Sunday, August 15, 2010


Summer has been a blur. A fun blur, but nevertheless. . .

It all started with preparations for Black Sheep Gathering, which takes place every year in Eugene, Oregon. The sheep need to be in good form for the show, which means a bit of grooming (not too much, though, as they prefer a natural appearance. . . no lip gloss). And it is really helpful to practice what Doug & I now call “Fancy Pageant Walking” so that the beasties are prepared for what they need to do in the show ring. Getting them adjusted to walking on a lead is easier with some, and harder with others (envision very large, fluffy Mexican jumping beans, or, alternately, unresponsive lead weights with legs splayed, flat on the ground). Fortunately, the sheep we chose to show this year were pretty cooperative.

I was determined to finish knitting a shawl for the show, which was made from handspun fiber from my ram, Elmer. Elmer was sheared in March, and BSG was in June. I washed his beautiful brown lamb fleece (which, by the way, won “Best Fleece” at the National CVM/Romeldale show last year, while he was still in the process of growing it), and hand-carded it into tiny little rolags, and spun it into a fine two-ply yarn. I used “Wings of Fantasy” pattern, which kept my interest through the entire project. I had just the right blue/green/lavender matte beads in my stash, to add a bit of interest. So this project went as smoothly as any project possibly could, and I'd have to say it was a success. (Tied for first place at the Spinner's Lead, which is a fashion show with the beasties from which fiber came, in tow.) In the photo, I'm on the left with Elmer, BFF Janice, wearing Anemarie shawl is with Anemarie's son, Malcolm in the middle, and Cindy, from Cindy's Treasures on the right with Tessa.

We were very happy to find a wonderful new ram for our farm at Black Sheep Gathering. He is from Custom Colored Critters in Prineville, Oregon, which has some exceptional beasties. “Eugene” just joined us last weekend, and he will bring some new genetics to our flock. The ewes can hardly wait to meet him.

I was delighted to be able to attend a silk workshop in Port Ludlow, Washington, in July. There were only 45 slots, & I really lucked out to get registered before it filled. It was presented by “Knot Hysteria” and teachers were Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (knitting - “Yarn Harlot”), Judith MacKenzie (spinning goddess, in my book), and Tina from Blue Moon Fiber Arts (dyeing). Really, could a person want a better group of teachers? I was beyond joy to be able to go. The only disappointment was that I got sick. It was worst on the last day of classes & I missed the afternoon of Judith's spinning class. I learned so much about handling silk in its various forms, though, from cocoon, to making hankies, to spinning, dyeing & knitting with it. A little helpful hint – a paste made of olive oil + sugar, rubbed into hands and then washed off, keeps silk from snagging on fingers.

The next weekend was our nephew's wedding, in Yakima. So we had another short road trip, which took us by Mount Rainier. Beautiful, isn't it? (In Washington State, we don't consider them actual “mountains” unless they are covered with snow most of the year and/or erupt periodically.) The wedding was great fun, and the happy bride & groom, who seem to be made for each other, were off to start their new life together in Oregon.

August took us to San Diego to visit Doug's folks. Most of the year they are in Yuma AZ, but they retreat to San Diego for a short break from the hotter-than-hell Yuma summers. That means that we get to go to the San Diego Botannical Gardens, or the Sand Diego Zoo or the Wild Animal Park, and Black Sheep Yarn in Encinitas. We spent some time at the beach, too.

So we are home now, looking forward to Oregon Flock & Fiber in September. And the ewes are beginning to show keen interest in the rams, so the fun will be starting soon. At this point, they are gazing longingly beyond the adjacent pasture. We learned our lesson from some broken fences last year, and have them at greater distance now. By mid-September, though, the fun will begin and we will be hoping for some pretty, healthy lambs come next February.