Friday, April 30, 2010

Out for an afternoon stroll

Seven of the eight eggs that Ugly was sitting on hatched on Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, Ugly abandoned the nest and took her babies for a walk. The proud papa was determined to be in on the action.
No stragglers were allowed! This year was far different one from the first year that goslings were born. The first year Ugly and the other geese looked at the babies, as if they were aliens. They bit the beaks off the babies, pecked them till they bled, and even killed one. The goslings then were born one at a time and we had to rush to take them away. Now we can leave them out. When it is time for a nap, all of the goslings go inside Ugly's wings. You would never even know that they are there.
I was planning on a freeform shawl in red, black, and white, but decided to go with natural shades with sage green and gold added.

I have already spun 400 yards and started knitting. I chose a size US 13 needle this time, because there is more bulky yarn and I like garments to drape well.

Above is the first necklace I spun. It is a gorgeous sage green and charcoal combination, but does not show up against the jacket, so I spun another with a deeper black motif. Have to have that wow factor! There are lots of novelties throw in, so it is pretty impressive in a close up.
I do feel like I got a project runway assignment!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Life is an ongoing adventure

Winter is very gentle, as you can see. These three bucks are always messing with her and I have seen one of them - the one on the right - drinking from her. It is too funny! This photo was taken with my cell phone and turned out rather well.

My Southwestern shawl sold this afternoon, so I can make another! I am thinking red, white, and black, but the lady who bought the shawl wants to wear my novelty yarns as necklaces and has commissioned me to make a dozen smaller ones for her. She really planned ahead because she brought the sweaters that she wanted me to make the necklaces for. We put together a lot of the raw ingredients, so I will be working on those first. I can see that some of them will be the inspiration for much larger yarns. I also came up with an idea for two of them and they will have to be necklaces. There is no way anyone would want to knit them! I will keep you posted on my progress. She does not have a computer, so they will still be a surprise for her. I can play!
The above lamb was born last week. He is still really tiny. Any even smaller ewe was born with a twin on Thursday. Kidding and lambing is almost over. I am still waiting on the red does who were picky about their partner.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Southwestern Shawl

This is not a new project. Someone asked me questions about the use of the freeform yarns, so I thought I would share it here also. This is one way to wear the shawl and it is great for either a tall or short person.
And this is another - a taller person can get away with this version.

A closeup of the beginning section with the southwestern buttons that were my theme and color inspiration.

When knitting with novelty yarns, you can change needles for each type of texture or go withthe same size throughout. I chose a size 10.5 US needle for this shawl, but have used 11 and 13 needles. You can see where the thicker yarns distort the fabric, but the overall effect is to be abstract, so I don't worry about it. All of the novelties end up on the back side of each row, so they need to be pushed to the side that you will consider to be the outside. If your needle is too large, the smaller beads and buttons might not stay where you want them.
You also need to consider drape. Some people's inclination is to go with a smaller sized needle to make it firmer, but then you will have areas that are very stiff and others that are not. You need to think about the materials used int he yarn. If you have mohair in the garment, use at least a size 10.5 or larger. The mohair will bloom and then be too hot to wear, if you go with a smaller needle. The joy of the larger needles is that you use less yarn and get done quicker!

I do not block the shawls. The curve that you see on one side was created by the natural curve of a neck. The first photo shows how the shawl was draped on the mannequin and how the drape of the shawl accommodated the body under it. I currently have the shawl hanging as it is in the second photo. It is going to cause the fibers to shift to accommodate that shape.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Elastic yarns and babies

A set of triplets checking out the vegetation. The little one at the rear is an opportunist. He sneaks under other mothers for a drink.
Elastic yarns are finally taking off. I am currently tying on to the Baby Wolf a warp for a scarf that will feature the elastic. It works beautifully for hats bands and I want to see what happens when I use it in the weft. Above and below are a series of yarns that I will be posting on my eshop. Each features 4 skeins - a single, a single coiled, a Kathy's super coil, and an elastic yarn.

The elastic yarn below is wildly different from the roving that I used. I have been adding tencel and seacell to my rovings to see what will happen. So far I am really happy with the results.

