Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I. Could. Not. Help. It.

I was powerless in the face of such cuteness. In my defense, I have been thinking about getting a bunny or two for some time now.
Long, long ago, I had way too many angora bunnies ( 28 to be exact ) and the number of food and water bowls to clean every day and all the grooming required, ruined the experience. I loved having all the fiber, but at the time, it seemed as though the bunnies took more time than the sheep!

Could you resist that face?
So, anyway, I was walking through the vendor area at Midwest on Friday and came to the Vintage Fibers booth, and there she was.  She seemed to be telling me that she really, really wanted to come home with me. For every excuse I could think of, there was a solution. So, I bought her and when we left the festival, I went straight to a discount store to find some sort of temporary container. I ended up with a plastic storage bin for her overnight accommodations. Mike didn't have a go-to-pieces, as I feared he might, so I began to relax and enjoy the whole experience. Saturday night we drove into downtown Chicago to meet Mike's daughter for dinner. We stayed in a wonderful hotel ( The James Hotel ), one block off of Michigan Avenue. I was worried about how to smuggle her into our room, especially with the plastic storage bin, but not to worry........they were pet friendly and said it was fine to have her there. In fact, everyone from the valet who took our car, to the doorman, to the man who took our luggage up, wanted to see her.  The young man who took our luggage to our room texted his girlfriend, who is an avid knitter, and later that evening slipped a note under our door with recommendations for the best yarn shops in Chicago!  I'm telling you, fiber brings out the best in everyone!

Phoebe admiring my other purchase - luscious BFL roving from Blue Moon Fibers
So, I've made several trips to Tractor Supply for a cage and various accessories and Miss Bun* is ensconced in the studio for now. She will ultimately be housed in the barn with the other fiber producers  ( really, she will ), but at the moment, we're having some bonding experiences.

*Actually, her name is Phoebe, as decreed by the grandchildren.

Monday, June 27, 2011

His and mine

His idea of a good time? See above picture. On our way to the Chicago area this past weekend, Mike had it all planned out. We were going to stop at Cabelas for some fishing equipment purchases. Those who know my husband, know that he is, umm, thoughtful about such things. He likes to do lots of research, think about all the pros and cons, consider all the options and then, maybe, he's ready to make the move. I knew that even though all of the above had been done, it was not going to be a quick stop. I understood. I was prepared. I needed to replace my favorite Cabelas barn boots and I had plenty of knitting to keep me occupied. Sadly, my boots were not in stock and will need to be ordered on-line. (I did manage to buy a Life is Good t-shirt on sale.)
My idea of a good time. The reason we were on the road to begin with was that we were heading to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair, in Grayslake, Illinois (that's about half an hour outside Chicago). I was signed up to take workshops on natural dyeing and button making. This was the second year thecrazysheeplady and I have taken workshops, while the menfolk occupied themselves floating down some stream in fishing kayaks. Midwest is not a large fair, but the selection of vendors is good and they have offered some outstanding classes. It's worth the trip, if you are so inclined to do such things.
My workshops were great. I had taken a natural dye class many, many years ago from Michelle Whiplinger, but will admit that commercial dyes seem less intimidating. Stefania Isaacson taught this dye workshop. One of our exercises was over-dyeing with indigo and, wow, was that magic! I'm finding that every time I'm out in public with my roving and/or yarn, often the first question I'm asked is if I use natural dyes. So, I'm thinking I'll give it a try. The button class, taught by Lynn Bergschultz, was fun and is for sure something I'm going to be doing.

So, it's back to reality now. The grass and the garden have grown like crazy in just the few days we were away. I need to be on the mower instead of playing with some new acquisitions* in the studio.

*next post

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Poor baby

(a not smiling Luna)
Poor, poor Luna. I'm trying to wean her off the bottle and she is resisting with all her little might. She is, after all,  three months old now and everyone else was weaned nearly a month ago. I continued her twice a day bottles because she is still much smaller than everyone, ( there's a reason why we call her "Shrimp" ) and, well okay, I'll admit that I love having her still think of me as her mommy and the source of all good things. Next week we will be gone from the farm for a few days and I'm pretty sure my son and his family ( who will be farm-sitting ) won't want to be fixing bottles for my baby. So, the cold, hard reality of growing up is making Luna sad right now. This morning was the worst. To make up for missing out on one of her bottles, she apparently super-sized her helpings of grass and grain and ended up with some, umm, to put it as nicely as I can, digestive issues. So, when I put the halter on her, she was sure it meant play time, out and about with mom. She was very disappointed to learn that it meant getting a shampoo with extra time spent detailing her back end ( and, by the way, anyone who has been watching the lambcam and seen me catching lambs and hauling-sometimes dragging-them out, that's what they were headed for.......a "special" shampoo and a dose of medicine ). In the hot weather we've been having, messy bottoms are an invitation for big-time trouble with fly-strike. It makes me shudder to even say those words.

