Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mitten Knittin'

My ultimate goal with this project was to learn more about knitting with two colors before I started the patterning on the Jester sweater. I accomplished that and more!

I'd knit a green and gold Fair Isle hat a few years ago (Yeah, um, that was to wear to the championship game where Favre threw the pick in the end zone 11 rows in front of us in overtime when it was like 3 degrees - note for Jean in MN ;-). But I digress.

Aside from the obvious color structure, mittens presented a whole new set of challenges. I had to not only get my tension between stitches right, but also every time I turned a corner. I had to figure out how to pick up the stitches for the thumb, weave in my ends and stitch the cuff lining into place. I wanted a finger hole so I could answer my phone or check the weather. I over-thought that one, but learned some new tricks along the way.

Stella shamed me into taught me to always rip back and fix mistakes and I did a fair amount of frogging (rip it, rip it). Several times. I loved this project because tinking (knit spelled backwards ;-) was so easy because everything was a knit stitch - no stitch patterning to really muddle me up. It's sad when how easy to fix mistakes is a selling point, eh?

Anyway, I persevered and now I have a pair of pretty mittens knit from some of my favorite sheep. I had found a small bag of it buried in the storage shed and vaguely remembered having it processed. I think it was the second year, which would mean this wool came from Elizabeth, Jester, Joshua and Crazy Esther, all blended together. Pretty special.

And so, without further ado, I'm awarding myself a 2012 Mitten Knittin' badge!

And I had so much fun blocking these mittens, that I thought I'd share that as well.

Here they are, straight off the needles. They don't look too bad, but they are curvy around the thumb holes, wider and narrower in spots and a little lumpy. I also ran out of my first skein of dark gray and the second skein I spun ended up a tad heavier. I hoped a good blocking might camouflage that.

Keep in mind this is just how I do this. I could be way off base, so don't take this for gospel. I used a shallow sauce pan to heat up my wash water. I did not cook or boil my mittens ;-). I added some Mrs. Meyer's laundry soap - my favorite - and let them soak for about 20 minutes. I did two washes and two rinses and on the last rinse I added some Fibre Rinse.

While they were soaking, I made some cardboard cutouts to match and covered them with shipping tape - picked up that handy tip from a nice site I found, Two Strands. For all it's problems, you gotta love the internet.

I gently squeezed out the excess water and then rolled the mittens up in a towel to get them a little drier. I then stretched them over the forms and pinned them in place.

I didn't like the finger hole all stretched out, so pinned it together too.

And hung them out to the warm "June" sun. So much for needing warm mittens this winter :-/. I think next time I'll make a thumb blocker too. I steamed them this morning and that was fine, but in the spirit of over-thinking things... ;-).

And here they are. You can sort of see the stitched in lining. I like that and will probably incorporate that into all future mittens. The pattern was really well written and enjoyable to work. The mittens are pretty and with the double strands of yarn throughout, they'll be toasty some winter.

Who else completed the Mitten Knittin' challenge? I hope you learned as much and had as much fun as I did! And feel free to award yourself the Mitten Knittin' badge! That's Woolliam, by the way, adapted from the Six Sheep A-Skating Christmas card.

Ready for a February challenge?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Stills - Nature's Frames

This next week's challenge is to get something framed by nature. Trees making a frame over a stream, a branch making a fork around the moon…nature does a lot of this if we’ll just open our eyes and look.

I apparently read blah blah blah frames...and totally missed the nature's part of the challenge. So, here are a couple pictures I took of sheep framed in a wooden (ex-tree?) doorway with a sunbeam.

That's Popcorn PeePee Pants facing us.

And Boudreaux. Poor Boudreaux. Poor Big Boudreaux. The butt of too many posts lately. I'm sorry Boudreaux. Here, have a cookie ;-).

I took these pictures with my iPhone. While definitely not the same as the Nikon, I've had a ton of fun snapping decent pictures of this and that, especially out feeding in the evenings or early morning.

