Monday, November 30, 2009

Youtube videos

My friend, Virginia, has been filming and posting videos for me on youtube. Her most recent posting is one of me demonstrating my method of drop spindling. If you have ever taken a drop spindling lesson from me, this video will be a great way to review. I am going to place the link in my favorite links area, so you will be able to find it easily. I just watched it and think it covers just about all that you need to know! I am also excited because I think I sound more coherent than I thought I was talking! Virginia did an awesome job. Check it out and let me know.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving - REALLY

Winter had her baby this morning. It is a female, so I named her Thanksgiving and will call her Thanks. She looks to be the shade of a pale red angora goat. Winter allowed me to express some of her colostrum to put in Thanks mouth, so I was able to warm up the baby and get her drinking from Winter very easily. All the requisite holes are there and mom and baby are bonded. so I am truly thankful!
I had to put Winter into the fenced area with the goats, because the baby will not be able to run fast enough to escape a coyote for a while. Brillo and Emmy were experiencing baby envy, so I thought it would be safer all around.

This is the prickly pear that was my inspiration for the Tohono Chul novelty yarn. Still have not finished spinning it, but I did remember to walk the dogs out there with a camera, so I could get a photo.
Above is one of my experiments. I spun kid mohair on top of an elastic thread. Turned out really fuzzy. I then tried spinning a yarn and then plying with the elastic thread. That turned out so boring that I did not even photograph it!
Above is a circular lace shawl that I am designing "as I go" using the Knitvisualizer software. Now that I have figured out a few of its quirks, I will be able to design more intricate patterns. I always worry about using just words for a design. I plan to write the pattern for the pink shawl with beads that is in the shop. I have been asked for the pattern repeatedly, but was afraid to just use the abbreviations. It is an easy thing to mess up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A walk on the Scientific Side

Most of you, who have been out to the ranch, know that I separate artists into the scientific and the abstract/freeform. You have also already figured out that I am an abstract artist and approach all of work in a freeform manner. Well, flipping around in the groups that I like on Ravelry, I discovered that there was a book coming out called Creative Lace by Myra Wood. I immediately went to Amazon to check it out. The picture on the front captured my imagination, since I had just collected the colors for a new yarn. I was thinking coiled, until I saw the book, which I did buy.
I spun the roving up as a lace weight single and was seriously impressed with the yardage that I got - 790 yards in 5.6 oz., so 171 yards per ounce. A record for me! It is kid mohair with a touch of white merino from a fleece I bought from the shearer last spring. I envision a free flowing skirt to be worn over leggings. The Creative Lace book does not have any true patterns of the featured finished items, so I won't be able to use them as a springboard for my own design. I have emailed Myra Wood in the hopes of being able to take her class somewhere or get her scheduled to come here to teach, since I am a very visual learner. Will let you know, if I ever hear from her.
After a trip to Barnes and Nobles, I had a book on Victorian Lace by Jane Sowerby. She has some good instructions in the back of her book on how to design your own lace patterns. Between those two books and a few others on my shelves, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do. Now, I am just waiting for the Knitvisualizer software that I ordered to arrive. Myra Wood recommends it and the demo looked awesome. I could have had instant gratification with a download version, but I already know that I am getting a new computer, so it makes sense to get the CD. I plan to make up and record the pattern as I go. I don't have what it takes to make more than one of them, but someone else might like the pattern. I also plan to write the pattern for the pink Shetland Shawl with beads, since I keep getting asked for it. It is the kind of pattern that needs a chart!
The above is roving that I carded up after seeing a prickly pear cactus plant along the wash while I was walking the dogs. I keep meaning to take my camera along, but my hands are too busy trying to keep Shep and Herd from playing with each other as we go. I am going to spin it up as a novelty yarn and name it "Tohono Chul." The Holiday Nights are next week end and I am starting to get excited. I won't take as much from the shop as I do for the 4th Ave, but I still need to mentally prepare in my mind what I am going to take. I will also be taking Ruby and Rica. Marc says he will help with that. I am going to scope out my area tomorrow morning and might also take an angora rabbit, if the area is suitable.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Notes from the Withers' Ranch

The Wither’s Ranch Update

Tucson Open Studio Tours 2009: I am part of the Tucson Open Studios Tour that is taking place this Saturday and Sunday, November 14-15, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. I will be here at the ranch demonstrating the process of preparing fiber for spinning and felting. I will be talking about how I come up with my color combinations and what inspires me to create specific designs. My assumption is that most of you have done the animal tour and seen the shearing, so this will be the studio side of fiber process. I hope that many of you can make it.

