Thursday, July 30, 2009

Black and white

Paula Simmons from Pat Green Carders called to say that they test ran my carder last night and that it runs really well. They are now crating it up in preparation for shipping. I would have thought that she was using the cottage industry size carder, but she told me that she is only using the Supercard. When I first started looking for the larger carder, she recommended that I keep the Supercard. I am really glad that I listened to her. I can see that I will still be producing small batts for felting and it is good for sampling.

I spun several individual batts of different colors today using the same setting on my Little Gem.I am experimenting to see, if I can consistently spin the same amount of yardage from each batt and whether I can come up with a chart telling me which whorl size I should use, if I want to get a certain amount of yardage per ounce (disregarding the density of different fibers.) The batts are all the same size, since the carder can only hold so much fiber. The weights are varying, but I am coming up with 130-136 yards for each batt using one of the ratios on the whorl. Tomorrow I will repeat the experiment using a different whorl. I have been spinning long enough now, that I can look at a yarn and match it up fairly well.When I was spinning the 3,000 yards of Shetland, my yards per ounce varied by only 1-4 yards. Not bad, since I am not scientific about it! The above is a freeform yarn that I finished spinning yesterday. It has 181 yards and is mostly kid mohair from my white and black goats with some Merino blended in to give it additional texture. The bead combinations on my last two freeform yarns have taken on a new twist and I think that they are turning the yarns into elegant works of art. I am listing it on my website - assuming that I can get into my website browser. I am planning to shift to a new one soon. is just too slow and has to many users. No one going to my website will see a change - I will just be able to update quicker.

Below is a batt that combines all of the leftover pieces of batts from the freeform yarn. Amazing how much white is required to tone down the blacks.
The yarn on the bobbin.
The skeined yarn.It is designed to stretch the freeform yarn. It has 364 yards. There is a secodn silver one with 100 plus yards. I resisted th etemptation to coil them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tucson in the summer

There was an article in both the USA Today and the Arizona Daily Star in which they celebrated that Tucson is the number one place to live according to a survey in AARP. Well, there is one thing that they did not consider in their calculations which anyone in Tucson could have told them. Tucson in the summer is hell. I cannot even imagine what Phoenix is like. Forget that dry heat stuff. Hot is hot!

Most of my aggravation with the heat is a result of watching the animals deal with the stress. Despite the fans, misters, and sprinklers running full blast, they are breathing heavy and I managed to lose an angora rabbit and her babies. Of course, there were other factors that lead to their deaths, but it is very frustrating to deal with the heat on top of it all. Raking is a major pain and I am seeing the fleeces start to accumulate vegetable matter(VM.) The ones with the best fleeces seem to want to roll in the stuff. Wet fleeces attract and hold the VM, so I will have a lot more work when it comes time to clean the fleeces.

On a positive note, my Elsa carder from Patrick Green is ready. They should have the check and it will be shipped before the end of the week. I am excited. I have been washing 5-10 fleeces a week in order to have plenty to just run through it. Anything boring in the shop will get new life.

I am currently spinning novelty yarns. I just finished one that shifts from white through all sorts of shades of gray to black. It is now in the wash. I carded all of the batches into three batts weighing a total of 6.6 ounces. My new carder will hold all of that and more. I plan to get back to Netflix and keep spinning my way through the "Ghost Whisperer." The plots are all becoming predictable, so I am counting on the character development to keep me going. Then I will be back to finish "BattleStar Galactica." Has anyone watched anything good available on DVD? Can't do those long stretches of one color without mental stimulation.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Baby updates and new yarn

I still have not named the mother and the ram lamb. Moms and babies always hang very close together.
This is the Moorit. Since she is the only moorit that I have, she might end up being named that. She had a ewe lamb late Sunday afternoon. I was proud of her. She did it all by herself and no horror stories.
The tall sheep in the middle is Desert Rose. He was a bottle fed ram two years ago. He busted loose yesterday and was hanging out with the does under the Palo Verde and in front of the fan. Good thing it is so hot. He had no interest in chasing the does. Tor taught me how to get the sheep to move into areas by setting up temporary fences. It worked quite well. Desert Rose is now in an escape proof pen.
Absinthe has been asking to go hang out with the llamas and alpacas every morning. She has been finding the coolest spots. She is very well behaved and comes when called. Wish I could let more of the does wander, but the kids make too much of a racket when their moms go out the gate. I don't want the neighbors coming to harass me!
I have been spinning freeform yarns and listing them on my website. This was the one that I finished today. It is kid mohair and merino with lots of novelties. I have close up pictures below as well as photos showing both sides.

