Monday, June 28, 2010

The colors of June -

Oh my gosh! June is almost over!!! The YEAR is half over!!! What is happening to my life???

Somehow I missed the fact that Sue had already done her "Colors of June" - I guess she did it while we were on vacation - but there are still two more days left of one of my favorite months. - This year it's been kind of grey and cold, but when June comes out to play, she is splendiferous! This poppy is one of the few plants left in my cottage garden

The Shepherd has put some pretty color in the front garden this year -

And what better colors of June than this beautiful roving that I brought home from Black Sheep! Click on the picture to biggify it and you'll see the other special package of fiber that I got to go with it. Pretty much all the same colors, just dyed locks and firestar and silk and I'm thinking it is going to spin up really pretty!

Some color just starting up on the front porch - these will start blooming now and bloom all through August (so you'll probably get to see them again)

The same with these pretty frilly petunias

Can't you just smell these fresh berries?

Eight 1# packages in the freezer for next winter. Want to come over for some strawberry shortcake? I made a new version of shortcakes from Pam Anderson's "The Perfect Recipe" cookbook. The Shepherd said "not to lose that recipe" - my vote is still on the fence - it seemed a little like a scone to me - OK, but missing something.

The nasturtiums have exploded - The Shepherd lets them reseed themselves in two spots in the garden every year. Have you ever had the blossoms in a salad? - they are kind of peppery tasting and Oh, so Pretty!

This picture of our purple pole beans was taken on the first of the month -

This was taken on the 21st - I told you it had been cool - they haven't grown much - not like Leigh's green beans that she has already harvested and canned!

Ah, see - I told you, when June shows her pretty face, there is nothing more beautiful. And when it is sunny like this, they days are long, long, long - it is still light out at 9:45 p.m. (Ok, so, I'm not too crazy about the fact that the sun wakes up the stupid robin outside my bedroom window at 4:00 in the morning, but, I'll take it when I can get it.

California poppies come in so many colors now - these are such a pretty creamy white.

A late addition to this post is this beautiful rainbow that graced our evening on Tuesday.

Oh, and what is this? Some new color on the farm? The Shepherd has (like Mr. Flett used to say) "his little red sheep back"

Who the heck is that? Stay tuned - the mystery sheep will be revealed.

Hope you have had a happy June - Don't forget to visit Sue to see The Colors of June from all over the world!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ah, the glorious days of summer, "tra la" ...

The strawberries are ripe - and these are Strawberries with a capital "S" - from a local produce farm out in the county -I was there bright and early (well, 9:30 is bright and early for me on a Saturday) this morning to pick up two flats of these gorgeous little beauties.

The woman who was "watching the store" said her boss and his wife had taken a flat to a local fund raiser auction last night - it fetched $250!!

Wow, and I only paid $18 - what a bargain.

This is the view from our kitchen window - If you click on the picture to biggify it, you will see an animal standing right in the center of those trees - at first I thought maybe one of the neighbors horses was our - then I remembered that they don't have horses anymore -

It's Bambi's mom! - and she had one of her friends with her - they were up there the better part of the afternoon - just munching away on the neighbor's apple trees - boldly ignoring the foil streamers that were, I'm sure, supposed to scare them away - We've been here for almost 17 years and this is the first time I've ever seen deer so close to our house - They don't seem to like the sheep though, so maybe they'll stay out of The Shepherd's garden. Time will tell, I guess

Monday, June 21, 2010

Black Sheep Gathering 2010

We're back - a long rainy trip home from Eugene Oregon - 400 & some miles - The Shepherd does all the driving (I do offer, but he'd rather drive - so part of the time I crochet, part of the time, I sleep) -

Anyone who attended will tell you that this picture (from 2006) was NOT taken at this year's BSG - it was cloudy and cool this year and, on Saturday, rainy. I forgot to take my camera with me when I went through the vendors - heavenly fiber heaven - three barns full plus over-runs to the outside -
I got some wool/bison/angora blend that a friend is brave enough to have me spin up for her, some beautiful targhee dyed in pretty ocean colors with a four ounce bag of locks, silk and firestar dyed in the same colors - (I'll figure out some way to combine them - maybe something three ply) - but, I really couldn't justify buying too much because I still haven't spun up the stuff that I got LAST year! And since I was holding the line on The Shepherd not bringing anything "four footed" in the back of the car, the least I could do was cut back on my own spending.

This little lady came perilously close to having a new home with us - isn't she just the cutest little thing? But someone else beat The Shepherd to her.

The Sheep Judging was Friday morning - there were sheep, shepherds & shepherdesses of all ages and sizes.

The judge seemed (to me) to be fair and balanced. This year BSG was the home of the was the North American Shetland Sheep Association's Annual General Meeting - so there were a few more participants and entrants than usual - in fact the lamb class was huge - almost 40 entries - I don't know how he could choose...
(if you click on the picture to biggafy it, you'll get an idea of some of the sheep he had to choose from.)

Saturday morning was the wool/fleece judging. Judith MacKenzie was the wool judge this year. It was also the biggest Shetland wool class they had ever had - there were over 30 fleeces up for the best adult fleece. The Shepherd took Violet's fleece from this year - when it was placed on the table, it was second to the last - so she had 28 fleeces to go through before she got to ours. Luck of the draw, I guess. She really liked the fleece and it only placed 10th (just 6 fleeces get ribbons) But he was very excited to get that high - there were only 4 other breeders ahead of us - (several of the breeders had multiple fleeces in the class)

There was a huge crowd to watch the fleece judging.

If you want to learn a lot about wool and fleece, just spend a bit of time watching and listening to Judith judge fleeces.

You will definitely never look at another fleece the same way again.

I have a few more pictures of our adventures to post - but they will have to wait - I need to get around and get busy - I have today and tomorrow off from work - can't spend them all on the computer!

For some more great pictures of Black Sheep, visit Donna's blog or Sharon's blog In Stitches!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Where'd they go?

Where'd my babies go?

Don't worry about them, Violet - they are here. Denise and The Man will take very good care of your boys.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Looking Back Sunday

I went back to pictures from 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 and I picked out some rather iconic pictures of mid-June for you today.

This has always been one of my favorite shots of our flock - in fact, it was published in our local paper in the "Pets" section.

All of The Shepherd's azaleas are done blooming for this year - but a couple of years ago, they were still in full bloom mid June

This is the beautiful bouquet that we had for our Flower Communion a couple of years ago - everyone just brings a few flowers from their garden and at the end of the service everyone gets a flower to take home.

The blueberries are growing and growing

And last year, I was madly spinning this beautiful blue & "shades of other" targhee so I would have a project to work on for our trip to Black Sheep. I made a sweater for our friend's daughter - it turned out really great for the first time that I'd made something besides a rectangular baby blanket!

Oh, oh, oh, Black Sheep Gathering in

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

This past Saturday was the Bellingham Highland Games - the 50th Highland games to be held here, in fact.

The games are located at Hovander Homestead Park, a lovely park that is actually a working farm. We have gone for many years, sometimes just The Shepherd goes, as it is a LOT of walking and difficult for me to get around.

This year they invited our Spinner Guild to come and demonstrate spinning - here is our fearless leader, Yvonne, demonstrating to an interested party how the drum carder works.

We were a small but enthusiastic group. Kiesha is a new spinner and this was her first Spindrifter event. I hope she will be able to come to meetings - It was fun to meet her and get to know her a little bit.

Why, you are asking yourself, did I title this post "The Kindness of Strangers"? Well, one of the things about this park is, it is HUGE - and even though we parked in the special parking area, it was still the distance of "several blocks" over gravel roadway and bumpy grass to get to where our tent was. (there had been the promise of an electric cart to bring our things in - no such luck - they had one lady for, oh, several thousand attendees) -

I had figured as much might happen, so I had my gear packed up on my luggage cart. Bag with ball winder, hand carders, extra bobbins, blanket in case it got cold, fleece vest in case it got cold, etc. And my trusty Ashford Traveler wheel.

The Shepherd was in charge of the chairs and a bag of wool (which we hoped we could sell, but didn't) so after we parked, and got directions to where our tent was, he headed off to our tent to get our chairs set up. Did I mention that it was about 9:00 a.m. when we got there - and the pipers were already piping and the drummers were already drumming...

So I headed out from the gate - I must have looked pretty forlorn, as soon a couple came up and offered to help me with my stuff. I was grateful - even if the fellow appeared to be 10-15 years older than I, he definitely was getting around pretty well - he pulled my cart and his lady friend carried my other bag. Pretty soon, The Shepherd came back from the other direction to "collect me" - Thank you so much to these kind folks who offered their assistance.

Here is Yvonne's clan tartan shawl that she wove on her loom. She had it up as an example of what could be made - I had also printed out pictures of the shawls that we made last year at the Skagit Highland games and at the NW Washington Fair so people could see what we were working on.

Yvonne and her husband have Spinner's Eden farm, also here in the county, where they raise Registered CVM/Romeldale sheep. She donated one of her lovely fleeces for this project, and as you can see from the singles that I spun, it will make a pretty grey/oatmeal colored yarn.

We started with Yvonne's washed fleece, running it through her picker. Now that is a dangerous looking contraption if I've even seen one (and of course I didn't get a picture of them using it - oh, well)

Then using the drum carders and hand carders, we got the fiber ready to spin. All this was very interesting to the public - and we spent a fair amount of time showing folks how and what we were doing.

Oksana is a very accomplished spinner and knitter (her shawl won Grand Champion in the wool show last year at the fair) She knitted the beautiful sweater that she is wearing.

It is interesting to watch people when they walk by our booth - men, especially, will just stop in their tracks - I think it is something about the "mechanics" of a spinning wheel - they are generally fascinated with the whole thing. It is fun to explain how wool goes from "sheep to sweater".

Our tent was actually pretty centrally located to the events of the day. This tree, just a few feet from the tent, holds a special place in my heart. The Shepherd and I donated it to the park about 15 years ago after an old friend of mine passed away. It has been through a few floods, but it is still growing strong.

Speaking of people who were fascinated by the spinning process, this little fellow just had to know what we were doing and how the spinning wheel worked. I pulled him up onto my lap and we spun a little bit of string together.

I'm sorry that I didn't get any pictures of the pipe bands. One of the unique things about our games is that we have some of the best pipe bands IN THE WORLD just across the border in BC, including the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band who are 6 time and current World Champion Pipe Band. They did their "pre-competition" practice just on the other side of that tree - what a joy they are to listen to.

When he wasn't off wandering around the vendor booths, The Shepherd sat with us - but he went over to the main field when the band competition started in the afternoon. Our day ended at about 5:30 after the band competition was over and the mass band finished (now, that is always something to see - close to 3 or 400 pipers and drummers all marching down through this little "glen" where the band competition takes place. Kind of takes your breath away)

We packed up, and after helping Yvonne take down the tent, headed back to the car. Amazingly enough, a young girl who had stood and watched me spin, and her mom were also walking back to the parking lot and they also offered to help me with my gear. What nice people - and I hope that they will take up my invitation to come to one of our meetings to learn more about spinning.

OK, it has been just horrible weather around here the past week, but it was forecasted to be "nice" on Saturday. Partly cloudy, in the high 60's. Well, as you can see from the sky in some of the pictures above, it was a very nice day. When I packed up the things I was taking with me, the last thing on my mind was sun screen. I mean, look at the picture of me with the little boy - I was in a long sleeve, turtle necked shirt, (earlier wearing my winter coat), with my fleece vest and a blanket packed in my bag in case it got cold. So now, I have this goofy looking "farmer tan" on my left arm - yup, it goes all the way to my knuckles. The Shepherd said I need to get outside more... but all in all - it was a very fun day.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

More Shetland Wool (this time it's for sale!)

As I mentioned in my "Colors of May" post, we went down to Gretchen's Wool Mill last month to pick up some fiber that The Shepherd had her process.

This roving was the result of cleaning out the shed. He took the best parts of three or four fleeces and bagged them up. Gretchen's new "magic machine" was able to wind the roving into these nice bumps - I think they are 4 or 5 ounces each.

I was really pleased with the quality of the roving - and, it spins up really nice, and I think would take an over- dye of most colors and make a nice heathery looking yarn.

I still have to fiddle around with my McMorran Yarn Balance to see how many yards per ounce my yarn is - it all seems to be pretty much the same size - sport weight, I guess....

There is also a big sack of "cream colored" loose roving - I haven't played with that yet, but it looks like it will be very nice as well.

The roving is $2/ounce plus shipping. Leave me a comment if you are interested.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Just one more flower from May . . . .

A couple of years ago our friend Diane gave us this beautiful peony.

I really meant to take more pictures as the blossom grew and grew - `

When it blooms full open, the flowers are incredibly beautiful.

The petals are "whispy, parchmenty thin" and unfortunately were getting beat about by the rain, but if you click on the picture to biggify it, you will see just how beautiful they are - I think this coral color is really one of my favorites.

And then, when you look even closer, you see an itty bitty smiley face...don't ya just love it?