Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up

Other than a bunch of spinning and a little bit of cloth work, I don't have much to post this week. And it's not even really a BUNCH of spinning.  I really didn't think it would take me this long to spin Maisie's yarn.  I'm not finished, but I'm getting close to saying I'm getting close.  I have 11 ounces of singles to go and then on to plying, which will go faster.

It took me a good 18 hours to spin the yarn for the black throw last year.  I'll probably end up clocking that much time on this yarn, too.  I should not sit down and figure what I've got in a sweater's worth.  At least I'd have a good answer for when people wonder why I don't sell much handspun yarn or when they wonder at the cost of handspun.

I started adding up costs of sheep, feed, bedding, vet care, shearing, washing, processing, spinning equipment, spinning time, time for all the other aforementioned aspects, land, barns, fences, guardian dog...and decided to just go out and do my morning chores and move on.  I'm getting tons of enjoyment and happiness from these sheep, so the yarn is practically me ;-).

I'm going to stop beating myself up about the yarn.  It's going to be beautiful and special :-).

And maybe 20 can help me get finished up!

Freshly laundered, pressed and cut (with my new rotary cutter - definitely worth the money) pieces of contrasting spinning cloths.  More painting this year!

And just when I was really feeling like I didn't get much done this week I remembered how many nice photos I took.  That takes time, too, and I think it's fair to add that in.  Plus it gives me an excuse to post more snow pictures :-).  

This is an easy photograph to take - seriously!  I stumbled on it by accident a few years ago and I think there's nothing that says 'more bang for your buck' than a sheep (or horse) standing just inside the shadowy dark barn with sunlight shining directly on her face.  (Blossom/Baba)

These pictures were all taken that same snowy morning.  I just moved around to different sides to use the light in different ways.  I love back lighting just as much as front lighting.  (Keebs and Chocs)

Or side lighting.  (PPPP)

Or Hank napping in the snow :-).  (Burrnie)

How did your week wrap up?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Oh No, The Space Ship Is Snowbound!

One last snow post. We sure enjoyed it while it lasted :-).

"There's no way this will ever take off with all this snow."

"Start eating!"

"You gonna be able to dig us out, Maisie?"

"Yeah, I about got it."

"Yikes!  I didn't know you rode ON the space ship!"

"Maisie, the space ship flies up in the air.  You don't need to dig the gate out."

They ate as much snow as fast as they could.

Munch, munch, munch down the railing, but it was no use.

"I think we're gonna have to wait til spring, Woody."

"I told you all that at the beginning!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yarn Along - Iknitarod Dreams

As the first flakes started drifting down that afternoon, the upcoming Iknitarod immediately dinged into my head. I think because we get so little snow and for some awesome coincidence I have been able to thoroughly enjoy knitting in the snow (sometimes actually IN the snow) during both of my Iknitarod races, I now associate any snow with sled dogs and exciting knitting :-).

I hadn't planned on starting Maisie's yarn until February, after I'd finished spinning Hershey.  I couldn't help myself.  

"Yeah, I know that feeling!"

I knew Maisie was a little messy when I dropped her off at Ohio Valley Natural Fibers, but I didn't think she was that messy.  They usually do did* such a good job cleaning up after my messy sheep. Leave it to Maisie ;-).  "I have no idea how this stuff keeps happening to me!" (her mantra).

Some is not too bad...

Some is appalling (DON'T click to biggify :-o).  Oh Maisie... (my mantra)

But...she probably comes by her messiness naturally ;-).  There couldn't be a better mother/daughter picture.

Actually, I'm not too upset by this.  First of all, much of that will fly out when I two-ply.  Some more will come out when I wash the finished yarn.  I can pick out the rest if I want to...but I don't think I will.  That's part of Maisie, part of her story.  

The best gift is probably going to be that if the sweater is already messy, I won't be nervous about wearing a white sweater to the barn.  I'd stewed about trying to dye it a non-dirt showing color, but really wanted it to look like Maisie.  This sure will, and who says a barn sweater can't be pretty! Besides, wool washes quite well ;-).

Just a hint of snow left along the shade of the fence yesterday.  For now her buddy Hank is watching over her and I'm able to stay inside and spin. Hopefully she stays that "simple" for awhile ever. Please keep your hysterical laughter to yourself!

22 ounces of singles to go.

Reading/listening to another Mrs. Murphy mystery while I spin and I'm joining in with Ginny...

*      *       *       *       *

* So, about Ohio Valley...  I'm sure everyone's heard by now that they are closing.  Retiring and moving to Florida (away from snow???).  I've had quite a few concerned emails about what are we going to do now?

There are other mills in the US, but none really "in our area".  Another concern is how back logged they already are and now having to absorb OVNF's clients.  One good option for handspinners is to process our fleeces ourselves.

