Do you have a passion for making things entirely by hand or appreciate it in other people? In my teens and twenties, I got a thrill out of being my own mechanic on my old '75 Mustang. Yep, I've changed a few water pumps and brake pads. I have sewn every stitch of handmade rag dolls with a needle and thread (no machine stitching), and I prefer to cook from scratch. Isn't it much more rewarding to gather family and friends to put in fence posts, and raise barns? So naturally for me, prepping the fleece, learning to spin, and then making things from the alpacas' luscious fiber is my idea of happiness! -Kaylen

Monday, February 28, 2011

Winning, This Way and That

First of all, should we be hearing Spring Peepers at the end of February?  We heard the first "chorus" last night before the next round of storms moved in!

I'm on track to begin week 3 in my running program today and so far it is going very well.  I'm also busy hand prepping fleece to spin up more yarn.  I really should take it all to be made into roving.  I'd get a lot more accomplished.   Roving is fleece that has been carded (brushed) on machines into long, continuous strips or bundles.  A spinner will use this to spin yarn.  I do this by hand with carders and make rolags.   Hand carders are like paddles with wire bristles all over them.  The Joy of Handspinning website has lots of info about it.  Here are my rolags ready to spin.  They look like little cinnamon buns! :)

Mataeus' Fleece and Hand Carded Rolags

It is time to announce the winner of the book "Running Made Easy" and an item from my Etsy shop!  I numbered each entry and used a random number generator to determine the winner.  Congratulations Diane Whitcomb! I'll be contacting you to get your address and find out what you pick from the shop!  It was fun to offer my first giveaway and make new  acquaintances,  and I really appreciate each comment and entry.  Thank you.

It is time to welcome March, Spring, flowers, Lent and Easter, and even the little Peepers.  I guess they are ready whether we are or not.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book and Alpaca Gift Giveaway

An update on "The Next Step".   A friend recommended Running Made Easy by Susie Whalley and Lisa Jackson as a place to start.  It is a ten week plan to transition from absolutely zero to walking/jogging for 40 minutes.  I am now in week two!  Little Man is my trainer.  He is 10 and doesn't remember me when I was hiking and snowshoeing, or during my time on the radio or on stage.  So he is thrilled.  He keeps hugging on me and smiling a lot.

Quite a few people are inspired to join me in a return to health, so I'm giving away a copy of this book, along with an item from my Etsy shop!  The winner gets to pick which item they'd like!  Here is what is currently in the shop:

The winner will get to pick from whatever is in the shop on Monday.  Just leave a comment here and you'll be included in the random drawing on Sunday.  The winner will be announced Monday, February 28th. 

Now, I will tell you this book is written for people in the UK, so weight is converted from kg or stones to lbs.  I have no idea how many "stones" I am, but I have not found this to be a problem for this program.  I love the book!  It has lots of tips, stories, and inspiration...weekly plans, charts, and celebrating.  It has been very well thought out to help people like me who are coming back from physical challenges, weight problems, or are just plain 'ol couch potatoes.  Spinning and knitting does keep us sitting a lot!

Today I started week two.  I run (haha which is more of a shuffle) for 60 seconds and walk for 2 minutes, then repeat 5 times on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  My basset, Lucy, has joined in.  Guess what I learned?  When female dogs get older, they have to stop and pee pee every few minutes, too!  :D

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why I Love Knitting

I found this list in a Knitting Daily post once.  I LOVE IT!

1. It fills my life with color.
2. It encourages my creativity.
3. It keeps my hands busy.
4. It introduces me to new people who share my love for the craft.
5. It loves to travel.
6. It likes the same TV shows that I like.
7. It keeps the same schedule as I do; if I want to knit in the middle
    of the night, it's there for me.
8. It likes to change bags as much as I do!
9. It challenges me.
10. It keeps me company, even when I'm cranky.

If you are on the hunt for a pattern, Knitting Bee has links to lots of free ones.

Here is an example of what you can find.  Easter Bunny Egg Warmers

How cute are these?  They will definitely be keeping MY hands busy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Benefits of Green Tea (and Alpacas)

It is very common for people to say how peaceful they feel being around alpacas.  Combine that with a cup of tea and you might have a recipe for bliss!

Dr. Weil lists great reasons to drink green tea in this article on his blog today.

5 Reasons to Drink Green Tea

He says besides the anti-oxidants and boosting immunity, green tea can:
  1. Lower cholesterol levels and rates of heart disease
  2. Help protect against bacterial infections
  3. Promote joint health and stronger bones
  4. Reduce inflammation
  5. Enhance the effects of antibiotics, even against drug-resistant bacteria and “superbugs”
Some of this you may know, but reducing inflammation is new info for me.  Inflammation is a big cause of the pain you might feel from many diseases, as well as injuries.

I'm trying to add green tea into my routine these days.  With the weather being nicer, it is a great little daily escape to have a cup of tea with the alpacas before calling it a night.

If you aren't already reaping the benefits of green tea, you might give it some thought.  I think it is therapeutic just putting the kettle on! 

