Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pure Gold

Renny, Marcel, Mia, Lila, Blizzard and Hank.

The Three Amigos

I've had several questions about how the other horses are handling their loss of Aria.

They waited with her that evening until we got home. Once we got over to her, they all, side by side, walked down the hill towards the creek. Gato stopped and turned back to look at me. He might have just been wondering if I was going to bring out some cookies, but in my heart I think he knew something was wrong and was concerned. I was obviously upset. He's that kind of horse.

Aria was the queen of the field. If you wanted to catch all the horses, all you had to do was catch Aria. Those boys would follow her to the ends of the earth. They weren't always nice to her, but each was sure he couldn't live without her. She preferred to be with them as well...not that she didn't enjoy a day off here and there ;-).

Now there is no one to fight over, no one to boss around. I keep finding them gathered around the automatic waterer. In this heat, my first thought is always "something's wrong with the water" and I run out to check. They are just standing there sloshing the water around. I think they don't have anything better to do anymore. And they are inseparable.

We got a little rain yesterday late afternoon. Even though there are plenty of folks out there way hotter and a whole lot dryer, I still breathed a big sigh of relief and sat down on the porch (with the ever present, loveable Betsy on my lap :-) to watch.

I grabbed the camera in hopes of getting some cool shots of water droplets bouncing on the railing, but it didn't rain quite long enough.

But I enjoyed every drop.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Stairway To Heaven

Or broken elevator falling to hell.

We haven't had any wind, pouring rain...lately. We're, um, pretty sure this came down with the weight of a cat on it.

This is was Eli's route to his office. Pretty much Eli's only route to his office.

While it doesn't really look that challenging, if your tree climbing skills are 'not so grate akshully'...

"No comment."

What was that, Eli?

"No comment."


"I said NO COMMENT!"

Hee hee hee

I really shouldn't laugh. This is a traumatic development in Eli's life. No more access to his "office"...unless Saint Tim builds him a new stairway. Let's vote on it! Go to the poll in the upper right and voice your opinion :-).

Here's someone who's always happy to voice her opinion. Presenting Betsy. The name comes from an old children's book, Understood Betsy.

This might be the best cat ever. We couldn't have gone out and spent a million dollars on a nicer cat. And she's a three year old (they think by looking at her teeth) throw away kitty rescued from the local shelter. Always look there first! There are treasures to be found.

Now don't forget to vote. Help Eli get a new stairway...or learn to climb a tree like a real cat.

hee hee hee hee hee

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Now That Is Some Good Help

Thank you for all the kind words, thoughts, prayers and hugs. Aria was a nice mare. One of the good ones. I'd seen her out grazing just a couple hours before. We went to dinner, came home and she was gone. While I'd liked to have said goodbye, I'm relieved it was fast and it didn't appear that she'd suffered. She knew how I felt about her. She was buried on the farm.

Moving on from sad to creepy, it looks like I have some good help in the wool house. This small house spider has caught a moth for me. Luckily it's just a common 'fly to the light while you're burning the midnight oil trying to finish up the Tour de Fleece' moth and not a wool moth, but I figure it's good training nonetheless ;-). She and her sisters can stay.

I tend to leave spiders alone anyway. Every now and then I make a mad sweep through the house if company's coming, but for the most part, if something's not bothering me, I leave it be. Beside, with such a rich history of spinning and weaving, I figure I can use all the help and inspiration I can get.

I looked to see if there was a good link telling the story of Spider Woman (not the comic book version ;-) and found too many to list. I encourage you to look them up. I did find one interesting tidbit to share. In case you have trouble remembering which way to turn your spindle...

Spider Man, Spider Woman and Weaving (Wikipedia)

Near Tó Ałnáosdlį́į́, Crossing of the Waters, lived Spider Man and Spider Woman. They knew how to weave the fibers of cotton and hemp and other plants. First Woman asked Spider Man and Spider Woman to teach people how to weave the fibers of plants so they would not have to depend on animal skins for clothing.[6] Cotton seeds were planted, and the cotton was gathered. Spider Man taught the people to shape a little wheel, 3 or 4 inches in diameter, and put a slender stick through it to spin the cotton. First Woman said, "You must spin towards your person, not away, as you wish to have the beautiful goods come to you. If you spin away from you, the goods will depart from you."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Aria Swift Ella

1982 or 83 - July 24, 2011

The 2011 Tour de Fleece

Wearing yellow. I successfully completed all my challenges :-).

