Friday, December 28, 2012

Have I Mentioned that I Like Hats?

With several Fibery Bloggers posting about their project count recently, I became curious about mine.

I didn't feel that I had been very productive, but frankly productivity is not my goal.  I'm much more interested in improving my skills and understanding construction.  However this has been a crazy year and I have felt heavily-loaded for most of it.  So my fibery projects have primarily been simple and relaxing.

I decided it would be interesting (perhaps only to me) to take an objective view of 2012.  Many thanks to Ravelry for making this possible.  :-)

As if I didn't know this already, I like hats....

Only six hand-knit projects were completed in 2012 and every, single, one of them was a hat.  Hubba's Christmas Hat will make seven, but technically it is not completed as of this moment.
Note: there are only four patterns used across seven hats... how's that for keeping things simple this year?
I have six projects In Progress.

Two projects are officially Hibernating.

However, the truth is that three of my WIPs have not had any attention in quite a while, so essentially that makes five in Hibernation.

I officially Frogged three knit projects.  There were a few more that didn't even make it to the Ravelry Project Page.  I'm pretty certain that the two in Official Hibernation will also be Frogged.

I did spin 11 skeins of yarn in 2012 though, so that's something.  ;-)

The Wonder Why Gal had asked about Fibery Goals for 2013... at this point they are (1) to skirt enough raw alpaca fiber to send to the mill and (2) to re-finish the floor in the basement so that I can set up my loom.  I would also like to have the fortitude to tackle more complex projects, but at this point that's just a wish, and not a goal.

Happy New Year!

Fiber Arts Friday: Hubba's Christmas Hat, part 2

On Christmas morning, Hubba's Christmas Hat looked like this...

About an inch to go before starting the decreases.

As of last night, I have just barely started the decreases...

I've been having too much fun with my new camera (here, here and here) to spend too much time knitting.  ;-)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

More Camera Fun

Hubba, Noodle and I took a short road trip to Estes Park for a very chilly walk near the lake.

Foggy Ridge, Big Thompson Canyon

Big Horn Sheep - pretty sure this was a mother-daughter pair

Noodle loves the snow

Saying Hello

My favorite shot from the day.

No trip to Estes Park is complete without the Stanley Hotel

I'm really enjoying getting to know my new camera.  :-)

Christmas Morning

A few shots from the farm on this rare, snowy, Christmas morning, with my new favorite tool...

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Finally, a Proper Camera

I have been wanting a "proper" camera for at least 4 years... Actually much longer than that.  It was on my Wouldn't That be Nice to Have One Day list for nearly as long as I can remember.  But I started looking into it more seriously sometime between starting this blog and when we moved back to Colorado.

I'd look at the prices, then decide that I was fine with a point-and-shoot.  Then the point-and-shoot would break, I'd look at proper cameras again and decide another point-and-shoot would be ok.  I'm not really sure how many times I went through this process... definitely more than a few.

I've grown as a photographer since starting this blog and was feeling frustrated that I was unable to get certain shots.  Hubba was even commenting about how I should have a better camera.

So last month he suggested that if he won his December race, we would get the camera.

I told him that I thought that was a great idea... if he won we would get the camera, if he came in second, we would not get the camera.  That should tell you how paltry wheelchair racing purses are... 1st place covers the cost of a low-medium range good camera.  2nd place does not.

Old Camera

New Camera

I'm so excited to get to know my new camera... and to share much better photos of the alpacas and dogs with you.  :-)

Have a great weekend and a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Hubba's Christmas Hat

Last Sunday, Hubba and I took the dogs for a walk near the foot hills.  It was cold and windy.  He was wearing his Orange Cotton Hat, which I'm not crazy about, but he likes.  Honestly, temperature-wise it wasn't all that cold for December, but the winter wind can cut right through you, so our walk was cut short.

On the walk he asked how long it takes for me to make a hat.

I told him if it's a simple pattern, a thicker yarn and I have nothing else going on, it will take me about a week.

I could tell he was a little disappointed, so I decided that another hat for Hubba should move up in the queue.  After all, when the loved one asks for hand knits, I really want to comply.

After we got home and warmed up, I went to my stash for a couple of options I had in mind...

I pulled out a vermilion Lincoln that he had picked out a while back.  It's scratchy, so we had purchased a helmet liner to go with the eventual hat.  But then I suggested that this red from Fiberphile, a superwash Merino, was a better choice.  He agreed.

