Don't these two kissing sheep make a cute couple? The ram (on the left) is "the wool ram" at Final Frontier Farm. His name is Rocket and he's a Border Leicester/CVM/Rambouillet cross from Nistock Farms. He came in with Hershey who was supposed to be "the colored wool ram", but Hershey took one look at our farm that summer and decided he'd just stay put. I'm not sure who the ewe is, but that's why they were in the pen.
"You're missing out, Hershey! Look at all my girlfriends!"
I do know who this is. It's Olive, one of my favorite ewes. She's of the Keebler vintage, so has a fair amount of Cotswold and a little Wesleydale mixed in. We know what to expect with her babies (long, pretty curls :-) but we don't necessarily know what to expect from other breed crosses - the more Texel-y ewes, the ones with some Suffolk mixed in, Polypays, Dorsets... This year we are going to do a better job tracking what each cross produces.
A few weeks ago Kathy and I picked out 31 ewes to put in Rocket's breeding group. One afternoon last week we penned them all up and Miss B made notes about their breeding, fleece type, temperament... I then took a quick picture of each sheep's number and a fleece shot.
Curly, long, lustrous fleeces
Short, but finer crimped fleeces
Lofty fuzzy fleeces*
This is going to be a fun project. Something to work on this winter while we wait for the start of Lamb Camp next spring :-).
*These are my favorite fleeces. The lofty, fuzzy fleeces and some medium curly fleeces are what we picked out for the Lamb Camp yarn last spring. I'm really excited to see what we get with our other crosses though. If we could, say, add some length to the really short, finer crimped fleeces and get crimp somewhere between the fine and loopy curls that would be really pretty, eh?
We'll keep you posted!
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The winner of the calendar drawing is Barbara B. :-D
Shoot me an email with your address and I'll get your calendar sent out hopefully tomorrow.
"Argh, I got some WOOL in my VM (vegetable matter)!"
While I was waiting until it warmed up enough to throw a load of laundry in the Wool House washing machine this morning, I thought I'd work on updating the "Farm Shop" page. Good grief, I didn't even have the mugs on there!
I have no idea why I'm having so much trouble loading pictures lately, but I have apparently broken the blog...again. I don't have time to fix it right now, so I thought I'd post this funny picture of what happens when a big gust of wind blows a bundle of roving into your dried flower arrangement.
Hopefully it's not going to be that sort of day all day!
Well, I'd planned to hustle my work in the a.m. yesterday and do some dyeing after lunch. I was going to take lots of pictures so I'd remember what I did if it worked and remember what I did if it didn't. Then I was going to write a WednesdayYarn Along post, go to the library and get a new book and be ready to start knitting today. Like a normal person.
So at 10:30 last night when I decided to call it a day...yeah...I had colors that I really liked (it definitely worked :-)...but wasn't sure I was exactly where I wanted to be for my project. I slept on it and then darkened my blue and green some more this morning.
I dyed yarn! Almost completely by myself. Thanks for the phone support, kbdoolin. Part of why I don't remember what I'm supposed to do each time is because it's more fun to call you ;-). I love how everyone helps each other with fiber arts. That's what it's all about.
I took one 'how I did it' picture. Yeah. Here's to painting a picture with some words...instead of pictures. Keep in mind I am a very beginner dyer so I may have just gotten lucky and what I did isn't what a good dyer would do.
Now that we're going to have a new built in microwave over our stove, the old microwave has moved to the Wool House to be a dedicated dye microwave. I think I'm going to keep the old stove, too. I just need to make sure I have a way to plug it in garage. You shouldn't use dyes in appliances you cook food in. Not that that's been a real problem around here in the past, but Saint Tim's hoping the new kitchen will inspire me ;-).
I picked up a 3.5 quart Pyrex bowl that is way bigger than it looks in the above picture. See, it's one picture and not even a good picture ;-). Anyway, it's big enough to hold a small skein of yarn. I think the blue and green skeins are 100 yards each and approximately 2 ounces. For more than that, I think you'd want to use the pots in the oven...hence trying to save the old stove.