I've added the ability to "follow" this blog.  Look for the link in the right column.  I'd love for you to follow or subscribe!  We don't have all the answers, but I do ask lots of questions.  You can learn about alpaca farming, using the fleece, and fiber crafts right along side of me.  :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spinning Friendships

A friend introduced me to a spinning group that meets once a month and I love it!  What a joy to share a common interest.  

The chairs are empty because we were off visiting other spinners across the room, oohing and ahhing over their fleece and fiber, colors and crafts, but don't the wheels even look like friends?  Wow, the stories they could tell!  I had to grab the picture.

Mine might be giving thanks that I finally learned how to keep the wheel going in the right direction.  She (I think she is a she) might have a favorite alpaca fleece that feels softest to her.  She might be telling on me for the choice words I've used when I've messed up! :P

I like really old spinning wheels, painted pretty ones, and small ones.  My spinning neighbor sitting to the right of me had this wheel:

Majacraft's Portable Little Gem
It is just the coolest little travel wheel!  I bet it still can tell big stories though because of all the places it can go.

You don't have to have a spinning wheel to spin.  You can use a drop spindle or even make one.  The Joy of Spinning website has lots of tutorials to explore.

Here is what a basic drop spindle looks like:

Ashford Drop Spindle
Drop spindles can be fancy-schmancy or made with items from a hardware store.

An online buddy from Canada tells of her new adventure with a drop spindle in her blog, JADA Farms.  She mentions her spinning workshop and the camaraderie of shared stories.

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I am remembering an old tale about sitting on the porch looking out at the world with friends.  I'll close with the basic gist of the tale... the bond is stronger sitting side by side than facing one another as you experience the scene  playing out in front of you together.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Next "Step"

Right after I wrecked my scooter, and NO I was not texting while driving. :)
I am putting myself out there again for all to examine.  I think I am a walking testimony for "anything can happen".  Perhaps you've picked up on the fact that I am a disabled farmer.  It has been eight years this month since I was knocked to my knees, literally, by the Systemic and Neuro Sarcoidosis.  As a numerology aficionado, I find that interesting in itself.  Everything goes in cycles of 9 and evidently so does this for me. 

Many of my friends have been sharing with me the excitement of my healing.  The start of my way back to health.  The first phase of weight loss (30 lbs)...  The movement of my toes on my right foot...  Carrying a stone in my pocket that says "listen" and in that silent listening hearing the words "chicken and rice" so many darn times and knowing that meant I had to eliminate all those foods the skin prick tests said I had to...years without wheat, soy, and tomatoes.  Now dairy and all the nightshades...  Hearing "you can be healed" while at Mass recently followed by yoga and walking two months now without my cane.   I've been blessed with a reduction of my nerve and muscle spasms and silently wishing that I might finally be going into remission.  Well, the next step has presented itself and I am surprised for lack of a better word. 

I was in prayer and meditation Wednesday, thinking about the next 30 pounds I'm ready to drop, and being thankful for the blessings I've received.  I was praying for my friends' needs and for recent losses, my husband, and children,  and I heard "run".  Seriously!  RUN.  I asked "walk, swim, bike"?  Nope...RUN.  It was clear,  simple, and concise.

I guess God isn't done giving me this path to follow.  Holy Cow.  What a picture!  Me running.  That is extreme...the most UNbelievable idea since I still wobble when I walk, but I'm gonna give it a go.  Anybody with me?  Evidently anything CAN happen.

The Cutest Little Slipper

I found another use for the last little bit of kool-aid dyed fiber...


It was just enough for the final touch to these sweet Sorrento Slippers.

The entire slipper is made from Sabrina's fleece.  I used a darker area of the prime blanket for the sole  and a lighter part for the top.  

I am getting a lot of requests for adult sizes, so that is on my hot list!  Would you wear them in spring?

Happy Fiber Friday!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The "S" Word

All the white "stuff" melted yesterday and today, like many other places across the United States, we have another round of the "S" word. On the window sills you can see the little chess pieces Handsome Hubby and Little Man are making out of clay.  At least we've been able to come up with some fun things to do to combat cabin fever.

During the evening feed duty I thought I'd snap some pictures with the alpacas.  I can always count on our guard llama, Ringo, to get in them.   He IS technically doing his job by getting in between the alpacas and anything else that comes along, but I think he just wants to stick his nose in the feed bucket I'm carrying.  He gets pretty pushy with that nose!

Now getting the picture was going to be a little tricky.  I could hear the boys drinking the warm water I just brought out.  When it got quiet I knew they had raised their head...

Bingo!  There is our pretty Jr. Herdsire,  Peruvian Mystery, but I  left someone out of the shot!

I'll have to try when someone else can hold the camera AND I can't promise it will be before Spring.    Ha!  Another "S" word.  :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Peeping Toms

The alpacas are pretty close to the house.  I can see them from the kitchen window and from other areas that look out toward one of the pastures.  We catch their attention sometimes and they'll stand and watch little Peeping Toms.  They also like to watch T.V. !   I think the bright color and movement puts them on alert.  Here Jolene and Missy are watching the Superbowl Pregame Show! 

They were pulling for the "alPACKERS" of course!