Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bad Stuff Happening

We haven't been posting much at all because we're just depressed about what is going on with the blog.  Unfortunately, for some reason, our traffic has jumped about eight-fold, from the normal 30 hits per day to well over 200.  And it's all due to hits coming from sites dedicated to the number one internet use, which shall remain unmentioned in the hopes of not attracting more of that attention.

So I'm going to delete a bunch of the posts that I think attract that attention and hope that it will correct the problem.  It probably won't, but I have to try.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Who's Buying Bunnies?

On average, the people who buy our rabbits fall into three pretty evenly divided groups:  one-third are for show, one-third are for spinning, and one-third are for homeschool families who want the whole rabbit-raising and showing and spinning experience for their education. 

This past month, however, all our bunnies have gone to homeschoolers.  I wish I would remember to take pictures of our buyers with their new bunnies, but we're usually so caught up in demonstrating holding and grooming and spinning that I totally forget about photographs.  It happens almost every single time. 

Anyway, our first family bought two of Charlotte's does for their daughters to start showing in 4-H and to start spinning and knitting.  We look forward to seeing them and their bunnies at local shows.  The girls were so excited to be taking Lyra and Vela home and we know that they will be very much loved.

Our second family just got settled in Reno after leaving the military.  They decided to begin their angora journey with our two wool bunnies Leo and Jasmine.  And the whole family (well, maybe not the three-year-old) is planning to be involved with the bunnies, with the girls feeding and loving the bunnies, and Mom grooming and spinning, and Dad--a Marine--knitting and maybe even spinning.  They're going to have a great experience.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fingerless Texting Mittens Pattern

I have been making quite a few pairs of these fingerless mittens for our new Etsy shop.  Of course, nothing has sold yet.  We've been open less than a month and it is still summer after all.  Most people don't even know what they're having for dinner tonight; thinking that people would actually plan ahead for winter would be unreasonable.  But for now I'm spinning, dyeing, and knitting up a storm.

Lydia really likes the colors in these mittens.

And I'm really loving it.

These are Charlotte's favorites.

You see, with smaller amounts of yarn, it's a little easier to experiment.  If I decide that I don't like the result, well, it was only 80 yards, not over a thousand like I need for a sweater.

I liked how this turned out so much that I dyed 1500 yards of angora/alpaca blend to make a sweater.

So far I've really liked most of the results, and there are some mittens that we just really love.  The girls hope they don't sell so that they can have them for Christmas.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the pattern.

80 yards handspun art yarn  (Sometimes I use 100% angora, sometimes it's a 50/50 of angora and merino or alpaca)
Needles size US2 and US4
Yarn needle
Stitch markers

Everybody's hand spun yarn is going to be different.  What I am spinning right now is thick and thin.  And the thickness of the yarn ultimately determines how many stitches you should cast on.  Normally (at least at this point in time), I cast on 56-64 stitches.  I knit a few rows, and sometimes I find that the mitten is going to be too large or too small and I have to start over.

Using smaller needles, cast on 64 stitches, place marker, and join to work in the round.  K1P1 rib for 12 rows.  Change to larger needles and work three rows in stockinette stitch.

To form the thumb gusset:
Row 16:  Slip marker, knit one front and back (k1fb), place marker, k to end.
Rows 17, 19, 21, 23, 25: Knit
Row 18:  Slip m, k1fb twice, sm, k to end.
Rows 20, 22, 24: Slip m, k1fb, k to st before m, k1fb, sm, k to end.

You should now have ten stitches for the thumb gusset.

Rows 26-27:  Knit.

Row 28:  Remove marker, bind off ten stitches for thumb, k to end.
Rows 29-36: Knit.
Rows 37-41: Switch to smaller needles, k1p1 rib.
Row 42:  Using larger needles, bind off loosely.  Weave in ends.  Repeat for second mitten.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

CoyoteRidgeKnits--Our Etsy Shop

So last month the girls and I decided to open an Etsy shop.  Probably the most difficult part of the decision was what to name our new venture.  I thought it best to stick with the Black Diamond name, but the girls insisted that Black Diamond belonged only to the bunnies, and that we needed something else to cover the sheep that they now raise as well.

Using anything with our surname or obvious physical location was out of the question.  So was anything that sounded too cutesy.  I suggested something with Juniper Ridge in the name, as that is what detailed topographical maps call our exact location.  But the girls don't like the name Juniper.  So then I suggested Coyote Ridge, which is the name of the ridge that we look at through our windows.  They liked that.

CoyoteRidgeKnits (Etsy doesn't permit any spaces in shop names) is open for business.

The girls knit and sell mostly cute animals (naturally there are lots of bunnies) of all sizes.

I currently focus on mittens and booties.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Two Thousand Pageviews in the Last Month

That's a lot of people looking at and learning about French angoras.

It's over double our monthly average.  I keep wondering if somehow something spooky is going on. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Truckee Meadows Rabbit Club Show at Shopper's Square, 18 June 2016

With the arrival of kits at 2AM the day of the show, Charlotte opted to remain home to make sure everything went well and that there weren't any complications.  And to take a nap.

So Lydia and I were on our own.  And there was no way Lydia was going to miss this show--she was picking up her long-awaited new buck from Julie.  Zorro will be the third black buck in the barn.  I guess we have a thing for black here.

The show itself took all day, even though there were four judges and really not very many rabbits at all.  But it didn't drag on like it normally seems to.  Being able to spend the whole day visiting with Julie was really nice.

You see, she is the kind of person who wants to learn and is happy to share what she has learned with others, so that they can learn and improve as well.  She spent at least half an hour demonstrating grooming techniques for maintaining the best coat possible, not only for being able to do well in showing, but also for the health of the rabbit.  I wish I had had a video camera.  Hopefully Lydia remembers better than I.  If not, I'll have to ask Julie to show us again.

Lydia's senior doe didn't fare so well on the show table, but we also knew she would not.  For one, she was plucked six weeks ago.  Secondly, she is a young senior and was competing with does who were older and had more flesh.  And thirdly, Charlotte and Lydia still have a lot to learn to be competitive in open shows.  But with Julie's help, they'll get there.

Zorro place second out of three junior bucks in both shows, and he was only faulted for being young.  Of course, that's nothing that time won't fix.  We expect both rabbits to do very well at the Placerville show next month.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


It had been a kinda cruddy month here, and we've been a little sad.  Life's just like that at times, but it doesn't really make you want to blog much.  So we weren't.

First off, Charlotte's bummer lamb that she had been bottle feeding for the past 2.5 months died very unexpectedly about three weeks ago.  This little lamb absolutely adored Charlotte, and the feeling was mutual.  We developed a whole new understanding of "Mary Had a Little Lamb."  It was just heart-breaking to lose her.

Then last week, as I already blogged about, Phantom kindled her litter too early, and then died the following day.

Stuff like that just doesn't contribute to a feeling of confidence in what you are doing.  In fact, it makes Charlotte start worrying about all the other animals.  We were all feeling the weight of these losses.

So this morning as I'm working in the garden and Charlotte is taking care of rabbits, Lydia starts yelling:  "Ella had a LAMB!"

We all came running.  And there she was, a tiny lamb, perfectly healthy, lying there in the pen.  With her mom and Ben.  And ewes are not supposed to have rams around to bother them during lambing, and lambs are not supposed to be bothered by rams, either.

So we got Ben out pretty quickly.  He's still in his own quarters, all by himself.  He's not very happy.

Ella has accepted her lamb completely and is working on cleaning her up.

Lydia immediately gave the lamb to Charlotte.  Charlotte is in love again.

And the lamb's name?  "Surprise!"