Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Marshall Holiday Parade - A Cub Scout Adventure

Brother Bear marched in his first ever Holiday Parade last night with his fellow Cub Scouts.  This is his first year being a Cub Scout and so far he has enjoyed every second of it (except that part where Mom hasn't sewn patches on the shirt) and he faced his fear of parades,  had fun plus made new friends.
 Pack 300 Cub Scouts
It was a first for me too.  The last time I was in a Holiday Parade, I was in the marching band (yeah, it's been that long) so we enjoyed the excitement together.  Wait!  Grumpy and Sister Bear were there too.  Sister Bear was having fun meeting the Boy Scouts (uh oh) we would be walking with until Brother Bear informed her that this was HIS NIGHT and HE would be walking NOT her.  Ok!  Grrrrr
 The Bears
You see, Brother Bear's last parade was a Memorial Day Parade in Homer where he rode the float with his Papa (photo is in scrapbook but can't find digital copy, argh) and even though I walked along side the float with Sister Bear, he said he never wanted to be in a parade again.  Not sure why but...he was insistent.  Maybe it was all of the attention? I'm glad that he did ride in that parade with Dad because it was my Dad's last parade too.  Anyways, we were going to have a great night in Marshall so off we went.
We could resist stopping by the Llamas (yes, Llama, not Alpaca) who came from Binder Park Zoo to share in the holiday festivities.  The brown Llama and I had met way back in July at Corks for Conservation and I've decided that Llama is a party boy.  He enjoys the wine drinkers in the Summer and the holiday cheer in December.  We met up with some clowns but mostly it was about being a Cub Scout.
 Brother Bear also made a new buddy who, incidentally, has his name.  Oh, not Brother Bear (there's only one of those) but his given name. Now how awesome is that?  According to Brother Bear that is Rock Star Awesome!  
We walked a route that was approximately two miles long and other than one request for water there was no whining about sore feet or cold and no potty breaks.  Hooray!  Brother Bear was excited to throw out candy and, of course, I had to promote the farm so he carried the candy in one of my farm totes.  I, of course, was wearing my Alpaca Socks, Alpaca Gloves, Alpaca Sweater and Hand Knitted Hand Spun Alpaca Hat that Holly B made me last year.  Oh, yeah, the Wonder of Alpaca was representing.
Once our part of the parade was over we realized that we would have to walk the two miles back to the car and that's about the time that I heard "Andrea!"  Oh, yeah!  My longtime childhood friend, Kim, was at the parade supporting her 4H Horse Club saw me and offered to drive our family back, in a heated vehicle, to our car which was much safer than piling on the Boy Scout Wagon so...we got to visit for a few minutes and had a nice drive back. 
I'm proud of my Brother Bear.  He has wanted to be a Cub Scout for two years but due to some reorganization, he wasn't able to join as a Tiger.  We are going to enjoy his Wolf year together.  Right now I've been attending meetings but soon Grumpy will be too because it won't be long before the Derby Cars and I'm not allowed around tools (You don't want to ask).  It reminds me of all those years ago that my brother was a scout and I was the little sister tagging along (don't worry, Sister Bear, we have awesome plans for you too).


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Making A Felted Christmas Tree

Brother Bear needed to make a decorated Christmas Tree to have displayed at school.  Every year on every holiday the kids will make some sort of holiday item to hang on the walls.  Between Sister Bear and Brother Bear, I have made (or helped make) a bazillion of these projects.  This time, I asked Brother Bear if he wanted to change it up a bit.  Of course he said yes so...we decided to throw away the paper (ok, set it aside for another project) and use the resources we have here on the farm....Alpaca Fiber.  Yes, we were going to felt our Christmas Tree.

