Monday, April 28, 2008

It's a Girl!

We came home today to a new set of little feet in the girl's pasture. She is a very healthy 18.5 pounds and a beautiful luminous maroon. She was 30 days overdue and we were beginning to think she would never get here. The only time her Mom has quit eating this evening is when she's been nursing; she even tried to eat then. I guess delivering a big ol' girl works up a big ol' appetite. I always get so nervous while the little ones are trying to find the milk bar for the first time. They are all over the place suckling on everything but the right thing. But in the end she found the spot and latched on. She nursed for so long that she developed her own style. Who says you can't keep drinking when you're just too tired to stand up? The nap you see in the first picture was taken immediately after she finished her meal.
I just went out to check on them and Mom is still eating and little girl is nursing again.
We put the cria coat on her because the temps have cooled off again and we don't want her to get chilled. The newborns can't regulate their body temp right away so they get to wear a coat at night.
Now we have to come up with a name for her. So far on our farm we have Sabrena (her Mom), Sancha (her Aunt), Miss Rosevelt aka Rose (her Sister), Princess (her cousin), and Tyra (I guess we'll call her God Mother since she seemed to be looking after her when we got home and got very upset when DH picked up the little one to carry her into the barn). DH and I always play the naming game until one just sticks. We'll toss names back and forth until we both go "yeah, that's it". Of course we both usually have a favorite that we try really hard to sell to the other. But, in the end the best name wins.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Even though I haven't been blogging lately I have been knitting. Cobblestone was finished a while back and has been worn several times. It's an incredibly comfortable sweater. But, being alpaca it does pill and shed. No biggie, I can live with that. It's nothing a good shave won't take care of. I love the fit of this sweater. I'm seriously considering changing the neckline though. I don't find the current neck to be very flattering. The pattern for this was so well written that I didn't really have any issues while working on it. I would like to knit another one in a very pretty color. Something bright and cheerful. After shearing this year I got a very nice white blanket off of Princess. I'm thinking of carding and dying it and spinning it up for another Cobblestone. She had nearly 5 pounds of blanket fiber so I should be able to get a Cobblestone and have loads left over.

I dyed two skiens of Sabrena's light fawn yarn and knit up a cozy scarf. I tried numerous patterns before settling on Stefanie's One Row. This is the second time this pattern has come to the rescue. It's an easy knit-while-watching tv pattern. I learned a valuable lesson dying this. This was dyed with Gaywool dyes using the cold method and letting the yarn sit in the dye bath for 24 hours. The colors didn't come out as vibrant as they do when using the stove top or crock pot. So from now on I know if I want intense color to use heat, for soft color use no heat. Everything I have dyed since has been on the stove top or crock pot. There are three skiens drying now that I dyed today. Two plum that will become a scarf and one dark blue-green that will be a hat. The green started out as a herd blend of dark rose grey, silver grey, dark fawn, and light fawn. I love dying this yarn because it produces a nice heathered yarn and the outcome is always a surprise. It's really hard to predict how a particular color will be taken up by the yarn. I used indigo on one skien and got a nice charcoal color with hints of blue. On the next skiens I used watercrest (a medium intensity rose) and got what I call Rosewood. It reminds me of a weathered mahogany. I have enough of this color for a scarf and am still experimenting with patterns.

Before I leave you tonight I'd like to share a picture of little Coco taken before shearing. Isn't he a little doll??? We showed him at the end of February (which is about when this picture was taken) and he placed 5th. He may have placed a little better if he hadn't been so jumpy with the judge. Can't say that I blame him though. It has to be pretty stressful the first time these little guys go in the show ring and some stranger starts handling the jewels. Don't you just want to reach out and smoosh his cute little face.

Monday, October 01, 2007

First to Last

It's time for Quiddity's annual Show Me Your Socks Contest. This year she wants to see our first pair and last or most recent pair. Looks like there is some awesome sock yarn to be won. Seen here is the first pair of socks I knit way back when out of the first alpaca yarn that I spun. While these socks were knit way to loose and have holes at the gussets they are still one of my favorites. The socks in progress are my commuter socks. The first one has been finished for quite some time and I finally got around to the second sock recently when I decided to make them my commuter project. The yarn is some superwash merino that I dyed. And of course the pattern is my favorite basic sock with a picot cuff.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Slow and Steady She Goes

The first sleeve is finished and the second sleeve is on the needles. If you're looking at this picture and thinking to yourself that "damn, this woman's got some long arms" well yes, I do. That would be a 20" long sleeve there. But this is a bit deceptive. While I want a shorter length body than called for in the pattern I haven't decided yet exactly how much shorter. It is now 13.5" and I will add anywhere from another .5" to 1.5". I did a try on but didn't have that all important third arm that I seemed to need to hold everything in place. Hopefully I can recruit DH tomorrow to help me out. This has been the perfect project for watching t.v. The hardest part on the body is keeping track of whether to knit or purl the garter band stitches. The only bad part about this project is the fact that it will be so long before it's cold enough to wear it.

