Sunday, January 18, 2015


That's not exactly what I had planned for a header, but after struggling with this stuff all evening its going to stay till I can fix it. Why does everything that looks so easy turn out to be so frustrating?

From Goat To Yarn

This is Bogart. He will be 12 in March. He's basically ancient, sterile, and I'm really surprised he's still around. He was the first buck I ever owned, and I was quite scared of him when I bought him. He was 2 1/2 years old, smaller, and his horns were half the length they are now The lady I bought him from assured me that he was not aggressive, and that Angora bucks are not aggressive in general, but I just couldn't get all those stories about nasty bucks out of my head. So I was very careful, and he was extremely skittish, so he actually wouldn't let me get near him. Then one morning I found him with his leg caught in a old piece of electric fencing. It had formed a slip knot on the end, and I thought how in the world am I going to free him without getting rammed or him getting hurt trying to get away. So a slowly approached him and squatted down by him prepared to bolt if he swung his horns at me. He looked at me with this sad look in his eyes "Please help me, my leg has gone numb."  He just stood there watching me as I loosened the wire, and slipped it off his leg. He had no injuries, just a numb lower leg. When he was free he started to limpingly trot away towards his does. He got about 15 feet away, and then he stopped, turned around, and looked back at me like he was saying "thank you". Then he turned back and joined up with the does. That was when I lost my fear of him.  

Over the years he has mellowed out and is no longer skittish. Anyone can walk right up and pet him. We have never had to worry about children playing in the pasture with him. And boy is he a sucker for fig leaves and oranges, but you have to cut the oranges up for him now. He can no longer bit into them
because he only has 1 whole and 2 half teeth left in the front. Goats and all ruminant animals only have teeth on the bottom in the front of their mouth. They have plenty in the back for chewing their cud, but they only have the set in the front for biting off grass, and scraping bark off tree's. That's why I think its funny how people are always worried they are going to get bit. They can't do any damage if they bite against their gums. 

In all the years I have had Bogart I never used his fiber. He was usually the last animal to get sheared, so he had either gotten matted, or in the Fall he was stinky. Normally I put my goat in a stanchion to shear, but because of his large horns he needs to be laid on the ground to shear with my Mom helping me hold him. This results in his hair being filled with lots of junk, because of where we had to shear him at (wherever we can find shade). One thing you do not want to do is take a goat down in the field with all their pasture mates, because they will all want to take a swing at the down animal while you are working on them. That's just animal behavior. So I usually just tossed his fiber, because I had lots from my does. This last year when we sheared him I was surprised at just how soft his fiber still was, and saved all I could from his sides (the prime), that wasn't full of junk. I finally got around to spinning it, and am extremely happy with how it turned out.
It has soooooo much sheen. I love it. 

I have been reading about dying fiber naturally. This was always something that interested me, but I didn't have the mordants required. Recently I found a new book I love called Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes by Rebecca Burgess. Some of the fiber was dyed without a mordant. I got to wondering what color our redwood trees would produce, so decided to give it a try. I clipped a bunch of branches with there redwood cones attached and cooked them in a pot of water for 24 hours on the wood stove. Strained it, then added some white alpaca, and white wool. Simmered for several hours and drained, cooled to warm, and washed. It's sort of looked a purplish brown, but when I spun the alpaca it looked more brown. I will save the wool for needle felting.

This is the dyes gone wild Romney fiber I found in my stash all spun up. I am really happy with how it turned out.

I knitted this alpaca scarf as a thank you for our neighbor that lets us keep our goats, and Snooki the cow on their property. Its the first real knitted item I have made. I crocheted a wool hat for the Husband.

It took me a week to make. It had some mistakes, but it was a learning experience.

AND this is a slouchy hat that I made for my Niece Jolie. I spun it from half of the grab bag I had stashed away.

Its made of wool, silk, cotton, tinsel, and some other fibers that I'm not sure of like Cashmere or Pygora or something.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

August 2013

No the date isn't wrong. 

Back when my Sisters family was out here for my Brothers wedding, my Niece brought her fancy, newfangled camera along. My Niece is the only one who can take a good picture of me. I don't know what happens to my face when someone pulls out a camera, but it isn't what I see when I look in a mirror. All it takes is for someone to pull out a camera and say "smile" and it just morphs. Scary.  I just had two teeth pulled out, so my face had some swelling, and every time I smiled it caused my face to go totally lopsided. Has your tea come out of your nose yet? My Niece is very patient, and takes lots of pictures till something turns out right. She is the best little photographer. Well my Niece really had to work hard this time, and she did such a good job : ) . I think she should go into photography. BUT I never did get around to posting the pictures. I'm a terrible Aunt. 

I found the dress at a flea market for a dollar. I wanted to use a couple of the pictures for making one of those picture bar headers for the top on my blog, but couldn't ever figure out how. Maybe someone could explain that to me?

So here are some of the pictures. Over a year late.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

November 2014

Last month we bought a stack of Sudan hay before it started raining. We soon found out the problem with buying hay right before it rains is that you have a hard time getting a hay retriever to deliver, because all the farmers need their hay moved into their barns, and their's not enough retrievers to go around. Finally the guy we always use called us back in the morning, and said he could move our hay. Once he dropped our hay, the un-stacking began. An 80 bale stack of hay is way too tall  for me to get bales down off the top, and also too tall to tarp.

