Monday, July 13, 2009

FO: Handspun Shawlette/Scarf

Yippee!! Some stash finally saw the light of day! I aquired this hand dyed roving at MD Sheep and Wool Festival several years ago. 4 oz of Blue Face Leicester became approx. 330 yds of luscious 2 ply yarn. The colorway is so subtle, it reminds me of Amethyst Quartz.

My Grandpa LaCour used to be a "rock hound". He collected many rocks, agates and gems over the years as a hobby and made jewelry. He used to make Malachite jewelry for my Grandma because her maiden name was Malach. He had many of his collected stones and gems on display in a room in his basement that he called "Arnie's Rock Shop". When I was a little girl, I loved to sit with him while he polished his rocks and I learned about Mexican Lace, Picture Rock, Jasper, Jade, Tiger Eye, Malachite, etc. etc. etc. These are my favorite memories of him and I still have most of his collection to share with my children.

Anyway, back to the shawlette, it is 51" x 21". I used the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl pattern from Ravelry. I enjoyed every minute of spinning and knitting it and would definately use this pattern again.

Our local library is currently having a silent auction for a fundraiser. So donate I did! I hope it finds a happy home!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Production Spinning: Need Something Spun?

Hot off the Baabin handspun for Kathy!

A yarn this hot, has got to cool down in the shade! Isn't this a fun colorway?

I have been spinning for around 6 years. Two of those years, I hand dyed Finn roving for Sandy DeMaster at Wee Croft Finn Sheep. (If you take a look at my avatar, that is one of my color combinations.) Sandy sold my hand dyed rovings at MI Fiber Festival, Jefferson Sheep and Wool and Tall Grass Farms (both of the last two are in WI). During that same timeframe, my colorways in her Finn roving were chosen to be featured in a workshop at the Midwest Felting Symposium. Thank you,Sandy, who is now enjoying retirement from the fiber business.

After moving from WI to IN, I did production spinning for almost another two years for Robin Page of Pagewood Farms in CA. Unfortunately, she no longer features handspun yarn; her hand dyed commercial yarn has really hit the market. Yeah, Robin! And thank you so much! It would be interesting for me to go back in my notes sometime to figure out how many pounds I actually spun for you. It was a lot!! especially when boxes came at 5 lbs at a time!! but I enjoyed the spinning and working with all the various colors and fibers. You can see some pictures here and here if you'd like.

Recently and closer to home, I have spun over 1500 yards of rabbit/Polypay for a wonderful lady who has rescue rabbits. She saved their sheddings and blended them with Polypay wool at Wooly Knob Fiber Mill and is now enjoying a blanket from the yarn! This year, she intends to send me rabbit/Romney for a planned weaving project. Thank you so much! I really enjoy helping to make others' creative ideas become reality.

However, the closest to home, other than my own handspun (Haha) is for Kathy, Katbrown on Ravelry. She had some luscious hand dyed Cormo wool roving that was acquired at MI Fiber Festival from Winterhaven Fiber Farm.

It was a fun colorway to spin and 5 oz made a luscious lofty approximately 530 yards of approx. sport/DK that may become a shawl. I hope she enjoys knitting with it. Thank you so very much, Kathy! I can't wait to see your final project!

My spinning wheel, Sadie, is happiest when busy and is looking for more production spinning. So here is a shout out from Sadie for anyone who has more fiber stash than they can handle spinning or for those who don't spin and would love to try working with handspun yarn. Please keep Sadie in mind as you peruse booth after booth of fiber festivals this summer, drooling over all the wonderful rovings and fibers. She's an enabler; she can help you add handspun yarn to your stash!

Since Sadie is wonderful at spinning but not too adept at writing, feel free to contact me here via the blog (click on "view entire profile" on the upper right of this page and then click on email) or pm me via Ravelry as baabins. Thank you for your consideration.

Happy Knitting and Spinning!

Philosophy at the Zoo?

Meet Dusty, one of the amazing animals I worked with last summer. Please take a moment to gaze into his eyes and then read the following story...

We are all connected...

As I explained in post, "A Dear Deer Story", I am sometimes so touched by an experience that I have to share. I had many wonderful experiences last summer when I was working with the animals and the people who came to see them. However, this particular moment was special to me and I came home right away to share it via email with my friend, Jenny. I will reprint that email now to share with you.

