Hair O\’the Lamb

I’m thinking a really bad word right now….
21 May, 2008, 8:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I had a great idea for a post, logged in and promptly forgot what I was going to write about.  Shheeeesh.   I guess it couldnt have been that great then, right?  Maybe I just need some coffee.  Sadly, there is  none in the house and what with me looking like I have a 3rd degree burn on the side of my nose, I dont think running out to the coffeeshop is an option (Ok ok…I’m a Leo-we’re a vain little bunch. And we exaggerate. Sometimes). 

I have been having an affair with crocheting and it has been going fine l but I think I went and bit off more than I could handle-I started the “Chanson en Crochet” capelet in a fine mohair/rayon blend.  The yarn is doubled to give a light sportweight and the ensuing changes in gauge weren’t a problem.  I was doing fine until I got to the flower section…3 rows from the end.   I’m having trouble with wrapping my brain around that part for some reason…Anyone out there have some tips for finishing that portion?  I am considering scrapping the mohair version (even though it looks great) and doing it over in a more substantial yarn.  I guess I could always use the mohair as a lacy scarf…or I could go freeform and just make it up. We’ll see.

Oh!  I just remembered what I was going to blog about…there is a bird that lives in the backyard that sings at night.  Loudly at night…for hours.  The first night it happened it actually woke me up, but after that I got used to it and it became kinda cool and exotic.  The other day M was checking the sprinklers in the front yard and I overheard him talking to the neighbors. I didnt catch the first part of the conversation because I was in the house but it mostly went like this:

M: “oh yeah…it gets really loud sometimes…”

Neighbor: “Keeps me awake…”

M: “Us too…”

Neighbor:  unitelligable…..”and blow it out of the tree…”

M: “oh dont do that!”

Neighbor: “yeah it might have a nest of babies up there…I guess we just have to get used to the fa-la-la” . 

So true, so true.


Three bags full….
19 May, 2008, 10:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Thats how much raw fleece I currently have!  I have washed one bag, had one waiting in the wings…then very happily acquired 2 more bags!!!  I am aswim in fleece, most specifically pure suffolk lambswool.  My friend’s son recently got 3 more sheep (Iggy, Rodeo, Snowflake and an as yet unnamed ewe). I am the benificiary of the sheared wool and I could not be happier.   Along these lines, since I had 600.00 from my best friend George the government I decided that they should fund my purchase of a drum carder.  After all, its called “stimulus money”, right?  What could be more stimulating than wool? (DO NOT ANSWER THAT)   I have purchased a new Ashford carder and plan on setting up my operation in the studio behind my house. 

And so it begins….my foray into the world of wool.  I plan on processing, dyeing (hopefully with natural dyes), and spinning this wool with the hope of selling it, and if it catches on, perhaps a new line of business down the road.  I have tons to learn but I have always wanted to do this and now the Universe has dropped a sizable amount of fleece in my lap-lets see what happens!

In related news, I have finished the “Bob and Weave” wrap from a few Knitty-s back.  I used one whole skein of Fleece Artist Kid Aran-not sure of the colorway- for the “Bobbing”and a couple skeins of KnitOne Crochet Too Tartlette and gold lame thread for the “Weaving”.  Pics to follow later today.  I love how it turned out but of course, its been 100 degrees here so I wont be using this one for a awhile.

(oh yeah, the mother of all cold sores has struck again…grrrrrr)

…In which we learn how to wash a sheep (fleece)
6 May, 2008, 9:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ok, I’m back.   Still subdued and missing my cat but I am on the other side of it now and getting on with things.  During the break I learned to crochet (thanks Sheri!), read some good books (Including “A fine fleece”) and not incidentally acquired two large feed bags full of wool.  You heard me right…wool.  Fresh from the lamb.   The sheep in question belongs to the son of a co-worker who is raising it for a school project (I love Northern California…wish we’d had school projects like that back east.  Come to think of it, I did have a reading teacher who sometimes brought lambs-rejected during lambing for whatever reason-to school and kept them beside her desk for a day or two but that is another story).  It is the first shearing from his Suffolk lamb and boy is it ever soft.  He dotes on this lamb and the wool was in very clean condition when it got to me.  But as you might well guess, even a clean lamb is still kinda dirty, being a lamb and all.