 My parents, "The hay moving team".

 All re-stacked on pallets, and ready for my Mom and I to tarp.

We started using this trailer for keeping some of the hay on, as it keeps the hay exceptionally dry being raised so far from the ground.

I got this multi-colored Romney wool at a fiber show recently. I dusted off the spinning wheel and got to work. It has been so long, since I have spun, that I thought I would be a spinning disaster, but I guess its just like riding a bike.

 It carded up beautifully, and was easy to spin.

I then Navajo 3-plied it, so that I could keep the colors separate, and changing throughout the yarn. I love randomness.

 I got 4 and 1/3 skeins of yarn out of the 11 oz. of wool.

I then began spinning some white alpaca.

Here is some after I plied it.

My Mom brought in a butterfly that was dying from the change in weather. I gave it a little sugar water, and used it for a photo shoot of the new cowl I crocheted out of some the the alpaca. Unfortunately there is no saving butterflies, but it sure made a pretty prop.

I already crochet, but have decided to torture myself and learn how to knit. I tried in the past but didn't give it my all, and never got past knit and purl. Well now I think its because it turns out knitting Continental suits me better, but man is knitting complicated. I guess it exercises the brain ; )

So I put a wanted ad on Freecycle for a set of knitting needles, since I will need different sizes for different yarns and patterns. Within 24 hours I had a response to come and pick up a bunch of knitting needles. BTW if you have never heard of Freecycle, I would suggest you check Yahoo Groups for one in your area. You never know what you might find, and it's great for getting rid of things you don't want anymore.
Aren't they beautiful in my Grandmothers vase!

I pulled out a tin of yarn my Mom had spun probably over 20 years ago. It had gotten moths on it at some point, but I wrapped it all into skeins and washed it, salvaging what I could.
My room looks like it has been yarn bombed.

This is wool that I spun. But seriously, yarn bombed!

I went on a search through our storage shed looking for our tote of fiber, and was extra surprised when I found it.
 There is a lot of fiber in it that I forgot were I placed it.

 Like this Romney.

 And this grab bag.

 And all mohair from my goats that I dyed with Kool-Aid and food coloring. Plus there was a lot more than I remember dying. 

 And some had already been carded.

 And some had already been spun!

Now that is a crazy color. I don't know what I should make with it, but I do know this. I have enough fiber to keep me spinning for a looooong time.

For anyone that is wanting to get started spinning, this is a really good book that explains all the different techniques.

An update on the berry bushes.
It really is amazing what the goats have done to that monstrosity.
They have eaten and stomped probably 15-20 feet of the perimeter of the bush.

 See that hole up at the top. The goats are climbing all the way up there now.

I think this goat is saying "Berry bush, shmerry bush!"  As she just walked down from the top right hand corner in the picture. 
I'm wondering what it will look like in the Spring.

I think that's all for now.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sweet Shetland Sheep Times Three

A lot has happened since the last time I posted. 

My sweet Myrtle died. She got bottle jaw, and we tried everything, but she died anyways. Unfortunately that's part of raising animals, and it always seems to be my favorite ones.

Welcoming my Brother and Sister-in-law's new Son Ashton to the family. Notice the onesie. My Brother is a mechanic, so their getting him started early.

I crocheted this hat for my Sister-in-laws baby shower. It's made out of Satin Angora from the rabbits I used to raise years ago. The problem with crocheting a hat for a baby that's not here yet is you don't know how big of head its going to have. So I went by the measurements I found for a newborn hat, but when he was born, it was to small. He was 7 lbs. 13 oz. I guess our family makes big babies. So now I'm going to redo it, hoping I have enough yarn left.

Sophia taking a nap on me while visiting. She's such a little doll. I love having babies around.

If you saw my last post from the National Heirloom Expo, I posted pictures of the sweet Shetland Sheep they had there on display. Well.... My Mom got a trio of them.

 The goats were afraid of the newcomers at first. It was kinda funny. Eddie (the ram) was just trying to check them out, but they acted like we had just turned a monster loose in the pasture.

I cut down all those thistles the next day, but I still have a lot scattered through the pasture calling my name.

We sold Maestro (the bottle ram we raised) a couple days later. He had rammed me once. (Hey he put my back back in place for me!) That was to be expected being a bottle ram, and I was willing to deal with having a bottle ram, but since he had already done his job this year, and we got the new Shetland ram, we just didn't need him. Before we made the decision, I looked into crossing the Suffolk ewes with a Shetland ram, and it seems to be a very desirable cross. Since Shetlands are small it greatly reduces the lambing problems, and Shetland meat is supposedly much better than the commercial breeds of  lamb meat. I'm curious to see if the lambs will come out with short or long tails, since Shetlands are naturally short tailed, but I will have to wait till Spring 2016 to find out.

Sir Locksley died a few days ago. Lucky for me, his wife is pregnant. So hopefully their will be a boar in the litter. They are a really hard breed to find.

 I found this yarn I spun many years ago from Kool-Aid dyed mohair from the Angora goats I raised. So I crocheted a hat out of it, but haven't taken a picture of it yet.

 On one of my recent visits to my favorite doctor, we arrived early. So my Mom and I checked out the local thrift store. I found this book for $2 that I have been wanting for a long time.

 And these boutique cotton yarns for $1 each.

 And a totally hippy skirt. I love it!