Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Christmas Mitts

Well, it wasn't pretty at the end, but I did finish all the fingerless mitts for my daughters-in-law, grand-daughters, step-daughter and the girlfriend of my stepson. (I finished the last one around 3:00 AM! Next time I should start a little sooner-you think?) Anyway, I'm really happy that I decided to give each of them something handmade and though it's trite to say, I hope they realize there was love knitted into every stitch.

So here's the line-up, as best as I can recall:

Top row-starting on the left-(1)Maine Morning Mitts from "The Knitter's Book of Yarn" in my own handspun, hand-dyed yarn---(2)Fingerless Mitts from page 7 Interweave Knits Fall 2005, made with Cascade Pastaza (love this yarn-it's 50/50 llama and wool)---(3)more Maine Morning Mitts made with an odd Malabrigo skein from the stash---(4)the famous "Dashing" from the Spring 2007 Knitty made with Noro Cashmere Island

Bottom Row-(5)Braided Cable mitts found on Ravelry made with Briar Rose---(6)Axel Fingerless Mitts pattern can be found on Ravelry made with Debbie Bliss Soho---(7)another Axel made with Tahki-Stacy Charles Taos---(8)yet another pair of Maine Morning Mitts from something in my stash (I've not been able to find the band-will keep looking)

There are still two pair not delivered to the intended recipients which I will try to remember to show and tell later.

(I love the colors in this pair.)

I suppose it's time to start thinking about next Christmas since I sort of mentioned to the male family members that next year would be their year. Yikes!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from sheep dreams at Tanglewood Farm to all who visit us here. We send you our warmest wishes for a wonderful and blessed Christmas and a joyful New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

'Tis the season of too much

At this point, I have had too much sugar, too much caffeine, too much food (in general), too much rushing around, been in too much traffic (and I haven't even been near a mall), and had too little sleep. I tried really hard this year to stay on top of preparations for the holidays, but here I am, on the evening of December 23rd, with not one present wrapped and the tree has just lights and no ornaments. (I'm starting to like the tree with only lights, but I will get it decorated tomorrow.) As for wrapping the presents...........well, that will get done tomorrow too. I have finished all the baking and candy making, delivering goodie bags and shopping. (I'm still knitting...just a little more to go on that.)

Why is it so hard to keep the holidays simple? I struggle with the difference between my idealized version and reality. I seem to be inching closer to a handmade celebration, but with eight grandchildren ranging in age from 11 months to 19 years, it's not totally realistic. I am happy to be buying books for all of them this year and that seems nearly as worthy as handmade. I know I'm not alone in wanting this time of year to be less stressful, more meaningful; less about stuff, more about time with the people who are dear to me; less noise, more quiet time for reflection on the year nearly past and the new year ahead. How do we support each other in an effort to accomplish this? Is there a 12 step program or a support group out there to help me? If anyone knows, please tell me!
***Those are the famous "Wicked Good Gingersnaps" that we love. I never even liked gingersnaps until I tasted these. You can find the recipe here on my friend Lindy's blog. I highly recommend them!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'Tis the season for school programs

Is there anything sweeter than an 8 year old boy wearing a halo and singing during his school Christmas program? Well, maybe his baby brother, who just couldn't stay awake through the whole thing!

Of course, being the "Nana" of Preston (the 8 year old) and Parker (11 months old), I couldn't possibily choose.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

'Tis the season for sharing

At least, that's what the ewe lambs think. Of course, they think it's fine to share all the time. That is, they like to share in what belongs to everyone else. These silly little girls have their own hay, spread out in the field where they won't get it in their fleeces as they eat. So is that where they focus their attention during this morning's feeding? Of course not. They decided to all come up into the shed and share Strawberry and Pippi's hay....from a hanging feeder......where they can spread the joy of eating hay all over each other.

Strawberry and Pippi are not feeling the joy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


One of the many barn dramas that happen here on a daily basis is the stand-off between Holly and Hannah (the Pyrenees) and the peafowl and chickens. Somewhere along the line the feathered critters discovered the joys of eating dog food, so they're always on the lookout for a few morsels. If I happen to spill even one nugget while filling the dog's bowls, a feathered someone is on it in a flash.
Sort of like this. (Sorry about the blur, but they move fast when dog food is involved.)

The Great Pyrenees are pretty much all about their job, which is protecting the livestock. Getting them to focus on their food long enough to actually eat it is a bit of a challenge. Often, when they are eating they'll hear something (or think they do) and out they go to investigate, leaving their food bowls sitting there. Sometimes they don't come back to finish their meal....just leave it there to be eaten by the birds, or by a certain corgi (who is sometimes referred to as a food slut or worse!). I'm trying a little psychology to see if they can be tricked into finishing their food. They are usually in or around the barn in the mornings, so I've been placing their food bowls next to them and watching as the birds start circling. Holly and Hannah have decided they don't want the birds eating out of their bowls, so we are having daily stare downs and occasionally an actual warning growl or two. ** Having the peafowl hanging around seems to motivate the dogs to clean their plates, so to speak!

Hannah is saying, "Go ahead, make my day!"

**No birds of any kind have ever been damaged during these dramas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Much knitting

So very much knitting, I'm drowning in it. Remember way back in January when I had that great idea to start on my Christmas knitting for this year? Well, something happened to my resolve along the way. It just seemed so far in the future back in the summer and I was focused on knitting for myself (so thoughtless of me). I'm paying the price for my lazy attitude right now. My right hand is locked up in a "holding the knitting needle" position. Just kidding, but it might be before (if) I cross the finish line.

