc says I should consider self-publishing a book illustrating my way of creating the yarns. I figured I would use this yarn as a beginning. I can already see that I am going to need someone to spend a day photographing my hands as I go!

I bought a new camera today and can't wait for it to arrive. The current one is on its last legs and eating batteries. Too old to get repaired, so I will keep it for back up. The new one looks like it has the same buttons as the current one and a great zoom - essential for good animal photos. Not all of the sheep will let me get close enough for shots of their fiber.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Marc and I drove to the Prescott area today to pick up Frodo, my new Jacob ram. Bill has lovely sheep, but a much smaller operation than I do. The pick up took about 10 minutes. Three hours there and three back.. Thank God, the weather stayed nice and the traffic was relatively light going through Phoenix.
Frodo has four horns and is black and white. My current Jacobs are lilac and chocolate. Since Garnet had a ewe lamb this year, I had to invest in a new ram. Otherwise, I would have just bred her son back to her.
When we first got back, I put Frodo in a pen by himself near the sheep. He was still fussing three hours later, so we let him out.He instantly moved to the sheep hangout and hooked up with the other Jacobs. Since all of the sheep breeds are out together, it tells me that sheep know their own breed and have their own language. I knew this about the angora goats and the dairy goats, so i was not surprised.
Frodo is already a part of the herd within minutes.


The above is the layout for a purse that Sue made. Kind of regretted not doing something with those colored batts. Not enough time!
This is her bag after wet felting. She is planning to use a belt for a strap.
Julie's bag grew on her, but is gorgeous and will make a good sized knitting bag. She is a spinner and a knitter, so she will be able to make her own strap.

Pat made a two sided hat. It turned out really well, but she was not sure about having her photo printed. I will send her the photos and maybe she will OK one. It turned out really well and, if I were not on a landscape kick, I would be whipping up a few hats.

Animal behavior

One of my favorite things to do is watch and photograph the animals. I have started feeding the animals in two spots by dumping food over the fence just so I can get in the front gate. You would htink that I was starvign them based on the mob scene.They look too plump fo rthat to be the case.
Kat, who has the best black/charcoal colored hair had two silvers bucks this year. They were born black and they are the only two that have gone silver. They have recessive black in their background. I plan to keep at least one of them for breeding. If the other does not sell by mid August, he will be castrated and I will keep him for the color. They are silky and softer than the blacks. Two of the black bucks have red in their lines and are from the Barbara line. They will also be good breeders, because they can produce reds or blacks depending on the doe's color. One of them is Palo Seco. Two of the black bucks are out of the traditional dominant blacks. Their hair is not as soft, but it is really dark.
I caught Holly's buck and one of the little angora goats playing the domination. I am pretty sure that the buck is Absinthe's based on size. They do a little dance around each other.
Then the put their heads against each other and start to shove. Sometimes they wrap horns. In this instance the angora was winning.
Funny how the little ones do not know when to quit!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You have to be here to "get it"

This is the black/charcoal skein. It is actually darker than it appears in this photo, which is part of why I am researching a new camera.
You would have to be in Arizona to really appreciate the clouds, when they start to roll in for the monsoon season. The relentless sun can bake your brain! Part of why I really notice the clouds is due to my fascination with color. I have become accustomed to the bright blue skies and changes make me go grab a camera. I try to reproduce the colors in my landscapes and in my batts.
The dried out trees make a stark contrast to the billowy clouds. If you have been to the ranch, this dead ironwood tree is the one directly over the duck pen.
Half hour before I took this photo, I saw rain coming down. Dust devils caused me to go inside and I came out to find the whole sky overcast. The animals are enjoying the respite from the heat.
This is Kyle's new kitty, Smokey. I lured him out from under Kyle's bed. He got to meet Charcoal, the studio cat. They are afraid of each other.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not very creative, but...

I managed to spin over 800 yards of a single black with touches of gray Rambouillet. I will post a photo tomorrow and probably list it on etsy. I am starting a second bobbin, since so many people have been asking for lace or fingering weight for huge shawls. It is really hard to keep at it, when so many lovely colors and ideas are beckoning. I have already assembled two batches of cool stuff for novelty yarns and have come up with a third idea for a new type of novelty yarn. Not enough time in the day!

