Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lucky Charms

This post is picture happy...

Today is just the way I like it. Sunny and Saturday. I put down the needles long enough to feed (kids & sheep) and help HD do a little reno job in the Bergerie.
As you can imagine I spend a lot of time with my flock and sometimes they do funny things that make me laugh and love them all the more. Today I captured one of those moments and I hope you can see this...Here is Buddha curling his upper lip. They all do this from time to time. I don't know why. I suspect they are sniffing the air or laughing at a barn yard joke??

Most of the babies are big enough to eat grain and snack on hay. The big girls are greedy cows and don't like to share even with their own offspring so it is inevitable that we make a feeding stall for the lambs. HD is extremely occupied but I have been gently suggesting that when he has time would he please work his savvy in the Bergerie. Today was the day and I gladly assisted by holding the screws and planks and cheered him on. Go man go! Thank you very very much!...and documented this to curb the low knitting content of my present blogness.

This little pen is just big enough for them to come in and out via a small hole in the partition as to keep the bigger sheep out when there is grain in the feeder for the babes.

It was tricky to get the lambs to enter the new pen. I had to manually put them in and watch them discover the alfalfa pellets...('lucky charms' for wee sheep). My first lamb 'Fraise' is such a big girl now I could can hardly lift her!
Here they are using the doorway for the first time. Loving it. In and out they go making a new game of it. A woolly highway. Teasing the older moms. You can't catch me!

Because this feeding pen is inside the Bergerie, I needed hassle free access to fill the grain dish from outside (so I don't have to climb partitions and step in poo). HD made a little door by cutting one of the planks out of the side of the building. He put a hinge on the piece and Gazou helped to get the door swinging in the right direction. Then he put a latch on it to keep it closed and a hook to hold it open when in use.

A birds eye view of Isis mowing down her pellets. She seems to really appreciate the new feeding area. Peekaboo!

I am now preparing a bigger bottle for Nessa.
My she has grown!
One last picture, this time of 'Isis'. I finally got a good pose showing off her exotic side.

I will keep knitting as fast as I can so to share the progress of my vest. I am starting the sheep rows...ya!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Greener grass

The grass is truly greener on the other side of the fence...when it comes to this vest. I finished the fence at Knit Night and at the moment it is simple repetitions of two colours for a bit. What a delightful and fun project (once the arithmetic is done). In fact, the colours are so similar that up close I barely see the fence but this photo reveals what the spectacles miss in person.
I am so pleased at the moment. The 'Eagle has landed'! I have successfully set-up my new fax machine to work with instead of against our answering machine. My sister sent me a test fax and it worked. Now I am thinking I could wire a bomb cause I am so smart...I don't mean that in case the GRC are reading this...wink wink.

I have been doing some Spring cleaning all week. Where does the dirt come from? At Christmas, my HD gave me a special cupboard to house my beloved fiber library. Today is the day I move my crap into it. I started to knit in the very early 90s and have been collecting Vogue Knitting and patterns. They add up! Every time we move, I have to find a special place to keep my collection from sun, dust and sticky fingers. We moved to Lochaber Ouest 8 years ago and since last Christmas I kept my library in Peppers closet. I redecorated her room in January and had to move my library.
Getting this heavy piece of furniture to my house was a big job. It has sentimental value attached to it because it was the last time I saw James (HD's brother) before he died. He helped HD carry it from the truck to the my studio not to mention the blizzard that was blowing outside that day. A quiet reminder of the good things in life.
This cupboard is awesome! Of course I have too many magazine holders for the only shelf tall enough for them but maybe I can ask HD to move the shelves? I have a thing about recycling useful containers. It comes in handy like when I suddenly needed a baby bottle when I didn't even know a baby was on the the day I had to feed a surprise lamb. Or in this case, I bought a load of used knitting needles at the flea market one summer and I keep the odd ball collection in an old lego container...too funny!
In the bergerie, trouble is brewing. I am quite cross with my gals today. They have been mean to my little bottle fed babe. I have to defend her when she drinks her bubby. I suspect the older ewes are jealous. They deliberately come over to take swats at the little one while I am busy feeding her. I am rather stirred-up with this animal behaviour. I have to tell myself they are 'animals' and therefore I need to cut them some slack. I am a very maternal lady and even bottle feeding a lamb can bring out the momma bear in me! I am threatening to cut them off their melasses and corn. Hateful cows they are. snicker.
I promise (Susan) to take some new pictures of them for a post near you. Today I am too pissed off with the sheep gallery. Ahem.
With that I leave you this Friday afternoon to lots of safe fun and woolly goodness...:)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Never too late to swatch

The ribbing saga continues.

I know I was supposed to do this in the first place but swatches are known to be filthy liars and I am so psyched about this beautiful vest that I was willing to frog and refrog for practice. That was then.

