Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Walking around the farm.

None of these photos have been edited in any way. The blurs you see are the animals in motion.

Above left is Mounds, a Rambouillet Columbia cross, who I bottle fed from day two. She was a gift from a friend in Arizona. She will never have lambs again, but she is worth keeping because where she leads the more skittish sheep will follow. As good as a herd dog!

The goats were not overly interested in walking up to the hay field, but they were hoping for grain.

Did an udder check on the Merinos and two of them are getting pretty close. Next weekend I might have to move them to the front yard, so I can keep an eye on them. For now, they are roaming the pastures and loving it.

We were partway up the hill and the Merinos abandoned us. The buck that is rubbing Marc has a happy little harem. Maybe not so little, since I put all of the yearling and adults in with him recently. I am trying to decide where to put him when I pull him out. Next weekend I will put him with the other bucks and see how things go.

Can you spot Silver, our barn cat? Hint - he is silver/gray.

He is a very sociable cat. He followed us the whole way. Water fascinates him. He walked on the pond a few weeks ago when it was frozen. He does not have enough fear.

Goats were so desperate to get their share of grain that they raced us down the hill. We try to feed from the far side, since you can tell by the blurs how quickly they were moving.

As we fed the Merinos in the upper garage, the two Suris came up. They would like grain but won't walk through the gates without extra encouragement. Works for me, since they tend to take over any area they get into. No grain for them, since they really don't need it.

Those clouds you saw brought us a little snow with a lot of wind. We put all of the animals in areas with shelter and fed them early. The storm moved through quickly and it has already melted. 

 If you need any lovely fibers from my animals, please check out: www.uniquedesignsbykathy.blogspot.com. I have been stocking it with a mix of fibers, patterns and finished goods.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow and more snow

The world outside looks like a black and white photo. If you visited today, you would not think we have any animals. They are all in the white barn, garage and shelters scatter around the pastures. The angora goats have yet to step outside since it started. The Merinos obviously do not care as much. They have been pawing at the ground to expose the grass, although there is plenty of hay in the barns.
I am currently spinning some red mohair that I dyed maple sugar. My dyes from Tucson are losing their color due to the humidity here despite the jars having been securely closed. Not a very soft mohair, but plied to a chamois colored mercerized cotton it is definitely wearable. 
This is the last skein that I have added to Etsy. My current intern has been doing a wonderful job of showing me new tricks to use on Etsy. I have taught her to drop spindle and she is now borrowing my Schacht and spinning away. Wish I had had a good teacher when I started out. It took me three months to master the wheel. Impatient people should not try to teach! She is becoming obsessed. There is just something rhythmic about the bobbin flying around and filling up with yarn that soothes the soul. Try it, if you have not!

I will be at the Chantilly Sugarloaf show this weekend. Next Monday I will be setting my shop up for three months. Next show is in North Carolina in April. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Inspiration and Weavings

 I started tying the warp for this scarf in March. I got fed up with it since it got really tangled and then I had visitors come, so I had to move it to my bedroom. This fall I saw some weavings that really got me going, so I decided to finish this scarf. I ruthlessly cut off the rest of the warp and tied it on. I used the portions I cut off in the weft along with three of my signature yarns - thick and thin, a single and a coiled yarn. I used the yarns randomly, so one side has a lot more of the felted poofs. I love how it turned out.
 On my way to Stitches East, I stopped off at Pam Blasko's for the night. One of her weavings was wildly random. I saw how I could do what she did in wire with beads. I am still hunting for the wire. Above is the yarn that I spun the day I got home.
 A view of one end of the shawl on the loom.
 On a mannequin (ends are not finished, but will be tomorrow.)
 I went to the Maryland Alpaca Fiber and fleece show today. Bought some art yarns for color inspiration, but had to go visit my own babies, so they would not feel neglected. This guy's name is Maryland (slight confusion for six months over his sex) and he is 18 months old. Just the right age to become an "it." I will keep him as a fiber animal. I love his fleece. He is hanging with the Shetland and Merino rams right now and is still being a good boy.
 Marc put his ducks on the grass this afternoon. The chickens are curious.
Interns are wonderful beings. I have two now and their focuses are totally different. One like all the fibery stuff. Since it is too cold to do much in the bank barn, my other intern has been encouraging me to list more yarns on etsy. If you see one that you like, don't wait to buy it. I do a lot of shows and what I list are my favorites and usually the first to sell. The red black and blue is a freeform yarn and one of two that I currently have left. Spun it right before Stitches East. It is a popular color combination. The novelties and beads are very different from the last batch. No two alike is my motto! www.uniquedesignsbykathy.etsy.com

