Saturday, August 30, 2014

Garden Produce

I'm still not 100% happy with the produce that I'm getting from the garden, but it is improving!

It was exceptionally fun digging up the first of the carrots a few weeks ago.  I need to try that again, I just keep forgetting to bring a shovel down.

I have 3-4 ripening pumpkins.  Not sure when they'll be "done", so I'm just waiting until the stalks dry up.

I'm still getting tiny side shoots off the broccoli.  Next year I want to start more seeds in the summer so I can have a fall crop too.

I have been doing lots of succession crops of root veggies...carrots, beets, and radishes.  This is my 5th or 6th batch.

The onions are doing great, the cucumbers don't look bad.  I still have to periodically spray them with milk to keep powdery mildew down, but oh well.

The tomatoes look great here, but they are starting to dye off.  A few have late blight, and I think the cherries have one of the "wilts".  They're all giving ripe tomatoes though, so that's good!

I FINALLY have peppers!  They're still green, but they're there.  The plants are tiny though.

The squash aren't doing too bad.  I hate the "trellis" though, too confining.

This was another day's crop last week.

I even dug up a few diseased potato plants last week, and got this big box of potatoes!  I think the plants have late blight.  While you can still eat the potatoes if the plants are affected, they will start to rot if the spores reach the roots, so I wanted to check up on them.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

NY State Fair!!!

If you can't tell from the title of this post, I was quite excited to be going to the NY State Fair last week.  My husband not so much, but oh well...

We set off for Syracuse late Wednesday morning, and then the fun began.  The NY State Fair is one of the most disorganized fairs I've ever been to!  We had to drive all over the fairgrounds (right between the "carnie" stuff to get to the barn.  Luckily it is a tiny show, so there weren't a ton of people waiting to unload like in Indiana.  We quickly unloaded the animals and supplies, and went to park the trailer.  We drove around the fairgrounds a few more times trying to figure out where to park the truck, but we eventually found the right place.

I was lazy before the fair and didn't wash the lamas, so once we were parked and unpacked I washed everyone in turn.  Surprisingly Kara was the best...T did not want a bath!

Wet T.

Wet Ralph and Kara.

Thursday was the first day of the show, and I was in the first class with showmanship.  We were very much out of practice, and T didn't want to behave, but we still got 3rd.  I was pretty happy. A little while later T and I went back in for adult non-breeder halter, and he won!  And then got Grand Champion!  I was thrilled!  I'm 90% sure that this finishes his ALSA Halter Champion, which means he has every halter award he can get with ALSA or ILR.  Now to start on the performance awards!

T and his winnings.

Such a handsome boy!

Once T was done it was Kara's turn.  We went in for her halter class (medium wool 2-yr-old female), and she was an angel.  Looked gorgeous too of course.  And the judge agreed...she got 1st!  Going back in for grand and reserve I wasn't real positive, but Kara pulled off a Reserve Champion!  I'm so proud of my girl!  We also went in for bred and owned female, and got 3rd behind 2 other females who won Grand Champion in their halter classes.  So not bad!

Kara didn't want to pose with her winnings.

So I had to force her.

Of course, the weekend went down from there.  I've been working with the lamas a lot over the summer, but I have fairly basic obstacles so we weren't quite prepared for the creative performance courses.  Plus it doesn't help with the competition is outrageous (over 35 animals in each novice performance class)!  Ralph managed a 9th place in novice obstacle, but didn't place in the rest.  Neither did either of the llamas.  But the important part is that they improved with each class.  T decided to attempt the very steep and narrow stairs during novice public relations and Kara did the "tunnel" in novice public relations.

T doing the stairs.

Kara under the "tunnel".

Kara wearing the scarf.

Ralph weaving.

Overall it was a great weekend.  Kara loves the public (she was born to be a PR llama!), so it was a lot of fun taking her around.  Even T was pretty good with all the attention.  Ralph thinks it is beneath him.  T also spent the weekend trying to eat lots of things.  Some I let him, others I didn't!

