Friday, April 30, 2010

Shearing Day!

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Yesterday was shearing day at Silk Creek Farm and I went out to help Bil and Julia (seen in this photo, along with the newly sheared Atom). This is the second year for shearing and I was excited to see how much we had all remembered and of course, to see all the alpacas.

Our shearer, 'Fast' Eddie, was scheduled to arrive between 12 and 1. As Bil refers to it, we were all in Cable Repairman Mindset and figured he would get there closer to 1. I gave a midterm in my big class and had planned to get there around 12:30, but at 11:00 one of my grad students, Jennifer, said "we'll finish this up...why don't you go out to the alpacas?" So I did, and arrived at the farm around 11:40. Who was arriving at the same time? Fast Eddie. And when he's ready to start, he's ready to start. So when we started, we were a small group of helpers: me, Bil, Julia, and Bil and Julia' beautiful daughter Georgia. Luckily Eddie had an assistant, so we managed pretty well. One of the most challenging things was getting the alpacas where we wanted them when we wanted them. In this picture, Bil and Julia are trying to get Atom to leave the shearing area and go enjoy some brief sunshine.

Originally uploaded by kbshee
There are two shearing stations set up in the barn, and Eddie shears one alpaca while the next alpaca is being prepared for shearing. My job was to hold the alpaca's head and neck while Eddie sheared, while Bil and Trevor (Eddie's assistant) brought in the next alpaca (and released the finished alpaca) and Julia and Georgia bagged the fleeces, tagged them, and then cleared the shearing area so the fleeces wouldn't get mixed up. It was pretty intense at the start because Eddie, as you might have guessed, is fast, and we were all very focused on keeping up with him. After the first few alpacas, though, more members of Bil and Julia's family arrived and then things got a bit less intense and we kept up great. We sheared 18 alpacas in about 70 minutes. That's fast! One of the biggest challenges was keeping the bits of fiber out of the pullies that hold the alpaca's feet during the shearing. But you learn fast...once I realized that we needed to keep an eye out for the pullies, it was much easier to keep them clear.

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Shearing is a stressful on the alpacas, and so getting them done fast is great for them. I really enjoy my role in this. Holding their heads is one way to keep them calm, and I get to talk to them, look in their eyes, and basically try to make this uncomfortable experience as comfortable as I can. We had a fair amount of vocalization this time, and quite a bit of spitting, but all in all everyone did well. They've been kept inside all week because of the rain, and so were all so happy to be released from the confines of the barns out into their pastures. This picture is just the brown fleeces...there's piles more of white ones as well. I'm guessing close to 100 pounds of least...were shorn yesterday.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sneak Peeks

Busy week, no pictures yet but here is what is coming up:

-I finished the Tilli Thomas socks. Haven't worn them yet so can not report on bead on feet issues.
-I cast on for a modified Mr. Greenjeans using Rowan Calmer. I forgot how much I love this yarn, but I love this yarn.
-I have done dribs and drabs with Mr. Greenjeans in Summer Tweed.
-Almost done with one of the Koigu socks.
-Tomorrow is SHEARING DAY! Weather report poor, but spirits are high!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

So much craftiness

Originally uploaded by kbshee
There's a lot of craftiness happening at my house right now. I've been knitting away, and I've finished the body of the Mr. Greenjeans sweater. It was knit from the top down, and then the ribbing has alternating cables in it. I'm now working on the sleeves. I love this way of making the sweater, except for the yarn overs that are needed to do the increases around the sleeves. What could I do instead? I'm thinking a lifted increase. That would look better. Any thoughts?

And in addition to knitting,I've been the sous chef to Tim's crafty project. He is building a kayak. The frame is done and he is now cutting the strips that will be the 'skin' or shell of the kayak. And because the boards he is cutting are many feet long, I'm an official wordworking helper. Awesome!

And all digits are accounted for.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I may have mentioned this...

Originally uploaded by kbshee
...but I really like this Tilli Thomas "Milan" sock yarn.

But, as I started knitting, I realized that the skein size was not really large. Each skein (I have one red and one blue with beads) is 165 yards, which really isn't that much, considering there is that fold-over cuff as part of the sock. But I think I'll be OK. Here's how the first one looks...the pattern is from "More Big Girl Knits" but pretty much I followed the pattern for the cuff and that was it. I like the cute stripes on the toe.

