Last weekend Christine and I went to a Sheepshearing festival just a few miles from home. In the weeks leading up to the event I had conversations with two separate coworkers that were strikingly similar. They went something like:
Coworker: Oh hey, I saw a sign downtown for a sheepshearing festival in Waltham! I thought of you because you’re always knitting and stuff. Haha. So crazy!
Me: I have my tickets for that already.
Them: Hahah. Wait …oh. You’re serious, aren’t you?
I though the festival would be a handful of fiber enthusiasts, but when we turned into the parking lot I was shocked to see several fields full of cars. There were what felt like a thousand people there. And kids. TONS of kids. I think because it was the first warm weekend, there were animals to pet, and lots of fun fair food.
There were vendors for yarn, jewelry, soap, food, art, etc. But the best part by far was the sheepshearing tent. A tall, thin, white-haired man was taking the sheep out of the pen one by one, holding them steady without any restraints, and ridding them of their fleeces with a big pair of shears. I may have elbowed my way past several small children to secure a good spot at the fence. Especially when he sheared the huge horned ram.
And so now I have my eyes on yet another step in the production process. First it was knitting. Then spinning and dyeing. Now I want to learn how to shear a sheep. Preferably my own sheep that I own someday. Are there any steps in front of owning and shearing sheep? I don’t think so….that’s probably the beginning. The first step. So I don’t need to hurry and get to it just yet.
I love my husband for many reasons, but high on that list is the time he spent teaching Samson how to ride in my bike basket. He did it when Sam could still run alongside us for a couple miles but we wanted a way to take him on longer trips down the Eugene bike path. Now Sam doesn’t ever want to run as fast as a bike. But he’ll sit in the milk crate for a long while. Last weekend he accompanied me on a ride to the library…
Watching my beloved dog grow old is hard. He has a lot of pep in his step still, and sometimes strangers we meet at the park are surprised to hear he’s 13, but he is slowing down nonetheless. He’s lumpier. And his skin hangs looser and he snores louder. And more than ever he’s interested in staying warm, which makes me think of a friend’s ancient cat Foof who lived out the last few years of her life hardly ever straying from an electric heating pad on top of the bed. She was 17, and I remember how cool her fur felt as she slept there on her little heater.
Short of moving to a warmer climate, what we can currently offer Sam is the top of the file cabinet in the back office. There’s a small wall heater back there with two settings: HOT and OFF. When it’s on all the heat rises to the ceiling, creating cold feet and a sweaty forehead. Sam was joining R. for his study sessions this winter and spring, but his bed on the floor was cold even with the wall heater on. The top of the file cabinet, however, is super toasty and sauna-like. Eventually we might need to provide him a Foof-arrangement.
For those of you who have seen a pet through old age, do you have any words of wisdom to share?
…and planned to sew a skirt. Perfect one day project. My pattern-drawing was guided by this vintage-70′s-flowered wrap skirt. Which is kind of ugly but I wear as if it were cute.
My friend Wei-Ping mailed me some fabric from Taiwan last year for my birthday. Bright BRIGHT turquoise with red and pink flowers. Now I’m three quarters of the way through my skirt and… uhh…I think I made an apron. Or rather, the path of least resistance would be to finish the project as if it were an apron. I think if I fight it I’ll end up with a weird skirt.
Do any of you need a bright and cheery pocketed apron? I don’t use them myself, but I’d put it up in a trade.
In my last post I introduced my new spinning wheel and asked you all to name her. The suggestions were great – there were references to shape and color as well as just general awesomeness. I did what we did for Edith – called her a few things for a while to see what stuck – and discovered that the wheel’s name is Siohban.
That means Becca – you’re the winner! You know how to get in touch. Let me know what kind of handknit you want and I’ll mail it to Oregon.
Are your pets big photo-bombers too? It seems I can’t photograph yarn or handknits without someone furry walking through the shot (see above) or just plain sitting on the item (see below).
Sam is sitting on Surella, the first sweater I’ve made from my own handspun. My coworker of the same name had a great cotton sweater in a style I wanted to copy. She let me take it home for a few weeks and after a lot of measuring, knitting, drawing, frogging, and re-knitting, I got it right.
It used less than 600 yards of my alpaca/wool handspun. There was enough left over to make a long cowl. I don’t know much of the particulars of spinning, but Christine tells me that I spin in such a way that my yarn is light and fluffy…so even though this yarn required size 11 needles, the sweater itself doesn’t weigh much. But it’s nice and warm.
This is the time of year that I loathe as far as wardrobe goes. I’m sick of my winter clothes and refuse to wear them no matter how chilly it is, but it’s too cold to start in with the dresses. So my solution has been bright pants, black flats, and a sweater. How do you dress for this early spring stuff?
Here she is – the birthday present – a green Kromski Minstrel. I feel like she needs a name. A nice knit hat in the mail to whomever can think of a good one.
