September 30, 2016

New Beginnings and the Sheep Blanket Challenge

It has been a long time since the last post on this blog. Facebook has become the new instant "go to" site and blogging seems to have lost followers. Everything does have its place though.
Many things have happened in my life since the last post. Kids and sheep have kept us busy and new hobbies have taken hold. The horses are down to two and with both at 25 years of age are in retirement. I am in the process of launching a new business to sell wool products made from the fleece from our sheep. Spinning has been one of the constants as a lifesaver and playing with natural dyes has been a new fun experience.

Now for the Sheep Blanket Challenge................
About 8 years ago I found this really cool pattern on Ebay for a knitted sheep blanket.
It is called the Counting Sheep Warm Wooly Blanket by Gitta Schrade.

I loved to look at it and pondered trying to make one but it was so intimidating and required SO MUCH yarn. Time passed and eventually I thought why not try it. I had saved some natural colored fleeces that I thought would work and looking at the pattern changed some of the colors for what I had to work with. (This was about 3 1/2 years ago), I started washing fleece and carding it into roving. I figured out how many yards I thought I would need and started spinning when I had some spare time and the weather was too nasty to go outside. All the yarn was spun to bulky weight 2 ply except for the golden brown which was a single Navajo plied into a 3 ply. All the colors were the natural color of the fleece except for the golden brown which was a gray n/c fleece overdyed brown. The yarn was spun on the Fricke wheel and some on the Ashford with the jumbo flyer/bobbin. All the yarn was spun from fleece from our Romney sheep except for the black which was from a 1/2 Romney/1/2 Merino ewe lamb fleece I bought from my friend Anne Nichols, a fellow Romney breeder. Here is a pic of some of the yarn

The yarn was spun and the knitting commenced in March of this year. I started with the panels first and it was slow at the beginning but got faster as I figured out the pattern charts. I knitted the main colors and to avoid long floats went back in after blocking each block and over stitched the legs on some of them.

Knitting and sewing blocks together in progress
Blocks sewn together waiting for border
After the blocks were sewn together I worked on the garter stitch borders. I ran out of the cream yarn and had to spin another 200 yards to get them finished. Borders were blocked and sewn onto the panels and the blanket was finished.

I decided that the blanket needed a pillow to go with it so that was done too.

I entered the blanket and pillow in our county fair and won Superintendent's Choice! That was awesome and made me brave enough to enter them in the knitted division of the fiber creations for the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, OR this past weekend. I was surprised and greatly humbled for receiving the honor of winning Champion at OFFF. I love this blanket and it turned out much better than what I ever thought that it would.

What am I going to do with it? Not sure at this point. I am going to sign and date the back of it though. The next challenge................ Well, I have another pattern that is actually a cross stitch wall hanging of different breeds of sheep. I might try to convert the chart to knit and see what I come up with.

January 27, 2010

Running in Circles!

Have you ever felt like you are running in circles? The older I get the more it seems like there is less time and motivation to get things done and there are more things to do. Sometimes I just cheat and do some of the things I want to and let some of the others go for the interim just to maintain my sanity.
We are currently in a lull from lambing and the last wave should start after the full moon this weekend, (yes,  I really do belive these things are regulated by the moon cycle). I think we have 9 left to go. The first 3 Romney lambs were born the first week of December and I am not sure if there will be more, time will tell. The Romney ewes were synchronized to cycle earlier in the summer so we could get some early lambs.

We had a really cold spell for about two weeks starting the second week of December so the Hampshires waited until that was over with and then they started lambing. Christmas break was a blessing as lambing was in full swing by then and one day we had 5 lambs in about 6 hours. We were in a mad dash putting up lambing pens and getting sheep and lambs moved into them. Most of the first time lambers were already in the barn. Trying to catch a 2 year old first time lambing ewe with a new lamb in the mud isnt very fun, especially since most are really clueless as to what that wet, slimey, noisy thing(s) is and they are still in some pain from the birth. Once they are settled in their dry pen full of straw with a bucket of warm molasses water they "mother up" really fast.
That being said our barn is really full of sheep at the moment. We have too much mud and it has been too cold at night to turn them out. There are 4 hamp yearling rams in the lamb pasture with nowhere to move them and I have a yearling romney ram in the stock trailer. I think we are bursting at the seams!
This is my favorite ram lamb so far. His name is Tank. He was 17.5 lbs at birth and already stomping his foot at me at 3 days old. I think he is quite the character. He is extremly straight topped and wide through his loin. It is almost like he was born looking like a grown up sheep.

We have started some tentative planning for what fairs and events to attend this year and the calender is starting to fill up. I have been trying to update my Ravelry page with completed projects and yarn as that had been neglected for too long. The Fibery Co-op site is having an auction with proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders for aid to Haiti and I have donated a couple of Romney Fleeces and batts so I hope they bring in some decent prices. I have more fleece than I have time to deal with so why not have it go to a good cause. The sun is starting to get low and the boys will be home from school soon so its time to go start chores. Hopefully there will be time to post again in a few days.

