Sunday’s Sassy Stitch and Spin: Tramp Cat and Mittens 

*This post was started weeks ago, but due to technical difficulties it’s just now getting finished and posted. Now to figure out how to replace a charging port…

I am blessed with three good barn cats. They do their job and are sociable with people as well as the sheep. I fact, they often nap with the ewes and out tom Clive loves to go out to the big field with the flock on a sunny day. So, with the cold weather we’ve kept them in carriers in the house at night. The strange thing: we’ve heard a lot of bumps under the house.

Sophie Ann LaClaire is a hybrid someone put out. As far as she’s concerned we’re BFFs.

Now, bumps under the house are normal when Otis, the resident possum, is doing his cat impression at night. He and Sophie the cat are besties. But this is something larger, and well, doesn’t smell like Otis. All the critters have been on edge and I’ve been bracing myself, concerned the foxes had made a new den. But no. It’s a big orange cat tramping around, looking for food. Now that the mystery is solved I can rest a little netter and concentrate on my night knitting.

Cloe. When it’s super cold I let her sleep on the foot of the bed… where she actually stays.

On the Wheel

My piles of Romney fleeces are spinning up nicely. Spinning in the grease means no prep time. Usually I spin up a pound of prepared with plying included in fourteen to fifteen hours (and I’ve done it in a single insane day). When I spin in the grease my average is half a pound in eighteen hours. However, it usually takes me about twice that long to really prep the fibers. So, with the massive cold front still clinging to the country, it’s enjoyable to not scour.

Off the wheel

I completed my mitten spinning! I wasn’t sure about mixing the courser Targhee and Jacob wool with my gorgeous fawn alpaca. But I’m truly pleased. The alpaca really softened up what is traditionally sock yarn in my house.I had planned to felt, but it’s thick, warm, and comfortable just like it is.

Since the mitten yarn came out so nice I dug out the coveted Hopkins fluff left over from combing on my viking combs. Most people toss it, but, well, that’s not my style. I picked through it to get out the neps and noils, then got busy with the hand carders. I’m even more pleased with the softness of this yarn. I may snag Go Lightly’s fleece this year from my neighbor. He’s Hopkins’s son and the fleece is very similar. In short, I want to reproduce this blend for both color and texture.

On the Needles

I’m finishing up my mittens. Honestly, I’m not sure what to knit next. I know I’ll need a sweater next year, and maybe a hooded cowl, but otherwise the household is set on knit wear for a few years barring mice and moths. And, I’ve got to concentrate on spinning and weaving along with up coming farm work for spring.

Off the Needles

I made two new hats for chores. They’re leftovers from other past projects. I didn’t use a pattern. Both are knitted flat and then stitched up the side. My ears are much happier!

Out of the Pot

Last autumn when it was Kavass making season I tried dyeing with beets. I crave a red dye that’s deep and substantial. However, beets are not a color fast dye. So now I have a three pound Jacob fleece with a weird yellowish cast coupled with pink streaks. Not good.

Last week I pulled out my dye pot and cherry koolaid. Can I just say “Yummy”? I’m calling it Cherry Cola Float. The red with hints of the Jacob browns with just hints of pinks and whites is so lovely. With the puni style rolags I added a touch of firestar. When I’m done working up this batch they’ll being the Etsy shop. I’m thinking next is green, or yellow. I feel a soda themed color way collection coming on!

Weaving

My little wrap is off the loom.

Even though it’s off the loom, the work isn’t over.

I’m warping for a double width throw blanket. Frankly, I AM NERVOUS. This is my first time using only my best handspun to double width. But hey, slow and steady wins the race, and that’s my plan.

Hopefully my technical issues are resolved.

Until next time,

Craft no harm,

Moriah

Winding up Wednesday: The Sacre Couer Shawl by Nim Teasdale 

This past week I made the Sacre Couer shawl by Nim Teasdale. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry. I actually started this shawl in August,  but lacking yarn, I had to make it a spinning project before it could continue as a knitting project.

Week before last I finally got around to spinning up enough yarn to finish my little shawllette. When I sat down to finish I discovered a dropped stitch that wasn’t easily corrected.  I also decided to change the colorway. So, I embraced my inner Kermit and frogged the whole thing, and bought some beads. This is my first beaded project. 

The pattern 

The pattern is very flexible. It’s designed to make anything from a small shawllette or scarf to a full cuddle up with a throw sized shawl. Since this piece was always destined for the Etsy shop, I decided on a shawllette / scarf size. 

