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.

November 20, 2008

Sheep Slippers Revisited

I have had some requests on how I made these slippers. The pattern is from the Winter 2002 Spin-Off magazine article "Sheep's Head Slippers and Hobbit Feet". It is a crochet pattern, easy to make, and a great way to use a fleece with a good lock structure. After the slippers are finished the locks are folded in half, pulled through the side of the stitches and through the loop end of the lock to hold it, and then they are all trimmed down some when finished. I think you could probably use any crochet slipper pattern you want and just pull the locks through. It is a fun project. The most time consuming part is pulling the locks through. For these slippers I used locks from a romney/border leister hoggett fleece my husband bought for me at the Puyallup Spring Fair this year. It has awesome locks. It think it would be fun to dye some locks different colors and make some really wild looking ones.

On a different note considering our current political climate and economic turmoil I found an interesting quote that is worth pondering.........

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes."
Mohandas K Gandi

Now off I go outside to slog through the mud in the rain and get some chores done. You just have to love the pacific northwest in late fall!

November 18, 2008

The Autumn Test & Fall Craziness

Your Autumn Test Results

You are a dynamic, vibrant person. You aren't afraid to pursue your passions.

When you're happiest, you are outgoing and expressive . You love celebrations, and you enjoy showing off a little.

You tend to be afraid of change. You are never ready for things to be different.

You find love to be the most comforting thing in the world. You feel at peace when you're with your loved ones.

Your ideal day is active and full. You like to keep busy with your favorite things, and you appreciate a routine.

You tend to live in the moment. You enjoy whatever is going on, and you don't obsess over the past or future.

I have had a crazy last 3 weeks around here. We sheared our new romneys and I have 5 nice white Romney fleeces to wash.

I have been trying Mim's (Desert Peach Farm), cold water fleece wash method and the first one has turned out awesome. I think I will use some of it for the wool swap in the raw wool lovers group on Ravelry. It has a shorter staple length of 2 1/2 to 3 inches but it is a really nice natural color fleece with a lot of luster.

Soccer season is finally winding down for the boys and only one is going to play for one session of indoor. That is better as it is just on Saturdays with no practices. I really love watching them play.
4H has been crazy trying to get all of my club enrollments done, working on year end club awards and I have started a spinning project group. I only have 3 kids so far but there are so many fun things to go to in our area and I have access to most of the equipment we need so why not add some more craziness to my life! I was recently elected to our county 4H leaders association board and I am also on a county 4H committee that has spent the last year working on revising our record books to make them more user friendly for kids and parents. We have been putting on workshops and training sessions so spare time has been precious. One of my 4H parents has started a blog for our 4H horse group so that will make information access much better to manage for me at least.
Lambing should start in January so we are getting ready to go through our bred ewes and get them wormed and vaccinated and we are bringing the ewe lambs home from pasture this weekend to get them on feed for the winter.
One thing that has been really cool this week is watching the NAILE (North American International Livestock Exposition) sheep shows on the internet. They have a camera in each of the two show rings and you can watch the show in real time. The site is if the link thingy doesnt work.
We have friends showing Corriedales and Columbias and it has been fun watching them show and to see what the judges are looking for with the Hampshires. The Romney show is on Friday so that will be fun and interesting to see what the judge uses.
Spinning has been slow lately. I did break down for a couple of days last week when it was raining to card up the rest of one of my N/C Romney fleeces with some alpaca into some batts and spin up some of that and some of the superwash seconds I got from Carol Lee at the Sheepshed Studio. The gray is some the natural colored Romney/Alpaca and the blue the superwash spun up.

I also spun up some Border Leister/Romney lamb locks for some slippers for my niece for Xmas.

I am slowly finishing a knitted sweater for my son and have some more socks to do before Xmas. Why is it the older you get the less time you have and the faster it goes by?

October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We carved three of the pumpkins from our pumpkin patch last night. The seeds came from a big pumpkin we raised last year. I had bought the plant at our high school FFA plant sale. We are saving some seeds for next year to see what we will get.
We woke up to rain this morning but this afternoon we are getting some "sun breaks" (part of pacific northwest language for partly sunny. Its getting to the time of year when it will be mostly always cloudy!) Hopefully the timing will be good for my two zombies to go trick or treating. I dont think our luck will hold for soccer tomorrow though so out will come the gloves, slickers, foot warmers and the thermos of hot chocolate. The things we do for our kids! (They are worth every bit of it)

October 30, 2008

Kitty Wool Picker Video

Lets see if we can get this video to work! I really need to make a wool cat bed for this cat!