Brother Bear helped me pick open the fiber before we ran it through My Precious and he helped me arrange the fleece prior to felting.  We started by wet felting then needle felted final embellishments which he arranged.  Now, I did have to take over after he broke three of my felting needles, "It was just an accident, Mom" but I knew going in that would happen.  I wanted him to learn and I learned too plus how can I resist those gorgeous blue eyes.  He even offered to pose for the Santa hat photo.  I love that Bear!

It was the perfect ending to the perfect weekend being creative with my son.  I hope his teacher enjoys our thinking outside of the box and off the paper.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

And I'm Thankful for...

Over the last few days I have seen or spoken to a few friends who greeted me with a hug and more importantly understanding.  They shared with me that they too had moments of tears during this holiday and that they too miss their parent who have passed on.  I'm thankful for those friends and their kind words because they let me know that it's alright to grieve and feel melancholy especially since Dad died during the holidays.  They also let me know that years later they still missed their parent. 

I'm thankful because they understood what I'm going through this first Thanksgiving without Dad.  Their kind words of support were needed more than I dare express.  Thank you for those who have understood and shared your stories with me.  I've spent the weekend not with my knitting group, as intended, but home with my Bears. I turned to the support I need the most, my family.

When I returned home from the yarn shop yesterday, the smiles on my kid's faces told me that I wouldn't be venturing back out for the day as intended.  I thought I needed to be surrounded by knitters but...I needed to be surrounded by my family.  We have enjoyed each other and had true family time.  I know Dad is with us and I feel his presence in the smiles my kids shine at me and their mannerisms.  I'm thankful for my family. 

I'm going to be ok.  I will make it through this next week and through the Christmas Holiday.  I know that Dad is in my heart and he has given me the strength to battle any sadness I will have. I know I have to deal with the sorrow and to cry when I need to...I must let out the sadness.

I will continue to say my new mantra, "I'm positive, I'm strong and gosh darn it, I'm an awesome Alpaca farming, zombie slaying, fiber sorting Fiber Artist" and I will start to believe it too.  I will practice deep breathing and find that inner calm that I know is somewhere deep in me.  I will find clarity and peace of mind...somehow.  I will practice thinking before speaking and hopefully this will help me realize that I can't please everyone and I shouldn't expect everyone to like me.

Somehow, this week, I will focus on the good memories of Dad instead of what happened last year.  I can't turn back the clock and I can't focus on the daily trips to Detroit, Hospice or holding him as he took his last breath.  I can focus on his smile, his favorite phrases, his laughter and his loving support he always gave me even when the world was beating him down.  I will focus on all the gifts he gave me to be the best parent I can be.  I know I will cry and I know I will be sad but I won't let it drive me into an insecurity of stressful pity I quite often drive myself into.  I have to be strong but also realize that I can't always be strong.

I've slowly been loading photos into my Creative Memories program and I came across these photos of my Bears from 2006 during the Holidays.  Whenever I watch Toy Story with the Bears, I get choked up when I hear "You've Got a Friend In Me" because I always think of Dad when I hear that song.  My Bears do justice to that song too.
I'm thankful most of all for my Brother Bear and Sister Bear and the love of them that fills my heart.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - Black Friday Fiber Fun

Welcome to the Thanksgiving Edition of Fiber Arts Friday!  Once a week, Fiber Artists gather from around the world to share their adventures in Fiber Arts so, what are you waiting for?  Join in and share what you have been working on in knitting, weaving, felting, spinning, dyeing, jewelry making, quilting, etc.  There are so many aspects to Fiber Arts and we only touch the surface each week.

