Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blue Oak Canyon Ranch

I recently got the opportunity to work with the wonderful folks of the Blue Oak Canyon Ranch to build them a website to help get the word out about their fiber farm and the work they do to with heritage breeds of sheep. To quote them...

"Our beautiful, dry dry dry ranch is ten miles north and east of San Miguel, California. We are on the east edge (Diablo Range) of the southern Coast Ranges, in the Paso Robles area of California wine country. We cherish our landscapes, with Coast Live and Blue Oaks, Foothill Pines, Junipers, Chaparral, and grasslands. We raise sheep, llamas, turkeys, and chickens and specialize in heritage breeds of sheep: Navajo-Churro and the very rare Santa Cruz Island."
Check out these cool animals!

Santa Cruz Island Sheep

Navajo Churro 


Chickens, too!

It was so much fun working on their site and learning more.  And it was neat to find other folks that are interested in fiber animals and fiber processing like us!  I hope you will check out their site, Blue Oak Canyon Ranch, and click on their shop to see the great fleeces and processed wool they have.  (I think I may have to get some for us to spin!)


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Adventures in running a small coffee shop-

Life is interesting.  Things don't always go as planned, but how boring would it be if it did?  When we moved to our new home in Central CA, I thought that maybe I'd work, but maybe I would just run our little farm.  Well, the farm hasn't quite happened.  We are lucky to have a beautiful spot to park our little RV home, with rolling hills and wonderful weather....

But the farm piece we have finally admitted will be a little down the road.  So what to do with my time?  It just so happened that the little coffee shop in town was going through a transition and needed some help.  I thought, hey, why not try it out?

Little did I know, I would love it!  It is adorable, I get to meet lots of fun people - locals and travelers - and I get to bake as much as I want.  I have to say, it is such a huge change from what I used to do, but it is pretty rewarding to hand someone one of these homemade pop

Or one of these muffins...

And people tell you how much they appreciate homemade pastries and food.  It is pretty nice.  

And because we are small, I can take a little extra time to get to know people and chat.  Yesterday I was excited to meet a couple women traveling through, one from Southern CA and her sister visiting from Texas, who love to knit, and we compared projects!  And now we are both connected on Ravelry. How sweet is that?  I just love making those kinds of connections.

So if you are ever traveling on Hwy 101 in Cali and see a turnoff for little San Miguel, come visit me at the Coffee Station.  I will tell you all about the little history of our tiny town and get you some yummy pastries or wake you up with some great coffee. 

Life takes you in different directions...and I am feeling pretty darn lucky right now that it keeps things fresh and interesting. Never a dull moment!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Retro High Waisted Skirt Tutorial

I have been in a retro clothing sort of mood lately, and decided it was high (get it...haha!) time that I made myself a new skirt.  I went on down to Birch Fabric and picked out some of the organic fabric that they had and started on this great skirt!

Here is what you need for this skirt:

·      2 Yards of Fabric
·      Coordinating thread
·      Scissors
·      Iron and surface for ironing on
·      12in matching zipper
·      Tape measure
·      Sewing machine
·      Needle for hand sewing
·      1 sew on snap

How to make the skirt:

Start with your 2 yards of fabric.

You will be cutting the 2 yards into 2 pieces.  The larger piece will be the body of the skirt, and the smaller the waistband. 

Start with measuring 7 inches into the fabric.  Mark (easiest to do with chalk but could also use masking tape or marker that won’t bleed.)  Cut the 7 inch strip off.  This strip will make a 3 inch (or so) waistband after finished.

Next you need to measure your waist with a tape measure.  If you don’t have a fabric tape measure, use a string and then measure the string. 

NOTE:  This measurement will determine where the gather will sit.  I wanted this to be a nice high waist, so I measured at the smallest part of my waist.

Now that you have measured your waist, make sure to ADD 2 inches for seam allowance (so if your waist is 32, add 2 to make 34 inches.)

So you should now have a strip that is 7 inches wide and your waist+2in long.

Warm up that iron and press the hemline, starting with pressing under ½ inch….

Then another 2 inches for a wide hemline.  Now you can hit the ol’ sewing machine.  Stitch the hem close to the top of the hemline. 

Optional: Do a second top stitch along the bottom of the hem for added interest and detail.

Now fold the skirt body in half with right-sides together and pin.  Make a mark 9 inches from the top of the skirt.  This will be left unstitched foor the zipper.  Stitch at 5/8 inch seam allowance from the bottom of the skirt up to your mark.

Now to gather.  Some newer machines can do this for you.  But not mine, so if you are like me, you will need to hand gather.  This is not difficult, it just takes a little time. 

Baste about ½ inch from the top all along the top of the skirt.

To gather, carefully pull on the top thread until it begins to pucker.  Ease the gather into the skirt and continue in this fashion from both sides until it is the same length as the waistband.

Then pin to waistband with right sides together, easing the gather to be even and match the waist as you pin.  Then stitch together, being careful not to catch the gathers unevenly.

Open back up and press seam allowance toward the waistband.