October 29, 2008

Miss Kitty and the wool

I think we will have a nice day here once the early morning fog burns off. Hopefully it will be a good day for working in the yard and getting stuff ready for winter.
Maybe I can work in some fiber prep before soccer practice tonight.
This is a short video of one of our cats. She just really likes wool and is in the middle of a wool sack at every opportunity. If I could just train her on command she could get all of my fleeces picked for me.

October 23, 2008

"Bob" is sold

We sold our son Troy's ram "Bob" last week........... He is related to most of our sheep and hasn't been used that much so he needed to go to a good home where he can improve another breeder's flock. Bob was Troy's favorite ram. We raised him and he was our only fall lamb the year he was born. He was quite spoiled by the boys and became quite the soccer player when he was a lamb playing with the boys booting the ball up and down the pasture. He also loved to go to fairs. He had some Champion Breed and Overall Ram awards to his credit but his favorite part of the fair was the people. He loved to get pets and he would eat almost anything; potato chips, oreos, candy. When he was bored he would brush his teeth on the top of his pen. He is quite a character. He also sired some really nice market lambs and his first fair champion this year. He has a good home, a new family of 4H kids that have a breeding project. I miss him, but I dont miss having him pull the hose out of the water troughs and playing with it or getting chased around the pen when he was in with the ewes!

This is a classic picture of Bob brushing his teeth!

The Lap Robe is Finished!

This is the latest project that I have finished. I have delivered it to our friends who are letting us use their pasture for our ewe lambs. The wool for the robe came from one of the N/C Romney ewes we bought from them last fall. I thought they might want a keepsake from one of their sheep.
I started with 1 1/2 lbs of the washed gray fleece and I kettle dyed it with Wilton royal blue paste dye, dried it on a screen outside in the sun, and then I put it through my little box picker which works super. The color separated some but I thought this just added some character to it. This is a picture of the fleece picked and ready for the carder.

I carded the dyed fleece into batts and spun them into 2 ply worsted weight yarn.
I used the Fern Leaf Lap Robe pattern on Ravelry (this pattern is a free download). The colors turned out heathery with a blue/green base and some dark blue, purple, and pink highlights in some areas. It was heavier than I thought it would be and will be very warm. Sheep fitting stands make great blockers, too!

Now on to the next projects, some socks, slippers, and a sweater by Christmas. So many things, so little time.

October 1, 2008

The Romneys are here!

Sunday we picked up our new Romney ewes; Munchkin, Pancake, Waffle, the Chinese sheep, and one with no name (yet). They are age 2 to 4 and they are all bred to lamb early next year. They are for our youngest son Travis to use for his breeding sheep project in 4H with the side benefit of that I get the fleeces to play with. It will be fun to learn how to fit and show a wool breed and the goal is to have a young flock to show next year. The National Romney Show is going to be at our county fair next summer so that should be great experience for all of us.

We also got to stop at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival on the way to pick up the sheep. OFFF is one of my favorite places to go every year. A drop spindle class there is what started my fiber addiction. OFFF is total sensory overload for everything fiber related. I am thinking about getting another wheel and I am leaning toward a Fricke S 160 DT. It spins so easy and is really versatile. Maybe when I win the lottery.............

Have to clean out a horse shelter today with the tractor and turn the manure pile. Hopefully I will get the rest of the tomatoes picked that are ready and check the corn. We are supposed to get a storm starting tomorrow and that will be the end of nice weather for a while.

September 26, 2008

My First Post!

Wow, I finally got brave enough to post! I have been reading other blogs for months and started working on this one a few months ago but with county fair season time has been at a premium. Now soccer season is in full swing with practice every night during the week and games on Saturdays. 4H is starting up next month so that will be a busy time too. I have been canning tomatoes and freezing corn from the garden and fall has definately been in the air the last week so I am hurrying to get everything done before the first frost.
Spinning is on hold for the moment until I get a lap robe knitted for the couple I bought my 3 Natural Colored Romneys from last fall. I spun up some worsted yarn from one of those fleeces I had overdyed with blue wilton paste dye and will post a picture as soon as it is finished.