Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Day of 2008.....

It's so hard to believe that it's the last day of 2008. The days have just flown by!! With one storm after another moving through the area, the past few days have just been a blur of clearing snow....again, and again, and again. The poor sheep!! The snow is so deep now that they simply cannot move through it. So it is very important to keep those paths open for them. Thankfully they all seem to have gotten used to the snowblower....and know enough now to keep out of the way. Of course we are due to have another large storm move through in the next 24 if there isn't enough snow on the ground already. Hard to believe that winter has just started. Can't help but wonder what the new year will bring.

The new year will bring lots of resolutions and good intentions for lots of people. I have thought about resolutions and what I would like to accomplish in the new year. After all, it's hard not to think about it since it seems to be the main topic of discussion these days. I have come to the conclusion that I'm not going to make any resolutions this year. I simply do not want to be disappointed in myself because I couldn't keep them. Or set goals that I know I won't be able to meet. All I want to do is to continue enjoying my sheep, knitting, spinning, quilting, and family. Yes, it would be nice to slim down a bit, but I'm not holding my breath on it. Nor am I going to make it a resolution and turn it into something that I feel I have to do. I will do my best to include more exercise (as if I don't get enough taking care of the sheep and the house) into my daily routine. Just as I will do my best to finish a few projects before starting new ones.

Now to share pictures of the felted kitty I made for my oldest for Christmas this year. I used Suffolk and an eyelash yarn to knit it. The Suffolk didn't felt as well as I was hoping it least not where it was paired with the eyelas yarn. The places where it was just plain Suffolk did just fine. It does have a musical button when its tummy is pressed it will play "Over the Rainbow". And the nose is needle-felted using black llama. My daughter simply loves it and it now resides with her in her apartment. (The pattern is by Fiber Trends.)

Hope everyone has a wonderful start to their new year! May it be filled with lots of fibery fun!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winter Musings

Thought I would share a few pictures of how winter is going around here. Since my last post a few more winter storms have moved through the area leaving us with about 3 feet of snow. My poor sheep have to jump if they expect to get anywhere. So they stick to the paths that have been kept clear for them using the snow blower......or the paths that they have created from walking in the same tracks time and time again. Needless to say everyone is staying pretty close to the barns. With the exception of Levi, that is. For some reason he seems to think it's wonderful fun jumping through the snow. :.) I guess that's part of being a young, playful llama.

Today brought us rain instead of the usual snow. It was nice in that it helped clear many of the roads. Not so nice in that it now added weight to what was fluffy, light snow. So the morning was spent cleaning off shed roofs.....and around the skylights on the house. Both barns have metal roofs and the snow is slowly sliding off. The pumphouse has already lost its snowy covering. Of course we are due to have another storm move in tonight and leave behind another 5" of snow.

While it may not be the most fun always having to make sure paths and the driveway are clear, the snowy weather has made for some very good spinning. I have managed to spin up 3 more skeins of bulky weight karakul yarn and am just about finished with a bobbin of Shetland singles (which will eventually be sock yarn). I have also brought in the fleece from my older llama, Cavi. I am going to run it through the picker and then spin it from the fluff. I had a vision of spinning it into a nice bulky yarn and then knitting up a felted llama (or two) with it. He gets sheared again in the spring and I really don't want to have two of his fleeces to deal with.....espeically since Levi will be sheared the following spring. I think one llama fleece a year is more than enough to keep me busy. :.) I won't even mention the 21 Shetland fleeces that I get every spring.

I have been making quite the dent in my Shetland fleeces. I have gone through quite a bit of it and have about five or so fleeces left to play with. A couple of those are earmarked for my use only. No putting them up on my etsy site. If I don't do this then everything will end up on my etsy site and I won't have any for myself. I'm also working on my second (out of three) Karakul fleeces. Looks like I will be buying at least one more Karakul fleece in the new year. And a Scottish Blackface. Love the looks of the sheep, but really don't want to buy any. So the next best thing to buy a fleece to play with. :.)

