Monday, July 27, 2009

Take that, Home Road

I beat it.

Kinda... I blew a shift and that stopped me dead in my tracks. But instead of walking the rest of the way up, I got back on the bike, and I rode to the top.

YYYYYaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy. Home Road? You don't get all caps any more.

Me and the BF have really been enjoying the Tour de France, and I was sad to see it end last night. During the tour, I knitted a lot on the Glow gloves; the first one is close to needing fingers. I also spun a couple hundred grams of BFL and Merino/Silk.. and I cast on for the Girasole. I'm about 1/2 way through Chart C, and it's looking good.

Did I mention that I whupped Home Road? Big.Silly.Grin.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ride to Conquer Cancer

I think I can do it. I think I will.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

tell me...

Do you have any idea why I have more energy in the afternoon than I do in the morning? I cannot figure it out. I eat my breakfast, I am hydrated, but I cannot get up that hill at 9am. However, at 2:00.. tired and hot-hot-hot, it seemed like it was within reach.

How does this work?

The only thing I could think of was that it might be my BP meds.. so I switched to taking them at night. No difference.

Frustrating. So here's an awwwwwww for us all.

My Glow gloves are coming along nicely; I am just starting the second chart. Also, I've been spinning quite a bit, and finished 100 grams of Fleece Artist Wool/Silk. It's a very manly colourway, so I'm thinking it might be socks for the BF.

Tonight I flick carded and spun a little bit of Shetland that we got while we were at Olds. One lock went so far that I'm currently in fear regarding spinning a whole fleece. I want to knit some Orenburg this year, and I'd love to do it with my own handspun. We'll see.

BFML comes home tomorrow. I'm glad.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

For Mandie,

With love.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Tonight I bought the pattern AND the Wollmeise necessary to knit these gloves (in Clementine). I'm really excited about them; haven't felt like this over a project in a long time. I think they are going to be gorgeous.

Its very very good to know someone who collects Wollmeise, and is willing to part with some of it now and then.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A little video of Patches

He's so cute, he doesn't need supportive text.

My command of the English language is poor.

Oh.. a quick mention of cycling. After a two week rest, I thought I'd be in deep trouble today if I rode. In the morning BFML, Mug and I went to Bow Cycle to have my bike adjusted, and he noticed that my tires were under pressure... said that it should make the bike more efficient when the pressure was correct.

Didn't make ME more efficient; I forgot my gloves and my helmet (huh? how dumb is that?).

Anyway, just a note to say that I made some progress on HOME ROAD. I got another 1/2 block further.. I'm soooooo close to the top of the hill now. I really believe I'm going to make it, even if making it is thanks to a lighter bike, more inflated tires...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The saga continues

Opera, lovely as ever, had made some phone calls in which she tried to get us involved in the wool show at the Stampede. We knew somebody, who knew somebody, who was looking for people to man the Alberta Lamb Producers booth for a few shifts over Stampede. The connection was good (same people were managing the wool show)... and Opera offered our services in any way they felt useful; mentioning, of course, that we are aiming to apprentice as Wool Judges, and we'd Scribe, we'd Steward, we'd Shadow, or shovel poop if need be. We were accepted as booth warmers for 3 shifts, starting Thursday morning at 8:30am.

We're calling that a win/win situation, as our feet would be firmly in the door, and we'd be able to make new contacts.

On Tuesday the phone rang, and we were advised that we'd been promoted to Wool Judges for the show, as someone had dropped out. We were also advised that confidence would be a very good thing.

I was jumping up and down at the time, so I'm not sure if I sounded as confident as I had intended.

Opera didn't initially take it well, but I have to say the girl warms up to an idea, given enough time.

We spent 2 days studying the sheep that we expected in the show. We made up some excellent spreadsheets. Opera talked to our Wool Judging teacher and got a little inside information on what to expect. Everything is good. Apparently he (Morris, that is) had been contacted about our skills, and advised that we were up to the job. If Morris believes in us, then we do too.

Me and BFML went to the SAIT Bookstore and bought O and me lab coats, and other geeky tools that are helpful when judging wool. Opera made us binders full of info on the sheep we were to expect. We both calmed down. We received supportive emails. We hung with our peeps and expressed.. hmmm... confidence.

On Thursday morning we went to the Stampede grounds and received our official gate admissions for the week, and headed to the Ag building. We were immediately whisked away for a free Stampede Breakfast upstairs in some fancy-dancy room. I have to say that I was feeling quite important at that point. Also confident.

Eventually we made our way downstairs into the ring where we'd only days before watched sheep shearing. The central part was thick with sawdust, and there were perhaps 6 tables of fleeces on display - around 40, total. We had a good look around, made some decisions regarding redistributing the classes, and got at it. First we went around the tables and inspected the yearlings (just to make sure that no full sized fleece had been placed there in error). Then we took a second tour, this time applying micron and yield estimates. We didn't have scribes, nor stewards, but we did have time constraints. We had figured that we had between 2 and 3 minutes per fleece, all in.. which I'm sure, according to Morris, is about 1 minute and 30 seconds more that we needed. By trip three (where all other criteria are judged), we were both feeling:


For real. You forget the seats surrounding the ring. You forget everything but what is in front of you. Fleece. (You do remember Morris though. "Are you finished yet?")

