Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shearing Day, Part 1

Today was shearing day at Silk Creek Alpacas and even though it was a bit of work it was a lot of fun. It rained a bit but the sun came out often, and there was plenty of room in the barn to work.

It was hard to get good pictures because once we started the process it went by so quickly. Bil and Julia have a great shearer, "Fast" Eddie from Australia (or maybe New Zealand) and once he got started, we sheared 16 alpaca in about an hour and a half. That's fast....he can shear one in about five minutes.

Basically, to shear you need to lay the alpaca down on his/her side, tie up each hoof, and then hold on to the head while the shearer gets the fleece off. Then the fleece is gathered into two bags, the blanket (the good stuff) and the seconds (the not so good stuff). Then the alpaca gets untied and gets up and the day goes on.

The alpacas had a wide range of reactions. For some of them, including Brownie, this was their first shearing, and they did make some pretty sad little vocalizations (and some were louder than one point Frank the alpaca was screaming in my ear!). Others tried to physically stop the process and Bil and Julia's sister had to wrestle them down the board to get tied out. Others just laid back and had a spa day. The process does stress them for several minutes but doesn't hurt them...and except for a few nicks (on the alpacas), a kick here and there (on us) and the joy of getting spat at (me!) no damage is done.

Brownie's fleece is gorgeous...her blanket weight a bit over a pound, according to our highly inaccurate postal scale.

Enjoy the pictures! First are pictures of the girls awaiting their turns.

Shearing Day, Part 2

First is what it looks like when the alpaca is tied down and sheared. Even though this looks pretty uncomfortable it only stresses them for a moment. The second two pictures are Bil and company trying to get Brownie tied down.The last picture is the boys out in the pasture after they've had their buzz cuts.

Shearing Day, Part 3

As soon as they were finished, the boys gathered to stare at the girls (first picture, boys on the left and that flirt JoJo at the fence) and the girls rushed to the back of the pasture to compare their new spring looks and practice their runway walks. The last picture is the youngest member of the family, cria Atom. He's a cutie.

My plan is to card Brownie's fleece myself and then spin it and use it for gifts like scarves and mittens/gloves (ok maybe all for is really a gorgeous black color).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is it me..

..or are class prices for the Sock SUmmit a little, um, pricey.
$70 for a 3 hour class? $140 for a six hour?

Just for comparison, 3 hour classes at Black Sheep (taught by some of the same instructors) are $40,7 hour classes are $75.

Edited to add: so yeah, Portland is pricier than Eugene and I guess they have to pay for some hotel space. Alyssa mentioned in her comments that these prices are similar to Stitches classes. So maybe I"m just a cheap skate.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Meant to post...

...the weekend has been a strange (and not in a good way) one. Tim and I and all the dogs and animals are fine, but friends are hurting and that's hard. Back in a day or so with lovely pictures and my usual blathering.

Also, Shearing Day is Wednesday and I'll be helping out Bil and Julia with getting the alpacas all ready for summer. I better get my spinning fingers working again (that is, after my carding fingers and my picking-vm-out-of-fleece fingers get working).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shi Bui Knits Sock

Originally uploaded by kbshee
How do you say that name?

I like this yarn a lot. A lot. Nice and twisty, so twisty it is springy, it might be a cabled yarn but I really don't know. Really saturated colors. Rumor has that it is splitty but no evidence yet.
ETA: I misspoke. I think I read that it doesn't wear pills?....somewhere on the Rav.

Spring colors too.

I each one teached one today :-)...we had an auction at school with proceeds donated to Food for Lane County, and I donated knitting lessons including yarn and needles. Today my colleague Zanne had her first lesson...she knows how to knit but I taught her cast on and purl. She was pretty amazing. Good for her!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Originally uploaded by kbshee
I've finished all three pieces of the silver bells. There are two pieces that make up the top half...each piece is a sleeve and a front and a back. The peplum then gets attached beneath it. Last night I finished the button bands that will frame the fronts that you see here (they extend up from the peplum) as well as the center back panel. So now all I have to do is sew it all together. The challenging part will be the peplum since it is just big and needs some easing and taking in, I believe. We'll see.

And I really want to do this because it is 80 degrees here and nothing is more tempting than an alpaca sweater in summer. She said snarkily. I think it is supposed to go back to 'spring' tomorrow or the next day (ie 60 degrees and rain) so i should just shut up and enjoy it.

Next: Rowan calmer cable sweater!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A bit blue

I'm a bit down today...our student team competed at the regional National Student Ad Competition with a wonderful, wonderful campaign to curb binge drinking. They lost. They really deserved to win...and I've never said that about our ad team before.The campaign was smart, really understood college students, and has already started to work...students who saw them present their work told me so. And the team is such a lovely bunch of kids, who have spent this entire school year immersed in the project. Their strategy was smart and solid.

Ah well. Onward we go.

We watched "Happy Go Lucky" last night...thought we'd break our string of really depressing movies. I wasn't quite as charmed by the film as many people I too cynical? Do I equate being happy with lacking mental faculties? was a nice break from our usual film fare but we definitely needed a dose of The Office/30 Rock after. Tonight, back to depressing with "Australia".