Hi Jenny,

I had a very special experience today at the zoo and I wanted to share. It was a very HOT HUMID uncomfortable afternoon before storms came in and closed the park/zoo. Anyway, I was walking around checking on people when I saw a man standing alone by Leo the Lion's pen. He was a large man with kind eyes and had an intent expression on his face; peaceful yet intent. I walked over to him and said, "Isn't Leo wonderful? He spoke to me in a thick European accent. I am terrible with accents so I am guessing Polish or Romanian. He asked me if the animals knew that they were going to live the rest of their lives here and if they knew certain things. Well, I first explained the basics of how they are rescue animals, yada yada yada. But he kept asking in depth questions as to how much the animals knew or if they communicated. Very interesting.

I explained certain circumstances of their behavior and that I believe that they knew that they were in a good place being well taken care of and that they were comfortable with that. I said they really respond and talk to the main zookeeper because she has been there since the beginning. I explained what a gift it was to save them from euthanasia and what a gift in return they give us by their presence. He told me that when he got home, he would look up specifically what day in the Bible, the tigers were created. He said his dog was created on the 6th day and did I understand that animals were created in one day? And that they were made of the same things as we are, their skin, their bones, their muscles, etc. He explained that the only difference was that we have larger brains so it is our job to care for these animals. He showed me a picture of his dog on his cellphone. He is over 100lbs and sleeps with him every night. He said that he loved him so much that when the dog died, he would too because he did not want to be without him. He said, "With love, there is also great loss and suffering." And I immediately said "Yes, but it is worth it." I told him how Alyssa, my daughter, had recently lost a pet and when she was grieving, I explained to her that she hurt so much because she loved so much...and that was not a bad thing but a good thing. Eventhough it hurts, it is worth it to love and keep our hearts open.

He thought about this and nodded. He introduced himself as Rudy. I told him that I was very pleased to meet someone who had a deep love of animals and respected them. I wished him well, wanting to give him some space and he just stood there so I asked if he would like to join me and walk thru the zoo and see all of the animals with me. One by one I took him by each big cat and he was fascinated like a little child. He said to me, do you realize that we are even made from the same things as the stars in the sky? I said, "Yes, I do. We are all made of love and from love and that we are all energy. Everything in nature and all people are connected. It's just a shame that people have forgotten that and that they don't respect that." I also said that there are small miracles everyday if we take the time to notice. And he replied, "There are often big miracles too and we need to be grateful." He said that there is a time to accept and a time to give back to God. I told him yes, I believed that and we should be more grateful. I explained that I used to work ICU and CCU years ago and that I was with people who died. I said it was as much of an honor being present with someone who died as it was when people are born. It is a sacred thing. He said, "Aaah, so you understand some of the deeper things in life."

We travelled on thru the zoo and he asked so many questions about the animals and he appreciated and laughed and lit up like a child for every one of them. He shook my hand several times and kept looking at my name plate and asking my name. I laughed and told him how much I appreciated meeting him since he had such a deep love of animals. Then I looked at him, after we walked thru the zoo and I said, "Follow me." I snuck him into the fawn pen. All five fawns came up to us and some were licking us. His eyes lit up and he laughed like a child. It was wonderful to see. I felt that talking to him was a gift to me and this was my gift I could give to him. He loved it. I explained about deer and fawns and he said how wonderful all nature is. He laughed such a deep hearty laugh and said, "I've never been this close to anything like this; they are so very gentle and beautiful!"

At near the end of our tour together, my new friend, Rudy, had a woman approach him who called him Reverand. I was not surprised. It fit; he's one of God's angels on earth and I was so glad that I could share a moment with him.

Have a great day,


Lions Tigers and Deer?

Since moving to our current home, I have become quite fond of deer. I am lucky and blessed to have the time to be in nature and observe. Often we have fawns being born and nursed in our yard. Once in awhile, we have deer that are so curious that they seem interested in what I am doing, like the deer I named, Knobby Head that I wrote about a couple years back. Anyway, these gentle creatures have helped me pause, reflect and enjoy the moment more and I am grateful. However, I never anticipated that a deer would find me a part time summer job.

Meet Yellow. Last summer, she was wandering around and bleating hopelessly and the sound broke my husband's and my own heart. We tracked her down when we heard her one evening. By the time we found her, she had settled down in the woods and we decided to leave her alone to see if her mother would return.

When a fawn is born, it has no scent to it. Nature makes it that way so that predators cannot track it. So the mother beds the fawn down in a safe place and leaves it during the day so her scent does not attract predators. She usually stays nearby and her fawn is safe because it makes no sound and does not wander on its own. So when you hear a fawn (they bleat similar to sheep), calling out and wandering on it's own, it has been abandoned. We believe her mother had been hit by a car.