Yesterday morning I went out to feed and discovered that one of the rabbits had had babies. Only one was living. This picture was taken an hour ago. I am bottlefeeding him/her, since the mother had no teats and passed away last night. Despite the fans and getting soaked, the heat was too much. I was also unprepared. I had sorted out rabbits and did not realize that I had another male. He definitely had identifying traits when I went looking yesterday, but nothing a month ago. He is now in his own pen. Marc and I used the opportunity to shift cages around and add more fans. You do not want to know what our electric bill is right now!
I am using the sheep colostrum that I collected for the ewe lamb that I lost last week. He seems to be doing ok on it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Millspun Yarn

Two years ago I had some of my fiber spun into yarn and bought some Alpaca Targhee to help the mill guys out of a financial crisis. I am now discounting them 20% until August 5, 2009 to anyone who mentions that they saw this posting on my blog. If you come in and don't mention it, you will not get the sale price. I need space for my own handspun, which is more representative of the ranch than these millspun yarns are. There are some really good deals among them. Happy knitting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No greater cure for the blues

Thanks for all of the encouraging comments. It is nice to know that other people share in my grief. I was surprised that Marc bought me flowers and gave me a card telling me that he understands how hard it is to work with babies and still lose them. He knows how much I love color and brought me the brightest bouquet that he could find! Thanks, Marc!
My way of beating the blues is to do something constructive and possibly something that I had been procrastinating on. So, when Judy came to hang out this afternoon, I got her to help me pluck the three bunnies that had not been plucked earlier. We named them at the same time, so from left to right these three are named: Copper, Phoenix, and Quartz. I still have two reds to name. The white bunny is Tucson.

They were the first babies this year and I had not planned on the alphabetical listing. They all have distinct personalities. Tucson, is by far the friendliest. She used to rub noses with me, but now is more eager to get the papaya tablets that I give them each morning to make sure that they don't get wool block. Copper is the shyest bunny and the largest, so she is easy to pick out of the batch. Phoenix is very curious and hangs closest to her mother, while Quartz is friendly and likes to sit in the water bowl. The other two reds are a male and a female and have not distinguished themselves yet.

They all have lovely fleeces and petting them helped me get through the day. Thanks for making me a part of your lives.

Ewe lamb update

She did not make it. I did not think she would, since I had to restore her airway during each seizure. She was born holding her head to the side, which has always been a bad sign. It always gets me when the ewe of a set of twins dies and the ram makes it. I know it is a case of the fittest survive, but it does not make it any easier to take. Amazing how quickly we become attached. She lived less than 9 hours and I could tell you the entire color pattern on her head, which was gorgeous and how curly her fiber was. The ram does not look nearly as good - very few curls. Males are always on the short list, so this is a bummer.

Since I have dealt with the constant "life or death" with births, this one has been a little easier to accept. I second guess every decision I make, but in the end it is out of my control and I need to learn to let go.

She will be missed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lambs and problems

The ewe lamb above was born about 2 this afternoon. I had to fence off where the mother was in labor, because Ajo, the young Rambouillet kept harassing her while she was in labor.
The above is mother with her ram lamb. He was up and at it within moments. I am pretty sure that he is drinking off mom, but will know for sure when I go out to check this evening.
The baby in the basket is the one standing in this photo. All of a sudden she started having seizures, so I had to take her in. After a cold bath, a dose of antibiotics and lots of massaging, she relaxed and went to sleep. She needs prayer! I won't name her till I am sure that she will make it. I expected problems with this birthing since the mom has had udders forever and she quit eating for the last two days. I figure the heat and the other sheep wanting to be in on the action triggered some of the problems. I don't plan to try to get her on the mother, since I won't have anyone to help me catch her tomorrow and hold her, while I try to get the baby on. The mom is a recent purchase and wild!