I laid out an old sheet and dumped one of the bags out on it, then as best as I could, skirted it.  Its not exactly in a whole piece (being in halves I’m guessing) and it was a little hard to tell what was what but I got the worst  of the vm and sheep dirt picked out.  Then I placed the wool in 2 large mesh laundry bags and threw it into the washer which had been prefilled with hot water and Dawn (lavendar-I figured it couldn’t hurt). I pushed the bags under the hot soapy water and let them have a good soak, then spun them out.  I did this a total of 4 times until the fleece was clean.  The last time I washed a fleece, I did it all by hand and…I do  like this method better.  Then I fluffed the wool on the sheet in the sun and let it dry.  Since it was a beautiful sunny day it didnt take long at all.  I then packed it back in one of the mesh bags to await carding.  I have to kind of steel myself up for that one, since I am prone to tendonitis in my wrists even with normal use.  On the other hand, makes a perfectly rational arguement for a drum carder.  I have been checking them out online and I think I could justify having one around. Next weekend I will tackle the second half of the fleece, and will take some pictures of the process.  I originally thought it would be a good project for the knitting group but really washing fleece isn’t that interesting of an activity. 

The portions of the fleece that I have washed by hand are snow white and very soft (I think I may have mentioned that previously but they are incredibly soft…like lambswool lol) and I can’t wait for the spinning to commence!  I promised the donor that I would make him something-I’m thinking a hat or fingerless gloves would be good for a teen guy who likes sheep enough to raise one.  (and yes, I know its going to be sold for meat eventually…but give me a break on that part for now-k?)

More later!

Goodbye Opal…
19 April, 2008, 11:15 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Everyone knows about that thing that knitters seem to have with cats, and maybe not every knitter has cats (dogs ARE fine pets too), but many many knitters do lean towards the feline in such matters as household companions.  I, myself, am one of the cat people…I have had dogs, and probably will have dogs again sometime, but for the past 20 years or so I have had nothing but cats.  Sadly, now I have one less cat.

  Opal came into my life in November of 1994 and it was love at first sight.  After scouring the local shelters for just the right kitten (or cat, I wasn’t too choosy) I broke down and went to a pet store.  I didn’t even see her at first- the fluffy tabbies roughousing in the newspaper shavings were too adorable to miss-but after their charm wore off I spotted her, ensconced on a ferret hammock above the fray.  She raised her little head and looked at me, then resumed napping.   It was love, though she didnt know it yet.  I pointed to her and said, “I’ll take that one” and it was done.  As I carried her out of the store she began “meowling”, a unique sound somewhere between a meow and a howl.  She could talk indeed (my vet always said that she was at least part burmese) and did often.    She was tiny, never growing over eight pounds and was totally black (her name came because we figured that her birthday was in October and that was the birthstone…I didnt want to go with any of the usual black cat names) with greeny-yellow eyes.  She was dignified and polite in every way, even when begging for sushi bits (her favorite thing) reaching out to touch your hand with the lightest of taps then putting her paw down to wait because of course you were going to give her some.  Of course you would…because she was Opal.  

The past few weeks she seemed to be losing a little weight but was still happy and active….then just this week she took a sudden turn, becoming weaker…and weaker.  At the vet on friday there was nothing left to do but to say goodbye…she was too sick, too weak and sadly too old (13…what a coinincidence) to be helped.  Kidney failure, the vet said…no known source or reason…they just failed and she was gone.

Farewell Opalina, Opalette, Opal O. …you were the best little black cat ever.  We miss you… sleep well Opie.

