Tuesday, October 21, 2008

rhinebeck from a to z

A fun but exhausting time, mostly spent in the
Breed barn setting up and manning the
Coopworth sheep

Excited to be part of Rhinebeck again, but
Freezing cold this year, especially at night camping near the stinky
Goat tent.
Help was provided
In spades by my parents.
Judging happened on Saturday morning.
Kame (sorry) in fourth place out of twenty.

LSH drove up to Rhinebeck on Saturday for the first (!!!) time,
Making my weekend.
Not a lot of time to shop
Or go to Ravelry meet-ups.
Purchases were few, though we got a
Quality hand-made broom and had
Razor-sharp edges put on our sheep shears; picked up our favorite
Soap (and more soap) and chose the booth of
Touch of Twist for the obligatory yarn.

Unbelievably excited to see Primo in new sheep book.
Very tired after breaking down at 5:30 pm on Sunday.
Went the wrong way on the
Yet still made it home to find the
Zenith of my weekend: a Golding spindle, a surprise from my wonderful LSH.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

tilly has me on the ropes

It's official. My butt is being kicked by a cabled scarf.

To be fair, I can't say I didn't ask for it. I thought I was the master of all things cabled after I managed to knit the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat as a Christmas gift for my SIL last year. This, of course, made me a prime target for the knitting gods, who are having a high time at my expense right now.

I should explain that this October is A Very Bad Month for us, schedule-wise. It includes:

  1. two weddings (one with interstate travel);
  2. two sheep shows (one with interstate travel);
  3. two boy birthdays (interstate travel only if they run away due to neglect);
  4. a marathon (interstate travel again, plus lots of running);
  5. a critical business-related project (with intensive training and learning curve); and
  6. miscellaneous soccer games, cross-country meets, and all the other detritus of having three kids.
To add to this crazy-making list, I am responsible for the Coopworth sheep breed display at Rhinebeck this year. I pulled it together last year with three weeks notice. This year had to be Bigger and Better because I had all year to plan it out, right? So I decided at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival that I would spin up some Coopworth roving and make it into something spectacular to be featured in the breed display booth.

I managed to spin up the yarn as part of the Tour de Fleece. (My spinning is still a little uneven, but it's getting better.)



The something spectacular is turning out to be a wee bit more challenging. I chose the scarf pattern Tilly from the book A Fine Fleece, and I love how it looks with this handspun -- except I have ripped out at least 100 rows at this point. Call it lack of attention, call it too much on my plate, call it so exhausted my eyeballs are ready to fall out of my head, but I cannot follow this pattern to save my life. It's not a particularly hard pattern. It's just that my brain is not in any state to process it correctly. Here's what I have so far; you can see it at Rhinebeck, if you visit me in the breed display barn, and see for yourself how much I manage to get done between now and 9 am on Saturday morning.


Let's see, I'm on row 42 (having just ripped back from row 47). Given my statistical average on this scarf, I am guessing I will be on row 34. Your prediction?

Sunday, October 12, 2008


My LSH just ran the Baltimore Marathon, his first, in that time. I am very, very proud of him.

Unfortunately I left the camera at home, and so I don't have any pictures of the momentous event. You'll have to trust me that he looked very triumphant, and also very sweaty.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

trouble, thy name is hermione

Hermione the ewe lamb was Secondo's tenth birthday present from my parents. (I know the vast majority of kids don't get livestock for birthday gifts. Then again, the vast majority of kids don't live on sheep farms.) Secondo has showered love and attention on Hermione since she arrived with her mom Elicia and twin sister Henrietta in May. All his work has resulted in a very tame little ewe that he adores.


But she has been responsible for more than a few grey hairs on my head in the last week alone. It started with her confinement in the barn last week, waiting for her vet inspection to get a clean bill of health before she went to the sheep festival with her sister. See that gated area at the back?


That is our creep pen, which is used for young lambs, to provide a place for them to eat without their mothers gobbling up all the food. (They can get in and out easily; their moms cannot, which is responsible for a fair amount of frustration on the part of the moms.) Hermione managed to squeeze herself into the pen, even though there was no food or other enticement in the creep, and then could not get back out until the boys took off one of the slats. Grrr.

At the show, she was reasonably well-behaved until we took her twin sister out of the display pen for a quick trip to the show arena. Hermione promptly went nuts. Sheep have a strong flocking instinct and get very stressed if they are alone... but I have never seen one react so dramatically. She nearly climbed out of the pen. Fearing she would hurt herself, I quickly took her to her sister. But she was feeling low the rest of the afternoon. I worried and fretted over her as she lay at the back of the pen, ears droopy and eyes half closed, refusing to eat or chew her cud. I dosed her with sheep vitamins, fretted a little more, and then had to leave for a wedding reception. But my dreams were a torment, and I woke up with a start at 5:53 am, convinced she had died during the night. Of course, she was fine, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when we got there. I think she had stressed herself so thoroughly the previous day that it took her a few hours, and the quiet of an empty fairground, to recover. Grrrrrr.

Yesterday afternoon, as I strolled over to the barn with a couple of friends to check on the barn kittens, my heart nearly stopped. There was Hermione, lying motionless in her pasture, tangled in net fencing. The fencing had been folded and draped over the permanent fence, at least 4 feet up in the air, and there was no reason for her to touch it -- except for, apparently, a death wish. Unbelievably, she was still alive. I think she had given up struggling and was waiting for someone to find her. It was fairly unusual behavior, because usually the sheep holler if they find themselves in a jam; she wasn't making a sound. I don't know how she pulled it down or how long she had been there since I had fed her that morning, but she was so thoroughly entangled that I had to cut her out, and ended up ruining $200 worth of portable fencing. Grrrrrrrrrrr.


She somewhat made up for all these antics with her performance in the show ring on Sunday. For the entire summer Secondo has shown her, she was sent to the bottom of her class because she was on the small side. (She was not born until mid-April, and was competing against January lambs.) But Sunday was her chance to shine. She was named best long wool ewe lamb and then champion long wool ewe, and awarded best long wool fleece.*


But her first act after being released into the pasture upon her return to the farm? She wriggled out of the loose back gate and started prancing near the ram's pen. I have a feeling her teenage year is going to be a rough one.

*After all that work and hardship all summer long, Secondo wasn't even the one showing her this past weekend, as he had a soccer game.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Yes, once again, I broke my promise to Jessica to answer her burning questions about sheep coats. I am not sure she will forgive me this time. But she does know the reason for my recent lack of posts in general.

I participated in a fiber festival as a vendor for the first time this past weekend.


Mind you, it was very minimal participation. It was a little corner of my generous friend Val's much larger booth, with one little display stand of hand-made stitch markers. Even though it was tiny, it was an amazing of work getting the miscellaneous stuff done, like signage and mounting hangers. Luckily I have a secret set-up weapon, my wonderful BFF, who is the kind of friend who comes without a second thought when asked to work on such a hare-brained project, and brings her own coffee because she knows me well enough by now to think that a full pot of home-brewed just might be beyond me with a deadline looming. (For the record, I did have coffee waiting for her.)


I had worked all summer on this project, because I have been looking for a long time for beaded stitch markers and never found anything that worked for me, style and price-wise. After much trial, and error, and constructive criticism from fellow knitters, I finally came up with something I thought worked and might be of interest to other people. To answer the inevitable question: I called the markers "Fraternals" because no two markers in a set are exactly alike, as you can see from this most helpful picture taken by my dad. Of course, I forgot my camera for the entire weekend.


It was kind of nerve-wracking, putting myself and my little markers out there for comment and criticism. The comments were very positive though, and I sold a decent amount considering that Rhinebeck is only two weeks away, and the economy is in the dumper, and the change in dates for this festival resulted in decreased attendance.

My secret sales weapon was Secondo. I offered him a commission of $1 per set of stitch markers he sold, and he was responsible for most of the sales. He had a system all worked out, which he explained to Val: "When people come over, I stand up and smile, and they think I'm cute and buy things from me."

My mom and I are mulling over grander plans for next year. They already include employment contracts for my BFF and Secondo.