Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where in the Niddy Noddy? Huh!

It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out where I've been all week (although the previews for the new movie remind me why Robert Downey Jr is so amazing) because I can be easily found in front of my new spinning wheel. I have been spinning like crazy. I have made two ply and three ply yarn and I LOVE IT!

I have also added to my stash! Monday night found me at Jill's house spinning and yammering away. Can you believe that? Poor Spinny went yet another night of not getting anything done because she was holding my hand all night. Jill made one tiny tweek on the wheel and now I can ply my yarn although I am already finding fault with my beautiful wheel because it's too big to be carting all over the place and the bobbins aren't the greatest to ply with.


But don't tell Hubby. As usual, he thinks that this is the only wheel I will ever need. Mr. I Have Three Bows for Hunting and Countless Guns but I am supposed to live with one wheel. Of course, the novelty of the first wheel was supposed to last longer and it will. My Elizabeth is gorgeous and is perfect for the house but I need something to travel with.

So I have been spinning and spinning and having a blast.

I did turn in my blue knitted square for the Hope Lodge Quilt Project headed up by Holly. Of course the only picture on record is in her camera because I forgot to take one before handing it over. Yikes!

Shannon also watch me knit and purl the beginnings of my Kidney Kozie also headed up by Holly.
I better start cranking. I offered up some of the WONDER ROVINGS as a door prize.

Honestly, you want to see charity work. Check out knitwithsnot! Really, go look at her blog. That is why I have been busy. She has me cleaning other people's yucky garbage up off the side of the road and knitting for charity and now my passion for spinning has been ignited!

Like I said, when we were at Jill's I was checking out her inventory and buying up more wool to practice on. Really, she has some cool stuff. Check out Fuzzy Wuzzy Wool. I got to feel camel rovings mixed with bamboo(?) and it was delicious! I also felt some different alpaca rovings. Some I liked, some not so much but that's ok because my rovings have shipped from Flaggy Meadows.


In another day or so I will have a living room full of rovings from MY HERD. I can't wait to see what they did. They mixed some fleeces up with merino wool, some with bamboo and silk and some with a bit of all, I think.

I do know that they said that I have beautiful animals and the quality was exceptional. Apparently all my belly aching about skirting paid off.

So, pretty soon I will have WONDER ROVINGS to sell and WONDER ROVINGS to spin into WONDER YARN.

Isn't that WONDERFUL?


So that is why I haven't been blogging. I am in love with my spinning wheel.

Oh, as for the Niddy Noddy...I NEED ONE! I have two bobbins full of plied yarn and I want to take it off nice and pretty with the yardage somewhat measured and I figured I would pick one up at Fiber Fest but that's two weeks away and I can buy one on the internet and have it shipped tomorrow. Decisions, decisions.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Arm Deep in Knowledge

Today I attended a Camelid Neonatal Clinic in Ottawa, OH. The instructor was Dr. Cheryl DeWitt and it was amazing.

It was hosted by J. C. Alpaca and Cria Barn at Cranberry Creek.

The first part of the day was a slide presentation/lecture showing us normal births and abnormal. We learned terminology and saw pictures and ultra sounds of pregnancy and births. After a wonderful lunch presented by our hosts we broke into two groups where we went to "cria lab" or toured the farm.

I started out in the lab.

Now these pictures are not for the faint of stomach. We used stillborn cria that had been donated by fellow farms. Dr. DeWitt had uterine simulators that we could position these cria in the various positions that would cause birthing problems and we would have to reach in and assist the the "birth" using the knowledge we had gained during the morning lectures.

It looks easier than it is. Those cria are snug tight in their mom and there isn't a lot of room to manipulate them into the correct position. We had to reach in and feel to see if the cria was in the proper position. Were we feeling a head, a tail, a leg, a neck? That is what we needed to determine.

We practiced tubing a cria to help feed since there are times with a cria has to be bottle fed or is not gaining weight and the farm needs to make sure the cria is getting all the nutrients. This is a very tricky procedure because you don't want the tube going into the lungs.

We also tubed their noses to check for air passage that might not be there due to choanal atresia. This is a condition that can not be corrected and usually means that the cria has to be put down because it will eventually suffocate.

We learned about all sorts of issues that may happen during pregnancy/labor/delivery/post-delivery.

My head is just swimming with knowledge. Having the hands on lab was amazing. I hope that I never have to use what I have learned today but I at least know the basics of what to do and not go into total panic if the vet isn't available to assist.

