Home again, home again, jiggety jig (and 2 new FREE patterns)

June 29th, 2011

Posted in bloggy, FREE buffet! by Nikol |

Well, I’m  a few days home from a marvelous vacation with my mom. I’ve recovered from the jet lag, almost adjusted to my seemingly invigorated allergies, and I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things. I’ve much to do.

Kristi and I used to take a mother-daughter vacation almost every year, but since moving out to the sticks, this is less practical than in days gone by. We definitely made up for lost vacation time, hooking up a balcony room on our cruise and visiting the spa twice, bitches! I even succumbed to the unaccustomed luxury of it all by buying some fancy cleanser. My normal skincare routine consists of a wet washcloth and store-brand Lubriderm, but I’ve recently been using some Magical Miracle Superfancy skin cream my mom sent me, in hopes that it will make me young and beautiful before I get to the bottom of the jar (which will hopefully last until my birthday, since I ain’t forking out the stack of cash for another jar, especially when I’m not in a massage-and-facial-induced state of suggestibility).

Cruise portraits

While I always feel a little sheepish about cruise travel (it’s about the least authentic way to see any place), I love it for the same reason I love a sampler platter: you get a little taste of everything and can decide what you want to come back for more of later on; and if you’re not crazy about any particular place, you haven’t invested much time or emotional energy in it. Gluttony without commitment. Now, in addition to my delusions about returning to Poland, I get to pretend I’ll go back to Venice, Croatia and Slovenia!

Maybe because this time, I didn’t encounter any yarn shops (on our Baltic cruise, I was positively overrun with woolly temptations), while on vacation, I actually read a lot more than I knit (thanks to my new Kindle, impulsively purchased before paying bills and quickly rationalized for its free 3G web/email connection, very handy in a foreign land with no international cell phone), though I did finish this little mystery number:

Sporto 2

I also repeatedly tried and botched brioche stitch half a dozen times. I’m going to drink a beer, kick back, and try again tonight.

While I was gone, two of my new patterns went live!

First, the That Girl! Tank, the companion piece to last year’s That Girl! Summer Jacket in Craftzine.

That Girl! Tank

Ravelry Page | Craftzine Pattern

And then Date Night, a quick-knitting lace top with short shell and long tunic versions.

Date Night!

Date Night!

Ravelry Page | Knitty Pattern

And I’m embarking on an exciting new round of patterns, as well! I am absolutely besotted with this new project. But more on that later.

Busy Bee!

May 21st, 2011

Posted in bloggy, cupcake ranch, spinny, uberlist, works in progress by Nikol |

What a week! After a week of my awesome new craft-reward-enhanced To-Do listing, I have been awfully productive! Not only have I gotten a lot done, but I’ve made time for myself to do my personal crafty stuff. I’ve decided that any crafty rewards I earn each week expire on Sunday, so that kind of urges me to use them up.

I’ll start with the best: Pet Sally Cardigan knitted, steeked, and finished! Modeled by Little Freddy Pickles.

Sally Pet Cardigan

Sally Pet Cardigan

Sally Pet Cardigan

Sally Pet Cardigan

Sally Pet Cardigan

We are not amused. Sally Pet Cardigan

The Pet Sally Cardigan arose from a need to test out superwash steeking. I figured as long as I was going to make and steek a swatch, I may as well make it into something useful, something that would actually test the integrity of the steek. I’m going to post the mods for a pet sweater on my craftzine post next week, if you want to make your small dog or cat a matching Sally sweater.

It only takes 2 balls of yarn (I used Valley Yarns Valley Superwash to test the steek), but due to my poor planning, I didn’t have enough red for the button placket. If you make one repeat shorter and take a couple rows off the ribbing at collar, hem, and cuffs, I think you’d have enough for the button placket as well. It uses a full ball of the MC and the better part of the ball of CC. Now, it just so happens I have enough left over from each Sally to make a cat sweater in the opposite colorway. I see some atrocious pet portraits in my future…

My own Sally Cardigan from the KAL, steeked (suddenly much less exciting, as human-sized):

Sally Cardigan KAL: steeked!