Today, I had a rare moment of daylight with solitude and I put my plan to action. I decided to try to cast-on using 2.75 mm for that base row to curb my loose knitting.

I then switched to a 3mm circular by sliding those stitches onto the suggested needle then joined and knit a new corrugated ribbing. I used a really obvious contrasting yarn this time for fun. I love the look of these colours together! I knit several rows of plain stockinette after the ribbing all of which I tried not to knit too tightly when using two hands which is weird because I knit loosely.

I am pleased my swatch looks perfect. It is good to see I can generate a normal looking piece of fair-isle for the love of Blarney. I can't help thinking this would have happened in the first place. Maybe now the knitting Gods will leave me alone and I can get-on-with-it already? Wish me luck!

P.S. Rhubarbe bite my finger today...ouch! It was my fault. I was trying to put fresh lettuce in her dish and my finger was under a leaf. Holy smokes that hurt! Me and this sheep I tell you...she loves me but she can't help being a barbarian. She is very spontaneous by nature. The man that sold her to me said she would not be a good breed for me because I wanted pets and she would never be tamed. I managed to tame her but she still has issues. Last summer because I didn't have a fenced pen for grazing my herd, I used to walk them on a leash and tie them in the clover patches in the field near my garden. The last time I tried to do this with Rhubarbe, she accidentally wrapped her leash around my legs at high speed, flipped and dragged me. I hurt my neck. The other sheep have always been very calm and enjoy their Bo-peep walks.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

If you think yarn is expensive.

Awww. This is for you!

Isn't this the sweetest thing? Little miss hot sauce is feeding well. It was so warm (weatherwise) today that I removed Nessa's sweater. I will put it back on tonight because it will dip down to -12. She is happily walking around the pen and recognizes us when we arrive with a bottle, even in the dark! I tried to take a shot of her tail wagging but my battery died at that precise moment. I so love my digital camera. The best thing since wool.

Speaking of wool...I climbed into the attic of my bergerie and checked my few bags of raw smelly fleece. I am so worried a squirrel will take off with it. Something ripped through the bottom of the bag of Koonie's fleece so I moved it to a rubbermaid bin in the potting shed. I brought some into the house for spinning. Just a little as to not overwhelm us with reek...and enough to wash up quickly.
This is how I do it. I know there are many methods and as long as you don't ruin your fleece, I think all ways are good. I put small amounts into a lingerie bag. I pour hot tap water into a small bassin with a good squirt of Palmolive dish soap. I sink the bag into the hot soapy water and press it down. I leave it there for about 15 minutes. I take the wool out gently before the water gets cold so the lanolin doesn't return to the wool. Drain the dirty water into the toilet in winter or outside in the summer. I repeat the soapy process once more. I rinse the wool with hot water then spin the bag in the washing machine. I dry the locks then get ready to card them. I pick through the pile and remove the obvious vegetable matter. I open up the locks gently with my fingers and place them tip first onto the carder. Koonie is an older East Freisan ewe and her locks are very long and whispy like soft hair. When I have an even amount, I remove it carefully. I split the batt in half like two pieces of bread of a sandwich and refeed those two pieces into the carder for a second carding one at a time. Every fleece is different but for Koonie's wool this is all it takes and it is ready to spin...yay! I use a leader on my bobbin that is a piece of coton fastened with a double hitch knot and plenty long. I adjust the in-take tension with minimum drag then catch the end of my fleece in the loop and start to treadle. This fleece is so airy that I hardly need to predraft. Here is a sample of my yarn 2 ply. I might actually make this yarn a three ply using my beloved navajo plying but the verdict is still out.

Last week when I layed my visa card down for the damage at the Cross Stitch Cupboard and the lady chirped about how nice it is to have clients buying quality yarn for knitting, I had to agree. When you have your own sheep and go through the whole process from lamb birth to knitting it puts the price of quality into perspective. Don't ask me to grow a field of flax...

As for this gray yarn, I think I will knit next winter accessories for the wee folk. I think I will go mad this year turning hot paw gloves inside out!

Wool be with you

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wagging tails behind them.

My daughters spent some time in the bergerie over the weekend and both reported concern about Frieda's twin Nessa. Frieda has in their opinion, rejected the lamb. The little tykes grow so fast that you can tell within a day or two that one is not feeding or is sick. Nessa was bigger at birth than her brother Buhda but she hasn't changed much and is not as active as her playmates and was shivering this morning.