I concentrated my Tour this year on learning new things. Not sure why I need the Tour to do that, but at least for almost a month I got some stuff done.

Bluebell - Team Footloose.

Emerin - Team Jacob Junkies - Navajo plied.

Miss Ewenice - Team Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival - learn to use the Turkish Spindle.

B. Willard - Team Hopelessly Over Committed - 1100 yards long draw for bulky, soft yarn to knit a B. Warm wearing B. Willard barn sweater.

Elizabeth - Team Russian Underpants - learn to use the Great Wheel.

Grandma - Team My Favorite Sheep - Karakul.

Same time, same place next year!

Friday, July 22, 2011


I made it over the mountain!

My Team Russian Underpants mountain stage challenge was to learn to spin on my antique Great Wheel.

It's not perfect, but I made yarn :-). Those are pictures of Punkin by the way.

I ended up switching out my original fiber selection with some of Elizabeth, our now oldest Jacob ewe and the one formally known as "the smartest sheep in the world". Now known as the most persistent sheep in the world. Or the most annoying. The loudest mouthed sheep...

I figured a strong dose of persistence might be required today plus Jacob spins so easy I didn't think that would hurt either. Actually this all started because I can't remember where I stashed the original selection ;-).

So I couldn't really find much on exactly how to wind a quill (the paper bobbin) so I played around and got this configuration. It seemed to work, but might not be right. Jump in with any suggestions/critiques. Likewise on the winding the yarn. I think I may be doing that not so great as well. Regardless, we made yarn today.

I decided to set the bobbins (?) on the wheel as a sort of trophy for her, having survived my hack spinning and being happy to be used again. As I walked out of the room, I glanced back. I'm pretty sure she was smiling.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

48 Inches Of Yarn

My original challenge set for Team Hopelessly Over Committed was to spin 10 oz of B. Willard. I want to make a thick, soft, comfy barn sweater. I wanted to spin the yarn using a woolen or near woolen draw and I felt pretty confident after one of my classes at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair and reading Paula Simmons Spinning for Softness and Speed.

It took me just a couple afternoons to spin the entire 2 3/4 pounds.

The bobbins on the miniSpinner hold a huge amount of yarn. I had to use a jumbo ball winder to wind off these balls of singles. That's four feet (48" loom) of yarn. If I complete my "mountain" challenge day project of spinning on the Great Wheel tomorrow, I'll start plying.

Poor Lila and her weird pillow. Look at her smooshed up lips. I think she's drooling ;-). With the fans running all out (a comforting sound), I can sneak up on her with the camera, crunching gravel with every step. I love to catch her sleeping like this.

We are miserably hot here, but not as bad as some places. The awful humidity we are slugging through came from the good rains we've had, keeping the grass green. I'll not complain. This kind of heat and crunchy brown grass? No one wants to go there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ta Da!

Cutting a completed project off your loom. Priceless.

Spreading it out somewhere for the first time. Priceless.

Yes, there is a slightly different color stripe in there. Another "at least you can be an example to others" moment. Always label your yarn. While I can't imagine I had any other white, soft down type wool with that much VM in it, not only does it not exactly match in color, but also didn't full quite the same. Not so priceless.

Fulling is the process that finishes your material. Turns it into actual "cloth". Just off the loom you could wiggle the threads around and poke your finger through a hole. Obviously now, after washing in hot water with my favorite Mrs. Meyer's lavender laundry soap and letting the machine agitate it for 2 minutes, checking it every 30 seconds, it's a fuzzy, cozy, very soft blanket. Yay Punkin :-D.

Now most folks would probably not set their heirloom handspun, handwoven, took 8 years to go from sheep to shawl project out in their barn to dry. But honestly, the barn is usually cleaner than the house ;-). And it's bigger.

Stella and I stretched, smoothed, pinned, cut fringe and enjoyed the occasional breeze blowing through and complained when it quit. Or maybe I was the one mostly complaining. And it might have been more like whining. I was so happy with the end result though that I didn't really mind. Much.

And we had some very good help. Still no name cat is doing great. Looks like she's around 3 or 4 years old. Just a wonderful little kitty with such a sweet personality. Wish I knew her "story".

I thought about staging a picture in front of the lit fireplace with a glass of hot Irish whiskey, but just couldn't bring myself to do it. When it's too hot for me to be a smart ***, you know it's hot.

For anyone not following our very fun (I think it's the most fun group on there ;-) Team My Favorite Sheep Tour de Fleece group, one of the members, a spinner from Ireland, posted a picture of her spinning for the day in front of a lit coal fire...complaining about how cold it was over there.

