Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Today I finished spinning the last of Punkin's yarn. If I'd only known 18 years ago that in the year 2011 I'd have a spinning wheel, know basically how to use it, known how much I'd love his down type fleece... I'd have never given away those fleeces every year. I'm so glad I saved his last shearing.

Punkin was a funny sheep. As they all are. My friend Julie took this picture of him one summer when she was so kindly sheep sitting for me while I took off on a 10 week tour around the western United States. When I got home, I ran out to see him and...he snubbed me.

For about 20 minutes he wouldn't even look at me. At first Julie and I kind of laughed about it, but then I got worried he truly had forgotten me. Sheep don't forget.

When he decided I'd suffered enough, he sauntered over and all was forgiven.

Sound like anyone else we know? Maybe a couple someones?

I have 3 pounds and about 2225 yards of mostly light worsted weight yarn with a few heavier skeins and a few lighter. Taking over a year and a half to spin it all took its toll in consistency. Now to decide what to do with it. An heirloom sweater? A snuggly warm throw?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Stills - The Color Green

The challenge this week is the color green.

You gotta look for it...

Like Weaslie...

There's green under all that snow, so don't lose hope :-).

For more Green Sunday Stills...

For any Green and Gold fans...Go Pack Go!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

On The 657th Day Of Christmas

Christmas should be everyday anyway. I signed up for a spinning workshop a few years ago and was instructed to bring either a contrasting spinning apron or light and dark colored pillow cases. I had to bring pillow cases. We used the color contrasts to help see what we were doing. It really did make a difference. I love painting people's sheep and thought maybe I would try to make and paint some actual spinning aprons for a few friends for Christmas. This one went to my friend Robin. She of course got Boudreaux, Petunia, Woolliam, Buddy, Rebecca Boone and Marcel. I completely stumped her with the gray lamb though. "Is this a new sheep you are planning to get this year?" "Uh, no. I didn't want Marcel to be lonely over there by himself." Painted sheep have feelings too! By the way, Marcel got 'tutered the other day, so he's coming home soon. I think he's had a pretty good time over at Tanglewood Farm ;-).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Now That's What I'M Talkin' About!

I was out at the barn late last night. The snow was (finally) gusting down and around and from a distance, what was sticking to the tops of the cut outs gave the sheep a fuzzy, real look. Back to the house for the camera.

I had fun playing around with different exposure times - slower allowed the snow to blur...

Faster captured some actual flakes.

I used a tripod and positioned my body to shield the camera from the snow as much as possible. I love the way it captured the ground snow.

Snow belly deep to a corgi - well, that's not actually saying much.

I changed the microphone to the lowest setting without completely turning it off. The wind noise is still significant and not at all the neat sound of swirling snow in real life. Rats. But the video is neat...I think.

I'm sure most people would rather be watching grass grow ;-).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Big Day

Honestly, I had my doubts. I'll never forget the animal control officers opening the back of their truck to show me the most horrifying sheep I'd ever seen. She was laying on her side so covered in burrs that for a couple seconds I thought she was a hair sheep...with mange. The smell was overwhelming. Her wounds were beyond "significant". I was in over my head.

As soon as we dragged her from their truck into the back of my car - using a sheet because there was nowhere to get ahold of her, jostling her, causing her to cry out in pain - and I was headed down the road, I called Saint Tim, trying unsuccessfully to hold back my tears. "I've gotten myself into a horrible situation. This is unbelievable. I'm probably just going to have this poor thing put down. I can't believe she's still even alive in the first place."

I remember Dr. Baron opening the back of the car, taking one look and telling me and the tech that had come out to assist to stand shielding her so no one in the parking lot could see in. This was a PR nightmare. On several levels. Only because Renny had made it this far, fought so long, we decided to give her a chance. Any other sheep we'd have put down. Any other sheep wouldn't have made it this far anyway.

I remember my friend Kathy coming out to help me get her out of the car when we got home. We got her out of the car, she scrambled to her feet and we herded her into a stall. I couldn't believe she was standing up. I threw her some hay and she immediately started eating. I remember saying "Well, at least she's up and she's eating. I figure anything that's still eating has a chance."