March pound of fiber, finished:

March Pound of Spinning: Forsythia Habit

Mystery project, finished and blocked:

Mystery project

And I updated SEVEN wordpress blogs with the current software, not because I’m a real go-getter, but because my host upgraded its version of PHP, so they had to be upgraded. I also solved the mystery issue with the years-neglected Out of the Frying pan database and did some cleaning.

Sadly, I didn’t get to have my work swap with Charlene this week. My friend Charlene and I decided to start a work trade around our places. She also lives in the country in a place that has a to-do list a mile long, so we decided to swap two full days and two half days each month to help each other with all our two-man projects. Last week we took out some old fence, staked some trees, planted some other trees and fenced them with electric to keep out her goats, and cut back a hulking forsythia. And on my day this week, it was not only storming all day (and most of my plans were outdoors), but I also wrenched my neck a few minutes after I woke up, and am still suffering from it today (it has improved, though). So we’ll catch up next week. I want to get rid of the army of saplings that has invaded my pasture, fix up the hay shed, and maybe, just maybe, get started on the deck!

We saved the wood from the old playground when we turned it into a barn. We had to raise the level of the deck  a couple feet (so it was at least high enough for short people like me and Ron to clear) and put in a tin roof, but our plan was always to replace the boards and maybe add a frame over the top we could cover with Coolaroo fabric for a lovely, shaded picnic area/deck overlooking Cupcake Ranch. But our to-do list, of course, is endless, and there’s always something more pressing looming. But I think the summer of work swap just might yield me my deck!

I also picked my April pound of fiber to spin, fittingly all the Yarn School bits & bobs:

April's pound to spin: Yarn School scraps

This isn’t quite a full pound, but between the extra carder barf and the sample batts I made for demos, I should be able to muster the requisite 16 ounces.

I’m spinning it fine then chain-plying. The one bat I spun was pretty rough stuff–I don’t know what was in it, but I wouldn’t call it next-to-skin. My original plan was for a sweater (I almost always wear shirts under sweaters, anyway, because I’m a delicate flower), but I’m not sure yet. The yarn might be too busy. I’m going to wait until it’s all done for it to tell me what it is. I could always use it as an excuse to pull out the neglected Knitter’s Loom and make a throw in a couple panels…. We’ll see what it wants to be once it’s spun.

And last but not least, I’m working on a new pattern. I really want to focus on handspun, thanks to my growing pile of sweater-sized batches of handspun from my pound-a-month challenge. I’ve had the good fortune to design several projects of Craftzine and Knitty lately, but I’m typically getting yarn support for those, so they’re not winnowing my stash. Meanwhile, it’s growing a lot from my amped-up handspun output. To combat the imbalance, I’ve decided to concentrate on handspun a bit more.

Feelin' Froggy handspun

spun from last year’s Tour de Fleece output:

Tour de Fleece greenies, washed!

This was about 10 ounces of a pretty bold colorway I had leftover from one of the Cuckoobatts Club batts, plied with my Succulent combed top. The wool was just plain domestic wool, and the succulent has medium wool and merino plus plain and sparkly nylon, so it’s a net-sturdy socky kind of yarn. But since it’s a heathery solid that coordinates pretty closely with the hand-dyed colorway, it gives the knitted fabric much softer transitions that mitigate the sometimes kind of glaring crafty look you get with handspun from really bright colorways.

In Cupcake Ranch news, everyone’s enjoying the fresh grass. I let the sheep loose on Sunday when I moved the electronet. That always makes for a little crazy fun.

DSC09420

They’ll be back in their jackets soon, but I’m letting them enjoy a little nudism for the time being.

Agnes & Fudgy

Ronnie & Jayne

Hokey Pokey

When the grass is really tender, they do a fantastic job “mowing” it. Here you can see a pretty straight line between the long grass and their last pasture, before I moved the fence.