It's a DK weight and I am working with US3 (3.25mm) needles.  The pattern isn't complex, but it will take me longer than a week to finish.  Even with the other projects pushed aside, it's not likely to be finished by Christmas on Tuesday.  So the worst-case scenario is that he can unwrap a half-knit hat and then I can continue knitting on Christmas day.  ;-)

Similar to my Wingspan, this yarn is hand dyed in small batches and has a depth and variation of color that I adore.  I wish I had bought more than one skein.  It really is lovely.  Fortunately at least one of our local yarn shops carries it.  :-)

I hope you all have a great Fiber Arts Friday, Solstice and Holiday weekend.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about my passions lately.

That sounds kind of funny... but I think if you don't spend some time thinking about where you are with what you want to do, eventually you're only doing what you HAVE to do and never what you WANT to do.

My passions mostly center around farming, ranching, alpacas, dogs, making things and being outside.  I do none of these things as part of my Day Job, but I do like my Day Job.

So my goal was to figure out why I like it and change the language in my head from how I'm not doing the above mentioned passionate things into I am doing something I enjoy.

After some contemplation, I figured out that I am doing a lot of teaching, mentoring and problem solving.  All of which I enjoy greatly.

So maybe it doesn't matter that the teaching, mentoring and problem solving have nothing to do with farming, ranching, alpacas, dogs, making things or being outside.  It does matter that I am helping people understand things, solving some of their problems, helping them figure out how to solve their own problems and building individual, professional relationships with each of the people I am working with.

This I have a passion for.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Wingspan, part 7

The Forever Wingspan continues... but this time I am into the official last wedge.  WooHoo!!

I was hoping to be able to complete the entire project with just one cake of yarn, but it looks like I will have to break into cake #2 pretty soon... that's what's left of ball #1 near the top of the photo.  ;-)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

No More Christmas Tree

As much as I have enjoyed the smell of fresh greenery in the house and the gentle glow of small, white lights, I just couldn't leave it up any more.

It's two weeks until Christmas and our tree is dry and brittle.  I am paranoid about fire so it came down today.  :-(

I thought I may have been too anxious and got the tree too soon, but we cut the end off and soaked the trunk in water before putting it up in hopes of prolong it's life.  However, it wasn't taking up as much water as I think it should.

I'm surprised by how happy having a decorated tree has made me.  So I have been thinking again about getting an artificial one.  I know the aroma will not be the same, but the glow and adornment can be.

In the meantime, this one will be composting in my garden.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Cute Baby Hat

My sister is expecting a little girl in a few months and I have been looking for just the right hat to make for her.

I had already decided that I wanted to use this yellow yarn.

I made Duck Feet for her son out of it a couple of years ago.

It's a super-wash merino and super-cozy.  I think baby-knits should generally be machine washable... I'm not a mommy, but I just can't imagine having to worry about hand-washing garments when you're looking after a newborn.

So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered this pattern by Chez of Monarch Place, in mid-November, on exactly the day I was wanting to start this project.  :-)

Her pattern gave me the opportunity to practice casting on and begin knitting in the round on dpns... it went much better than the last time I tried.

Chez had mentioned that reversing the knit and purls for the heart pattern might be preferable.  I didn't do it, but I think she might be right.... It doesn't matter though, I still love it.

The other thing I didn't do was use larger needles for the body of the hat.  I don't have the recommended size, or really any size close to what she recommended so I just kept knitting with the initial size.  I probably could have made some increases and added one more heart repeat, but I didn't think about that until later and did not want to rip anything out.

So in spite of me not following the very well written instructions, the hat turned out beautifully... and no one will know.  Er, well they baby won't know, but my sister might know... now.  Hi.  :-)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Monday, December 3, 2012

O, Christmas Tree

After Thanksgiving last week, I had an overwhelming urge for a Christmas Tree.

We haven't had one in years.  Usually we are gone for Christmas, visiting one side of the family or another and I've often felt that having a fresh-cut tree is frivolous.  I do love the tradition, but I could never bring myself to get a fake one.

We've had a few live trees over the years, but mostly we've either had nothing or a potted plant with some lights on it.

We'll be home.  Neither one of us will be travelling in the weeks prior to Christmas and they just smell amazing... so I went to our local tree lot and found a pretty one.

We don't have as many ornaments as I thought, be we have more than enough to properly decorate this tree.  

I do have way more lights than I realized.  I must have had plans to put lights on our house several years ago. ;-)

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Slow Living: November 2012

I enjoy this process of monthly reflection and planning.  I like considering the several areas and working to "move the needle" in many of them at the same time.  Sometimes this seems like a less efficient way to go, but often the things we do affect the other things we do.  Certainly some months are more conducive to different things and I often get good ideas from the other bloggers who participate.

