Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Little "Help"

The main parts of the sweater are done...but I'm still far from the Burled Arch.  My next step is seaming the parts together and then I start on the collar.  First though is a quick wet blocking to hopefully get all the pieces to match up before the seaming/sewing.


"I was only trying to help."

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015


"Hey, where's everybody going?"

After a couple weeks of really nice weather, we had two really cold nights.  22 degrees cold!  We closed up the barn doors and fed a bunch of extra hay and everyone seems to have gotten through okay.  The low tonight is 43.  Much better for sheared sheeps.  Still, even though it was cold, about half the flock was so excited about the green grass that they didn't even stick around for breakfast this morning.

Baaxter just realized he'd been left behind.  That was him eating with Rebecca Boone in the first picture.  He's a good eater :-).

Hank realized he'd been left behind, too!

Another big group, but still not everyone, races along to catch up as well.

Happy sheep.

"Wait Up!!!"

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I'm Just Going To (Try To) Do This

I got a note the other day from one of my favorite artists and sheep photographers, Junelle Jacobsen. You've seen her here before.  She did a Draw A Sheep class for us that was so cute and fun.  She periodically offers online art workshops and I've always wanted to participate, but I never think I have enough time.  I never have enough time for anything.

Winter flew by.  I practically missed most of the Iditarod as I tried to race to (barely) keep up with everything.  Then presto, the sheep were sheared, the grass started greening up, the temps hit the mid 70s and I kind of felt like that kid in the group that couldn't keep up and finally stops in the middle of the road crying, yelling for everyone to Wait Up!  

Junelle asked if I would like to contribute a lamb love story to her spring workshop, pink cheeks and mud puddles.  She was thinking of the story of Lila coming to church for Easter Sunday in her little sundress, sitting on my lap while I played the piano.  I reminded her of the story of Miss Maisie going to (and leaving!) church.  In exchange, she gifted me a spot in her workshop :-).

My first thought was of course, how sweet.  My second, I just don't have time.  My third, if you are already standing in the driveway crying, why not pull out a sketch journal, sit down in the mud and slow everything down, even just for a few minutes.  Maybe by the end of April I wouldn't be wondering where April went.

I don't know if I'll have time to actually do this, but I really want to.  Even if I only participate for half the time, I'll be ahead of where I'd be if I didn't make a conscious effort to not let spring whoosh past me.   Anyone want to join me?  Maybe be the one kid in the group who turns around and walks back to the sniffling kid sister, grabs her hand and says, "Come on.  You're fine.  It's only spring."  

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I've divided the sweater body for the front and the back and am about 1/3 of the way up the back. So far, so good.  My goal is to be completely finished for a Yarn Along post on Wednesday. Coincidentally, that's when the art workshop starts.  I need to go pick out an art journal :-).

Friday, March 27, 2015

Watching Grass Grow

It's pretty, but...lots of work, sheep over eat and can bloat, horses over eat and can founder, did I mention lots of work?  Sigh...

Here's a fun fact.  See the manure pile?  We've never had to have one before, but the weather was so wet and sloppy for so long we couldn't use the manure spreader, thus the pile.  Hank loved it and slept there on many a cold day and night.  Not only did it get him up to a higher viewpoint, but the composting action made it practically a heated bed :-).  Please help me remember to rebuild that for him next fall.  

I peeked around the corner of the barn and found everyone napping.  I quickly snapped this picture without noticing the two matching head and ear shadows on Murphy and Baaxter :-).

Baaxter is all grown up, but still looks like he did as a baby in the face I think.  I wish his distinct white X was still as prominent, but what I think looks the most the same is the eyes.  He was such a "big boy" from the start.

I love this scene :-).

*     *      *      *      *

I am in at the sweater body checkpoint!  Just taking a brief layover and then heading for the top front...or back...need to check the map pattern.  I'm getting there!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Do Sheep Smile?

My original plan when I took this picture the other day was to use it to "throw Maisie under the bus" for sleeping while I was working so hard on her sweater...and other things ;-).  She was completely cashed out with her head down on her front feet and her little piggy tail all curled up next to her.  By the time I got back out with the camera she was awake.