September 30, 2009

The Latest Acquistions

My hubby is a craigslist addict and he always finds the neatest stuff. This August, (on my birthday amazingly), he showed me a wheel he had found. I had the unique opportunity to try some Fricke wheels at the Oregon Flock & Fiber festival last fall and I completely fell in love with them. My dream wheel was a Fricke DT160 with a Woolee Winder. Lo and behold it was on Craigslist and much cheaper than a new one. They are rarely for sale so I emailed the poster figuring it was long gone and she still had it. After some creative financing I am the proud owner of a very pretty Fricke DT160 with a Woolee Winder and 4 bobbins. The owner also threw in a standing skein winder. I Love my new wheel................

This wheel is awesome to spin on and is so versatile. The woolee winder is great too as you can just spin and not have to stop to change hooks on the flyer. I have been trying to spin every chance I get and have taken this wheel to a couple of fairs to have something to do and get something done at the same time. This is what I am working on at the moment. It is some soft wool roving I want to make some socks with.

Here is some of the yarn I have spun so far.

I need to rinse them and set the twist but it will have to warm up here first as I like to hang the yarn outside to dry. The multi colored yarn is Natural Colored Romney dyed with easter egg dye and the lavender is white Romney I dyed with landscape dye. I am handcarding the lavender wool into rolags and spinning it woolen, then navajo plying it to bulky weight. I want to use it to make a lace tunic pattern that is in the book "French Girl Knits" I have a long way to go but slowly but surely it will get there.
I belong to some fiber groups on Yahoo and a few months ago there was a post about This is a great site to find stuff. Goodwill stores across the country post items and they sell auction style similar to ebay. I check it every so often just to see what they have. A couple of weeks ago they had a Ashford Traditional Wheel in Spokane, WA. There was only one bid for $5. The wheel is missing some parts but I kept an eye on it. I ended up getting the wheel for $13. I figured that even if it was warped it would still have some usable parts I could use on my other Ashford Traddy. I found a ride home for the wheel and it is a really nice wheel. It is an older traddy like my first wheel, lacquered and sturdy. I would like to replace the missing parts with a jumbo flyer and use it for plying. It will work great for my 4-H kids to learn on.

I dont have these wheels named yet so if there are any ideas please send a comment. Maybe I will have a contest for a skein of yarn for the best names........ Stay tuned.

September 29, 2009

Fair Season is Finally Over!

Finally a spare moment to post! It seems as soon as lambing starts in the early spring until school starts in the fall life turns into a whirlwind. Late spring and summer has been a series of 4-H meetings, judging practices, fairs, and more meetings. Now there will be a short time to rest up with only soccer to worry about.
Our family has had a great year going to fairs and making new and catching up with old friends. Showing livestock is a great environment for teaching kids the life skills they will need as adults. Our kids have been blessed with great friends they have made showing sheep. The sheep industry seems to be getting smaller all of the time and more young people are needed to keep it going.
We went to six fairs this year and showed sheep and fleeces. Our youngest also showed his horse and sheep at our county fair and was a very busy kid. The National Romney show was at our county fair this year. Travis won his Jr. Showmanship class and his Spring ewe lamb was top ten in a huge ewe lamb class.

Our last fair, The Puyallup fair and WA State 4-H Fair ended last weekend. The Puyallup fair is the 7th largest fair in the country and runs for 3 weeks. We had some success with top 5 placings with our fleeces and Premier Exhibitor with our Hampshire sheep. The Romneys held their own in a tough Romney show with 2nd place Young Flock and a third in the spring ewe lamb class.

Our oldest son raises and shows Hampshires. He had a good show with his sheep and fleeces. I love to watch him show in showmanship. He has so much intensity and has improved so much every year.

The huge pile of laundry is calling me so back to work I go. We are having a major cool down and the fall rain has started so hopefully there will be more time to post.

January 26, 2009

Crazy Times!

Why is it that everything seems to happen in spurts? Life has been truly interesting around here the last month to say the least. This is my first chance to post in ages. First we had the artic freeze for a week and then over two weeks of snow. It was nice to have a white Christmas, the first one since we moved here nine years ago, but what a pain when you have livestock to take care of. Thank goodness the weather warmed up enough for lambing to start. The first lambs were born on December 29 and until now things have been in a whirlwind.

We have now reached a temporary lull in lambing for a couple of weeks and then the last group will start. That is a blessing as the weather has turned really cold again and we actually got almost two inches of snow again on Saturday night. So much for living in a moderate climate! The Hampshires were the first group to lamb (18) and the rest of the Hampshires and the Romneys will be in the second group (15). We have had 26 lambs so far. I have one bummer I am keeping in the house in a dog crate. It has just been too cold to put her outside yet.

This is Sprout, she was a breech lamb that only weighed 6 1/2 lbs when she was born. Her mom didnt have any milk.

She had a twin brother with major issues that I kept going for 10 days but I lost him. Sprout gets out of her crate to eat and has run of the house (with her diaper on of course!). If you would have told me 10 years ago I would have lambs running around in the house I would have said you were nuts. Its amazing what you do for your family and animals. The cats and Sprout are facinated with each other and that is quite entertaining. She has been doing great so far and I am keeping my fingers crossed. She is going to be quite spoiled.