One of the cria was actually donated by a fellow participant today. They went through quite a time with the delivery and still lost the cria. It's death was heartbreaking. Alpacas take approximately 245 days to gestate. That's an awful long time to find out that the outcome is death. The death of that cria did allow our group to learn so that future births can be successful.

It was fun seeing how the Cria Barn was set up. They have some beautiful huacaya on their farm. I wish I had money to buy some. I loved seeing their setup. I always love touring other farms and looking at the barn layouts and procedures. A young farm like mine can learn so much from experienced farms.

Now I just need to wait until my Sprite's due date in September. I can only hope for a simple and safe delivery but if there are complications I at least have the knowledge of what needs to be done.

Finally, I now know why I need to stock my cria kit with the extra long gloves and tons of K Y Jelly. Yikes!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sleeping Beauty, I'm not!

Once upon a time, not so long ago, a gal full of wonder wanted to learn all about fiber arts because she had just purchased her first alpacas. A great friend, Dee Piper, suggested she hook up with her friend, Holly, who is totally fun and into all that knitting stuff. That is how the WonderWhyGal came to be a Zombie Prom Date Knitter.

(This is my very first skein of yarn. Yes, the WonderWhyGal can spin...aren't I amazing and talented? is where you can say that I am knee deep in pacapoo)

Only a few months later the WonderWhyGal has immersed herself into the world of knitting and attempting to use a drop spindle and became obsessed with owning her own spinning wheel. Well, my dream came true and I purchased my first spinning wheel with the help of my Fairy Godmother. Of course, now I have to learn to use the spinning wheel and also the terminology that comes with it. Well, a few of the Zombie Slayers decided on the spur of the moment to teach me how to spin on my new spinning wheel. (Not only is it my new spinning wheel but it's the very first spinning wheel I have ever owned. WOO HOO! I love it! )

One thing leads to another and we end up with a Zombie Slayer Spinning Sleepover. Yes, a bunch of grown women had a slumber party and we rocked Vicksburg! (at least a formerly quite street in Vicksburg)

The Zombie Slayer extraordinaire, Holly aka knitwithsnot, even has a Zombie First Aid Kit. Because you never know what injuries might arise while defending the world from zombies.

Anyways, we ended up at Holly's house since the Ogre was away. We did have to take care of the three pigs, 2 bears along with the twins so we set them up playing in the basement with toys after filling their bellies with pizza and they all got along. (Yes, it does sound like a fairy tale but what else to you expect from children from Zombie Slayers?)

So, my first try at spinning yarn was a total success! Yes, you heard me correctly. Me, Miss Anal Retentive Over Critical Perfectionist (I know, I sound a bit thesaurus but it's true) is happy with her first attempt at spinning.

Now I I have a super duper long way to go.

Exhibit A (my first attempt at spinning. Notice the super tight then super loose then super thin then super thick yarn)

Exhibit B (SpinSanity, Spinning Guru nka My Fairy Godmother, spinning her goods)

The Tool: My new spinning wheel.
It's an Ashford Elizabeth and it's MINE, MINE, MINE! Shannon aka SpinSanity nka My Fairy Godmother went with me on Tuesday to go look at it. Talk about right place/right time. I just happened to be in YLYS on Saturday (I happen to be in there way too much lately) and mentioned that I want to get a spinning wheel. Well, they just happened to have a lady from Burlington who wanted to sell hers. IT'S NEVER BEEN USED. Holy Moly! They bought it 15 years ago in New Zeeland and it's been sitting as a decoration. Well, it sure is pretty so I can see why but it needs to be used and I am the Gal for that! There was no warping or distress from not being used so I brought her home and Shannon and Emily, tore it apart and oiled it up and we started to play with what little rovings I had in the house.

See my Fairy Godmother doesn't have a wand but she can slay zombies something wicked and she knits and spins something amazing. Plus Shannon knows so much about spinning wheels and she makes the most beautiful drop spindles. Really, check out her Etsy site, SpinSanity Spindles. She has been guiding in my quest for knowledge

That's how our spur of the moment slumber party came to be. I NEEDED TO SPIN!

We ended up with seven spinning wheels in Holly's living room and we went crazy spinning. Again, our kids were totally awesome (inherited from their mothers, obviously) and we were able to laugh and talk and spin and knit and.....not a zombie in sight. I think they sensed they we were all together and our loud ruckus scared them away.