Tohono Chul Holiday Nights: I have been invited to showcase the “Wool” Arts at the Tohono Chul Holiday Nights – November 27-28 and December 4-5 from 5:30-8:30. I am not raising my prices, so your purchases there will give Tohono Chul a 40% donation. I have invited several of my fiber art friends to come exhibit and demo with me. Look for advertisements around town and in the local papers.

4th Avenue Street Fair: December 11-13, 2009, 10-5. I am once again in the 300 series on the west side of the street in the vicinity of O’Malleys. Come visit! I will definitely have a few new designs in both yarns and patterns.

Tucson Spring Shearing Festival: Mark your calendars for the spring shearing here at the ranch on March 27, 2010 from 9-3. This year I am expanding the spring shearing to include the fall vendors and any new artists that come my way during the next couple of months. If you are an artist and have something fiber related that you would like to sell, please contact me and email photos or swing by with samples of your work. I want to avoid the “hobby and craft” label.

Tucson Wool Festival: The 6th annual Tucson Wool Festival will be November 6, 2010 9-3.

Other notes of interest:

I have a new alpaca named “Winter”, who is due to deliver sometime in December. She is super friendly and gorgeous!

Keep an eye on my blog: for specials and unscheduled classes. If you have not been reading it, take time to do so. You will get a true feeling for the flavor of a working ranch. The stories I tell during the animals tours are just a taste of what life is like!

Visitor tours: They are free. My request is that, if there are more than 5 of you, and you want the area extra raked, that you call me at least a day in advance. Never wear your best shoes - this is a working ranch!

School Tours: Please give me 3 days notice and be sure that there is adequate adult supervision. I love introducing children to the animals. The younger the children, the shorter the tour will be. It is a good idea for individuals in large groups to arrive close together in terms of time. I am in business to feed the animals, so I do have to be around for the shop, unless I have enough notice for a friend to cover for me.

This is a copy of a newsletter that I sent out today to those who have given me their email addresses over the past year. If you did not receive one, and you want to be on my list, please send me an email address.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pleats, grazers, and sleepers

I am playing around with new techniques for recreating a garment just to see, if I can. Pleats are a prominent feature in the garment. I came up with a method that works very well. In the process, I learned that bigger pleats are required in knitting, if you want them to stand out. It also would probably look better with stockinette rather than the random ribs that I chose. I have settled on the final look of the scarf, so now all that is left is the actual doing and writing out the instructions as I go! That is really the hardest part for me.
I moved a few of the older does into my old garden so they can chow down on the Texas broom for me. Absinthe is keeping them company. These are among the does that will be culled. Know anyone that needs a few goats to clear out shrubby weeds?
I named the puppies Shep (Marc's choice) and Herd. I know. I have been told repeatedly, that Herd is not a good name for a girl puppy. After a week of trying to come up with a name that would make someone else happy, but not me; I decided to stick with Herd. Her name fits. She nips at the heels of anyone walking with me who does not keep up. She recognizes that as her name, so why mess up a good thing? Shep is fat dumb and happy. Here he is asleep protecting his part of the feeder. I don't know, if you can tell, but his bowl is not in the hole!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Global Warming and New Fleeces

Well, you know that it is staying warmer than usual, when the animals are not getting bred. Does are going into heat, whacking the fences, and beating heads, because the bucks are not going into rut. I will be forced to start keeping yearling bucks, because they do go into rut earlier. I would rather not, since I prefer to keep animals that I can handle, but it seems like the does are breeding later every year. I will be surprised, if I have kids on the ground by the spring wool festival on March 27 2010.

I am busy washing fleeces. The one featured below is off a Shetland ram. he appeared all black until shearing. Carded up, his fleece will be a very soft gray.
The kid mohair fleece below is Ruby's and full of trash. She is one of the Witch's kids and has one of the softest black fleeces from the most recent crop. The trash gives me the opportunity to spin it and I am now designing a wrap that I will knit and call Ruby's Wrap. I will keep you posted on my progress.
It is kind of funny how we seem to gravitate every year to the same colors at the same time of the year. I end up spinning black and purple each year in the fall. As I was planning my wrap, I was thinking of purple and charcoal. As I spun up the first batch, I realized that it was the same combination that I used for a vest three years ago. Ruby's is the gray roving on top. I am knitting a scarf with the samples and experimenting with patterns and design elements that I will use in my wrap. I plan to publish the scarf pattern.