Yes, its April
1 April, 2008, 8:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

p1010029.jpgFor some reason, April always makes me happy.  January has always been my toughest month-not sure why that should be so, but it is-and the following months take a slow upturn ’til we get to April.  April makes me smile.  It may sound like a seasonal disorder but it has been this way even here in California (where spring essentially lasts like, 15 minutes and begins in late February)…perhaps it does have something to do with the amount of sunlight, I don’t know.   But today is April 1st and I’m glad.

I have been spinning and hope to finally finish up the “Seashell Pink” yarn today.  I will probably make a 2 ply out of it like the first bit, but I find chain plying so addictive that I am curious to see how it would look if I did that.  I hope I can resist the urge since the color changes have been kind of intended to be twisted in a 2 ply way. I will have pics of it later if I finish it up.

On the knitting side (I vaguely remember knitting-lol) I am plugging away on the CPH, but I am distracted by the fact I scored a “Street Smart” booklet from Ebay and have been drooling over the “Must Have Cardigan” and the “Urban Aran”….I have the yarn for the MHC in my stash already….and its tempting….but then I look over at my poor CPH and feel guilty.  I have the back and 90% of one sleeve done but I am a little disheartened since I have the original KnitScene magazine pattern  and have heard about the errata and the fact the sleeves run to the tight side.  These issues have pretty much stalled my progress as I try to decide what to do.   I think I just might rip it all out, buy the updated pattern online and start again fresh.  In the meantime…..I could begin the MHC without feeling guilty….right?

(ps-I hope you enjoy the flower pic, I took that over the Easter weekend-I was told when we bought the house that it was a kind of jasmine, it certainly smells like jasmine.  If anyone knows what it is let me know)

18 March, 2008, 8:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

p1010016.jpgp1010016.jpgpretty goodyarnnotbad yarn


In my bathroom (I’m not oversharing here, I promise) I have a large scallop shell that I use as a soap dish.  It has the prettiest colors on the inside, soft pinks, pale purples, taupe, fawn…and I decided to use that as my inspiration for the colors of this yarn.  Despite my reputation with my oldest friends as being a *Goth Princess* in my previous life (I hear you snickering out there), I admit a certain fondness for some shades of pink…natural shades like shells, insides of bunny ears, kitten toes…and rosy cheeks-not the neon pinks from the  ’80s.  Antique pink…blush….pink like rare steak. (Like I always said, you can take the girl out of the goth but you can’t take the goth out of the girl)

I am pleased that my spinning is improving with practice (compare to the yarn in my header up there for proof)!  I gifted the “hotdog” yarn-the yellow/red/purple/green/white skein that I mentioned a few days ago to Bonnie (the Bonnie from the great yarn hunt situation. BTW she is nearly done with that sweater and I’ll share a pic as soon as she is) but this yarn I am keeping.   I spent this morning dyeing up the remainder of the BFL roving in the same colorway so that I will have more than enough for say…socks?  A scarf with a Shell lace pattern maybe?  I know that this yarn is very soft even though I tried to spin it firmly and probably wouldn’t be ideal for socks but there is something to be said for special socks to be worn around the house on lazy Saturday mornings…and I do have a great pair of pink Dansko sandals that would look great with socks in this color….this is getting exciting!

It may be a little late…
17 March, 2008, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

but Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I would have posted earlier but I was in a homemade Irish Soda Bread induced coma.  Mmmmmmmmm…fresh from the oven with butter melting all over…it was sooooooooo good.   Being a little bit of a picky eater (no white sugar, very little processed stuff, no white flour and all that) it was exciting to make an exception for the holiday and chow down on something I usually don’t indulge in.

In between episodes of inhaling huge chunks of hot bread oozing with butter and listening to The Chieftans, I found time for some spinning.  Seems to go easier each time I try it and I am slowly gaining confidence that someday I will be able to produce usable yarn.  I spun up a little from my last batch, then practiced Navajo plying…now I’m knitting up the sample to see what it looks like.

Pictures will have to wait, it would be bad to get butter on the camera.