Kathy B. is always asking after the burros, and they appreciate having advocates... this post is dedicated to her. I reveled in my fall break last week, and the culmination was driving across the central valley early Saturday morning to our friends Dave and Ginny Freeman's place in Artois for the first ever Little Equine Festival sponsored by our casual organization, the EARs club. Faithful readers will recall that DH and I and other EARs members marched on our state capitol last spring to protest (successfully, I might add) the targeted closure of numerous state historic parks. Mostly, though, we get together to have fun with our longeared friends.
This event got started about a month ago, when Dave Freeman offered to hold a hoof-trimming clinic for members, since farriers aren't always receptive to donkeys and mules, sometimes even thinking of them as the lesser cousins of horses. The event began to grow when Erika Williamson, who has been coming up from Grass Valley regularly with hubby Keith Craven to trim my animals, offered to demonstrate using the grinder, the method she has been training on, which works like an automated nail file and buffer for big toes.
Dave's wife Ginny added in a tack swap meet and potluck lunch, and a few more people came out of the woodwork to offer other demonstrations, and soon the original clinic idea had grown into a small festival, which ended up drawing a good-sized crowd.
Erika indicates a measurement for angle of hoof trim, while squeezing the on-off button on the grinder to desensitize this horse to its odd sound... other common household items that you can use to get them to stand quietly while hearing a disturbing buzzing include the hairdryer and screwgun.
That's Erika's head, just peeking over the top of Lady Jo.... she's even shorter than me. Erika has a BLM-adopted mustang, two BLM burros, and a mammoth donkey, but still thought about trying to sneak home one or two of Ginny's large collection of burros and mustangs. Ginny runs a rescue, The Hole In The Head Gang, helping wild ones get less so, and finding them good homes.
Next, Sally Hugg, a farrier from the north valley, talked about the benefits of barefoot trimming (this means not wearing horseshoes all the time) and using boots when riding in rough terrain or on pavement. This is not a big concern for the burro owner, as their feet are smaller and tougher, but I listened with interest as Sally was a lively and entertaining lecturer.
Sally has been a pioneer in testing out these boots, and had funny accounts of early versions and their headaches. Her long-time buddy is now 22 years old, and was a patient model as she showed how to put various models on.
Next came two training demonstrations in Ginny's large round pen. Tara Flewelling, who is the Freemans' next-door neighbor, showed how to use the target method (also called 'clicker' - based on response, noise, reward to condition behavior) with her Tennessee Walking Horse, Champaign Perfect Melody, who will touch just about anything at Tara's request, knowing there will be a cookie for her if she complies.
Tara grew up in the era of the Lone Ranger and Silver, so she has even trained Mel to stand up on her hind legs to touch Tara's whip (couldn't get it fast enough with my camera), as well as desensitized her to dozens of weird things that could pop up on a ride and scare then injure both horse and rider, including a flag (think parades, and you will have a whole new respect for those mounted units), and a string of rattly empty plastic waterbottles.
Mel demonstrated how to play 'fetch the cone' with plastic cones, and while that might seem like a silly game at first, it shows just how much she trusts her owner's leadership.
Susie Mabe also did a demonstration with Bordeaux, the 'wild' mustang that she has been training for her friend, the owner. She discussed many good points about getting an animal's confidence in you, being aware of their needs and limitations and helping them grow into a safe and fun companion. I didn't get any good photos of her demo, but DH and I both really appreciated her grounded and humble approach to working with critters. Plus, she was just good fun and laughed a lot, especially at herself, so I loved her immediately.
We all gathered for a mid-afternoon feast, with the best of everyones' cooking, and had more time to visit. Dave and Glenn discussed California history, their mutual favorite, as well as equine camps and trails in the Sierras, and made plans for a future gathering at our place in Forest City next spring. We headed back home in the rapidly dwindling light, with bugs courtesy of Sacramento Valley's agriculture cluttering our windshield, and of course were inspired to strive harder as equine owners.
Here, Assteroid mugs for the camera (or maybe it was the carrot).
He and buddy Abraham took a walk through the neighborhood with us, as well as helping out with garden clean-up. We also came home realizing how lucky we are to get to share our lives with burros and know such talented people.
