Friday, May 14, 2010


My son and daughter are fabulous cooks! They live together in Richland, Washington, and invited me over a couple weeks ago for an early Mother's Day celebration. I loved it! We had Oysters Rockefeller, Grilled Porcini Mushroom Burgers, homemade Olive Bread and Potato Rolls, and Green Salad with Homemade Dressing. And for dessert - Chocolate Orange Mousse - My! Oh! My!

(To my FaceBook friends, Bryan posts photos of his gourmet meals; I'm tagged in some of those. We supply him with lamb, chicken, and occasionally pork and turkey. He transforms them into incredible meals.)

Then, on Mother's Day itself, I was sick and didn't feel like celebrating... EXCEPT that I indulged myself to a rare fiber order. Spin-Sales had an ad for Stansborough Grey fiber - something I;ve been coveting since I got interested in Gotland sheep. The Stansborough folks are the ones who provided fabric for the Lord of the Rings Magical Elven Cloaks, and other costumes in both the LOTR and Narnia movies. Last year, we talked seriously about importing some of the Stansborough Grey sheep to cross with our Gotlands. The Eldridges bred their Gotland sheep over the decades to have a finer fleece and retain the luster of the original flock, resulting in a separate breed - the Stansborough Grey. At least for now, we put that effort on hold pending financial and other matters.

So, I went to the International Fleeces website - - looking for the Stansborough roving and found it! Threshold crossed, I added some Shetland/Silk top and Swedish Gotland top to keep the Stansborough company. I ordered 3 ounces of each - enough for a hat, mittens, scarf, bag, or other small article. After all, it was a Mother's Day present to myself.

The box arrived in about a week, and opened, yielded not 3 but 4 bags of beautiful fiber.

(btw, the background is a Gotland lamb pelt from the UK. It lives on our bed and I get to pet it every morning and evening.)

I opened each one and fondled the contents.

The Swedish Gotland (above) is a fiber addict's delight! The hand is silky, the luster wonderful and, the top looks like it'll be a breeze to spin. The steely blue-grey color is one of the unique characteristics of the Gotland breed.

I opened the Shetland/Silk (also above) next. This is a blend I've heard of and been intrigued by. It's "black" Shetland with white Tussah silk. It has a bit of a bronze cast to the black, very typical of Shetland "black". This, too, is very clean, well produced top that looks wonderful to spin. The hand is soft and it should make striking yarn.

Next, I opened the Stansborough Grey Roving (a trend - this photo is above). Well, hmmmm. It is soft feeling, and it is a nice clear grey color. I didn't find the luster I was expecting and the roving is a bit rustic. It's more of an amorphous blob in several pieces than evenly drafted roving, and it could be cleaner. It has more resilience than silkiness. To my hand it feels more like a very nice Shetland than a Gotland derivative. It's very nice, just not quite what I expected. I look forward to spinning it! Perhaps as a yarn it will have more luster and Gotland character.

The fourth, and bonus, bag is a lovely sample of recycled Sari Silk from India in vibrant colors (this is a recording - photo above). I've been wanting to try spinning this and the colors are lovely with the clear greys. Thank you, Talia!

I am very pleased with my newest fibers! Doing business with Talia of International Fleeces was enjoyable and hassle free. (No affiliation - guess I need to include that :-) I'd buy from her again, and recommend you take a look.

My plan is to spin these up when I get a few moments between lambing and farm chores... oh, and playing on the internet ;-)

- Franna

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Giving supplemental bottles to Wanda and Smudge - two of Freckles' quads.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Start with the End

Some of you asked about photos of the Welsh Springer National. Well, neither Dave nor I took any photos. However, it seemed like everytime I turned around, there were several cameras clicking away :-) Those photos keep trickling in and bringing back pleasant memories.

Today's post is of Clifford's last retrieve of the last event of the National, the Hunt Test. He had already clinched the Iron Welsh Champion title, but needed this retrieve to get a qualifying score in the Junior Hunter test.

Julie Wickwire, one of the judges, gives me instruction about the test, while...

... the gunners think they've been signaled to throw the bird! Clifford gets a GOOD look, and locks in on the bird.

Julie lets me decide, and I opt to send him. MISTAKE - never do this. Clifford sat for more time than he should have while we talked and then I took off his slip lead. The fall wasn't fresh in his mind, and could have spelled disaster for our qualifying score.

However, Clifford being the IRON WELSH CHAMPION that he is...

...went directly into the water and straight to the bird! Then turned right around...

...and brought the bird straight to me for a clean to-hand delivery!

A well done Qualifying Score for Clifford in spite of his handler!

...and Clifford, of course, wants more.

I love the reflection in the water. The weather that day was really unsettled. At the beginning of Clifford's land work it was pelting rain and blowing. Later, the sun came out. Here it was calm and overcast and you can see by the clothing that it was NOT warm. Not too long after, the wind kicked up again and made mini-white caps on this enchanted pond.

By then, The 2010 Welsh Springer Spaniel National Specialty was complete. We gathered up our things, left this beautiful, verdant forest and headed home, tired and happy.

- Franna

Monday, May 10, 2010

Acclaim, the alpaca, and 2 day old Gotland/Finn lamb.