Saturday, March 11, 2023

fiber forecast

 More snow last night and today. This time, very wet and heavy.

The goats are all starting to shed their cashmere undercoats. In every year past, I've started combing Acer by late February. Within a couple of weeks, several others have shed enough for a first combing. I try to keep up, doing a bit every day, because once all the goats have reached what an unkind observer might call "the ragbag stage," it's easy to get overwhelmed.

This year is different. I felt sorry for the goats having to carry their cashmere during that crazy warm December, and by January, I was already seeing bits of cashmere hanging off the ends of horns after a goat had had a little scritch. Starting to drop cashmere in January?!

Now that we've finally been getting lots of snow and consistently cold weather, the goats are using their cashmere for its original purpose and I have postponed taking it from them. There's a time between the cashmere "disconnecting" and falling or being rubbed off by a goat, so there's been some leeway. But the forecast for the next 10 days is considerably warmer, so it's time to wave a comb over a couple of goats who have wisps of cashmere literally hanging off their topcoats. 

In related news (it is, you'll see), a few weeks ago I decided to try to use up the Shetland yarn left after knitting the first and second haps. By making a third hap. 

And because I wanted it to be distinct from the two special gift haps, I added one dyed color to the natural yarn palette, and also created my own stripe sequence. And I'm making it a good bit larger.

The way this pattern works: after knitting the center as a flat diagonal diamond, all the edge stitches are picked up on a circular needle and the rest of the hap is knit in the round and becomes a large and unwieldy knitted sack. Try to imagine knitting up something the size of a very floppy bushel basket, of which one can only clearly see the top edge. So there's not much sense of how the finished item is going to look when it's ultimately off the needle and spread out for blocking.

In other words, my stripe sequence may turn out to be rubbish. But there's no point in worrying about it, because we'll find out soon enough.

I always like to wrap up a knitting project before cashmere harvesting begins (see how we're getting back to the goats?), because when I'm using my hands for slowly combing goats every day for weeks on end, knitting must be backburnered until the combs are scrubbed and tucked away for another year.

This hap could have been done and washed and blocked in February if I hadn't decided to make it so big. But the end is in sight, in part because I don't want to leave this massive project gathering dust while I comb goats. And in part because the stitch count increases by eight on every other row and there is a limit to how many stitches can be functionally crammed onto one needle. 

Speaking of goats, it's time for evening chores - which I can now start after 5 PM without bringing a flashlight. I really enjoy this part of the orbit!

I hope you are having a weekend as magical as a snowfall.