Tuesday, May 31, 2011

All over the place....

(lambies with their favorite babysitter-good old Strawberry)
 Ah, Kentucky--the land of many seasons......and sometimes they all happen within one week.  Just days ago, I was still wearing socks and a sweater to the barn in the mornings.  Now I'm wearing as little as possible because it's 90+ freaking degrees.  What is wrong with this picture?  It's not even officially summer yet, people!

The last group of lambs got separated from their mamas over the weekend and have had their second vaccinations and de-worming medication.  They have been in the barn for a few days, with the big barn fan on them, but this morning I let them out into the pasture where they can find a shade tree.  It's time to start letting my babies go to new homes, but it is so hard for me!  It's part of that cycle of life on the farm that I've come to accept (but still dread).

Last Friday I had an opportunity to take a felting workshop from Nicola Brown, who traveled here all the way from Ireland.  Almost everyone there had more experience than me, but I learned a lot and came home with my very own iPad cover, from my very own home grown, hand dyed wool.  I am inspired to do some other small projects now.  I've heard rumors that Nicola may be coming back to the states in the fall, so I'm hoping to take more classes with her.  My friend, Lindy was also there and wrote a wonderful blog post about the workshop and a little adventure that happened the day after the workshop.

I realize that this post is kinda all over the place. When my brain is functioning a little better, I'll have some new knitting books to share. This kind of weather calls for staying inside during the heat of the day, with my knitting and books, of course.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

And a good time was had by Luna

(Luna.........just being Luna)
I can hardly believe that it has come and gone. After much work, by many people, the 2nd Annual Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival is history. Last weekend was a whirlwind of activity and now I wish I could go back and re-live the whole thing, without the worry that it was all going to come together as planned.

Many of us on the planning committee have been attending fiber festivals for years (or in my case, many, many, many years!) and we have known the potential for our event. I'd say we are well on our way.  This year we had lots more vendors and the attendance was much larger than last year. The weather cooperated, which is always a risky thing to count on during a Kentucky spring-time. I should say, it cooperated right up until an hour before the closing and then all you-know-what broke loose! Fortunately, everyone was told ahead of time and most everyone got their stuff packed up safely

Susan Anderson was our star attraction this year. She taught a workshop on Saturday morning and had a book-signing for her new book, Spud and ChloĆ« at the Farm, on Saturday afternoon and both events were very well attended. (She blogged about it here.)I met Susan several years ago, when she was in town for a book fair. It was while I still co-owned Magpie Yarn and Jane and I were lucky enough to take the knitting authors out to lunch (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Stefanie Japel, Ann Hood and Susan). It was so much fun and a real thrill to meet all of them in person. My impression of Susan that day was that she was such a  down-to-earth person. I liked her immediately. What I've since learned, is that she is also the most genuine and generous person you'd ever want to know. She seems completely surprised at how many adoring fans she has and how far they are willing to travel to see her. Anyway, I am honored to call her my friend now. I wish I could say that I took lots of pictures of it all, but I did not. I was so busy most of the time, I didn't even think to get my camera out. Plenty of other people had the presence of mind to record the fun and you can find those on the Festival facebook page. (Obviously, I have a lot to learn about capturing the moment!)

As many of you know, Luna and Birdie (along with a few of their friends) came to the festival with me. I was sure that Luna would be timid and Birdie would be her usual in-your-face kind of girl. Not so. Birdie was not so comfortable, kind of shy and retiring, and actually got to stay at home on Sunday because she developed some digestive distress (if you know what I mean). Luna, on the other hand, acted as if the whole festival was just for her benefit. She was not the least bit shy, let all the little kids pet on her and tried to get Lila to come out to play and take a walk around with her. (Lila is still a house baby and had no inclination to hang out with a lamb, for goodness sake!)

So, it's back to real life on the farm this week. I want to thank everyone who came by to visit the Tanglewood Farm booth. We do know it was just to see Luna, but that's okay. By now, we are all used to living in her (very small) shadow!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why I've been m.i.a.

And, so, so busy. The Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival was this past weekend and, even if I do say so, it was fabulous. We had many, many new vendors and big crowds. By mid-day on Saturday we had surpassed last year's total attendance figures. Not bad, for only our second year. On Thursday, I was having serious doubts about trying to work on the planning board and be a vendor. It is a peculiar form of madness for me to think I can manage all that. I could hardly sleep most of the nights running up to the festival. I kept having to turn the light on and write down items on my list of Things I Must Not Forget To Do!

The highlight for me was hosting Susan B. Anderson. She is the most genuinely sweet and thoughtful person you would ever hope be around. The folks who took her workshop were so thrilled and happy to meet her in person. There were some who drove here from several states away, just to spend a few hours with her. We were honored to have her as our special guest instructor. Even more fun for me, was being able to show her the very first fiber festival she had ever experienced. Am I a good enabler, or what?

Today is like waking up after a long, complicated dream, with that feeling of "where am I?" We had to pack the trailer in a big rush because of an impending severe storm at the closing of the festival and when we arrived home, I was so tired, things mainly got dumped in the studio and left. This morning it was a daunting sight! So, I'm slowly sorting my way through it all and trying to regain a sense of order and calm in my space.

