Sunday, January 31, 2010

Can you think of a better mid-winter pick-me-up?

I have a hunch that my fiber pursuits will be sidelined a bit in the next while. Here's why. Boy #2 is coming to Regina on Tuesday afternoon from Edmonton! His name is WillowGlyn High Noon, call name Cooper. He is now ten weeks old. His breeder is Yvonne Halkow, WillowGlyn Shelties, and this will be my fourth Sheltie that she has bred. Yvonne is great to deal with and some day I might actually get to meet her in person! I predict that there will be lots of cute puppy pics and anecdotes on this blog soon. I can't wait to smell puppy breath again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

quail, I think

DebQ suggested that my mystery chickens could be Prairie Chickens and JadieLady thought maybe they were quail. I did a little poking around on Google and I think that they were likely quail.

Here's a link to a picture.

I could be wrong but the pictures of Prairie Chickens and partridges show longer necked birds.

I know that there are quail around here. Years ago when I was hatching chicken eggs in an incubator for a science unit at school, I got a call from a man who was involved in falcon repopulation (quail are an important food source for falcons). Someone on an acreage had mowed over a quail hen by accident, leaving a nest of eggs that she was brooding, and called him to see if he could save the eggs. He put the eggs into a cooler with a heat source and started phoning around to find an incubator. My chicken egg source told him that I had an incubator on the go so he called me to see if he could put the quail eggs into the incubator too. He came out to the classroom with the eggs and we started babysitting them in the hope that they were still viable. If they hatched, he would take the chicks to the falconer at the University of Saskatoon.

Unfortunately when it was time to candle the eggs, there was no sign of live chicks in any of them. We didn't throw them out just in case but none of the quail eggs hatched. It was an interesting experience for me and the students though. We learned a lot about the difference between chicken eggs and the time required to incubate them to hatch. We also were fortunate enough to get a visit from the falconer and his falcon while they were making a quick visit to Regina. Sometimes the best teaching units take on a will of their own and become so much more than planned.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

a curious sight

Today's shot of the kitchen window.
The weight of the snow on the roof is making it hang over the eaves but it's so cold out that it's keeping it solid enough that it's not falling off. Between the drifts on the deck and the overhang off the roof, my view from the window is restricted.

Even so, I noticed an odd sight in the park. There was a flicker of movement under this tree. (zoom lens shot)
Then a scurry to the shelter of the next tree.
They appeared to be some sort of chickens, running along the snow. One flew a short distance to help hurry the pace but it didn't seem to be able to fly like a bird. Anybody know what they are? Maybe partridges?

Back to fiber news, the replacement Gotland fleece from Treenway arrived.
I am very pleased to report that it looks beautiful! I didn't have time to scour any yet. I'll post more pics when it's clean. I'm so pleased with Treenway's customer service!

Monday, January 25, 2010

and more

Today's view from the kitchen window....

Thankfully, it appears to have finally stopped snowing. Now the temps. are falling.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

it's ba-ack

After a lovely couple of weeks of spring-like weather, winter has made a dramatic reappearance.
This was the view from my kitchen window this afternoon. We had a blizzard descend on us this weekend. Besides the dump of snow, the wind has been strong today. RCMP closed highways due to the white-out conditions. It is still January and winter does not want us to forget it.

Meanwhile, I've been slogging away on Dan's big boring sock.
I'm really not liking the colors. They remind me of bruises. I'm going to overdye the socks when they're done.

And I've been slogging away on the never-ending bobbin of laceweight singles. Good thing the fiber is so pretty. I think I've got more than seven ounces on this one bobbin.
Next up will be Navajo plying it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Thank you for all of the kind comments about Poke. It's been a difficult week. It's hard to believe how quiet the house seems without him.

I found time to scour some more of the Gotland fleece and it isn't an improvement on the first lot. I sent an email to Treenway last night so that they would have feedback that may be useful in future purchases. I got a phone call from them right away this morning offering me another Gotland fleece that they inspected carefully and assured me was beautiful for 30% off and free shipping. Of course I jumped at the offer. I was very pleased with their customer service and will show you pics when the new fiber arrives.

Monday, January 18, 2010

another sad farewell

Hocus Pocus, posing for the camera last summer.

I said farewell to my little marshmallow dog this morning. Sadly, he started seizuring again from a probable brain tumor and wasn't responding well to the anti-seizure medications.

Poke came into our lives at the end of summer in 1997. He was bred by my friend and we were both gob-smacked by his beauty. Together, we traveled to dog shows and he was great fun to show, earning lots of group ribbons along the way.

However, Poke was much, much more than a show dog. He was part of our family and dearly loved. I miss him so much already.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


We were fortunate to go to a Blue Rodeo concert last night. It was a terrific show! If you get a chance to hear this band live, do it. Jim Cuddy is an amazing talent, both vocally and with a variety of instruments. The rest of the band was great too. The opening act was a young group from Toronto called Cuff the Duke and they were very good too.

It's interesting that Blue Rodeo's latest release was designed specifically for vinyl, although you can buy it as a double cd too. I like the idea of vinyl making a comeback because this is what we still have from the early days of our marriage (i.e. before parenthood).
A Bang and Olufsen stereo system and a lot of albums. I figure we're sitting on a gold mine. I can dream, right? Of course, some repairs would have to be made before it becomes valuable to a collector. When Geoffrey was a toddler, I found him dotting the moving turntable with dribbles of milk from his upside down bottle. The needle was pretty unimpressed. Also, one of the speakers' membranes got blown out when my nephew Christopher turned the volume to max before turning on the radio. This stereo was not designed to survive young children.