So we had fun and worked into the night so that my two bobbins of yarn could be plyed into a skein of yarn.

Now I was getting sleepy, very sleep. Around midnight I turn into a pumpkin and normally on weeknights I don't make it to 11pm but I was determined to take advantage of the knowledge in the room. By the way, all the knowledge wasn't married "old" with kids. We had a few awesome chicks in the mix. We had Elizabeth who is in college and Emily and Crystal, who just graduated from high school. They spin and knit circles around almost anyone I have ever met.

See, fiber arts are cool!

Exhibit 3 ( my second batch of spinning. Out of focus due to the margaritas I had drank. FYI: four margaritas will help immensely in spinning nice consistent yarn and since a spinning wheel is not heavy machinery, it's ok)

So, as you can see, I managed NOT to turn into a pumpkin although my fairy godmother did wrap my plyed yarn for me using a Niddy Noddy because I was getting awfully sleepy. Honestly, I am about to drop in this pic but all fairy tales must have a happy ending and I got mine. My very first skein of yarn. HOORAY!

So now I have my spinning wheel and Snot and SpinSanity hooked me up with some "fluff" to practice on so I can learn to spin awesome once my alpaca rovings come back from the mill.

Oh, how I love the fiber arts and I truly love all my new friends that I have made while on my journey. Now it's time for a nap.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Damn you, Miley Cyrus

My Dad had "The Talk" with my sister and me today. Not the Birds and Bees talk, I have two kids so I have managed to fumble my way through least twice ;-) It was the big talk about "The End".

Dad and I have been talking about this subject for quite awhile now and the three of us kids have had separate conversations about Dad's health but today was a very tear-filled day.

For any of you who don't know. My Dad received a double lung transplant on March 26, 2003. He has been battling lung disease since I was born and was put on disability in 1978. My whole life has been filled with my father's lung disease.

I remember visiting him in the hospital when I was little and not being able to see him because I was under 12 years old. My mother would go back to see him in the room and the three of us kids would wait out in the waiting room for her to return. Sometimes we were lucky and the doctors would let Dad come to the big doors for the patient area so we could see him. I remember the happiness I felt at getting to see my Dad. That was back when Albion had a hospital. That was back when my parents were married.

Well, time went on and Dad's lungs deteriorated. By the time I was in high school Dad was on oxygen 24/7. By the time I was sixteen, I remember driving my Dad to the hospital by myself and admitting him then going home alone where friend's parents would check in on me.

Once I was out of college and married and my sister and brother were both doing Ok, Dad decided it was time to push the hospitals about getting a lung transplant. He wanted us kids to be grown and able to face the world in case something were to happen.

I remember sitting at U of M, breastfeeding my baby daughter and the doctors telling us that my Dad was NOT a viable candidate for a lung transplant. They thought he was too old and that he wasn't strong enough to make it through the surgery. Basically, U of M gave up on my Dad because he wasn't a safe surgery and they didn't want him to mess up their perfect numbers. Well, you know what? I never was fond of "Go Blue!" I'm more of a Brown and Gold girl myself (GO BRONCOS!)

Dad, always the positive thinker and always the fighter, wasn't going to settle for NO. We started looking into other options. Henry Ford, in Detroit, took him in and within eighteen months we had made it through all the evaluations and tests and the day that would change our lives forever came.

So, eighteen months later, I had banned my Dad from seeing my kids (at this point my son had been born) for about a month because my son, Joshua, had RSV which he had gotten around four months of age. We knew Dad was close to being at the top of the waiting list and I didn't want Dad to get sick because of Joshua being sick. Well, Dad can't say no to his grandchildren and he wanted to seeing his grandchildren so he came to visit.

We had a lovely afternoon and before he left, I remember this conversation perfectly, he stood by my washing machine while I held Joshua, asleep in my arms, and he looked at the oxygen tank he was carrying and said, "I can't do this anymore! I can't keep lugging this tank around. I want this transplant. It has to come soon."

He left and an hour later I got the phone call. DAD WAS GETTING HIS DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT! I left my Emily with Hubby and took Joshua with me. He was six months old that day and was still nursing 100% plus I was giving him nebulizer treatments every 3 hours for the RSV. My sister drove Dad to Detroit and Joshua and I met them there.

I remember riding up the elevator with Dad. He stared at his only grandson all the way up to pre-op. Blue eyes looking at beautiful blue eyes. I remember taking turns with my sister going in to pre-op because someone had to stay with Joshua while we went in since a baby wasn't allowed in pre-op.

