Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Thousand Words

The forecast of rain for the upcoming few days prompted me to grab the camera for some Lamb Camp pictures while the sun was still shining yesterday afternoon. As I walked up the hill I saw a group of lambs take off chasing a couple of the peacocks. This kerfuffle would have been funnier in video, but I grabbed what I could. The ewe at the end was an extra gift :-D.

Love the look on the big lamb's face!

And the little lamb, too.

"Whoa!  Did you see that?!?"

"Yeah, that was crazy!"

And here comes mom.  Or at least one of the neighborhood moms.  Uh oh.

"Sorry, Mr. Peacock.  I'll take care of this from here."

"Alright you kids.  Don't make me have to use this!"

You'll probably have to biggify to see the stick she carried up in her mouth.  Isn't that a riot? Another one of those good mommas at The Training Center, Cynthiana, Kentucky

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesdays Are For Knitting?

I spent some time off and on today working on putting together a Yarn Along post.  I wound yarn into balls for my next project, took some pictures, tried to figure out what I wanted to post, took some more pictures...and now that I'm sitting down, at the last minute of course, to put a post together I find that there is no more Yarn Along :-(.

I completely understand.  Blogging is a lot of work.  Families are a lot of work.  I can't imagine trying to do both.  Well, I sort of can imagine.  There are times when it might be almost a week before I can get a new post put up.  Having to do one on a schedule...well, we know where that would end up - at the last minute of course...if at all.

I am going to try to keep on a Wednesday "accountability" schedule.  Remember a couple months ago when I mentioned "Make Yarn, Use Yarn"?  I think that will be the theme.  Keep after me!

One last shawl picture.  I took it off the blocking boards, worrying that it would all spring back to jumble...and it, of course, did not and I love it even more than I did before.  Actually, there may be more pictures at some point.  I have an idea for a fun "photo shoot" with Liddy.

And moving on to my next project.  This yarn doesn't really look familiar, but it is.  It's the Renny yarn.  I've worked a little on this off and on for about a month or so.  Renny and I needed to do something to get our groove back.  

We made a few color changes and I took pictures all along the way and maybe I'll pull them out and share at some point.  I've also switched patterns to something I think will fit the yarn (and me) better. I'll talk more about that later as well.  Always learning! 

And if you've made it this far and are thinking "yeesh, I wish she'd stop talking about knitting and yarn and just post some more lamb pictures!"  Here you go :-). 

A Liddy story and more Lamb Camp tomorrow!

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Finish

I made it in to "Nome" about 40 minutes before the Red Lantern. Saturday was an epic knitting day and I'm glad everything worked out so that it could be an epic knitting day. I just knew the sheep shearer was going to call and say he was on his way...

I guess technically it's not really, really finished until the ends are woven in, but I purposely didn't weave my ends in.  Take a look at the really, really wavy patterning and the wonky ends.  If that didn't block out nicely.....well, I was prepared to frog the whole thing and make something else. I'd been psyching myself up (or maybe out) the entire race.

By the time I got into the Wool House and folded it up, I was sort of willing to accept the wavy patterning.  Even not flat, it's still pretty.

The two ends though?  Ugh.  That just won't do and I couldn't imagine...and if it wouldn't...I was already trying to think up a different way to re-work the ends.  

Block on with confidence.  It's wool.  Give it a chance.  Yeesh, lady!  And into the washing machine it went.  

I soak large items in the washing machine with moderately warm/hot water and a little Mrs. Meyer's laundry soap.  I then carefully spin it out, just like washing fleeces, pull it out, refill washer with plain water, resoak and spin, pull out, refill with warm water and a little Mrs. Meyer's fabric softener (My name is thecrazysheeplady and I have an addiction to MM lavender ;-), soak for a couple minutes and spin.

At this point I had to locate my blocking pins.  That I hadn't used since...when?  When was the last time I actually finished a project?  Oh yeah, the Baaxter blanket from last Iknitarod.  Yeesh... Finally found them in the office (?) and moved on to blocking.

Would it block out to my satisfaction?

Yeah, I guess I'll be weaving those ends in ;-).  Whew!!!  

Team Shot

And that wonky end?  I have no idea how it blocked out straight, but it did.  And easily.  I'm surprised I have any friends left after so much whining about it :-o.

The reason I was going to be so willing to rip it all out and make something else was the yarn.  I love this yarn.  I love how it looks, feels, knits, shows patterning.  It may be my favorite yarn I've ever spun and knit with, all because of a little hint of Cotswold blended in.  

There wasn't anything wrong with the straight Liddy yarn, but for this particular project, I needed to think outside the box.  Or at least outside my head.  It's important to put all the pieces to the puzzle together correctly.  Knowing how different fibers work, how they might work together, is all part of the fun.

