Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Wool Gathering!

Our booth space at the Wool Gathering
Well, I think my first time vending at a good-sized fiber show was a success.  At least, I had a lot of fun!  And isn't that what life is really about?  It seemed that we had almost too much stuff to pack into our little 10' X 10' space, but we managed ok.  In the photo above,  you can see my hand-dyed yarns to the extreme right on the tree I made and Tari's natural-dyed yarns on the table to the rear.  We also had her rag rugs and my alpaca rugs on the table and various rovings on the shelf unit to the left with other rovings, Tari's homemade goat milk soap and natural dye stuffs and more on the table to the right.  Please excuse the colors in the photo.  I am not good enough with photoshop to make up for the hideous lighting caused by the light coming through the red and white striped tent!  Everything has a pink cast to it.

 Here are Tari and I in our booth early on Saturday.  I am wearing my Montague vest made from the alpaca/cormo roving.  I loved wearing this!  It was perfect for a cool morning and I was able to wear it all day.  I got many compliments and even saw another attendee wearing hers.  It was neat that it was cool, especially on Saturday morning.  I saw lots of awesome hand-knit shawls, sweaters and vests and got lots of inspiration, like this:

It just so happens I have a skein of lace weight merino/silk yarn I was unable to resist buying a year or so ago.  It has been languishing in my "stash" waiting for the perfect project to come along.  I think I found it!

We were located about mid-way down this tent and you can see it is quite large.  SO much temptation!  There were also 2 other tents and many vendors set up outside as well.  I was able to keep my own purchases to a minimum since we were very busy talking to customers and selling things.  But I did manage to buy some merino/bamboo roving, some hand made ceramic buttons, a fringe twister, and a FLEECE!  Yes, I bought a fleece.  I am a sucker for a very crimpy fine, greasy sheep's fleece and I found a gorgeous one and I even have the perfect alpaca fleece to blend it with.  This time I will send it to a processor I have used before.  This one is white.  

I was very pleased with my sales.  I sold 2 rugs on Sunday and I sold 19 of my 26 skeins of hand-dyed alpaca yarn, along with several 2 oz packages of rovings in both dyed and natural colors and a few skeins of hand-spun yarn.  

I can't mention the Wool Gathering without saying that it is at a place called Young's Jersey Dairy, which actually is a dairy farm.  But, they also have lots of things to draw people in and make it a nice family destination.  Of course, ice cream seems to be what they are known for.  Did I sample it?  You bet!  I am sure the cream in it came directly from those beautiful Jersey cows in the pasture.  Yum.

My mom spent some time with us at the festival on Saturday.  I think she may be interested in weaving.  I will have to encourage this.  My brother and his wife and their kids also dropped by after soccer games and decided they needed to come back to visit Young's Dairy when they had more time.  It was great to see them.   I also saw lots of fellow alpaca folk and an old high school friend.  All in all, it was a great weekend.  

Now that the Wool Gathering is behind me, I can look forward to fall.  I think it is about here.  The weather is changing and so are the trees.  It has been such a rainy September!  Not good because I still have an empty hay loft awaiting 300 bales of hay I don't think I am going to get, due to the rain.  I don't need to panic yet.  

I think I mentioned previously that I have a hard time sometimes naming crias.  Some are named almost immediately. Some take longer.  Well I finally came up with names for my 2 favorite crias born this past spring.  

This is Trillium, my only female.  She is from our female, B'Nita and a multi-champion male owned by a farm called Sunset Hills in PA.  His name is Citation.  I finally recalled that early this spring as I was walking through the woods I saw lots of beautiful white Trillium flowers growing and read that they are rare.  I decided then that I would use that as a name.  So, she will be Trillium.

Stormwatch & Booker
The fawn fellow facing the camera is from our female, Margarita, and a male from a farm in northern Ohio named Mr BoJangles.  This is a very nice cria and I may be showing him in the spring (we'll see).  I was pondering a name and again, nothing was coming to me.  I was thinking of the cocktail theme, but not too many cocktails are great names for male crias.  But then I realized I could use part of his sire's name and name him after a very fine, smooth single barrel Kentucky Bourbon, Booker's.  So, Booker it is.  If he matures as nicely as his namesake, he will be a rare indeed.