The sheep mow a path

Once it goes all stemmy, it’s not as tidy looking and I have to mow over it afterwards to get the fresh growth back in.

I had a little worry over Bridgette last week. I won’t go into all the boring details, but let’s just say it culminated in a late-night chicken bath and, ahem, a chicken blow-dry–I couldn’t leave her soaking wet and freezing!–and a night at the Hen Hilton (aka a box filled with shredded paper in the basement), followed by an afternoon of me intermittently guarding her so the other greedy chickens didn’t keep her from eating. Sounds a little over the top (and I admit, I felt the same way, sitting with a wet chicken in my lap and a blow dryer in my hand), but mainly it just meant I was knitting outside in the fresh air instead of inside (I had a couple design deadlines), so it was no skin off my nose. And by the next day, she was back to her piggy self.

As a side note, man, chickens can be brutal. They’re lovely and funny most of the time, but they can sniff out weakness and turn vicious. Okay, I’m a little hypersensitive because Bridgette’s my favorite–it’s not like they were attacking her (though they were back when she was convalescing after the Dog Attack); they were just keeping her away from the food with well-placed pecks. Normally, chickens either peck back or just walk over to a more friendly spot at the table, but when they’re feeling less-than, they tend to just cower and cringe–and not get anything to eat.

Inara makes an entrance

Inara, who is, best as I can tell, Head Girl. She’s been at the top of the pecking order since Patty, the then-leader, was carried off by a wandering dog. Most of the time, she’s a rather benevolent leader, but from time to time, she’ll go all Mean Girls on your ass. Faith is by far the most aggressive hen, but has never had top status. She’s more of an Enforcer. Back when she was just a few days old, she pecked two chicks’ eyes till they were swollen shut, so she was separated for two weeks. I don’t know whether her status never recovered or whether there’s some subtlety to chicken culture that requires a more refined leadership, but despite her scrappiness, she’s never been the top hen.

Spinning To-Do List + Playing Catch-up

May 13th, 2011

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

One of my Überlist goals was to spin a pound a month. January and February, check. But I only got 4 ounce of March done in March. But this week, I instituted a rewards system for my To-Do list. I knock tedious tasks of my list, I get little prizes (spinning an ounce, carding a batt, making a skirt, playing Scrabble). This week, I earned 4 ounces of spinning, a couple games of scrabble, plying the rest of my March yarn, and writing this post. So far, I haven’t spun the 4 ounces I earned, but I did ply what I’d already spun.

This was my first go at combining two different colorways for a large project. Last year after Yarn School, Jen made Adrian go through her stash and group up all her colorways into projects. Inspired by that (but without Adrian’s instinctive color sense), I made a tentative stab and combining two coloways that weren’t totally matchy-matchy. I picked these, Funky Carolina Forsythia and Hello Yarn Habit, both BFL. I had 8 ounces of each, enough for a sweater.

March pound to spin

Which became these singles:

Hello Yarn Habit BFL

Funky Carolina Forsythia BFL

And then this yarn:

Forsythia Habit

I am very well pleased with the result, and I can’t wait to spin the rest!

I meant to hijack Adrian after this past yarn school and make her group up my stash, but maybe it’s best for me to have to do it myself. I know I won’t be as bold with my choices, but I should still get some good yarn out of it. Then I’ll just have to figure out when to knit it.

Hey, does anyone know of a good master spinning checklist like the knitting one? I’m making my own little list, but I don’t think I’m experienced enough to know what I should add. This isn’t exactly a master check list, because a lot of the items are unique to my life (stuff from my own animals or shop).

But for my part, I’d like to do these things. I think to call them done I should spin enough for a project, though it doesn’t need to be a sweater’s worth. A lot of these things I’ve given a cursory try at Yarn School, but not a serious, concentrated go. I’m going to add to this as I think of things. And of course, for a boost, I had to add a few things I have done.