Anyway, the next day after we had first heard the fawn, my husband was out working in the yard when he heard it again. He started tracking it in the woods. It came out of the woods, walked towards him and fell at his feet. It was starving and exhausted. He brought it into the house and I called the sherriff's office to see if there was an animal rehabilitor in the area. Within moments, I was put in touch with such a person and when she picked up the deer, I asked her about animal rehabilitation. I said I always have animals coming to me and would like to learn more about taking care of them. She right there on the spot said she had a job for me and asked if I would like to work with lions and tigers! Little did I know, since I was new to this area, that nearby my home was an amusement park and a small zoo which specializes in big cat rescues. I was ecstatic and my husband was certainly surprised when he returned home from town to hear that I had a new part time summer job working with lions and tigers. The kids were bouncing off the walls knowing that their summer was going to be spent at the amusement park!

Well it was a wonderful summer indeed and such a great I will never forget. For three days a week, during the summer season while the park was open, I supervised the college and high school kids at the zoo, greeted and educated the public and fed and cared for: 5 golden tigers, 2 white Bengal tigers, 2 lions, 2 black panthers, 1 cougar, 2 Muntjac deer, 1 white tailed deer, 7 abandoned fawns, and 1 funny McCaw. I loved every moment of it! All of the animals were rescue animals especially the big cats who had been severely neglected or abused and were to be euthanized if this owner had not decided to save them. All the fawns, including my little Yellow (so named because each fawn had a different colored ribbon and her's was yellow), were local fawns that had been abandoned. They were raised and rehabilitated until they could graze on their own and then were safely released to the wild.

Each animal, had it's own unique personality and some were a little more "cranky" than others due to the way they were mistreated before they came to this small zoo. Each had his own story to share and since in my heart, I felt so fortunate to have this experience with them and to be so close to these majestic animals, while I worked there I tried to honor them. In doing so, I gladly greeted the public and answered questions but I also was very conscious of creating an atmosphere of respect and dignity for these animals. They are a gift to us; not the other way around. It was amazing how little disregard some people gave them as they threw rocks or taunted them to make them growl. AND slowly, a transformation would happen as I would tell these people the animals' stories of how this black panther had been chained up and beaten so yes, he is a little cranky around people and I don't blame him one bit. Or how these three tigers get aggressive when we feed them because they were kept locked in a small cage where they couldn't even stand up and were starved almost to death only because the breeder wanted them to be white Bengals when they were born and not golden. So when they get aggressive about food, it is because they had to fight for what little they had before we received them at the zoo. For the few months I was with them, I gave a voice to these animals out of my respect for them.

Equally interesting, many times, the people who usually taunted these animals, upon hearing their stories would share horrendous stories of their own lives and would now look at these animals with a new sort of connection... a kindred spirit of sorts, understanding that they were both survivors. And my heart would soar because I know deep inside we are all interconnected in this universe. And I am so blessed to have helped in some small way to make this connection. Thank you, baby fawn, Yellow, for allowing me to experience this!

Speaking of connection, meet Leo. He is a huge 500 lb male lion. He was neutered and from that process, the drop in hormones, caused him to lose his mane. On my first day at the zoo, I would be in between his cage and the fence where the visitors would be. I would be talking with the public all the while being attentive to what Leo was doing behind me. I noticed when I moved, he would move with me, not in an aggressive manner but he would settle in his cage very close to where I was standing. An instant bond was formed!

I chatted often to him since the cats become accustomed to your voice and he was always a gentle giant to me. During the summer, he was the animal I became closest to. He developed a sore molar in the back and was having difficulty eating. So he had to be hand fed and babied for awhile. Nothing like hand feeding a 500 lb lion to make you feel empowered! Haha. Especially when his nose is about as wide as my face. Actually it was a very humbling experience for me and I was honored to do it.

Here we are together on one of my last days at work. A co-worker took this picture because she thought it looked like he was leaning in for a kiss! Actually I was just chatting with him and leaning forward telling him, "Leo, you are such a good boy!" And this is how he responded! Priceless!

I will forever remember my summer with these fabulous creatures. I was blessed! Unfortunately, the amusement park and zoo didn't open this season due to the economy. It relies heavily on company picnics and businesses are cutting back this year. For now the animals are still there being taken care of by the main zoo keeper. I wish them well and hope to see them again sometime soon!

A Dear Deer Story

Sometimes I am so moved by something that happens that I feel compelled to write about it. Often, it is in an email to a friend or family member (as you will see in the next posts). However today I am sharing this with whomever is going to take the time to read this...

As I was driving home early this morning, I noticed a perfect fawn was left in the road after being hit by a car. No external injuries, it layed there so quiet and serene...