It was all quite interesting really. When we took our first tour around, we had identified a fleece in a particular category that certainly appeared to be a winner. We were both anxious to know if our m/y estimates, combined with all of the other subjective and objective criteria would combine to show this fleece as the winner of its category. By the end of judging, it had not only been declared the winner of its class, but as grand champion as well. It really underlined to me that I could trust our judgment and that we absolutely knew what we were doing.

After we were completely done with the judging, we were taken upstairs for lunch (two free meals in one day! Yayyy!), and we did all of the calculations for the show. Once everything was signed, sealed, and delivered both of us felt a little like we'd been hit by a truck. I was completely and absolutely spent.

The rest of our Stampede was fun; we did two partial days at the booth, we visited Ron at the Buffalo Gold booth (and were given bags of bison fleece to spin). The Sheep Breeders tried to steal us from the Lamb Producers (they were unsuccessful). We spun a lot, answered plenty of questions (O most of all, she's the smart one).. and we laughed our heads off. Thanks to BFML who ferried us back and forth day in and day out.

Today? The Sheep Breeders Association called to say that the two champion fleeces had been auctioned on Monday morning, and the purchaser had donated the fleece to O and me. We've decided to send out samples to Olds to be analyzed to back up our micron estimates. We can confirm yields ourselves by washing the fleece.

That kind of stuff builds confidence. Yes it does.

Rhinebeck? Prepare to hear from us.

(ps: I won two ribbons at Stampede. One for knitting/Western Theme, and one for spinning. It was all very exciting!)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Yesterday.. (or, not so much)

I wrote this post a week ago yesterday, and didn't publish it... So, here's some old news.

Opera, Mug, BFML and I were up and out of our houses at the crack of dawn, in order to get into the Stampede grounds by 9am.. cuz it was family day, and it's free if you get there fast enough. We made it with 3 minutes to spare, and saved ourselves a big bunch of money.

The plan was to attend a sheep related event at 10am, however the shearing schedule was re-arranged, so the first event wasn't until noon. We landed up watching a sheep dog and a blacksmithing competition, and they were both fascinating. The dogs are purely amazing and clearly smarter than the two we have here at the house (don't mention that to them though, we don't want any embarrassed pups). Twice during the sheep dog competition the ewes turned on the dogs, pawed the ground, and refused to budge. In both cases the ewes were victorious. I was quite shocked!

We eventually got to see shearing, but not until 3pm.. gosh it was a long day. BFML put up with the whole entire thing until that point, and made a break for freedom. Opera and I watched it all, and learned that you don't have to be fast to be a winning shearer; you have to be GOOD. The more second cuts, and missed spots, the more points against you.

Just before we went home, we turned back and spoke with the head of the Sheep Breeder's Association and left her with our names and numbers. It would lead to a pretty exciting Stampede for me and for Opera.

More to follow.

Just in case you're bored, here's some super cute puppies.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I could write for hours to catch up on the last few weeks... it's been crazy-fun, that's for sure.

But how about we just deal with today? With perhaps a touch of yesterday thrown in for good measure?

I built a contraption with 2x2's and chicken wire (my neighbor came over to ask if I was building a coop) to use for drying or skirting fleece. It's a clam shell configuration that allows airflow if there is damp fleece enclosed, or when opened up, provides a nice open surface for bits and unwanted pieces to fall through. it's a good thing, and I'm super happy with the result. Yesterday I washed Targhee, Shetland, Cormo and Border Leicester. I put it in the contraption and put it in the sun to dry (ha squirrels.. you are powerless against the contraption). It would have worked really well except for the fact that I left, and during my time away there was a fairly massive rain storm.

My goal over the next two weeks is to wash allllll of the raw fiber that I have on hand; with the exception of the new Cormo hogget. I think I'll just wash it handful by handful as I go.. The rest of it is getting scoured, and that's that.

Did I mention I got a new Cormo fleece? #840, to be exact. It is too beautiful to describe. You're surprized, right?

It's Calgary Stampede time just now, and in honour of that I came up with a new (to us) pizza tonight. Most Fridays, when all the kids are here, BFML makes up a big bowl of homemade dough, and everybody makes their own pizza to share. It was just the three of us tonight, but we decided to do pizza anyway.

I loved, loved, loved this one. It was really quite amazing, and super easy.

Cowboy Chicken Pizza

Prep: BBQ one chicken breast, let it rest for 5 minutes or so and then slice it up into largish bite sized pieces. Roast a red pepper on the BBQ while you're there, and put it into a paper bag to sweat. After it's cooled somewhat, remove and discard skin and seeds. Slice. Roast a head of garlic for about an hour at 400 degrees. Thinly slice a tomato (I used a yellow artisan); rinse seeds out, and pat dry.

Spread a thin layer of BBQ sauce on whatever pizza crust that you prefer. We normally have fresh dough, but I've been known to make pizza on pita bread... Layer the chicken slices, gobs of roasted garlic, tomato slices, a little sliced pepperoni, roasted red pepper, and fresh basil leaves. Put on as much grated mozza as you like, and sprinkle liberally with parmesan. Cook until the crust is quite done and crispy.

Besides washing fleece and making pizza, I've been knitting on the pink Lady Eleanor. It's at about 85% I would say. Tomorrow morning we're going to the Stampede grounds to watch fleece judging. I'm going to try to shadow.. we'll see if it's possible or not.

Please Lord, do not let me find a fleece that I like.