I tried to pick some pictures that look how the yarn feels.  Can you see that little hint of fuzziness (technically called halo)?  Can you see a tiny hint of shine (technically called luster)?  I will do this blend again.

In fact, I think I'm going to try a little of Bullwinkle and Levi this spring.  Putting dark gray and white together might be too weird...but it might be pretty...  Heads up - don't answer your phone if you see it's me calling ;-D.

I love how this picture looks so much like drifting snow.  Or an icy river.  This project, Stories from Snoqualmie Valley, was the perfect Iknitarod challenge.  While I'd liked to have had more time to watch the race in real time or chat with the Ravelry group, I liked the "checkpoints", the "landscape" ,the section of endless "miles of snow".  It felt like I was right there.

I'd also planned to tell some stories of my own.  Or Liddy's, I should say.  Even Buddy has some stories.  That he's happy to YELL ALL THE TIME ;-D.  Are you tired of hearing about all this or would you like to read a couple stories?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Meanwhile, Back At Lamb Camp...

After two nights in the teens, brutal cold wind and a little snow, the sun came out yesterday warming everyone back up...until today.  If you aren't enjoying this lovely rain and sleet, here is a picture to warm you back up.  Sit down at the bottom of the hill, lean back and enjoy the rays and good company :-).

We are in the final hours of the Iknitarod.  I'm not finished, but I'm not giving up.  Mushing on!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Yarn Along - Iknitarod Trail Magic

Even though the top Iditarod finishers have made it to Nome, there are still plenty of teams out on the trail and until that last musher finishes and they extinguish the Red Lantern, the Iknitarod mushes on!

And even though the forecast at the beginning of the race showed no hope for snow here this year, once again I was gifted with a tiny bit.  Just enough for a few pictures...before my fingers froze off. More snow and 30 degrees would have been more fun than a dusting at 16, but I'll take any snow at any temperature...if I have to.

In case you saw the Instagram picture from last night and were excited to see me finally off the "river" and into the "interior", don't be too disappointed (or surprised) to find that I've gone back to that checkpoint, swapped out for different runners (needles ;-) and have started over.  Sigh...

The section in the back was the original.  The swatch in the front is one needle size larger.  I decided the larger needle (looser) was better, so took out all the work from last night.  It took most of the morning to make decisions and get restarted and then the afternoon got crazy and I've not knit a stitch since.  I'm headed out to do evening chores and hoping to hit it hard tonight.  

My knitting mascots have been a lot of fun this year :-).

Mushing on and trying to think positive!

Just realized this was Wednesday aka Yarn Along day.  Hope it doesn't mess anything up that I changed the title...

Joining in with Ginny...  Oh, I wasn't able to read or even listen to anything while I knit the cable and lace, but now that I'm on to the plain middle I can listen to podcasts...  My favorite right now is the Iditapod :-).

Monday, March 13, 2017

No Respect

"No respect, I tells ya!  I am getting no respect for my position on this Iknitarod team.  If it weren't for my pristine, shiny white curls, she wouldn't be liking the yarn so well.  I can promise you that! And has she told any stories about me?  Didn't think so!  No respect..."

Oh Buddy, you are one of the most important sheep on the farm!  And your stories are so good that I don't want to try to tell them when I'm tired, like right now.  And you are right, even though it's hard to believe, looking at you, your pretty white curls really did make the yarn super nice.  Just hang in there for a little while longer.

I finally made it off the river (the cable and lace portion).  Too tired to chance doing the next part wrong, so I'm going to "take an eight".

Sunday, March 12, 2017

No Matter How You Look At It

My original concern that the row gauge was off and it was getting too long...who the heck knows... I'm headed for the full 12 repeats and back to being a little bit nervous about getting it done before the Red Lantern.  Will someone please stop me from taking on too big a challenge next year?!?

These pictures are a bit confusing.  The part I'm working on now is actually going to curve around the bottom of the shawl.  I just have it laid out here like this to make sure (in my math challenged brain) that the shawl is going to be a little bit bigger than the first one.  There are also variables like the gray shawl has been blocked and the white one not...just to further confuse things.  

Try not to think about it too much.  I'll go back to posting sheep and Hank pictures tomorrow ;-D.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Interview From The Trail

One of the best parts of the Iditarod Insider is watching all the musher interviews.  20 thought it would be fun to do an interview from the Iknitarod Trail.  He promised I wouldn't have to actually be on camera,so I agreed to answer a few questions.  

20:  So how's the race going so far?

TCSL:  It's going pretty well.  I'm not as far along as I thought I'd be at this point, but we're doing okay.  The weather's been really nice. 

20:  Are you liking your project?

TCSL:  Yeah, I am actually!  Well, I assumed I'd like it before I started or I wouldn't have started it,  you know, but yeah.  I'm really liking the yarn, too, so that's especially fun.

20:  Any surprises on the trail?

