Friday, September 25, 2009

Tie Dying with the Fiber Guild

I did it. I joined the local fiber guild. Meetings conflict with my regularly scheduled Auburn Knitting Group, but it's just one Tuesday a month, so I guess I'll branch out.

The first meeting of the year was a Tie Dye event. Now, I've never been a particular fan of tie dye, generally finding it too busy, so I was a bit trepidatious about the whole event, but found a middle ground by dyeing t-shirts for DH.

I had no plan about colors, but once I saw what some other people where doing, I decided I needed to do some color mixing experiments, rather than just using straight colors. For the first shirt I decided on a blue, teal, green and lime scheme. Mix a little blue and green to get teal, add more yellow to get lime... Ok, not bad. The results are mild, not having any really bold, contrasting colors.

Well, I'd spent so much time on the folding and dyeing of the first shirt, that I was suddenly rushed to do the second shirt. So I quickly tied it up and started applying every color I had left in front of me, while everyone else was cleaning up the room around me. A splash of red here, ooh, maybe bleed the blue across the red to get some purple, lime green over here, regular green there, add some green into the red to get some rust bleeds... This shirt was freaking me out, and it turned out great!!!

So am I a converted fan of tie dye? No, not particularly, but the idea of playing with color is something I've been wanting to explore, and this was a good introduction prior to the all day dye event on Sunday. I've been scouring the web for color combination ideas, wanting to make sure that I can really benefit from the experience of the great ladies who are putting on the event.

I plan to dye some wool roving and a bit of handspun I did in my class, which is either wool or alpaca, I can't remember. I'm also thinking about bringing some small fabric samples to practice playing with the dyes, but that may be going overboard.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Goats are like water

What is a stanchion? It's a stand for securing a goat (or sheep or cow). I use a stanchion for hoof trimming and milking. I'd been using a friend's stanchion. It worked well enough. It got the animal up to a height easier to milk, and had cleats for tying the back feet to prevent kicking. However, the neck guide was great in theory and didn't work so well for my mini goats.

So before building my new stanchion I took a look at design variations at the library and online. I particularly liked this one from Fias Co Farm, with a keyhole neck gate design. Best of all, the plans were in an easy-to-print pdf and included shopping details. It took one afternoon to build, with DH doing the keyhole neck cuts with the jigsaw.

I have two changes to the original design. The first is the addition of cleats for tying hind feet. (It really isn't any fun when your goat sticks her hind foot in the milking pail, although the chickens enjoy the treat of resulting contaminated milk.) The other is height. 14" legs might work for a full size goat, but this is just to low for easy milking on my minis.

You can see that Maharani approves of the mini-feeder attached to the front.

So does this Western fence lizard. I'm not sure how he got in there, but he was really happy to be let loose back on the ground.

A discussion with a local forester with UN experience in Africa had this story to share. After spending LOTS of money to revegetate a particular area, my friend approached the village chief to discuss the goats which were rapidly eating all of the new plantings. "If we don't contain the goats, all of this work will amount to nothing." "Ah," said the chief, "you have to understand. Goats are like water and are not easily contained."

What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Well, goat fencing occupies a lot of my husband's time, as goats are particularly adept at exploiting any weakness in a fence. So this story has become our new mantra. Goats are like water...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A busy summer...

A friend remarked today that her autumn sense is tingling. Yep, the lessening daylight and lowering incline of the sun in the sky, the desire for handknit socks in the morning and an extra blanket on the bed at night. Next we'll be chopping wood... Fall is just around the corner, which leads me ponder, where has summer gone?

The garden has been prolific, probably something to do with all of the chicken and goat poop and bedding that I mulch the beds with. The winter squash, which turned out to be a kabucha and not an acorn, has taken over one side of the garden. Several kinds of tomatoes are slowly ripening, and the eggplants are in super production mode. In particular, the fairy tale eggplant is doing magnificently.

At my last posting, we had a baby boy goat. Well, he's not so little anymore. He easily weighs 45 lbs and is nearly as tall as the smallest of the minis. If he were going to remain a boy it would be time to separate him from the girls. Instead, Finn is undergoing a procedure that makes my husband cringe to talk about, but the rough part is already over and Finn is handling it like a trooper. We plan to look for a home for Finn, not really needing another browsing animal, but he is pretty adorable, with the same sweet temperament of his momma, and so we find ourselves tempted to keep him anyway.

What else? Well, at the beginning of summer, a friend and I took an intensive spinning class, and I'm now the proud owner of a Ladybug by Schacht. It's small enough to fit under my craft table and take to knit night or spinning events. I used it to spin this green sock yarn which won first place in the novice spinning category at the fair. Woo hoo!

The fair. That took a week of my life, and it was immediately followed by the land trust's annual benefit concert, which took another week of life. Then there was the week of recovery... And that was about it for August.

I've been knitting all summer, some baby items for new arrivals and a tank top that I hope to finish this week. With the whisperings of cooler air, my fingers are itching to do more knitting and spinning, and get warmer projects finished up.