I will be in booth 79, Building 6 at the Sugarloaf Gaithersburg show this weekend. I might have a few passes left for it and the Chantilly one in December. If you are interested, email me at jmarckathy@aol.com. I will mail till I run out. Be sure to let me know which one you want.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Settled into Farm Life

 Yesterday I took a lovely drive to Halifax, PA, to pick up my roving from Gurdy Run. 32 bags and all lovelier than it left the farm! A few of the bags had already made it upstairs before this photo. I have been taking fiber that was washed and dyed in Tucson. The washing months here are too short for me to keep up. I am also spending a fair amount of time shearing, so I needed a way to spin faster. Most of the fiber is a blend of really nice (in some cases kid/lamb) fiber. I am selling starting at $7.50 an ounce. Discounts are available for quantities over a pound. The more you buy - the more I discount. I will be bringing some to Stitches East, but the bulk will go in my attic for me to spin.
 Marc went with me to the mill the first time and was fascinated with the ducks running all over the place. I brought him home four Muscovy ducklings in a beer box. It was a gift for him and better than beer. He laughed. They are currently in my wash room. They do not have real feathers yet. We plan to let them free range when they are old enough. Might have to clip their wings the first year to make sure that they stay.
 If you ever visited the shop in Tucson, you might have met Charcoal, the resident studio cat. She spent the first year here in Maryland under my clothes in the closet, only coming out to eat or take care of other necessary business. In early spring, she ventured out and has been living in the mud room, when she is not roaming my red bank barn catching mice. She now follows me around, but does not venture into the sheep and goat areas. We have three kittens wandering those areas.
 The Shetland sheep are on our original pasture. We are going to move them to the hayfield which is being fenced in right now. Having someone cut hay is expensive and we are at the mercy of the farmer. We are last on his cutting list, so the hay was never cut at the optimal time. For pasture rotation and less parasite issues, the expense of fencing will pay for itself.
I am always surprised that this pine tree is surviving, since its roots are in the pond. The cattails in the foreground were not as numerous this year. The beaver cleaned out a lot of the pond while building his lodge and trying to keep his dam going. I am hoping that he will come back this year.

I head out next Wednesday for Stitches East. My shop is open tomorrow, but will probably remain closed till after the Gaithersburg show which is the weekend before Thanksgiving. Happy knitting, spinning, felting, weaving and crocheting!

Monday, October 21, 2013

On the Loom, Fall is Here

 As it starts to get colder, I am more drawn to my loom. This is the smaller loom and it ended up in my bedroom the last time that I had company. Since the end of March, if I remember correctly. I got sick of tying on the warp because the cotton kept getting tangled. When it started showing up in my dreams this past week and I was seeing what some other weavers were doing, I ruthlessly cut the rest of the warp off and decided to weave what was already on. This photo was taken Saturday morning. I have about 40 inches on it now and will finish it today or tomorrow. The green yarns that I had originally planned on using have long since sold in the shop! Had to spin a fresh batch.
 I am now working my way through the adult angora goats. This is Barbara's daughter and she was very stoic about the whole shearing things. She has been tossed on her back, lain on her side and been on the stand in the past. I do most of the shearing on the stand and then have my husband Marc hold them while I shear the legs and belly. The advantage to doing the shearing myself is that I can handle the animal and the fleece and throw out the felted and crummier parts of the fleece as I go and NOT cut off a teat!

 A close up of Barbara's fleece. It is for sale at $3/oz raw or $40 a pound. Long and nice enough to be doll hair.
 Marc is luring the goats to the hayfield which we plan to fence.
 Breeding season makes for strange bedfellows. Missed the shot of where Rosemary was doing some cuddling and kissing.
Last pumpkin of the season might not ripen, but chickens will not care!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Gaithersburg Fall Show

Come and check out my booth. The manager came by and told me to extend it out. A lovely 10 by 20 spot that looks like an art gallery. Going to rain today. So glad that I am inside. Booth 28 in Hall 3 of Building 6. Lots of lovely new yarns and designs!

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Patterns, New Yarn, Shenandoah Valley Fiber fest

 I finally finished writing my patterns for the Cossack Hat (last post) and a redesigned Felted cloche. Both are available free at the Shenandoah Show this weekend with the purchase of enough yarn to make them.
 New season means new colors and new yarns.
 With my intern, Angela's help, I redesigned my booth so it will be more open. I will not be able to use it at the Waterford show next weekend, because this design does not leave me any room to spin.
There are a lot more fiber mills on the east coast within easy driving distance. My favorite is now Gurdy Run Mill in PA. She does a lovely job of blending both colors and fibers. She will also be at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber festival, so I have another truckload to deliver. I cannot wait to see what she does with it.