I filled it a little over halfway with hot water and added some glugs of white vinegar and a tiny bit of whatever color I wanted - I am very happy with the Jacquard dyes. Popped it in the microwave to get it really hot and then added my prepped yarn (prepped as in soaked in hot water for about 15 minutes). I donned my insulated gloves (thanks Robin :-D), stirred everything around, squeezed the dye water through and through and swirled it and squeezed (yep, I'm sure some of you have fainted now ;-) and did my best to make sure everything looked pretty even and then I stuck it in the microwave for 3 minutes. Then I let it sit for a few minutes and checked it.
I pretty much was a chicken on all my colors, thinking I could always add more dye, but couldn't take it away if it got too dark too fast. If I had to add more color, I pulled the yarn out, added another glug of vinegar, a bit more dye, stirred it around good, made sure the yarn was still evenly saturated and dumped it back in. And swirled and squeezed and poked it down, swirled...
NOTE: DON'T EVER DO THAT! The swirling/squeezing/stirring part. Normally you'd end up with horribly felted yarn I'm pretty sure, right? At least I felted some Cotswold that way a few years ago. I'm not sure why, but this yarn (the Lamb Camp yarn*) did not care one bit. I almost wonder if you could knit some socks with it and wash them without them shrinking. I guess I could knit a swatch and try it.
Anyway, each color went back in I don't know how many times. Several. I added more of the main colors first and then to get it darker I added some black and some more black and some more black. I spent way more time messing with it than I should have, but it was fun and I had specific colors in mind and enjoyed playing around to try to get them. Here's where I ended up.
Oh, and here's where I (once again) get to be the example of what not to do. See the white dots on the black yarn?
And the light brown on the dark brown? I put my skein ties on too tight. They need to be loose so the dye can actually get TO the yarn. I even knew that ahead of time. It's not horrible, but I may try to touch it up. I also may darken my blue one more time. And then I may darken the green one more time. And then darken the brown one more time and then the blue......
No, I'm not. I'm going to knit this as it is. The colors are pretty and if they still aren't 100% right, it's only a hat and I can dye another batch and make another one. It will be fun!
So what am I knitting? In the midst of feeling like I'm missing out on just about everything this fall, I'm completely being left in the dust on the Baa-ble Hat craze. Everyone and their barn cat is knitting one (or five) and I completely see why. The Shetland Wool Week 2015 knitting pattern. Too. Stinkin' Cute.
My "colorway" is supposed to be a night time pasture scene. One thing I've really enjoyed about camping out next to the barn is hanging out with the sheep late at night and laying in bed listening to Graham and Petunia's bells chime as they shuffle around the barn or head back out for a midnight snack. A perfect lullaby :-).
I think it's going to be a sweet hat and I think a small project is going to be much easier for me to tackle right now. I just haven't felt like I have the concentration to knit on Baaxter's sweater, even though it's basically just rounds and rounds of stockinette stitch.
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If you've made it down this far...I am extending the calendar giveaway deal-y for one more day. I feel bad that I added it on to the post the other day as an after thought and it may have been missed. I have no idea why some of you are having trouble posting comments. You are not alone. Just send me an email to enter. Remember, share something that made you laugh this year.
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*Yes, there will be Lamb Camp yarn for sale on the website eventually. It's here. It's really pretty. It dyes really well :-). kbdoolin says it knits up nicely. I'm hoping to get a chance to find out ;-).
Hey, at least it's still 2015 for a few more weeks! I could be even further behind than I am...scarily ;-). Without further ado, the 2016 Equinox Farm and Lamb Camp calendars!
I love looking back at the year and picking some of my favorite pictures for each calendar. I'm very happy with both. The farm calendars are 8 1/2"x11" and the Lamb Camp calendars are 6"x9".
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Equinox Farm Calendars
I had a choice between two pictures of Comby this year - one awake and one asleep. For the past several years I've used a sleeping picture of Comby. Comby, the hardest working cat on the farm. Would this year be the year he'd be awake? Nope. I couldn't do it ;-). What started as a coincidence has become a tradition.
I love pictures that make me laugh out loud like Hank laughing at Saint Tim and Liddy riding around in the truck :-D.
Keebs probably isn't laughing...
But 20 sure is!
Those silly boys. You cannot look at a picture of Baaxter wearing a mustache and cowboy hat and Woody in his Indian headdress (that looks more like a turkey) and not laugh.
And a loving laugh :-).
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Lamb Camp Calendars
And snorgly lambies.
