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.