I remember being able to stick an entire betadyne scrub sponge inside the hole in her leg. I remember monitoring the heat in that leg - too hot, infection; too cold, it had died and needed to be amputated. I remember Louann smelling the wounds each time she came out to monitor the amount and type of infection she was fighting. I remember hearing from too many people how they'd faced similar situations and never had one live through it.

I wish now that I'd taken pictures of how bad everything looked in the beginning. I had been encouraged to do so, but just. couldn't. do. it. I stumbled across this picture the other day. It was about halfway through and I had printed it out to take over to the clinic to show the vets how great everything was looking, how far she'd come. Everyone was amazed.

Here is a picture I took last week.

The picture I could've taken this morning would show no scabs. Nothing but some very minor scarring on the right hip and a patch of hairless skin on the bad leg, smaller than the size of a dime. Everything is healed. Even, as far as I can tell, Renny's mind. She shows no signs of trauma. None. She stills watches out for Iris, who quickly skirts around her at times trying to "herd" her, but she's more likely to direct her attention to fighting Weaslie for ewe nuggets.

I was worried that she'd never learn to trust or even like me - because of all the painful scrubbing, shots, oral meds - but recently got her eating ewe nuggets first from a scoop I was holding and then from my hand. Watching her bound across the yard when she thought I had food? I could settle for that. However, Hank startled her one day last week and she came running to me for protection. That made my day.

I'm not sure why Renny was so tough. Why she held on for so long. Did she just have faith that her life was going to get better? Was she just putting one foot in front of the other? Regardless, I believe there's a lesson there for us all. We can take from her what we need.

And truly believe in guardian angels.

Renny, Ewenice, Saint Tim and I would like to send out a huge thank you to everyone for your caring kindness and support and especially your prayers. This truly has been a miracle.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Something To Make You Smile

Some days Ewenice and Renny want to just hang out in the yard. Some days they tell me they want to go out with everyone else. I'm sure part of the decision comes from who looks like they have the best food choices ;-).

I was ready to post some pretty weekend Ewenice in the yard pictures (she could support her own whole calendar I think) but as I was headed to the house for lunch I saw this.

Today was a 'let's go out' day. I'd opened the back paddock up for everyone yesterday and when I'd checked on Renny and Ewenice earlier I found they had chosen to stay up in the big stall while everyone else headed out back. I guess when they were good and ready they ventured out.

Hank snarfled around the big pond until he heard Iris barking out front and then it was back to work. You might be able to see him on the look out if you biggify.

Renny gets along pretty well with everyone, but her best friend will always be Miss Ewenice.

Here's a non-zoom shot to put things in perspective. It's always curious to me how compressed everything looks when I zoom in. You'll have to biggify to see the sheep. I am proud of Renny going out that far.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Still - Macro

I don't normally like doctoring photos, but this particular shot begged to be converted to black and white. One of the Photoshop options was "newspaper" and I love how it washed out the white yarn and upped the contrast. Hooks on Kromski spinning wheel.

A friend's Lincoln longwool fleece.

There's a name for this part and I am drawing a complete blank - Jensen wheel.

Punkin yarn on the Jensen wheel.

On the steps out front - Doone Valley Thyme in melting snow. A nice little hint of green.

For more Sunday Stills...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Night Visitor

We pulled into the driveway last night and found this cute little guy (girl?) sitting on our front gate.

He/she flew into a small tree next to the garage and stayed just long enough for me to run in and grab the camera.

I'm not cute. I'm fierce!

Look at that cute tummy and how his/her head turns around.

I am NOT cute! I'm ferocious! I do have beautiful eyes though, I'll give you that. All the better to see all the mice your stupid cats aren't catching sleeping in those heated beds on the porch.

Oh good GRIEF. Is this some sort of nut house? Turn the lights off. I am trying to work out here.

I'm not sure if this little screech owl was out here by the house because the snow was helping him hunt or because the snow was keeping him from being able to hunt and he was hungry. Either way, we were darn excited to see him/her up close.