Hope some of you will have time to come visit.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Busy Month

 This is my booth shot for the Stitches Midwest. I sold some of everything, so I had to come home and start spinning, washing and dyeing.
 Spinquest in Front Royal, Virginia, was a much smaller show, but more exciting because these ladies are my peers. They are interested in art yarns, luxurious fibers and mohair!
 I have been spinning a lot of solids and dyeing some. This coiled yarn has a matching single. Lots of yardage in Kid Mohair/Merino lamb. I am currently spinning kid mohair with alpaca, Maryland's first fleece.
 When at Stitches Midwest. I got hooked on making knitted and then felted hats. This is a long hat out of older mohair and wool. It fuzzed up beautifully and is definitely a guy's kind of hat. Every fiber felts differently. I have made two other hats and all of their patterns will be published before the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival at the end of this month.
 At Spinquest, we were given photos and challenged to spin a yarn reflecting something in the photo. Can't publish the photo since I don't know where it came from, but it had a lovely head of a comic book child with flowing blonde, orange and coral shades. I did not have my usual beads, etc. to add to it, but it turned out really well. I was curious to see what it would look like knit up, since I spun part of it with an elastic thread to show someone how to core spin over elastic. I lock spun over it. The very center of the scarf in the photo above shows that it looks like normal yarn but it will stretch.
 Another view of the scarf. The beauty of the changing colors is that it looks like a totally different scarf when another section is in front.
The kid goats wearing the onsies have been shorn this past week. They are so cute. A shearer came today and it did not work out. A kid doe lost a teat, so she will not be good for breeding and it just took way too long. So, looking for a good shearer - while Marc, my intern and I are shearing kids. Need someone to do adult does and Merinos.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Spinartiste, TKGA, Supercoils

 I am offering the above as a giveaway through Spinartiste's website. Check out the article (on me!) and see, if you do not learn something new.
 A photo of my booth from the Knit and Crochet Show in Indianapolis. Made new friends (check out Nancy George who will be designing using my yarns) and got lots of spinning in!
 Got home to find out that my garden was overflowing. Have to admit my ignorance. Not featured in this photo are some spaghetti squash that I had been picking thinking that they were summer squash. Only figured it out because the squash got too big to be summer squash.
Here are some of the yarns that I spun in Indianapolis. I spun the thick and then and then coiled here at home. Let me know, if you see one that you want and I can send specifics.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Off to Indianapolis for the Knitters Guild of America Show


 Above is the batch of fiber that I am giving away through Spinartiste's blog. She is doing a feature on me fairly soon, so keep an eye out for it. People who read the article and make comments are entered in the drawing. They are all natural colored super soft fiber from my animals. Includes kid mohair, Merino, Shetland and alpaca.
 Our front yard is now fenced in and we are periodically letting the sheep and goats take turns cropping it down. Currently the males are getting the honors. Above is a photo of the ewes out. They have been well behaved when visitors have driven through the gates and they show no interest in  cars or trucks.
My garden is growing wild and hopefully will survive my being gone to Indianapolis for a show. It does not appear to be a huge show, since it has only 48 vendors, but it is nice to have somewhere to go in the summer that is different. My husband will be watching the animals while I am gone.
Unfortunately, a lot of the kids have developed Coccidia and a small few have edema. Having kept all of my notes from last year and watching them like a hawk, I split the kids from moms immediately (instant weaning since they are all old enough), and started treating. I have only one that seems serious, but he should be fine, since he is now eating and drinking normally. I have placed all the ones that I worry about in a stall, so they will be on a dry lot till I get back. It will also make it easier for Marc to find them. Last treatment is tonight for most of them. My microscope and centrifuge have really made a difference in the survival rate.
Will keep you posted on the Show!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dyeing, Making hay,felting and last lambs of the year.

Just picked up a bunch of my fiber from the Sweitzer's Countryside Mill. I had her turn some of the mohair into yarn. I have been dyeing the skeins different colors. I got back seven pounds of the white and have been having a good time color combining. They are not going to be striping, since I am using my dyeing. The top two are skeins that I spun this week.

The farmer is cutting our hay now. He fluffed it today so it would dry. He plans to bale it tomorrow. We will be borrowing his elevator to get it into the hay loft. 

We have fenced off the front yard now and have put a sign on the front gate reminding visitors to close the gates behind them. I will only move the animals when I am not expecting deliveries. The doe above was shorter than the grass. I figure the extra pasture is about 7 days of feed, if all of the animals are on it. That is equivalent to 32 bales of hay. Of course, they can't be on it all of the time.

I have been teaching felting. So far, this is my favorite bowl. 

Blackie had her lambs last Sunday evening. The one with the white spot is an ewe, the other a ram. They are out of her, a Shetland, and a Moorit Merino ram, who was supposedly to young to breed. Lovely surprise. Baby season is over till September, when the Merinos will have their lambs.