Species Number One
It has taken 10 days for our school chicks (hatched in a kindergarden class) to begin thinking outside the coop. They have finally realized that there is a great edible world of bugs and grass out there. They just haven’t yet agreed on which direction to take.
Species Number Two
Now, which one of these kids is real and which kid is the reflection?! Or are these two kids acting in unison?
They aren’t identical, they just act that way!
photographs by Liliana
May 11th, 2007
What a wonderful time we had at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Show! The people! The animals! The fiber! The yarn! It is always terrific to see old friends and make new ones! If you have never paid homage to MSW, mark your calendar now for the first weekend in May, 2008. There is simply nothing like it. Come and see us next year!
Monday was a long ride home for us two tired people. Soon after pulling in the driveway, I went down to the barn to check on things. Look what I found!
How lucky is that? A few days early, two perfect little does, on the ground, dry, and full of colostrum when I got there! Absentee barn midwifery doesn’t get any better than that! They are tiny — six pounders — but strong and lively and smart! Think up some names for us, May flower names please. We are still too tired to do it ourselves!
May 10th, 2007
My romance with grey and brown and blue continues! Welcome Soapstone!
Time seems to be shrinking geometrically since I signed up for the Master Spinner I class, which happens the week before Maryland Sheep and Wool. There is a lot of yarn and top to be dyed and labeled between now and April 23, the first day of spinning class. I simplistically imagine that a reasonable level of organization will save me from a last minute frenzy. I should just admit that it IS inevitable that I will start flying around, breathing fire on everyone before it is all over; it would be wise to get everyone’s asbestos suit at the ready. That’s right; be prepared, I always say. Be prepared and hope for the best.
April 10th, 2007
It was an all day affair; mixing dye, painting yarn, scouring mohair, dyeing mohair. I started at 8 am and finished at 7 pm. Long day. Lots done. Lots of checks on the production schedule. Lots of wet yarn hanging to dry. Lots of dry yarn on the couch. Lots still to go. This must be why they call them dye LOTS!
April 1st, 2007
Behold the newest colorways!!
Meet Oberon, in honor of Shakespeare’s mischievous fairy king.
Greet Brown Earth, a springtime nod to newly turned earth and blue, blue sky.
There is one more on the way, which still needs a tiny tweak. Soon, I promise!
March 19th, 2007
Wordsworth’s season has arrived! Finally!
I WANDER’D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:—
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company!
I gazed, and gazed, but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
March 16th, 2007
I am back on the planet. It was slightly sobering to discover that I am a computer addict. I suspected that it might be so, but cheerfully ignored both the possibility and it’s ramifications until my computer got zonked. I don’t have to think about it anymore, however, because my computer is fixed.
I did get a lot of things done when I wasn’t computering. The yarn that is destined for Maryland Sheep and Wool should be here this week and my production schedule is all worked out. I’ve got a couple of colorways that are almost ready for unveiling and one that I shall unveil now: BEHOLD!, Wild Berry!
Earthbound II is nearing completion; it is starting to look like I will have to reknit the sleeves. The first Earthbound was lacking a true shoulder band. Earthbound II has it’s proper shoulder band, and the seven extra rows or so a shoulder band requires. The already knit sleeves are smaller by seven stitches, that is, 2 inches. We will see how much magic we can conjure up to solve this problem that doesn’t involve re-knitting. I have run out of time to re-knit before Maryland and so this sweater may end up in summer storage. Here is a picture of the completed back panel:
A really exciting opportunity has come my way: Olds College in Alberta, Canada, is running a satellite session of their famous Master Spinner program in nearby Louisburg, NC. They are offering Master Spinner Level I, April 23 to 27. What could be more fun than this — a whole week with a variety of fleeces, cards, natural dyeing, rabid fiber enthusiasts, and fantastic instructors?
March 13th, 2007
The Great Spring Discontent is upon us. Every grocery store magazine shouts that we have eaten too many cookies and indulged in too little exercise; the Twin Spring Imperatives, Dieting and Exercising, must begin; No More Bingeing. I am full of remorse. Thumbing through magazines looking for any advice I can immediately put into action, I see, “Reduce your appetite with small, controlled snacks.”
It sounds oh so sensible and easy to implement, but I binge AND snack. On knitting. All winter I have been bingeing on sweater knitting and snacking on sockknitting. (Is sockknitting one word yet?) At one point, my husband gently suggested that perhaps I was knitting too much? (He has scars to prove it.) Over knitting, Indeed!
Clearly, it is time to straighten up. Spring is almost here.
Before my Spring Knitting Diet took hold, progress had been made on Earthbound; I am more than halfway done if the old sleeves will suffice for the new sweater. If new sleeves are called for, well, I’m afraid that Earthbound is in for a spring and summer hibernation.
The top-down knit has made it twenty-one inches, almost to the bottom. (By the way, that is MORE inches than there are between Australia and New Zealand on my map.)
There is one more sweater that is done except for the finishing. What could possibly be so hard about setting in the sleeves and knitting the neck? Any ideas?
The good news is that my Spring Knitting Diet has produced a new colorway. Behold, “Lilac” on Mohair Boucle.
Maybe this diet won’t be so bad after all. Anyone ready for a snack?
February 26th, 2007
I was determined to do it all just right. I made my gauges — three or four gauges — and did a careful counting of stitches. Two gauges made it to the blocking stage. (Yes, blocking stage. I did block them. It does seem retentive to do such a thing, but have you noticed that with gauge I have “relational problems?”) So when the gauges had settled, there was more measuring and counting. And, unbelievably (believably?) the wooden size 8 needle and the Turbo size 7 needle were knitting at exactly the same gauge! So of course I chose the Turbos for speed and, because they don’t throw sparks. (Forgive the levity. Gauge is a ponderous topic.)
So feeling virtuous (and a tiny bit smug,) I cast on and began knitting. Past experience has shown that when I get into the knitting groove, everything loosens. Determined to be attentive enough to prevent this from occurring, I knit vigilantly. Then that *feeling* started to set in, that feeling of Authority Looking Over My Shoulder, Frowning. It got creepy enough that I picked up a ruler and checked my gauge. I’m sure you already know. There were MORE stitches to the inch than there were supposed to be. One half stitch too many to be exact.
So with Hannah’s help (Hannah is a Jewel and handles hysteria with a capable hand) I did some (re)thinking, some more measuring, and some counting, and decided that ripping back to the armholes and adding a few extra stitches at the same gauge would equal the correct size if I followed instructions for knitting the next size up. It would seem that I cannot knit the most humdrum of garments without drama.
In the meantime, I have decided that sharpening my knitting acuity is in order. For instance, I have a new theory that knitting to gauge means that the stitches will feel a certain way on the needle, that is, not slide too easily, nor slide not easily enough. So far, this has proven to be accurate. Also, it is self-evident that I should NOT ignore the Authority Looking Over My Shoulder — she is trying to tell me something. And I have decided to reflexively (and to cheerfully) check my gauge. Every inch or so.
And so I recite (again) with (mustered) zeal, Failure’s motto. “Success is a terrible teacher.”
February 20th, 2007
Felting has been at the top of my list this winter. Working mostly with our wool/mohair blends and some Navaho Churro, I have been making thinner and thinner sheets of felt and adding silk, both hankies and top, for luster and texture. Besides the endless thrill of combining and recombining, I am startled at just how much drape felt can have at certain thicknesses.
February 17th, 2007