One of the reasons I enjoy my bottle babies so much is that it bonds them to me in a special way. If I walked out in the field where the adult ewes are spending their time, all my past year's bottle babies would come right to me, looking for a little attention. I love that. I have no doubt that had I left Olive with her mother  ( Miss Bossy ) she would be a nut case, just like her mom. Instead, she's a sweetheart.
( Dare I say, just like me? hahaha.....don't anyone answer that. )

We've got some family coming for  Father's Day weekend and are hoping for a chance to put the boat in the water for the first time this year ( see previous post about work schedules on the farm  ). Wish us luck with that !

Thursday, June 16, 2011

One (or two) for the books

Last weekend was so hot, it gave me an excuse to stay inside during the middle of the day (rather than suffering out in the garden) and knit. Yes, knit on a Saturday and Sunday. ( I know....radical idea. ) I'll bet those of you who live on farms keep the same kind of weekend work schedule as we do. We feel the need to accomplish as much as we possibly can, while we are both here to tackle the never-ending list. Most of the time, dinner happens around 10 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, because we work outside til it's too dark to see.

 This is one for the record books.....I have two finished projects because of heat related knitting! More shawl love here. The big shawl was started many months ago and was put aside because of a minor error that needed correcting. I ripped out a few rows and finished up in no time. (This is a fatal flaw of mine-getting right up to the finish line and then stalling out.) The pattern is a freebie from Crystal Palace. You can find it here. I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca and it's so lovely and soft, I know I will wear it often.

The little stripey, garter stitch scarf/shawlette is Noro sock yarn and I'm pretty sure it has been on the needles for years. I made up this one as I went along,  casting on three stitches, then doing yarn-over increases along the edges and on either side of the center stitch, every right side row. I finished it off with a short ruffle, made by knitting in the front and back of every stitch, then knitting until I was nearly out of yarn (I had about 2 yards leftover). Noro sock yarn is very deceiving because it feels so rough when you're knitting with it, but after washing and blocking, it's quite soft. I'm really happy with both of these and especially happy to have two projects off my shamefully large pile of unfinished knitting. Maybe there's hope for me, after all. I'm fighting the urge to make a big pledge to finish all my unfinished knitting before starting anything new, but I know myself too well. My chronic "startitis" is the reason I have my pile of shame to begin with!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

To knit is divine....

I've spent the last few days figuring out how to keep all the animals somewhat comfortable and staying indoors myself during the middle of the day. The lambs and ewes are spending their days under shade trees (or in front of the big barn fans) and the llamas and alpacas are getting a cooling shower from the garden hose, several times a day. How can it be that we are in the 90's and it's not even officially summer yet? I hate to complain any more because I know there are many of you who are dealing with even higher temperatures. So, how about I talk about something else?


I finished my "To Eyre" shawl last week and finally got around to blocking it. I love this shawl so much, I'm ready to cast on another.....right now. I knit this one with Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed and the color is Brindle. I don't think Jo Sharp has stockist in the United States anymore, but it can probably be ordered on-line. Happily for me, I had this in my stash, left over from this sweater that I blogged about way back when. I'm not sure why, but knitting this shawl was so much fun for me. The pattern is easily memorized and the short rows are somehow entertaining (or maybe it's just that I'm easily entertained?). I'm feeling the shawl love these days and I'm not the only one. Ravelry and other blogs are full of enthusiastic shawl knitters at the moment. I guess if a shawl Kate Middleton wears to the grocery becomes a fashion statement, we commoners are free to wear them without being dubbed an "old lady" in a shawl. (of course, in my case, I'm already considered to be an old lady, so what can I say?) I had literally just bound off when I got an updated pattern from "Sunday Knits". It seems that some people had trouble getting the back of the next to stay flat and it was determined that the neck shaping was a little too severe. I literally blocked the heck out of mine and think I have eliminated most of that problem. I will definitely use the newer version of the pattern on my next one. The only thing stopping me from casting on right now is that I haven't been able to choose which yarn to use. This is just the project for someone looking to escape the heat and spend a few days hanging out in the comfort of air conditioning.

And speaking of blocking; I found some play mats (or anti-fatigue mats or whatever you want to call them) at Lowe's and they work great for a blocking surface. They were around $20.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Everybody say..........

Awww!  Isn't she cute? The ever sweet and thoughtful Susan Anderson sent me a surprise package yesterday and look what I found inside: the cutest little handspun, handknit lambie.  Even better, this little lambie was knit by Susan using her very first handspun yarn, spun with Tanglewood Farm natural roving (and you can find the link to the pattern right here). I think I need a pedestal to put her on (the lamb, not Susan, though she deserves one too).

And you know what? This lamb reminds me a of little Olive, in her babyhood.