I remember saying "I love you. See you soon. You are making the right decision." I don't remember ever saying goodbye.

The next morning, when Dad had SUCCESSFULLY come out of surgery, I remember staring into BEAUTIFUL BLUE EYES. Yes! My Dad has gorgeous blue eyes. My whole life I had never seen them because they lacked oxygen. There was my Dad in the hospital bed with blue eyes and full of oxygen. Oxygen that HIS LUNGS were producing!

So, here we are six years later. Its been a journey. We have had some setbacks and we have had some beautiful memories. We have had six glorious years we might not have had without the blessing of that double lung transplant.

My Dad has been alive to see his grandchildren grow from little babies to active elementary age kids. He has seen my twin nieces turn three years old. His oldest grandchild, Allison, is now taking driver's training. He has taken walks with his grand kids and given piggy back rides. He has read them countless books. He has been to their schools to see them sing and play. He has attended dance recitals and given band aids for boo boos, and their has been countless boo boos.

He has held the too tired grandchild as he/ or she has fallen asleep in his arms because of a missed nap. He has had slumber parties with his grandchildren because at Papa's house there are no rules better known as Papa's rules.

He has been the best Grandparent these kids will EVER know. Honestly, the other grandparents really SUCK! My husband's parents are MIA due to some petty difference and my mother, well....I haven't spoken to her since I was in college for countless reasons. Life is too short of insanity! My father has been the BEST FATHER I could ever wish for.

My Dad is my father and my friend. When my mother left us...and she left us, boy did she ever make a grand exit of leaving us! My Dad raised two girls through puberty and all the teenage turmoil that comes with being a girl. He was a father and a mother to us. Oh, we fought. We argued. I said some awful things to my father during those times that should never be said to a parent but he did what any good parent would do, he was patient and he knew I was hurting because of the divorce and my mother's betrayal.

My father has taught me to be patient, to be kind, to be caring, to be giving, to love, to honor, to cherish. My father has taught me to be the person I am today. My father has taught me to POSITIVE! My father has showed me to fight for what is important. He has shown me how to be strong. He has shown me unconditional love.

My father has shown me what being a good person is about.

So....why am I telling you all this? First, I have to get it out of my system. (if that's possible). Second, because of "the talk".

Today we talked about his health and how it's not improving. How he is struggling with the fight for life/ the fight for a breath/ the fight for medicine for the hospital and pharmacies. We discussed the changes he wants to make in his advanced directives (Do not recussicitate) and his final wishes including hospice.


It's come to this. Final. Finale. The End.

I have tried explaining to people a thing or two about the struggles my Dad has faced in the last two years. He had a collapsed lung that took over three months to stay inflated. He spent said three months in ICU with three tubes in his chest. He had emphasema up to his temples. We thought we were going to lose him. He fought. He won.

Anyways, I have explained to people that he is like a boxer. Now I don't watch boxing but I understand the rules. You see a boxer has so many rounds and a bell rings at the end of each round. The boxer gets to rest from the onslaught of punches the other guy is giving him. You've seen ROCKY. Ok, now think about my Dad. He is the boxer and he is out there swinging away with his positive upbeat punches and the lung disease is the opponent who is playing dirty. The ref, you know who that is, is either not watching or doesn't care. Anyways, someone isn't ringing the bell. Dad isn't getting a rest. Boom! Pow! Bang! The punches keep pummeling him and no break. I am trying to ring the bell but I can't. I'm not allowed to. (yes, this is a bad dream I've had and one that my Dad has been living for a long time.)

So my Dad is looking at the corner where his bench and water are longingly, waiting for his rest.

Now....why I am cursing Miley Cyrus? Well, for one I have had to listen to Hanna Montana aka Miley Cyrus non-stop for three years thanks to my daughter. The problem is that Miley is growing up and all of a sudden I am starting to add her songs to my IPod playlist. Well, one has struck a bell. (Yes, a bell) and every time I hear it, I think about my Dad.

The Climb

I can almost see it
That dream I'm dreaming
But there's a voice inside my head saying
"You'll never reach it"

Every step I'm taking
Every moving I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna want to make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna want to make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna want to make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It's all about, it's all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa

So, what can I do for you Andrea. What can I do for your family? Wow, Andrea, that really sucks, how can we help?

You know what? You Can!

