Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tour de Fleece 2012 - Day 1

The Tour de France started today which means that the Team of Wonder kicked off their spinning for the Tour de Fleece on Ravelry.  I'm the Team Captain again.  Yes, it's true that the closest I get to exercise is having a Fiber Arts challenge named after a sporting event...just kidding.


So, to start off this year's Tour de Fleece, I bought a new spindle.  I have been drooling over the Jensen Turkish Spindles for a couple of years now and I treated myself to getting one about a month ago.  I waited until today to play with it.  Boy, oh boy was it a challenge.

I watched a couple of YouTube videos but they always showed yarn already on the spindle.  I finally found the one I was looking for by none other than Wanda Jensen.  Once I saw that, it all made sense and the race was on.

After a morning of paperwork in the office, I took the kids out to the pool.  I barely had my poolside spinning mojo on when Grumpy called me from the barn.  He was building a milking room in the barn for the goats when one of the 2x4 boards fell and he ended up jamming himself in the eye.  That led us to Urgent Care.
I took knitting but felt that my spindle must come out.  Day One of the Tour de Fleece means that I must spin...so I did.  The doctor kept looking at my spindle but didn't say anything.  The nurse had no problems asking.  I have to say that once I really get my groove with this spindle, I might actually be able to spin a lace yarn.  Right now the single is just a bit heavier so if I ply I will get a lovely fingering.  I am spinning some BFL (Blue Faced Leicester) right now and love how it drafts.  I wanted to start with a wool instead of Alpaca on the drop spindle because I wanted a fiber that could handle a bit of over-twisting (if indeed it were to happen) whereas the Alpaca would just turn to rope.  So far, I am getting the right amount of twist.  Hooray!

Tomorrow begins Round 2 of Tournament 5 for Nerd Wars.  Whatever I spin tomorrow will go towards one of those challenges. I think I will continue to work on my BFL using the Turkish Spindle even though it won't count towards a Nerd Wars challenge.

As for Grumpy, the doctor gave him some anti-biotics and painkillers so he'll have to take it easy for a few days.  Did you know that the cornea can heal/replace itself in about five days?  I didn't either.  Hopefully the tear won't impair his vision too much in the meantime.




Friday, June 29, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday - An Afterthought

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday! Knit, Spin, Weave, Crochet, Sew, Quilt, Felt...did I miss anything? If it's a Fiber Arts topic, we want you to share it. Each week bloggers from around the world link in to share their Fiber Arts adventures. Welcome to anyone new to Fiber Arts Friday and Thank you to everyone who joins in the fun each week.

This week I want to share with you the Moving Target socks I have been knitting for Nerd Wars. I have officially completed the first sock and am working on my second. For Nerd Wars, I need to complete a sock every two weeks if I want to complete both pair by the end of the tournament. So far...I am barely keeping pace although poolside knitting does help.


This pattern calls for an after-thought heel. I was very intimidated about knitting one because I wasn't sure how the socks would fit. How do you complete the toe without the heel? They pattern says that the heel will add about two inches...but would it?  




By golly, it did! I LOVE this heel. I think it fits better than my short row heel and other than having to put all of my stitches back on the needle, I only had to pick up 2-3 stitches on each side. Ha! Take that messy gusset ;-)

Tour de Fleece starts this Sunday.  Yikes!  It's hard to believe that July 1 is already here.  I am heading up the Team of Wonder - THE Alpaca Fiber Lovin' Team again this year.   We have already had a lot of chatter going in our Ravelry group and I am looking forward to the next month of people sharing their spinning projects and techniques.

On the farm front, It's HOT out there! Temps hit 100 degrees yesterday. We sprayed the Alpacas down a few times. When I got home from work, I went out to the barn. All of the Alpacas were sitting outside under the overhang except for Mr. Tumnus. He was the smart one who stayed inside in front of the fan. The heat hasn't appeared to stress him out too much. I have given him some extra electrolytes though and made sure the adults had them available too. It's important to make sure that they don't lose vital nutrients in this heat.

I plan to knit my weekend away poolside. Now...share your adventures in Fiber Arts!
Fiber Arts Friday ! 
To participate: 
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
 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!   
  1. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs





Tuesday, June 26, 2012

E I E I O

Just a few updates from life here on the Farm of Wonder.

