12 December 2007

How Cold Is It?

So cold that the prayer flags froze and broke - not ripped, broke - off the line. The ones that were left hanging clanked dully together in the stiff breeze, like heavy metal bells in a Siberian church tower. My desktop weather application shows that we've been having colder temperatures than Novisibirsk.

We have put extra straw in all of the livestock bedding areas. Still, the hardy heritage sheep insist on sleeping outside. They are so well insulated by wool that they sometimes are covered by snow and look like boulders until they stand up, shake the snow off, and stretch lazily.

"Cold? This is nothing!" they seem to say. When I get their processed wool back from Wooly Knob and spin it, and knit it into warm garments for Jeff and myself, perhaps I will be as cozy on a zero-degree morning! The wool has been there since June... I hope we receive it back soon.

I finished these Malabrigo Pop Up Mittens and a matching scarf just in time. The pattern is by Cindi Moist of Yellow Dog Knitting and is free with Malabrigo purchase. Our lovely Emma was recently featured on their blog, and here are a couple more pictures from her visit to the big city.

She was such a good girl and had a lovely visit with Dixie and Cindi, who kindly took time out of their day to help Jeff find yarn to match Emma's bronze and black fur. They also were nice enough to resist cracking up at Jeff's request.

Jeff wants am Emma-colored double knit hat. Good thing I got the Lucy Neatby double knitting video while we were at the shop. (Yes, YDK does mail orders!) The DVD, like the others I've seen by Lucy, is great. I now own five and I'm thinking of getting the rest of the series. The film work is fantastic - you can really see each and every stitch.

Yoda has decided that the bill basket is a nice, warm place to sleep.

... a good excuse to put off writing checks, and grab some knitting time. Hope you are doing the same today. I promise to publish the donkey-keeping report soon - the writing of it, and editing the photos, is almost as much work as the donkeys themselves!

02 December 2007

Give The Gift That Keeps On Giving...

... right from the comfort of your couch. This is a shameless plug for my friend Kary's Etsy shop, featuring fantastic fibers and one-of-a-kind, creative, handspun yarns.

I recently ordered this gorgeous fiber from her, and it occurred to me that a package like this, tied up with a pretty label and fabric bow, would be just the gift for any fiber fanatic friend deserving of a special holiday something. So I thought I'd mention it here in case the malls have got your head spinning.

Kary's photos are always accurate representations of her offerings, but as you can see from the pics above (mine on top, her Etsy listing below), they really don't do justice to the beauty of her creations. I am always doubly surprised and impressed by the real-life product when I receive an order from her.

The reason Kary's fibers "keep on giving" is because she donates a portion of her annual sales to worthy causes - usually animal-related charities. This year, it is Pittie Love, a group that does American Pit Bull Rescue! That is a cause close to my heart, because we believe our pup Molly is partly Pit Bull (we call her "partly Pibble," the silly, doting puppy parents that we are. Really, we're enough to make you barf.)

Gifts from Kary "keep on giving" to your fiber friends because your recipients get to create something from the wonderful blends of wool, silk, chiengora, mohair, angora... and then they may make a present of the item they crafted to someone else! You're also supporting an artist trying to make a living from art - not an easy thing to do in today's world. And where would we be without art? Kary also is a member of Etsy For Animals - artists who donate 100% of sales of selected items to animal charities. Good karma abounds when you support her efforts.

Best of all, Kary's Etsy shop makes online ordering easy as pie, and you can ship directly to your recipient - Kary will make it look pretty for you. 1-2-3, finis, and you can get back to your knitting and spinning to keep you calm during the holiday hubub. Finish your own handmade gifts on time, avoid the icky weather, and stay out of that headache-inducing mall selling forgettable Made In China crap.

Kary is always doing something to help others - she recently started the "Macuwita sni" charity crafting group to make items for the Cheyene River Sioux children in South Dakota. "Macuwita sni" means "I am not cold" in the Lakota language, and it is Kary's hope that every child on the reservation will be able to say that soon. Right now, some are going around in just sweatshirts with no winter jackets - they need warm woolies! Please join the group on Ravelry or Yahoo! Groups if you would like to help!

So... isn't my new spinning fiber gorgeous? Kary puts such care into the preparation of her "batt buns" - no neps, no VM, just soft, squishy spinny goodness. Yoda agrees.

This particularly scrumptious batch features fiber from a Border Leicester sheep named "Sparkle," Icelandic wool from a gal named "Apricot," handpainted tussah silk, and Newfoundland chiengora! YUM! Since chiengora is so warm, I am definitely thinking "hat" or "socks" for these batts... which I am now off to spin, being snowed in by a big storm last night.

One of the best gifts I have ever received is the privilege of knowing Kary and calling her my friend. I am so grateful!

Happy holidays, and happy shopping!