Thursday, October 29, 2009

You win some, you lose some

My loss:

When I went out to feed last night, I discovered that my yearling does had killed my kid buck, that I bought in Oregon this summer. He had not gone into rut, so that might have been what triggered the accident. He had been butted and landed upside down in the feeder with a broken neck. He had been in the pen with them for a few months and they had not been messing with him, so it was a complete surprise. Now I am going to need to keep one of my white kid bucks, just in case the yearling white buck does not do the job. Depressing.

My win:

This past weekend I was offered some Aussie/Golden Retriever crosses. I took one look at them and decided I would adopt them. They are 8 weeks old and have personalities already. The sable and white is a male and super friendly. He will already follow. I plan to train him to herd the sheep and keep me company while Marc is gone. The chocolate colored one is female and a lot slower to respond. She was likely the runt of the litter. I am keeping them in a pen, when I am wandering about, so they will have a place to associate as their own. They are not barkers (thank goodness) and have already been out to see the llamas and alpacas. Brillo snorted and then lost interest. When the llamas first got a whiff of them, they trumpeted. I imagine they will tolerate each other some day.

They are going to be lovely companions. I was raising collies when I met Marc. He is going to love the sable and white one. Now I need names and I am not going to stick with the Arizona theme.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Winter, New Yarns, and Herd Dynamics

This is a new style of yarn that I am experimenting with. It has mohair locks attached at 12-15 inch intervals. I made a small next scarf out of my first experiment. The numbers of stitches cast on really affects the layout of the locks. Might have to knit this skein up also!
No, it has not turned wintery here, but I did adopt Winter, the alpaca shown above. She is a lovely Chestnut colored Huacaya. She is possibly pregnant and due in December. The cria's sire will be moving here shortly. He is bay black. Winter is friendlier towards women than men - judging by her reaction to offerings of grain.
It is interesting how adding one new element really changes the dynamics among the animals. The llamas and alpacas had been hanging together until Winter arrived. Now the llamas have moved off and created their own little group.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ram for sale and The Tucson Wool Festival Shawl

This is a gorgeous, soft fibered, 2 year old black Rambouillet ram. He is currently for sale at $300. He has given me 3 lovely ram lambs this year.
Ellie has claimed her shawl and I did not have to add anything to make it fit!
My daughter, Kristie, the harpist, has started a blog It is going to deal mostly with her preparations for the USA International Harp competition. She will be posting a photo soon. Most of what she writes will be musical. Those of you, who have heard her play before might be interested in reading it.
I have been invited to exhibit at Tohono Chul for their Holiday Lights Nights. I will keep you posted as I prepare. The dates are November 27-28 and December 4-5 from 5:30-8:30. I am going to scope out the area on Monday, because they would like me to bring a few animals. Ruby and a rabbit will probably work out well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nuno felting

In order to keep up with felted finished goods, I will be nuno felting with a friend this Thursday about noon. There is room for 4 more. If you are interested, I have to know, since tables are limited. The cost is $50 for the smaller scarf and $70 for the shawl.

I will be posting classes with short notice periodically due to requests to take the class. I always feel like the camaraderie of a larger group is more fun.

I am doing traditional wet felting this Saturday from 10-1. You can choose to do a landscape background or a felted bag. Instruction is free. You just have to pay for the fibers you use.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tucson Wool Festival

Below is what the military would call an after action report! This is a small portion of what you missed, if you were not able to make the festival. So you can have something to look forward to, there will be a Spring Festival on March 13, 2010, when the shearer returns - the vendors currently listed on the Tucson Wool Festival page will all be returning. We have also set the date for next year's Tucson Wool Festival 2010 as October 23, 2010.
Same hours for both of them: 9-3.

The winner of the Raffle Freeform Shawl is Ellie. She has been notified and will claim it sometime this week. I told her that she will have to be photographed and she has agreed.