The animals appear to have adjusted to the heat. I finished off the day by going to Barnes and Nobles to meet a few other fiber addicts. I really enjoy hanging out with creative people. It is fun to bounce ideas off others and see what they are doing. I taught Stacy to spin on a drop spindle two weeks ago and she is already a pro. She even figured out how to ply on a spindle all by herself. I refreshed her memory on crocheting, so she could make something with her yarn. She used some for needlefelting and came up with a really cool looking rock/hill/toadstool? Now why did I not think of that?

More Netflix will arrive tomorrow, so spinning will go faster!

Monday, June 23, 2008


And I forgot to mention the two funniest things that happened recently.

On Friday I went out to check on the animals and found the door to the rabbit pen open. I looked around and found everyone that was supposed to be in there, as well as Jennifer (an alpaca!) She had opened the gate (a feat in an of itself) and proceeded to plop down right in front of the fan.The birds were fine, but the rabbits were spooked. No damage done, but I am going to make sure that the latch goes down really tight in the future!

The goats figured out that they could get a lot more moisture out of the misters, if they bit through the tubing. I did not dare tell Marc till he got back from DC. You have to put the tubing really high! The goats were using the individual nozzles as straws. Funny to watch, but stupid on their part, since it meant no mister for a few days.

Spin in, yarns and animals

The spin in this past Saturday was a lot of fun. Good mix of experience, which made for a lot more fun. If you are spinner in the area, come check us out on the first or third Saturday of the month.
The above is my Baker's skein.
I think it looks much better when photographed loosely. This is the picture that is currently on my desktop. The colors are really appealing right now.
The colors of the Baker's skein are reflected in this picture of a saguaro that I took yesterday, as I went out to milk Holly in the morning. If you are not from Arizona, you might not know that the red is not the flower. See a previous entry for what those look like. This is actually a seed pod that has exploded. I am starting to find the seeds and red goo on some of the goats' horns. One of the angoras has dug a hole under the cage that I used to keep one of them in. They have the run of the area with 6 chickens. They are cohabiting very well, since the rabbits are nocturnal and run at night, while the chickens jump on their cage in a separate area and roost. I found the hole big enough that two of them were in it this morning.They dig deeper to get cooler. I figured their summer fleeces are going to be worthless, since they have been under the misters, so I am letting them dig.
This is my favorite tree.The sheep spend the hot afternoons under it. It is also the tree whose branches the kids like to climb around in. Notice the clouds in the background? Hope it means the cooling rains of the monsoon will be here soon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Too, Too Hot!

All of the animals are hanging out anywhere that water is dripping or at the water buckets.
There is a breeze, so even though Emmy is right under the mister, Brillo is getting her share of the mist.
There are two really old, tall trees out where the goats hang out. They provide shade and Marc has installed a mister between them, so it is a crowded spot at times. Marc also put a mister out in the far out pasture where the Shetlands hang out and another in the pen that No Size was in. Of course, if you don't hang it high enough, the goats think that it is their own personal straw, so they suck on it and chew and create a much nicer flow of water! Can you picture it? No photo of the muddy mess that they are making!
This photo did not look blurred, but now it does. Will post it anyhow. I took it right before the one of the moon in the last post.
Don't look at the head too closely, but thought I would share a photo of the studio and the piles that are accumulating. I have been reading a book on the art of creativity and have decided that, since I am now calling myself an artist, that I am also entitled to leave my studio with piles everywhere, since that is what really inspires the next project. I was asked to provide a studio picture of myself "doing what I do" for the Tucson Pima County Open Studio Tours for their marketing of the event in November. It will be the 8th and 9th of November from 12-5 P.M. I give tours and talk about what I do here on the ranch to create my yarns and finished products. Some times are better attended than others, but it is always fun and draws all sorts of people. Last year I had other artists come in from their own studios to visit. A woodwork, jewelry maker, and a painter stopped in and were amazed at what you can make from animal fiber.

