Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New borns!

Typically, within a couple of hours of posting here on Sunday we had our first kidding. Of course by then I'd put the camera batteries on charge so couldn't take any photos, and with being in London on Monday didn't get a chance to take any until yesterday.

Anyway, meet Harry

Harry was one of twins, but unfortunately his brother was born dead (not a great start to the kidding season). His mum Holly has kidded 3 times now. Each year she has twins and each year only one survives. It's such a shame as she is one of our best goats, and she produces really good kids - which is the only reason we have kept putting her in kid. Her first born, Hollyberry, will be kidding for the first time this year so it will be interesting to see if she has similar problems. Fingers crossed it isn't a genetic trait she will have passed on.

On Monday Mally had twins, a boy and a girl

(These two are under a heat lamp with a white bulb, Harry's is red, in case you were wondering).

Not the most exciting pictures, but in the first few days life consists of just "poop, eat, sleep". Soon they'll be skipping about and at least Harry will have some playmates.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunshine in my hands

I finally finished knitting the alpaca / silk shawl and it's now blocking

I immediately cast on for one of the scarf patterns in Victorian Lace Today in the alpaca yarn Caroline sent me

Unfortunately, I don't think any photo could accurately capture the beauty of this yarn. Each time I look down at my knitting the colours delight me all over again. You know how something looks if you hold it so that the sun shines right on it? That's what this yarn looks like. I know Caroline had been aiming for darker shades of the colours, and when I gave her my chosen colours I had expected darker shades too, but I'm so glad it turned out lighter. I swear the yarn is infused with sunshine. The alpaca is soft and will make a lovely warm scarf, and the colours will bring a zing of colour into the gloomiest winter's day.

Still no kids yet, but Eddie's pretty sure some will be born this week. I certainly hope so as some of the poor does look pretty uncomfortable!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I won a prize!!

I was fortunate enough to make the 100th comment on Caroline’s blog, and yesterday I received my prize

This is 450 yards of alpaca, which Caroline spun and dyed herself. What a talented lady! Isn't it beautiful? I gave her some pointers on the colours I liked (autumn colours - reds, greens, mustards, browns) and she got it absolutely spot on. The yarn is soft and fine, but not too fine (I find lace weight yarn scary) – it will make a wonderful lace scarf and I already know what I am going to knit with it. I’m itching to get started but first I must finish this

Doesn't lace knitting look awful while it's in progress? I'm hoping the wonders of blocking will transform this!

This is a shawl from Victorian Lace Today (again), which I’m knitting in Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk DK. The above represents a week’s knitting – I’m only managing a couple of pattern repeats each evening, with a little more at weekends. I need the finished shawl to be about 6’6” so I think I have another couple of weeks until I’ll be finished. Mind you, I am getting quicker as the pattern gradually melds itself into my brain. It’s not a difficult pattern – in fact with the odd exception (clearly labelled with the warning sign “Experienced Lace”), most of the patterns in this book are pretty straightforward. That, however, hasn’t stopped me from having knit and frogged several patterns several times. I finally worked out what my problem was – I have to admit defeat and accept that I cannot follow a chart. It all seems so simple, and I merrily knit away but sooner or later I end up missing a yarn over or half a repeat and before I know it all I’ve got is a fugly mess. You won’t believe how long it took me to work this out. At least a week’s worth of precious knitting time lost before the light bulb went on, I wrote out the pattern rows and lo and behold, problem solved.

I have no idea why I should be so crap at dealing with charts – but I do know that generally I’m a word rather than a picture person. Give me any kind of report and it’s the words that explain it to me, not the charts or graphs. So why should I really expect knitting to be any different?

The pattern in the book has a border knitted on after the main body of the shawl is finished. I won’t be adding a border for the following reasons:

1. The thought of adding a knitted border scares the bejesus out of me
2. I’m after a finished item much like Cozy – my first foray into lace knitting and a shawl I love with a passion
3. The thought of adding a knitted border scares the bejesus out of me
4. I don’t want to add any further delay to when I can start knitting Caroline’s yarn
5. The thought of adding a knitted border scares the bejesus out of me

So, there’ll be no knitted on border.

On the farm front, no births yet, but we really can’t be too far off as some of the mums-to-be now have quite noticeable udders. It’s when these look like they’re about to explode that we know the kids will soon be here. This year I really want to try and photographically document the whole birthing process. That might sound a little odd, but I know it’s something I would have found immensely useful when we started out. We acquired 9 heavily pregnant does in mid December and they started kidding at the end of the following January. We had no idea what to expect – beyond the real basics, obviously – and we practically lived in the barn for the couple of weeks it took them all to kid, terrified to leave them alone. We’re much more blasé about the whole thing now. We know that the time between when the doe first starts wandering around, “nesting” and talking softly to her unborn children, and the actual birth can be several hours, and our presence really isn’t required throughout. We’re much better now at just popping in and out of the barn to check on them, and knowing when we need to hang around. So, I’m going to attempt to document the process, with words and pictures. I like to think of it as my contribution to the wonder that is the world wide web ;)

You have been warned!

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