Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tour de Fleece

I'm participating in the Tour de Fleece over on Ravelry. Here's the fiber I'm starting with. It's British fine Shetland in a colorway called Agatha.

As with all things, there are lots of rules for tdf. But mostly you have to spin every day of the race. When the riders get a day of rest, the spinners get a day of rest. On the torturous mountain riding day, the spinners should spin a challenge, such as a fiber or structure they haven't spun before.

And we are encouraged to wear yellow whenever we are feeling like winners.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stealth Project

This Spring, I bought a yearling Border Leicester to add to my flock. I was pleased to learn that the breeder did not expose her ewes until they were yearlings to lamb at two. That is the same way I handle breeding here.

She and I agreed I would go pick up the ewe in a couple of weeks. And I started making plans. Then I got an email saying, the yearling had started to bag up, meaning she was developing an udder. So she and I started to make plans for me to pick up the ewe earlier than planned, since that usually means you have a few weeks.

The next morning, I got an email titled “Newest Development.” Yes – the yearling had lambed. Her milk was slow to come in. But with grain, she is producing well now, and feeding her little girl.

There are worse surprises in shepherding than getting a bonus, black, healthy ewelamb.

She is two weeks old now, traveled from Maryland to New York, and holding her own with the flock. And when she bounces, it is a delight to watch.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Making Hay

I guess we all hear the expression "Make hay while the sun shines" when we're growing up. We associate it with taking advantage of opportunity, usually in business. But when you have a farm, it takes on new shades of meaning.

Weather governs so much. Processes take a certain amount of time. Haying is at least a three day process -- a day to cut, a day or so to dry and be turned, a day to bale and bring into the barn. Any rain during the process, and you can lose your crop. Hay is what gets you through the winter, and is too precious to lose.

Similarly, dyeing and drying wool requires some sun, some warmth, some lower humidity. We've had a few nice days lately, and I've taken advantage. One of the projects I do with my wool is to have blankets made. More on that another day. Last year, I was right down to the wire on getting my wool to the spinnery. And this last couple of pounds -- that was slated for blankets -- didn't make it into the box. So a few days ago, it got dyed and is planned for handspinning, mixed with some black wool and a little white mohair.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I am always fascinated watching sheep. And one of the things I love to watch is how they move as a group -- flocking. One will get a notion to go "over there", and all of them will move. They'll settle for a while, and another one will see a flower or a bird that needs attention, and all of them mozie (that's a word, right?) off in that direction.

Look at these three boys. They have acres to choose from, and they are munching together.

And look at all those dandelions -- thank goodness for sheep!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Barn Socks

An inelegant part of farm work happens in the barn. Barn chores include feeding, watering, organizing, straightening, mucking -- you get the idea. In upstate NY, these chores often happen in the cold, so socks become an important part of the dress code. You also have to be able to wash them, and if worst comes to worst, you have to be willing to throw them away.

I was going through my stash and found some 6 ply yarn I had bought a while ago. I thought I would like it, but decided it was too bulky for everyday wear and set it aside -- probably 10 balls of it.

This yarn has been resurrected. I have started a series of barn socks from it. It is warmer and cushier than what I usually knit socks from. These socks should be warmer and better for staying on my feet. Waiting for lambs to be born often requires standing around.

I'll work my way though these socks and maybe knit some Frankensocks from the leftovers. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Making Coleslaw

I finished making Coleslaw last night, and now it is blocking. It was knit on 5's and castoff on 8's. Blocked size is 59 X 30. Love the bands of color.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ornamental Cabbages

Lately, I have been working on a Feather and Fan shawl from handspun. The fiber is 4 ozs of Falkland from Fat Cat Knits in a colorway called Apples and Geraniums. It spun up at 568 yards of single ply, and the singles (knit on 5's) give interesting ripples of color.

When I was married, we gave my in-laws a Cuisinart one Christmas. My MIL liked to do themed dinners, and we assumed she was the one who would "own" the gift. But we were wrong. My FIL started a garden, and bought all the possible attachments to the Cuisinart, and did more decorative things with vegetables than I knew could be done. He made shelves and shelves of jars of pickles. But the things that I found fascinating were the coleslaws he made with ornamental cabbages. He would create bowls of slaw that looked like marbled paper with the diversity of color and placement. It was such a treat. For us and for him.

This shawl reminds me of those cabbages.