Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Trails

I gifted a woven scarf to a co-worker this week: Janet is an excellent RN/RNFA, a very hard-worker, and a kind, gentle person. I'm sorry to see her leave.

Janet's scarf was woven on the 10" Cricket loom. I used the lovely (and plentiful) Leche yarn in the colorway Denim. Thin strands of Mohair Multi created texture and a block of fuzzy goodness in self-striping colors of rust, fuschia, teal, and pine green. After washing, the scarf measured 5"x72".

It's a narrow scarf, I know, but I've woven many hugs into it.

Happy Trails to you, until we meet again.  Dale Evans Rogers

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Oh, Jack

We picked up the little Boy last Sunday afternoon. As expected he did a lot of hollering; we were, after all, taking him away from his home, his mama, his sister, and Goat Mama Wendy. We felt sorry for the bawling baby buckling.

I named the tiny goat Jack. Not sure how I selected the name, maybe it was:
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, 
or Jack O' Lantern, 
or Jumping Jack Flash. 
Regardless, the name suits him. Especially so when I noticed the face of the smiling pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, on his left flank. (Duke, by the way, had the image of Bart Simpson's cartoon head on his flank.)


When we got home we settled Jack in the pen with his Aunty Bitsy. Zeke and everyone else remained on the outside of the pen. It had been over six weeks since Bitsy and Jack had been together. If she recognized him she didn’t let on as she chased him around the pen, tried to head-butt him, and reared up over him on her little back legs. Un-aunt-like behavior. Or, maybe it's just goaty language for, “Hey, Squirt, I’m the boss here.” It was the same greeting Bitsy received from Zeke upon her arrival.

The little Boy celebrated his 8-week-old birthday on the day we brought him home. He was wethered (castrated via banding) the day before. After banding the scrotum and testes dry up and drop off in about two weeks. Sheesh, some birthday! When we brought the Goaty Boys home they were further along in the wethering process and their nether parts looked like raisins. Jack, on the other hand, was a very healthy buckling. I was surprised and blurted to Goat Mama Wendy, “Wow, he’s got big balls!” So, at least for now, it's the nickname The Man calls him.

For the first few days the three goats were penned together. The Man fed them forage grain and Jack ate supplemental pellet food provided by Goat Mama Wendy. Jack was small enough to walk through the "Chicken Only" coop door so we kept his food in the coop. Being together in the pen allowed the new herd bonding time as well as protection for Jack since he was still bawling a little too loudly. Our neighbor Matt has a hunting game caller - used to attract coyotes - it sounds exactly like Jack's cries.

It's been five days and the goats have been allowed to free-range the property. Which means they loiter and lounge around the vicinity of the house.


During this time Jack has learned to keep an eye on Bitsy and not get "lost" or left behind.

Oh, Jack, he's adjusting just fine.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Price of Good Intentions

Life is too short to be miserable.   Rita Mae Brown, Author

Last week I mailed off an 8 lb box of yarn to Handmade Especially for You. Yup, I donated eight pounds of lovely yarn.

I've been knitting Comfort Scarves for a few years now and try my darndest to send off a box of completed scarves every few months. Here's how it works: the Amazing Leslye Borden, founder of Handmade Especially for You, sends me a box of yarn kits. The kits include: knitting instructions, a gift tag to personalize, and yarn. Leslye and her volunteers have taken the time to measure, cut, and wind the yarn. Each kit includes either several little skeins to knit together or one prewound magic ball. I love the magic balls. When my eight scarves are completed I send them back to Leslye.

In addition to my knitting time I also contribute to the charity by paying for shipping to receive and return the knitted items. It's not too costly for me since Leslye lives in Southern California. The Man's Mom and her friend Kathy, both residents of Maui, contribute heftier postage fees by receiving and sending their yarny goodness boxes across the Pacific Ocean.

Light bulb moment, I had an idea: Why not use my own yarn to make scarves? That way I could use up my own stash and pay for one-way shipping. Win, win. Brilliant idea except I didn't have any Eyelash or Fun Fur yarns in my stash. These so-called "Novelty" yarns makes a Comfort Scarf a comfort scarf.

Then in June, on Ravelry, a fellow knitter posted that she was destashing her Novelty yarns for free. Mary from Portland, Oregon, was asking that the buyer pay postage and 50¢ to cover the Paypal fees. I sent Mary an inquiry and after confirming that it was truly RAK (Random Act of Kindness) Yarn, I sent her enough postage to cover a large Flat Rate USPS box.

I sent Mary a message when I received her box: Wowzer, you certainly are quite the box stuffer! Your box-o-yarn was bulging and I could hear all the skeins give a sigh of relief when I opened the box. They just about leaped out of the box. I made the mistake of opening the box in the living room and of course I couldn’t get them all back in the box to take them upstairs to my craft room.

