Monday, June 27, 2011

Busy, Babies, and a New Project

My wet felting Saturday became a nuno felting Saturday. I made the shawl on the left while teaching the class and, since I was already set up, felted the navy one. The wind started to kick up while I was laying out the second one, so I had to keep wetting it down. I have decided to clean off the back porch and felt there when I am on my own. It is a little more protected.

My trip to Del Mar last weekend included the purchase of three animals to round out my herd. The Merino ram on the left has an issue with his front legs, so I needed a replacement. I will keep him for his fleece and as a companion to the new one on the right. The Mendenhall Ranch has the finest fleeces that I have ever seen.

The moorit in the foreground is another Merino. She is already friendly and roams with Mounds and the other Merinos. The white one in the background is the baby ewe born in February. The Merinos are always right at the feed wagon, when I bring it in. They are so hungry that they let me pet them and part their fleeces.

I also bought a red buck. He placed third, while mine placed first, but I need new blood and he is large enough that the older does are not going to fight him off. He is 6 months old and already as big as my yearling bucks. He is not enjoying our heat.

I noticed yesterday that this ewe (277) had udders, so I was not entirely surprised to find an ewe lamb in the barn this morning. Her mom is a first timer and won't stand still, so we put her in a pen and I fed the baby, so she won't dehydrate. Since we now have electricity in the barns, I also moved a fan in. I plan to supplement and bottle feed, if necessary. The baby has really pretty colors. Her mom was impregnated by the white Shetland/Border Leicester cross. Her fleece will be a mix of fibers. Looking at her, I can tell that she has sections of very fine and then coarser areas. She has the more primitive Shetland characteristics. (Note added on June 28, 2011 - She is not going to make it. Oxygen deprived at birth? She has not opened her eyes, so something is definitely wrong.)

Mounds is my only Rambouillet now. I was afraid that she had not gotten pregnant, but I have noticed udders developing over the past week. Since she was bred to the crooked knee Merino, I am very curious to see her lamb. I am assuming just one, since she is not huge this year. The Rambouillet that I bred her to last year was big and gave her a normal sized baby and a 16 pounder that did not survive. Merinos are a lot smaller, so I expect her to deliver without going into Ketosis this year.

This is one of my huge batts. I started with the reds and yellows and moved to the blues and greens. I am spinning it right now since it is mostly kid mohair and will post photos of the yarn once spun.

I have been asked repeatedly for the pattern to the black shawl that I knitted in crazy/abstract lace. I am using some commercial mohair blended with man made fibers - polyester and acrylic. The yarn is a lovely color, but not as soft as true mohair. Commericial carders and spinners cannot handle true kid mohair, so they have to blend it to make it strong enough to hold together.

I am using Knit Visualizer to chart the pattern. It is very random, but left brain knitters have told me that they want a pattern to follow. Personally I would go crazy. I have to sit at the computer to enter the stitches in as I go. Bet the person following the chart won't be able to duplicate it! I am bound to have a few typos in there somewhere.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Del Mar Angora Goat Show and San Diego Beaches

I got to the fair and almost did not recognize my goats. Scott had oiled their horns and applied some humidity to their fleeces and they looked great. Dry air in Tucson makes their hair hang straight until the monsoon arrives. Scott has been showing goats and sheep for years. He had to sell his herd last year, so he borrowed mine to show. The white goats won everything and this guy - my herdsire for next year, won Supreme Champion buck. I debated photographing the pile of ribbons and posting it on my blog, but I thought that would be a bit much. I was really excited.

The colored angora goats placed first and second in their categories. They are smaller than the goats from the California breeders. With the heat in Tucson, the goats don't breed until late October through December, whereas in California they can breed pretty much any time. That allows the breeders there to schedule births to maximize their placement based on show dates. I have to take what I can get. The hotter it is, the later my kids. I was very happy with their showing since, when they placed second, the judge would talk about fineness of fleece and say that mine would have been first if they had a little more size.

All of the attention and petting wore the goats out. They were back in the pens for less than five minutes when I took this photo.

This kid was sleeping with her eyes open.