TCSL:  Well, not really a surprise at this point, but I've had some gauge issues.  Not sure what's going on with that, but it's plagued me for several projects lately, so in anticipation of that I picked a project where that wouldn't be incredibly important.  Definitely something to work on for next year's race, but at this point I'm running the course I'm on and trying to not worry too much.  There will be some adjustments to make later on once I've made it up the coastline, but I've got a good team.  We'll figure it out.

20:  Do you think Liddy knows what you are doing?

TCSL:  Liddy is an interesting sheep.  I think she knows more about what's going on all the time than anyone would believe and probably knows more about what's going on than a lot of sheep.  All sheep are smarter than people give them credit for, but Liddy is exceptionally smart.  She has been since she was a tiny lamb.

20:  I see you are wearing your Maisie sweater.  Can you tell us a little bit about why you like to do these individual projects?

TCSL:  Well, I think it's neat to raise a lamb, or any sheep really, and watch their wool grow and then when they are sheared, use that wool to make something useful and enjoyable.  And it can also be sort of memorial to those special friends.  Like the Ford sweater you are wearing.  

20:  Who's your favorite sweater?

TCSL:  I don't have a favorite.  I have some I wear more than others, but I wouldn't call them favorites.  I like pullovers more than cardigans, so for example, my Elizabeth sweater doesn't get worn as much as say, Maisie or B. Willard.  

20:  What is your favorite part of the Iditarod and Iknitarod?

TCSL:  You know, I really like a lot of it, both races.  I think part of why I really like following along with the Iditarod back stories, like watching the musher interviews as they are getting their dogs settled in for a rest, is because I take care of animals here.  So while I don't know exactly how hard it is to take care of that many dogs in subfreezing conditions, I do know what it's like to take care of animals.  How they are partners on my team and not just for the two weeks of the race, but all year, just like the sled dogs.  I walk up to check on everyone at night or set out some fresh straw in the barn and I think, you know, there is probably a musher in Alaska doing the very same thing right now.

The Iknitarod, again, I like a lot about that, too.  The group on Ravelry is really fun.  Lots of support and encouragement for the knitting, but also updates on what's going on with the race that I can't keep up with during the day, answering questions...    Like yesterday.  I had to work the lamb barn and someone was texting me about who was coming through the checkpoint they were watching.  I feel like I've missed a lot of the coverage so far and that really helped.

I had hoped I'd picked an easier project this year so I wouldn't have to push so hard to get it finished and could enjoy more of the coverage and watching the live feed as mushers come in or even just participate in the online chats.  That hasn't really worked out so far, but I'm hoping between maybe being able to eliminate a pattern repeat or maybe even two that I'm going to feel a little less stressed.  Once I get off the coast (the lace and cable border) and into the interior, as long as my body holds up, that's a lot of nearly mindless mushing so I can probably do that while I watch and catch up on the podcasts.  The podcasts are really good.  In the meantime, I'm doing the best I can and when I'm tired or sore or having to rethink my's sort of like taking care of the dogs.  I get a tiny feel of what it is like to take on that long race.

20:  So how is your body holding up?

TCSL:  Could be worse.  I know that.  Could be a lot better, too.  My back and my right shoulder is a bit achy and my right hand, especially my thumb, is kinda sorer than I'd like.  Heck, I'd like to not be sore at all, but the only thing that's sort of worrying me is my right elbow.  Feels okay right now, but it hurt some last night.  Taking the morning off to do chores and this interview gives everything a little break.  I hope.

You know, back to the actual race, it sort of goes without saying that beauty of Alaska just can't be beat.  It just so incredibly beautiful that I usually start crying when I watch the Run Dog Run updates where they take a few minutes to show the surroundings, the teams, the dogs close up, aerial footage of teams, the sun setting...add some slow motion shots and cue some beautiful music and you better get me a box of tissues.

20:  What you'd better get is back to knitting!  It's been fun chatting though.  I may have some more questions for you further down the trail.

TCSL:  Okay.  Yeah, I'd better keep moving.  

*     *      *      *      *

If you have any questions you'd like 20 to ask, leave them in the comments.  It's been fun posting a blog during the day before my brain is completely shot and my eyes crossed.  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Solar Heat Lamp

Also known as sun shining through a window :-).  It's really not that dark in the barn.  I had the camera just meter off the sunbeam lamb so the rest is just underexposed.  I took some with a more balanced meter, but like this one the best.

Have made it into the #6 check point and am stopping for the night.  The pattern calls for 6 more repeats for the cable and lace edge.  My row gauge (the height of the stitches) is off though so I may not want to do all twelve.  I guess it won't break my heart if I have to skip one or two ;-).

I tried to knit in the lambing barn this afternoon, but kept getting too distracted by So Much Cuteness and had to go to timeout in the car so I could focus...a little better.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Yarn Along - The Iknitarod Is Underway

Gotta love an Amelia and Kate photobomb :-).

