Friday, September 30, 2011

Crafty Bastards yarn preview

Crafty Bastards is tomorrow! Here is a preview of what I'll have for sale:

Corespun yarns from my pygora goats fiber

Cherry Blossom yarn

Leafy yarns

One-of-a-kind patchwork scrap yarns

Brand new patchwork colorways

Yarnbow self-striping yarns. Lots of Yarnbow.

Pick-your-own felty baubles

Sheepy sachets filled with organic dried lavender and cedar, now in mushroom and chicken editions

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Crafty Bastards

All this month I've been busy getting ready for the Crafty Bastards craft show in DC on Oct 1st. My favorite craft show! It's always a ton of fun, but this year the DC state fair has been rescheduled to the same time & place as Crafty Bastards, plus there are handmade food vendors and contests. You can find me & my yarns in booth #40 - the map is right here.

Towards the beginning of this month, I had some interesting challenges while trying to prepare for this show. I lost electricity during the Hurricane Irene storm and we didn't get our power back until 5 days later, so I was spinning by candlelight. I was just starting to contemplate dyeing fiber over a campfire when the power came back on.

spinning by candlelight

The one thing I'm most excited about for this year's Crafty Bastards is that I will have yarn for sale from my very own pygora goats. Pygora goats are a breed that was started as a cross between angora and pygmy goats, and they can have 3 different types of fleeces, ranging from a curly shiny fiber similar to kid mohair to a super soft downy undercoat similar to cashmere. Most of the yarns I'll have for sale were spun from my goat Aoife's (her name is pronounced "Ee-fah") fiber.


Aoife has type A fiber, which is closest to mohair. She produces the most fiber of all my goats and needs to be shorn twice yearly.


Her curly locks look just like mohair, but the handle is different - I'd describe it as a cross between silk, angora bunny fluff, and kid mohair. It's drapy and silky feeling, with a hint of wooly fluffiness not found in mohair, but still develops a fuzzy halo. I've been spinning it up into bulky but airy corespun yarns.

corespun pygora yarn

I will only have about 10 skeins of pygora yarn available, so I suggest coming early if you want one!

It's been too gloomy and rainy here to take many pictures, but I'm planning on posting a preview of all my Crafty Bastards wares towards the middle of this week.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer update

It is HOT here, and everything seems to be thriving - goats, chickens, weeds. The baby goats are coming up on 6 months old and are looking leggy and tall to me. I need to finish up their paperwork, and then some of them will be put up for sale. I'm keeping Nymphadora, of course, my little shadow, and I'm holding onto Luna too because I'm hoping she'll inherit her mother's udder as well as her good looks.

I was resigned to selling Cassie, since I can't keep all the babies, but her sweet demeanor, moonspots, and good genetics are all conspiring to make this a hard decision.

My tiny little chicks are now pretty much full-grown chickens. I'm planning on sprucing up the coop & laying boxes for them this week in the hopes of encouraging them to start laying eggs. They were looking hot, so my mom talked me into getting them a watermelon as a treat. None of them had seen a watermelon before, and it was extremely entertaining watching them slowly edge closer and closer to these strange objects until one brave chicken took the first skeptical peck. They loved it! By that evening, all that was left was two hollowed-out rinds.

I'm actively attempting to get more spinning done, despite the stifling heat, now that the animals are more independent and don't need to be watched as closely. I just listed a big batch of yarn in my etsy shop:

I'm trying to spin down my stash, since my fiber room is overflowing, which means I should be able to update again in the next few weeks. Since I'm spinning stash fibers, there will be a wider range of wool breeds represented than usual - blue faced leicester, CVM, Warhill, and even some small farm merino that I just found hidden away.

I've been MIA the last few weeks since I had a houseguest (hi mom!) and a 3 hour long daily class, but the one really silly vacationy thing we managed to do was attend the midnight premiere of the last harry potter movie. I think my costume turned out pretty well - I sewed the coat completely from scratch, and I didn't start it until 11pm the night before! I debated about my costume for a while, but Lucius and I ended up going as our goat's namesakes - I went as Nymphadora Tonks and he went as Luna Lovegood ;)

(The coat is rather rumpled, but it was 114 degrees with the humidity when we took these pictures so I couldn't be bothered to fix it, I just wanted to hurry up and get it off. Ick.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Farm Update: Babies galore!