Today is Black Friday.  Part of the Thanksgiving holiday tradition, it's the biggest shopping day of the year.  I won't be at the mall or stores at 4am.  No, I'm here sharing with you.  The hustle and bustle of super great bargains no longer entices me.  Since I've started to knit and spin, more and more of my gifts are homemade which doesn't require trips to the store.  I take that back, there is one store I will be visiting today and it's Your Local Yarn Shop here in Battle Creek.  KellyJ and crew will be open from 8am until 12pm with great deals and if I'm not knitting on yarn from my farm, most likely it will come from YLYS. Since, I've brought up yarns from YLYS, here are a couple of WIP (works in progress) that use yarn from the shop including a knitted pattern that KellyJ wrote.  I already have plans to buy the matching mitten pattern to her hat when I visit the shop later today. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I need to finish the hat before I worry about matching mittens.  The yarns I am using for this pattern are both Cascade.  I really do like the Cascade yarns.  I tend to buy a lot of the Cascade 220.  I love that it's affordable and easy to work with.

The Sassy Beret I'm making my niece is progressing too.  I have five inches now and need two more before I can start to decrease.  I'm hoping that a full day of knitting (only knitting this project) will give me those two inches.  It's just taking FOREVER. The gorgeous Angora blend yarn also came from YLYS.

I've also been busy spinning.  I'm finally plying close to 1 1/2 lbs of my handspun Suri/Merino blend for a custom order.  I promised it ages ago but knowing what the end product will be I need to be as consistent as possible which means that I have to concentrate.  1400 yards is the intended total.  I already have approximately 500 yards plied.  Now to continue the consistent plying on the next bobbin.  I love that my Lendrum Jumbo Flier can easily hold 8 oz at a time.

Of course, I've created a couple of fun yarns in between.

Finally, if you look at this last week's worth of my blog posts you will see that I created my first ever knitted critter.  An Owl for Brother Bear from the Knit Simple Holiday Issue using a Susan B Anderson pattern.  I really enjoyed knitting it and using my handpun for the project.  I intend on knitting another.  Obviously, I have to!  Sister Bear already wants one.

So, that's my Fiber Arts Friday this week.  I have a couple of amazing interviews and new projects to unveil in the next two weeks but with the holiday, I thought I would use this week catch up on some WIP.  Enjoy the hustle and bustle of shopping.  After I leave the yarn shop, I will be spending the afternoon with the Zombie Prom Date Knitters socializing and knitting because...that's how we roll. Now, share your adventures in Fiber Arts!
Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival!

To participate:

  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com/2010/02/e-i-e-i-doh.html  
NOT 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Traditions - A Thanksgiving Story

I've been married for twelve years and have two children yet I have still been keeping the holiday traditions that my father started. When Dad was healthy, the whole family would gather together and when he was sick we would make the trip to Detroit to spend part of the holiday with him. Quite often we would celebrate Thanksgiving and even Christmas in January because there were times that he would spend the whole holiday season in the hospital. The last five years of his life, he spent Thanksgiving in ICU at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.  I couldn't always take the kids depending on what super bug was present in the hospital or if Dad had MRSA.  Last year, my sister and I left our families at home and we spent Dad's last Thanksgiving with him in ICU where he slept most of the day.  My husband and children were at home while I was with Dad.  Dad always came first.

I have been very sad lately and very melancholy.  How can I not be?  My best friend died last year.  Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day about reflecting on what we are thankful for but for me it's a holiday of loss. 

I lost my first baby on Thanksgiving weekend while I was in my second trimester of the pregnancy.  It shattered me.  I didn't give up hope and it wasn't long before I was pregnant with Sister Bear.  She was born early December the following year and I have always said she was my angel.  Her birth taught me to be a mother and what it truly means to experience unconditional love.  I'm thankful for that little bear and I'm thankful for my husband who was patient as I dealt with my own grief while he grieved himself.  Every year at Thanksgiving, I do think about that baby.  I mourn the loss of life that had grown inside of me but I understand now how and why it happened.  Ok, I understand that it happened and I look at my Sister Bear and know that she is here, she is hope, she is love and she is the reason I am a mother.

