Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Really Unfortunate Event Ending a Series of Really Fortunate Events

Last week really was great.  On Wednesday we got a much more thorough diagnosis for Jared at the Mayo Clinic.  Not only does he have gastroparesis (stomach doesn't empty contents in a timely manner into the small intestine), but he also has duodenal ulcers.  He has medications and a strict diet (each condition has a strict diet associated with its treatment--Jared's got to deal with two strict diets, so he's a bit limited in what he can eat), but he has hopes that this won't be forever.  And he's pretty happy not to be hearing it's all in his head.  Fortunate Event #1.

On Thursday Charlotte and Lydia got the results of the statewide archery tournament.  Lydia got first place among all elementary school age girls in the state.  Charlotte took first place not only among middle school age girls, but also among all girls--including high school age--in the state.  In fact, she was second overall in the state.  So they were both beyond thrilled.  Fortunate Event #2.

On Friday, Charlotte was emailed by a nice young woman who wants to buy her two junior does.  Fortunate Event #3.

But then there was Friday night.  Really Unfortunate Event.

So after taking care of animals last night, Charlotte came in to talk to me, in tears.  All of her junior bucks, who were sharing one large (28"x60") cage, were inexplicably and horribly matted.  For the time Jared and I were in Arizona, things were a little hectic around here.  The girls spent a few days with some homeschooling friends because Charlotte had orthodontist appointments and it was easier to get her to them if she was in town.  And they had to contribute more to making meals and doing the things I normally do to keep the house running.  So they kept their rabbits fed and watered, but not much else.  Also during this time, the temperatures warmed so that the snow melted pretty well during the day, but of course, snow melting (and water leaking and dripping) would not be noticed during the sub-freezing temperatures in the morning and at night.  Unfortunately, all that leaking and dripping was going on right above the junior bucks' cage. 

We spent all day working on their coats.  Had this been spring or summer, we would have just shaved them.  But it's too cold to do that.  So we had to remove all the mats while preserving as much of their coat as possible so that they would be warm enough. 

It was not very fun.  But we're grateful that no bunny died and no one got sick.  And other than this, it really was a great week.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Two Yards to Spare, or Thank Heavens for T-Rex Arms

So I decided that I needed another simple angora-blend pullover in an easy pattern that I could knit as I helped the girls with their schoolwork. 

Vogue Knitting 2015 Fall
I found the pattern in Vogue Knitting Fall 2015 issue.  This is the cover, so you know what you are looking for.

This is the sweater.  I believe it called for 550 yards of yarn.  I thought I could get away with a little less.

I knew I needed a bulky yarn.  But I don't generally like spinning bulky yarns.  I like finer plies.  I find that I can make my yarn more uniform and balanced with a finer ply, so that is what I do.  Unfortunately, you need a lot of finer plies to make a bulky yarn.  So I realized that I needed six plies.  Let me tell you, trying to ply six plies is an experience.  One I shall not repeat in the near future.  So I had two plies of angora and four of a medium brown alpaca. 

Medium brown is a hideous color on me, so I knew I would be dyeing the yarn.  I wish I had remembered to photograph the yarn before and after dyeing.  Before I dyed it, it was really ugly, but it turned out to be a lovely dark purple tweed afterwards with the angora taking on the purple color and the alpaca looking black. 

I started with the sleeves to double check my gauge.  Unfortunately, even with using larger needles, I wasn't quite matching the gauge.  I was going to need more yarn than the "little less" that I thought I could get away with.  But fortunately, I have what my family refers to as T-Rex arms.  Apparently, even though I am 5'7", my arms are a little on the short side.  So are my mom's.  So I shorten the length of long sleeves on my sweaters by an inch to an inch and a half. 

It's a really good thing.

As you can see on the picture of the pattern above, that is all the yarn I had leftover.  About two yards.  I seem to cut a lot of my projects close.  It's not a good thing.  Someday this desire to spin "just enough" yarn is going to bite me in the behind.

Anyway, this is how the sweater turned out.  I am really happy with it.  I will probably make another one using the same pattern, but instead of making a six-ply yarn I will make two three- or four-ply yarns and knit double stranded. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016


This post has nothing whatsoever to do with rabbits.  So those who only come here for angora-related stuff can skip this post.  Those who follow us regularly and/or know us IRL know that my oldest son has been sick for some time.  And that has caused a decrease in the number of my posts, especially lately.

I had gotten him an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, but that wasn't until the middle of March.  So Friday, eight days ago, my dad suggested trying Mayo in Scottsdale, and lo and behold, they had a cancellation for Wednesday morning.  Lab tests Wednesday, CT scan Thursday, gastric emptying test Friday.  Several hours after the last test, the doctor called.  Jared's stomach doesn't empty properly.  It's called gastroparesis.  Anyway, we still don't know why, and he'll have another test for that on Tuesday, but at least we have a diagnosis and a direction to go.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Prepping for Showmanship

(I should have written this up two months ago.  Anyway, I'll leave it here for now so our regular followers will see it, then I'll move it where it belongs chronologically.)
So Evan and Jennifer bought a few rabbits from us to start their own herd and to get started in the fabulous world of 4-H.  Evan was a bit nervous about his first showmanship competition, so he asked Lydia to show him how it's done.  
Checking the abdomen for abscesses
Counting nails on the paws

Evan practicing holding his bunny on the table

Checking ears for mites

Checking teeth

Checking whether it's a buck or doe
Lydia did a great job showing Evan how showmanship is done here in Nevada, and Evan did himself proud in the competition a few weeks later.

Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers Guild

(I just went through the drafts I have in the listing of posts.  Most of them belong to Charlotte and Lydia; they have some re-writing to do.  But the following one is mine, and I have no idea why I didn't post it at the time I wrote it.) 
About a year after the girls got their first rabbits and I got my first spinning wheel, I joined the local spinning guild.  I had two main purposes in doing so.  First, I wanted to learn how to spin better; and second, I thought it might be a good opportunity for selling the girls' fiber and rabbits. 

And indeed, we have sold fiber and one rabbit so far.  But what has been really great is all that I have learned about spinning.  The ladies are all very helpful and encouraging.  Each month there is a "learning tree" opportunity.  In July we dyed sock blanks.  So I first learned what a sock blank is.  For those as uneducated as I, a sock blank is double-stranded yarn knit into a rectangle.  That rectangle of knitted fabric is then dyed using condiment bottles to squirt on the dye.  The dye is set, the rectangle dried, and then you ravel the rectangle into two balls of identically dyed yarn.  You then knit that up into perfectly matched socks. 


As I look at the pictures, I think I'm missing summer.  I'm usually great with winter.  I love cold weather and the snow.  And we are so grateful to have so much snow to help alleviate the drought.  But I get to missing blue skies.

Anyway, the spinning guild has been fabulous for learning about different spinning wheels, various spinning techniques, properties of fibers, etc.  This month's learning tree will be on dyeing and color.  Charlotte is thinking about attending as well.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

For Our Russian Friends

We've been getting a phenomenal number of hits from Russia this past week.  I mentioned this to my husband and we realized that we should have my son write the next post.  I got my degree in Russian nearly 30 years ago, and while I can still understand Russian, my Cyrillic typing skills were abominable even then, and totally non-existent now. 

Our son and brother, however, is a totally different matter.  He served as a missionary in Ukraine (Russian-speaking) for two years and is currently majoring in Russian (or is when he gets well and returns to school). 

So for our regular readers, don't be alarmed when the next post is in Russian.  And for our Russian reader(s), something just for you is coming up soon!