So I'm one ball into the Stories From Snoqualmie Valley/Equinox Farm shawl.  At this point I'm almost to the end of the fourth repeat.  I thought about trying to do the math to see if that seems about right, but that's a whole 'nother hole to drop into, so I'm just going to "knit on with confidence".

Here's an interesting technique you can use with wool yarn.  Most knitters are familiar with the "spit splice", but for anyone following along that doesn't know what that is, it's an invisible way to join two pieces of (wool) yarn together.  

You can do this on any project, but it's most handy for lace (knitting with holes in it) where it would be hard to weave in (secure and hide) the loose ends of the two strands.  

Disclaimer:  This is the redneck method that I use.  There is probably a more correct way to do this ;-).

I like to untwist the ends of both yarns, but I don't think you have to do that.  One of these ends has a thick spot due to inconsistent spinning.  Normally I'd move up the strand to find a thinner spot, but I got carried away by picture taking...

To try to keep the doubled/joined yarn pretty similar to the individual yarns I just pulled that thick fuzzy end off.  Now, instead of four loose ends there are only three.  That will be fine.

Next you take the two ends and stick them in your mouth to soak them with...spit.  Bet you didn't think you'd be reading that today, eh?  ;-D

You then roll the spitty spot back and forth between your hands and it felts together and you are ready to knit on.  Wool rocks :-).

Some scenes from the trail:

I originally set up on the Grahaminator, but it was pretty breezy so I moved down to the yard.

Sitting under one of me and Liddy's favorite knitting trees (the grammar here is killing me - my and Liddy's?).  I wish she was sitting there all curled up next to me, chewing on my needles.  I could see her out in the field though.  The next best thing.  Or, as Farside posted in comments, why not let her out in the yard with me?  Duh...  

I think it's important to get babies out on the grass as much as possible so they have as normal a life as they can ;-).

I am 8 rows shy of finishing two repeats today.  I am super tired and bleary, but I think I can do it. I'm going to do the night check and walk the dogs and hopefully that will wake me up a little.  It's a mental game at this point.  Those eight rows could wait until morning...but I'll feel better knowing I did it and it feels a little like the real Iditarod.

I listened to a good book while I was spinning last week, but I can't think of the title right now.  

If you are looking for interesting information and updates about the Iditarod, Alaskan Public Radio has a podcast called Iditapod and it's really good.  I'll try to come back in the morning and insert a link. I tried to find a computer link to the Iditapod, but am challenged.  I found it going to podcasts on my iPhone...

Yaaaaaawn :-o  Still yawning.  I did finish the 8 rows...and it feels like it :-o.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Like My Birthday, Christmas And Thanksgiving!

Not only did I have Lamb Camp and the Iknitarod/Iditarod today, it was also National Pancake Day!

These aren't just any pancakes.  They are sourdough pancakes :-D.  The maple syrup from Canada is in honor of one of our favorite mushers, Michelle Phillips. There is a long/funny/interesting story about the sourdough, but I'll save that for another day.  

The story I want to share today is Liddy's adoption story...for anyone who doesn't know...or would like to hear it again.  Liddy was born at Final Frontier Farm, one of the farms I help out in the spring. She was tiny, with a much bigger sister, and her momma didn't want her.

Kathy tried to graft her onto two other ewes over the first week of her life, but neither of them wanted her either.  She was so small that I worried about sending her over to the "lamb bar" but I also worried that at her advanced age of 8 days that it was too late to bond her with me if I took her home.

I had nothing to worry about.  What Liddy wanted more than anything in the world was a mom. She's been my little girl ever since :-).

Here we are heading home.

She fell asleep on the way and I didn't want to wake her up so we sat in the driveway for almost an hour.  There is just nothing sweeter than a baby lamb sleeping on your lap :-).

I'd forgotten about her sleeping in bed with us.  Actually, I'd forgotten several things about baby Liddy, like the extra spots on her back and her gray neck.  It's fun to go back and look at earlier posts.

Here are a few of my favorites:

On the Iknitarod front, I just checked into the end of the third repeat.  I'd really hoped I'd be at, say, the fifth repeat by today.  I'm getting a little nervous about that.  I have 12 repeats to complete before I move on to the body of the shawl.  Tomorrow is looking a little quieter, so I'm hoping to pull of two full repeats and make up a little ground.

On the Lamb Camp front, there is another new very special lambie at the Training Center.  I took some pictures today, but haven't pulled them off the camera yet.  I did grab some iPhone shots of the Christmas Lamb Camp lambs who are now old enough to be practicing for their driver's licenses :-o.

Recognize that white faced lamb?  It's Moptop!  Holy.  Moly.  

Okay, night check and headed to bed.


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