So stay tuned to see if I have enough. I weighed on the scale and I think I'm OK. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a wee bit worried.

Not much else going on except for general busy-ness. I'm involved with an initiative at school called the "Green Product Design Network." It includes faculty in chemistry, business, product design, and me. It's fun and interesting and I only feel a little weird because the last time I took a science class was in 1980, when I took Genetics pass/fail in order to graduate from college.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More Tilli

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Here's a close up of the Tilli Thomas sock where you can see the cute little beads winking out at you.

Wink wink wink!

I love yarn with little beads in it. Even though I worry that wearing these socks, with the little beads, won't be the most comfy socks in the world. But we'll see. I can kind of push the little beads to the outside. Maybe that will work. Or maybe yummy sock yarn should never contain little beads anyway.

We had a nice weekend...our first paddle of 2010 (just the canoe canal, not too far, because my elbow is achy) and I did some work in the garden. I'm reading "The Lake Short Limited" by Sue Miller and it is really good.

So, your thoughts: little beads in sock yarn, thumbs up or thumbs down?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mr Green Jeans

Originally uploaded by kbshee
or the sweater formerly known as the big bronze blob.

Anyway, this sweater is coming along nicely. I am also thinking, as I look at it here, that the sweater without the sleeves (as seen here) and not as long as the pattern suggests (sort of as seen here) would make a cute sleeveless summer top. And Lordy knows I have a lot of summer yarn hanging out. So I might try a cute summer top pattern like this when I finish this sweater.

A busy week...Mark Knopfler Sunday, Pilot's last day of dog school on Tuesday, and a quick visit from our nephew Stephen on Thursday night and Friday. In between the usual blah blah and working on my book projects, which are actually coming along pretty well.

Today: the first kayak trip of 2010..just the local canoe canal but it was great to get back in the kayaks. Saw one group of ducklings with mom and pop duck, and a gorgeous pheasant.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It always happens the first day

Originally uploaded by kbshee
So yes, I finished the Majestic socks and yes, I still love them. This is a great cable pattern. I like it so much, that if I ordered a cake from Ace of Cakes, I'd ask them to copy this cable pattern on to the cake. Wouldn't it be pretty?

But...guess what happened. The first day I wear them, I snagged one of them on the corner of the warming drawer of the oven. And it split the stitch and the whole thing...right around the toe...started to unravel. Seriously! I jumped in there with my darning needle and fixed it, but you know how you feel after something so beautiful gets, um, sort of tainted.

But whatever. Life goes on. I'll keep wearing them. And I have another skein of yarn so I can knit these again (insert hysterical laughter here).

Pilot finished his training class last night. His diploma was a 'certificate of attendance.' Um, OK. He's learned a lot and so have we. Now to keep remembering to reinforce it. Right now he's sleeping on top of me so I can't complain too much.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Are you there, Tilli Tomas? It's me, Kim.

Originally uploaded by kbshee
So here's a new sock that's on the needles, since I finished both the skew socks (see below) and the Majestic socks (stay tuned).

This yarn is one of my new favorites: Tilli Tomas Milan. Is there a real Tilli Tomas? Because if there is, Tilli, would you consider adopting me and giving me free yarn? Because I love your yarn but frankly, dear Tilli, it is a once-in-a-blue-moon purchase for me since it is a bit expensive. So when you adopt me, it will be nice because I can just wander into your guest room that is so jam packed with yarn you can't walk around in it... don't have that room? Oh. Drat.

Anyway, I can just walk into your yarn warehouse and help myself to the wonderful yarn that is Milan sock yarn. Cashmere, silk and merino, and the blue has little beads in it. Already in it! Magic! And the colors are oh-so-saturated Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.

This yarn feels so great, I have to slip it on my wrist after every round just to feel how good it feels. So this sock is taking a long time.

The pattern features this little fold over part (the blue part) that hangs down over the red part and the pattern is from the second book of Big Girl Knits, which I love because I wear the smallest size of everything in the entire book.

Anyway, lovely beautiful yarn, but with one little problem and that is with the price. It's not your everyday yarn. Oh no no. I won't even tell you the price but I will tell you to get this yarn somewhere where you get 10% off for registering with the company online. (I think it might have been kpixie.).

But I don't want to turn this into a rant, because this yarn is, really, worth the price. Seriously.