On the spinning/knitting front I think I forgot what my wheel looks like! No time for spinning. I have managed to finish a pair of heavy socks for DH from stash yarn and make a ear flap hat for Travis but that's it.

I participated in a cool wool swap on the Raw Wool Lover's Unite group on Ravelry and got some neat black lincoln wool from Bella the black Lincoln sheep. Thanks Tracey Vargas!

Hopefully there will be some time to start processing it soon. I did get Travis's sweater finished for Christmas and will post pictures of it soon. The sun is finally out this morning and chores are waiting for me. It has warmed up to 32 degrees so time is wasting and off I go.

December 17, 2008

Snow and the Arctic Blast

The weather here has been interesting this week. The weather people on the news are calling it the Arctic Blast. It hasnt been above freezing for almost 5 days for the high and into the low teens at night with more cold to come. The boys have had late start for school the last 2 days and no school today and the rest of the week doesnt look good. At least Christmas break starts next week. The hoses and faucets have been frozen for 3 days (water lines are only buried 18"-2 ft. here if you are lucky), and we have to bucket water in the hay cart down to the sheep in the field. The worst part is watching the water freeze as soon as the ice is broken and taken out of the troughs and freezing in the hoses before you can take them off of the faucet and drain them. We have been spending a lot of time breaking ice. We had mud until everything froze up so now the uneven muddy soil has all froze up with water pockets in them and the horses and sheep are having hell trying to walk. I grew up in northern Nevada where there can be some rough and unpredictable weather but up here this type of weather is a rare occaision and can be harder to deal with. We have 14 ewes in the barn that are bagging up and I really hope they wait this out to lamb when it warms up. The lamb jugs are set up and I have my lamb covers ready to go so I'm keeping my fingers crossed they will wait. Thank goodness we still have power or we would really be in a mess. We woke up this morning to snow which is supposed to last through tomorrow with some freezing rain in between. I am worried about hubby driving home from work tonight and hope he can leave early. Can I to go to Hawaii now please!
This is picture looking out from our back porch towards the barn. Notice the hose stretched out on the ground. Its frozen hard as a rock.

Here is another picture of the sheep in the field.

I have been working on some Christmas presents to get them finished and did some spinning last night. I am really behind on my spinning and have a bunch of batts I need to get spun up. Time hasnt allowed for spinning lately. Here are my latest projects:
These are some Rapunzel socks I made to send to our dear friend in Louisiana. They were fun and the first socks I have done toe up. The yarn is some really soft handspun Romney cross wool, sport/worsted weight. Fairly easy sock pattern and fun to work on.

I spun up some N/C Romney and alpaca into a bulky two ply and I made a dickie for my FIL. He lives in Northern CA where they have cold winters and this will keep him warm when he is out doing chores and lambing. I hope he likes it. With the weather here now I have almost been tempted to keep it but I wont have time to make another one in time for Christmas.

Here are pictures of a couple of hats I made for the boys. They were supposed to be Christmas presents but they need them now so they got them a few days early. They are both made from some of my stash handspun yarn.

The boys want to help me make Christmas cookies this afternoon so that should keep us busy until chores tonight. Then its hot chocolate and some TV and bedtime.

November 25, 2008

Belated Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We finally got through our leftovers last night and enjoyed a quiet weekend at home. Saturday was our busiest day as Trav had his soccer game at 7:10 AM and then we had a 4H ride meeting from 10-12 PM. That turned out to be a long day.
I have started on the garage trying to clear up clutter. It is pretty scary to think we have lived here almost 9 years and there has never been a car in the garage. Oh well, you cant have everything and I am sure there are others in the same boat. Eventually I would like to use part of the garage for wool prep as there are some nice benches and plug ins already set up along one side. I already know where I want to put the carder, picker and crock pot. My old washing machine is already out there and that is where I wash my fleeces and the washed ones are already stored out there.
My hubby the craigslist addict found some roving last week and I picked up almost 6 pounds of nice roving for $50. There is some natural gray and some space dyed in about 10 colors. Did I really need this? No, but I thought this would be great to use for my 4H spinners to learn with without a lot of expense. The gal also had some landscape dyes in both the large and small containers with most unused or almost full. I picked them up for $15 so I guess now I will have to step out of my Wilton and Kool Aid comfort zone and try some "real" dye. Now if I can just find some instructions on how to use Landscape dyes I will be in good shape. Craigslist can be a definate asset, especially for broke fiber addicts.
On the knitting front I have finished Travis's sweater. I just need to get it blocked and sewn together. I have almost finished one of a pair of Rapunzel socks for a dear friend out of the same NC Romney cross wool I used for Travis's sweater and I have a dickie about halfway done for my FIL out of some NC Romney/alpaca bulky yarn I spun up last week. Pictures will be forthcoming as I get them finished. Christmas is coming up fast and time grows shorter every day to get things done.