The adults in our family don't really give each other gifts anymore. Instead we pool our money and donate to the Heifer Organization. I love the way Heifer enables people to raise their standard of living and be self-sufficient. There are eight grandchildren now and that does take some thought and effort to come up with something they will like. Most of the grandkids are getting gifts I've ordered on line, so I'm keeping my pledge to not go near the mall. So, what's all the knitting about, you ask? I decided recently that I wanted to give all the girls and women in the family some little hand-knit thing (it will probably be the guy's turn next year). So, after spending way too much time on Ravelry, I think I have come up with the perfect gift. I can't do a show and tell at the moment, but certainly will take some pictures before I wrap everything. I'm so excited about doing this and I'm praying I can get it all done in time. I love the idea of a handmade Christmas and one of these years I'm going to pull off doing the whole shebang handmade! (Everyone needs a goal, right?)

And I'll take this over the mall any day!

Friday, December 11, 2009

All together now

This week it has been all about the boys. Last Sunday we took Ollie out of the ewe flock and put him in with the other two rams. It's a bit touchy when they get back together after breeding season. In order to keep them from injuring each other, they have to be contained in a very small space.....small enough that they can't back up and gain momentum to get in a good whack at each other. Sometimes it takes a few days for them to settle down and stop trying to beat each other up. The first afternoon we put a few hay bales in the pen to slow them down even more, but Ollie discovered that he could climb up on the bales and jump over the side of the pen. (I could just imagine him saying, "That's it. I'm outta here!!") So, my next idea was to put two plastic garbage cans in the pen with them. Although they were still pushing and shoving each other a little, there was no more head butting. On the second day, I opened the pen up and gave them a little more room and by the third day they were allowed to go out in the field. Now they are best buds again.

Notice the shoulder to shoulder positions at the feeder. Sure they're friends again, but there's no sense letting the other guy have an advantage at mealtime. Also, notice all that hay on Mr. Lucky's back. After all the work to keep their fleeces clean and this is what they do. Hopefully, most of that will blow off.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Warm and woolly wishes

Has anyone else noticed that there seems to be a lot of wool around this Christmas? (And no, I don't mean just at my house. My house always has a lot of wool around!) I keep seeing lots of cute felted ornaments, tree skirts, stockings and other Christmas decorations in all the catalogs that show up in my mailbox. About a month ago I spied a few wool felt ornaments hanging amongst the glittery and gaudy on a rack at Home Goods. I was thrilled to find them and promptly bought them. When I read the attached label I was even more glad I had brought them home with me. They are Fair Trade Holiday handmade ornaments and I love the sweet simplicity of them. For the next few weeks, every time I had a chance, I checked the rack at Homegoods and managed to come up with a nice little collection of ornaments, one or two at a time. Last week I found some different ones at the Good Foods Co-op in Lexington and added a few more. I've put them all on a little iron tree that came from Smith & Hawken years ago and set it in the middle of our kitchen table, where I can see them all the time. Later this week I intend to get our big tree and maybe we will get it into the house sometime over the weekend. For the time being though, I'm enjoying looking at these bright, cheerful, simple little ornaments.

My warm and woolly wishes are to simplify our Christmas celebration this year. I want so much to have less stress and more time to enjoy my family and friends.

That's what I'd really like for Christmas. How about you?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What does it mean?

Yes, it truly is winter here in Kentucky. Last night the temperature was down in the 20's and this morning we woke up to a dusting of snow. Then, as I was walking into the barn for morning chores, I spied this!

What does it mean when the forsythia bushes are blooming on December 5th?

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's official

Yesterday morning I loaded a bale of hay into my little cart, took it out into the field where the ewe lambs have been grazing and gave them their first taste of hay since last spring. Last year, because of the drought, I started feeding hay in September, which is much earlier than usual. Luckily for us, this past summer and fall have been unusually wet and the grass has continued to grow and stay green. In fact, the pasture where the alpaca boys and ram lambs are hanging out still has abundant grazing, but the little girls have been on "slim pickin's" land. As you can see by Teeny's expression, they were sooo happy to munch right into it.

Starting to feed hay basically doubles my barn chore time and is a sign that winter is officially here. There are plenty of mornings when it is cold or wet (or worse...cold and wet) and I don't want to leave the warmth of the house to go to the barn for morning chores. Nearly always a funny thing happens once I actually get there. I end up staying out much longer than I need to or even intend. I interact with the animals a lot more during the winter because I see them up close at least twice a day and that's a good thing for all of us. We all slow down and socialize a bit. You can see that Pippi is still her sweet, sociable self and is still coming to give sniffs and nuzzles when she sees me.

Tomorrow will officially mark the end of the breeding season here at Tanglewood Farm. Ollie has bred all but one of the ewes who have been pastured with him and none of them have recycled. One of the CVM ewe lambs has apparently not cycled in the three weeks since I put them into the breeding group and I've decided to give her a pass until next year. If she got bred at this point, she would be much later than the rest of the flock and would be lambing in early May, which I really don't want. Of course, taking Ollie away from the ewes means he will go back in with the other two rams and that can sometimes be traumatic. I'll write a post next week about how we handle putting the rams back together after breeding season.

I hope you all have just the kind of weekend you want and I'm hoping mine will be the right combination of productive and relaxing.