July 01, 2014

And so it begins ...

I can't possibly let the opportunity pass to show you the new arrivals to the farm that officially mark the beginning of my fiber farm dream.  Here they are, 3 fat little lambs who have been carefully bred to produce fleeces that are among the most amazing you will ever see!

This is Stanley.  He is not quite 3 months old and tips the scale at well over 60 lbs. He's still holding a grudge over being moved to the farm but he'll come around. Stanley is the ram (a twin) that will be the foundation of the flock. He is a Teeswater / Cormo cross, which means that he is sporting a thick fleece of silk ringlets.  Even dirty from his former pen in North Carolina, up close his fleece will make a spinner drool!

                                     

These lovely ladies are Stella and Blanche. They are twin, almost 4 month-old, ewes who I have high hopes for next year. They are Corriedale / Finn crosses that have been bred to produce a very fine, luxuriously soft and thick fleece. They also tip the scales at over 60 lbs., though (piggy) Blanche is a bit taller and wider than Stella.

                                

Chester is our newest addition ( I say that, but all 4 of these animals arrived within a 5-day span of time). A beautiful Ethiopian donkey, Chester is going to be on coyote and neighborhood dog patrol.  He's like a body builder among donkeys, and though he likes to snuggle, to be petted continuously, and to be pampered with apples and molasses, if I were the size of a dog, I would not want to make him look at me twice. He was abandoned and left to fend for himself in a pasture and the pasture owner needed him to go to a good home. Ours. (Free is good!)


                             

He spent most of the day on Saturday in donkey time out because he repeatedly tried to stomp the sheep. We ended up working from 7 am until 4 pm on Saturday, mainly just the husband and I until about the last hour, setting fence posts and running wire so Mr. Bad Attitude could have his own paddock. The people are exhausted. He hung out in the shade all day and was rarin' to go. We moved him into his new digs and he still has attitude. Isn't that just like a man for you?


                             

And Rocket got herself a horse. This is Rusty. He kicked me in the knee right out of the trailer on the first day. My hoof-shaped bruise is very ugly and my knee still hurts to bend it. He is a primadonna. We are not friends.


                               

June 13, 2014

A rather anti-climactic ending

Mr. Pitt's socks are finished.


Don't let the small stature of the picture fool you.  The feet of these socks are 11.5 inches long with a foot circumference of approximately 10 inches.  The legs begin at 10 inches in circumference at the ankle and build to 11.5 inches.  I used 438 yards of yarn for this pair.

I hunkered down and knit the legs in two days.  They were finished on Tuesday and spent an entire day drying. I was irritated with how the cuffs turned out--just another reason why I will never knit another pair of socks toe, up. My husband was rather unenthusiastic about the completion of the sock project (from Hell).  I used Jeny's stretchy bind off method, which made the bind off edge floppy and ruffle-y, not manly or tightly elastic like a top-down cuff would be. This method finished these socks off EXACTLY the way I DID NOT WANT them to be finished.  C'est la vie.  That's how stupid toe-up socks are finished, apparently:  stupidly.


In the end, he said they were such a trial for everyone that he's just going to frame them.  He said they are too good to wear.  For a moment there I thought I could hear the gears grinding to a screeching halt in my brain and felt a mental shift in the direction of ... say ... violent crime.  Fortunately for all involved, I pulled it together and there they sit, on his desk, gathering dust (and I narrow my eyes at them every time I pass by).

Never again. Don't even ask me.

I am very glad to be finished with the misery of this project.  It allowed me to finish today the cardigan I designed and have been knitting up for submission. I wish I could show it off, but, alas, no. That will have to wait until another day.

That leaves me with the test-knit for the Knit Picks scarf pattern for next Spring's accessories pattern book and the Show-Off Stranded Socks that I cast on for this afternoon for myself (you had to know that it wouldn't be but a minute after I finished the man socks before I cast on for a long-overdue pair for myself), plus still working on that Nairi shawl.  I also have two Tunisian Entrelac blankets that need some one-on-one attention.   I had a brief thought that I would go all out and come up with a new sock pattern of my own, but I look out the knitting studio window at the garden that grows almost as much crab grass and brambles in-between rows as it does vegetables and I just know that I just need to follow someone else's directions for a while.


June 05, 2014

Small Victories

Do you remember that episode on Seinfeld when Elaine was working for Mr. Pitt and she was tasked with finding "the perfect socks" for him?

Back in December, I knit a pair of socks for my Honey for his birthday.  I actually knit them twice--all the way to the toes!--because there was an issue of fit and they became Christmas socks with the second go around.  Well, he won't wear them because he says they are "too baggy" in the foot.  He says I can just tear them out or whatever.  So I have, for the last few months, embarked on the knitting of a new pair of socks for my man.  I have measured, knit, and ripped from the top, down three times. Each time he has complained that they aren't "tight" enough--he is sure they will just fall down to his ankles, even though I was dead on with the measurements, gauge, and stitch count and they look like they fit to me.  After the 3rd ripping of said socks, I learned that the whole time he's wanted the legs to be tapered, like hosiery. (The fact that he doesn't own even one pair of factory-made socks of this description is, apparently, an irrelevant point.)

So I have embarked, and by embarked I mean I have knit and ripped the toes 4 times and the foot 3 times and the heel once, on an epic adventure in, as Weldon's would have put it, "Gentlemen's Socks".

The completion of these socks will be miraculous in two ways.  First, I will have overcome my desire to just give up and burn the suckers (this has really just become a mission to prove a point now, and all of the fun is gone) and to struggle through the obstacles.  That's a character-builder right there.  Second, I will have completed my first-ever (and last-ever) pair of toe-up socks--many attempts have been made in previous years and all have ended with ripping and the proclamation: "This is a stupid way to make socks!".

So I present to you my little victory of the week:  TWO completed, husband-approved heels!! 

                                   

 I am in the home stretch now, my friends.  And fortuitously enough, I was compelled to order (I can't believe that I didn't already own this book) Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks.  Fortuitously I say because nearly every vintage upgraded pattern in it is a pattern for men's socks WITH TAPERED LEGS! If only I had happened upon this book a few months ago, I would have been able to knit these socks from Hell from the cuff down and without all the drama.  At least now I can get these legs done without having to do the math. Another small victory for the knitter.

This book has also re-invigorated my desire to knit socks, so as soon as the sweater test-knit I'm working up is done, and these man socks are done, it will be on to some vintage sock knitting (with modifications for two-at-a-time, of course) for me.  A new pattern might even come of it. 

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