Monday, December 29, 2008

My Husband's Gift (to me)

Christmas Eve is my birthday, as well as my wedding anniversary. The picture above will make sense by the end of the poem that he wrote me.


It is hard to find a gift for one's wife,
Especially when she already buys what she wants in life.
Still some things are hard to buy,
And for that I can hear her sigh.
And so I give her a room,
The better to make her bloom.
I'm speaking, of course, of the mud room being redone,
The better to make her work easier and fun.
I'll do a bunch of it myself,
But have professionals do things like the washer and shelves.
And so, lovely dear wife,
Happy Anniversary, I'm so glad you're part of my life.

Love, Marc
(published with his permission, of course)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I have not figured out how to send replies directly or post replies to the comments, so I will answer Alan's question here. The shearer is coming and will shear for the public to watch on March 14, 2009. He will be here two other days and anyone who wants to can come watch. Just let me know, so I am prepared.

ALL of the animals will be sheared, if they have fiber. This includes llamas and alpacas. The Shetlands, that were not shorn in the fall, will have wool about 3 inches long. The others will have 4-6 inch staples. I am having them sheared in March because waiting just a few weeks can cause them to start growing their new fleeces and then their shorn fleeces look like they have second cuts. I will probably use the shorter fleeces in batts for felting. I have found Shetland to be a great felting wool. The longer ones will be for spinning. Espresso, the ram in the arena, is my oldest. His last fleece was really nice, but no longer next to the skin. I am keeping him and have bought another ram from someone in Oregon. He will arrive here with a few ewes in May 2009. I need a variety of color and need to spread the genes out.

Time for gatherings

The holidays are a good time for gathering together. I used Kristie's harp playing as an excuse to have a potluck with the Freeform Spinners of Tucson. The picture is slightly blurred, but it is the only one that really captures the afternoon.Afterwards, I was out looking at the animals. The Shetlands are so woolly now, that I can't tell whether they are pregnant or not. I have several goats that looked like they have popped overnight. They are not due till February and late in the month. No udders, so nothing is likely to happen soon. Good thing, since I am not really ready!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wintry Arizona Sunset Shawl

The above is the current state of the freeform shawl that I have just begun. Arizona is famous for its sunsets. The summer ones have a totally different hue from the ones we get in the winter months. These are the current colors. I am debating adding white to the mixture to give it less of a dark tone.
This is the yarn wound into balls. I have already decided to take the navy blue in the bottom ball out of the plan. It is too stark compared to the rest of the colors. It is really funny, since the same color is blended into most of the batts that I am using. I am debating whether or not to add white to the mixture to give it more contrast. I think I will just have to spin some before making a final decision.
This is 10 ounces of the yarn. I have to have at least 23 ounces to finish, if not more. The skein on the left is the one that I have washed and wound into balls. The blue is definitely out. The second skein is hanging to dry.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Booth and shop photos with a personal note

Those who know me personally, know that I have retired from cooking. Kristie and Abe cooked last night and filled the kitchen counters with dishes. I told them that I was not going to do them. Marc usually empties and I fill. This was the second photo that I took of the guys doing the cleanup. Abe was a little startled.
The above and below are photos of the shop from Sunday evening. I had to quit and sit to spin. Caroline helped me get the shop back in order by opening. Now I am back to spinning for a new freeform shawl. My funky shawl sold at the street fair, as well as quite a few finished goods. Since Caroline has my inventory online, I was able to see that finished goods were almost half of my sales, the yarns were half and the rest was locks and roving. I was really happy with the fair. In these tough times, I am really grateful that I have so many repeat customers. A lot of the vendors did poorly and some lost their booths in a microburst sometime during Saturday night.

My booth on Saturday. Quite a few of the yarns on the front and the shawl at the top right sold. Incentive to make more!

Friday, December 12, 2008

4th Avenue Street Fair

I taught Caroline how to space dye using Koolaid not too long ago and she knitted a scarf on the bias. This morning I put on the buttons that I bought almost a month ago to put on it. There was a lot of interest today in the scarves, bags and shawls. Usually the yarns are the focus. It was nice to see the interest in finished items. I usually make them to show off the yarns or when I am designing new patterns. Sure wish I had more time! I love working with my yarns. I forget how good they look in natural light.

I was especially pleased to see a lot of familiar faces at the fair. It thrills me to hear that they have enjoyed using the yarns. Repeat customers tell me that I am doing the right thing. Periodically, I worry that I am working in a void. It is great to know that I am remembered and that I have brought pleasure to their lives - even if with only a skein of yarn!
The above is my "Victorian Rose Garden." I got on a green, white and desert rose color kick. I am working on a Southwestern Traditions shawl now and will use the above next, if they do not sell by the time I finish the southwestern skein. I know most people are into winter colors now, but I am already dreaming of spring - green things and new kids and lambs. This winter has been warm, but I am ready for the warm blue skies already.

Red, Orange, and Black Shawl

I forgot to measure the shawl before shipping it off to its new owner. I really love how it turned out. I ended up using more yarn than I anticipated and spinning more to finish it, but I wanted it to have texture and variation in color and it feels rich and soft.
Close up details of one section.

The shawl can be worn many ways, but I thought that the photo above captured its essence the best. The back does not have the stripes, but the stripes show off the yarns the best.
Above is the latest color way. It is blue and teal. I have two novelty yarns and a few simpler skeins to go along with them. Below is the stash that I began with.
I am going back to spinning simpler yarns, since that is what sold the best today at the street fair. The novelty yarns sell best here at the shop. Probably because the people who visit the ranch are more adventuresome? I know they are more interested in the animals and have been working with fiber longer, so maybe they are more willing to experiment.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nuno Felting Experiments

Tor came and checked out the (Reverse) Badger doe's horn. He is coming back tomorrow to help me fix it. I let Agave's mother out of the "sick bay", so I will have somewhere to put Badger Doe. Agave and her mother raced around while I raked and fed. I can't wait until I can let more of them out. Of course, there will be more raking to do, so maybe not!
I experimented with nuno felting yesterday and today. This is a piece that I did in the workshop under dim lights. It was really dark outside, when I took this photo. The portion on the right is one side and the photo below shows the other side. I did not want to do the style that I see other people doing. I just wanted to see how much work it would take to get the fiber to stick to the silk. I was pleasantly surprised. It is a whole lot easier than wet felting a purse or a bowl. I don't like having to cut the silk - it seemed to stick to the scissors and I had a hard time getting a straight line. On the piece today, I decided not to worry about the edges and I layered both sides of the silk with fiber. My batts were a combination of kid mohair, Shetland, merino, and angelina.
All of the fiber stuck and the thin edges look really cool. I like the abstract look and think that I will end up using the silk as a base to give strength to shawls that I want to make, rather than have the silk be the focal point. I will next play around with dyeing the silk.

Above is one of the batts that I used to make the shawl above. This is the dark side. My thought is to add this embellished piece by Pat Hansen (Pat, let me know, if I messed up your last hname, so I can fix it.)

Above is the piece that I felted yesterday. Pat brought a batch of pieces that she had been sewing together to show me today. As soon as I saw this piece, I saw a match. Pat and I are going to collaborate on a few more pieces and see what happens. She took this one home to attach the embellishment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Current project and Reverse Badger doe and Silvers

This is the project I started working on while waiting for yarn for the red shawl to dry. I am going to call it southwestern traditions, since it has southwestern motifs.
This is the yarn that I am using for the above project. It is all from my animals - Shetland, kid mohair, llama, Rambouillet, and Jacobs.
The Badger doe in the center has a horn growing too close to her head. I wrote to the CAGBA yahoo list and am posting these photos here for them. I have decided to get her horn fixed after chatting with enough other breeders to discover that she is a reverse badger and fairly rare. So many breeders are reducing their herds due to the price of feed that it is becoming worrisome.
She has been hiding under the feeder to get away from the other goats.
From left to right is a black (charcoal) angora goat, a very pale silver and a darker silver. The one in the middle had worse hair than his twin on the right, so I castrated him. Now his hair is finer. The black one on the left has the finest hair. I am keeping all three for now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lace weight yarn

In order to not get into a rut, I periodically spin yarns that sell well, but are not me. The above two skeins are lace weight - not my usual - and all natural colored from my animals. They include llama, Shetland, Jacob, and Rambouillet wool, as well as kid mohair. They have over 750 yards each. The one on the left has been washed. The one on the right had not been washed yet. I wanted to see how different they would look. I normally don't list yarns and prices on my blog, but thought I would do so, since I am not going to list anything else on etsy till after the 4th Avenue Street fair. They are each $82 and I will pay postage, if they are purchased off my blog.
The Bad Hair Day Rooster was moving too much for a great photo, but I loived th ecolor combination. It has a lot of the colors that are in the freeform shawl that I am currently knitting.
Marc made a new hutch for two of the rabbits this past weekend. I wanted them up off the ground and away from the chickens, who were probably abusing them. The other rabbit is in a cage of her own. I am pretty sure that she had babies already and that the chickens attacked them. Seeing them go after a grub that was under a brick was kind of scary!