Spinning To Do List

  • Hand-combing
  • Spinning worsted from hand-combed top
  • Hand-carding
  • Spinned woolen from rolags
  • Carding and spinning a 5-level  color progression blend
  • Spinning and plying a 5-level plied progression
  • Spinning and plying a 10-level plied progression
  • Card, spin and knit a projec
  • Spin and knit a whole sweater from batts
  • Spin and knit a whole sweater from combed top
  • Spinning pure angora from fluff
  • Spinning alpaca from fluff
  • Spinning wool from uncarded washed fleece
  • Spinning a sweater’s worth of floor bats
  • Spinning a whole project of mohair
  • Spinning a whole project of pygora
  • Spinning a whole project of llama
  • Spinning a whole project of alpaca
  • Spinning a whole project of wool
  • Spinning a sweater’s worth of 3-ply
  • Spin and knit handspun socks
  • Hand processing and spinning an entire fleece from one of my animals
  • Spin and knit a single project from everything in my Natural Color Sampler
  • Video my carding techniques
  • Spinning and knitting a cowl from each of my animals
  • Of course, photographing them in said cowls
  • Spinning and knitting a sampler garment from each year’s wool clip
  • Spinning enough Optim for a shawl
  • Spinning a 3 Feet of Sheep tube into one big chain-plied skein
  • Spinning a project on each of my wheels
  • Spinning a project entirely with unsupported long draw
  • Spinning a large project on a drop spindle
  • Andean plying
  • Carding and pulling a project’s worth of roving
  • Master Spinner course
  • Spin a full project from silk hankies
  • Dye, spin & knit top for self-striping socks
  • Spinning a sample skein and knitting a mini sock for each fiber I carry in my shop

3-gram samples

Yarn School!

May 7th, 2011

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

It’s always makes me a little mopey when Yarn School’s over, but if I’m not too tired, I get an excellent kick of residual creative energy that I’m still trying to ride. And I can tell that I’m slowly by surely getting the hang of this thing because, for the first time after Yarn School, I didn’t have to sleep for a solid day! I went to bed a couple hours early and took in a more or less normal long night’s sleep to recover. Who knows? Maybe next time I’ll get normal sleep during the thing!? (Who am I kidding? I’ll never be that organized.)

Besides some general stuff I needed to catch up on (Sally cardigan KAL–did I mention how much I LOVE my Sally sweater?!–and my dad’s web site redesign), I also TC of some Yarn School-related B.

I finished about half of my dregs dyeing. That’s when I use only the dregs of leftover mixtures from Yarn School, recombine them, and dye up a mess of fiber for spinning and carding. We made up some big bins of wet fiber and poured the dregs onto them during Yarn School, then threw them in the roaster, but those were all really disappointing and washed-out, so I just overdyed them once they cooled.

Dregs dyeing

This round, I did several semi-solids for carding, plus some superwash and nylon sparkle combos for socks. These will be Sock Sacks on etsy next week.

For socks.

This was my favorite, an overdyed disappointment:

My favorite of the dregs

I also made some dregs batts, completely random junk batts from all the leftover fiber from the floor and piled around the carding table. This year, I mentioned junk batts, but didn’t actually demo one, which may explain the unusually large pile of fiber farts on the carding table this time. I told everyone not to throw them away when they clean off the drums–which they didn’t–and to card big handfuls of them later–which they also didn’t, as far as I can tell. Usually someone snaps up all the odds and ends for crazy batts. The floor fiber alone made one really big batt. I think if I also card the whole basket of mangled ends (leaving the unmolested fiber still unmolested) and spin all of the resulting batts, along with the abandoned rolags, I might have enough for a cardigan! Definitely chain-plying that yarn. Hm. Or am I?