The wheel came in a big box stuffed full of store ads in another language. Google translate said that it was Slovenian.
This wheel comes finished or, for $50 less, unfinished. I decided that if I was going to splurge and spend all this money on a new wheel I didn’t want ash or walnut. I wanted a color. Something that grabbed your attention. Looking over the options at Home Depot I picked something called “Green Tea” (inspired by the shirt I was wearing?). It’s brighter than I expected, but that’s partly because I put it on too thick at first. Or I didn’t wipe it off soon enough with the rag. Maybe both. I started sanding the color down where it was thick but liked the look of it so much that I ended up sanding a lot of the edges and rounded bits. The color has kind of a well-worn look.
Today I put on a few more coats of polyurethane. Tomorrow I may test it out.
I pulled some mill ends out of a sale bin the last time I was in Eugene, and my puzzle for the past few months has been figuring out what to make with them. I started assembling pictures of patterns on pinterest for inspiration…
…but nothing was translating that well on the needles.
Then R. went to Washington DC for a month-long fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks, which is like an estate+library+garden+archives. I visited for the weekend. My favorite part of the gardens was this big chicken-wire cloud installed over a reflecting pool with thousands of little crystals hanging in the wire. It looked like someone had hand-twisted them in there. I wanted to know more.
There were also a bunch of Latin American art and textiles, which is what R. studies. I must’ve absorbed some because when I got back I had an easier time playing with pattern. I drew up a design for this thick cozy cowl:
I’m calling it Kumbi Cowl, which R. suggested because kumbi (usually spelled with a “c”) refers to precious woven cloth in Quechua (before we got to kumbi I had to veto some really long Quechua words that no one would be able to spell or remember). It’s knit in the round so that all of the stranded stuff is hidden inside the cowl. This also makes it extra squishy and warm. I did a provisional cast-on and grafted the ends together so that the seam is barely noticeable.
There was a snowstorm today and my coworker was so kind as to model Kumbi in action. Here’s the link to the ravelry project page. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll write up the pattern….
The Teddywidder pattern is for sale now in ravelry!
I learned so much from the test-knitters. They did a phenomenal job. The pattern includes written instructions and a schematic and all measurements are given in both cm and in.
My next pattern is drying over the air vent. More on that soon…
R. loves mezcal, which I’d describe as tequila-plus-campfire…very smoky. So when he saw this bottle of Scorpion Mezcal on super sale at the local liquor store (
$50 $18 ) he bought it, not knowing anything about the brand other than it featured a scorpion at the bottom instead of the usual worm (see him up there?). At the register the salesperson told him that that bottle had been on the shelf so long the employees had a betting pool on who would finally buy it and when. They asked to take R’s picture so they could show the others
R. might like sipping this stuff straight, but I’m not there yet. So we googled “mezcal cocktails” and found something to try. We took a house trip to the liquor store again and then started measuring and pouring into our makeshift cocktail mixer. Here’s Aj pouring in the agave syrup…
What’s in this stuff? Besides mezcal there’s Averna, agave, ginger beer, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice. The recipe we found was for a whole punchbowl’s worth of drink, so we cut it into fifths.
I liked it a lot. But it’s really strong. The carbonation meant it needed to be consumed in one sitting, which we managed as a group of three but just barely. We made it again this past week and just put everything into the mason jar except the ginger beer so that it’s like a readymade mix in the fridge. That way it can be spread out over a few days…just mix it up with some ginger beer as you go.
Opening ravelry and seeing new photos of their WIPs is soooo exciting!! I am very very thankful for this group of test-knitters. They’ve been oh so patient in reviewing my first pattern with graded sizes. They’re also a worldly bunch…Germany, Argentina, UK, France, Finland, and California. We seem to be assembling an impressive array of teddywidders in naturals and neutrals.
It’s nerve-wracking to put your pattern out there for test-knitting. You have these what-if-they-all-hate-it worries, and of course pattern mistakes are found that when you look at them, you can’t believe you made. But it’s also exciting. I’m trying to develop a new pattern now; something stranded and colorful.
…this shit is hard! Writing up a pattern for a hat is one thing, but now I’m wading into sweater-size-grading waters. I’m really interested in teaching myself to do this but I can tell that it’s going to take time. Nevermind that it took months just to get a finished sweater, since I made two complete garments with this yarn and frogged both before coming up with a pattern I liked.
I’m calling the pattern Teddywidder after this breed of rabbit. Because that’s how you feel wearing it. Mmmm. All cozy and warm. The yarn is Misti Alpaca Tonos Chunky, which is a wool/alpaca blend.
Assuming I figure out what the heck I’m doing with this pattern-grading stuff (this excel tutorial from Marnie seems promising) I’ll need some test-knitters. I have some volunteers from ravelry already but I haven’t finalized the team yet. It might be a month or so until I’m ready. If you’re interested, especially in knitting a L or XL size, send me a note at foxflat (at) gmail.com