Dad is gone too and I'm still trying to find the lesson in his death.  Yeah, that's a tough one.  I do know that I'm doing my best to create new traditions for my children.  We won't be spending the holiday with extended family because everyone is scattered about...which is ok.  We are having a quite family day at home.  I bought a Thanksgiving Turkey Meal Kit from Meijer which has a Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Macaroni and Cheese and mashed potatoes.  I bought a pumpkin pie for the family and I am attempting take two of a gluten/dairy/wheat free pumpkin dessert for us to try too.  So far it's been a nice day.  We seem to always be on the go so the quite day together is much needed. 

I have my little "shrine" to Dad that sits on the window ledge above the kitchen sink.  He was the cook.  He was the Doughboy.  I often hope that his love of baking and cooking will channel its way into me but...so far, it hasn't.  Maybe it's made it's way into Brother Bear and Sister Bear because they always want to cook and bake.  I am starting to let them. 

My father taught me to love and was an example of what a good parent should be.  He taught me that it's not easy raising children and you aren't always going to be successful with every decision you make but you must keep trying.  He taught me to fight for my children and live for them. He taught me to be an inspiration to my children and let them inspire me.  He taught me that I must always have a shoulder for them to lean on and patience as they learn life's lessons their own way even if it's not the way I'd want them to go.  He taught me that being a sounding board requires listening and not talking.  That sometimes you have to step back and let your child work through a problem on their own and be there to provide support.  Much like marriage vows, when you decide to have children you choose to love and honor them through sickness and health and through the good times and the bad times.  He didn't teach me how to handle death do us part.

This holiday, apart from this post, I am focusing on being positive and not sad.  I will no longer treat Thanksgiving as a time for grieving.  I am focusing on my Grumpy Bear, Brother  Bear and Sister Bear.  I shall create our our Thanksgiving tradition even if it's just a quite day of board games and movies.  We are together as a family and for that I am thankful.

I have many things to be thankful for and the most important one is my family.  They are the reason I love and they are my life and for that I am eternally thankful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Harry Potter, It is!

All week long I've been updating the progress of my first ever knitted critter, an Owl from the Holiday Knit Simple , pattern by Susan B Anderson.  Brother Bear picked out the pattern and has been an adorable task master urging me to finish.  How can I resist him?  I couldn't, so...here is the finished project in just a couple of days.  This may be one of my quickest projects ever.  I knitted everything to instruction except for the i-cord on the feet which I winged because I only sort of understand what to do and hey, I did everything else correctly.  Anyone who knows my knitting would understand that this "unique take on the pattern" is a form of "rebellion" to pattern which is either mad genius (my words) or pure laziness (other's words) but hey, it turned out perfectly in Brother Bear's eyes and that's all that matters.  I'll get some help on what the pattern called for and knit it correctly (?) on the next owl since Sister Bear now wants one...with color work, of course.

I am very happy because I used my handspun for this project.  Brother Bear's treasure is part Kaboom, part Pedro, part Taz (all Alpacas on my farm and three of the original herd) plus a wee bit of dyed blend.  He named his Owl Harry Potter long before it had eyes or wings. He wants me to knit it a scarf and wand...I think not.  I love that little bear and he loves his momma for knitting him an owl.

Now...back to knitting my niece her hat...I can only hope I get the love from her that Brother Bear is hugging to me now as thanks for my handy knitting.  If not, I know that every stitch is knitted in love.

Wordless Wednesday - Thankful

Brother Bear wanted me to knit him an Owl...I don't have the eyes, beak, wings or feet on yet but he was ecstatic to come home from school and find a body.  He has named it and already considers it a treasure...maybe I don't need to finish it?  Of course I do! He expects to see progress  plus I'm excited to complete another project that uses my handspun from my Alpacas.  Pasture to Product, Baby, oh yeah!  Brother Bear doesn't ask for much and I am caught up in his knitting excitement.

I'm Thankful for his adorable smile and beautiful blue eyes and the fact that he gives the best Bear hugs when I seem to need them the most.