Have been busy knitting. I knitted up felted kitty for my one daughter. Used Suffolk for that. It didn't felt real well in the places where it was done using an eyelash yarn. That is one breed that will go on my "doesn't felt well" list. I also did a felted sheep out of Karakul....and a felted puppy....also from Karakul. The puppy was for my other daughter. I knitted up a felted winter hat for my loving hubby out of camel. Learned a very valuable lesson there. Camel is hard to felt and becomes very fuzzy when it does felt. Another fiber to add to my "doesn't felt well" list. Finally I knitted up a felted quirrel. That was done using karakul, grey norwegian, and suffolk. Yup, you guessed it! The karakul and gray norwegian felted up beautifully! The suffolk....not so much. Pictures of the felted lamb and felted puppy are below. Not sure if I will post pictures of the felted kitty.....and definitely won't be putting up any pictures of the felted winter hat. The felted squirrel isn't quite done no pictures there.

I even managed to get some quilting in....believe it or not. A friend asked me for help with a pattern that she really liked. So I took some time one morning and played with it in EQ6. Loved the way it looked so much that I pulled out some Christmas fabric and started cutting. By the afternoon I had all of my blocks sewn together and my rows were partially put together. By the next afternoon I had the rows together and the top done. The quilt is now on the machine and in the process of being machine quilted. It's a wonderful pattern and I'm so happy that my friend brought it to my attention. It's been quite some time since a quilt pattern has caught my attention so much that I just had to make it. It also renewed my interest in quilting. I've been happily stitching away on December's block of the month. Does this mean that my knitting will come to an abrupt end? No. It just means that I will be spending some time working on my applique in between knitting projects. And I tend to spin just about every day. After all, there should be balance if one enjoys several hobbies. :.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

First Big Storm

Here are pictures of our first big snow storm of the winter season. Of course these were taken shortly after it began snowing. We've had quite a bit of snow accumulate since then. The weather forecasters are predicting somewhere between 8"-12" of snow by the time all is said and done. Of course the sheep don't mind at all. They know that there is a barnful of hay just for them. They don't worry about me trudging out there, breaking the ice on their water, and filling up their feeders. All they care about is the barnful of hay. :.) Wouldn't you know it, the snow started coming down right as the hay was delivered this afternoon. Just a little at first. By the time the last 10 bales were downloaded it was snowing like crazy! The hay did receive the "llama seal of approval" though. My oldest llama, Cavi, actually stretched his neck out over the fence to grab a mouthful of hay while it was still on the trailer. As if that weren't enough, he was even gracious enough to smell the hay that a stranger had offered up to him. He probably would have taken it right out of his hand if the hay guy had been patient enough. Understandably enough, he was trying to get the hay off the trailer before the snow really started coming down.

I love the snow! Doesn't always make doing outside chores the most pleasant, but it does make for excellent spinning, knitting, and quilting weather. I love sitting inside working on my latest project while watching the snow falling. Everything always looks so pretty all covered in white. Plus the sheep seem to really enjoy the snow as well. As long as it isn't too deep for them that is. Last year we had to keep a path shoveled so they could get from the buildings to their water. We'll do the same this year if need be.....only we'll use the new snowblower we bought last year and never got to use. It got held up on the other side of the pass when a huge storm came through closing the pass. By the time it finally made it to this side we didn't get anymore snow. And didn't have enough on the ground to be able to use it. So, needless to say, all this wonderful snow is getting my hubby very excited. He finally gets to play with his new toy.....the snowblower! :.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wonderful Weekend!!