I hope to demonstrate this Sunday at the Soakum Festival again like last year.  Then the following weekend I will be attending another local festival, the Bethel Harvest Fest, which is a very small festival but always a lot of fun.  I have missed it the last 2 years and they called me to see if I would participate this year.  I take a pen with alpacas to this along with my spinning wheel and some items to sell and sit and chat with the local folks who are making apple butter and soup beans over open fires and eat lots of good food. 

I started knitting a scarf with one of the skeins of hand-dyed yarn I still have.  It is in nice fall  colors and I might be able to sell it at the festival. 

I also plan on getting my upstairs bathroom painted in the next couple of weeks and I have a laundry list of  outdoor chores to do which are best done in the fall when the weather is not too hot or too wet, like replacing a water hydrant at one pasture so I will not have to worry about the spigot being frozen this winter and filling in holes in the main barn where I scoop out part of the barn floor each time I scoop up poop and fixing fence.  I don't plan on being bored any time soon!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today it FEELS Like Fall

Don't they look sweet and innocent.   Here they were a few minutes earlier.

 Still really nothing but big puppies.

Ah, yes, today it feels like fall.  It is very cool and drizzly and the damp just goes all the way to one's bones.  It feels more like November than the last official week of summer.....

Our good old girl, Ginger, who came to live with us almost 4 years ago at the (supposedly) age of 15, has been having some bladder problems.  We thought she had a urinary tract infection so I took her to the vet almost 2 weeks ago and he put her on antibiotics.   It did not clear up and yesterday when I got a urine sample, it was very bloody, so we did bloodwork, which was normal.  Today, we had X-rays done to check for bladder stones.  I am waiting for the call from the vet, but the tech said stones were not seen.  This means either bladder cancer or possibly a severe infection.  It also means I will probably have another trip to a different vet for an ultrasound.  I suppose if it is cancer, it will be difficult, but Ginger has had a good long run and has had a very happy life with us.  We knew when she came home that her time was limited.  Honestly, we didn't think she would be with us this long and she has been pretty healthy until now.  She's a feisty old gal.


 Tomorrow I head out to Yellow Springs Ohio for the Wool Gathering.  Most of my product is loaded into the truck already, I just need to tag some rugs and pack my clothes.  The weather sounds like it will be great for the festival, highs around 70 and sunny.  I'm looking forward to it!  Here is a batch of yarn I dyed earlier this week.  Very happy with it.  It definitely fits into the autumn color scheme.  Here is another batch I did in the dyebath on the stove. 

Very pleased with this one as well.  The colors came out just like I was hoping!  How often does THAT happen?  

Here are the washed skeins hanging on the towel warmer.  I really prefer to dry the yarn outside, but the weather has been kinda iffy this week  Never know if it's gonna rain or shine.

 I made a "yarn tree" out of a piece of PVC pipe and some dowels and a patio umbrella stand.  The only thing I had to buy was some spray paint.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to photograph it yet because the paint was still wet, but I will get a pic for next week.  It should hold about 30 skeins of yarn and I will display my hand-dyed yarns on it at the show.  I have got several skirted fleeces, beautiful mill-spun yarn from my own alpacas, rovings for hand-spinners, rugs and more.  I have been so busy getting this all ready.  Maybe I'll sell enough to pay Ginger's vet bills!

 No more crias yet.  I think we should have one or two more in the next 10 days, or maybe even all three.  At left is Laci, born a little over 2 weeks ago.  She is doing great and has lots of moxie.  She is what I refer to as a "hoppy-skippy" cria, which is what I like to see.  A hoppy-skippy cria is generally a happy healthy cria. 

Here are some of the spring crias enjoying a mid-September evening.  Notice the trees are still nice and green for the most part.  That will be changing soon, I am sure.

In other news my two sons, Ian and Sam/Zac and Ian's girlfriend, Michelle, all got hired to work at the Grand Canyon on the south rim in the lodges this winter, so they will be leaving Tahoe in a month.  Their plan is to work there this winter and then move to Portland, Oregon in the spring.  Michelle is from Portland and they think it will be a good place to settle for a while.  Christmas at the Canyon?  Hmmmm....

I will leave you  for this week with another version of a chicken picnic:


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Labor Day Weekend is Behind Me & I'm Dyeing!

