Friday, March 29, 2013

Fiber Arts Friday: More Qiviut Spinning

This last week or so of Qiviut spinning has been blissful.

I was sad to be at the end of my single, but thought it looked so pretty in a cake.

It's now plied.... 1/4 ounce and 25 yards.

I haven't bothered soaking it yet... it's so soft and just the right size for my palm.  All I want to do is hold it and squish it.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

More Puppy Therapy

We went to visit our favorite puppies again today... they are now 6 weeks old.

This guy will be coming home with us in a few weeks.  :-)

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fiber Arts Friday: Pay-it-Forward, part 3

My very first taker for the Facebook Pay-it-Forward Project was Vivian over at Bits and Pieces.

I was excited, I adore Vivian and knew instantly that I wanted to spin a yarn for her.  Then almost immediately, I was nervous.  Vivian is a prolific knitter.  She has a lot of experience with yarn.  So the voice in the back of my mind started chattering... What if my yarn isn't good enough?  What if she doesn't like it?  What if... What if... What if...?

You know... some people are just happy that you made something for them.  They don't really care about how good or bad the thing turns out to be... or at least they don't let on that they do.  We call these people Knit Worthy.  I like making things for these people.  A lot.

But Vivian.... Vivian knows what she is doing!  Vivian knows the work involved and has a keen eye.  She can recognize mistakes!  I admire, appreciate and adore Vivian.... and Vivian is really the first person I am making for who knows something about what I am making.... She knows, objectively, if it's good or not.

She is absolutely Knit Worthy, but even better, she is Spin Worthy.  :-)

I had quite a lot of a Wool+Mohair roving in my stash.  This was the very first roving I bought at the very first wool market I ever attended... Taos 2008.

I decided to spin a thinner single with the idea that the final yarn would become a 2-ply and hopefully, a balanced and consistently gauged yarn.

I think I did pretty well.  :-)

I hate finding knots in my yarn so the final result is three skeins of varying lengths totaling 269 yards and 8 ounces.

Vivian, I hope that you enjoy this yarn.  I enjoyed making it for you.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Google Reader is Going Away

Hopefully (if you're a user of it) you've heard by now that Google Reader is going away.

I learned from a friend on Facebook about a week ago.  I had decided to wait to make any changes.  It looked like the other options where overwhelmed.

But then I noticed that it is gone from some menus yesterday.  It is still searchable, but I figured they'd give it a little more time.... supposedly, Reader isn't going away until July 1st.  :-/

I went back to my friend's FB post and reviewed the information that she and her friends had put up and decided to try Feedly.

The iPhone App looked promising and ended up being very easy to set up... almost instantaneous.  The PC/Chrome version was a little more challenging.  The trick is making sure you "add to Chrome."

I messed around with the settings for a while and discovered I could add a few feeds that I hadn't figured out how to add to Reader.  Reading on the iPhone marks as read on the computer and vice versa.  I'm not certain that I'm committed to Feedly, but so far I am feeling ok about it.

The visual experience on the app is quite nice.  Though I have not figured out how to comment on the mobile version of the posts... which is not a Feedly issue.  I can type it in but for some reason they are never posted, so I started going to the web version and that seems to work ok.

If you are a Google Reader user and have yet to make your decision about how to keep your subscriptions, here are a couple of posts from good sources on situations like this: Copyblogger and Mashable.

In the meantime, I offer RSS and email subscriptions on the right sidebar.  --->

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fiber Arts Friday: Spinning Qiviut

I had several questions on last week's post about Qiviut.

Qiviut is the down from a Muskox which ranges north of the Arctic Circle.

The animals are rare... from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: there are only 3 farms that raise Muskox in Alaska and Alberta, Canada and some wild herds also in live in Alaska, Canada and Greenland.  The fiber sheds off in one sheet rather than smaller clumps.  One Muskox produces between 5 and 8 pounds of Qiviut per year.  The staple is between 0.5 and 6 inches with a diameter ranging between 11 and 19 microns.

File:Ovibos moschatus qtl3.jpg
Image from Wikipedia

Qiviut products can be acquired through Oomingmak, a Native Alaskan Cooperative.  I also found some on Etsy, but not much.  As my friend who (jokingly) suggested I make a Qiviut liner for my Donegal Wool Hat says, "Cashmere is an economy fiber when compared to Qiviut."