I had such a wonderful weekend! Pictured above is the quilt exhibit at the local museum. I was lucky enough to be able to go to the exhibit opening. Wow!! To be that close to all these wonderful antique quilts was absolutely breathtaking!! And so incredibly humbling. The quilts were simple yet so incredibly eloquent. The hand stitching was so beautiful to see. It reminded me that quilts don't have to be heavily quilted on a long arm machine in order to be beautiful. "Less is more"......that's what I kept thinking with each quilt I looked at. Even the crazy quilts were stunning beautiful, yet so incredibly simple. The embellishments weren't piled on in layers (like you see in some of today's crazy quilts). It was so incredibly simplistic that you were able to enjoy the beauty of the stitches and the embroidery floss used. Not to mention it really allowed the silk background to be seen as well. Yes, there were some lovely applique quilts....and lone star quilts.....and utilitarian quilts that had such tiny pieces in them. There was a lovely variety of antique quilts to enjoy.....including a silk crazy patch kimono. The quilt made out of the cigarette silks was quite intriquing. Some of the photos on the silks were rather risque. My hubby sure enjoyed looking at them though. :.) He also enjoy looked at the quilt made from cigar silks. Wow! Quite a bit of collecting went on for both of the quilts. All in all, a very lovely exhibit. One that I will definitely be going back to enjoy while it's here.
Here are pictures of the Shetland I've been slowly spinning up. Just not enough hours in the day to do all that I would love to do. The two skeins I have done so far are about 350 yards each (one is a bit less). While I haven't figured out the wpi yet, I'm guessing it to be about a sock weight yarn. Which is good since I really want to knit up a pair of cabled socks for myself with it. I have another bobbin filled....a second bobbin partially filled.....and six batts all ready for spinning. All from the same fleece the skeins pictured above came from. It's such lovely, lovely fiber to spin up. :.)
This is the alpaca/merino/silk blend that I purchased a couple of months ago. I have it all spun up and one skein completely done (pictured above). Love the way it turned out. So incredibly soft! And the color is definitely different. I still need to get the other skein plyed.....and then decide what I want to do with it. Maybe a lace scarf or something. There is about 200 yards in the skein pictured so it wil have to be a fairly small project. I don't plan on purchasing anymore of this roving. It was a bit on the spendy side. Plus I've been having way too much fun playing with my Shetland lately. :.)
I have been doing some knitting. Christmas knitting actually. You'd think I would have started earlier and not have waited so long.....but with all the batts I've been carding up lately for my etsy site I just haven't had any time to spend on any of my own projects. I think it's time things slowed down for the etsy site and I spent some time getting a few of my own things done. I have four projects that should really be done for Christmas. I know that I can get at least three of them done in time. The fourth.....well, I honestly don't think that will happen. My loving hubby asked for a pair of socks for Christmas made from the wool from one of our sheep. I haven't even brought in a fleece for it....although I do have one in mind. So it looks like that may have to wait until after the holidays. .....or at least until the drum carder is opened up.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fiber Fun!!

Here is the end result of my latest fiber experiment. I wanted to see what would happen if I blended Shetland that was one color with silk that was dyed another color. Then I added some multi-colored Firestar to the mix.....and got the above result. My youngest says it reminds her of a mermaid. So this is my *mermaid* batts. It didn't come out as soft as I would like. I think that is in large part to the Firestar. The Firestar wasn't soft at all on its own. I do think it will make wonderful sock yarn though. The Firestar is nylon so that should give the yarn strength and help it to wear well. Haven't quite decided on whether this group of batts will be offered up for sale or not. When I was carding my hands were picking up a nice blue tinge.....I'm guessing from the Shetland wool. But the water was clear when it was put back in for another rinse. So maybe the light bit of lanolin on the wool is holding just the blue coloration from the green dye and that is what I keep getting on my hands as I work with it??. I really don't know. I would love to offer these batts up for sale but am hesitant simply because of the possible dye problem. I guess I could always put a warning of sorts on the page. It is a very pretty blend and it would be a shame for it to sit on my shelves waiting for me to get around to actually spinning it.....which it would do.

As much fun as I've had blending I really need to put it all aside for a bit and actually get something carded up for myself. The rest of Carrie's fleece from last year has been patiently waiting for me to card it up so I can finish spinning it up. So I will be spending time doign that instead of blending. The first two bobbins have already been plyed and the twist set. What beautiful yarn!! Definitely telling me that it wants to be made into socks. And not just any socks.....cabled socks. One skein is 350 yards....the other 328 yards. So there is plenty there for socks. :.) And I anxious to see what the rest of the fleece will yield. She has such pretty coloring. Light gray with darker colored fibers mixed in. In fact, I love her coloring so much that not only did I keep last year's fleece from her, but I also kept this year's fleece.....and am seriously debating over whether I will keep next year's fleece as well. She produces such a lovely, lovely fleece....not only color-wise, but also handle as well. She always feels so silky to the touch.

I did start another knitting project the night before last. Like I really needed something else on the needles. I still haven't finished my sweater with the Shetland lace inlay. This project is a felted sheep done using the bulky weight Karakul yarn I spun up a while back and large needles (size 15). I have to confess that I'm in love with the sheep already and it's only half done. Working with the Karakul yarn has been a dream!! It knits up nicely and the coloring is simply not what I expected at all! I was expecting it to be pretty much all one color (off-white). To my surprise there are spots of darker color here and there. It really adds to the beauty of the sheep. I hope to have this finished in another day or so and ready for felting. It's going to be a big sheep that's for sure! And it definitely has been a very timely project. I find it extremely calming to work on and that is exactly what I needed right now.....especially since I'm fighting a pretty nasty cold.