I'll have more to report on the festival in the next few days, but meanwhile, for the girls who went with me........well, it's business as usual.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Unhappy campers


***This is a repost (as near as I can remember) of my last blog entry. Blogger somehow managed to lose everything that was posted a few days ago...and not just me, apparently lots of people!! That takes some effort!***

Some of you who watch the lambcam may have noticed that the population in the barn has undergone some changes in the last week. Last Saturday we wormed all of the adults and because some of the ewes looked awfully thin, decided to wean the oldest group of lambs. I check the almanac to see if the signs were right. I usually do, but it seems to me the effectiveness of that method has been mostly hit or miss in the past. Saturday night and part of Sunday there were mournful sounds coming from the barn. I always use my favorite NPR station as the soundtrack for the separation anxiety. The lambs got Prairie Home Companion and American Routes (one of our very favorite programs) on Saturday evening and then, classical music all night. By Monday morning, there was much improvement in noise level. The ewes had mostly moved on and were not calling for their babies anymore. I always feel so sorry for all of them, but I tell myself, it has to be done. Unfortunately, because we only weaned the oldest lambs, we'll have to go through it all over again in the near future.

Though, when I think about it, my head feels as if it might explode, the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival is coming very quickly now. I feel less prepared than I ever have for any festival, but at this point I believe I need to quit stressing over it and try my best to enjoy it. I may not have near as much merchandise for sale as I'd like, but I'll have Luna and Birdie for people to visit with and I'm planning on bringing a few of the lambs that have just been weaned and some of them will be for sale. So, if you are looking for some pretty little fleeces on the hoof, I'll have them!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

To Eyre is human......

It all started innocently enough. I read an email from Sunday Knits referring to a shawl pattern she had written to replicate the two shawls that appear briefly in the new version of the movie, Jane Eyre. After checking out the pattern and the Ravelry group already going strong, I was seized with an irresistible urge to knit the shawl. I bought and downloaded the pattern (and don't you just love being able to do that? Talk about instant gratification......if only we could download yarn in the same way!), searched through my stash and convinced Mike that we HAD to see the movie. It's a wonderful movie, even Mike enjoyed it. The two shawls make such brief appearances early in the movie, only real knitters would become so thoroughly obsessed, so quickly. So far, I've managed to enable encourage several other knitters to join me in this new obsession project (and I'll bet you are already entertaining the idea yourself. Right? might as well just give in to it). Who would have thought that knitting a short-row ruffle and some shoulder shaping could be so entertaining?

I'm using Jo Sharp Aran Tweed for my first shawl. I wanted something suitably rustic looking (you know, because I spend my days wandering the moors, just like Jane Erye).  As soon as I finish this one, I'd like to knit another one from some of my natural colored handspun. How about it? Ready to join the rest of us obsessive knitters? (and, if you do, betcha can't knit just one)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Working on it

A few weeks ago, the alpaca boys, along with Strawberry and Pippi, took a little trailer ride over to Seldom Scene Farm for their annual shearing day. When you have as many animals as they have, it's a big day.  I'm grateful that my friend, Lindy, allows me to bring my small herd over for the event. The young men who do the shearing do a tag team effort that is inspiring (and tiring) to watch. They have it down to a science. There are plenty of ways to make yourself useful, while you wait your turn. The sweeping, sorting, labeling and bagging go on non-stop, just to keep up with the shearers. My gang was well behaved this year, with the exception of Pippi, who screamed the whole time she was on the mat! Last year it was Strawberry who did that, most likely because Finn was still a baby and she was upset about being separated. This year, with no baby at her side,  Strawberry was very well mannered and quiet.
The system the shearers use may look a little scary, but it's actually very humane and makes the whole exercise safer for all involved. They lay the animals down on the mats and slip their feet into loops and then stretch them out on their sides. The ropes immobilize the animal and prevent any kicking or rolling around. The whole process is over in a matter of minutes.

 I came home with my precious alpaca fleeces and began washing them as soon as I could. Recently the mill changed it's policy and began asking for washed alpaca fleeces and these were the first I'd ever done. Of course, the sheep fleeces are always washed, but because alpacas have no lanolin, it hadn't been required. Alpacas and llamas are habitual rollers, so there can sometimes be a fair amount dust involved. It turned out to be much easier than I imagined. Getting them dried was the most time consuming part of the whole process. There was not one dry day the whole time!

So, I used a bunch of window screens, set them up all over the studio and spread the fiber out on them to dry. It wasn't pretty or high-tech, but it worked.

Wednesday was my appointment day at Ohio Valley Natural Fibers. I left the farm around 5:30 am, in order to get there when they began their day. The driving conditions were not great because of all the stormy weather and there were plenty of wrecks on the interstate, which slowed me down a lot. It was worth every white-knuckle moment though because my sheep and alpaca fleeces blended beautifully and the roving is a dream to spin. (I was so tired when I got home, around 8 pm, I could hardly carry on a coherent conversation, but I did manage to spin a tiny sample. I just couldn't help myself!

All this frantic activity has been to prepare for the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival. I'll have roving and yarn, a few knitted items and maybe even some lambs to sell at the festival. Of course, Luna and Birdie will be with me (but not for sale-I couldn't bear to sell my own children!) The festival is going to be even bigger and better this year. We've added lots of new fiber vendors, some great classes and more food vendors (yay!). Now all we have to do is hope for good weather! Be sure to come out to Masterson Station Park and join us for a great weekend of fibery fun.