After a swim in the creek, a roll in the hay(field) is called for!
Yup, it's hard to believe Labor Day is behind us once again.  We had a great time with relatives from Grand Rapids, MI,  Lebanon, Dayton & Toledo OH and Pittsburgh, PA  all staying with usIt could only have been better if my boys had been here from Lake Tahoe.  But its a long way from there to here.

Saturday the weather was terribly hot, mid to upper 90's and humid.  We never even got out the volleyball net.  But eating and drinking and sitting in the shade were good options.  My brother also brought my niece and nephews' mini-bike and it was a popular item.  My aunt was a much more successful rider than her son, Matt.  He couldn't seem to stay on it!

Evening brought a battle of the sexes Cornhole tournament.  My neighbor Deb and I won 2 out of 3 against her husband Rick and Sam.  I am sure a re-match will be called for!

Sunday we spent a few hours up at the pond.  The zip line and diving board were a big hit with the kids (well adults too) and even Jack, my brother's yellow lab seemed to find the zip line fascinating.  He kept trying to retrieve it and getting wound up in the retrieval rope.  I don't know why I did not take pics!

Sunday evening the rain started.  We went from almost 100 degrees to a high of 60 on Monday.  It rained for about 48 hours straight and then we had an 8 hour reprieve before it started raining again Wednesday afternoon.  It has been cool and grey and very fall-like.  I'm just not ready for that yet!

On Monday, everyone had left for home by about noon and I was left with a very quiet house and lots of clean up and laundry.  I have to say I do not regret a minute of the time I get to spend with family.  We have been having everyone here for 13 years now on Labor Day.  Someone is always missing, but in general most of my family is here.  What wonderful memories.

So now with Labor Day over for another year, it is time to get ready for the next big event:  The Wool Gathering!  It is next weekend, the 17th and 18th.  I will be selling yarns, rovings, rugs and maybe some other hand made items.  But first, I have to get everything organized and ready to go.  I spent yesterday weighing out roving and packaging it into 2 oz bags and tagging them for sale.  I also got my yarn back from Morningstar Fiber Mill, just in time!  

The yarn is done up in 300 yard skeins, each about 3.75 oz.  I have a gorgeous chocolate brown and of course white.  It all needs to be washed and labeled and I will likely dye some of the white.  Behind the wheel is my 3-way swirl roving.  I took 2 years' fleece from Eclipse and dyed part of it teal and part lilac and left part natural, which is very light fawn.  I sent all 3 to Zeilinger's mill in Frankenmuth MI and they made a swirled roving from it.  It is very cool looking.  Next to that is a 50/50 blend roving of fawn alpaca and white wool from a breed of sheep called Blue-Faced LeicesterI had that processed at Stonehedge Fiber Mill in MI.  I still have other rovings to weigh out and label and some dyeing to do.  I have dyed up 2 batches of yarn so far.

 I do not have large enough dye pots to do more than about 1 pound of yarn at a time.  Here are the 2  I have done so far.  They are drying on the towel warming rack my mom gave me for Christmas a couple years ago. I have never warmed a towel on it, but it has dried LOTS of yarn and roving.  I prefer to hang yarn outside, but this week's weather has not been conducive to that. 

Below is the purple yarn simmering in the dyebath on my stove.

In addition, I have been working away at the Spin-off and am almost done with that.  I finished the socks I was working on and currently have nothing on my knitting needles or on my looms!  But getting ready for next week's show is more than enough to keep me busy.

The alpacas are all fine.  Happy the weather is cooler, I am sure.  No new babies as of yet.  I don't really expect any for another 2 weeks, but ya never know.  

The chickens continue to amuse me.  They did just fine with the additional dogs this past weekend, although my cousin's pug really decided she had to catch one.  She was unsuccessful, but it was rather funny to watch her try to catch birds that were as big as she was.  One of our chickens, or maybe more than on,  who really knows? keeps presenting us with humongous double-yolked eggs.  They are so large they do not fit in the egg cartons. 

Hopefully I will have time to post next week.  Tari and I need to leave on Friday for the 3 hour drive to the Wool Gathering in time to check in and set up, so I will be loading the truck on Thursday after work.  I have to say I am really looking forward to this.  I have done a smaller fiber show (which is actually this weekend again in WV and I am not attending), but this one is pretty major.  I can't remember if I posted the link to it or not so here it is A Wool Gathering