Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Did you miss me?

I haven't had time to post. The only people noticing this may be my parents (Hi, Mom and Dad!), but it bugs me. I have lots of things to document, but haven't had the luxury of time to sit and organize my thoughts and photos. (I don't know about the rest of you bloggers, but it takes me quite a bit of time to create a post. Maybe it's the graphic designer and editor in me; my sister once called me a wordsmith.) And as more things back up in the blogging pipeline, it gets harder to pull pieces out to post about.

So let me start with this:
I got to have a tea party!

Sunday afternoon I drove over to the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival in Canby to meet up with friends.

Franna (who brought Vienna, above), Shelly, Laura, and Jeannie were the ladies on my to-see list; I also got to see Wally, Dusty, Suzie, Troy and Loren. Sadly, I'm not good at getting photos of my friends, and I'm just not into the selfie craze. But I did get a snap of Shelly holding Vienna for me:
As for shopping, I was a good girl. ;-) I found one perfect skein of yarn for Artesian while browsing with Shelly and Dusty, and fell in love with some American Top Laura hand-painted and was demo-spinning in her booth.
Fiber inspired by the North Santiam Pass; yarn that reflects the clouds
I am feeling a definite connection of place with my purchases, as the colors all sing "NW Oregon" to me. The hand-towel in the photo plays perfectly into the color scheme, too, although it wasn't a purchase. It was a gift from Laura  – my first hand-woven item! Laura followed me home to spend the night, so we got in more quality time together. I'll share some of that in my next post – whenever I can get it done.

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Project notes

The hat pattern is Able Cables, and it's a free Ravelry download. (Not a member of Ravelry yet? Why not? Best resource on the planet for knitters!) Next up will be these mittens in the same yarn. Big "cables" on the head, little cables on the hands.  ;-)  Then I plan to knit this for ME. I've adored the design since I first saw it, and this week I got a coupon from Romi so I could get the pattern for FREE; whee!

Today I processed the remaining pears with a few apples to fill seven quarts of gingered sauce.

Now to tackle the apples on my laden tree at . . .

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Long and winding roads

It's the first full day of fall, and the weather is being very obedient to the calendar. Yesterday it was cool and cloudy, with a few evening sprinkles. Last night's temperature was perfect for sleeping. It was even more "autumnish" this morning, when I snapped this photo of our hill through my car window on my way to work (Rick's secretary is on vacation). Pretty soon the brown on the ground will be replaced by vibrant green; I can hardly wait. Time to break out the hand knits!

Recently my sister sent me photos of her hat-lovin' cutie-pie; he'd chosen to wear the cap I made for him even though it is much too small now. So guess what my nephew is getting for Christmas? Yep, a new cap (and matching mittens) in his favorite color:

Before I cast on I made myself finish my previous WIP, though:
Yep, the linen stitch set in handspun Targhee is finally done and blocking. Good thing, too, since I plan to deliver it on Sunday when I go to the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival.

Do you remember me saying how much I enjoyed spinning that Targhee? Well, someone(s) did, because yesterday I received a very fat and squishy package:
It was from a woman who teaches spinning to high schoolers, and has solicited fleeces for them to work with. The last two years I've sent her most of the neck wool I skirt off because of VM (vegetable matter), glad to have someone able to utilize the finest part of my fleeces. I didn't realize she and her students follow my blog. They specifically sent me Targhee roving as a thank-you after reading that I enjoyed it. Isn't that amazingly nice? Even nicer was the note tucked in with the roving:

"The kids and I have had so much fun with your generous donation of neck wool that we wanted to find a way to thank you. Not only for the wool, but for the knowledge we have gained from following your blog as well; we recently did a comparison of dual coat Shetland and single coat Shetland and found your posted breed specification instrumental.

"As blog followers we also read that you enjoyed spinning Targhee, and hoped to find more in the future. We have been lucky enough to have worked with an entire Targhee fleece. We were also blessed with the opportunity to visit a local mini spinning mill here in Utah where, after we hand washed and sorted the fleece, had our Targhee carded into roving while we watched! The Targhee fleece came from a local rancher in southern Utah who, it is rumored, owns sheep descended from the original flock developed at the Targhee National Forest, also here in Utah. We debated dyeing the roving before sending it on to you, but decided that color is just too personal a thing without asking, so we expect you will take that upon yourself.

"So we send this roving with our gratitude for your willingness to help a bunch of kids advance in the spinning arts. Your neck wool was our last project for the season and what a wonderful fiber it was to work with! Thank you so very much!"

Well, that just about made my year. I'm so thankful Mary teaches spinning arts to high schoolers, so thankful they are able to glean some knowledge of historical, 1927 breed standard Shetlands from my blog, and so thankful for their thoughtful gift – its local and personal history making it even more meaningful.

As if that was not enough, yesterday I also received positive feedback from the woman who purchased Blake's fleece. I'm going to share what she wrote because it is educational as well as complimentary:

"I'm letting you know that the fleece arrived yesterday. I haven't unfurled the whole thing yet, but I did pull a few locks for hand washing and sampling.