So on to November's installment for the Slow Living Project.

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over-packaged, over-processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.

Hubba's Family's Secret Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving, Wild Boar Chili, Shrimp Creole and many left-over meals from the Thanksgiving Holidays... there have been several stand-outs this month.  :-)

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season. Aim to reduce dependency on store bought items especially those known to contain BPA and other suspect additives. Stocking up on dry goods when prices are low counts too.

We filled our freezer with fresh turkeys purchased from and delivered by a local farmer.  :-)

I have started making plans for our next hay buy.  With our drought and fires last summer, the prices were exceptionally high so I only bought a six-month supply last fall.  Unfortunately the hay was not the best quality so we have been going through it a little faster than expected.  This means I need to secure additional hay prior to mid-January.  We did not get the rain I was hoping for so the prices are still high, but at least the demand has dropped off a bit since August.

I have started putting together a Risk Management Plan.  Right now it's little more that a list of the likely emergency situations and some thoughts about Livestock Predation, Shelter-in-Place and Evacuation.

Perhaps the most exciting this month is that Hubba has officially committed to training for the Rio Paralympics!  So he, his coach and I are just beginning to identify goals and priorities for the next four years.

REDUCE/Reuse/Re-purpose/Repair: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

A small load went to Goodwill.

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

I cleaned my oven with baking soda and water.  It is cleaner than it was, but I'm not thrilled with the results. I read something recently about using water and vinegar(?), might have to try to find that again.  I'm determined to not use commercial oven cleaner, but right now I really miss my former self-cleaning oven.  :-/

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints. Don't have a backyard? Ask a friendly neighbour or relative for a small patch of theirs in return for some home grown produce, they may surprise you!

Since it's essentially winter, there is nothing is really growing around here with the exception of cria and puppies.  ;-)

Our puppy is 9-months old and the Little Girls are now big enough to get a drink out of the big water trough.

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here.

The most exciting thing in the creative category is that we launched our new website!  There is information about our farm... Huacaya Alpacas, Tibetan Mastiffs and Shearing Services.  Many of the photos were taken by my friend, Kristi, and the web design and logo redo were done by DaGama Webstudio.  We're working through some issues on the mobile version and by (hopefully) next week the several, disjointed videos will be replaced with one end-to-end shearing video.

There was also knitting with handspun alpaca, which always makes me very happy.

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.

Hubba found ground (minced) Kangaroo at our market.  We've never seen it here before and have never eaten it either.  The meat looks very lean... so I tweeted a couple of my online Aussie friends to ask for suggestions on what to do with it.  Hubba has also been searching The Google for recipes... but we are still undecided about what to do with this little discovery.

ENHANCE: community: Possibilities include supporting local growers and producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group. Car pooling where possible and biking/walking instead of driving. Even start up a blog if you haven't already - online communities count too! Or maybe just help out someone trying to cross the street! The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.

Early this month I volunteered for the Fiber portion of our local Alpaca Show.

I really like helping out at the Fiber Show.  We (the volunteers) organize the fleeces by animal age and color.  Each entry is given a number, so the judge doesn't see anything about the alpaca or farm and the judging is done behind closed doors.  As a result, it's completely blind and, in my opinion, a more fair evaluation of breeding quality.

The judges are usually quite talkative about what they are seeing and why one fleece will get higher marks than another.  A couple of the volunteer positions allow the handling of the fleece so, as a non-judge, it can be quite a learning experience.

ENJOY: Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here.

Miss A and I had a great time at our first alpaca show.

Hubba and I exercised our right to vote and then enjoyed watching the returns.  We had a fun dinner party, family came for a visit, the Thanksgiving Holidays, our Wedding Anniversary and a few blankets of snow.

As is Colorado though, we can have a beautiful blanket of snow one day and have it be dry, crisp and blue a few days later.

November certainly qualifies as one of my favorite months.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Revised Alpaca Hat Finished!

After all of the Thanksgiving festivities were over last weekend, I found some quiet time on the sofa with my needles and hand-spun alpaca... I only had a few rows to go and some ends to weave in.

I am much happier with this version and have been wearing it most of the week.  :-)

Now I (finally) have my very own alpaca hat... hand-spun (not by me), from one of our very own alpacas. :-)  The other one will most likely be going into a gift box.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Risk Management

Over the long weekend, I spent time thinking about where we are and what we've done to prepare for emergencies.  Mostly this is prompted by Natalie at Remembrance's Three Things on Thursday posts, conversations with a friend that lives in San Francisco and the extreme wildfires we had around here last summer.

