Friday, May 30, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Palindrome Scarf, part 4

I took my Palindrome Scarf to our most recent Dog Show and have been spending time with it in the evenings and at Knit Night.  This really is the perfect project for chatting with friends or when I'm too tired to do much but want to have my hands on fiber.

I finished the grey at 29 inches early this month and started working with the new burgundy yarn.

I've decided to knit with the burgundy until I've reached the appropriate length for a scarf and then finish it out with the black.

At 33 inches now, I only have about 27 inches to go.  So at about an 1 inch per week, I should be finished by Christmas.  ;-)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day, 2014: Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road is the highest, continuous, paved road in North America.  It goes above 12,000 feet in elevation and is pretty, darn, close to our home.

The road is closed in the winter due to snow and had just opened on Saturday for the season.... weather permitting.

Hubba and I have taken the trip once before, but wanted to see the walls of snow.  So after the BolderBoulder and a nap on Memorial Day, we went out.

In Estes Park and at in the lower levels of Rocky Mountain National Park it was shorts and t-shirt weather, but above tree-line we were wearing down-sweaters and knit-hats.

The elevation and topography can be disorienting.  Even for us Coloradoans, an extra mile above sea level is significant.  ;-)

I'm so happy to be living in this part of the world.  :-)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: The Replacement, part 2

It's been more than a two months since I started The Replacement Hat.  At one time, I could knit a simple hat in a week or so.

Of course these days I have more than one fiber project going and we weren't living on a farm back then.  So it's going slowly.  ;-)

I have about an inch to go before I will be ready to begin the decreases.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.  :-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Letter to a First Grade Class

My cousin asked if I would send a note to her son's class talking a little about our life in Colorado.  They live in Pennsylvania and this is a way to make geography a little more relevant for first graders.  So I sent the following note to my little cousin's first grade class last week... with some items changed to protect identities.  ;-)


Dear Class –

My name is Kathryn and I live on a small farm near Loveland, Colorado with my husband.

We live at the base of the Rocky Mountains between Denver, CO and Cheyenne, WY in an area called The Front Range.   We are close to Rocky Mountain National Park and can see the Continental Divide from our house.

There is a ski area called Loveland also, but that is about 2 hours away.

We raise Huacaya Alpaca and Tibetan Mastiff Dogs.  Our dogs are Livestock Guardian Dogs and protect our alpaca from predators like coyote, mountain lion, black bear and neighborhood dogs.

I shear the alpacas in the spring and spin their fleece into yarn for knitting and weaving.

My husband is a professional wheelchair racer.  He just completed his 6th Boston Marathon which makes 79 marathons total.  He travels around the US and internationally for races.  He was on the US Paralympic National Team for the ParaPanAmerican Games in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011.  His fastest time is 1 hour and 36 minutes.

Photo ©Reporter-Herald

I also have a day job managing Information Technology (IT) projects for a company that makes medical devices in Minnesota.  Sometimes I have to travel to Minnesota and Texas for my job, but mostly I work remotely from home which means I am on the computer and telephone all day long.

We like living here because the weather is really nice.  The sun shines almost every day, even in the winter.  We like going to the mountains and walking along the river.


My cousin said that her son felt special knowing that he has such cool relatives.  ;-)

It was fun to write this letter and take an objective view of our life.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Alpaca Cape, part 4

Last time I had just fixed a mis-crossed cable.

just fixed cable

My Mother's Day Shearing Client had rescheduled last week due to the weather forecast which turned out to be a good decision.  ;-)

We had cold, rain and snow for a few days, so it was nice to pull out the Alpaca Cape and spend some time with it on Sunday... and the Rolling Stones on repeat.  ;-)

I knit a few more rows and have not quite decided if I am ok with the repair job.  So the shawl has been stretched out on the guest bed for the last few days waiting for me to make a decision.

It was suggested that I wet block the area and then make my decision.  But now that I look at the photo below, I don't think it is as apparent as I think it is.  In person, I think the repaired cross (second from the top) looks pouchy.

What do you think?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Shearing the Alpacamundo Herd

As I mentioned last week, I started shearing for my regular clients and had a wonderful group of friends and neighbors help me shear our herd last weekend.

Many Thanks to Johnny for taking these photos:

and to Don for taking these photos:

The 17 Alpacamundo Alpacas are ready for summer,  including Young Silas who had his very first haircut.  :-)

I do want to clarify that the alpacas are restrained for safety... theirs and ours.  They are not stretched out on a rack.  The restraints do not hurt them.

Like most things, there is a certain amount of skill and experience involved, but it is the safest and most efficient way to cut the fiber off.

Alpacas do not roo or shed so they must be sheared.  They have been bred as fleece-production animals since Inca times.  Being sheared is part of who they are.  The fleece must be taken off in the spring before the weather gets too warm.  If this is not done, the alpacas will suffer heat exhaustion or worse.

Most alpaca lie quietly during shearing and greatly appreciate having their heavy coats removed.  Imagine how you might feel after taking off a heavy wool or alpaca sweater on a +80F day.  ;-)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday and Happy Fiber Harvest Season!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Slow Living: April 2014

I have not made a Slow Living post since October 2013???  Or at least that's what my next draft indicated.  sheesh.

The last six months have been ridiculous.  The Day Job has been out of control.... We've been taking down one tool and ramping up a replacement tool... and I've been trying to fill the roles and responsibilities for 3 people.

But here we are, already in May.  It's spring.  It's shearing season and planting season... and all of the reasons that I have this blog and love being back in Colorado are swinging into focus... A perfect time to get back on the wagon and make a six-month catch up for the Slow Living Project.  :-)

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch overpackaged, over-processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.

There was Thanksgiving.... which was full of lots of wonderful, delicious, home-made food and quality time with family.

Also there was Christmas and an attempted vacation to Mexico over the New Year.

We found a Jewish Deli, not exactly close, but not so far away.  The Matzoh Ball Soup is amazing, along with everything else that we enjoyed... I'm very happy with that... good Matzoh is something I'd been wanting for quite some time.

Hubba discovered a wonderful and large Asian Market about an hour from us.  As a result, his love of Kimchi has been well-fed and he's been making all kinds of wonderful Korean foods.

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season. Aim to reduce dependency on store bought items especially those known to contain BPA and other suspect additives. Stocking up on dry goods when prices are low counts too.

Hubba and I went out of town for the Thanksgiving Holiday... This was the first time we have traveled together in a very long time.  Therefore much of November was spent helping our new farm sitter learn the ropes and teaching our lead guardian that the sitter is allowed to be on property whether we are there or not.

The Giant Fluffy Puppy and I took our first road trip, there was the Denver Dog Show where he won Best of Breed over the #1 Tibetan Mastiff in the US and another local show, so there were preparations for all of those.

Shearing Season  is underway as of last week.

We finished off the applesauce and have been enjoying last summer's pickled peaches and jam.

REDUCE/Reuse/Re-purpose/Repair: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

We continue to use what we have.  In a some areas we have way more of something than is necessary.  For example, tea lite candles... A large number made the move with us from Albuquerque in 2009 and several had been gifted to us since.  We weren't using them so we had a huge stash.  I decided to make a point of using them up last year.  Hubba would get annoyed... they're small and don't last very long, and took quite a long time to use them up.

We still have a glut of pens, post-it notes and socks I hate.

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

For some reason I was thinking there was a LOCAL category, but I think it makes sense to go here....

After one too many irritations with a national service provider that I had been using since 2009, I called a local provider of the same services.  I made the switch at the end of March and can say that the service is better, I am saving ~40% and the money is going to a local, family-owned business instead of some exorbitantly-wealthy, faceless CEO in another state.

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints. Don't have a backyard? Ask a friendly neighbour or relative for a small patch of theirs in return for some home grown produce, they may surprise you!

The trees are beginning to leaf out and our plum was the first to bloom in mid-April.

The chives have come back and the garden prep is started, but I'm not yet ready to plant.

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here.

Several fibery projects have been started and finished since October... and I am now into Shearing and Shedding Season.

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.

I finally got a Library Card.  We moved back to Colorado in 2009, but I only got a local Library Card a few months ago.

ENHANCE: community: Possibilities include supporting local growers and producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group. Car pooling where possible and biking/walking instead of driving. Even start up a blog if you haven't already - online communities count too! Or maybe just help out someone trying to cross the street! The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.

I spent part of a Saturday afternoon helping a friend's daughter with her math skills.  She was learning Long Division... and having been an Engineer, I'm generally pretty good at math.  ;-)  It was fun to help her get from unhappy about having to do math to realizing that there are a few situations where she's using division and multiplication already and proud of having successfully completed a large number of problems.  She even gave me a high-five and said we could get together again to do more math.  :-)

ENJOY: Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here.

The Fluffy Puppy and I had a fun road trip in early November.

Hubba and I enjoyed a visit out of town for Thanksgiving and a Hanukkah party with extended family, and Christmas.

Two more puppies joined the family... Miles and Mochi.

I gave an interview for a documentary on dog shows.  It will be a couple of months before the initial drafts are ready.  But it was a whole lot of fun talking about our experience.

Of all the things, I am most happy and grateful to be able to live and pursue my dream.... even if it's only part-time right now.  :-)

Happy Spring for those in the Northern Hemisphere.  :-)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Shearing Season is Underway

Last Saturday, I volunteered to help a local farm on their Shearing Day.

starting the take-down

The owner helps when I shear for one of my clients.

stretching her out

She has a lot of livestock experience and I always learn something from her.

shearing the blanket

She uses another local shearer, Steve Salter, who I've talked to but hadn't yet met in person.

two stations set up in the garage

We send work to each other when we get calls that we can't support.

shearing the top knot

So I thought it would be fun to do some of the other jobs on shearing day and that I might be able to pick up a few pointers.

shearing the brisket

He's been shearing much longer than I have and shears significantly more animals each year.  So I was not disappointed.  :-)

shearing the blanket

I learned several tips and techniques that will make me both a better and more efficient shearer.

the blanket comes off in one piece

I always hear good things about him, and he said he hears the same about me.  So it was great for the both of us to see each other work.

the last boy of the day prepping his ammo

30 alpacas were sheared on Saturday.   I did six.  Steve did the rest.  My personal record is 18 alpacas in one day.  Steve did 17 before lunch.

fruits of our labor

I begin my regular clients today and our farm tomorrow.  I love the opportunity that comes with a fiber harvest.

two of the boys I sheared

Happy Shearing Season and Happy Fiber Arts Friday (updated link)!