Thursday, February 20, 2014

Happy Day!

Yesterday was a really happy day for those of us here in central Kentucky.  We finally saw the sun and the temperature got up to around 60 degrees.  To celebrate, I wore my recently finished happy socks (Kroy sock yarn in Sporty Stripes) and my favorite clogs!

The sheep celebrated in their own way.  Instead of huddling in the barn all day, they went up on the hill and snoozed in the warm sun, most likely dreaming of green grass.  Aslan was on guard duty, as usual, but might have been sleeping on the job just a little  :-)

Buddy always assumes the "large and in charge" position.  You'd think that he and Mr. Bates might pal up, since they are the only males in the group (they're both wethers, otherwise they wouldn't be in with the girls at this time of year), but they pretty much ignore each other.

So, besides a little sunshine and mild temperatures, why is this a happy day?  Because today I'm going to make one of you happy.  Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for Katie Startzman's "Knitted Slipper Book" and two skeins of Cascade 220 to get you started.  It was fun to read all your comments and I especially want to thank Susan Anderson for sending so many of you over this way (and aren't Mary, Millie and Morgan the cutest knitted dolls ever? I'm in love with their clothes!).  Susan is the most kind, gracious and encouraging person I think I've ever met.  She's so generous about sharing information and talent.  She's a gift to the knitting community, for sure.  I'm honored to be considered her friend.

Anyway ...... on to the news you're waiting for!  After going through and eliminating any accidental duplicates, the random number generator picked number 84.  That would be Kathy (aka woolyeyes on Ravelry).  I've sent a message to notify her that's she's the winner and if I don't hear from her within 24 hours, I'll go back to and pick another number. Those of you who didn't win, go on and buy the book!  I promise you won't be disappointed.  If you end up knitting a project from the book, please let us see it.  Send me a message and we'll get your picture up for all to admire.  

Thanks again to all of you for coming here to comment.  We'd love to have you as regular visitors here at Sheep Dreams.  Pretty soon we'll have actual green grass and some new babies.  The lamb-cam will start up in a matter of weeks and you can watch the big girls waddle around til their turn comes to give birth (and sometimes it happens that you get to actually see the birth as it happens!).  Once they start arriving you can enjoy watching the lambs romping around in the barn at all hours of the day and night.  Lambing is best time of year here at Tanglewood Farm and makes all the hard work worth it. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

"THE KNITTED SLIPPER BOOK" - want a chance to win?

Several months ago, I saw that Katie Startzman (a fellow Kentuckian!) had a new book coming out. Katie and her sister, Laura Poulette share a blog, Duo Fiberworks, that I've been following for some time (there's a link on my sidebar, too) and I'm continually impressed by their creativity, enthusiasm and energy.  I was intriqued enough to pre-order "The Knitted Slipper Book" and as soon as it arrived, I spent some time reading and checking out the projects.  Take a moment right now to watch the trailer that Katie, her husband and sister, Laura, put together for the book. It's so sweet and clever.

First, let me say that I love the styling of this book. As far as I'm concerned, Melanie Falick has the magic touch in editing.  The books she edits for STC Crafts are all so aesthetically appealing, I believe I'd want to buy them even if I didn't knit!  The styling, different font styles and beautiful photographs have had me thumbing through the book over and over again.

I knew right away that I wanted to start with the knitted clogs.  I'm a clog lover from way back and the idea of knitting and felting my own sounded like something  I had to try.  The instructions are quite specific and easy to follow and the clogs knit up quickly.  Pattern sizing is included for everyone in your family, so these would make a great gift idea.  Katie also has provided very clear illustrated instructions for hand-felting the slippers in the book and has a link to great video tutorial on the  Duo Fiberworks website.  The most difficult part of the whole project was picking out colors for my first pair of clogs.  In the end, my love of autumn colors won out and I made them in Cascade 220 Heathers,  #9445 Green and Orange blend and #2452 Turtle.