The drawing winners are:
Judith Fragomeni - the yarn
Patricia Wheelis - the cell phone bag
Sally Spira - the roving
Kathy Jensen - the batts

If the winners have won something they can't use, or don't want to learn how to use, they can trade it with someone who can. I will send emails, but one person did not include hers. They have until Friday to let me know that they are claiming their prize. Congratulations and thanks for participating!
I like to begin the first animal tour every year with feeding the animals. It saves me time in the morning and I am feeding at their regular hour between 9 and 10 A.M. I like to talk about what I feed the animals and why. We are in front of the fence over which I toss the food for the Shetlands. I figured the Shetlands would come close enough to be seen, if I fed them.

I always have a very attentive audience. They are very kind and laugh at the appropriate times! One of my visitors was very gracious and acted as my personal photographer for the first tour. If she sends me her name, I will give her credit.
The llamas are locked into the main pen for the day, because cars are parking in their hangout. They are looking for a grain handout and very curious about all of the people.
Here we are admiring the lovely "red" goats, who are awaiting their haircuts.

We all looked a lot more professional this year. Practice does make perfect. The vendors and demonstrators are buying canopies to protect themselves from the sun. Good thing, since it was a record 99 degrees yesterday.

Several people, who have attended every year, said that this was our best show ever in terms of turnout and quality. Marc says he agrees. He was the guy riding the bike and directing parking. He is my husband, in case you did not know and spends a lot of time labouring to make sure that all goes smoothly. It is important that people don't block the road and other cars. We don't want people getting frustrated, because they can't get out or through. Marc is going to be working with the shearer next year, so we are looking for two energetic people to take over the parking. If you know anyone with traffic management skills who would be available in March, could you let me know?

We are always looking for friendly new vendors to add to the festival. One of the new ones this year was Leann with organic fibers. She was a lovely new addition and came from New Mexico to share her wares. All of the vendors contact information is on the website:

For me, the whole festival revolves around the animals in some way. Between the tours and the shearing, I did not get a chance to check out the fleeces till this afternoon after the shearer finished. Two of my friends came to share in the excitement of fondling the new fibers. 87 new fleeces to play with and the only one that I consider to be rug yarn is Absinthe's (the friendly shaggy goat that will remind you of a dog.) Barbara, my oldest goat at 6 1/2 years old, had her 13th fleece shorn and it is gorgeous. Holly put her hand in and was saying what a gorgeous fleece it was when she realized whose it was.
I have pulled three fleeces to make myself and Marc something: the blackest black kid fleece, the pewter colored fleece, and the Rambouillet ram fleece off a ram that got taken off the dinner list as soon as I saw what was under his outer fleece. Desert Rose is now for sale, but not as dinner.
This ram appeared to have a black head with a white fleece. Imagine my surprise when I saw his fleece pictured below. I had gone back to the shop when he got sheared today. Talk about an awesome fleece. Soft and gorgeous coloring. When washed, it will be a very soft gray. I plan to blend some with the pewter mohair for myself a vest and blend some with the black mohair fleece for a vest for Marc. I have been promising him a vest for 6 years. Maybe it is about time that I make good on my promise. I am itching to start spinning it, but it has to be washed. I can't do the "in the grease" thing with my allergies. Also, I know what he has been sitting in all year!
All of the yellow/tan washed right out into a soft gray. Judy had to sneak a piece and wash it immediately. I did not recognize the coloring, so I had to run out to the sheep to see whose it was. Anyhow, I am thrilled and the ram now has a name "Thrilled."
My friend Caroline has sent me pictures, so I will post some tomorrow of the yarn judging and other scenes that I missed, while I was out with the animals.
Thank you to all who came out to the Wool Festival yesterday. It was a lot of fun and great to meet with so many other fiber addicts! A special thanks to those who ran my shop and demonstrated. I could not do all of this on my own. I have to admit, that without the fleeces today, it would have been a flat feeling day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Going Batty for the Tucson Wool Festival