"It's a very nice fleece. Good length, color, and crimp. I've had musket fleece before that had more grey fibers mixed in with the white. I prefer the brown, as I see in this fleece, because it makes a nice warm oatmeal color when spun up. He smells rammy, but not as strongly as some other ram fleeces I've had. I usually do a cold soak before washing and that helps.

"You must be breeding for fineness. He has both a soft handle and I'd guess a micron count in the low 20s. Locks are sound.

"I see what you mean about the rise. There are tufts of short wool around the base of some of the locks I pulled. Not a problem for me in hand processing, as I generally just flick both ends of the lock to open the tips and organize the butt end a bit better.

"Thanks for selling me this fleece. It will keep me entertained for awhile."

YES! I am breeding for fineness and soft handle, along with good length and crimp! It feels – as it should – finer than the micron count would indicate because of its other characteristics. This is breed-standard Shetland fleece from a breed-standard Shetland ram, whose four-year-old, last-rib, mid-side sample from this spring measured 27.6ยต – not the low 20s as she guessed. Preserving this traditional Shetland sheep and its world-famous fleece amidst the cross-breeding happening on the islands is why the 1927 standard was written, and preserving it still from the veering away from breed type often seen in the U.S. is why the Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep Association was formed. I'm proud to be a member.
Feeling chuffed, as those in Shetland would say, at . . .

Monday, September 22, 2014

Let sleeping dogs lie

I have at least three other posts to share with you, but for tonight, I'll have to let sleeping dogs lie.
Top photo is Dozer at home. The other three were at Brian's violin teacher's home. Off to bed now myself.

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday sparring, Sunday jarring

At chore time this morning, Blake and his half-brother Browning were too busy to eat. I couldn't determine if Browning was defending himself from a ram in rut, or if both boys were punchy. You wouldn't think hormones would have an effect on wethers, but Benny has been mounting his half-brother Barbados lately. The ewes haven't started acting hormonal . . . yet.

I've been planning to put together my breeding group this coming Sunday, but with several sheep still for sale, I'm a little nervous about taking steps to increase the size of my flock even more. I only have so much room, hay, and as I've mentioned before, husbandly goodwill. Still, my breeding plans this year could result in some significant steps forward in my flock goals. What to do? Trust me; I'm praying for guidance.

In the meantime, there is still plenty of preserving to be done. I thought I was going to get my very ripe pears sauced today, but Friday Rick scored a load of grapes, and getting them juiced took all day.
We did some in our steamer-juicer (then canned), and some pressed fresh (then frozen). The steamed juice is a great way to utilize those recycled jars, since they aren't subjected to the stress of the water bath canner (shhhh; don't tell the FDA). I lost track of how much we got all told, but it will be tasty additions to future meals.

Looks like I'll be saucing pears tomorrow at . . .

Friday, September 19, 2014

Falling in love all over again – with light

It's heating up again (temporarily), but although the temperature says summer, the atmosphere says autumn. It hit me this morning; the light is different, inside and out. How I love the light this time of year! It is one of the things that makes fall my favorite season.

That's it for today from . . .

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thirsty Thursday

My Blaisie-Lamb is a funny little thing. She demands fresh water with baaAAAs that belie her petite frame, and when I carry in the bucket, I have trouble getting past her to set it down.

Oreo is also funny about water. I keep a water dish filled for her, but when I'm filling sheep buckets, she rushes in to drink from them – or the overflow, as seen below – like she's dying of thirst.

We have to be diligent about checking the horses' water tanks; they are draining them faster than usual. And I am constantly watering vegetation somewhere on the place, trying to keep the garden growing and the shrubs and flowers alive. No doubt about it; it's been a dry summer!

This morning we awoke to showers. It ended before the earth's thirst was quenched, but it did settle the dust and firm up the arena footing, a blessing for Lance's reconditioning rides. It is supposed to warm up and dry out again for another week, and then real fall weather is predicted. Instead of continually dragging hoses I'll be wiping muddy paws; the garden will soon look bedraggled but the pastures will look like emeralds.

Speaking of jewels, I've been finding them hiding here and there lately. Topaz, anyone?

How about rubies?   ;-)

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dealing with it

Life, that is.

Dahlias help.

So does a good (all things being relative) night's sleep . . . and a hot drink . . . and a boy who is trying a little harder today to cooperate . . . and especially parents who always have your back. (I'm much better today, Mom and Dad. Love you!)

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, September 15, 2014

Last day of summer?

I know, I know; the last day of summer is still officially a week off. But today might be the last time we see 90 degrees on the thermometer this year (good riddance, say I, in spite of my new sandals), and there is a brisk breeze blowing the wildfire smoke out of the Willamette Valley tonight. I noticed some hints of autumn around the place today as well:

I can hardly wait for another of our typical fall colors – GREEN!

That's it for summer today at . . .