Orchard Trails

It’s dry enough now to ride my bike Across the Road. I take Ginny to try and wear her out a bit. Yesterday I took a different route and decided to veer off the road that borders a walnut orchard. I don’t know why I haven’t done that before–veering off the road. Maybe because at other times of the year it’s muddy or weedy (including puncture vine, also known as goats’ head that puncture tires and dog feet) or being harvested. Or because I’m not the sort of person that goes off the trail.

Maybe it’s that I am not a big fan of orchards in this area. Almond orchards seem to be taking over the valley and the landscapes that I love are hidden once the orchard has been in a couple of years.

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Anyway, it was beautiful view from within the orchard.

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Peaceful.

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Colorful.

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Orderly.

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However, I still love the broad landscape that is outside the orchard. This is one of the few black walnut trees remaining around the fields.

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The mountains are almost obscured by the young almond orchard  that is across the big canal but at least I can still see the sunset.

Marathon Finishers

The morning was crisp and cold at 4:30 a.m. when Dan drove Chris & Meryl and friends Ish and Daizsha to the start of the California International Marathon in Folsom. I stayed home to take care of animals but showed up for the finish at the capitol in Sacramento. dsc_0339

Dan caught all three looking cheerful at Mile 5.

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He and Daizsha found them again at Mile 17.

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They had separated by this time. Meryl points out that the Sacramento Marathon is NOT flat, even though everyone says it is.

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There is Meryl at Mile 26. Only 2/10 mile to go.

I got to the finish about an hour before our first runner came in. I don’t know anyone in this collection of photos but they caught my eye.  These were all taken as the runners turn the last corner and head to the finish line which was behind me. Top left to right and then down: A “guide” running with a visually impaired runner, a pacer (the clock said 3:23 as he crossed the line–amazing), the women’s finish line with the 3:28 pacer crossing the line, two guides with another visually impaired runner, women’s finish line at 3:35 (Boston marathon qualifying time), a dad who brought his young son across the finish line with him, a flag runner, a flag wearer, runner promoting the Sacramento soccer team.

I started to worry that maybe I’d missed Chris because I was at times distracted by the very impressive police horses. (Dan failed similarly at his pit crew duties at one event when he was distracted by airplanes overhead.)

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But there he was, running a very respectable pace considering that he had done little training for this one.

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This was Chris’ seventh marathon…

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…two of which were at the end of Ironman triathlons.

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Spectators can follow their athletes (on the other side of the fence)…dsc_4546

…to waiting family and friends.

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We worked our way through the throngs of people to the women’s finish  chute in time to catch Meryl…

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…finishing her first marathon.

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Ish was close behind her but on the men’s side so I missed his finish. This was his first marathon also.dsc_4569

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Walking back to the cars we were passed by the magnificent police horses. I didn’t realize that they were using draft horses for police work. Can you tell how large that bay horse is from the stirrup position of the rider. I can always be distracted by horses!

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Four BFF’s heading back to the car and looking forward to In & Out burgers.

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Dan and I were in our car and were stopped on the way out of Sacramento by the drawbridge. I’ve never seen this one in the up position with the whole roadway up in the air!

I guess that would be one reason that the marathon isn’t routed over the bridge.

Spinners’ Day Out

What an inspiring day this was! We had a full house here for Spinners’ Day Out. It was cold and windy outside and somehow we all fit in the shop. Then people started pulling things out of their bags! What talent! That inspired this blog post.

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Janis knit this baby hat and booties for my soon-to-be-born grandson. This is yarn she spun during our Spinzilla week. She said that this pattern was one passed down from her grandmother and the booties actually stay on babies’ feet.

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Dona wove this scarf on the rigid heddle loom. It is full of wild yarn including a designer leash that I made a long time ago (note clip on the side) and a beaded necklace.alisons-scarves

Alison has been going wild on her loom, exploring weave structure and color. She has woven all these scarves in the last week or two…

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…in addition to this v-shawl that she wove in a class here. (By the way, photos were a bit challenging today as there was a strong north wind. Can you tell from the movement of this shawl?)

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Gail wove and dyed this beautiful shibori scarf.

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Lisa showed us her mushroom dyed yarn…

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…and modeled Mary’s knit cowl, as well as her own Fleece Flight shawl knitted with Jacob yarn for our ongoing KAL in Ravelry.

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Mary’s daughter, Maggie wove this Jacob scarf on the rigid heddle loom as her first-ever weaving project. Look at those edges!

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Dona brought her quilt that had pictures of all the goats that she used to have.

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This is the back of the quilt–very cute fabric!

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I just finished three black walnut-dyed shawls.

Later in the day a few of us decided it was time for the annual “dress the animals in Santa hats” but that will be for another blog post.

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This is a preview.

Sheep on the Road

This is a blog post that I meant to write a few months ago following our summer Road Trip to Colorado. While traveling I took photos of sheep I saw along the way. I forgot about this until I was going through photos tonight for another project.