On a totally different blue tangent, I'm a little blue about my Gotland fleece. This is what it looks like after cleaning.
The fiber is a pretty steel blue gray color but almost half the length of the locks is sun-bleached brown. I think (hope) I must have felted it in the wash tub. I have to tear the blue fiber apart. It's still possible to flick it apart but it will be a lot of work.

Here is a bit that I flicked.

And a mini-comb's worth of fiber.

At least it's nice and soft. My gut feeling is to cut off the brown tips and save them for another blend. The blue wool is such a lovely color that it's a shame to mix the brown stuff in with it. I'm going to wash some more of this fleece and see if it comes out nicer. I thought I was being very careful washing the first bunch but maybe I agitated it a bit too much when I was trying to get the sudsy water through it to clean out the smelly dirt and vm. I haven't had any trouble with felting the other fleeces that I've washed but none of them was as pungent. If it is still felted after a more careful wash, I will be an unhappy camper.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

this is the way we wash the fleece....

As part of my ongoing endeavor to buy fleece from every known breed to mankind, an organic gray Gotland fleece arrived from Treenway Silks today. I'm thinking that Canada Post must be starting to wonder about me and these smelly boxes that I keep ordering but the lovely postal workers continue to deliver them with smiles.

I didn't really know what to expect of Gotland fleece. And I still don't really know what to expect of Gotland fleece. First off, this fleece is, shall we say, aromatic. I rather like the smell of the barnyard (critter aroma, I'm weird that way) and lanolin but this one was a little ripe even for my nose. The dogs were most impressed.

When I opened up the box, this curly light gray mass greeted me.

When I turned over a bit of the fleece, I saw all this brown wool.
At that point, the dogs were practically climbing over each other to try to get up on the table and roll in this marvelous smelly mass of wonder.

Here is a lock that I pulled out. I didn't have a ruler handy so the pen is there for scale.

I couldn't resist and immediately ran a nice hot bath in the laundry tub to wash some of it. The suds are original green Palmolive dish detergent. I've decided that I like it better than blue Dawn and I can buy it in big jugs at Costco. It's mild and biodegradable. It smells nice too.

Those are my nifty fleece washing crates. I was looking for crates with holes in the bottom so that I could move my mesh bags of wool from tub to tub without disturbing them too much. Dan brought home four of these old Coke crates from hockey one day. He said that they've been in the hallway of the old rink for years so obviously nobody cared about them. They needed a good wash with bleach to clean them but they are perfect for my purposes.
They fit in the tubs easily and hold a good sized layer of locks. The sides are low enough that I can adequately cover them with the wash water and they nest so that the mesh bag stays submerged in the bottom one.
I have a good, observant husband.

After several tubfuls of warm, soapy water, the fleece is now rinsing and will be ready to spread out to dry overnight. I'll post more photos of it then. It will be interesting to see how much of the brown stuff was dirt and how much of it is fleece.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

not a lot going on

I haven't had much to post about lately. I'm not sure where time has gone since Christmas. The days just seem to melt away.

I did manage to get some carding done. Using the electric carder doesn't save any time but it sure saves wear and tear on my shoulder and neck. I'm quite attached to this machine already. I finished up blending the merino/silk and BFL fibers. I love this stuff; it's like playing with cotton candy.

I started knitting a pair of socks for a dear friend who was newly diagnosed with cancer. I wanted him to have nice warm socks for his chemo therapy. He wound up in the hospital a lot sooner than anyone expected and started to receive chemo. I knew that I wouldn't get his socks done in time so Dan volunteered his new socks. Their sock sizes are very similar so that's what we did.

I cable-plied and dyed some more BFL for another new pair of socks for Dan. This time he's getting more colorful ones.
I took the yarn photo in the sunroom yesterday. We are having spring-like weather in January this week. The snow is thawing during the day although it freezes again in the evening, making for slippery roads and sidewalks. It's lovely to have the balmy temperatures this time of year, a little respite from our usual cold winters.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

On New Year's Eve, while the guys watched the World Junior hockey tournament on TV, my good friend Rhonda, my sister Darcie, and my 9 year old niece Katie spent some time knitting and admiring my washed Polwarth locks. Katie drew some pictures and left them on my fridge. I thought you might like to see them.

I'm not sure how clearly you can see it so I'll tell you that it is a sheep shearer at work in the barn. Katie has included lots of details in her picture including the shorn strips on the sheep's back, the cord of the electric clippers, the hat worn by the shearer, the shorn wool on the floor, and the other animals watching. Everyone looks happy including the sheep saying Baaaa!, and the kitty eating his food. She has captured this scene much more accurately than I would be able to; the girl has talent.

Here is the back of the picture.
The printing in the upper corner says, "note - the guy's sweater is made out of the sheep's coat". How cute is that?

Here's her other picture.
Translation: Let's Knit!! You can tell from her drawing that she knows how knitting works with the stitches on the needle and the working yarn coming from the last stitch. This delights me to no end!

Can you tell that her mom and I are grooming the girl to love fiber crafts? We want someone to inherit all of our stash and equipment some day and not want to sell it all on eBay, which is what Dan tells me he plans to do with it. We also want her to love fiber because we do and we're enablers that way.

Friday, January 01, 2010

not your usual New Year's greeting

Okay, so I could wish everyone a Happy New Year and take stock of my life at this point but, instead, I will just wish you a Happy New Year and leave you with this. Maybe I'm just tired from dealing with a sick dog and a sick furnace but I think it is hilarious.