I have mentioned that Fibers, the LYS where I work on Saturdays, decided to start carrying the Ashford Knitters Loom for our customers. I have been delighted with the four scarves that owner Allison has brought into the shop, particularly the houndstooth pattern she made using two neutrals in alpaca. I am on fall break this year (the first time I have been connected with a school district that takes a week off at the end of the first quarter of school, and I am liking it). I decided to bring home one of the store models of the loom, and try it out, so that I could instruct customers..... I love it!
First off, I have to let you all in on a secret from my earlier life... I already know how to weave. I learned cardweaving as a pre-teen, then went on to learn backstrap weaving and tapestry weaving, which led to spinning, natural dye classes and a class in making and weaving on a Navajo loom (my first construction project, back when I was 21). Armed with past knowledge and excellent visual instruction, I warped the loom yesterday, using Rowan Felted Tweed leftover from a hat I made for DH last winter.
One of the best features about the instructions written by Rowena Hart, the expert weaver-in-residence at Ashford, is that she uses a continuous warping method, through the slots of the rigid heddle and to a supplied warping peg, that bypasses the need or extra work of using a warping board and then transferring the warp to the loom. I was able to warp for a five inch wide scarf and be weaving in less than an hour.
This photo shows how I wound all the warp in place, using kitchen parchment paper that was on sale at my local Grocery Outlet to keep each layer of the warp separate as it was wound on. Another very nice feature of this loom is the brakes on the front and back bar knobs that keep a nice, even tension on each end with the warp strung in between. These are a heavy-duty plastic, which might make them one of the potential weak points, though I do admire the longstanding Ashford tradition of craftsmanship.
I used two colors of bulky alpaca that I had stashed a few years back, thinking to make something to put into the crafts co-op's shop... they are working very well together and weaving is proceeding quite quickly.
This photo shows the two in a stripey section where I was trying out alternating two colors together.
Another really nifty feature is that the loom is designed to allow you to unscrew one knob in the middle, and fold it in half to carry places with you. A tote bag with shoulder straps designed for this purpose is an option when purchasing. I tried that feature out and spent the day at my high country house today, and have to rave about being able to fold and easily carry ANY loom. My past experiences with portable models such as cardweaving and backstrap were that tying to a support reduced their real portability... not always could I find the right support where I wanted to sit and weave. This model truly is portable and easy to use.
I would love to add some weaving to my project queue, but have decided I need to wait until after the first of the year to buy much of anything. I know that financial hard times mean doing more for yourself, and handcrafts have always been a big part of my life for that very reason. Weaving with this loom is a great use for leftover halves of balls, and allows for playing with color in a new way.
I got to thinking that maybe rather than encourage each of you to go out and get the Knitters Loom (you can order them from us!), I would suggest that you get together with your knitting group or fiber guild and buy one or two as a cooperative group... that would reduce the cost and everyone could take turns. Our guild has a triangle loom that can be reserved and checked out for two weeks at a time, as an example of equipment sharing. Hard times call for creative solutions.
Knitting has continued on a regular basis, but I have had a tendency to jump from thing to thing.... I finished one chemo cap (which went off to the relative of a Fibers customer) and am halfway through another... and will be teaching a second hat-making class this Saturday from 10:30-12:30 at the shop. So far, I have a tally of three caps and three prizes and several more caps in progress, but am eager to hear that more have been made! Keep me posted on your hat progress, and remember, there will be a drawing at the end of the month. The first few rows knitting a hat from the crown down to the brim are a bit dicey, but then it is smooth sailing, and the hat actually feels smoother to wear when made with increases rather than decreases, but I will also be teaching bottom-up hatmaking at this next class.
In other knitting... the weather got so cold by Saturday that I immediately broke my vow to knit only from stash and bought two skeins of Berroco Jasper and started a pair of Evangeline mitts (Ravelry link)!
Black Sand Haori Vest
Got lots of knitting attention while I was at a training on Friday, but looks just the same as the last photo; I am within an inch of splitting it into two front pieces and knitting down the front, which should make for a new photo to share.