A few weeks back, we had four baby goats and 50+ day old chicks arrive, all on the same day. I thought it was probably about time to at least introduce the goats! We named them all after Harry Potter characters this year, since I just finished listening to all 7 audiobooks. I grew up reading the books, but this was my first time listening to the (british version) audiobooks, and my first time reading all 7 in a row. First up is Nymphadora, or Nymphie for short, whom you have already met and who is now a big girl at 6 weeks old.

Cameo and Tarot both had a set of boy/girl twins.

Cassiopeia and Orion are names from the Black family tree, and I picked them because they are also constellations and both babies have black moonspots.

I have been spending lots of quality time with the babies, especially Nymphie, who is my darling.

Actually, it's really hard for me to take pictures of the goats right now, because my lap is usually full. 90% of my pictures look like this:

(that's Nymphie, chewing on my scarf, which she is obsessed with - she has a terrible habit of either popping up into photos she was not meant to be in or knocking my camera hand just as I take a picture)

Orion and his little sister are so sweet. They're super friendly, just like their mom, and they will both happily fall asleep in my arms.

Draco and Luna on the other hand, are both a bit unique - like THEIR mom. They're friendly too, but much more independent. Luna is a perfect copy of her mother, she's similar both in looks and personality. I still call her Mini Tarot sometimes.

Draco seems to think that Cameo is just as much his mom as Tarot, he is constantly following her around and trying to nurse from her. He is huge, by far the biggest baby.

The chicks are also doing well. I picked out a mix of 13 different heritage breeds for our laying flock, so we have a wide variety. We will have multi-colored eggs too, green/blue, brown, and white. This is an old photo from their first week, they have now grown feathers, tripled in size, and look and act like mini chickens.

I will get better pictures of them once they are moved outside. They're in our basement right now to keep them warm, but I'm building a chicken tractor so they can forage around the pastures and garden during the spring & summer.

The kids are still nursing right now so I'm only milking once a day.

But when they are weaned in about a month, I'll be milking twice a day. I am enjoying milking, it's very meditative for me, like spinning. A nice quiet moment to start the day. Although I am a novice milker, so it takes me about an hour to milk three goats and do a few other chores. The milk is amazing, so lovely and rich and sweet. I don't really drink milk except for a dash in my morning tea, so I'm learning to make cheese. And also yogurt, kefir, ice cream, sour cream, and buttermilk. I'm dreaming of wheels of cheese aging in the basement, hopefully I will learn quickly and not make too many mistakes!

On the fiber front, I was a vendor at the Homespun Yarn Party this past sunday. It was super fun as usual, and I have some yarn left over so there will be a shop update soon! I have lots of fiber dyed for patchwork yarns, so expect to see a bunch of those popping up soon. I also have a few pygora goats that are about ready to be sheared.

Stardust, the matriarch/queen of our herd, is starting to shed. She's going to be really happy to get all that fluff off and enjoy the warm spring air!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Well, hello!

We weren't expecting any baby goats to be born for at least another few weeks to a month, and I had just checked out the pregnant girls while clipping hooves and decided that none of them looked ready to go yet, so I was very surprised to walk out to the barn on friday to find this:

I hadn't built the kidding stalls yet (I was planning on building them this week), but the other goats were all giving Cowalick her space and she was by herself in a corner, calmly cleaning off her kids. She had a boy and a girl, but the boy didn't make it. I'm glad that I happened to go to the barn a bit earlier than usual, because it's entirely possible that if I had gone an hour later I would have found him dead and always wondered if I could have saved him had I found him earlier. We took him to the vet, and sadly they said there was nothing they could do. Luckily my friend Josie and her aunt were visiting that day, otherwise I can't imagine how panicked and scared I would have felt, but I'm very good at being calm under stress when there are other people around. What a day for them to pick to visit the goats!

I threw together a quick little stall for mom and baby to hang out in until I get the official stalls built. After suddenly losing one baby, I was very worried about this little girl and drove Cowalick crazy because I checked on them every hour or two all night long the first night. I don't have any real reason to worry, and this little doeling looked much better than her brother from the start and is giving every indication of being a perfectly healthy baby goat, but so many things can go wrong with babies and she's my first! She seemed warm enough friday night, but I wanted to make sure, so I knit a tiny little wool sweater for her:

She is so magical and perfect and sweet!

Here's a little video of her trying to figure out what her mom is eating: