Saturday May 18, 2019

Shearing is complete! We had a long, imperfect, and hard day I consider successful on April 10th. Kate and Gib, our shearers are very good with the sheep. Unfortunately, this is their last year. So, a big THANK YOU to them.

One hundred pounds of gorgeous wool is now under my Studio work table and I’m slowly sorting wool in between planting, gardening, tending the orchard, baking, spinning, knitting, and working with the oxen who have come a long way on training in the past few weeks. Somewhere in all that I manage to keep the house semi respectable.

On the Wheel

Currently, my baby Iris is back on the wheel Josephine (she is a Babe Production Wheel). I’ll do three more Hanks of this lovely bulky woolen before whipping up some squishy semi woolen two ply. I’m thinking I might have two, yes two sweaters from one fleece. One rough and bulky. The other sweet and lace edged.

Lilly is also before the Wheel. I’m going for sport two ply. I have no idea what I’m making. I had a wild fit of passion with the dye pot and Lilly’s 2018 Autumn fleece just happened to be at hand. Since it’s so short I’m carding her lovely wool. I’ve started spinning some if it because I NEEDED some color. Yes. I’m cheating on Iris. But Lilly is only one pound and I still have two pounds of Iris left to card.

On the Carder

My drum carder has seen quite a bit of action lately after being out of commission. I’ve been steadily working on all the dyed locks.

I have two different batt types going. Since I comb all my wool before putting it on the drum carder I end up with a pile of pretty, but lower quality fluff. Yes. I can spin it into lace, but I’m overwhelmed with low yardage yarns. So, the top quality stuff becomes art or spinning batts, and the other gets spun into wildly colorful singles. Which brings me to:

On the Needles

I currently have three projects going. Yes. I’m in a complex situation with the knitting. But there is good reason.

Those wild singles are being knitted into a prayer mat. After completion I’ll felt it. Since making the material is a slow process, I simply knit as time dictates. I’m knitting this on my size ten bamboo needles. I rarely use them, but love how they feel. So, even though it’s not a fast process, it’s a very enjoyable one.

My second project is the coffee blanket I’m still working on for this fall and winter. It’s in time out currently. I’m thinking about finishing the top portion this week just so I can have my needles back. We will see.

My third, and most active project is the Odyssey Shawl. I’m done with the knitting. It’s taken almost two weeks to make. It could have been finished in one week, but I want this to be right the first time. Since I’m far enough along I thought this would be a good time to do a review.

I’m knitting this from Daisy and Amy. Daisy is dyed green with copper and spinach. Amy is straight RIT navy blue.

Odyssey Shawl Review

Odyssey shawl by Joji Locatelli

Free Ravelry download

This is a larger project than I typically take on in spring during planting season. I like feeling like SOMETHING is getting done. The idea of a long term project or a large project tends to put me off. And this is definitely a larger, nice sized shawl. However, actually knitting this shawl is faster and more relaxing than many of the other projects I’ve done lately. There are several reasons why.

First, this pattern is written extremely well. It’s five pages of written directions, not charts. I LOVE written rows. For whatever reason I feel like charts are a lazy designer’s tool. I know. Harsh. But if I pay for a pattern and then have to write out my row instructions from the chart… I’m not purchasing from that designer again. On the other hand, a free pattern written rows pretty much guarantees I’m purchasing from that designer in the future. Joji is on my short list of future purchases. I have three of her patterns in my buy soon queue.

The eyelet lace is simple. It’s interesting. It’s quick. It’s a lace pattern that feels natural and intuitive. It’s also a solid and sturdy feeling lace. I know. Contradiction, but it’s true. She came up with the design while on a trip to Canada. Frankly, the lace feels Canadian – warm, strong, simple, yet elegant.

The bulk of the shawl is knitted. There’s very little purling. That also contributes to a relaxing and quick shawl.

I plan on using blocking wires after washing given the size. And even though I’m not a HUGE fan of picot bind offs, this one is perfect and simple.

I’d say this is a good intermediate beginner or better project. Joji has lots of other patterns out there. I seriously like this designer and think every knitting addict needs to check her out.

*Just so you know – I’m in no way affiliated with Joji Locatelli. I don’t know her or anything about her beyond the fact that I think she’s written a great pattern. I just really like this pattern and I like finding knitting gems and sharing them.

In the dye pot

My bottle baby Lilly ended up with two, yes two shearing dates in 2018. I so rarely get to spin a stellar fleece myself. I’m usually spinning britch and dirty, dirty neck or spine. Since her and Iris are twins and the first born at Serenity I decided to keep both August fleeces. Iris is colored. Lilly is typical buttercream Romney ewe.

I had some brown left over in the vat. It had sat there cold for several days. I could see it had separated. The stove was hot. I was feeling the need to cause a little local color. For whatever reason I just tossed my bottle lamb’s third fleece straight in and set it on the stove. Then I added some logs to the fire and went outside. For six hours. When I came back it was boiling. Well, what was left in the vat was boiling. I just KNEW the whole thing was ruined. Nope. A couple of rinses and a few sunsets on the porch and there it was – a gorgeous fleece. It’s like a stormy Peruvian beach at sunset. There’s something about it that is just magical. I’m so trying this technique again!

In the Barn

So far May has been a rough month for the flock. We’ve had a case of poly arthritic chlamydia going around the flock. No. It’s not an STD in sheep. They can get it from deer, cattle, goats, and from dirty shoes. It’s just another illness with them. However most of them have had limps and needed shots. Fortunately, we have penicillin on hand. Unfortunately the bulk of the flock is over 180 pounds and I’m still recovering from last year’s shearing mishap.

My boy Iris was the first affected. It eventually worked it’s way around the Daisy. Ya’ll, I really thought I was going to loose her. She’s still not 100% out of the woods. I know she’s older. I know the time is going to come when she will leave us. Thankfully that’s not today.

The oxen, Profit and Asset are now over 1300 pounds. That’s a ton and a half kine (the proper name for more than one head of cattle). I’m so impressed with how much they’ve settled and matured in the past few months. They are now ready to yoke and begin their final training for their lifetime job. I’m so thankful for the journey with these two beautiful boys.

June, momma’s little red heifer, is also growing up quickly. She’s quite fascinated by mom’s silver hair. She loves to nuzzle it and lick mom on the face. They are a funny pair to watch.

All in all the past few weeks have been good. Now, time to get back to the work and revel in the busy bustle of summer.

Until next time,

Craft no Harm

Moriah and the flock

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