Happy "Wordless" Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DPN - More Knitting Jargon

DPN aka Double Pointed Needles have been hard for me to knit with.  I'm envious of friends that can whip of a multitude of projects, especially socks, using DPN's.  I prefer using circular needles when knitting in the round.  I've decided that my resistance to using Double Pointed Needles, isn't for any other reason than I'm not coordinated.  Yes, it's true, I'm not coordinated.  I really feel like I'm tripping over myself when trying to use them.

So far the only time I've had to use DPN's in knitting is when I am decreasing on a hat which actually hasn't been terrible since I already have the bulk of the hat done. Easing into the use of DPN's has been pretty smooth and giving me the courage to attempt other projects using them instead of two circs.  I really do love watching my friends use their tiny DPN's and work the magic on their socks.  Of course, my fascination with hand knitted socks is really the driving force of DPN's but, if it gets me to try another technique then all the better.

Brother Bear wore me down last night and I cranked about 20 rows out on his Owl using DPN's.  I would have used two circs but...I only had one Size 6 needle since I have about a bazillion hats going right now and needed two.  I got out my DPN's and cast on.

I will tell you that I tore apart my knitting a few times last night (again, the coordination issue) but I finally got my groove and once I completed a few rows and had a wee bit of structure I was doing good.

My resolution (for the next few small projects) is to use DPN's while knitting in the round so that I can truly feel comfortable with the process and the coordination.  I will even try using different sizes.  Who knows, I might even revisit Magic Loop next.  Ok, that was a bit much, wasn't it?  Tehehe

I resist change and prefer to keep my comfort zone but if I want to grow as a knitter then I need to try different types of needles, stitches, techniques, yarns and patterns.  If it doesn't work out, I can always tear back.  Whoa!  Did I just say that?  I never look back...yeah, I said it (another sign that I'm ready to grow as a knitter).

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Bear Says, "Knit Me an Owl...please"

Brother Bear doesn't ask for much...when it comes to Fiber Arts.  He has watched me knit Sister Bear hats, scarves, a shawl and fingerless mitts without complaint.  Ok, one complaint which is that I'm not ready to knit what he wants yet...a pair of real gloves (he has too many fingers).  Well yesterday we were driving to Lansing to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at the IMAX and the Bears found themselves in the backseat of the car with nothing to entertain themselves for an hour's drive.  For anyone who has their own bears, this can be a scary sight to see since it involves sibling picking, taunting and arguing.

I brought my knitting for the drive...yes, I was prepared.  I gave Brother Bear and Sister Bear my newest issue of Knit Simple which I've been knitting a Beret out of and told them they could look at it as long as they were nice.  What happened was, just like when they get a holiday catalog, they started making a wish list of items they wanted me to knit for them.  This particular issue had some adorable knitted animals and Brother Bear decided he wanted an Owl.  Of course, I reminded him that I really need to finish his cousin's Birthday Beret but...that little bear has a sweet spot in my heart.

Guess what I cast on this morning?  Using some of my handspun, I will make my Bear an Owl.  Grumpy did remind him that it was me that was knitting so not to expect it any day soon.  When we picked him up from school, he wanted to know the progress. 

Um, yeah, row three?  Oops!

I did manage to get a couple more rows done on the Beret while waiting to pick the Bears up from school so my guilt on that project wasn't too bad and my little bear knows how to crack the whip...it's those blue eyes.  I think this owl will get finished sooner than later..we'll see.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

You are 16 going on 17...

My beautiful niece, Allison, turns 17 tomorrow.  I have been knitting a Beret from Knit Simple for her as a birthday gift out of a gorgeous Angora blend yarn.  I started it a month ago and typically a hat like this would be done in a few days but...I'm the one knitting it so...it's not.  There is a slim chance I will have it completed by tomorrow but Allison won't get it on her birthday.
This is what the hat should look like...

This is it's current look...yeah, you notice the difference too, don't you?
Oh, if it were finished I'd be all sassy in the smile but this is my frustrated look.