Since I had already been weaving a Stashbuster scarf I took a skein of yellow chenille and a ball of the pink and blue eyelash yarn and added it to the end. I had (briefly) entertained the idea of donating woven scarves but it took too much time and labor to be an option. I scrapped the Scrappy Scarf idea.

Instead I took the yellow chenille and pink and blue eyelash yarn and knitted up a Comfort Scarf. It took a long time to knit. Hours turned into days and the end product was . . .  horrible. For all that knitting time it was only about four feet long not the recommended 60 inches. The knit stitches were uneven, the scarf was pulled in and out irregularly, and not in a good way. It was the ugliest thing I've ever made. Heck, it was the ugliest knitted thing I had ever seen. I couldn't even unravel it to save the yarn. I threw it out by burying it deep within my trash can.

I decided that combining yarns for Comfort Scarves was a lot harder than it looked. I felt sure that the Amazing Leslye and her team of dedicated and creative volunteers were even more special than I already knew them to be.

My interest in my newest endeavor waned. A few weeks went by, then a month, then two. But last week I opened the closet doors that hid from The Man protected my yarn stash and selected my oldest yarns that I had obtained eight years ago as a new-again knitter. Then I boxed them all up and sent them on their merry way. (At the very last moment I hesitated and kept a few dark blue and dark purple Fun Fur balls . . . so pretty, so soft . . .  maybe I could . . . ?)

I received this email from Leslye: What fun I have had with the box of yarn you sent.  I loved your note.  My advice to you:  avoid chenille!  It “worms.”  No matter how careful you are, it is impossible to use.  I always send it to one of our crocheters, who somehow manages to use  it without difficulty.  The rest of the yarn was fabulous.  I made zillions of kits with it.  Since I already sent new magic balls to you, I’m not sure if you will actually receive kits made with the yarn you personally donated, but rest assured, the kits are made with the yarn someone donated.  You can feel warmly toward them.

Heck, I feel even more warmly towards Leslye knowing that it was the dreaded chenille yarn and not me failing as a "Wannabe Magic Ball Maker". Besides, sending off the yarn was a price well worth paying for my peace of mind. Win, win.

Life is too short to knit or weave with yarn you don't love.   Lynn, Yarn Enthusiast*

*Enthusiast sounds better than the alternative synonyms such as addict, freak, fanatic, or fiend. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Summer's End

The days are getting noticeably shorter: It's twilight before 7 pm. We gather up our animals and secure them before full darkness. Fall is in the air with cool days and cooler nights. Well, for a few days anyway, then the temperature heats up again . . . summer's last fling.

The spring babies have gotten bigger over the summer and we are pleased to see Mama Deer and her twins foraging around the neighborhood. We see the family frequently on our neighbor's property, a favorite shady spot, alongside our driveway.

I wonder about the many dangers the twins have faced in their still brief lives. Their first meeting with Mattie occurred in June. The next month we witnessed a second too close encounter.

It was dusk, our usual time to herd the Goaty Boys down the driveway and then up Bird Lane to their pen. The Man and I had stopped to watch the cows that were grazing close to our fence line. In the distance I could hear the cries of a bird: Calling. Calling. Calling. I turned around and saw that the animals were not following us. They were all - five heads turned - staring intently to the area below the Vista.

I told The Man that something was happening and walked briskly back up to where the dogs and goats stood. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the waning light, and then it took another few seconds to realize what I was seeing. It was not the cries of a bird that I had heard.

A coyote was chasing a screaming fawn. Wait, there were two fawns. And, yes, Mama Deer as well. All four animals were running in crazy circles in the meadow below.

                                                                  (Dramatization: Non-paid Actors)

The Man ran back to the house to get his varmint deterrent (aka .223) while I clapped my hands to distract the coyote.

Here's the thing about coyotes - they're very curious creatures. Luckily, I knew that about them.

Desperate times calls for desperate measures. I stuck two fingers from each hand into my mouth and BLEW. Yes, the same fingers that had patted the heads of dogs, goats, chickens, and one cat. Earthy, dirty, (shudder) unsanitized fingers were in my mouth. A true act of heroism.

My four-fingered whistle stopped the coyote dead in his tracks. He stood perfectly still and looked up at me. I'm guessing his curious stare turned to "stink eye" as Mama Deer and her twins made their quick get away through the oak-studded hilly terrain.

The drama was over by the time The Man returned. I pointed out the coyote loping along the game trail but after a moment he quickly disappeared in the trees.

Before we continued our evening walk down the driveway again, I detoured to the pen and secured the chickens in their coop. You know, just in case Mr. Coyote wanted to substitute chicken for his dinner since venison was no longer on the menu.