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We'll do it basically like we did last year. Equinox Farm calendars are $12.50 each and the Lamb Camp calendars are $10.00. Shipping this year (to the US) will be a flat fee of $6.10 using a Priority Flat Rate Envelope. For the most part this won't be a significant change in price from last year.
If you are buying just a small Lamb Camp calendar and you live in Lexington, I will do my best to dig out find my smaller plain envelopes and charge you the actual shipping costs, probably around $4.50. Everyone else will be pretty close to the actual costs using the USPS envelope and it will make things so much easier in the midst of chaos around here this year :-o.
If you'd like to order one (or more), just send me an email with what you'd like and your shipping address. I'll send everything out with an invoice and a return envelope and you can drop a check in the mail upon receipt.
The padded Priority Flat Rate envelopes will hold three farm calendars - for approximate scale.
Shipping overseas last year was not as expensive as I feared. I'm happy to get a quote for you. Likewise for Canada.
There are also Lamb Camp note cards, Christmas cards, drop spindle kits...in the farm shop if you are interested. I'm hoping to get the Lamb Camp yarn added to the shop tomorrow.
So how is the chaos coming along? Not too bad. We are very happy with our contractor. He's doing a great job and working hard to get us back to normal as quickly as possible. Old farm houses... Fingers crossed that we'll have a full size hot shower by this weekend!
Bathroom tile is going up tomorrow. Cabinets and counter tops, appliances, flooring have all been ordered and scheduled for delivery and install. It's time to pick paint colors. We are still a few weeks out from finished, but I can almost see a hint of light at the end of the tunnel.
In the meantime, I'm trying to get my own work caught up and hopefully even touch some yarn this week! I've been so fried that I haven't felt smart enough to even tackle plain stockinette stitch. Sigh...
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Yesterday afternoon when I was taking calendar pictures and thinking about my post I planned on doing a calendar giveaway. By 10:30 when I was actually sitting down at the computer I completely forgot. So, here goes.
I think a lot of us have had a pretty crazy year. I'm glad so many of the pictures I picked for the calendar seem to have a 'make you laugh' quality. It was just a coincidence, but if at the end of the year you are still laughing, you're doing alright :-).
Tell us something in comments (or via email if you are having trouble commenting - what is going on with that?!?) that happened this year that made you laugh. I'll have Random.org draw a winner on Thursday at noon. I'll wait until after that to ship out any calendar orders this week so if you ordered one and then won one... You do not need to order a calendar to enter!
I took several sheep shots the other evening - my other favorite time of day. As I was scrolling through them I came to a fun series of pictures of Rebecca Boone. I'd taken six shots in a row in a span of about ten seconds. Look at the difference between the first and the last.
These are straight out of the camera, not cropped, nothing changed. Why do they look so different? Both are nice pictures. Both show a sheep with a funny personality and cool hair. Same background, same time of day - as the sun set.
The main difference is that for the last one I stepped just a hair to the right...which changed the angle of the sun.
I know there's more to it on a technical side, like how the camera read the light and adjusted for it... but I'm pretty happy to just get lucky. If there's something simple I can do to help that happen, all the better.
It's sure hard to beat a foggy fall sunrise. The sun is coming up over Stella's hill and shining left to right through the scene.
All the darker green paths were from sheep feet swishing through the dewy grass.
Most of the flock had already gone back to the barn. Hank stays out with the stragglers. This is a pretty picture too, but without the "magic" of the first shot. I'd moved over to the right, just past the end of the arena. The sun is now shining more towards me, shading everything it hadn't reached yet.
Another pretty shot, but if you look close, there is a hint of sunlight peaking through Hank's hair on the left (or his right). That's what I want, the sparkle :-).
I moved back over to the left so the sun really glistened through the grass and leaves. I love this picture of Daniel. Click to biggify. Or don't. Is anyone else having issues with blogger this morning?
I wish I'd taken this picture "landscape" (wider rather than taller). Hank was obviously looking over at his other sheep and I missed the moment. The huge amount of blurred out grass at the bottom of the pictures was so distracting that I cropped it off. I think I was walking over to the left to take the Daniel picture and just shooting on the fly, but still...
Two things. Move around and use the light to your advantage. Also, I take lots of pictures. Sometimes I get one that I really like. Mostly I take a lot of pictures ;-).