Register to be an organ donor. It's amazing such a simple act can have such a major impact on someone's life. My Dad's transplant has been a struggle but it's also been a blessing. Those lungs that my Dad received weren't the perfect match but they have given him six years and counting.

Register to be an organ donor. Give the Gift of Life!

Show your heart, show you care!

Someone amazing did and it gave my Dad a new lease on life. Every organ recipient has a different story but you will never hear those stories if you don't register to be an organ donor.

I love you, Dad! I support every decision you make and I will always be right next to you on "Your Climb"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tour De Monkey

There are true spinners then there is me, the Spinning Monkey. Ok, really I am a beginning spinner so I am just being hard on myself but still when you are surrounded by awesome (and the women I knit with are awesome) it's hard to remember that they once spun like you.

What you are seeing is the rolag I created last week being spun into a thick single ply yarn. Now, my intention is NOT to have a THICK SINGLE PLY YARN but my skill has created this.

Right now spinners all over are spinning along with the the bicylist in France in our very own Tour de Fleece. We are spinning right with the schedule that the Tour de France is holding. Well, our very own Snot, that's knitwithsnot aka Holly, decided that the Zombie Prom Date Knitters needed to get into the competition. She has went to the point of be-dazzling a leader shirt for the top spinner in our group.

Well, I haven't officially joined the competition. You see, I just began spinning in April. When I won the best door prize EVER. A One-of-a-kind drop spindle with a hand-painted kidney on it made by SpinSanity for a National Kidney Foundation Fundraiser.

Since then I have been playing with the spindle attempting to make something without chunks. I refer to my spinning as Chunkey Monkey Yarn. Now Spinny said that we all start the same way and one day in the near future when I am spinning nice tight yarn, I am going to wish that I could still make my chunkey monkey yarn. I find that highly unlikely but she is the spinning genius. Honestly, I bow down to her.

So while everyone who is officially participating in the Tour De Fleece is making enough yarn to actually knit with I am going to be participating in the Tour De Monkey. It's my very own race against me. You see, everyone wants to know how I am doing it all: running the alpaca farm, assisting Hubby in his business, taking care of the kids, knitting with the zombie slayers, volunteering for the Gift of Life, simply volunteering, and the list goes on...well, I have a little secret. I am NOT weeding my flower beds.

Yes, now you all know my nasty little secret. Ok, portions have been weeded but overall.....weeds and not just the normal crab grass weeds (which really suck) but the prickly weeds that burn right through your gloves and cause you to welt up. I can't get them out of my flower beds and now they have bloomed and gone to seed because I was too busy knitting, blogging, spinning, etc.

As you can see, I am not too broken up about it but I am anxious to get back to spinning. Hooray for Tour de Monkey.

Maybe next year I will join the big kids and actually spin for the big Tour!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Homer is Home?

Today is Wordless Wednesday and yet again I am not participating. Have you ever known me to be wordless? bahahaha

I can't even let a picture say a thousand words because I already have the thousand words to describe it circling around in my head.

Yikes! I know, you might say I have issues but I simply say that I love to talk.

So, what's with Homer is Home? Well, It's on the water tower and it's the town motto. Damn, I should have taken a pic of that too. Anyways, the picture you are seeing is the house I grew up in. It looks awful now. Really awful. The people who bought it from my dad ten years ago let it go to ruin and also into foreclosure. Well, a realty company has bought it and they cut all the trees down in the yard and I think the house is going next.

I am sad on a few counts. First, I grew up in that house. We moved to Homer from Muskegon right before I started Kindergarten and my Dad sold it right before I had my first child. Now, I got the hell out of Dodge(Homer) as soon as I could but that house has many memories.

I wonder if my old diary is still in the ceiling or did I destroy it? Hmmmmm? Not that the musings me as a teenager is much different than the musings of me now.

So, I went grocery shopping for my dad today and I dropped them off and visited and when I went to the post office is when I saw the house with the sign with the trees cut down. Yikes!

The second reason I am sad is because we planted tons of pine trees and other trees and bushes around the yard back in the late 70's/early 80's. We had beautiful lilac bushes, grape vines, pussy willow along with the trees. They are all gone and that makes me sad.

One day soon I am going to drive around the circle in Homer and that house won't be there. The years that I lived in that awful little town will have been erased. Ok, I know Homer people are reading this and thinking that Homer is not awful, it's home! But, there were some very mean people there that put me through hell! I had such a complex of low self-esteem for years due to kids in that town. Ok, so all towns have them but when you live in a small town and every one is related to everyone it is more apparent. Honestly, in that town everyone is related to everyone.