Really, it shouldn't have taken this long to knit but...I have finished and started a handful of other projects in the meantime and I am not a disciplined knitter.  I knit to keep my hands and mind busy but give me the opportunity to spin or felt and my knitting will be tossed aside.  I really like this hat too.  It's not quite as sassy as the photo makes it out to be but...I am the one knitting it.
Allison, just a few days old...17 years ago. I'm the adorable on on the right seated next to my brother
 
My dearest Allison, you Aunt Andy is working the circs and yarn hoping to have it finished this week.  If I succeed then...matching fingerless mitts will follow as your Christmas gift but don't hold your breath.  If not, you have a nice photo of what you are supposed to get because that's how I roll. xoxo

Happy 17th!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - Spin, Sort, Felt and Knit

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!  Once a week Fiber Artists from around the world join in to share their adventures in Fiber Arts so...join in the fun!  What are you waiting for?  Knitting, Spinning, Crochet, Sewing, Quilting, Felting...the possibilities of Fiber Arts are endless so let's begin!

This week was full of felting, knitting, sorting and spinning for me.  It started off last Saturday with a long overdue sleepover (yes, you are never too old for those) at Holly B's house.  She has been busy working at a new job plus going to school so we haven't seen her much.  I miss her something terrible (along with the rest of our ZPDK) and apparently she missed us too.  Of course, she missed us!  She enticed us with Gluten Free Pizza, Wine, Good Company and Knitting...she had me at Gluten Free Pizza. No, really she had me at good company.  I know I've missed my friend and that night just re-enforced that no matter how busy our lives are that we need each other and...knitting.  Really knitting and friendship are essential to our sanity.  It's amazing how knitting needles and yarn can bring so many women together to form friendships in their various forms.




I've been working on a sassy (yes, everything I knit is sassy) beret for my beautiful soon to be 17 year old niece using a delightful Angora/Merino/Nylon Yarn I picked up this summer at YLYS.  The pattern is from the Holiday Knit Simple and it's taking me FOREVER to finish.  Really, I started it a few weeks ago and it's not done.  Her birthday is in a few days.  Doh!  I've been knitting double strands to keep the structure of the hat since and also to keep the Angora from shedding. It's taking forever to knit.  How can knitting and purling a ribbed hat take forever?  Well...have the WonderWhyGal knit it, of course.  Sorry, Allison, you may be 18 before you get it.  Argh!

On Sunday I taught my first ever felting class and had an amazing afternoon with wonderful students.  It was an introduction to wet felting class and after it was done all of my students walked away with purses and Christmas stockings plus an understanding of wet felting and hopefully the idea that you should experiment.  Sorry, I didn't take any photos so hopefully one of my student's will post theirs.

I also spent some time this week spinning up some new yarns and also posting on my Etsy Shop of Wonder.  I've been working on my photography and my spinning which are two passions I enjoy.
I've also been Certified Sorting Alpaca for a few farms this week.  My goal is to get enough new clients to keep busy throughout the Winter then have those same farms ready for me to sort their 2011 Harvest. I have so many goals for my Farm both the breeding and fiber arts side of the business.  As we start looking at the end of 2010, I am already setting goals for 2011.  You may wonder how I accomplish so much each week and my explanation is that my farm is my business.  Yes, I have another job, which at the moment is basically part time, but my farm is not a hobby.  Everything I do for my farm, from pasture to product, is done to create a profit.  The only major difference between this business and my other job is that I love what I'm doing so it's fun.  My farm store took over our Sun Room.  It's now fit for all four seasons with a heated floor and plenty of lighting.  Hint Hint, that means it's ready for you to come and start your Holiday Shopping.
Whew! Well, as usual, I was extremely busy working and not sleeping. Just kidding, I do fit in a few hours each night.  So...what Fiber Arts Adventures did you have this week? 
Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival!

To participate:

  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com/2010/02/e-i-e-i-doh.html  
NOT 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs: