Monday, September 30, 2013

Hardly Working

That could easily be talking about me.  Well, I'm working (we live on a farm...), but the Kentucky Wool Festival is this coming weekend and while there is plenty of wool to sell and Christmas cards, there may not be many wool wreaths or felted sheep there.  Those "value added" products are important to the farm's bottom line...which always stays in the red, but you know what I mean.  I'm disappointed in my (year long) organizational skills.  I'm hoping for a few quiet days so I can power through some extra work. 

Some good news - the 2014 calendars are "at the printers".  Of course we had a minor snafu when I finished compiling the Lamb Camp calendar and realized I'd completely left Miss Maisie out (!).  She figures pretty heavy in the Farm Calendar (of course), but could not be missing from the lambs (!).  That's been fixed.  I also realized there were no shots of Eli anywhere either.  Who's in charge of photography around here?!?  That's now been fixed as well.

Hey, if you don't want to be featured in the calendar sleeping, Eli, go out and do something!

"I really don't care."


Just noticed that Eli is sleeping in the 2013 calendar as well.  Hmmmm ;-)


Sorry for the confusing with the link to last year's calendar.  I'll have 2014 calendars available at the Wool Festival this weekend and then for mail order after the festival.  I'll try to get a link posted next week.  Remind me!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Watch Your Step

Usually on a farm that means to look down ;-).  This time of'd be happier to keep your eyes up.  Don't walk between two trees!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Yarn Along - Finished!

Or probably better titled, Glamor Shots With A Cranky Jacob Sheep ;-).

The light was nice the other evening so I had Saint Tim try for some "me and Elizabeth dressed alike" shots.  Try being the operative word because unlike a photo shoot with, say, Buddy, who'd be All About posing for some pictures, those silly Jacob sheep...

Cookies worked for Jester last year.  Elizabeth is not so cheaply bought.  And while she looks frail and feeble, she can still outrun all of us.  We gave up trying to get her to cooperate in the paddock and herded her into the little shed where at least we'd have three walls helping us out.  The pictures were okay, but even though once she realized we had her cornered, I was still having to keep one hand on her chin and it looked pretty forced.

She tootled back outside and sat down next to the fence in a blazing ray of setting sun and we decided to give it one more try.  Tim hid around the corner and I sat down some distance away from her.  And very slowly scootched over.  And scootched over.  And scootched over until I thought we might be able to be in the same picture.

I love, love, love the sunbeam.  Unfortunately the sun sets quickly and that only lasted a couple seconds.  I think the sunlight from the side gave the pictures an interesting and soft, flattering look.  Probably not the best way to showcase the sweater, but the overall mood is much nicer than the clearer but forced inside shots.

Getting a little closer.

A little closer.

And for a brief moment she played along and I didn't do anything too dorky.  I think this one is my favorite.

And then she'd had enough of this stupid-camera-game-I-don't-care-how-many-cookies-you-give-me!  Tim had moved to the side, trying for a different angle.  Notice how different the light looks.  See how my hair looks "mahvelous" in the pictures above?  And how rat nesty it is in "real life light"?  I believe that would be called using the light to the best advantage ;-).  

The Sullivan sweater pattern was interesting to knit.  The reviews were probably accurate in saying it's not a beginner sweater, but it does all work out just fine in the end.  There were times I had to set it down and come back the next day with a fresh(er) brain before I could figure out the next step, but as with every project, I learned some new tricks and I'm proud of working my way through.

I also have an interesting blocking story to share, but I'm so far behind on so many things that it will have to wait until another day.  When I do that I'll take some more detailed pictures of the patterning and the intimidating I-cord edging that ended up being No Big Deal (like most knitting things ;-) and really finishes everything off so nicely. 

Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along.  I once again don't have a book to share with my knitting so I'm probably going to get frogged out of this great group.  Even if you aren't interested in the knitting, I encourage you to go check everyone out.  I've added quite a few books to my winter queue.  As far as my next project...I'm thinking about something small.  Maybe a pair of mittens before it gets cold.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I finally made it out to the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival this year. It poured rain almost all day on Saturday, but everyone made the best of it and still had a great day. This is a very nice festival and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Just for kicks I decided to enter the Marcel sweater and Sunshine's hat in the knitting competition. 

Marcel's sweater received a blue ribbon for Knitted Sweater of Handspun Yarn and the Excellence in Knitting award.

And Sunshine's hat a blue ribbon for Knitted Hat and the Best Use of Handspun in a Knitted Item award.

I was blown away and so incredibly flattered.

Monday, September 23, 2013



"Hi, my name's Maisie.  This is my best friend Hank."

The boys have been begging to join the main flock.  Today was a nice cool day so I decided to give it a try.  Other than a Chocula leg hook by (always) mean Heidi and a nasty sucker punch to Hershey courtesy of (always) mean Rebecca Boone, everyone seems to have made it through the first day.  Evening feeding time was a little exciting, but not much gets between Maisie and a meal ;-).

Bitey Whitey's lab results came back as extensive bladder stones.  This afternoon was spent pulling soil plugs from all over the farm.  As he was not getting a ton of concentrated feed (the standard cause), there's got to be something wrong with our grass.  Hopefully those lab results will point us in the right direction.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

She's Done It Again

Our crazy little Maisie got picked up by Buzzfeed today!  I had no idea when the animal editor contacted me about sharing some Maisie shots that she'd do such a fantastic post.  What a treat!  Thank you!!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yarning Right Along!

Me and my cute little sheepy stitch markers are closing in on the top of the sweater.  I'm in hopes of getting it finished today, blocked tomorrow and packed for a tiny getaway this weekend.

The book I'm reading?  knitspeak is a handy, well, A to Z Guide to the Language of Knitting Patterns.  It lives in my knitting bag.

Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along :-).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gold Morning

Hickory, trying to help us return to our "regularly scheduled programming" this morning.

Thank you for so many kind words. It does help to know that I'm not in this all by myself and that we are all very sad.  Thank you for caring about some silly ole sheeps.

**   **   **   **   **   **   **   **   **   **   **   **   **   **   **   **  **   **   **   **   **   **   **   **

Okay, here is another hack photography tip.  Try changing your camera's white balance to "cloudy" when you are taking pictures directly involving sunrises and sunsets.  It gives everything a warmer, richer color.  I learned that by googling "how to take good sunset pictures" for one of Ed's Sunday Stills challenges several years ago. 

Always keep learning :-)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Everybody's Sweater

This is how I feel - flat and wanting to hide under a potted fern.  Bitey Whitey is gone.  We sent him to the university for an autopsy and are hoping they'll be able to tell us something that can help someone, hopefully not ever us again.

While I was sitting with him I did as much knitting as I could and got Elizabeth's second sleeve done and ready to attach to the body.

As I knit I decided that since I was never going to be able to make a Bitey Whitey sweater, he could be a part of this sweater, specifically the last three rows on that second sleeve. And I realized that in fact, all the sheep were all a part of all my sweaters.  Everyone here is a part of everything here.  My heart.  

While I waited for the vets to arrive yesterday I hustled to make sure that the sleeves were indeed the proper length and put all the stitches back on the needles to join everything together.  It somehow seemed important that he knew (and probably I knew) that we'd always be together, the sleeves on each others sweaters.  And the way you join the sleeves to the body?

K2Tog (Knit Two Together)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Yellow Bird Of Happiness

It's been a rough few days here. Bitey Whitey is sick. Very sick. Something flukey as best the vets can figure and we are trying to figure out how to treat something we don't know quite what it is... Let me stress once again - whatever you've heard (probably all your life) about sheep giving up and dying on you for no reason at all is just such complete bunk.  He's hanging in there and fighting hard and hopefully I'll have some good news to share soon.  

In the meantime, as I was looking out the window of the Wool House, washing out his oral syringes, I noticed some bright yellow action out on the sunflowers next to the lavender garden.  A beautiful yellow finch going to town!  I love watching the birds and bees partying on flowers I've planted.  It makes me feel like I've accomplished something good, for me and them.  And I needed that this afternoon.

As an aside, the first pictures I took were framed like this one - bird, sunflowers.  I feel awful that I haven't taken any pictures of my zinnias this year as they've been spectacular, so I moved over a bit to shoot through them and at least include some color in the shots.  Sometimes just a step or two one way or the other completely changes a photograph.  Which version do you like best?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Sunlight

After a week of nothing more than grabbing some quick iPhone shots, when I saw the pretty fog this morning and heard sheep bells chiming signaling the sheep were headed out, I headed out...with the "big girl" camera.  I snapped pictures of Hank, pictures of sheep grazing in the fog, foggy sheep with neat trees in the background and then the sun crested the hill behind Stella's house.

I took a lot of pictures.  I frequently do.  Sometimes because the sheep move or expressions change or just because I have shaky hands and I mess up the focus.  Many times it's strictly because I am not getting the picture I want and have to stop and think about what's wrong and how to fix it. 

I'm proud of many of my pictures and I'm so flattered that other people like them too.  When all this started and I just had a simple point and shoot camera, I had no idea how important photography would become.  Kind of like how when I rescued Punkin so many years ago, I had no idea how important sheep would become.  Life is full of gifts.

The most important photography tip I've received (so far ;-) is the importance of learning to use my camera's manual settings.  All cameras have at least some photographer controlled settings, even the simple point and shoots.  I'd like to encourage everyone, once again, to go read your camera's owners manual.  Even better, go look for a "Dummies" book for your specific model.  Here's a good example of why:

Even my "big girl" camera has a basic "automatic, the camera is doing all the thinking for you" setting.  It's P, which stands for Program Mode.  You may have noticed P, M, S and A on your camera as well.  Worst case scenario, especially BC (before coffee) or when something's happening fast, I lean on this crutch and at least get the photo, even if it's not an especially great photo.  I'd rather have a fuzzy picture of Maisie "smiling" than no picture at all.  The picture above was taken in Program Mode.  

It's sort of a neat photo.  I mean, how wrong can you go with sheep in the mist while the sun is coming up?  Still, it's pretty dang dark and almost dreary looking and there was nothing dreary about the sunrise this morning.  What's happened here is that, with the camera doing all the thinking, it's trying to balance out the entire photograph, from the super, super bright sky to the not quite as bright sheep.    I decided it was time to switch to M (Manual Mode).

Manual means that I'm doing most of the thinking.  Specifically, in these pictures, I am controlling how much light I want to let in.  The sunrise was beautiful, but I decided I really wanted to showcase the light and shadows on the sheep, so I just took the sun out of the equation.  By setting my exposure for the sheep only, the sky is completely blown out (compare the sky in the picture above with the picture just below) but the trade off with the sheep, at least to me, is worth it.

Within this series, I took four quick shots changing just my shutter speed for each one in hopes of getting exactly what I wanted.  I'm going to share the settings on two of the pictures below, not to say they are right or to tell you that if you set your camera exactly the same way...  They are just an example of how you can affect your photographs and hopefully encourage you to learn a little more about your own camera.

 ISO 800    f/13    1/250 sec (slower speed lets in more light)

ISO 800    f/13    1/320 sec (slightly faster, slightly darker)

At this point everyone decided to make a run for the barn. 

As I followed them with my Manual Mode...and they ran out of the bright sunlight, the camera maybe should have been back doing the thinking ;-).  Sometimes she's way faster and smarter than I am, even AC (after coffee).

Keep learning!



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