When I moved away to Kalamazoo (Go Broncos) to attend WMU, I finally learned to like myself. to accept who I was. I wasn't some silly, giggling clown that you could make fun of or treat bad so that you feel better about yourself. I was a fun and charasmatic person. That is why I didn't want my kids going to a small town school. Thank goodness for Harper Creek. I think small towns can be great and there are a lot of great things about Homer but the majority of my memories are laced with tears.

How many days I would come home from school crying. I was never good enough. Well, you know what? I am good enough.

That house ends an era of my life mixed with so many emotions. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

It holds the ghosts of my parent's marriage and my mother's awful exit; the countless sleepovers and after prom parties; the afternoons of playing pool in the basement and the evenings of not wanting to go in the basement because monsters lived in it; the campfire and bluebird meetings; the hours of practice at the piano when all I dreamed of was being a musician; the nights of crying myself to sleep because so and so didn't like me; the nights of crying myself to sleep because I didn't think anyone cared; the graduation parties; the holiday get-togethers; the weeks of building the class floats for homecoming; the playhouse in the garage; ....

Lot's of memories, that house. Like I said, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Now when I go visit my dad I'm not going to see that house and that makes me sad. That house was home to my childhood and that shaped me to be the person I am today. Regardless of the tears and the heartaches Homer was my home.

So, goodbye old house. I will remember you always.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Prefer roadside "poo", that is.

Today was the first time I have ever worked on a M-Dot Adopt-A-Highway crew and you know what....zombies are gross!

Yes, you know who you are you evil zombie drivers. You! The ones who pee in bottles then throw them out of the window even though the rest stop is right there. Yes, right there, see it on the other side of where we are working. You, who throw your cigeratte buds out the window or your skoal containers. How many pop cans or beer bottles did we find? Too many. Potato chip bags, styrophone, fast food bags, tons of fast food cups. We even found a baby car seat cushion. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!

Well, I will keep the pacapoo that I scoop out in the barn. At least I know the source of the poo and it is relatively clean compared to the awful Yuck that we picked up today.

But yucky roadside poo aside (I hope you realize that I have started substituting pacapoo for the other word know the S H I T word. I figured that I could say pacapoo all day long and it would be as bad as S H I T. See, it even spells out nicer.

Well, a small group of our AWESOME knitting group, the Zombie Prom Date Knitters showed up this morning and kicked the roadside's butt! I didn't get to help out on Saturday and almost didn't get to help out today but some creative scheduling had me there about an hour into the day. Of course, after I skipped out after lunch to help Hubby out with his work, they continued to work. Spinny, Snot, Em and Crystal really do rock. Oh, so do you, Alice and Beck but I tell ya, Spinny cracks that whip to keep us cleaning up the pacapoo.

Well, like I said before, we are AWESOME! Even in the middle of cleaning up poo we were having fun. Please look at Snot's awesome bedazzling. I bet you thought that you would only ever see bedazzling on cheesy infomercials. Well, then you haven't met Holly. Not only does she Knit with Snot she also bedazzles with it and it. That is not Snot written on her back that is Snot bedazzled.

Now, I know you are totally feeling left out because you didn't go have fun with our group on Saturday or today. Well, never fear. Apparently the zombies have been frequenting our 2 mile stretch of I 94 ALOT because we still have another day or two to go.

We filled up one full road commision dump truck with all the poo that we found on the side of the road and they came back for more. The two men that worked for the road commision were so cool. They were thanking us for all the help our group and fellow Adopt-A-Highway groups have done.

They told us that before the program came along that each garage was in charge of 25 miles of garbage cleanup along with all their other duties. On top of that, they said that they were required to pick up every tiny piece of trash not just the big stuff.

They also told us that we were like the best looking group that they have seen. Becky said it was my lipstick. bahahahaha(evil laugh) I think it was all our awesome!

Honestly, I love my knitting group. We totally rock! It's not just about the knitting or the socializing, we are totally doing something great for our community. We are keeping 2 miles of roadside clean and helping the National Kidney Foundation. Now tell me, how many social groups do you know that do that? We have no by-laws (as far as I know). We do have Spinny and Snot laws but....those seem pretty fun.

So, I must decorate my cool neon yellow M-Dot vest so I can look as awesome as Snot.