We have decided to call our newest addition to the farm, Mr. Tumnus of Wonder.  After a stressful first night of life, he is doing great.  June Bug is nursing him and is a wonderful doting mother. He is gaining weight.  Not as much as I would hope for but over the last few days, it's been a consistent gain.  I hadn't planned on putting the two of them back with my other girls right away but they had other plans and squeezed through a spot that I didn't think squeezable and we woke to finding them cushed and happy with the other girls.

There wasn't any bullying or confusion and Tumnus is loving being with the others and June Bug is more relaxed so it's good all the way around.  Grumpy said, while I was at work yesterday, that Tumnus was stretching his legs and running sprints across the pasture so, although he is a little guy, he definitely shows all of the energy that a cria should have.

Our geese, Wonder and Why, are growing.  They are now just about two months old.  Their feathers are coming in and if you look really close at these photos you will see that they still have a bit of their gosling fuzz still left.  We have had them in the backyard getting to know us and playing with the kids. 

Willow and Grumpy are getting their milking routine down.  As I type this, Grumpy is out in the barn for her morning milking.  We have been enjoying fresh goat milk each day.  We have also been looking at Goat Milk Cheese recipes so hopefully we'll be making cheese soon.  I've also been reading up on how to make soap.  Hopefully that will be coming soon but our main goal was to get the milking down to a smooth routine and have that milk to drink.


The other night we were out in the backyard with the geese and they we honking their call while Mr. T, our pet turkey, was gobbling his response.  Mr. Rooster was singing his cock-a-doodle-do while he chased the chickens around the pasture.  Brother Bear and Sister Bear with their giggles and Grumpy with his laughter. The Alpacas were humming and the goats with their beat.   I just stood there, closed my eyes and smiled.  Never would I have ever figured this is where I would be 20 years ago yet here I am loving every minute of it and not wanting to trade it in for anything.

E I E I O

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday - SURPRISE!

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!

I had planned to post about the socks that I've been knitting, Tour de Fleece, the Olympics with their war against Ravelry and the Ravelympics but while I was at 4H with the kids last night I received a phone call from Grumpy that a cria had been born.

Now I wasn't expecting any births on the farm for at least two weeks.  Yikes!  June Bug had a little boy at somewhere around 5pm.  Grumpy didn't find him until around 6:30pm and he was already standing up try to walk.  He cleaned him the best he could.  We immediately left 4H to get home.

The little boy weighed in at 9 lbs.  That is not a very big Alpaca.  His teeth were erupted and his pasterns were good.  Confirmation wise, he looks like he should except he is super tiny.  June Bug, his dam, doesn't want to milk.  This is her first cria and she is freaked out. She was starting to "bag up" around 10pm last night but didn't want the little guy anywhere near her for feeding.  She seems to be very attentive but just doesn't want to nurse.

Grumpy and I spent a good part of the evening holding her while guiding the cria to her for nursing.  He wants to nurse but as soon as he latches on, she freaks out.

I mixed up a baby bottle of watered down goat milk and have tried to give him some.  He drank some but...it's not mom.

So...my night didn't turn out like I expected.  I shall post photos of my socks this weekend but my night was sleepless, worried about my new cria.  I do wish I had a camera in the barn.  A couple of trips to the barn just seemed to upset them so I am staying away until morning.  They need their sleep too.

I will wait until at least 5am (yes, it's 3:30am right now) to see if he has nursed or needs a bottle.  Thank goodness we have a ready supply of goat milk on hand.   Aggh!  I'm just a worried farmer right now.  Another reason for you to love and cherish that beautiful yarn you knit and roving you spin.  Some of these fiber producers have a tougher time starting out in the world.

Now share your Fiber Arts Adventures and wish our newest addition good health.  We still need to name him.  It was such a surprise with him coming early we didn't even think of a name.



Fiber Arts Friday ! 
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
 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!   
  1. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dear Dad, Got your goat!

Happy Father's Day!
This year we gave Grumpy was he has wanted since before we got our Alpacas...goats! 

He would have been happy with the goats just a few years ago but I wanted Alpacas...and that was his fault because he asked the one question that changed our whole life here on the farm.  Oh, not, "Will you marry me?"  because that had already happened.  The question that changed our whole life, "Do you want to take the kids to a local Alpaca farm for a visit?"  Yup, from that sentence on I became obsessed with the most beautiful creatures on earth, the Alpaca. 

So here we are almost five years later with the farm animal he wanted most of all...the goats.  I have to admit, they are darn cute.  Yeah, that aren't going to produce fiber for me to spin but they are producing milk for me to drink.  Seriously, these goats we have are the cutest most friendly goats.

We have three Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  We had to change our pastures and barn around a bit to accommodate them.  I can tell our male Alpacas aren't happy.  I think in the end our barn set up will be a lot better though.

We only have one female milking right now, her name is Willow. Don't you just love her pattern.  When we visited the farm we purchased these girls from, Grumpy fell in love with the tri-color whereas I focused on the black and white females.  (Geez, looking at my Alpaca herd you can't imagine why I would focus on those colors, eh?)

Willow


Loki, short for Melaleuca ( I renamed her after the awesome villain of Thor because it's way easier to say and Loki is super awesome!) is over-conditioned (fat) right now so she needs to lose some weight.  She weighs 71 lbs compared to Willow who weighs 57 lbs.  She had complication with pregnancy so she will be a delightful companion to our girls.  I love her black and white coloring.
Loki


Scarlett  is not producing milk right now because she didn't settle this last Winter.  She is also over-conditioned so we need to get her to a better weight before she is ready to breed this Winter. Right now she weighs 84lbs.  Yup, we will have kids on the farm next Summer.  

Scarlett

All three of the girls are 1-3 years old.  They are all very friendly and our kids have already fallen in love with them.  They create a lot of noise which changes up the quiet hum that the Alpacas create.  Life here on the farm is changing.  Goats and Geese being added this year.  Sister Bear thinks we should rename the farm and not call it the Wonder Why Alpaca Farm.  I laughed and said that we are just finding more Wonder in the farm life and I'm sure we'll keep people guessing and Wondering Why.

Happy Father's Day, dear Grumpy.  I love you and hope that you enjoying these beautiful new additions to our farm.  You finally got your goats!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday - WWKIP 2012 Roof Sit

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!  Another week has flown by and it's already the middle of June.  Yikes!  What Fiber Arts Adventures have you had?  Did you find time to knit, spin, weave, crochet, felt, sew, quilt, embroider, cross-stitch...even shop for yarn?  Did you take care of your fiber producing animals?  Any new babies on the ground?  We want to know!  We want you to join our fun and share.

This week I have been busy with Nerd Wars projects.  I posted two of the yarns that I completed after last Friday's post.  I also cast on my Moving Target socks.  I thought my knitting mojo was gone but I am cranking through this first sock.  I have another evening of knitting and I will be at the heel.  Of course, this pattern calls for an after-though heel. I've never knit one before.  I am eager to learn this new technique.


I am also gathering all of my yarn for the Roof Sit Stash Sale at Your Local Yarn Shop in Battle Creek.  For the last few years, Linda and KellyJ have opened their yarn shop up to one of our local radio stations for the Roof Sit Fundraiser to assist The Haven of Rest.  They allow a certain number of booths in the parking lot to sell their yarn and fiber.  You know...that stash that YOU HAD TO BUY that now sits in a tub mocking you.  Well, they have figured out a way for it not to mock you.  Sell it!  Trade it!  Barter with it!  All the vendors pay a small donation which goes directly to the Roof Sit fundraiser and all of the buyers pay that same donation to buy said yarns. If I remember from last year, they call it the FEEL GOOD FIVE Win/Win/Win

They have the event on the second weekend of WWKIP (World Wide Knit in Public) so knitters will bring their lawn chairs and hang out at the yarn shop to share with the public, especially the public who is supporting The Haven, the love of knitting.  Win/Win

I shall be busy cranking on my new socks.  When I need a break from my sock knitting, I may get out my newest tool of the trade.  I am now the proud owner of a Jensen Turkish Spindle.  SQUEAL!  I have been drooling over his spindles for quite some time and I love the look of the Turkish spindle. Mine is made out of Amazon Rosewood and weights 1.51oz.  I can't wait to start spinning yarn on it.  It's one of my Tour de Fleece challenges to create beautiful yarn on it.

With all of the spinning and knitting, my weaving was put on the back burner this week but I hope to get those spa cloths done next week.  I have a daughter who is eager to steal my Cricket loom for her own weaving adventures.  Speaking of adventures...it's time to share yours!  Link in and share your Fiber Arts Adventures.  Thank you for visiting my blog and being a part of Fiber Arts Friday!

Fiber Arts Friday ! 
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
 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!   
  1. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs







Wednesday, June 13, 2012

WIP Wednesday - Moving Target

It's been ages since I submitted a WIP Wednesday post but here it is.  I have submitted my dissertation for Tournament 5 of Nerd Wars and it has been accepted.  I am going to knit not one but two (yes, two) pair of socks in the next three months (at least that is my goal).

The first pair, which I cast on Sunday, is the Moving Target pattern written by KellyJKnits.  The yarn I am using is Bamboo-La-La dyed by Studio June also here in Michigan.  So far I am loving the yarn and the pattern.  I had tried casting this sock on a few other times but every time I'd join to knit in the round I'd twist.  It's because the pattern wants you to purl the first few rows.

I talked to the pattern writer and she said to knit the first row then start purling.  Duh!  Smooth sailing once I did that and  I am loving this sock.  Now, if I keep up at this pace I might be able to do this...

Now that it's Summer time and school is out, I will have more opportunities for Poolside knitting so...I may just get them knitted.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday - Schools out for Summer!

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!  Today is the last day of school for my kids so this last week has been insane with end of the school year adventures.  Seriously!  Why do they schedule a field trip during the last week?  Argh!  Anyways, the bears are already referring to next year's grade as their current grade and looking forward to being a year older.  I just want them to enjoy Summer.  I've always been told that life goes by too fast as you get older.  I've decided this is because a) you get worn out watching your kids grow up b) worry about your kids growing up ages you.  So, schools out for Summer which means I have two bears at home to help with chores full time ;-)



In order to calm my worrisome heart, I have been spinning more.  I'm in a bit of a knitting rut and have lost my mojo.  I have a hat I cast on this last week to work on at work during lunch but even then, I've been walking when the weather is nice (and it's been nice).  So, I am sharing with you the bobbins I've been filling.

The first bobbins are from a braid of Merino dyed by Coby from CJ Kopec Creations.  She is a local fiber artist and I get to enjoy her company at various fiber festivals.  She dyed this merino fiber in a colorway she named "Death to Ovarian Cancer"  I love how it is spinning up.  I've been debating if I should ply the bobbins with each other or if I should spin a ply of Alpaca in a complimentary color and ply them that way.  I always want to add Alpaca to everything.  Maybe I should let it be the beautiful wool that it is.

The second set of bobbins are from one of my True Blood themed batts called Sookie's Garden.  I used some Silk Noil in the batts and am looking forward to plying the yarn and seeing how the texture from the noil shows through.

Finally, I finished the one set of spa cloths that I started over Memorial Day.  I warped on another set that I'm using an 8/2 Cotton on.  I am going to get this set done before I complete all of them because it will require me using...a sewing machine.  Eek!  I know.  I will need to give each cloth a quick (quick by a knowledgeable sewer's standard) zig zag to finish them off.  For me?  Well, friends in Washington state may hear my screams of frustration.  We'll see.

So even with a busy week full of the hustle and bustle at school, I found my happy place at the spinning wheel and loom.  Fiber Arts truly is my therapy.  Now...share your adventures in Fiber Arts.
Fiber Arts Friday ! 

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
 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!   
  1. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs




Sunday, June 3, 2012

Similar but Differnt

Our farm can't have all of the fun, although we really do try, so we visit other farms occasionally.  It's amazing what you can learn from people who raise livestock different from your own.  So many similarities yet so many differences.  As always, we can't visit another farm without a bit of barn envy.  No matter how much you like your barn, you always want to make improvements.  Yesterday was no different.  We visited a farm that raises Nigerian Dwarf Goats and our kids fell in love with their kids.  Seriously, goats are so much more playful and interact a lot more than our Alpacas.

Due to dairy issues, I love to eat goat cheese and goat milk when I can get my hands on it.  We have been considering, for a long time, getting a couple of goats that we could milk so we've been visiting farms to find out as much as we can about the care.

We have plenty of acreage and barns to give them a good home without disrupting the Alpacas.  Grumpy has always wanted a couple of goats.  It looks like he may get his wish...