There is nothing quite like having a huge wildfire 15 miles from home to highlight how ill prepared we are in the event that we need to evacuate.  It can feel quite overwhelming.  So following Natalie's lead, I have started to put together a plan for our emergency situations and then will work to put them in place a little at a time.

Since you can't make a plan unless you know what you're planning for, I started with listing the things that could happen then started thinking about how likely they are to occur and how big of a deal it would be if it did occur...

Potential Emergency Situations/Events:
  • Wildfire - High Risk.  While we are mostly surrounded by established neighborhoods and only about 2 miles from the nearest Fire Station, last summer showed that wildfire is a big risk for all of us in the Western United States.
  • Tornado - Medium Risk.  We are not far from the edge of "Tornado Alley."  They happen frequently in Colorado.  Most of the time they are much further east than we are.  However, the Windsor Tornado in 2008 was about 20 minutes from here.
  • Blizzard - Medium Risk.  We have several each winter almost always with advanced warning.  Power can go out, pipes can freeze.  The biggest issue is being able to get around outside and leaving the property/neighborhood via car.
  • Extreme Cold - High Risk.  We have several periods each winter, almost always with advanced warning.  Power can go out, pipes can freeze, risk of frostbite.
  • Extreme Heat - High Risk.  Generally our summer temperatures are quite comfortable with usually about one week of temps above 100F.  Last summer we had a record number of days with temps above 100F.  With black dogs and fleeced alpacas the animals can get overheated without enough access to shade and water.
  • Hail - Low Risk.  Hail storms happen frequently here, however the stones are usually pea-sized or smaller.  Small stones do not cause much structural damage.  However, when the stones get larger they can cause roof and vehicle damage and if one is caught in the storm, hail stones can cause bodily harm.
  • Flooding due to Extended Rainfall - Low Risk.  We do get puddles on our property due to the clay soil not being able to soak up large amounts of rain quickly.
  • Flash Flooding - Low Risk.  While the Big Thompson Flood of 1976 happened near here and highlights the devastation that can be caused by a flash flood.  We are not close enough to any rivers for this to be an issue for us in our current location.
  • Power, Gas, Water or Internet Outage - Medium Risk. the Electricity and Internet go out several times a year around here.  In fact there is a planned 3 hour outage for tonight.  Usually they are only for a few minutes to a few hours.  Occasionally they go out several hours to several days.
Certainly there are a lot of other things to consider like personal injury but I think it would be easy to go down a "rat hole."  So I'm starting with the big stuff.

Then, while working on another post about choosing Livestock Guardian Dogs (stay tuned), I spent some time thinking about our predators too...


·         Coyote
·         Neighborhood Dogs
·         Raccoon
·         Fox
·         Eagle
·         Hawk
·         Owl
·         Mountain Lion - unlikely
·         Bear - unlikely

Coyote and Neighborhood Dogs are the only real threat to alpacas on this list, but we have lost three cats to something.  My theory is that the Owls were the culprit, but without evidence, there's no way to know for sure.

We are planning our first litter of puppies for the end of 2013 so the Eagles, Owls and Raccoon are honest threats to puppies.  We have also been back and forth about getting chickens... someday.  So, I think we have a complete list of predators.

At this point, I'm not entirely sure where we are as far as being prepared for these events... Predation of Livestock, Shelter in Place, Evacuation.

With the Tibetan Mastiffs as Livestock Guardian Dogs, we've made progress in the Predation risks, but we still have improvements to make.  In the event of Sheltering in Place, I feel we're in pretty good shape with the exception of water.  But in the event of Evacuation or Pre-Evacuation we have a lot of preparations to make.

Over the next several weeks, I'll be putting together these requirements (wants and needs) and determining what we really have verses what we really need.

Monday, November 26, 2012

On the Holidays and Being an Introvert

I love the Holidays and I come from a large family... as in 25 people were present for Thanksgiving Dinner and 4 were not there.

Then Friday we had dinner with Hubba's extended family.  A dinner party with 14 people... and at least another 5 or 6 were missing... assuming I am counting correctly, which I may not be.

Now a few of these people were counted twice... since they went to both parties, but you get the idea.  Lots of great food and loud, boisterous, happy people.  I love our families.  I love spending time with them, but as an introvert, it can be quite exhausting.

Large groups of people has always been exhausting to me.  Large groups of people I don't know is terrifying to me.

Fortunately I know most of the people we were eating with over the weekend, so it made meeting the few new ones easier.  :-)

Saturday afternoon was for my Boring Time as Hubba calls it.  After more than 16 years together, he knows when I need to decompress and go completely inside.... as in inside my head.

I did some yard work, reading, writing and a little knitting.  I even had a nap.  But I was not much for conversation... even with my very favorite person in the whole world.  Poor Hubba.  I'm glad he appreciates my need for Boring Time.

I feel recovered and ready for the next round of festivities.  There is a baby shower, a birthday, at least a few Christmas celebrations and possibly a little Hanukkah coming up over the next few weeks.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Alpaca Hat

So the last few weeks have gotten away from me...

Since our first alpaca show (now a few weeks ago) I've gone live with a software tool at my day job, done a lot of testing, training, demoing and begun preparations for the next phase of the project.  I worked thru Hubba's and my Anniversary, gone live with our own Farm Website (, had Thanksgiving dinner and hosted(ing) a few guests.

I have been fibering, but it's been in very small amounts here and there, and honestly not entirely enjoyable.  I don't like it when work makes me so tired that I can't really enjoy the things that I enjoy.  As a result I currently have three simple projects sort of in progress and a few more not in progress.  :-/

It occurred to me last Friday, when I had no idea it was Friday... some how the days are moving at an exceptional rate.  Certainly the shorter daylight hours are contributing to the feeling... But anyway it occurred to me last Friday that it's generally getting pretty cold over night....  Haha, yes.  I do know it is November.  Geez.

Anyway, I thought it might be good to finish off my revised alpaca hat.  After all, it would be nice to have my head warm when I am outside.

So I set the other projects aside and have tried to focus on knitting.  That's right, just knitting all of the rounds until it's done.

I'm not quite there, but I am decreasing now.  Happy Fiber Arts Friday, and if you are state-side, Happy Thanksgiving as well.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alpacamundo: New Website!

Like most things worth doing, it's been a long, slow road.... but it doesn't matter.  The end result is great!

Our website has been transformed into a professionally developed site.  :-)

Many of the photos were taken by my friend, Kristi.  The site and logo redesign were done by DaGama Webstudio.

Please take a look and let me know what you think.  :-)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


One last photo from last weekend's alpaca show... this girl and her alpaca have worked together so much that he will cush on command and prefers to keep his head in her lap.  :-)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Alpaca Costume Contest

The one event Miss A and Clementine did not sign up for last weekend was the Costume Contest.

With as competitive as she is, I'm glad we didn't.  All of the costumes we were talking about were pretty lame in comparison.  She would have been very disappointed.

That being said, we were stalled next to a couple of the older kids and were impressed with their costumes, so we made a point to watch the event.

Spider Man/Captain America, Bee/Bee Keeper and Flamenco Dancers

Jelly Fish from the Great Barrier Reef, Knight/Ghost, Oompa Loompas

Garden Gnome/Gardener, Hunters, Scarecrow/Dorothy, A couple of Cowboys

The Jelly Fish

A Zebra collecting Monkeys and his Zoo Keeper

Miss A studied them and I think has a great idea for next year.  :-)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Our First Alpaca Show

Miss A has been working with Clementine for most of the summer.

We initially focused on building trust between them, did a little reconnaissance at the county fair and then set up a few of our own obstacles in the pasture.

We practiced most weekends and tried to expose Clementine to as many different "uncomfortable" things as we could think of like changing surface areas, walking under and through things, going into a dark rooms, ramps, stairs and doggie distractions.

Our first show was yesterday where Miss A and Clementine signed up for the three of the Performance Classes... Halter, Obstacle and Public Relations.

Halter is just like the regular Color Classes, except it's more about how well the kids handle their alpaca than  about the conformation and fleece of the alpaca itself.

Since all of the kids in Miss A's age group were signed up for both Obstacle and Public Relations, they ran them at the same time.  The first half was the Obstacle course and the second half was the Public Relations.  As far as I can tell, the PR portion is a little more difficult with one station having a human distraction.

Miss A was in the youngest group and is very competitive, so she was a little disappointed that they were awarded Participation Ribbons instead of Placement Ribbons... especially since she and Clementine did very well on the Obstacle/PR portion.  She was sizing up her competition and figuring out who would place where.  It's my fault for not realizing earlier and preparing her for that, but she was still very proud of a job well done.  :-)

They award Placement Ribbons in the next age group, which she will be eligible for next year.  She was very excited and has already started planning next year's show with the new cria... Pearl, Holly and Willow.  She thinks Willow will be the best candidate for Performance because she's the most bold.  I have to agree, I think she's right.  :-)