By the way, if you wonder why my Wonder Why Alpaca Farm baseball cap was in the photos. It's because I had a bunch made up and I thought that in case someone forgot their hat, I would have them there for my knitting friends to keep the sun out of their eyes. See, even the pacas are into volunteering.

Well, if you are interested in helping out ...follow the Snot blog to the right of this and link to the YouTube video training you have to watch. It's harmless.

On a final note: DO NOT LITTER OR ELSE!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Creative Genius at Work!

Today I attended a Drum Carding Seminar taught by a neighboring alpaca farm owner, Melissa Powers of Lissabeth Alpacas and Creations held at 4 Muskateers Alpacas whose owner Nancee Ludwick was gracious enough to host our class.

We started out learning/reviewing terminology and clarifying terms that some of us may have been using incorrectly. Then Melissa let us go crazy with the fiber. Wow, I just glazed over the first couple of hours in a flash.

There was a lot of ground that we covered including talking about the different types of fiber (alpaca, wool, silk, bamboo, etc) and how they are processed, what is easier to process, price of processing, etc.

We talked about dying fiber and techniques for doing so.

Yes, there was a lot of talking going on. Amazing, that in a room full of talkers (and you all know that I can't shut up) we were able to cover so much ground. We came up with an easy code for getting us to quite down too. PSSSSTT! Ok, it doesn't out as good as it sounds but imagine to sound you would make at a cat to get it off of a counter and that's close to the sound. Melissa only had to quite me, officially, once.

Melissa also demonstrated combing fiber versus drum carding both my machine and using the paddle. We talked about the varience in pricing which makes a big difference when you are trying to decide if this is something you want to commit to both in cost and time.

Anyways, we were able to pick out fiber that we wanted to use in the drum carders. Being a suri lover and having so much suri at home to process, I wanted to work with that. Melissa encouraged us to all try a bit of the merino wool that she had brought and dyed along with the suri (yes, there was huacaya there too) so that we could get a feel for how the drum carder "grabbed" the different fibers. Yes, there is a difference.

I now know why mills charge more for processing suri. It is truly the most beautiful fiber but it takes more time and work to get it to the end product.

Speaking of cost savings, Nancee showed us her homemade washing machine. I think I am going to try that with a bit of my fiber. Unfortunately, the evil camera didn't capture her tub but hey, if you want to see it you might just have to sign up for the next workshop.

We were each to pick out .8oz. I know, it doesn't seem like a lot but it really is. Melissa had us use .8 because a full ounce was a bit full on her carding machine.

I picked up .2oz 100% black suri, .2oz razberry swirl dyed merio, and .4oz cantalope dyed bled (75% overdyed suri/25% merino) The very first picture shows the wonderful colors. I know, you are thinking, black, orange and pink but I am thinking AWESOME! The second pic is my end product. Told ya, AWESOME!

Well, we all picked out great colors. Melissa had dyed some amazing shades of blue, purple, orange, green, pink, etc. She dyed suri, the suri/merino blend and also merino. It was neat to see the variations in color depending on the fiber.

We each took turns using the carding machine and the process was fun. Time consuming, but fun. There is a reason this stuff isn't cheap. Our hard work was rewarded.

The second picture on the top is my finished product that I can't wait to spin into my unique chunky monkey single ply. I ended up running my fiber through the drum carder twice to get this look. The pink turned more purple due to the black I added. You could definitely tell suri was present because there was more shine and softness to my blend versus some of the blends that had the mix and merino only.

So, what did I learn from all this? That being in the alpaca biz is totally wonderful and fufilling in any and all aspects! I am rewarded by being the owner of such a phenominal herd that brings me joy everyday and I am blessed with a herd that produces high quality/low micron fiber. I am lucky because it's all mine to process and play with until I am ready to sell it. Then I will have money (which is really why we get into business anyways) so I can finally show a profit in this new venture which will obviously perpetuate me into wanting more alpaca.

Oh, the circle of life.

Honestly, I had a blast today and my head is swimming with ideas on how I want to process my fiber. Everything I thought I was going to do with it has changed. I am so glad that I didn't ship it out yesterday like I had originally intended to do because I am totally rethinking the final product.

Now I want to dye and blend and.....oh, how I am ever going to get enough hours in the day to accomplish all of this? Oh, when there's a will there's a way and I definatley have the desire!

Right now my desire is to get my drop spindle out and attempt to spin my rolag. Yes, I used the correct term. Aren't you proud of me, Melissa and Nancee?