As a side note, I really should make a carding video…

Yarn School Floor Batt, a monster carded on the Mad Batter (I know it’s technically “Mad Batt’r,” but I dislike arbitrary contractions, so in my house, it’s just Batter. But maybe I should give him a proper name? Maybe I should name them all. I do love naming things…)

Floor Batt #1, Yarn School Spring 2011

Floor Batt #1, Yarn School Spring 2011

I only ever use the Mad Batter (Oskar? Chuck? Or maybe it’s a girl? Hedwig?) anymore , so I decided to give my valiant little Ashford (Sammy? Liv? Pepe?) a crack at the dregs batts, and he tackled them nicely, thank you very much.

Giving the Ashford a little love

But enough about me! Yarn School was so fracking fun I could barf! I’ve been inspired to make up a big spinning to-do list like that big knitting list (wait, I’ll be someone has already made one–I need to ask the webbernet) and to catch up on my pound a month (that means 2.5 pounds this month to get me back on track–but Chris says she spins 5 pounds a month! FIVE POUNDS!).

BTW, I realized last weekend that I’m truly a crap photographer. I know it’s a poor carpenter who blames his tools, but I sure miss my old camera. It’s fanciness compensated my lack of skill.  You’ll find more and better pictures in the flickr pool.

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Psst… Cherie’s now offering a fiber club for her marvelous mohair and hand-plucked bunny fiber!

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Standing angoras look so regal and bizarre, like some deleted scene from Watership Down.

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

Yarn School Spring 2011

(I found out Erica’s a Scrabble player! We’re murmuring about a tournament next year….)

I need to put away all the equipment this week so 1) I can pretend I actually use the gym for exercise and 2) so I can quit sighing every time I pass the gym and see all the quiet carders and wheels. Le sigh…

Shearing Day at Cupcake Ranch!

April 22nd, 2011

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

Right now, I’m super mad at my sheep because this morning, they called my bluff on the unwired electric netting and busted out of their pasture, attacking my newly-planted apple trees and making me chase them around in the mud for so long I could hear the Benny Hill music playing in my head. Every time I’d get one back inside, another would slip by me, and they’d be off again. Luckily, I caught them all before they completely stripped my poor little trees, but unluckily, I didn’t have time to throw on my mud boots, so I got very, very dirty and my poor Danko Midoris (which are rather precious to me because they’re discontinued) got soaked through and caked with mud. They are officially trapped in the barnyard until I can run down to the co-op, where I’m hoping they have some insulated wire I can use to join the two noncontinuous lengths of electronet.

In the meantime, I’ll try to put their bad behavior out of my mind and tell you about shearing day! This year, I didn’t have a helper, but I was very good with my prep. I took their hay up the night before so they wouldn’t be full and squirmy. A squirmy sheep is a bloody sheep on shearing day. I got all my supplies ready ahead of time, and even made a little catch pen in a corner of the barnyard. When I got the call that Danny was on his way, I led them all into the pen with a handful of hay (they were really hungry, to be lured into confinement with a handful of hay, poor things!) and took off all their coats so they’d be ready to go.

Here’s the whole gang, before shearing:
Shearing '11: The Whole Cupcake Ranch Gang Before

That’s Hokey Pokey and Agnes in back (facing to the right), then Ronnie (facing front), Jayne, Uncle Honeybunch (facing back), Mr Shiver’s butt, and the top edge of Fudgy in the foreground.

It’s always fun to get their coats off and get a good look at their fleeces. During the year, I only see their fleeces when I change suits, and then just one at a time.

This year, Ronnie’s fleece has been looking suspiciously Shetland-like. It’s way finer and softer than the Shetlands, and she definitely has that Merino face, but look at her fleece compared to Fudgy, even.

Shearing '11: Fudgy & Ronnie before

Ronnie’s the redder fleece in the foreground. Her fleece is much more like the Shetlands’ than her brother’s, below. He has that typical Merino a’a lava look (he’s the center fleece; that’s Fudgy behind him)

Shearing '11: Fudgy & Hokey Pokey before

Although she’s now close to her brother’s size (they’re both runts, thanks to my utter lack of prenatal care, since they were a complete surprise), when she was born, she was way teenier. And right from the start,  she had a much more open fleece, which made me suspicious they had different pops.  But last year’s fleece was fairly fine and greasy, though much longer than Hokey Pokey’s. If only I had a CSI lab in my basement and I could run a genetic test on my sheep!

On to the shearing! I won’t have time to skirt and photograph the fleeces until after Yarn School, but I can give you before and after shots of each animal.

When you have a mix of colors, the shearer starts with the white sheep so their fleeces don’t get contaminated with dark fiber. Uncle Honebunch was up first, because he’s bold and has built-in handles.

Honeybunch before:

Shearing '11: Uncle Honeybunch Before

A closeup of his fleece:

Shearing '11: Honeybunch's fleece

And after:

Shearing '11: Uncle Honeybunch After!

He was a perfect gentleman and didn’t give any trouble. I was pleased to see he wasn’t quite as fat this year as last year.

Shearing '11: Honeybunch visits the inmates

Afterwards, he didn’t seem to know what to do with himself. He kept walking out toward the pasture, thinking better of it, and walking back to the little pen holding all his compadres.

Next up was Agnes:

Shearing '11: Agnes Before!

Here she is immediately after, looking plaintive and pathetic:

Shearing '11: Agnes After!

Agnes go a few little waddle nicks, but nothing too gruesome.

Shearing '11: Agnes After!

She, too, kept checking in on her former cellmates:

Shearing '11: Agnes visits the inmates

Last of the white sheep was Jayne Cobb:

Shearing '11: Jayne Cobb Before

Shearing '11: Jayne Cobb Before

Jayne looks so dashing in fleece, and so gawky and goofy shorn:

Shearing '11: Jayne Cobb After

Jayne’s always had kind of a loose, lumbering stroll, and last summer he spent a few days grazing laying down when it was really hot. But now that he’s shorn and you can really see his muscles, he seems a little too loosey-goosey in the hips, so I’ve scheduled a visit with the vet the Tuesday after Yarn School. Danny said we might try giving him a shot of BO-SE, but I’m not confident enough to try anything without asking the vet first. Wouldn’t it be funny if I needed to start walking him like a dog, to strengthen him up? If it is bothering him, he doesn’t seem at all hesitant in getting up or laying down, or goofing off and getting into trouble as much as anyone else, but he does seem a bit more unstable, now that I can really see what’s going on.

Next up was our gray gentleman, Mr. Shivers.

Shearing '11: Mr Shivers Before

Here’s his lovely, long fleece:

Shearing '11: Mr Shivers' fleece

And here’s kind of a crappy “after” shot. I know he looks a little drunk, but I promise I did not let him do body shots off Agnes. He, too, was a good size (both of the Shetland boys were tubbos the last two years).

Shearing '11: Mr Shivers After!

Up until this point, when there were more fleecy sheep in the pen than naked sheep outside of the pen, things were fairly calm. But right about now is when all hell breaks loose and they all start screaming bloody murder. Even the ones I haven’t heard all year, Agnes and Uncle Honeybunch, are suddenly full of opinions. (Oddly, the vocalizations lasted well after shearing was over. They were still making a stink when I put them up for the night.)

Then it was time for the black sheep. We started with Fudgy the Whale:

Shearing '11: Fudgy Before!

Fudgy after, with a better shot of Mr. Shivers. These two immediately started squaring off, and continued all evening.

Shearing '11: Fudgy Afte! (with Mr Shivers)

She was followed by Hokey Pokey:

Shearing '11: Hokey Pokey Before!

He always looks like a tiny Hostein when he’s been sheared:

Shearing '11: Hokey Pokey After

He got a nice gash along his jaw from some inopportune bucking, his specialty. Their cuts always look so alarming–I think their loose skin means lots of wiggly connective tissue–so even if they don’t bleed, they look extra creepy and shiny and they stretch and gape with movement. They look like when you pull the skin off a raw chicken thigh, bleh. I’ll keep an eye on both him and Agnes, but I think they’ll be just fine. No  bleeding or anything.