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This was a band of sheep on the way to Bodie, a ghost town in Mono County, California. There are more photos of them in the post that is linked above.

So not all hardly any of the sheep I saw were alive. That doesn’t mean they weren’t impressive however.

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A bighorn ram outside the visitor center at Arches National Park.

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Another ram inside the gift store.

dsc_0919Petroglyphs seen on one of our hikes in the park…

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…and  a license plate in the parking lot (not a sheep, but I thought a mountain goat was cool anyway).

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After hiking all day in the park we stopped at the visitor center to fill up our water jugs and spent a little time with this ewe and lamb.

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Maybe it is a stretch but this is a photo of Sheep Mountain on the way to Leadville, Colorado.

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One of the old buildings in Leadville. OK, so it’s not sheep, but it’s fiber related, right?

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Also on a street in Leadville.

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In the restaurant where we had lunch (another mountain goat)…

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…and in one of the old hotels on the main street.

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I’d sure love to have brought home this ram…

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…but that price tag on his leg says $2900 (marked down from $4770).

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This print was on the wall of our motel room in Leadville.

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Somewhere on the road after leaving Leadville.

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On the way home we saw sheep and some other fiber animals in a few places but I was always too late with the camera. I barely caught these yaks. With the exception of the first day, this was not a sheep-watching trip (at least not live sheep). The last sheep photo I got was one that Dan pointed out to me:

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An anticlimactic photo of sheep on the road.

Shearing at Other Farms

A few weeks ago two of my friends did their fall shearing. Since I didn’t have to do any work I just visited and took photos.

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I don’t know which is which but this is one of Jackie’s Herdwick sheep, either Heddy or Hazel.

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I do know this ewe because she lived here for many years. This is Diamond who is now almost 17 years old.

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Lucy is Diamond’s granddaughter. She is almost 10. dsc_4102

Camelids are not my favorite animals but they can be photogenic. Jackie’s llama is named Peridot…

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…and her alpaca is Evangeline.

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Jackie’s flock after shearing. Jackie shears twice a year because many of her sheep are long-wools and benefit from twice/year shearing. The Jacob sheep will be shorn in the spring.

The next shearing location was Colleen’s place. dsc_4130

This is Colleen’s older ram, Razor,…

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…and her younger ram, Thor.

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When doing anything with the rams at Colleen’s farm you have to deal with the Goose. (Thanks, Dona for this photo.) The Goose is bonded with and protective of Razor (as if he needs protecting) but has a sincere dislike of Thor. Thor usually has to live separately to keep the goose from continually harassing him.

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Razor is about as big as John, the shearer, and probably weighs more.

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Velvet, the cat, enjoying the sun and the smell of lanolin.

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Colleen raises Romeldale and CVM sheep that have very fine wool…

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…and the unique “badger” face pattern.

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After shearing we enjoyed surprise birthday cupcakes (mine–yes, I chose to spend my birthday watching sheep shearing) at Colleen’s outdoor table. Velvet joined us.

 

Dryer Ball Experiment

Turn massive amounts of fluffy wool into something smaller. That is my goal as I try to organize the workshop end of my shop so that I can get to my looms. I think there is a principle of physics in here somewhere.

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I have been making dryer balls to sell but it has been hit or miss. Sometimes they turn out great and other times they are not so good. What makes a good dryer ball? Firm instead of squishy. A sphere instead of strips of felted wool connected in random places. The success of a dryer ball has to do with the type of wool (breed of sheep) and the fiber preparation (carded or not). As I use up odds and ends of fiber I’m never sure if the end result will be worth the time and use of fiber so I decided to do some testing.

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This is the “before” showing 17 different wool types and/or preparations from wool that I drum carded wool to commercial top to pre-felted wool and breeds including Merino, Jacob, and Suffolk. I included a different color of yarn with fibers that I might need help to identify after felting.

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This photo shows the “after” in the same order as the “before” photo. The least successful here were the “white prefelt”and the Suffolk. You might not be able to tell from the photo, but they did not felt hard at all. The Merino/alpaca felted well, but the alpaca fibers poke out giving a hairy appearance. Some of the other balls have more “hairiness” depending on the amount of coarse fibers in the mix of wool.

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Another view of the same balls.

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This is the latest batch of balls that just need to be matched up and labeled. The white balls are mostly Merino and the gray balls are Jacob wool.

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You can purchase my dryer balls at the Artery, at my shop, or on the website.

Two Sides of the Road

On Saturday I left before dawn to get to Pt. Reyes Station for the annual Fibershed Wool Symposium, one of my favorite events. I was driving through the hills towards Vallejo as the sun was coming up. Here are the views to the east and the west as I drove.

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Please look past the dirty car window.

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It was so beautiful I wanted to watch both sides of the car. But I really needed to watch the road instead so I just held the phone up and clicked to get these photos.

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This was a complete rainbow but I couldn’t capture that with the phone, and not while I was driving.