Sunday, October 31, 2010

Burning Lamb

The Yolo Wool Mill's annual mill in was on October 30th. I got up nice and early to help the vendors out.

We had animals on display. This pair of alpacas was brought by one of the vendor's mum. They are around a year old. Not quite full grown.

Jane gave tours. (I set up the machine though)

Spinners (I think from El Dorado County) did a sheep to shawl demonstration for us. This involved carding the fiber, spinning it, and weaving in one go.

There were shearing demonstrations

Everyone wanted to know if the sheep was cold. The answer, not really. I've heard that sheep start to develop a fat layer within an hour of being shorn. But she still got to go to the barn in the evening.

We had a bunch of vendors. The Meridian Jacobs booth brought Jacobs Sheep.

The Crawdads came out to play around noon.

The vendors were very happy with all the help I provided. Especially Twisted Sunshine and Faerie Mountain Fiber. Twisted Sunshine gave me the little green roving for free. Hurray! The braids came from Twisted Sunshine and the batts came from Faerie Mountain Fibers. Crafts A Go-Go also gave me an ounce of mildly matted Angora for free. I have a project that will be just perfect for it.

After all the visitors left, we waited for it to get dark. Then a couple of us went out and burned the lamb effigy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kitten Trouble

Baloo has decided that he wants attention All The Time. He climbed in between my hands while I was tying skeins.

Baloo: Where are you going?

Baloo: Wait for me! I want to come too.

Baloo; You always make getting a chin scratch so difficult.

Baloo and Bagheera have also taken to napping in the wool that is drying. They have pretty good taste. They always manage to find the Merino wool whenever we have any out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Until The Light Fades Away

A few days ago I spent a couple of hours raking up my little fenced yard. I accidentally disturbed this little guy in the process. He was none too pleased.

After finishing with the garden, I decided to go on a little photo date with myself. I found a few insects that had drowned in the pool. They were in perfect condition.

I have to confess, nature photography is my favorite. Especially insect photography.

It was another stunning evening at the mill.

The sheep were out. The little one is Dottie, the first lamb I ever held. She was one of the triplets. I like to think that we have a special bond.

I watched the sky until the last glimmers of light faded away.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Winemaking 101: Part 1

This is my third year making wine. I've done it using the fewest materials possible with as little money as possible. The first year I got 11 bottles. The second year, I ended up with 32 bottles. This year... I estimate 10-11 bottles. The merlot grapes dried up while I was in New Zealand. But the Zinfandel grapes were in decent shape.

Official Disclaimer: This is how I make wine. I take no responsibility for the quality of wine that could be made with these directions.

Materials List: Cooler, garbage bag that is big enough to put between the cooler and its lid,

Step 1: Find wine grapes. The giveaway is that they are all juice and seed. Eating grapes have pulp. Harvest grapes. If you don't have a refractometer (ideally you would have 22 degrees brix) you can pop open a grape. You want the seed to be completely brown and your fingers should be sticky. Last year I had to harvest early because the grapes started to raisin.

Next sort out the good grapes. Remove all the stems. DO NOT WASH THE GRAPES. The yeast is on the grape skins.

Squish grapes. I do it with my hands in a large pot. Dump grape skins, seeds, and juice into a clean cooler and seal the top. I put a garbage bag between the juice and the lid. Let it sit a day or two before you punch it down. This involves opening up the cooler once a day a pushing all the grape skins into the juice. Mold sometimes grows on the lid. Just wipe it off. You're good as long as the mold isn't in the wine. Ideally, the cooler would be in a basement or a consistently cool area. 68 is ideal.

After two weeks, start measuring the sugar content with a hydrometer. You are waiting for it to tell you that the sugar content is zero. Unfortunately, I can't find my hydrometer at the moment, so I need to go get one sometime next week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wizard At Shasta

Anyone ever hear of the Devil's Horn. Me neither. Not until I moved out by the mill. These seed pods are huge. The pod itself is the length of your longest finger and the horns branch off even farther. I wasn't too worried about them until I heard they they can kill sheep.

I had seen one on one of our sheep's bottoms. I thought I'd be a hero, so I grabbed it. I didn't realize how good the pods are at burying themselves in wool. The sheep ran away and I had a nice gash on my finger. A word of advise, if ever you want to remove a Devil's Horn from a sheep, I would suggest either using pliers or immobilizing the sheep while you pull the pod out.

Of course I did this right before I hopped in the car with my family to go visit more family in Oregon. On our way up we passed Mt Shasta. I thought it looked like it had a wizard hat on.

When we stopped by a rest area past Weed, near an airport, Mum and I discovered that there is an ordinance guiding rock throwing.

Past Yreka, there is a barn with State of Jefferson painted on it. It was a movement to have Northern California and Southern Oregon become its own state. I heard it got pretty close to happening at one point in time.

Not far past the barn there is a metal cow sculpture. It is frequently dressed up. This time it was pink for breast cancer support.

The trip went well and the car ride back was uneventful. When I got back to the mill, I had a lovely view of the sky.

And because I'm a little crazy, I spent the rest of the evening finishing off my cloud pillow. Whooo. Busy weekend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lambs and Longies

A new lamb has been born. Looks just like her father, Walter.

She's got a pretty dedicated mum too. The lamb was born out in the field. When Jessie and I went to help them get back to the barn, the mum ran away. But every time she hear her lamb, she ran back to protect it.

When I picked up the lamb to lead the mum back to the barn, she ran past me and nearly shoved me into a thorn bush. Pretty fearless for a ewe.

Also, I've been working on a pair of longies to wear under my pants in the mill during the winter. The pattern is from Elizabeth Zimmermann's book, Knitter's Almanac.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dripping Wax

I finished the Icarus Shawl about a month ago, but it took me awhile to get a good picture of it.

Luck for me, Bryn came by and is an excellent model. The shawl was done with Knit Picks Shadow in the color way Oregon Coast. It took 2.1 skeins.

On top of being a lovely model, Bryn is an excellent houseguest. Anyone who leaves this kind of gift behind is welcome any time.

Recently the kittens figured out where I live. It was cute for about five minutes. But Baloo wouldn't stop mewing and Bagheera wouldn't stop climbing the screen. In the morning they walked with me to work.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Adventures In Cooking

It is no secret to those who know me that I am not much of a cook. I once offered to make ramen and was asked, "You sure you don't need help?" No... I can do ramen just fine. Yesterday, I finally attempted to make something more complex than a grilled sandwich.

Stir fry chicken, rice and steamed broccoli. Luckily I had my help nearby, aka Justin on the other end of the phone.

With a bit of guidance, I was able to make this lovely meal. It took 25 minutes and I survived the night. Perhaps I'll be able to do something more complex in the future, but for now, plain chicken, rice and veggies is fine with me.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


No more moleskine passport for me. I now have my very own New Zealand passport.

And a whole trunk of New Zealand yarn. I didn't realize until I got home that:
1. I had bought only New Zealand made yarn.
2. I might have (gulp) enough yarn.... for now.

I managed to finish the TARDIS socks. Unfortunately, they are too big for me. And no, I can't shrink them. I bought superwash wool with the intention of being able to throw the socks in the washer without shrinking them.

They fit my Dad though. He is quite pleased to be a Timelord.

I got to see Scooter in between New Zealand and heading back to my place. He is still cute and cuddly.
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