Last week I realized that I was missing out on some prime knitting time during our commute home each evening. And what's the ideal commuter project? Well, a sock of course. It's amazing how many rounds I can knit on a sock in 40 minutes. I keep the sock in the car at all times now so it's always there ready to be worked on. Why did I never think of this before? What this means of course is that I need to get busy dying more sock yarn so that when this pair is finished I can immediately cast on for the next pair.

WIP Count: Cobblestone Sweater, Tailored Cardigan, Commuter Socks, Lace Scarf, and Fingerless Mittens.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.

I crawled out of bed around 7:00 this morning and made my way to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. As it brewed I stepped out on the front porch to check on the alpacas and was surprised by the cool crisp air. It was about 50 degrees and the air was clear thanks to a good rain yesterday. I grabbed a lap quilt and a cup of coffee and made myself comfy in my favorite rocker on the porch. It was an absolutely glorious morning.

Once I was sufficiently caffienated I headed to the barn to dye the yarn for a pair of Mrs. Beetons. The kidsilk had already been dyed so all I had to do was dye a skein of alpaca to go along with it. I didn't quite get the alpaca as dark as I wanted but it will still be okay. I had wanted the alpaca to be just a shade lighter than the kidsilk but it's more like two shades lighter. The yarn photographed just slightly more blue than the actual color. It's more teal than it appears here. I'm not allowing myself to cast on for these until I have completed one of the sweaters that are now in progress. That should be sufficient incentive to get moving on these two projects because I'm very anxious to cast on. I've wanted to knit a pair of these since the pattern was first published but misplaced the kidsilk after I dyed it. It recently mysteriously reappeared at the bottom of the alpaca basket.

Does anyone have any advice on what colors to combine to create lavender?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Coversations With Kermit

Or, Swatches Lie. When I swatched for Cobblestone I came up with 20 st/4 inches with size 7US needles. This led me to cast on 194 stitches for a size small. After knitting about 5 inches I thought that it looked a bit larger than it should. I measured it at 41.5 inches. Yikes! That can't be right; it should be 39 inches give or take a couple of tenths. So, I put it on waste yarn for a quick try on. Damn this thing is too big. After double checking the swatch and again getting 20st/4" I realized that yes indeed; swatches lie. But that's not the worst of it. My mind had taken a holiday when I decided that 39" was the measurement to aim for. I had planned this sweater to fall right at the hip bone and I had actually measured for the butt. After remeasuring and recalculating I have now cast on 176 stitches on size 6 needles. I am now back to where I was before frogging and the size looks just right. Well, now that you all know the size of my butt...... I may have to rethink this whole swatch thing. I'm seriously thinking that on my next sweater project to just throw caution to the wind and skip the swatch. Live dangerously. Just cast on with what's called for in the pattern and start knitting.

Cobblestone isn't the only project that has been to the frog pond. Tailored took a quick dip a few days ago too. After knitting about half of the left front I didn't like the way the garter band was drawing up and making the whole thing all puckery. I ripped back and started over doing my best not to strangle the yarn in the garter band area. It looks much better now and as you can see is ready for it's mate.
We went to the fair today so that I could check on my entries. My Swallowtail Shawl got a 3rd place behind a pretty fine gauge blanket and something knit with fun fur. The blanket I understand. It was really pretty and looked like it was knit on size 2 needles and had a lovely textured stitch pattern. But fun fur? Alpaca, lace and nupps rate lower than fun fur? Will the fun fur madness never end? My other entry this year was a flower arrangement that I entered on a whim and it also got a 3rd place. I really didn't expect it to get anything. Two entries and two ribbons; I really can't complain. Especially considering that we got to spend some real quality time with our Grandson and his Mom today.
It was a good day.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Somebody Stop Me

The lure of Cobblestone became too much to resist. Just the thought of knitting a sweater called Cobblestone with fleece from Cobble Stone was making me giddy. I thought well, I'll just look up my notes from where I originally swatched this yarn. Hmmm, I liked the fabric created with size 7 needles. The gauge was 20 st/4". That means to get a good fit I would need to cast on 194 stitches. A little gentle shaping for the waist to make it more feminine. Make adjustments needed to create a more narrow sleeve cuff. Before I knew what was happening I had cast on. So now I have two sweaters in progress and work a few rows on one then pick up the other and knit a few rows. A sure fire way to stave off project boredom.