Friday, September 25, 2009



I found this on the outside of a window screen at work this week. I don't think it's native to Massachusetts, but I like its stripes nonetheless!

Monday, September 21, 2009

There's Hope After All

I don't have kids, but I get to hang out with a couple of absolutely top-notch ones anyhow.


That's Olivia on the left and Isabelle on the right. Olivia's holding Freddy's Hope, a dark gray Shetland ewe lamb; Isabelle's holding Wilber, a mioget (under the most luscious chocolate tips) Shetland ram lamb. In the middle you can't see their mom Pat, who can't tell she's holding upside-down the plaque Isabelle won. That plaque is for the Phil and Lee Delano Memorial Shepherd Award, given out each year at the Middlesex County 4-H fair, held in Westford, Massachusetts. The Delano award is a Very Big Deal. If I remember correctly, it is given to the best shepherd that year. Isabelle also won the annual Wool Top Trophy at the same fair, given for the shepherd who takes the best care of their flock overall, including how the flock is displayed at the fair. Under Isabelle's capable showmanship, Wilber was the Champion Shetland Ram at the Bolton, MA, Fair in both the Junior and the Open Shows, and he was the Reserve Champion Ram in the All Other (wool) Breeds class at the Northeast Youth Sheep Show. Isabelle is 15. At age 15, I think I was accomplishing exactly nothing.

At the Woodstock, CT., sheep show, Olivia led Freddy's Hope to a Reserve Champion medal in the All Other Breed Ewe Youth Show and to the Grand Champion Ewe in the Open Show. Grand Holy Mackeral Champion Ewe. Olivia is 11. I don't even remember being 11.

These two won many more awards this year as well, but I'm not even sure I got all the details correct on the awards I did list. Isabelle did say something about not putting the ordinary ribbons up on her bedroom wall any more - she only puts up the rosettes nowadays. And did I mention Isabelle was the one to decide which of her Shetland ewes to breed to which ram from another flock to produce these two lovely lambs? Apparently, she was debating the finer points of fleece quality and being high on their hocks and twinning and being a good mother and all that stuff.

I'm very proud of these two (and of their mom!), even though I had nothing to do with bringing them up or teaching them how to raise good sheep or anything (except maybe knitting) (and spinning, quite possibly) (definitely Rhinebeck - you can meet these young women and their mom there with me this year, by the way). And I'm showing my support for their stellar efforts by promising to buy Wilber's fleece when he's shorn for the first time this fall. I really ought to buckle down and go for Hope's fleece, as well. It's a sacrifice, but somebody has to do the hard work around here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Knitting. I Do It.

(Let's just pretend the past five months of non-blogging didn't happen, OK? I miss you and if I don't start somewhere, I'll never start again and never get to talk to you again. So, onward.)

I've been knitting. Yeah, so, you say? Well, all summer I did not knit. I spun, I wove, I learned, I even sewed a little. Deets on all that later, if I remember.

But now I want to knit. I want every inch of a lovely yarn in a heartswoony color to move slowly through my fingers, throw by throw, bamboo needles slipping along. I want to knit mindless stockinette, with a little fillip of color or cable or lace here or there. I want to knit for me.

I want to knit Yarnbee Cheryl's completely adorable Cottage Garden pullover from the latest Twist Collective. I've met Cheryl here and there in classes and such at WEBS; she is just as adorable as this pattern.

Nothing in my stash quite worked for this, despite my best efforts, so I ended up treating myself to a sweater's worth of Rowan Felted Tweed, and here's my progress 19 days after casting on:

Cottage GardenBeginning

I'm not quite as far along as Kelly, who plans to wear hers to Rhinebeck - she's about 25% of the way along now, and I'm at maybe 10%? OK, OK, I'm at 5%, although Kelly started only 2 days before me.

Now, I really don't mean to beat myself up here. I've had a stress-filled and chaotic summer - just the usual work nonsense, combined with a rainy, rainy, I-hate-rainy June - and I intend to be good to myself now. So, understand that I'm not comparing my progress to Kelly's, I'm really not.

What I am doing is wondering why I rarely finish anything I start for myself. The other day I was re-reading Abby Franquemont's blog post on the state of being waylaka. Go read it, so I don't have to attempt to convey something Abby has already written about so well. What struck me there was the concept of doing something right, and if necessary, doing something over and over and over again until it was right, because doing something right is what distinguishes a worthwhile adult from a lazy good-for-nothing. From a waylaka.

I am most certainly a worthwhile adult, in many, many ways, and I suppose that's why the pile of unfinished projects here bothers me so much. I can easily let go of attempts that didn't work out, but to take one example, since I'm talking about knitting here, the unfinished sweaters here that are wonderful patterns, in great yarn, in colors and styles that suit me - those unfinished sweaters in the bins hereabouts bug me. There's really no excuse for not finishing them except... I got a little bored. A little distracted by New! Shiny! somewhere else. And I'm a little lazy. A little waylaka.

I'm not happy about that. Let's see if we can get this simple, classic, adorable Cottage Garden in perfect colors, in great yarn, finished this winter, OK? For me, for me.

(Did I mention I missed you?)