There are two options for the cast on. The first is a garter tab, which is not my style. The second is to cast on nine stitches. So, me and the Old Norwegian cast on got busy. The beginning section sets up the correct number of stitches to begin knitting the Arch Lace section. This is one area where the shawl is flexible. I like the fact there is a chart of how many set up stitches you need before knitting the first lace chart. It took the math out, and that’s always nice. 

The Arch Lace section was easy to knit through while watching a documentary on the christening of Edward, the Boy King. I did two complete repeats, and then the first eight rows again before moving onto the Stain Glass lace chart.

Uh? What?

And that’s where this shawl took a left turn. Well, specifically it took a left turn at a downhill gallop heading into a fence with a busted bridle at row nine. No matter how many times I knitted and frogged, I just couldn’t get it to work. It became a jumbled mess. I even frogged out the Stain Glass section twice and started again. Finally I decided to stop before building a bonfire, dancing about like a mad woman, and using the pattern instructions to light shawl and knitting needles ablaze. 

I finished out the piece to row nine, and used a 3/5 picot bind off. Then I blocked the entire piece, and breathed a happy sigh of relief. 

Good Parts and Lessons 

I really do like the way this came out. I do plan to use the pattern again, up to row nine, that is. I’m wondering if there is a misprint in the pattern. Overall, it’s well written. I printed the pattern off ages ago, so it’s very possible it’s been corrected. Or, it could just be a case of my dyslexia kicking in, which is very possible. 

It was also good to try beading. Beading definitely slows knitting down. It basically doubles the time. So, unless it’s a wedding piece, beads just aren’t happening in my studio. If you do bead work,  bless you. You’re a more patient soul than mine.

My big take away is the next time I decide to do a lace pattern I’ll use an acrylic test yarn before breaking open my handspun. Test knits aren’t just for designing. Fortunately everything turned out well and this lesson wasn’t too costly. 

Until Friday,

In all you do, craft no harm 

Moriah 

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Friday’s Flock: Mighty Minerva and Dagging 

Mighty Minerva 

Our smallest lamb has grown into our smallest ewe. She weighs only twenty five pounds compared to the average one thirty in the rest of the flock. She was our bottle lamb, and in her opinion chores are a natural part of a sheep’s routine. It’s always sweet and humorous to watch her follow us around and discuss the day’s issues. She also understands gates.

Digital Camera

So, the other day, when I was tired and hungry I closed the main gate to keep the sheep in the barn paddock instead of the main pasture that currently is without fences. Before I could turn around and head to the house, the entire flock spilled out from behind the barn, gambling and leaping into air at a full run, straight into the pasture.  Minerva led the charge, and kept leading the charge until we finally got out the lawn mowers and rounded them back up.

Once all back in the barn lot and the back gate secured with a t-post I watched as Minerva started gumming the latch to open it again. This time she failed. She then began pushing on it. Over came Black Iris, Night, and Loral to investigate. After some none verbal communication the four of them began pushing on the gate. I was impressed both with group effort, and the intelligence. We often sell animals short, but clearly there was serious communication and collaboration at work. Minerva may be small, but she’s a smart cookie, like the rest.

Dagging

The word “dag” first appeared in Late Middle English at the start of the sixteen hundreds. It originally meant a pointed hanging part, or sometimes, a challenge. The Australians applied this word to shepherding, specifically the hanging bits of dung matted into the wool on the backside of a sheep. I think it’s a brilliant use of the word – it hangs, and is a challenge. The word was also transformed from a noun to a verb. These days, we dag sheep, or as this week’s blog is about, we learn about dagging.

Why dag? Well, those nasty bits hanging off the end of the wool sheep are a perfect place for flies to lay eggs and begin inflicting fly strike on the sheep. It can ruin the wool, and kill the sheep. Heavy wool bearers are the most at risk for developing fly strike because the wool goes all the way to the bum. It’s a messy, nasty job, and it’s my job twice a year to trim up the dag end of my sheep.

To demonstrate, I grabbed my buddy Black Iris. He wasn’t overly happy about it, but we  made up later.

In days gone by shepherds used to cut the skin off the back of the sheep in order to prevent fly strike. Fortunately that custom is dying out and dagging is becoming the norm. I use simple house hold scissors for this chore. If I had a large flock I would hire our local shearer, but with only twelve I can spread it out over a couple of weeks. For us, since we don’t dock our sheep any longer, this is an important part of our management.

And that’s dagging.

Have a lovely week, and we’ll see you next week when we clean out our sheep’s pen after a failed experiment.

Until then, In all you do, craft no harm.

Moriah

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