While a pretty intimidating option for 35 fleeces, it can be really enjoyable for a special fleece or two. There's really not much better to spin than beautiful freshly washed, hand combed top.  Which brings me to my second group of emails.  How do we do that?

Washing and processing a fleece at home is completely do-able with just a little patience and practice. There are plenty of on-line tutorials and even whole books written on the subject.  I have a pretty good set up here.  Would there be any interest in coming to the farm for a fleece processing workshop?

It would need to be a two day workshop so we could enjoyably cover skirting, washing, picking, hand carding, drum carding and combing.  We could probably do it in one really long day, but that doesn't seem too fun or allow for sheep hugging, cookie feeding or bathroom breaks ;-).

We have an excellent Bed and Breakfast nearby where several farm visitors have stayed and thoroughly enjoyed.  She can accommodate several guests at the end of February, which suits my schedule as well.  A Friday Saturday combo would work best.

Let me know what you think.  I'd be happy to set this up :-).

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thanks, Pal

Probably ought to set your coffee down ;-).

"Hey, Murph, whatcha' doin'?"

"Look what I found!  This is so cool, Hank!"

"Over here.  See?"

Can I get a collective "Nooooo!  Don't fall for it!!!"

Poor Hank...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Anatomy Of A Photo Shoot - Equinox Farm Style

They'd predicted less than an inch of snow the other evening.  I had an inkling they might be wrong when I saw the neighbor haul an extra load of silage to his cows ;-).  We ended up with four inches of some of the prettiest, most perfect snow ever.  

Since it wasn't super cold to begin with and they were calling for temps in the high 30's later in the day, I knew I was going to have to work fast.  We hadn't had snow since before Thanksgiving and who knew if we'd ever get any more (gasp!). I like to have at least two, if not three, good snowy calendar scenes.  Time to get busy.

First and foremost, always be prepared to bribe with food. This crew will do almost anything for food.  I decided to use the heavily flocked white pines as my background so I set out a bale of hay...and opened the side door.

Hank made a quick safety check loop.  There's not much he and I like more than a good fluffy snow :-D.

It was still pretty "dark", but I could tell the sun was going to try to peek through.  Getting the timing right is the thing.  Let them out too late and I miss the golden light.  Too soon and they fill up on the bribe and go back to the barn and settle in for a long winter's nap.

I couldn't figure out why I had so many of the "same" pictures until I noticed Hank working his way back down the tree line.  Gotta love Hank :-).

And here comes the sun :-).

"We don't really care if you make us go out in the snow to take our pictures as long as we get to eat yummy hay."

That's Buddy and Boudreaux looking at us.  I almost missed Woolliam buried deep in the middle.

"I'd rather eat grass."

Keebs is always so complicated ;-).

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Stills - Night Shots

The fun begins at sundown...

Late afternoon/evening is probably my favorite time of day.  I think that's sort of like fall/winter is my favorite season.  Early morning/spring is nice too, but the middle of the day/summer?  Well, you know ;-).  I love to be out checking the water or shutting a gate and look back at the barn with everyone milling around eating dinner.

This is loading up a bit darker than it really is, sadly.  Sometimes that happens.  You'll just have to look a little closer and it might help to biggify.  There is snow falling and starting to cover the ground :-D.

The two doors on the left are the sheep stalls (that's Maisie front and center).  The aisle of the main barn is lit on the right. You can just see a hint of Del Boca Vista on the far left.  The tiny door on the far right is Hank's.  It's actually the big sliding doors covering a full size walk through door, but it works perfect for Hank's Hideout.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up

The week's end wrap ups are working well for me! Doesn't hurt that it's winter of course, but there were actually several "spring" days this week, but only in temp, not in grass/weeks growing...  I have determined my year end goal for 2015, but now that I'm typing this out, I'm realizing that my more immediate goal is going to be to keep things moving in the "pipeline" once spring starts.  That's a pretty tough challenge.

Mini bows for mini wool wreaths.

I am quite happy with these mini wreaths and if I can figure out a way to incorporate some of their different construction ideas into the large size wreaths, everyone wins.  The large wreaths are so beautiful, but they are hand killers.  

I think these are cute.  And look at all the different colors!

That's because I got four fleeces washed during the "spring break".  Light and medium gray, black and white.  

Kate supervised...and I think was a bit disturbed by the whole process.  She came from a Katahdin farm, so the whole wool aspect of sheep is new to her.  You don't have to shear Katahdins and you sure don't put them in a washing machine ;-).

I think I'm getting close on the Mug Shot mug design.

And then look what happened!

So in the spirit of the Iknitarod, I pulled Maisie down out of the loft and started spinning :-).  Since she has figured so prominently (and not necessarily in a good way) during the last two years of the Iknitarod, I'm planning on knitting a Maisie sweater this year.  Hopefully that will keep her out of least for two weeks!

Petunia and I smile at big fat snow flakes :-D.  I may have taken some a lot of snow pictures last night and this morning.

How did your week wrap up?


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