Hokey Pokey’s fleece was fine and dark again this year. And his shorn fleece looks like black velvet, albeit dusty black velvet. You just want to paint Elvis on him:

Shearing '11: Hokey Pokeys black velvet butt

If you’re wondering why they all have a dirty butt, after shearing, Danny dragged each one off to the side, trimmed their hooves (yay! I get out of a hoof trimming!) and gave them their CD/T vaccinations (yay! I get out of giving shots!). All that’s left is the worm routine. Today I’ll give them their first formal FAMACHA check. I check them out informally year-round, whenever I’m close enough to give their eye a little tug and it strikes my fancy–but worms aren’t really an issue in winter, so I’m not super meticulous about it then; my record-keeping goes from spring to fall.

And last but not least is little Ronnie, whose fleece, as I said, is looking suspiciously Shetland-like this year:

Shearing '11: Ronnie Before!

Shearing '11: Ronnie's fleece, Exhibit 1

For the most part, I stayed away from the shearing itself, fearing my fretful nature would make them react nervously, but I did get a few shots of the very end of Ronnie’s session. That darker part of the pile near his feet, that’s Ronnie. You can see her take take form near the end.

Shearing '11: Shearer Danny Smith zips Ronnie out of her sheep costume

Shearing '11: Shearer Danny Smith zips Ronnie out of her sheep costume

Shearing '11: Shearer Danny Smith zips Ronnie out of her sheep costume

Shearing '11: Shearer Danny Smith zips Ronnie out of her sheep costume

Shearing '11: Shearer Danny Smith zips Ronnie out of her sheep costume

Shearing '11: Shearer Danny Smith zips Ronnie out of her sheep costume

Next year, I’ll have to make a video! It’s so fun to watch. He takes the sheep, puts it on its but, then rolls it around as he shears off the fleece in one piece, like he’s peeling an orange. At the end of it, the sheep emerges, a little dazed and looking like an entirely new animal, and staggers off.

Shearing '11: Ronnie After!

Here’s some of the ratty, weathered fleece of Ronnie’s haunch. Now this is the coarse, scraggly stuff from the top of her legs (you can see it still on her in the next picture–it’s the stuff directly below Mr. Shivers’ nose), so it’s not representative of the rest of her fleece, but it totally looks like the coarse sections of Shetland!

Shearing '11: Exhibit 2

Here’s Mr. Shivers with Ronnie. She’s got the merino face, but if you saw her from behind, you really might think Shetland. Where’s my DNA lab?!

Shearing '11: Mr. Shivers & Ronnie before

Once everyone was finished, they all reunited to frolic and spar.

Shearing '11: Frisky sparring

Here they are, still nice and clean (they’re all covered with dust now, two short days later):

Shearing '11: The Whole Cupcake Ranch Gang After

Just an hour before:

Before...

And a couple days ago, still in their jackets:

I’ll let them run around naked for the next couple weeks. After Yarn School, I’ll launder and mend all the  jackets & treat them with the iDye UV wash before dolling them up again.

I just have a few balls of last year’s roving left, but I think I may get everyone made into yarn this year! It’s a bigger investment, but it’s very popular.

But I’ll think about that after Yarn School. Speaking of which, back to work!

Call for Goodies!

April 15th, 2011

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

If you make or sell fibery goodness, contribute to the Yarn School Goodie Bag or Door Prizeaganza!

You’ll get your wares in the hands of dedicated spinners and knitters, plus you’ll get a thank-you link/banner right here on the first screen Thrifty Knitter! (See the Art Club ad, right.)

Please provide either a full-sized door prize or 32 samples (at least 1/2 ounce of fiber for a spinnable sample or 10g of yarn for a swatchable sample). Fiber is fantastic, be we also love fiber-related items like knitting patterns, stitch markers and other notions, lotions and handmade soaps, fiber DVDs or books, etc.

Please make sure everything is labeled (easy way: bag/tag them with a business card) so people know how to get more. Any leftover samples will go into future door prize assortments.