This is how they looked before felting ...

and, after the magic of felting,

 and then after shaping and drying .... there they are - your very own handknit clogs!!

Aren't they the cutest things?  I love that the toes have that traditional clog shaping.  Since I finished this pair, I've been thinking of all the other color combinations I could knit.  And, wouldn't it be fun to do some embellishments? (although I like them plenty enough just as they are). I intend to put a latex bottom on this pair for a little non-skid insurance.  Katie has provided step-by-step (no pun intended) instructions for adding a variety of soles to the slippers if you'd like to make them even more sturdy. I think next up for myself might be the Beaded Moccs.  I've never done any beading (I know, where have I been?) and I believe the Moccs are a perfect place for me to start.
If you've been looking for some fun and quick projects to knit while waiting for yet another snowstorm  to pass, I can highly recommend this book. There's such a variety of slippers in the book, from baby Mary Jane's to slipper socks with leather soles (my three boys wore those all the time when they were young). I also think this book and a couple of skeins of Cascade 220 would make a great gift for any knitter on your friend list.  So, here's the great part for you. If you'd like a chance to win a copy of the book and two skeins of Cascade 220 Heathers, leave a comment here, maybe telling us who you'd like to knit some slippers for (and it's perfectly fine if it's for yourself!).  I'll leave the comments open until Thursday morning, February 21, 9 am, EST.  Then, I'll let the random number generator do the work of picking a lucky person. Good luck!

Edited to add:  It's Thursday morning and comments are now closed.  Thanks so much for entering.  Check back a little later for the winner!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Is that a light I see?

Yes, I think I may finally be seeing some light at the end of this tunnel (and I don't think it's a train headed my way).  This last month or so has been one of discouragement and lots of reflection on where I'm headed.  I'm not trying to be overly dramatic here, but physical ailments have kept me knocked down and it has affected my state of mind more than I care to admit.  Mike tells me I don't make a good patient and he's right.  I don't even like to be around myself when I'm not on top of my game.

I've had some pretty severe muscle spasms in my neck and it's taken x-rays, MRI's and evaluations by several doctors and a physical therapist to finally get me on the path to feeling better.  Sleep (which is one of my most favorite activities) has been illusive and even that is starting to return to something near normal.  So, all in all, I'm trying to feel encouraged.  Mike has done most of the feeding chores lately and that has been a huge help.  I do miss seeing my flock though and I'm anxious to start hauling hay bales around again.  (Definitely not something I ever expected to say!)

Like a lot of folks, we've been snowed in several times this past week. I managed to get out for physical therapy early in the week, just before we got hit with another round of ice and snow.  I hear that the main roads are mostly clear right now, but our farm road is a bit of a thrill ride and not one I'm planning on making just yet.  Above is the view from the front porch of the house.

Yesterday I got to spend some time in the studio for the first time in several weeks.  It's amazing how a cozy fire in the woodstove and the companionship of Carson can lift my spirits. (Carson is so laid back he could easily be mistaken for comatose!)

I finished another small knitting project that will surely come in handy in this weather (and especially for people like me, with a neck needing to be kept extra warm).  It's Mary Jane Mucklestone's Flying Geese Cowl.  All the natural colors are my own handspun and the red is some of this years run of our mill-spun wool/alpaca blend that I've dyed in my favorite red color.  I've always loved the flying geese quilt pattern (even for my barn quilt).  Mary Jane's pattern has just enough going on to keep it interesting and it's especially good for knitting a simple Fair Isle pattern and practicing holding yarn in both hands.  I've always been partial to the natural colored fleeces of my sheep and it was fun to go through my stash of handspun odds and ends to pick out the progression from dark to light.  Now I'm smitten with the idea of making something bigger (a whole sweater!) and using only my own natural colored handspun for all the Fair Isle patterning.

And, though I wouldn't blame you a bit if you don't believe me, a book review and giveaway of this sweet book is coming next week.  Honest!