Now we can put in the zipper!  The easiest way to do a zipper that I have found is like this…

First fold your waistband in half and mark the halfway point.  Open back up, keeping that mark.  It should be just about 3 inches or so. Now baste opening at the back of skirt (that 9 inches you marked off) through waist gathering up to that 3 inch mark.

Now pin the zipper down to the basted seam allowance.

Now attach your zipper foot and stitch (if you don’t have one, just get as close as you can to the seam, but go slow.  It might be a little wonky, but I assure you, you are the only one who will notice.)

Zipper done!  Now let’s finish the waistband.

Press under ½ inch on the raw edge.

Now fold the waistband in half and press and pin in place.  You will want the ½ inch that you just pressed under to cover the raw edges of the gathered waistband seam allowance so you have a clean edge.

Then stitch close to the seam, and continue all the way around the band, catching the zipper and creating a clean, top stitched edge all the way around.

You have just completed the main part of the skirt!  Yay!  Just one last finishing touch.  A bow.

To make the bow, you will need to cut out a piece from your 7 inch remaining strip. Leave it at 7 inches wide and cut 25 inches long.

Then fold in half hamburger style with the right sides together.  Stitch up the 2 long edges to make a little pillowcase looking block. 

Turn it right side out, and press.

Then press ½ under on the open seam to create a clean edge.  Hand stitch this closed with an invisible stitch.  Not sure how to do that?  Check out this great tutorial at Positively Splendid here.

Next we will cut a smaller strip – this one will be 4 inches wide and 6 inches long.  This will make the center of the bow.  Fold hot dog style (along the long side) and stitch.

Turn this little guy right side out, and press it with the seam at the center back.

Now wrap the little strip around the block you made to create a bow.  Turn under the small strip’s raw edges and pin in place.   Hand sew it into place.

Now you have the big, adorable bow!

Finally, we need to secure it to the back of the skirt.  To do this, center onto the back, and hand tack the left side onto the skirt, catching only the back layer so you don’t see the stitching from the front.  Make sure to secure as well as you can so it won’t rip off.

On the other side of the bow, sew on one side of your snap.

Now try on your skirt.  If yours behaves like mine, the waist was a little looser at the top.  So I placed the other side of the snap a little further in to help cinch it up just a little.

Hand sew it into place and you have finished your awesome skirt.

Now all you have to do is put it on and show it off to all your friends.  Believe me, they will think you are a genius!

Monday, June 23, 2014

I knitted a dress....

I did!  Remember when I mentioned I got these awesome new circular needles....

And was going to make this dress...

I did it!  It is from Modern Top Down Knitting, and I love how it came out.  I didn't take as many pics as I should have of the process, but I recently wore it out to the big Farmer's Market in San Luis Obispo and got lots of great compliments.

Here is a pic of me there in my awesome new dress....

And now I want to make more!  It was actually a first in many areas, first dress I have knit, first piece this large really, first top down piece and first smocking.  Yet, it was very well explained and not a hard project.  I loved not having to do any seam work because of the top down knitting.  I definitely recommend trying this one.

But before I can more for me, I promised that I would make the hubby a new knit vest.  This will be my first intarsia piece, so I am excited about that! (Just knocking out all the firsts this year with my knitting!)

It is from Son of a Stitch 'n Bitch and has anchors on it....

Should be pretty cute!

What do you have on your hooks and needles?


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Alpaca Shearing Fun Time!

As many of you know, we have been working toward getting our own homestead in which to raise fiber animals, such as sheep and goats.  We were not sure what we thought of alpacas, but recently were invited to an alpaca shearing.  Kaitlin and I had the day off, so off we went to check it out.  

We were immediately put to work - Kaitlin helped with the fiber collection and cleaning in between shearing, and I helped handle ropes.  It was not only interesting to work with the animals, but to see how the animals are sheared, how best to shear for good fiber, and how they were handled and kept.  Plus the shearers were very cool guys that have traveled all over the country (and world) shearing alpacas, so there were many stories to hear and much to learn from them.

They look pretty silly to me after they have been sheared...

They are laid down and with a pulley system, we made their legs taught so they couldn't hurt themselves while getting sheared.

Pete and Nev were great shearers!  So much fun to work with!

In fact, the shearers, Kaitlin and I all got along so well, they invited us to help out with a few other days they had of shearing in the area.  I had the days off, so I joined them the following Friday and Monday.  I loved the opportunity to see how other places were set up and how they dealt with their animals.  And I met another new friend who also came along for some shearing fun.

Baby alpaca getting a little ride!

Then on Monday, since it was Memorial Day, Ric and Kaitlin had the day off, so they joined me (after they slept in) at our final shearing.  We did 38 alpacas and 1 llama.  We had a lot of fun, got to enjoy great company and food, and got some fiber for Kaitlin to spin.  

Ric helping hold one of the alpaca.  We put a sock on the mouths of the ones that like to spit.  And some of them make the craziest, horror movie kind of sounds!

We are definitely interested in getting a few alpaca now that we worked with them.  In fact, we might even help train some of the local alpacas so they are more used to people.  Which I must say would be a pretty sweet gig!

We can't wait for next year's shearing to roll around to see our new friends, get more fiber and have just an all around random yet good time!  Stay tuned for more on what we make from the llama and alpaca fiber we got, too!