February Lady Sweater
Has languished in the past week, but it so close to the bottom band! I need to decide where on the hipbones this should hit, make a commitment and get the body done in the next week. Then, of course, I will need to knit two sleeves.
Diamond Patch Sweater
I am finished, except for weaving in yet more ends... I have spent lots of time on that already, but plan to finish off the ends at our Knit Night on Thursday evening... chatting should help me feel much better about that nasty little business. All the ends generated by this type of modular knitting might just keep me from trying it again. I do like this sweater, and had great fun making it, but I am not so sure how flattering the fit will be... check back with me when I have blocked it and worn it somewhere. Overall, it has a nice fit, and the pointed bottom is kinda cool, except that the valleys between the points might be a little too shortwaisted for my liking.... watch for a photo shoot soon, though not necessarily on me!
I have lots more spinning to do for the collar portion on this vest... not sure, but perhaps the roving I got from Stephanie for my birthday is destined to be in this project. Either way, what I am spinning or the new merino, some spinning may get done next week, when I have a week's break from work (a school district tradition at my new job), or might have to wait until later in winter). Some of my fiber guild buddies and I will be spinning on Sunday at the Oregon House Farm Store, so I may have enough yarn soon to dye that last bit!
I am a few days behind schedule in reporting, but I have to share that I had a lovely, lovely birthday. I worked at the LYS on Saturday, and did a bit of celebrating afterwards. DH wanted me to bring home a cake, and I reminded him that DD was baking me one for Sunday, but he suggested 'an ice cream cake would be nice'. I about choked when he mentioned this in my phone call home just before leaving town Saturday evening, as everyone in my family knows I can't eat ice cream.... food allergy issues. I did stop and get a nice chocolate mousse, and DS cooked tacos and put together a very good taco salad for me... I am thankful that one son and DD have been living next door the past several months.
The real party was on Sunday, a Libra party/BBQ I hosted for my workmates and our families, since there are four of us born under that sign. I guess non-profits just attract us scaley-minded sorts. The weather was still cold and windy, but we got a fire going in our outdoor kitchen, which is sheltered in a grove of trees and features a lean-to with roof covering the picnic table and cook top for dutch oven cooking... all of us had a great meal in the late afternoon before it turned dark and even colder. The weather is much warmer today, thankfully! Early October is too soon for wintry weather here, though it wasn't too soon for SLC.
when you have special friends like I do, then you get special gifts... dark chocolate and a woven scarf from co-workers, a calendar of Inuit Art from another Libra friend, and hand-painted roving from Stephanie, the Wooly Daisy.
DD brought a gift by while I was working Saturday.... she was humiliated to discover that this cute sweater she found was missing one of its originally green buttons, but I was delighted to finally have something to attach these very cool vintage buttons and wear them.
Some would wonder why a knitter would be excited to get a sweater as a gift, but those of us who knit know that you can never knit as much as you want, and a new sweater at the start of the cold season is still a very welcome gift.
My nieghbor, Diane, brought me this sweet little tea jar and wooden spoon (it is resting in the hermetically sealing plastic inner lid), filled with plum-raspberry tea that smells heavenly...
Saving the best for last, my dear friend who is winging her way to Rhinebeck tonight mailed this surprise to me...
This wonderful scarf ("It's just your colors", exclaimed DD when I opened the box) is Morning Surf, and I had added it to my Ravelry queue back during the summer when the pattern appeared in Spin Off... imagine my delight when I learned that Margene knitted it for me in yarn spun for her by Susan! I love feeling friends close by when I don handknits!
It's back to business as usual after a delightful birthday... my friend Sharon also celebrated hers this weekend, so go on by and wish her a happy belated birthday, and then come back for a knitting update tomorrow.
I have been really busy this week, getting ready for the approaching cold season... actually, the next two days are supposed to be unseasonably cold, after Monday and Tuesday were unseasonably warm! We picked gooseberries in one of the high country meadows on Monday afternoon, I ran errands and babysat on Tuesday, and also started harvesting herbs, vaccinated and wormed critters on Wednesday afternoon, and then harvested more herbs, squash, last of the tomatoes, etc., and even crushed grapes for a batch of wine yesterday afternoon! Whew... I have been working harder than usual physically, excited that I can do it again, but sore and tired. I really didn't have any choice, as the danger of frost means I better pick and store what I can right away, including cutting what is left of my herb garden to dry and feed to the donkeys (especially good sources of vitamins and minerals).