Update at 9:45 - the ewe lamb is probably not going to make it. Her breathing has slowed to almost nothing. So sad. Marc and I are going to have to hold the ram lamb on mom. He felt thin when I picked him up.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Tube Links

Virginia has been taking videos of the ranch for more than a year and she has sent me the links to these videos that she has uploaded to You Tube. Let me know what you think - comments on the animals, etc. are appreciated - not on how old I look!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Computer issues and the Patagonia Fall Arts Festival

I can't tell, if my access issues are due to my wireless card, AOL, or if the blogger site is so overwhelmed by traffic, but I keep getting the "navigation to the page error" and I have an excellent connection. Any ideas?

My ewes have still not delivered. I feel for them every time I go check on the animals. It is hot! Some of them are now standing in water trying to keep cool. Some have learned to keep their heads propped on the licker and the water runs across their faces. It would be funny, if I were not also stressed by the heat and can relate. 30% chance of rain. Of course we had that chance yesterday and did not get any.

I have tried to figure out a way of responding to questions that people send me in comments and have decided that an occasional post with answers is the easiest way.

I do sell roving from Ashland Bay (for those who wanted to know if I had fiber for needlefelting.) I also sell dyed silk scarves for nuno felting.


I got into the show. It is in October before the Tucson Wool Festival. They emailed to let us know that they are looking for other vendors. Certain categories have a waiting list - jewelry, soaps, etc. If you think you want to do it, it costs about $185 and is a 3 day event. Much cooler weather than Tucson!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Always a favorite

This is a skein that I just finished for a Shetland order. I still have at least two, if not three, more bobbins to go to get enough yardage. Vanessa fell in love with some Shetland, but wanted enough to make a shawl, so I started fresh with three different fleeces blended in order to be sure that I had enough to spin. The shawl turned into an afghan. I have to tell you that it takes three times as long to card fiber than it does to spin it. Of course, DVDs speed the spinning process all, so it might just be my perception (I am not a clock watcher!)
The monsoon rains are here and we have been getting our share of rain. I find th eclouds fascinating, since our sky is usually such a clear blue. Wish I could capture the swirls in felting, but I am not patient enough to lay the fiber out that precisely. I really enjoy the clouds, because it cools things off. I feel bad for the animals - they migrate towards the cooler spots, but still...

The colored kids are turning out to be my favorites this year. Ruby is the one with her front feet in the feeder. The other two are Kat's and Jalapeno's kids. They have recessive black in their backgrounds and will have the finest colored fleeces when shearing comes along in October.
Maybe it is because she is the runt and so eager to see me (or any visitor for that matter - she even greets Marc) or because she does the cutest things, that Ruby has become my favorite this year. I still have her mother, The Witch, but she has dried up, so Ruby has figured out that she can pop under other mothers for a drink when they are eating. She does not discriminate! I have seen her under black goats, red goats, and white goats. The other night Duster, a red angora goat, was so busy inhaling grain that she did not even bother to check who was under her.
This is a close up of Ruby's fleece. She was born pure black, but the tips are now chestnut and the rest of her fleece is now turning silver. It is going to be a very unusual fleece. Of course, the best part is how soft it will be.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Freeform yarns and No Size's buck

The above freeform yarn is a recent addition to the shop. I have spun singles and coiled yarns in the same shades to go along with this one. I will be listing it on my website for sale.
A friend told me that I did not have any green and orange combinations in the shop, so I spun this yarn. You can just barely see the glass bead which was my color inspiration. For those of you who have not see my freeform yarns, they vary in color and texture and are loaded with beads, buttons, bows, and other novelties. My idea is to create a yarn that captivates as you knit or crochet. You don't know what it will have next and you won't know what it will look like - you do know that it will be a work of art and an attention getter.

Below are some of the hungry critters who provide fiber for my yarns. They are mostly Shetlands and crosses with Jacob and Border Leicester.
Below is a skein of Shetland yarn. It has 1,308 yards and weighs 9.4 ounces. A huge skein for me.

This is one of No Size's bucks. His third fleece is going to be gorgeous compared to a traditional bucks' fleece. He is the only one that I kept from last year's crop of kids. Unfortunately, he is related to all but two of my does, so I cannot use him. He is available for $400 or an equivalent fiber trade (white wool that can be used next to the skin or good enough for nuno felting.) He is actually doing very well with the heat - but I am keeping a very close eye on him, since his fiber is so dense.