Tiny bit of camera info - I bumped the ISO to 3200 and used the flash to take these pictures in the complete dark. Not sure if that was what I was supposed to do (real photographers jump in anytime please!), but that's all I could think of quickly and I'm thrilled I got what I did. The last shot, with the car headlights still on, I need to think on some. I kind of like how the wreath on the garage shows though...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

White Balance

Technically, this is slightly more about metering than white balance, but since it involves white yarn, it's snowing out (yea :-) and I lost my balance walking back from the barn this morning (but luckily didn't break one of my favorite and probably irreplaceable coffee cups), we'll call this post "White Balance".

I had a couple singles on bobbins at the wool house that had been sitting there for months. Yes, months (hanging my head in shame :-/). I finally wound them off into center pull balls and plied them. Of course, because they'd sat for so long, I needed to revive the yarn's original twist and my favorite way to do this is to bring them to the house and hold them over a steaming kettle. Watching wool dance in steam is My Favorite Thing To Do.

The dark brown and silver yarns were sitting on the kitchen counter together and I kept walking past them, petting them, marveling over the difference not only in the color, but texture as well between the soft, fluffy brown and the fuzzy, coarser silver.

"I should take a picture of that." (She's feeling a little better ;-)

This is not what they look like in real life.

I had added in a couple skeins I'd spun from my neighbor's Clun Forest sheep. Bright white Clun Forest. Not tan. Yuck. What was wrong?

1. I'd forgotten to re-set the white balance on my camera to "auto" instead of "cloudy". I frequently do that and if there was ever a resolution that needed to be made, it would be "Re-set the camera after Each Use". Saint Tim would vote for "Shut the Gate" but that's a story for another day.

2. I also could have picked a spot with better lighting.

Much better. Isn't it neat, the difference in the three yarns? Well, yeah, if the yarn closest to me wasn't so out of focus it would be easier to see. Time for a better prop.

This is a little dark, but the three colors (light, medium, dark) together bring up something fun to experiment with - metering.

My photography, much like my spinning, probably comes closest to being described as the "redneck method". I'm okay with that - not that I'm not always trying to learn more - but I'm perfectly happy being the person who inspires either:

1. If she can do it, anyone can do it.

2. Whatever you do, don't do it like she does.

Someone's learning something either way ;-).

Bottom line, remember I have No Training and my very best advice for you is Read Your Owner's Manual. However, I've heard friends complain about how hard it is to take pictures of yarn and I agree.

Here is one (of many) simple things to try and I'm not going to get into all the technical stuff. If you have to use the word "stuff" to explain something technical, you probably shouldn't be trying to explain it anyway. There are many ways to affect this, but if you don't want to read your owner's manual and your pictures are coming out too light or too dark, here is something you can try. But read that camera manual anyway!

For the three "metering" shots, I have my camera set to completely automatic. The camera is doing all the thinking for me. Often the best idea.

Yikes! What happened here?

In 25 words or less, I focused the camera on the dark yarn. The camera tried to compensate for the darkness and washed out the white.

Here I focused on the white yarn and it compensated by making everything else too dark.

Here I was able to conveniently split the difference, focus on the gray yarn and while it's still a bit too dark, everything is pretty well balanced.

So what if you aren't taking pictures of white, gray and black yarn? Say I'm taking a picture of Iris, our border collie, or black faced Renny. If the pictures are coming out too dark or too light, I'll quickly move my focus area around a little and let the camera pick up different amounts of dark and light. Same for taking a picture of a light gray felted sheep out in the dark green grass. Eli, Comby and Claire Bear sitting together on the porch railing? Try focusing on each cat separately and see how your pictures change.

There is also probably a setting on your camera (even the small point and shoots) to "manually" change how your camera is looking at the world...but you gotta read your owner's manual ;-).

And remember to re-set it when you are finished.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crazy Sheeplady?

Or Crazysheep Lady?

I'm voting for lady with crazy sheep.


That's Joshua. I'm not sure how the hay got stuck on top of his nose like a dog doing a biscuit trick. These pictures are from the last snow, a couple weeks ago. If I'm too sick to take pictures, you know I'm sick. Ugh.


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