Email me a 150 x 71-pixel banner OR your Ravelry Marketplace banner (which has the same proportions, so I can just resize it for you), plus a link to your etsy or independent site or ravelry yarnie or designer page.

I need these in my hot little hands by Wednesday, 4/27. The safest way to get them here on time is UPS, but if you send early next week or especially if you’re geographically close, Priority Mail is a good bet, too.

Nikol Lohr
13149 Harveyville Rd
Harveyville KS 66431

Casting on with my new colors + Burn Test

April 14th, 2011

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

Often when I run across a mystery fiber I can make a pretty good guess by touch, sight or smell, but every once in a while I’m flummoxed, and then I look up the burn test details. It won’t tell you if you’ve got BFL or Corriedale, but it can tell you whether you’re dealing with animal, cellulose or synthetic. With the growing variety of both natural and synthetic man-made fibers, that can be handy.

The chief differences are how it burns (does it melt, burn actively, or self-extinguish), the type of ash or residue it produces, and the smell it generates. I found this video that gives you both written descriptions and a nice shot of each burning. Hopefully it will aid in your fiber detection!

And my superdeluxe Valley Yarns Sheffield came today for the Sally Cardigan Knitalong! It’s so, so, pretty. Dark brown is one of my usual colors, but purple is pretty well out of my wheel house. But I love them together! Since brown’s more in my comfort range, it’s going to be my MC. I’m expecting a very different look than the retro original! I’m gonna go get myself some caffeine and cast that baby on!

Sally KAL colors

Sally Cardigan Knitalong coming next week, yippee!

April 6th, 2011

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

Craftzine’s running a Sally Cardigan KAL during April & May! Yippee! I’ll be knitting another Sally, and posting a different step each week, so if you like Sally but want some guidance (especially around the steek, which seems to be nervous-making for everyone), please join us! I set up a ravelry group and I’ll make a flickr group tonight. My first post, about yarn ideas & substitutions, is going up on craftzine blog tonight or tomorrow.

I wish I wasn't wearing my gardening hat in all these pictures

Please ignore my stupid gardening hat. I was having hair issues and am now filled with remorse about grabbing the stupid thing. But cute sweater, no?

Now I just need to figure out:

1) What colors I want to use and

2) Whether I want to make an allover pattern or a sort of Nordic-y patterened yoke-and-cuffs only version.

Allover pattern is in the lead right this minute, but I’m giving myself until tomorrow to decide.

I don’t have enough of 2 colors to knit from stash, and I LOVE LOVE LOVED the Sheffield, so I’m definitely using it again, but which color is another question.

At present  the Kiwi/Olive color combo is duking it out my my head with Brown/Purple. I’ll let that simmer as well.

I’ve been quite productive lately, but I’m still behind. This afternoon, I realized I’d spaced out and neglected to pay an embarrassingly overdue bill. I’m hoping that idiotic mistake won’t leave me without hot water. I don’t mind the excuse not to shower, but I have dishes to do, puddy-tat.

Anyway, this made me realize 2 things:

1) I can’t say Yes to anything else this month. I foolishly sneaked in a couple more Yeses at the end of March, and I know they’re going to make me pay.

and

2) I NEED A LIST! Specifically, I need a giant, crushing master list I like to call NAKED FISTFIGHT OVER HOT COALS, MOTHERFUCKER! Yes, that is actually what I call it when I make my giant crazy desperate list.

So, right after this, I am going to:

1) Get myself a cold beer

1.5) (See how I’m getting into the list-making spirit already?)

2) Get a pen and a clipboard

and

3) Walk the entire building and write down every single little thing that needs to be done.

Tomorrow, I’ll do the same outside and next door, but I’m sure my hand will cramp into an eagle talon just doing that part.

And then? Then hold on to your fucking hat, because then I’m going to get down to TCB all over this place. It’s going to be a Highlander-style fight to the death with my To Do list. And I shall prevail.

Now where’s that beer?

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