At the bottom of this post are photos of the bat that has moved into my workshop AKA garage. I am cleaning out the garage, so I can put tables for the spinning judging in there. I was afraid that all of the noise last night would have driven it away, but I found it this morning hanging in the closet of the garage. I was throwing the blind onto the shelf and was face to face with it. He did not even move. The blind is not quite where it ought to be, but I left it!
This is the shawl that we are raffling off at the wool festival with the proceeds going to the Casa Maria Kitchen. It is not entirely complete, but should be by Saturday morning. It is almost large enough to be the lap rug that we intended. We are already spinning the warp for next year's shawl and demos on all stages will be available at the festival.

I use this time period to redesign the shop and air out fleeces. It is amazing how many things we discover that we have and don't remember having. Marc keeps telling me how much longer everything is taking than he predicted.

To ensure that we have enough parking, Marc hired a tree company to come and remove some of the piles of wood that we have been accumulating over the years. They have promised us mulch in return. More room for animals?

Hanging by a thread.

Bat aerobics.

I am officially batty.
Spinners - the judging will be at 1 P.M. in the workshop. There will be cards for you to fill out for the judges on the table. Please put your yarns out in the morning, so the visitors get a chance to check them out and vote for their favorite.
Please let me know in the morning, if you are interested in doing a spinning competition for fun. I will do it based on interest. This is entirely separate from the yarn judging and quantity, not quality is the goal. It is a test of how well you know your wheels.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Energizing Day at Patagonia Fall Arts Festival

I hate setting up my booth for shows, but it is really worth it, because I meet lots of new people and old friends. It is always an interesting mix of people: fiber artists, breeders, veterinarians, other fiber shop owners, and people who remember family members that used to be fiber artists. I wish I had time to write all of their stories down. Several saw me at the festival last year and this year told me what they had done with their yarns. Others were hanging the yarns around their homes, so they could just admire the colors. They are waiting for the perfect project - a little like my being afraid to use the yarn because someone else might have a cooler idea than mine for using it!

I invite anyone who has made something from my fibers - felted or with yarn - to send me digital photos of your finished projects as attachments. I would like to feature some of them on my blog (so I need your permission- you can also just share for my eyes only.) I am always amazed at the ways my fibers are used.

My friend, Karen Herhold, makes very precise nuno felted scarves. My nuno felted scarves are on the opposite end of the form - very abstract. I have hung one of her scarves next to one of mine in the booth. Mine appeal to the right brain - hers to the left brain. I have been doing a survey of visitors for years and those who are in science related fields zoom in on Karen's, while those who are in art fields zoom in on mine. They are both done in exactly the same colors - the layout is also very similar, but the results are very different!

My friend, Holly Hardyman, is also on the scientific side. She spins gorgeous lace weight yarns in solid colors. My yarns - rarely feature one color or type of fiber and they usually have a novelty twist of some sort.

Hope you all have the wool festival here at the ranch in your plans for next Saturday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Patagonia, new yarns and southwestern vest

Hot off the wheel. The funky yarns are the most fun to create, so it is nice to have them so well received. I get to do what I like best!
I finished my southwestern vest and did not remember till today that I had not photographed it. This is the back and it is the lighter side.
The front side represents the darker side of the southwestern colors. The coils on one side act as closures. No need for buttons on this one. It stretches, since it was knit side to side, so it will look well on many shapes and sizes. Available in the ranch shop or at a show.

And what would a show be without at least one booth shot. The felting is drawing a lot of attention - both the landscapes and the nuno felted shawls. I hope to sell a few finished goods, but so far, the yarns are the winners. They look spectacular in natural light. I forget how dark my shop can look. A skylight is in a list of remodeling, but we have to get through the new barn deal first. If I were not so hooked on carding and spinning, I could sit and knit all day long.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Patagonia Fall Arts Festival

I will be at the Patagonia Fall Arts Festival this weekend in booth number 25. My shop will still be open for spinners and felters - I have way more roving and batts than I could ever haul! Judy has graciously agreed to be here for you.