T munching on an apple core.

T trying to eat ice cream.

Can't wait for the Big E in a couple of weeks!

Cute little Ralphie.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Colorwork...My Knitting Nemesis!

Every crafter has something that is extremely challenging to them (or maybe more than one thing!).  When it comes to knitting, I'm okay with lace, charts, cables, you name it.  The thing that makes me nervous is color work...

My cabled lace handspun cowl.  Also a Rhinebeck project.

The "item of the year" for 2014 at Rhinebeck is mittens or gloves.  I know color work projects tend to do well in knitting competitions, as it is tedious and looks it!  So when I decided to knit something for the mitten/glove class, I knew it had to be color work mittens.

Luckily Ravelry is an amazing resource, and that's where I set out to find a pattern.  Normally I only use free patterns (yes, I'm cheap!), but for competition entries I will splurge.  I found these gorgeous mittens on Ravelry and just had to make them!

I have a lot of Knit Picks Palette yarn lying around, more than enough to make this project.  Once I sorted out my colors I wanted to get to work, but then I found out I didn't have the right needles.  A trip to and I was set.

My needles came in while I was at the State Fair last weekend (more on that Thursday!), and I was able to start the mittens Sunday.

Sunday and Monday's work.

The construction is interesting.  I already found a few things that I don't like (the lining of the cuff is too wide, and I don't like the thumb), but I'm not good enough to try and change things, especially for a competition entry.  So I will knit them as is and hope that someone likes them enough to buy them!

Progress from Monday and today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More Rhinebeck Progress

Slowly but surely I'm getting stuff done for Rhinebeck!

First up...yarn!  The 2 skeins on the left will be entered in the competitions.  The far left is 100% merino, and will be in the 2-ply dyed wool category.  The one next to it is 100% Blue-Faced Leicester, and will be in the 2-ply natural wool category.

The center skein is 50:50 yak/silk, as a lace-weight single.  I really hated spinning it, but I might knit it into something for Rhinebeck next year.  And the 2 skeins on the right are my newest roving...60% BFL, 40% llama...spun at the last 2 weeks' farmer's markets.

And the biggest accomplishment...the cable lace cowl!  This was knit from 50:50 camel/silk, handspun.  It looks a lot cooler now that it is blocking, but I didn't get around to taking a picture!

I also have the knitting/crocheting done for my felting entry, but it still needs to be felted and assembled before it looks like anything!

I'll apologize in advance for being absent for the rest of the week...I'm heading to the NY State Fair tomorrow with the lamas (and husband)!  I'm really excited, its the first show for me in almost 2 years!  I'll report back with pictures next week!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pack Training: Carrying Weight

T is growing up...its time that he has to carry weight for Novice Pack at the NY State Fair this fall.  According to the show association rules, llamas over 36 months of age must carry 20 lbs.  Alpacas used to have to carry 10lbs, but apparently that rule has changed recently.  Ralph will be so happy!

Ralph in a Novice Pack class in 2012.

Luckily T was previously trained to carry a pack, but carrying weight can sometime freak them out.  None of the llamas or alpacas that I've trained to carry weight have cared yet, but I wanted to be careful just in case!

I already had 10 lbs of sand weighed out for Ralph's pack, so I used some leftover gravel to make 2 more bags that totaled 10 lbs.  

Weight bags for the pack.

I decided to be nice, and started T with just 10 lbs in the pack for the first day.  He was more concerned with having the pack put on than he was the weight.  And once he realized that it was just a pack, he had no problems.  The next day I put the full 20 lbs in the pack and again he had no problem.  Other than not wanting to "jump" over the jump, which is understandable.  I'm very proud of my boy, and can't wait to see how he does in at the show next week!

T modeling his weighted pack.  Unfortunately we let the pack sit out in the sun, and the top faded!