We promptly kicked her out.

It wasn't the first time.

Well, not really, but now that I think of it, she hasn't posted any pictures of sheep grazing around the countryside lately... ;-)

So, to wrap (hehe) things up, the last few days of the Tour are going to be mighty busy. I've got the last of my Turkish spindle spinning to do (we won't talk about that), the Great Wheel challenge day (22nd) spinning and a big bag of B. Willard to spin.


Technical notes/details:

  • Finished throw weighs a little less than two pounds.
  • Just off the loom measured 43" across and 6'10" long.
  • After fulling, 39" wide and 6'1" long.
  • We hand fulled the different stripe after we pulled it out the washer and it actually matches the rest of the blanket pretty darn closely.
  • I can't remember if I had more than one year's shearing in there.
  • I think I had OVNF wash it (it was that long ago).
  • I may have just spun that skein tighter...but I doubt it.

While I wish I could say that I was 100% sure it is all Punkin, they're all my favorite sheep :-).

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Suspense...

Well, the throw is woven/weaved and off the loom, but I'm a day behind posting pictures and these are images I want to remember.

Little soldiers. There are four rows of "holders" for the warp yarn. Raising different combinations of the harnesses raises different yarns all the way across to create the patterning as you take the weft yarn back and forth.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Let Sleeping Lambs Lie

Lila still loves to have a pillow...even if it is an old fence post.

And she loves her new friends. Notice Renny and B. Willard up by the fan. Much like Graham, Renny. always. gets. the. fan.

So poor Keebs has to wait until everyone leaves and then he moves over. No one argues with Renny ;-).

The girls - Renny and Ewenice - BFFs.

And the wonder dog. I think he's enjoyed being out with just his peeps. Even after all this time, there are a few oldsters in the main flock that don't like him. Normally I'll defend sheep intelligence. Normally...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lend A Paw When You Can

Our local Humane Society held a fund raiser over the weekend. I ran over to drop a donation in the bucket and ended up walking inside to look around.


Years ago, when we first moved to our farm, I went over there to find a barn kitty. I wanted a calico and am pretty good at holding my own and setting boundaries - only a calico cat, only old Collies or old Goldens - so I don't end up in the newspaper or on one of those hoarding shows.

A gray cat grabbed me around the neck though and held on so tight that I finally said, "You are not the cat I wanted, but I will get you out of here."

I told the HS person I was going to adopt him and she tried to talk me out of it. "He's feral and older. We have other much better cats." (?) I'd already promised him however and brought him home.


Saturday, amongst too many (some sick) kittens, on the top corner shelf, sat an adult calico kitty. We thought about it a couple days and Tuesday I went back to see her again. I didn't feel great about her chances for adoption (or staying healthy, honestly), competing with all the cute kittens.

"Please, please get me out of here."


She came home from the vet today and is going to live in the lamb cage up at the barn until she and all the other cats (mostly territorial Comby) get used to each other.

A couple times today I took her out and sat in the hay stall with her. She's a sweet, friendly, snugly, purring, muffin making kitty...with zero interest in yarn of any sort - had the Turkish spindle with me ;-). I was so happy to see her get bored relax enough to fall asleep behind my back.

Then she woke up for a little while, moved over to my side and fell asleep again.

She has a nasty looking sore on her mouth. The vet said he thought it was just a cage injury, but we are going to keep an eye on it to make sure it's not something contagious. Her tests were all negative.

The sweetest thing was she placed her paw on my leg as she fell asleep. And wouldn't move it even when I shifted position.

I guess I'm hers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Still Pedaling

Weaslie's plum tuckered out from the Tour.

It's starting to pile up. The paper bag is Eleanor's yarn. Jenny's wool is in the plastic bag.

Grandma has an interesting texture. It spun up pretty and was easy to spin, but felt much like maybe horse hair would feel. I can look at this picture and still feel the fiber. Doubt it transfers through to someone who hasn't felt it, but if it does, let me know. Interesting idea at least.

And here is the yarn. I ended up using the miniSpinner for this last portion because I started panicking that I was going to run out of time* - that's a huge bag of B. Willard waiting on me - trying to spin, weave and keep up with the farm stuff. I'm probably fine, but a little worry doesn't hurt. Sort of like having company forces you to clean up the house ;-).

YIKES - better get busy!

* I don't spin actually any faster with the miniSpinner, but with the big bobbins and WooLee Winder, it adds up quicker.


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