The weather has turned cooler - such a blessing! The llamas and alpacas went racing down the wash as I was feeding this evening. Jennifer was a blur and I had to look twice to make sure that she was not some strange animal. They are getting frisky! Even I felt more energetic.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

4th Avenue Street Fair

I got my booth assignment yesterday for the street fair. It is # 347 and it is north of where I was in the spring, but still on the west side. A year and a half ago I was in booth 345. I am trying to stay in the same area, so I will be easier to find. This winter's dates are December 11-13.

I will be packing the shop up for the Patagonia Fall Arts Festival on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. A friend will keep the shop open for those looking for batts and roving. I will be leaving some yarn behind as well. My booth is 25, the same as last year. Hope to see some of you there.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cards and novelty yarns

My sister, Shirley, took a bunch of photos while visiting and grabbed some of mine from my computer to create the cards above. They are gorgeous. She is using my novelty yarns as the backdrop for some and the local vegetation for others. I do have a few llama ones for those of you who have been asking for them. They are a steal at $6 and definitely a collector's item. I have promised her that I will not hoard them.
Judy (not the same from the previous posts - I seem to have several friends with the same names) finished her scarf. She liked the southwestern motifs that I had on my landscape scarf, so she went home and added them to a scarf that she was already knitting with my yarns. She agreed that it is a lot harder to add them after the fact. It is easy to obsess over placement and being too "scientific" about it did not work.

This skein came off my wheel earlier today. It has 88 yards. Below is another photos. The one below is more accurate in terms of color, but I did want to show a closeup of the beads in the yarn. They really make it pop and definitely add class.

And lastly, I thought I would let you know that the three large Rambouillet males (2 rams and a wether) were moved to the far back of the arena. I really need to get the rest of the goats sorted. I was to busy helping to shove them in the right direction to be able to take photos. Sure wish that someone had been there with a camera. One of them would not go any way but backwards, so Marc and I decided that we would turn him around and move him that way. It was too funny for words, but it worked. Now I will have a longer trek to get their feed to them, but the main area of the pen will soon have less work. Part of this move is also to reduce my raking in the morning. The snowbirds are coming back and visitors are wanting to see the animals. I do believe that it is a lot more pleasant to be able to walk without watching for pellets!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall is here!

Fall and spring are the perfect seasons for felting here. The mornings are cool, but not so cool that you can't soak your hands in the water to felt. I have come to the conclusion that, if I layout and start felting a piece before going out to feed the animals in the morning, I have a real sense of accomplishment. I felted the above piece on Tuesday and it kind of looks like the above photo. I hung it in the shop this afternoon and will photograph it tomorrow.
During the Freeform Spinners of Tucson meeting yesterday, we chose the fiber for the shawl for next year. We settled on autumn colors and Shetland and Rambouillet fibers. We are going to spin the warp and weft now so we will be able to warp the loom on the day of the Tucson Wool Festival. The center of the shawl will be woven using the chocolate Rambouillet and the colors will be knitted and crocheted into leaves. If you come to the festival and would like to make a piece for the shawl, there will be a table with the yarn and the patterns that we have chosen. This years' laprug became a shawl and is almost complete. It will be done, so the raffle winner can take it home. This is the piece that I laid out and felted this morning. It definitely looks different and I will post the photo tomorrow. The red that shows on the right side looks a lot like a dancer now it is felted so I am naming it "Free Spirit."
This is one of the yearling does. She is always in a chair or on something. She is really ready to be sheared. She will have a seven month fleece when she is sheared at the wool festival.

The does in this pen are all available for sale. A few are color carriers and the rest are white. In the back at the right is one of the bucks I bought in Oregon. He is not interested in the does yet. He will probably have to be sheared before he goes into rut. It is way too hot here and his fleece is pretty heavy.
Our sunset tonight. Really inspiring for an artist. I don't think the photo really captured it.