With just a touch of a "button" I can post them to my Twitter account and that's become almost a second blog. A micro blog. Wait, a lamb sized blog! If you are interested, feel free to follow along and scroll back for a nice Keebler picture, a bunch of Hank shots, Renny and Ewenice headed down the driveway and even the stupid Adventure Chickens make it on there occasionally.

So, for some Sunday Stills folks who did read the directions this week...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cat Sniffing

Apparently it's 'a sheep thing'.

"Um, what are you doing?"

"Hey, watch it, Petunia!"


It's not an uncommon occurrence - happened again 10 minutes later.

Comby didn't like it any better.

Our sheep wouldn't know what to do with a cat like Nistock Farms Cleo.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sheep Peeking

I'm still knitting on my mittens. Good thing I allowed myself a month to complete them. If we were counting on my knitting to keep us warm this winter, we'd be dead by now. Except we really haven't had much winter. They way things are going, I'll be able to pose my completed End of May flower mittens on some actual flowers at the End of January. Sigh.

Anyway, as I was scanning through pictures I've taken in progress, I kept noticing little sheep peeking out from everywhere. Sheep pjs.

Sheep knitting bag (maybe Sheepmom can remind me who makes these neat bags).

I especially like this sheep.

And this darling sheep pocket purse where I stash my stitch markers, darning needle, tiny scissors...

I took this picture to show Stella what Magic Loop looks like. Included here only to see if anyone notices what's different or missing from the above pictures.

I've lost my neat cat magnet ruler pattern marker thingie - note yellow sticky notes.

I think a sheep ate it.


Kinda funny story...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Favorite Sheep

Just for fun I decided to make one of those popular black and white car stickers.

MFS is our shorthand for anything involving the website and besides, I figured MFS worked better than PP ;-).

Saint Tim is obviously my local print shop, but he doesn't do bumper stickers. I found on an online search and I have to say, other than Zappo's, they are the most impressive internet business I've dealt with (not getting paid to say this).

Their website was super easy to use, they uploaded my design, had it printed and in the mail (with free shipping) in just a couple hours. On a Friday afternoon. The stickers arrived yesterday and I love them.

I stuck one on one of my (shhhh) favorite sheep. Can you guess who this is? A hint, that is Woolliam standing on tippy toes, peeking over his back.

"Huh? I thought I was your favorite sheep???"

You are, Woolliam, but don't tell anyone I said that okay? It's our little secret.

Of course here are a few of my other favorite sheep ;-). Mia, Renny and Henrietta in the background.

Ewen McTeagle and Graham Lamb - face off.

GL: "I thought I was her favorite sheep!"

EMcT: "Yeah? Well who's wearing the sticker?"

"I can't believe this. I thought I was your favorite sheep."

You are, Keebs, but don't tell anyone I said that okay? It's our little secret.

MSS - My Silliest Sheep (actually she's not, she just looks that way with her teeth sticking out ;-). Also my bossiest sheep. Also, probably my oldest sheep. We don't know how old Elizabeth is, but she's got a lot of gray, losing some teeth and fighting Arthur Itis this winter.

MFJS - My Favorite Jacob Sheep, Jester, who's also getting up there in years and not feeling super great and is My Worrying-est Sheep this week. B. Willard, other than battling a nasty graham cracker addiction, is feeling Much Better now, thank you very much.

With that sticker on his hip, Ewen looks like a fancy thoroughbred who's recently gone through the horse sales. A really tall thoroughbred.

My big baby...and one of my all time favorite sheep :-).

The nice warm afternoon made for fun sheep photos. I just hope B. Willard, Sherman, Lila, Marcel, Miss Ewenice, Petunia, Popcorn PeePee Pants, Rebecca Boone, Buddy, Boudreaux, Caspar Belly, Emily...don't find out they missed the post today.

But they all know they are my favorite sheep ;-).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Poor Boudreaux

Eating hay scraps off himself.

"Hey look - a donut!"

"Five second rule. Totally!"

"Oh, and there's one waaay back there."

"Mmm, yummy."


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sunday Stills - Birds

This is actually a shot from last month - a heron parked in the pond behind Tim's print shop. City herons are much "tamer" than country herons. I was surprised how close he let me get.