I took several pictures of her from several different angles through the end gate and as I was scrolling through the thumbnails (tiny versions of each picture) a few minutes ago, 3267 looked like her mouth was straight and 3268 looked like it was curled up in a smile.  Now I can't see it.  I'm probably losing my mind.  

Still, I do think my sheep look like they are smiling much of the time.  In fact, I think a few of them seem to know that I'm taking pictures and like really mugging it up for the camera.  Follow the labels for Petunia or Ford and see if you can find one shot that doesn't look like they are smiling :-).

Maisie may very well be smiling in these pictures.  It was a warm sunny day, perfect for a late winter nap.  And what was she looking at while smiling?  Her best friend, Hank :-).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Mug Mess

I'm still trying to catch up on everything that "slid" during the Iditarod/Iknitarod.  It really is a luxury to be able to (sort of) concentrate on knitting for two weeks.  At first I felt like I had everything under control, but shearing here and helping a couple friends with shearing, taking care of animals, blogging, answering emails, cleaning the house, cooking (wait, who am I kidding ;-) took its toll and by week two, I was over my head.

During this time I heard from three mug buyers that their mugs had broken in shipping :-(. Another person received their mug safely, but it had part of Boudreaux's face missing :-(.  The second order of mugs arrived and I sent everyone (I hope!) new mugs...and then realized that the second set of mugs was slightly different.  The clear background had a weird white background now :-(.  

I called the company and they immediately spotted what was wrong and without my even asking re-ordered the entire shipment.  It should be here the first week of April.  In the meantime, if you received a broken or defective mug, please don't feel bad about letting me know!  If I sent you a weird white mug, again, let me know.  

Our sheep are perfect (right? ;-) and I want their products to be perfect as well.

Hank, enjoying the near perfect weather.

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Iknitarod Update - I finally made it into the two sleeves checkpoint last night!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Strange Bedfellows

If I see two completely unrelated sheep sleeping side by side once, I don't think much about it.  If I see them twice, it gets my attention.  I've never noticed Ewen and Billy Belly being chummy.  Ewen gets along with everyone.  Billy Belly can be a bit of a jerk sometimes.  Twice since shearing I've found him snugged up with Ewen.

We've had great after shearing weather.  The best I can remember.  Still, the mornings are a little cool.  I hope Billy Belly's not just "using" Ewen.  Things moms worry about ;-).

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Losing The Trail - Temporarily

Three Iditarod mushers remain on the trail this morning, but they should be in soon. The Iknitarod will be over...and Maisie's sweater is not done.  It's not even close.  In fact, yesterday I finally got up the nerve to turn back on the trail and rip out several hours worth of knitting.

I had been cooking along on the body.  I was up to 13" I think.  Somewhere along the way I started to get sloppy and my stitches didn't stay the same tension...or size.  I was vaguely aware of this but continued to knit on, not actually stopping to check the map (my stitches per inch guide).  The further I got, the worse it looked.  

I stewed on it for a couple days, knitting further on with the sleeves.  Several knitting friends suggested it might block out okay and not show.  The two sides were the most obvious and they were under my arms, barely visible.  Still...I knew it wasn't right.  But if I ripped it back there was no chance I'd finish the race before the Red Lantern.

There are so many things about Maisie's life that I wish we could do over.  Heck, even 5 1/2 months before she was born.  No accidental breeding, no surprise birth in the cold during a dog trial, no formula allergy, no malnutrition, no tummy aches, no twine eating, no trips to the vet...  Knitting can always be fixed.  I ripped it out.

Even the sheep measuring tape looks horrified ;-).

Wool is a wonderful yarn to work with.  There are many, many times you wouldn't want to just pull out the needles and haphazardly ravel out the yards and yards of yarn.  In this situation and this yarn, I had no fear.  See how well the wool holds it shape and keeps the stitches "stuck" in place?

I just carefully slipped the needle back in, right to left, making sure I was picking the stitches up facing the right direction.  This is probably the biggest lesson I have learned (so far) with knitting. Learn to recognize the front and back of a knit stitch.  The front is obvious to see here, the loop over the V.  Just put the needle in from the underside and the stitch will be the right direction.