Speaking of next week, I won't be able to do my blog post next Thursday, as we will be showing at the NY State Fair!  Ralph, T, and Kara will all be coming, and all 3 will show in Novice Performance!  Luckily Kara isn't old enough to have to carry weight...I'm not sure she would react as nicely as T.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Farmer's Market!

I was so busy getting new listings up on Etsy that I almost forgot about the blog!

I got to spend a beautiful day on Saturday at the Hamilton (NY) Farmer's Market!  I once again signed up for the second half of the market season (August 9-Novermber 1), and Saturday was the first day for me.

It started out quite cold for early August, and my spot is right under a tree so it was pretty chilly for most of the day.  I'll probably regret that decision (wanting to be under the tree) once it gets really cold, but oh well.

I'm using my awesome new A-frame display to showcase most of my small knit stuff, and it worked out great.

I also debuted my new poop tea...aka soil health improvement tea.  Unfortunately no one bought any, but hopefully it will catch on!

Overall it wasn't a bad day.  It is hard to sell wool knit clothing in the summer, but things will pick up once it gets cold!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Late Blight?

I'm afraid my fears have become reality...I have late blight!  Or rather, my potatoes and tomatoes do.

Affected potato leaves.

I'm starting to wonder if the tomatoes actually have late blight though, or if it is one of the wilts.  Apparently late blight usually affects the fruits too, and luckily mine still look great.  I even got my first (almost) red tomato today!

Yellowing and wilted leaves on the "iron lady" tomato.

Close-up of the leaves.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

And You Thought Only Spiders Had Cobwebs!

I will admit that I'm weird, I find it strangely relaxing to brush a llama.

At least when that llama is well-behaved!

The NY State Fair is coming up in 2 short weeks, so during my recent time off I decided I should work on grooming the animals that I'm taking to show.

Lucky for me 2 of them are body shorn!

Since Ralph is only going to show in performance, he doesn't need any grooming at all.  I'll wash him right before the show just like the others, but only because I don't like petting him when he's all dusty!

Ralph after being shorn.  Not much left to brush!

T is also body shorn, but he has a hideous-looking tail!  I never got around to picking the burrs out of it in the spring, so it is a mess.  So on Tuesday I took the scissors to it (to cut out some big mats and burrs), and today I brushed out the rest.  He looks a little silly with a very poofy tail, but I think he'll look fine for the show.  He is showing in performance, halter, and showmanship, so he has to look his best!

T and his terrible haircut!

Kara is the big challenge.  Luckily she isn't terribly dirty, and being fairly young her neck and leg fiber hasn't matted too badly yet, but I was really determined to have her spotless and mat-free by the show.  I've now succumbed to accepting that she won't be completely mat-free, but I'm hoping to get most of the cobwebs out of her fleece.  My ulterior motive for doing this is that I hope having less cobwebs will help her cool off, since her skin should be able to breathe more.

Beautiful Kara.

For the past week or so, Kara and I have spent a lot of quality time in the barn...brushing and being brushed!  Luckily she is a sweetheart and accepts it very well!  So far I've done the top of her neck, her tail, and both back legs.  Today I started on a front leg.  Hopefully I'll be able to get done before I have to go back to work next week!

Kara's neck fiber before brushing.

The same spot after brushing.  (I love that she has her dad's curls!)

The lower part of Kara's neck...still needs a lot of work!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rhinebeck Progress

Well I'm slowly but surely making progress on my Rhinebeck projects!

First up is a skein of Ashland Bay BFL wool.  I think it was 4 oz, spun and double plied.  It definitely isn't perfect, so it will be interesting to see how it does.  This will go in the 2-ply natural colored wool category.

The single plies on the outside.

Plied yarn.

Second is a cable lace cowl, knit out of a handspun skein of 50:50 camel:silk.  I'm not quite done, on row 52 of 62.  It looks pretty good, even though the yarn is fairly uneven.  I think it will look a lot better once it is blocked.

Not the best picture, but this is the cowl so far.
The crazy 2-page chart!