Even the older goats racked out immediately. The red doe has only one udder. I had thought that would count against her, but Scott assured me when he picked her that they don't care. If she can feed her kids, more power to her. She placed second among aged does.

Every trip should include some artist time. I hit the three yarn shops in the 25 mile radius, although The Grove is not technically a yarn shop. Common Threads was in a horrible location, so I was aggravated by the time I found a park. It was not worth the visit, since they were very traditional yarns. The Black Sheep is awesome. That is where I picked up the yarns below. I tried to pick mostly mohair, so I could compare them to my own yarns. The brown up top looks horrible knitted up, so I am splitting the two colors and knitting/crocheting them separately. The other brown yarn is so fine that I will ply it to one of my yarns, so I can add it to this project.

Kyle and I visited three beaches and three areas of town. Above is a photo of downtown. I liked Old Town and the Coronado beach the best. I could not believe how different the sand was from one area to another.

Kyle will be starting his doctorate at UCSD in the fall. This is his building.

And this is his view from his office. Kind of awesome how close he is to the beach. I am not a beach person and the wind was always blowing which I hate, but I can certainly appreciate the view.

We were on the Mission Beach Saturday evening and I caught this bird getting ready to take flight. We were going to wait for the sunset, but it was too chilly. Nature has it right - all blues and my favorite bird photo of the trip.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Del Mar and the Angora Goat Show

One of my friends is showing 20 of my goats at the show in Del Mar tomorrow. I will be getting up before dawn, so I can be there by 10. I am interested in seeing how they rank amongst other breeders' goats. I will be back on Monday. Marc will be here Friday and Saturday, if you need something, or you can call my cell 520-401-6117.

I am also using the time to visit my son, Kyle, and maybe visit a few of the local yarn shops. Kyle wants me to check out the university that he will be studying at next year for his doctorate. And, any trip to the San Diego area requires a walk on the beach.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wildlife, Batts, and Getting Older

This is the third Gila monster that we have seen and the first this year. It is a lot smaller than the two I saw last year. It crawled across the arena and into the old duck pond area.

Among other wildlife sightings has been an old gray coyote. He was seen in our driveway last Friday morning and then Marc and I saw it sneak under the front fence on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, it is not possible to fence all of the way to the ground and an electric fence is just too dangerous to consider. This guy has been traveling on his own and is way too tame. I have gone back to creative spinning. I spun these two beaded yarns, while I was doing paperwork for the Pasadena Bead and Gem show which is July 28-31, 2011. I am looking forward to going and have already scheduled a hotel room in the same building, so I can teach evening classes and not have to worry about rushing from one place to another. Let me know, if you are going to be there and are interested in a class.

I am featuring batts this month. They are all on sale. In the two above, the shimmery colors are created by mohair locks randomly thrown onto the carder. The fronts and backs are never the same, since I get bored as I am feeding the carder. Felted they will look a lot like what you see. If they are spun, you will get a variegated yarn and the colors on the backside will pop out. Gives them the Impressionistic look.

This is a progression of batts that I have carded over the past few days. I started with the bottom one and then changed colors on each batt. I ran out of the green, so it became more peachy, added some reds, then an almost pure red (the back side has natural colored white Shetland in streaks,) and then a really thin batt that is mostly white with dashes of kid mohair in colors.

Those of you who know me or have been following my blog are aware that my Dad passed away in March. Both he and my mother died from heart disease, so I felt the best use of my insurance money was to invest in my health. I have diabetes that I have been controlling by diet and exercise. Stress has been causing me problems recently and I just could not force myself to go to the gym. It is two minutes away, but the hassles of getting changed to go and then the reek of the place was just a total turn off. I want to be able to exercise when I want and having the equipment here will make it more likely that I will. I can beat the post prandial desire to snooze with a few minutes of exercise so, if you don't see me in the shop, figure that I am here, if the shop says "open" and that I am putting in a few minutes. Call the house number (on a sign next to the door) and I will be there, or feel free to shop and then let me know that you are ready. My next investment will be some kind of bell that lets me know that someone has driven into the driveway!

Happy knitting, felting, weaving, etc. and don't forget your health.