My Maisie mascot held the pattern charts as I sat out on the Wool House porch all Saturday afternoon.  It was warm and just a little breezy.  Nothing like the -65 in Alaska.  

And as the light started to fade, I turned on my beloved Red Lantern.  A gift from a friend who reminded me that I could leave the lantern on as long as I needed.  And I mushed on into the night. I will make it to Nome.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Shearing Day

I miss my fuzzy sheeps, especially the boys.  They all did a great job with their first hair cuts though and are officially big boys.



You may not believe me, but this is Spud!


Murphy - close up

The one and only Graham

My big baby.  Those boys never really grow all the way up.  I love that he still wants to stand with me when he's scared.


Buddy and Burrnie

Handsome Buddy

And it's nice to see Burrnie roly poly and burr free this year :-).

Hershey was quite concerned about getting a little off the top.  Sadly he accidentally DID get a little off the top.  I think he knows his cool hair days are over.  Still, if that's the worst thing that happens, it's a good day shearing.

33 bags of wool.  We use sheets instead of bags though.  Easy to use and breathable.  33 bags because we didn't shear Jester.  I'll do him myself when it gets warmer.

And here's Baby B's first hair cut.  This is the normal way to shear sheep, not standing up like Maisie.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Yarn Along - Maisie Gets A Hair Cut

"I just don't know why this stuff keeps happening to me [every year]!"

I think she does actually, but doesn't it look like that's what she's saying (always ;-)?  Shearer extraordinaire Bill Haudenschield once again did me and Maisie a huge favor by shearing her standing up.  This is hard to do with any sheep, but one as short as's back breaking. Thank you, Bill!  

And thank you, Karen, for being the brave one to hold her so I could take some pictures.  She looks fairly calm here as they got started, but those teeth were a-chompin'!  

Here's a short video, just for fun.  Hopefully my hillbilly speakin' won't break your computer.  Our new shearing assistant asked why we were shearing her standing up after shearing the others sitting down.  I answered her without thinking it would be on the video.  Sigh...  Maybe that tail flipping around will cover me :-).

The first place finisher for the Iditarod crossed under the Burled Arch this morning, but many mushers are still on the trail. I, too, am still out on the Iknitarod Trail, but have hit a major snafu and things look pretty hopeless for a Red Lantern finish this year.   I'm going to keep knitting though, as you never know.

I finished A Man Called Ove and just loved it.  Now I'm listening to another one of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency stories.  They are always winners :-).

Joining with Ginny.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Scenes From The Iknitarod Trail

I started on one porch, moved to the Wool House porch and then out to the field.  If it's got to be stupid 73 degrees, I guess you just embrace it.  At least the sheep were happy.

I'd just opened up the bottom paddock for them, also known as a sheep party ;-).  Maisie and Keebler out front.  This year's Iknitarod sheep and last year's.

Maisie and Blossom, still her best friend.

Besides Hank.  Hank is sitting between me and the sheep.  Sort of like he frequently sits between his sheep and the Stupid Horses.  Remember that for later.

The sheep and the sweater.

Working their way around me in circles.

Tall Paul (Ewen McTeagle ;-) and Rebecca Boone, Burrnie, Emily, Billy Belly and Casper Belly.

So Hank guards the sheep, but he also guards me.  He doesn't like when the Stupid Horses to come near me, but he's okay when the sheep do...unless I'm knitting.  If I'm knitting and a sheep gets too close to my knitting bag, he races over and yells at them.  He's done that since the early days.  I have no idea how he decided messing with knitting was bad, but I appreciate it :-).

That is what had happened a minute before this picture.  A mass exodus to the barn.  Maisie followed for a couple seconds and then stopped.  

"Wait just a minute."

"I ain't going in yet!"

And Keebs came back out too.  Remember his brown leg?  Still brown :-).

Crazy Maisie

The sweater is coming along, but I know my days are running short.  I stayed at it until almost midnight last night.  The body is at 9 1/2" and the sleeves are 11". I need 16 1/2" and 18 1/2" respectively before I put them together and knit the yoke and collar..  I'm hoping for a big push today. 


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