Mounds is pretty close to delivery. She is obviously a very patient ewe because she is letting Sweet's kids jump all over her. I took a whole series of photos and had a hard time choosing which to use. The kids were tap dancing on her back, jumping on and off and as you can see below, occasionally falling off!

I am taking time out with the animals - and trying to remember to take my camera. They are so entertaining at this age. Three months from now, they will be gorgeous in full hair, but much more subdued.
I sold my Shetland ram last week and have gone shopping for a new one. There are two types of Shetland: the primitive with a long double coated fleece, and the more modern with a shorter crimpier fleece. The ram that I just sold had a double coat and no where near as nice as the single coated. I went to the farm where I bought my first sheep and have ordered a new ram from her. She has some of both styles and she knows what I am looking for. The primitive style has a coarser outer coat that reminds me of Icelandic. It is rug yarn after the first fleece and not at all what I want.

This red kid doe was born with blue eyes. They are slowly turning marbled brown and blue. She was my first red kid. One more was born on Friday. She had brown eyes and is chocolate colored. Going to be gorgeous!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Baby update

When I went back out last night, the young doe had just had her second kid: both bucks - a relief in a way. If I can't sell them to a breeder, they will be easier to sell in the fall after the wool festival.

Since she was a first time mom, she needed to be moved into a shed, so the babies could get warmed up. One was already too cold and had to be blow dried. You know that someone is a true friend, when they are willing to drive out at 10 at night and hang out till babies are warmed and on their mom. Judy came out last night and stayed till almost midnight. Marc is on the east coast, so he managed to dodge the baby routine this time.

Catching the doe was a comedy routine worthy of a video. Too bad, Judy and I were both too busy to take one. Once the doe was in the pen, she was pretty good about letting me milk her and then get the babies on her. I think the catching wore her out and made her realize that she was not going to get away. She still had the tendency to back away from her kids when they tried to drink, but they both had enough and were sleeping contentedly when I was last out.

I had another first time doe dripping at dinner time. Right now, you would never suspect anything, because she is chewing her cud among the rest of the goats. I will check again at 10 and then figure early morning babies. If I weren't always checking, I could probably sleep easier at night!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Animal things and yellows

Precious' daughter, Pear had triplets last week and they kept me busy for quite a while. One buck was up and drinking with no problems, another was really little, and the third was spreadeagled for days. I had to support the last two on their mother and bottled feed them some to get them up and on their feet. I am happy to say that they were both on their mom three days later. The mother refused to leave the pen when I tried to evict her two days ago, so I am going to leave her in there as long as I can. The two kids that I had to handle a lot are going to be very friendly. They will curl right up in your arms and fall asleep.
Babies find a quiet spot to sleep.
The Shetland ewe was born last week. I regret not having locked her and her mother into a pen. The mother freaks out every time the lamb goes to play with the rest. Her cries can get annoying!
The Shetland lambs have had some really cool colors this year. There is no guarantee that they will keep the same colors, except on their faces. The markings are all quite distinct.
As the does get ready to have their kids, they tend to isolate themselves from the herd. This mesquite tree has become a popular place for the younger does.
The kids have to be cleaned off in a hurry because the wind chill factor - even in 70 degree weather - can be fatal. This doe kid was born first and I have named her the Wanderer.
I put all of the does in a pen in the large shed to make sure that the moms and kids have bonded and to make sure that they are actually drinking off the mother. Above is Evening (202) and her kids - The Wanderer, who got confused and thought that Winter, the alpaca was a source of milk, and Homebody, the buck who knew who his mother is.
I have been carding and spinning. The above is a batt of black kid mohair. You can easily pick out the variation in color in one fleece.
This is a Georgia O'Keefe inspired freeform yarn. I loved the colors in one of her pictures.

Above is a piece I wove during one of my pinweaving classes. I might frame it.
This is a piece that I wove during the last class I taught. I loved the color combination.
So - I spun two freeform yarns and have a third almost finished. They are each quite distinctive, but can be used together. I used a lot of the fleeces that I have been washing from the spring shearing.
The second skein.
I am currently waiting for one of the young does to deliver. She has had stuff dripping for hours, but has not started going into serious labor. They rarely deliver after 8, so she is going to be one with a problem for sure. I might not get much sleep tonight!