I'm almost done with the second half of the sleeve top part of silver bells...less than 3" to go. I still have to do some bands but this pup is almost done! Pictures soon...but first, a paddle.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More garden photos

Originally uploaded by kbshee
About four years ago, our front lawn was taken over by morning glories, and we made the decision to kill all existing vegetation. Two years ago, we planted a circular garden in the front yard and this spring it looks terrific. I have a total brown thumb, but I've found that I can be successful with three plants: lavender, digitalis, and columbine. These are pretty much growing rampant through our garden, along with a nice number of tulips and our beautiful purple butterfly bush, which provides flowers of the perfect, perfect color of purple.

Happy Spring!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Socks and cute dog

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Tim loved the socks that I finished last night SO MUCH that he wore them today. I did get around to weaving in the ends so they're all set for wearing.

This is Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed DK, and makes a nice thick sock, almost the texture of a ragg wool sock but a bit lighter. I only mention this in some detail because this yarn is now on sale at Little Knits for a very good price...less than $6 per ball. You'll need two balls for socks but still. It's a good deal.

Which I bring up because...hello, where have I you know that some of the sock companies are now charging $26 for a skein of sock yarn? When did that happen? It used to be that $20 was high end, then $22, and I know I've spent $24 maybe once or twice but $26? That is getting into crazy territory.

Luckily I have enough sock yarn to last me a while.

But isn't it nuts?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

ISO Light pink sock yarn

What's your favorite sock yarn that comes in a solid or semi solid light pink that isn't too delicate, sort of saturated light pink?
I'm looking at smooshy cool fire and will also check out STR. But leave your favorites in the comments!

Easter Edit: great suggests, thanks. I managed to catch a Posh Yarns update this morning so have some new lovelies coming from there. Hazel Knits' pink is perfect, and I'll peruse Madtosh too.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Stubborn sock

Originally uploaded by kbshee
This is a sock that, no matter how long I knit on it, doesn't seem to get any bigger.

I think it is because I"m using size 0 needles and really skinny yarn. There are only 64 stitches but they must be 64 teeny tiny stitches.

But I decided that they'll end up being anklets, so it makes it a bit better.

I have my summer knitting list! For sweaters! And I have all the yarn on hand.

1. February Lady Sweater in Calmer (light pink)
2. a Helen Hamann (name might be wrong) sweater: interesting cables, sorta cropped, in Calmer (off white)
3. Cardigan 'cozy' from Mason Dixon Knitting in Purple KSH.
4. Clara Cardigan by Cirilia Rose in cobalt blue Rowan something yarn.

Oh, it will be a Rowan summer, won't it?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Knitting Mojo .... coming back

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Thanks for your support and suggestions for getting past my boring knitting hump. I think the terrific spring weather this weekend helped a lot, in that I was out pulling weeds and clearing out winter from our flower beds and that made coming inside to knit more of a treat. We also did our first kayak paddle of 2009, and that was good, just to get out on the water, in the sun, and work the upper body out a bit.

I actually am back to liking my knitting, and got a nice bit of it done. This is the second sleeve of the DB Silver Belles pattern, and this should be finished fairly quickly (she says, tempting the Knitting Goddess to really mess her up) and I'm enjoying working on it. Maybe it is the knowing I WON"T be able to wear it anytime soon because spring? Yeah? It's coming!

The kayak was nice yesterday...I don't think we've ever been out on the canoe canal when spring was burgeoning...we saw a lot of birds because the leaves were just coming in on the trees: we saw a kingfisher, a heron, ducks and geese. We even saw a pair of ducks sitting on a nest (we think). Also a painted turtle in the sun, which we have never seen up close and personal on a kayak. So that was nice.

In addition, we saw two fairly depressing movies: Slumdog Millionaire and Rachel Getting Married. I don't know what I thought SM would be about but it was really disturbing. and RGM...good acting but a little too indy-self-conscious, if you know what I mean.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Project Boredom

So, what do you do when you're bored with your projects?
I have actually five projects on the needles, in various states of done, and none of them gets me too excited right now. The projects are:

1-DB Silver Belles...I'm in the home stretch with this one so should just suck it up and finish.
2-pair of basic socks for Tim in Silk Road...just not pretty enough to keep my attention
3-fair isle mitts I started last summer and got frustrated with
4-pretty sock that takes a bit too much concentration to work on these days
5-hanami, see above

So what is a knitter to do? Cast on more mindless projects in pretty yarn that I want to work with? Or just plow through the bit of ennui that is happening right now? Thoughts?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sweater: done!

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I finished this sweater, including the collar and the sewing up! I've also arranged it a little oddly on the chair...I folded the bottom half on top of the top half so you could see the blue stripe around the bottom of the sweater (it is that little bit of blue peaking out between the sleeves). You can also see the red stripes on the botto of the sleeves and the stripey colorwork (ooh) at the collar.

Nice yarn (Knit picks crayon). the sweater is light as a feather, a good length, and should be the perfect spring sweater for Oregon.

Wow. I finished something! Been a while...