I couldn't bear to have it just lay there where it may be hit again, so I drove home, parked my car, grabbed some gardening gloves and started walking towards it. While I was walking the hill of my yard, heading toward the road, I was feeling angry that someone could not take the time to place the deer in a safe place off of the road and also deeply saddened that such a beautiful creature had died, tears were welling in my eyes. I looked up at the blue sky and said, "God, I am so sorry one of your beautiful creatures has died; I'm worried about how I'm going to get him off of the road. As silly as it seems, I don't want to hurt him and I don't know if I am strong enough to lift him gently off the road. I could use some help." At that moment, a beautiful white bird, gleaming in the morning sun flew directly above me.

At this time I am at the road and still have a ways to walk. The road is a ribbon of hills and valleys and it is difficult to see any cars until they are right in front of you. Over the hill behind me, I could hear a car honking, three beeps as if in a friendly greeting to someone. I could not see it yet but I was worried since I wasn't close enough to the deer yet, that the car would come up over the hills and hit it. I walked faster and held my breath as this car came up over the ridge. All I could do was watch. It missed the deer, slowed down and backed up. We reached the deer at the same time. I, with gloves in hand, watched as this policeman dressed in casual shorts got out of his car, went to his trunk and grabbed gloves. With tears in my eyes I told him I had found the deer there and was coming to move it to the side and he said, "I'll do that for you." He gently put the deer in the grass. We both thanked each other and went on our way.

It was while I was walking home that I realized, what I had just prayed for, had been answered...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

One Fish Two Fish Purple Fish Blue Fish

At the beginning of June when school was out, we headed south for a week of water, fun and sun. We drove to Orlando and stayed at the Marriot Conference Center and Resort. Each night the HUGE waterfall pool got much use and Miss A., my 11 year old daughter, was a little mermaid indeed! During the days, we spent the week at Sea World, Sea World Aquatica (a very fun waterpark), Epcot (since the kids were too tiny during our prior trips to Disney) and last but not least, the reason we went to Florida...Sea World's Discovery Cove. It is a wonderful oasis where you can swim with dolphins and snorkel with myriads of marine life swimming around you. They even had barracuda and sharks in underwater tanks disguised by rocks and sunken ships that you could swim down and see so it was like you were swimming next to them. It was incredible! Also included was a wonderful lazy river, a manta ray pool where they swim all around you, and three aviaries which you can feed all sorts of exotic birds. It was a day in paradise and we would all gladly do it again!

On our way down to Florida, we started our trip with a visit to the Atlanta Georgia Aquarium which has the most unbelievable tank holding 4 whale sharks among a whole throng of fish and the tank is so massive, you usually don't see all the whale sharks at the same time except for feeding...which was incredible indeed! We really enjoyed the aquarium, the Titanic exhibit and these huge monstrous new friends...

Well the trip was a success for all and it inspired Mr. J., my 13 year old son. He decided he wanted a fish blanket. So thanks to Ravelry, I was able to find a pattern.

Well, here is the meager start and since it will be a slow work in progress, I will share more fish photos as I update my progress on this blanket. Mr. J., has been forewarned it will take awhile to knit enough fish for a blanket! Ironically, I had most of the yarn in stash and only had to add the two greens (by the way, the colors are brighter than above and the darkest is a true purple, the one to its right is a bright turquoise).

Anyway, several years ago, the kids each picked out several colors of yarn for blankets which never saw completion. All the yarn still made the move with us here and surprisingly, eventhough both my children are older, they still love the colors they had picked. So both Miss A. and Mr. J. thought it was about time Mom got busy!! And of course, no favoritism, I have to do a blanket for both kids. Miss A. chose Rambling Rows by Cottage Creations for her design in some crazy kicking colors!! So stay tuned for future updates of the blanket sagas! The goal is to have them finished for snuggling when snow falls!

Spindling Bliss

Now this is the way to start a day! It was a beautiful cool quiet morning. Before the kids awoke, I slipped outside to enjoy the birdsong and the warmth of the sun coming up over the trees. Watching the silky strands of fiber glittering in dappled sunlight, feeling the zen of a blissful moment with my spindle, I eased into a new day...

This roving has a grand plan on what it wants to become; it wants to be the "Misty Morning Shawl" designed by Sharon Winsaur. "Okay", I said gently, knowing that all great dreams start with a single step. "Let's enjoy this time together."

So spin I will; not counting the hours, not wishing away the time,... to live in the moment enjoying the process, spending quiet time with my self and my friend, spindle.