Abrupt subject change alert!Question for you all: do you ever order yarn and then forget what you ordered it for? And what do you do in these situations? Not that this has happened to me. Really.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What a(n) _____ photo

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I'm sure your first thought on visiting my blog today was some variation on the title above. I wrote in the title using 'weird' and 'bizarre' but then thought I'd just leave it up to you to pick the word of your choice.

The alternative title to this blog post is "How the $^(*# do you take a picture of your heels?" Because that is what this picture is...the heels of the Skew socks. Basically, the bottoms of my feet are together and stretched out far enough so I could photograph the heels, which don't look nearly as cool as they do in real life.

And yes, there are strings a-dangling, since the sock necessitates a little kitchener action to close the heel. Yes, you read this right, to close the heel, not the toe. The designer refers to this as some sock origami. So think of it that way if you get at all hot and bothered over the kitchener stitch.

Tonight (a Sunday night!) we're going out (OUT! on a SUNDAY!) to see Mark Knopfler (lead singer of Dire Straits). Should be fun. Rock on!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Second set of second socks

Originally uploaded by kbshee
So these are almost all done...I'll probably finish them tonight. I do like these socks...the skew socks from Knitty...they are a bit big but I can deal with that. These go really fast too. I think because the construction is different from a regular sock you don't really know where you are, so you just knit and then it all works out in the end. I'll have to take pictures of the heels when I'm done. They were pretty cool.

We had Pilot's second-to-last training class last night. The instructor set up some 'real world' challenges and Pilot did an OK job. He gets very easily distracted (Hello Understatement, nice to meet you). Next class is a 'potluck' where we all bring food and then keep the food away from the dogs. Good times.

We finally had a break in our wet, windy, cold wintery weather with a beautiful sunny day today. I was in a meeting that finished early, and I hung out in the sun with some students for a bit. That's what college is all about!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Second socks

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I don't get Second Sock Syndrome...that boredom with the second sock that many knitters find that they get. BUT. When I'm in the midst of second socks (which I am right now with two pairs of socks), I find there is really nothing to blog about. I mean, you have seen the first sock, you've commented on the wonderfulness of the first sock, you've learned everything you can about the sock....and now, ho hum, here is the second sock.

Nothing to see here folks, move on.

I still enjoy these socks, though, and I'm almost...almost...happy that the weather is so crappy here because that means I might be able to wear the socks once they are done. Yay.

And the pie? Awesome.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Big Hunk of Bronze Knitting

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Happy Easter Weekend! We're not that into celebrating Easter at our house, and it certainly isn't springy...cold, harsh windy rain yesterday, followed by a thunderstorm at bedtime and more cold winds today. But that's fine. We're waiting for the washing machine repair man (oh joy) and just basically hanging out. Tomorrow Tim will smoke a chicken and I will make a chocolate coconut cream pie. Yum!

The big blog that you see here is the start of the Mr. Green Jeans sweater, done in Rowan Summer Tweed in the bronze colorway that I picked up for a song at Janette's Rare Yarns in the UK. It's a nice summery color for a nice summery sweater, but hard to photograph at this point since it is a top down raglan cardigan. I'm about to the point where you divide for the arms so it is moving along nicely. The yarn is good....for cotton...which means not a pleasure to knit with but not too bad. And I like the tweediness so that makes it worthwhile as well.

What are you doing for Easter? And are you hungry for some chocolate coconut cream pie now?

Friday, April 02, 2010


You know what I hate?

Let me pause a sec. Do I rant a lot? I don't think I do. Not about knitting anyway. But every once in a while something just sticks in my knitting craw and I have to rant.

OK this is what I hate: you see a great pattern, in an online magazine, that you download and pay for, and then you realize that the pattern uses a really, really expensive yarn. In the back of your head you know you can substitute, and then you read this:
"this pattern has been written specifically for the unique characteristics of silk. It is unlikely you'll be able to get the same gauge in the body, particularly in the rows. Fortunately, the pattern is very economically on yarn--so splash out on some silk!"

And. The yarn is about $40. For one hank. And you need two hanks. For a sleeveless top. A sleeveless top!

The reason I'm so annoyed is that I'm fairly certain most designers don't pay for the yarn they use in their patterns. So dear designer, don't tell me to 'splash out' on some 'economical' yarn for your pattern. It just angers me.

Thank you for your attention.