My friend Renée suggested I put a sweater on her. I cut a turtle neck off of a recycled angora sweater and made two holes for her legs and made a little bolero. What a cutie! I went to my local feed store and bought some baby lamb formula (which smells so damn good...) and the necessary parts to make a homemade bottle. The store said to use an ordinary water bottle but the freakin' thing leaked so I remembered I had saved a glass bottle of hot sauce. Bingo! Perfect fit, no leaks and looks so funny.
I scooped little Nessa in my arms which was a warm and happy place and fed her some milk. Her little tail was wagging and she polished off about 3 oz this afternoon. Frieda came over to sniff the bottle and she must have wondered what the hell I was doing. This evening Nessa perked up and came over immediately and drink another 4 oz before stopping. Little tail a wagging... Just between you and me, I think it is a weird coincidence that I attended the birth of this lamb and now I have the job of feeding her. Thanks Frieda. I know where you live.
Last night was the Knitting Guild meeting and I got a lot of feed back on my corrugated ribbing. I need to start over. Again. I am so tempted today to cast on something with a little less attitude which reminded me that...
I recently ordered Louet Sales Merino yarn for my next cardigan. In my search to find a dealer I discovered that the Cross Stitch Cupboard in Ottawa carry Louet products. I placed an order and they called me last week to say my yarn had arrived and I get 40% off because they are moving to Gloucester street at the end of March. How awesome is that? Now that my friends is what they call destiny. On second thoughts, I rushed over there and bought some oh so coveted Euroflax for a summer top. 40% off means I can knit this stuff without guilt or selling a kidney. I saved 75$... This week my knitting friends...what is left at the cupboard is 50% off. (Go!) I am so kicking myself for not buying a new Lucy Neatby Dvd!! However, I have some serious bad-ass stash now so I can forgive myself. By the way, I am totally impressed with this shop. They offered to mail
yarn for free if for some reason you can't pick it up but need to knit...That my friends is what I call doing business. I am very impressed. Did I say GO!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Peace and ribbing

Houston we have a problem. I think my ribbing is depressed. I turned my back for a minute and found it hanging from its ziplock. It has been 'off' for a few days and I thought it was just all the snow making it sad. Meanwhile, I am happily inching my way through the fence on my 'projet du jour' and have noticed an alarming curl in the ribbing.

At first I thought it was just because I only seem to have enough peace to tackle this knitting after the kids are asleep and thus it is generally late and I am rather tired and 'fuss' over things.

I am an intuitive person and when I get a nagging feeling that something might be awry I start to ask questions. I really wondered about the proper cast-on for this project from the get go. I could kick myself that that point didn't occur to me when I had the Alice Starmore book here in my knitting room last month from the Guild library. I popped over to Virtual Yarns and read all the FAQs but did not find the answer. I asked Coco-knits and she gave me my first really good clue that I am in quick sand over here. She used a cable cast-on for making her fabulous Starmore Vest. Humm...cause I used long-tail.
Enough is enough I called the Wool Room today and discussed my curled corrugated ribbing with Mrs. Corlett and she seemed concerned and thus refered me to another Guild member since curled ribbing is definitely bad news. I am a really shy person but I am desperate to keep knitting so I called the stranger. I had to leave a message with her husband (which was embarrassing) so I that didn't help much.
There is always the stitch doctor before the meeting on Monday (far far away) but I wanna knit today. I googled and found an article. Apparently there is such a thing as curled corrugated ribbing (I am not some freak of the knit world) and the culprit IS the cast-on! I was never so happy to read that article to find out that I have to frog my fence to tackle the cast-on, in this case it was loose and curly. I am so not knitting this vest after a curled start to then parade around reams of master knitters and be told time and again...did you know your ribbing is curled? Just like when my whole life I get helpful comments from diverse people that say to me: 'Hey, you're really short'.
I think I am handling this so well because last night my sister and I attended the Snatam Kaur concert in Ottawa. All that chanting for peace and healing has filled me up with all sorts of it or so it seems. I love this music and I play it all the time in my kitchen and at the lake house. Crank it up baby cause we got some rippin' to do. Wool be with you too! P.S. turn your speakers on if you click on my link. Enjoy.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gage Harrison Day!

Happy Birthday Gazou! I love you my little Dude. Quelle age as-tu vieille tortue? Today you are 6! We had fun with all your classmates at the 'cabane à sucre'. We will definite sleep tonight after a day in the woods and eating enough food to feed a small country.
Gage and his friends Patrick and Sylvio.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Twins again (!)

Sheep for Sale. Or so the sign will say in a few months. I ended up with two sets of twins on the 12th. Thank God each one is nursing on their own or else I would be sleeping in the bergerie for months! haha.
Nicole wrote: But can your bergerie handle the additional roommates?
So far so good(!) although I had to rearrange them (again) to accommodate the testy Rhubarbe. She is now in the maternity ward to keep her from hurting the new borns until they get their sea legs. The babies get confused with so many legs roaming around. They seem to say 'Maaa? (which boob is mine?)'.
They are so beautiful! Frieda had a girl first (Nessa) then a boy (Budha). I will definitely be selling at least half my herd (10) because I only need a small flock for my personal spinning and organic gardening. I much prefer black and white sheep for the lovely fleece. White fleece is easy to find here in the country where I live. My neighbour has been giving me all his fleece before I bought sheep of my own. Anywho. Never a dull moment! With all my midwifery I barely knit a row in 24 hours. I also think spinning wool might not be a bad idea. Getting seriously behind...tick tick tick!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Hello from the Bergamot Barn. I spent some extra time this morning rearranging the sheep because this morning twin girls were born. I am thrilled to have a black and white one! Her name will be 'Raven' and her sister has one black spot on her right eye but mostly is white. Her name will be 'Isis'.