Too busy to get in trouble

The above was my stash for the seashore yarn. It turned out gorgeous and, if they were my colors, I would keep it. Since they are not, I listed it on etsy tonight.
The way the pictures load, is not always the way I planned.The above was going to be my first picture. It is of On The Ranch in Autumn. I am really enjoying spinning the novelty yarn.
The above is the finished seashore skein. It is full of lots of fun textures.
This is my stash for the "Baker's Skein". I finished it this evening and it is currently in the wash. I included the buttons for pasta making, baking cookies, five starts for the quality of the cooking and roses to reward the cook for her work.As well as lots of different beads and bows.
I caught a good picture of the moon last night, as I finished feeding the animals. I think it is a full moon.. I don't always look up, since I am usually watching for snakes. My camera was on and I had just captured a few of the goats in action, so I was ready for this one. Kind of neat and will probably inspire some future project.

Since it was a busy shop day, I will have to go back to spinning classic yarns for a while in order to restock. If anyone has ideas on colors that are cool in their parts of the world. Let me know. I used to follow the color forecasts and have realized that what sells are colors that people already have in their closets, or something that appeals to them on that day. So, I now spin what I like to and the yarn usually finds a lovely home.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


This is my On the Ranch skein. I decided to not fill the bobbin, so it would be affordable. I am going to make a few skeins that can go with it, if anyone wants to make a larger project. This skein has 107 yards. Good for a scarf or to add to something else.

After thinking about it and since someone suggested it, I started a ravelry group for people who are interested in what happens around here. More feedback for me. I can do market research and find out what people think, before I actually do something! And - a chance for people to let me see what they have been doing - especially with my fiber. (I already have a typo in the intro to the thing and immediately realized that I need to know how to edit!) If anyone knows how, please let me know! It is named Unique Designs By Kathy. Thought I would keep the same name going, so I don't have to memorize something new.

Someone already wanted to know the date for the wool festival for 2009, so thought I would let those of you who keep calendars know: October 17, 2009. It avoids conflict with the other group. (If you do not know, don't ask!)

A friend came by to work with me on a DVD, that will be informational in nature, that can be played at the wool festival and at open houses. We were working on the birthing sequence. I use the "um" a lot. Anyone have a suggestion for getting rid of the habit?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More details of landscape

Close up shots of different sections of the landscape. Doubt I could ever reproduce it. The photos are to just enjoy.

Productive day

I got my "Bloom Where You are Planted" skein photographed, so I can load it on etsy tomorrow. Close color scheme to the Childhood memories, but totally different novelties. They could be used together, but I think it would be too much of a good thing.
Holly was picking fiber, while Agave was chair jumping.
I am so excited. This is my finished landscape above.Marc asked for two details to be added to the one below. Doubt you could pick them out, but you can try!
I really love how the whole thing came together.I put the tree on the left and immediately saw what I could do to the other side to make it look right. Then the bottom just came really easily.
A closeup of the detail of the trees and golden eagle. This is my favorite landscape to date. Marc says he really like the Birds in Flight one and that this one is as good. I used coiled yarns and superslub coiled yarns for the trees and some of the bushes. Now I am going to have to redo one of my other landscapes and I now know how I am going to finish one that I was going to embellish with crochet pieces.

I spent the afternoon spinning the "On the Ranch" skein. I will finish that one tomorrow and ply another yarn, before I do the "At the Seashore." Then I really need to get back to my orders and finish at least one!

A very hot day

The mourning dove babies are all grown up! Only one was still in the nest with its mother this morning. I checked the other nests. Most were empty and one had new eggs in it. Can't post that photo, because only half of the nest showed up. I realized today that all of the nests must be about 4.5 feet above ground. Exactly at my eye level, so I have to aim the camera from above to get photos of what is in the nest. Anyhow, it causes me to have to retake several photos, since I can't see what I am doing !
Geoffrey really loves to sit in the puddle created by the overflow of the water bucket. The first time I forgot the water on, he went and settled down to cool himself. I left it on deliberately this morning, since I knew that it was going to be hot.
I had to soak this doe at 9 in the morning. She was already frothing at the mouth in the heat.
Cinnamon got a soaking, but she was smart enough to hang out under the misters once I turned them on.
I brought Agave over to the house. I am going to train her to a halter, since she is so friendly. She loved my yarns! She was a good doe and did not nibble! She also ran around the workshop, while Holly and I were out there. She jumped on chairs to other chairs and in general had a blast exploring the place. I plan to bring her back over tomorrow. She will be my ambassador.