As it happens, I have a tiny bit (1/4 ounce) of roving in my stash.  This came from the Estes Park Wool Market a couple of years ago and was part of a spinning sampler that had some other wonderful, rare fibers in it.

All I can really say is, "Wow!"

It is so fine and so soft and I am carefully spinning it into a thread.

I told a friend... "Remember your first experience touching camel and how amazing that was?  Well, now that you know that, touching Qiviut for the first time is the exact same experience."

I have no firm idea of what this will become other than a two-ply yarn.  I may just skein it and pet it.  :-)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Week in Pictures

Friday Morning: I have been spreading spent hay and alpaca manure on the first garden over the winter.  The soil has warmed up enough that it seems possible to start tilling, but we're expecting snow on Saturday.

Saturday Morning:  2 inches of what became about 5 inches of accumulation before the day was over.  It never really got below freezing, so the snow was melting as it was accumulating.

Sunday Morning: fresh snow and blue skies.  The 5 inches are about half melted already.

Monday Morning: What snow?

Tuesday Morning: We were surprised by another 4 inches of the fluffy white stuff... also half melted by the time I took the photo.

Wednesday Morning:  A little frost, but the snow is gone again.

This morning, Thursday:  We had our first night that stayed above freezing in quite a while.

Theoretically I should be able to plant the early season seeds this coming weekend, but with all of the recent moisture, the ground has been too wet to do any meaningful garden preparations.

My next opportunity to do any garden preparation is Saturday, which has a forecast of rain.

I am not complaining, we need the water.  :-)

Happy Spring!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fiber Arts Friday: Donegal Hat

With my single hank of Donegal Wool I want to make something that will show off the beauty of the yarn.

I thought quite a lot about the Palindrome Scarf.  A simple pattern with broad sections of knits and pearls... essentially a reversible stockinette scarf.... I do think that scarves should always be reversible.... or a least the reverse should not look like the back or the inside.  ;-)

Since the scarf is supposed to be long... and I like long scarves, I also thought this would be a good choice since I only have the one hank.  I could knit until the scarf is so long that I trip over it, or until I ran out of yarn... which ever came first.  ;-)


The yarn is really too scratchy to use as a scarf... so after many needle sizes and much deliberation, I am now working on a gently-cabled hat.

I really like how the little slubs of color are popping out, but not taking over.... which, I think, is the beauty of Donegal Tweed.


I'm thinking that the yarn will still be too scratchy on the forehead for a hat.

One of my comadres suggested a Qiviut liner, which would be luxurious.  Another had suggested a vest, but I haven't found any patterns I'm crazy about.  I am also having the thought about (finally?) setting up my loom and using it in a weaving of some sort.

I have only about 350 yards.  So, do any of you awesome, Fiberistas have a wonderfully, simple-looking pattern that I may be missing?

Thanks and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Puppy Therapy

Hubba and I went to one of our favorite Tibetan Mastiff breeders yesterday and spent some time playing with his puppies.... Puppy Therapy, as we've started to call it.  ;-)

The silvery/white litter was born around the end of December and will be going to their new homes soon.

The darker litter was born just before Valentine's Day and are nearly 3 weeks old now.

One of the boys will be coming home with us in April.

All of these puppies are sired by Timberline's Barni Drakyi (Barnes), the first ever Tibetan Mastiff Breed winner at the Westminster Dog Show.

Perhaps it's just me, but these puppies make me all squishy inside.  :-)

Two boys are available.... if you need one... or two.  ;-)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Slow Living: February 2013

I'm excited that it's March.  Generally it's our snowiest month, but also it's the beginning of Spring.  The trees are getting ready to bud.  The Climbing Tree has a subtle red hue.  It's one of the last to leaf out, but it's definitely getting ready.

We've seen some of the "summer" birds and the dogs are acting different.  Spring is fast approaching, but for now, it's time for February's installment for the Slow Living Project.

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

I had a break-through with my broth last month, so this month I wanted to focus on making some well-brothed soups and stews... Pho, Shepherd's Pie and Pot Pie in particular, but I didn't make any of those.  Maybe next month.  ;-)

I did roast some whole chickens this month though.  It's my new thing.  ;-)  It's not exactly less expensive then chicken pieces at the super market, which I find surprising.  But we have access to a Free-Range, Organic, Local, Chicken CSA that I'm interested in joining this summer.  So I want to make sure I know what I'm doing.  Roasting Chickens is not quite the same as Turkey, but I'm getting the hang of it.

We had a few wonderful meals out and some interesting meals at home.  Hubba turned the ground Kangaroo I mentioned a few months back into a curry dish.  It was quite good and our very first time eating Kangaroo.  Our market is still carrying the ground meat, so I suspect we'll be able to get it pretty regularly.

I renewed my membership to my yoga studio, but only made it to class once.  It sure is tough to get re-started.

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.

It's hard to believe that we could be able to start planting seeds in about 2 weeks.  A couple of weeks ago, I would have said, "sure, no problem."  But now that we're under a blanket of snow, it's a little harder to imagine.  ;-)  That being said, I have been refining the plans for my garden.

I acquired a pressure canner and put up my first-ever shelf-stable chicken stock.

I've neglected working on our emergency preparations... other than checking the weather and ensuring we have provisions for extended cold snaps, power outages and (finally) a good amount of snow.

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.

With living on a farm now and not "going" to an office as often, the end-of-life line for goods is in a whole different place.  Items that would have been replaced because they aren't good for wearing to the office, or even to the grocery store have been held on to and used for much longer.  This has been a month of retiring many of these extremely worn out items to the rag pile... mostly notably a pair of jeans that quite literally were being held together by a small number of threads. lol.

Miss Noodle started blowing her coat about 10 days ago.  She's nearly finished shedding and the other girls are showing signs of starting soon.

I have been collecting as much fur as I can.  She'll stand while I pluck her, but after a few minutes she gets annoyed and will go play with her sisters.

I have spun Tibetan Mastiff before and have plans for a shawl/scarf for myself.

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.

Still nothing in this category.  :-/

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!

Even though it's still, technically, winter there is a lot to share here... Miss Wasabi, our third Tibetan Mastiff, is one year old and bigger than The Alpaca Dog.

The cria are four months old and sometimes a little lazy at nursing time...

It's also been a month for babies... Early in the month, Hubba and I went to a local Tibetan Mastiff breeder to meet his puppies.  These guys were 1 month old and the time and ridiculously cute.  This "little" girl was climbing around Hubba's wheel and then stopped for a nap.

Then my newest niece was born and the puppies we've been waiting for were also born.

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.

I knit two Pay-it-Forward projects, began working on my Wingspan again and spun a bit of yarn.

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.

Hmm :-/

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.

I finished and sent off the first two of my Pay-it-Forward projects.

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.

Many mornings were nice enough for Hubba and I to enjoy coffee on the stoop, overlooking the alpacas and dogs.  It's a lovely way to start the day... and speaking of days, they are getting longer... I mean noticeably longer... as in, it's still light at 6:00pm.

I went to the Rocky Mountain Cluster of Dog Shows with my brother, SIL and one of their littles, puppy therapy, dinner with friends, a surprise observed-holiday at the day job and a proper snow day where the boys made a snow fort.

Happy March everyone.  I hope you enjoy the coming change of seasons.  :-)

Fiber Arts Friday: Pay-it-Forward, part 2

I finished my second Pay-it-Forward project.  It's amazing how much having the right gauge solves so many problems.  ;-)

Recipient #2 is a friend from work, from years ago... back in the airplane factory days.  She came out to help with alpaca shearing one day and has been a huge supporter of Hubba and me following our dreams of farming and raising alpacas in Colorado... even though it meant moving away.

She lives in New Mexico which has very mild winters, but spends a lot of time in Wisconsin, which does not have very mild winters.  So I thought the Bandana Cowl would be a good choice for her.

Note there is no difference in the stitches between the short rows toward the bottom and knit in the round toward the top. :-)

I used Malabrigo in the SFO Sky colorway.  It's very cosy and perfect for being up against the neck.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.