Monday, 20 April 2009


* Sheep With Attitude

You looking at me?

You lookin' at me? You lookin' at me?

This little ewe was not keen to be my friend when I spotted her fleece right off the bat last Saturday. Every time I tried to check it out, she took off (difficult when you're penned in with your friends) or tried to drag my hand over some barbed wire.

Fortunately, I don't discourage that easily when I spot a fleece I want.

I did manage to wiggle a few fingers in to check the length of the thel (the short, soft undercoat) that is characteristic of primitive sheep breeds with double coats (particularly Icelandics) and judged it to be perfect for my use.

She's a tiny ewe for being two years old, and was so small at birth that she never even received a "real" name -- I only heard her referred to as "Spice's lamb."

Buzz cut

On her way to being shorn, "Spice's lamb" exhibited more even more attitude by stepping on the shearer (and owner), knocking Tracy into a pile of snow and sheep poop. Even being turned over to sit on her backside didn't take the mickey out of this ovine.

But it is a small fleece: 2 lbs, 14 oz. after shearing, just over 2 lbs. flat after discarding the dirty stuff that's not fun (or appropriate) to spin.

The tog (the longer, hair-like outer coat) isn't rough or scratchy at all, unlike some I've seen, and I will likely spin this fleece with both together: it will make a fine sweater.

Between washing this up over the week, I've got a book to finish repairing for a client, another book of my own to (re)build, two different pairs of socks on the go, and a few proposals to complete and get on their way.

Back to the grindstone....

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Bombs Away!

I've been pinned

For subversive knitting above and beyond the call of duty, I received these fun buttons from Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain, the authors of Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, which will be out this fall, published by Arsenal Pulp Press.

While I got these for my first installation using a knitted cone cosy (as detailed here), I've been working hard since to expand the clothing for my growing cast of cone characters in hopes of exploring more situations for them.

If that sounds overly artsy, well, it's supposed to, although not in an excessively pretentious way: there's something to this work that I find interesting as an artist.

So I've been digging through my collection of handspun yarns, knitting cosies from the huge variety of bits I've been hoarding over the years. In some cases, I've stumbled on leftover pieces of dyed roving, huddled together like orphans, stuffed at the bottom of bags, untouched since I moved back to Calgary in 1997 -- with them, I've done the right thing and spun them out of their lonely misery.

Seeing the lot of them -- almost forty, in fact -- and having a huge bag of large Douglas fir cones I've collected, as well as some smaller, blue spruce cones that I will also "design a wardrobe" for, has started me thinking about where they might find a temporary home.

One place will be on a farm I hope to visit this weekend, with my little friends in tow, and I'm looking at developing an installation project with another artist friend: more details as they emerge.

Last week wasn't high on my list of "fun," which is why there has been a dearth of postings here lately: a position I applied for, and for which I had high hopes, didn't come through, and another project died, at least for next year, thanks to the world economic stupidity.

Both of these bits of news came within two hours, and even though I'm a "glass half-full" person, joviality was in short supply here. Even sock-knitting, the panacea of frustration and mind-overload, fell by the wayside.

Installation A5
Another shot of my first cone cosy installation.

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