Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some of My Favorite Things

I received this book as a gift last week.  It's a very cute, very Canadian book that'll get you singing to the old familiar tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas".  (Substitute with the likes of "Four Calling Moose, Three Beaver Tails"...you get the idea!)  The artwork is fantastic.  The only thing that would have made it better, would be an alpaca or a spinning wheel in there somehow.

I found a new favorite thing....dangerous!

Do you know what this is?  My friend Joanne dug it out from the basement of her gift store that she has sold.
 It's a skein winder or wool winder.  After a spinner has spun yarn onto the bobbin of their spinning wheel, they would then use this to make a skein (big loop) of yarn before washing or dyeing it. The new ones have adjustable arms so that after you have wound your wool, the arms collapse in a bit, so you can get the skein off. 
This is my Quebec production wheel.  At one time, many Canadian farmhouses would have had one of these kept busy spinning yarn for the family's clothing.  I have to admit, it's not very productive in my house.  I have a modern Lendrum double-treadle that I use as my working spinning wheel, and an electric spinning wheel that I would like to be more productive on.  I never got the hang of this old wheel, and it may have been a bit warped when I bought it. It is a nice conversation piece and even though it's not being used, I take comfort that I am keeping it safe as an historical artifact.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gales of November

Snow tires with studs...worth every penny when you drive a little car.  This past week has brought freezing rain, high winds and snow.

Looking outside the kitchen window, I don't relish venturing outside for chores.

Even the herd doesn't want to go outside these days.

But the hay is outside.

My 'good life' fitness program includes lugging these 40 lb bales out to each hay feeder.

When I bundle up against the cold, it's actually a good way to start the morning.  My cheeks are rosy red from the biting wind, though.
I went to my local spinning and weaving guild meeting the other day.  We have "show and tell" after the meeting.  It's supposed to be about fibre arts, but I showed my new e-book reader.  I didn't think my recent spinning project would dazzle anyone.

Guild member Rosalynn had this beautiful jacket in an undulating weave structure using funky coloured yarns.

 And these colourful woven teatowels.  What a piece of art.
I am inspired by creative people.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's a Slow Wednesday

I wandered into my friend's gift shop the other day.  Joanne is clearing her stock, as she has just sold her gift shop that she has run for several decades in our small town.

And I fell in love....  

Isn't he beautiful? (or do you think it's a she?)

It's silly.  I'm not a big consumer of decor items, especially since I'm at the stage in life where I'm trying to de-clutter. But really....I couldn't resist.  It called to me.  I know its a lucky talisman for my kitchen. Besides, I got a stellar deal, too.

Do you have a suggestion for a name for him (her)?

I'm learning how to knit socks with the "Magic Loop" method.  I really didn't think I wanted to learn this, but my knitter friend insisted on showing me.  I have to admit that the rounds go a lot easier than on DPNs, which I was perfectly happy with.  However, I got stuck after I turned the heel and I've left this project.  I need a morning, a coffee and no pressure to put my head into it.

Some pictures from my morning out at the barn...

I covet my neighbour's land....is that wrong?  It's currently hay fields.  I can picture a herd of 100 alpacas over there grazing.  No fence-posts or barn over there, though. Hmmmmmmm.... 

I was greeted by my farm help this morning.  They don't get much done, are kind of goofy, but they work for free and don't disturb the quiet peacefulness of the barn.

I'd like to know what is making a home under the barn these days.  Too big for a mouse or chipmunk, I think.  I hope it's not a weasel eyeing my chickens.

This is Ka'Kocha.  He's in a pasture by himself for the time being.  He can see the girls all the time, so he's okay about that.  He'd like to get in with the other boys to remind them who's boss.  Big Ka'Kocha outweighs our younger herdsire, Striker, by about 60 lbs.  Striker has that little guy attitude though...keeps challenging the big guy.
A couple months ago, for the first time ever on our farm, we had a gate failure.  KaKocha got in with the girls unattended.  He was too busy trying to ensure the other guys were on the side of the fence, that I think he forgot all about the ladies! (Well, I guess we'll know for sure next summer.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Smoke is in the House

It's official. Smokey the Barn Cat is retired. After a couple invites into the house, and putting the husky in her place with a few well-placed swats, Smokey has settled in.

We aren't sure how old Smokey is. We guesstimate about 8-9 years old. Smokey came with a mysterious past. His previous owner brought the cat home upon graduation from his university frat-house, where the cat had lived among young men. After some time, that owner gained a new fiance that was allergic to the cat. Smokey took right to the barn, made quick remedy to our barn mouse problem and never strayed. In turn, he had a comfy spot in a heated barn room with a cat door, 2 squares a day and all the necessary vet care. Although he was wary of the alpacas, he loved farming. When hubby would walk out to the back pasture to close a gate, faithful Smokey would always be walking along beside him. Smokey was right with us, whether we were fixing fences or skirting fleeces.

We figure Smokey has reached the age where he deserves more comfort and companionship. Apparently, so does he.

The only issue is that I can't keep him out of my alpaca shop located in the house. It's like an obsession for him to be in there, and I'd rather not be mixing cat hair with the alpaca fibres. However, if you think about it....he's lived with alpacas for the last 4 years, he probably thinks he belongs there.

I have a very different life than I had 12 years ago. Way different. About that time, I was doing some soul-searching as my life wasn't about what I wanted. I read a few self-help and motivational books. One must have suggested writing down what you imagined your perfect life to look like that started with the phrase "I see myself...."

I still have that piece of paper somewhere. There are about 7 main phrases there. One of the items said "I see myself amid a circle of artists".

I put that list away for years. One day years later, I came upon the list and realized that, even without my directed effort, most of the items had come true in some way. I guess that by recognizing what you want, you put things in motion to get there.

I can especially recognize that I am, indeed, amid a circle of artists. Artists enrich my life. True artists have the courage to let their individual light shine. I'm still working on that.

My friend Fay came over the other day to get my opinion of an applique quilt she was piecing together.

This is what comes of Fay's imagination....

The details in her work are amazing.

I met Fay through my alpaca yarn shop and she fast became a good friend. I have met so many interesting and talented people through my small business. Some of them, I haven't actually met in person, but through email or Ravelry.
Fibre artists share a bond and I usually feel like I've met an old friend.
Here's some shots that my new friend, Val sent me. It's of my handdyed fibre that she bought and spun on her spindle.
Yes, Val....I also would need a beer to spin on a spindle ;)
(Seriously, some people swear by the spindle....I could never get the hang of it. I didn't work with a quality balanced spindle, which might have been my problem. Little kids in Peru can master this while they walk!)
I think Val is a natural!
I know that Val is addicted. She's just purchased her first spinning wheel. I remember that feeling...to fibre artists, it's better than the "new car smell".