Monday, May 30, 2011

Adventures in Fiber... on AND off the hoof!

I had a great time at the two day felting workshop in Lexington taught by Nicola Brown, and as always there was lots of learning, laughing, and great camaraderie between the participants. I don't know how Nicola does it, she starts with a group of people of varying experience, different fibers to use, and a variety of projects they want to complete. It all seems a little bit chaotic in the very beginning but by the end of the second day everyone has happily finished at least one or two projects and we've all picked up tips, tricks and inspiration from Nicola and each other!
Nicola brought lots of sample items to show us, many from her new book which she has just co-published with Chrissie Day. I have the book and love it, but it was extra-nice to see her projects "in person." Based on some of the items she showed us, I wanted to make a scarf/shawl using some nuno collage techniques. Although it wasn't completely different from some things I've already been doing, I did learn some things and loved the result!
The other students created some stunning items as well, from bags to vessels to wraps. Lots of creativity in that room!
The day after the class was over, my friend Jan (who organized the workshop) brought Nicola out for a visit to our alpaca and llama farm so that she could see some of the local Kentucky bluegrass countryside. I planned a casual hike where we would lead some llamas carrying a little picnic of wine and cheese and fruit (we normally offer "commercial" llama treks, this was going to be an informal version).

One of the llamas, Bandit, is normally a tiny bit edgy but then calms down and can be one of our sweetest and most dependable, having been led by small children on prior hikes. I wasn't 100% sure that he'd carried the pack before, but as I put the pack saddle on him and tightened the girth he stood completely calmly which reassured me that he had in fact done it before. We each took a llama and I gave Jan and Nicola a short spiel about the differences between alpacas and llamas and how to handle them safely.

As we stepped out of the barn, Bandit suddenly turned into a whirling dervish as he felt the contents of his pack bags shifting!!!! He bucked and bucked, with Nicola (experienced wth thoroughbred horses years ago) holding onto his lead rope for dear life!!! As he bucked, the pack saddle and bags banged on his sides and shifted and his panic increased, and after giving her a bad friction burn on her hand Nicola couldn't hold onto the lead any longer. We watched, helpless, as poor Bandit bucked across the field with the pack saddle now practically around his waist and one pack bag flying off, and then he ran out of sight into the woods.....

Nicola ran after him while I put the other two llamas in stalls, and Jan retrieved the pack bag that had already fallen. I joined Nicola and we located the other bag and tracks in the mud leading back toward the field where he normally stays which was nearly 1/2 mile away. We also doctored Nicola's hand which had a bit of skin removed and a big blister- she was a great sport about it but I know it had to hurt. Long story short, Bandit wasn't back down there and I suggested that we search around our farm in the comfort of the air-conditioned Kubota RTV (which gave Jan and Nicola a tour of the farm nonetheless). Although I felt sure he'd go back to his buddies in the field, we were concerned about him getting caught on something since he still had the pack saddle and lead rope attached.
Finally I suggested that we just have our picnic in our breezy, high wildlife observation tower where we'd have a good view in case he appeared, and give him time to settle down and find his way back. Sure enough, about 30 minutes later my daughter came to tell us that he'd arrived back at the llama field and she'd caught him, removed the pack which was around his back legs by then, and put him back with his friends, unscathed. Phew....
We enjoyed our wine and cheese, miraculously the wine bottle hadn't broken although the bananas were mashed over everything and the crackers were mostly crumbs! After we knew Bandit was okay, we laughed over the incident and Nicola recounted some other now-hilarious times when she'd been injured! We returned to the barn for some photos with the llamas and said our farewells. Thanks, Nicola, for coming to Lexington and I hope we can persuade you to return in the fall. I'm sure you'll always remember your visit to Seldom Scene Farm!
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What to Make?

Nuno shawl with alpaca, merino, silk, angelina sparkle, and mohair on cotton
The past week was fun to say the least, with the highlight being a wonderful surprise birthday party my sweet husband gave me with our close friends and family at a favorite restaurant, Heirloom in nearby Midway. The AOBA National Auction was a big success for our farm and those of our our partners, too, you can read about that here. I also had a super time at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, and was very inspired by all of the great colors and project ideas I gleaned from the high-quality vendors.
Now I can concentrate on the upcoming felting class I'm taking later this week with Nicola Brown of Ireland (whose class I took last fall in Michigan). I had a rare long, quiet day yesterday in the studio, and contemplated what I most hope to learn from Nicola this time. What to make? What to make?
I completed these nuno scarves since the ones I made last week sold at the Festival, and I love making them but want to challenge myself with something completely new in Nicola's class. I think I want to tackle a large wearable project, like a cape or jacket. Either way, I'm glad that the auction, travel, and the fiber festival are behind me, home schooling is gearing down, and I can just concentrate on creating for a while!
I am so very blessed and most challenges in my life are fairly trivial, and my heart and prayers go out to those that are suffering through the tornadoes and subsequent losses...
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kentucky Sheep and Fiber and MORE!

Hand-dyed and felted alpaca lattice shawl
Life has been REALLY hectic lately, and these next several days will be a real peak for me! In this past and next week, there's end-of-school year stuff, the Buckeye Alpaca Show, a birthday (ahem....), the AOBA National Auction in Denver (with our elite herdire, El Nino's Accoyo Michelangelo and a beautiful female selling), and the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival. I'm excited for it all, bring it on!
Nuno-felted scarf of silk and wool, hand-dyed
I haven't had as much time as I'd like to dye fiber and yarn and make finished products for the festival, but I'm pleased with what I have done so it's just going to have to be enough for this time! My friend MB with Alpacas at Booker's Corner and I are sharing a booth at the festival, and she'll be there on Saturday and I'll be there on Sunday. I've decided to keep things at least a little more simple and won't be taking animals this year.
I do love spending quiet time in my studio making things (and haven't had enough of that lately), and I'm looking forward to both taking AND teaching some classes this summer. We'll be continuing home school over the summer, but on a less structured basis. Watch for news about upcoming classes!
Hand-felted Lamb Shade!
In the mean time, I hope to see many of you at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival or AOBA Nationals!

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Monday, May 9, 2011


I know that I've posted a ton of animal photos lately, hope you don't mind! They are a big part of our lives around here, and even though you'd think we might get our fill my daughter and I took a field trip today to the Cincinnati Zoo. Zoo visits are a great way to reinforce reading, geography, map-reading, and of course biology, and are definitely not just for little kids. I have fond memories of going to the Cincinnati Zoo with my high school art class, sketchbooks in hand!
It was a beautiful day and something we'd been looking forward to doing for quite a while, and it was a time that won't be forgotten. I tried to remember my Word of the Year, Presence, and to enjoy each part of the day with this fun and lovely daughter that is growing up so quickly! I treasured each time she took my hand, knowing that these occasions are likely numbered and reminiscing with gratitude about the years of bonding that it took to get to this place.
The photos speak for themselves, there are so many magnificent creatures that we are lucky to experience here on God's green earth (and for most, only at the zoo).

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring Splendor

April broke many records for rainfall, and yesterday brought as much rain as we'd normally have in the entire month of May! It definitely makes me more appreciative of every bit of sunshine we have, and I try to focus on how deliciously colorful and green (my favorite color!) it is everywhere! I can't imagine anywhere else being more lush than here right now.
Along with the spring rain and storms come the creatures of spring, wild and domestic, with all of their flirtations and joy! Here is a sampling of some that have been seen on or near the farm in recent days... The peacock photo was taken at a friend's farm nearby. As impressed as I was with his plumage, the peahen didn't seem to care much!
A wild tom turkey was going through the same motions flashing his showy tail for some hens in front of our barn... not sure if they were any more impressed.
One of our spring crias was delighted to get outside after being cooped up in the barn on the rainy days.
I saw this behemoth walking from a little pond to our larger stocked pond... hmmm, I wonder how he or she shows off for a mate?
It was lovely to end yesterday's gloomy day with a touch of evening sun.... there's so much strife and violence in this world and I know that we are very blessed to come home to peaceful spring scenes like this.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

More fleece (on the hoof, that is!)

Finally our new lambs arrived! We had been expecting them since before April 1st, but when that day came and went Dianne (whose ram did the breeding) determined that our ewe, Pepper, must have conceived on a later breeding than what had been observed. So, we waited, and waited!
Poor girl was looking pretty miserable last week, and we were beginning to think she might have triplets. (Mirian was hoping that she might "have" to bottle feed one!). We checked her many times a day and I went up at 3 AM on one of the stormy nights, but as is often the case with animals she snuck in the delivery last night and the lambs were bouncing around and dry when our helper discovered them this morning.
There aren't a whole lot of things more cute than baby lambs. (Well, MAYBE crias, but it would have to be a toss-up!)
And, you know, we really NEED more fleece! (Actually, I'm really enjoying working with the wool from last year).

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