I haven't had time to take the next round of photos of my WIPs, but a few knitted items are close to completion and I also want to share my quilt class experience from last week... hoping for some indoor time later this weekend!
I have finished one chemo cap and started a second, just sewed on the button for baby Macie's sweater (shown here on a bear) and am completing the finish work and weaving in ends on my Diamond Square sweater, which will have to serve as a vest during the cold months. I put it aside last fall because I couldn't finish in time to wear in warm weather, but decided a few weeks ago to finish up lots of loose ends, no matter the season or reason. Black Sand gets to go to a training with me today, while February Lady will visit the yarn shop for my Saturday shift.
I wanted to show the last of the sunflowers... these lovely, wooly, golden orbs that will soon be gone.. have a lovely fall weekend! I will be celebrating my birthday tomorrow by knitting more chemo caps at the shop, and then hosting what will probably be the last gathering in the outdoor kitchen for a Sunday bar-be-que
October is bringing true signs of fall with it, and my part of California is battening the hatches down for an expected drenching, hoping that areas hard-hit by fire early this summer won't now be damaged by mudslides! Time to pull out the warmer clothes, including handknit socks! Lucky me, yesterday I got a new haircut (I will try for a picture tomorrow) and another pair of Dansko Professionals, my favorite footwear...and in a great light olive color. I just spent a few minutes looking for a photo to add, without being able to track down the right color.
I also got to spin at the Celtic Festival last Saturday, then spend Sunday recovering from the extreme heat; I think the heat is my excuse for no photos, but I don't know what Stephanie's excuse was... she took lots! I am looking forward to some time with my sewing machine tomorrow at a quilting class. We will be using vintage hankies, laces, charms and other bits to craft lovely wall hangings.
Saturday will bring my Chemo Cap class at the LYS; if you are in the area and want to come, it is from 2-4 in the afternoon, and will kick off our shop's drive to collect chemo caps during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The pattern I will be teaching is for a top-down hat (free pattern here), so that the students get through all the tough bits in class and can finish up the long stretch of stockinette knitting at home.
I posted a bit about this project last week, and want to thank Susan Lawrence for offering one of her fine patterns as a prize for my mini-KAL, and Jennifer Craftylilly (sorry, Jennifer, I can't remember your last name right now!) for offering a set of stitch markers. All you need to do to be a contest entrant is make a chemo cap and send me a photo or link to your post documenting where you plan to donate it! You have until October 31st... each hat gets you a ticket into my drawing and there will be more prizes added to the list over the month, including something special from me as my birthday gift to the lucky winner... you see, October is also one of my favorite months because it is my birthday month!
Our shop is also offering something new and fun... the Ashford Knitters' Loom! I am excited because I used to do a lot of weaving: backstrap, cardweaving, rigid heddle (which is what the Knitters' Loom is) and Navajo rug weaving. We will be giving people a chance to expand the use of their stash and to develop new skills at the same time! I am hoping that weaving will go through a similar revival of interest as knitting has in the past decade, especially as I see people showing a greater interest in self-reliance. If weaving with the Knitters' Loom interests you, then look for Creative Weaving, a great new book out from Lark Books. I just checked it out from the library and the layout is beautiful. It is very similar to one that I bought from them last year called Natural Dyeing. While both books seem on the surface to be just a lot of pictures, actually they are well thought out and have a lot of depth to dive in and work your way through on either subject. The weaving one is especially appealing as the projects are based on color and use a lot of novelty yarns. I also liked the rug woven by inserting roving as weft (sounds scrummy under foot when you first get out of bed on a cold winter's morn) and the weft of recycled tshirt strips! Maybe I should consider weaving with all of that hay string left over from my donkeys' feed.
On that note, let me wish you a glorious fall weekend... and think about knitting a chemo cap!