For more Sunday Stills...

A Dog And His Boy

Hank and I were horsing around last night after I got done feeding and I remembered that I'd forgotten about some fun shots I'd taken back in the late fall.

Hank was pretty feral when we got him. For the first few days he was here, he was tied up in the sheep shed, and for a couple weeks after that he drug around a long rope so that we could catch him. We didn't care if he became our best buddy, but wanted to make sure we could at least get ahold of him for routine or emergency veterinary care.

I don't remember now how long it took for him to adopt us into his flock. It doesn't seem like it was too long, but it also almost seems like he's been here forever. I do remember his first really cold, nasty evening. I went out to the barn to feed, expecting to find Hank shivering and miserable, huddled in the corner of a stall. I couldn't find him anywhere.

At the time he still had few sheep friends and as I searched all over I feared that between that and the weather, he'd given up and headed out looking for a better life. I finally caught a glimpse of him, racing around in big circles out in the field next to the barn with a huge smile on his face. Hank loves cold weather. I was so relieved to find him and find him not miserable that I went out and joined his fun. We've been playing ever since.

His favorite game is attack tag. He races in.

Jumps away just as you get close to tagging him.

Makes a big, fast circle.

Buzzes by again.

Darts away.

Races back.

And away.

Until he's had enough. Or maybe until he senses we've had enough. Then he trots over,

collapses in a fit of tickle giggles,

and gets up happy.

He especially loves to race around at dusk. I'm not sure if it's because he's rested up and just feeling good or excited to start the night's work or if he's just getting warmed up, sort of like stretching exercises. We love being part of his nightly (and daily) ritual.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mopple The Whale

Dis Boudreaux, not Renny. Boudreaux is, um, taller. And Lila can stuff her chipmunk cheeks all she wants, but I don't think she'll ever get this big. She doesn't have"bone structure".

"I do! I've got big bones!"

You've also, once again, Boudreaux, got a big mess on/in/throughout your big fleece.

This looks bad, but pictures can lie. It's actually way, way worse in real life. Hay chaff, chicken feathers, pizza box, a big mac wrapper, heck, I'm not sure he doesn't have a cat or two tucked away in that mess.

And like most elite athletes, Boudreaux apparently trains all day and all night. I snapped this with my phone this morning as he waddled out of the eat breakfast.


Yeesh, Boudreaux.

Now before you start accusing me of not feeding hay properly or lecture me on the benefits of sheep coats*, let's just peruse the rest of the flock. Only a scrap or two of hay here.

Graham, scratching his ear on the new door, spotless. Lila yesterday? Pretty darn clean. Oh, and that's Rebecca Boone's clean back in the close up above. Everyone's clean but Boudreaux.

My theory? I've seen Boudreaux eating hay scraps off other sheep. I think he picks them all clean. Why no one returns the favor, I don't know. Or maybe they do and just can't keep up with his mess. Sort of like my house. Or at least that's my story...

Speaking of stories, if you do not know who Mopple the Whale is in "real life", you must pick up a copy of Three Bags Full. This is not a library book. This is keeper. One you'll read more than once.

Luckily, unlike the real Mopple, I don't think Boudreaux remembers much of anything so he won't hold this post against me. Not like Renny, who will Never Forget her friends Louann and Natalie bringing low fat cookies to her birthday party. Lila, believe it or not, doesn't even like cookies.

It's my own strange cast of characters around here ;-).

* And yes, Boudreaux would definitely be a great candidate for a coat, but for some reason I just don't really like them. And yes, I did put a sweater on 20, so it is somewhat irrational - shut up! ;-) And yes, while I'd much rather look at a clean backed Boudreaux, seeing his nappy, hay filled fleece makes me laugh. And shake my head with disbelief. That's just Boudreaux.

I'd miss burying my hands down into his wool and scratching his itchy back - which yes, would probably be less itchy without all that hay, but even my "clean" sheep love to have their backs scratched. And yes, his fleece would be worth more money if it were coated, but as I'm not going to get rich selling wool, I'm just going to do what makes me happy. Just like Boudreaux :-).


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