I was not planning on having lambs this year. In fact, I did not even think my male was old enough to breed...guess again! And all this time I thought the girls were just well fed. I realize now that if you can manage a peek at the boob department...seeing some means business. Thus, I do believe that Freida will be next...Oh boy.

'Fraise' is happy as a clam at high tide to have some playmates. The new lambs are feeding and we had to rearrange the 'Brady Bunch' to allow the new mom and her brood into the maternity ward because the other mom (Rhubarbe) is agressive towards the new arrivals. We will be shipping our male because we have no space for the horny devil. He does not get along with the girls and the Bergerie is too small (now). By the way, we need more hay.

Inside, I bought myself a cheap but effective floor lamp yesterday. I must say, it was lovely having that extra light to knit by. I am now happily clicking away at the body of my fair-isle sheep vest. I have to take a fresh look at my Lucy Neatby Dvd at lunch because I got stuck when I tried to weave my carried yarn while knitting from the left hand (this is still so new to me). I am seriously worried that I will be swimming in this garment. I made it smaller as Mrs. Corbett instructed and I am using smaller needles and still I am concerned. I looked up a Starmore cardigan from Vogue knitting Holiday 2007 and the stitches I have on my needles equate to her medium size...yikes. I am three apples high and 100lbs soaking wet. I will wear it over layers I guess. Don't ask me to redesign anything.

P.S. Enough of winter. I have put up my garden photo as an intro to my blog and hope this will turn the season. Outside it is soooo lovely today. It is warm and sunny. The snow is heavy and wet. My dog Poonie stayed outside for a length of time this morning. Sign of grass to come.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Strawberry shortcake

I took a picture of 'Fraise' this morning. She is gaining weight. Her pink ears are so pretty! I also took a boring picture of snow just for the sake of recording the amount of it around the Bergerie. We are lucky to have heavy equipment here to push the snow out of the way.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ivy-Lory day

Happy Birthday Ivy! It seems like yesterday that I was holding you in my arms. You are bigger than me now! I am proud to be your Mom and happy you are such a talented, funny and beautiful lady.

Today was the first day back to school after the March break. I made it a fibre holiday. I enjoyed a lovely afternoon spinning with my Monday group. There were some fun 'show and tell' items this week and I picked my favorite for the blog. Marguerite made these anklettos. Here I am trying one on my arm. Love the colour. This is her handspun and dyed wool. I think these are so cute!!

The daylight saving time is so starting to kick my butt. I stayed up wayyyy passed my bedtime last night with the Grass Creek Vest. I kept finding a twist! It has been too long since I made anything in the round and this thing has 316 sts which is not a big deal unless you are moi; not to mention blind. I am so buying myself a floor lamp for the comfy spot in the family room. I have a vest to knit with both hands for the love of fat Elvis.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Two hands!

This is me just stepping outside for two more pieces of firewood. I am not one to take chances and I certainly am all about comfort. It is dreadful out there tonight!

HD is still ice fishing and it is 20:15 and he has been gone since this afternoon. Apparently it is the right phase of the moon to catch. Don't worry because we keep in touch via walkie-talkie although it should be fun trying to find the trail to come home. Luckily we have one of these...

Meanwhile inside, I have finally cast
on Grass Creek Park. Oh, if Mrs. Mulligan could see me now! I have been practicing my two handed knitting and the corrugated ribbing for this vest is all about two hands. As the dishes piled up today and so did the snow, I was happily clicking away and all pleased with myself that I was actually getting the hang of knitting this way. Remembering the past tangled messes of my weaving colours with a cold shiver.
Completely smitten I was for hours until I wondered why it was so large (?). It wasn't until I stopped to read the instructions to find out if I should cut the background colour when starting the new one that I saw IT. P2. Gasp! So charmed by my own two hands that I forgot what I was doing. Corrugated ribbing! Doh. I spent some quality time in the frog pond and made supper and cast on again. This time I cranked out the fresh three rows with more speed and noticed a TWIST. Bloody hell. I was never so happy to wash dishes in my life. By this time my finger tips were aching from the points. I wonder now what cast on is the best for knitting in the round. I really like the new one I learned from Sally Melville's book Knit Stitch called "e wrap". But it twists like a Jehu and I am so over startitis.