Tuesday, May 29, 2007

so...where was I?

As soon as my jeans were washed and lost that Eau de Sheep scent, a tangy whiff I've grown so fond of, I was in Montana.

Montana looks just like you think it should. They didn't just make up that purple mountains' majesty line in the song, y'know. I kept thinking the ranch we were staying at looked like the movies,0507shear13mile_0816 until a neighbor told me that they had, indeed, filmed The Horse Whisperer and A River Runs Through It right up the road. Thus inspired, I got on horseback for the first time since junior high. It felt great. But looked dorky, as I white knuckled the reins while grinning ear-to-ear, so I'll skip the visual.

My sister, the mitering Lulu, came along for this leg of the Shear Spirit book photo marathon. We briefly - very briefly- considered bringing our loose squares to sew at night.

Here she is arranging yarn skeins for a still life.
Behind the scenes view:

What we were doing:
Lulu's really NOT a country girl and was a good sport about it, getting up close and personal with the animals and all.
This one liked her. A lot. She left that morning covered in Corriente cattle slobber.

I'll spare you an exhausting incident that involved her vigorously herding a group of pregnant ewes. We thought they should be in a particular spot with good light to make an interesting photo near a sweater for one of the book's patterns and they, the ewes, felt otherwise. I think they just wanted to be left alone till they gave birth. Selfish animals. No sense of publication deadlines and editorial needs. You know I'm joking , right? We had carte blanche from the rancher. He set us loose with the sheep, hoping the activity would get them into labor. I am considering a sideline: photography and fiber animal birthing coach.

We also met sheep with personality. 0507shear13mile_0218This is Devil. His mixed breeding left him with a lovely teddy bear face but these unfortunate horns that stick straight up . I was made to promise he wouldn't end up in the book. But the blog? Just don't tell the rancher if you know her, OK?

Do you wonder if still knit? I do! But with little to show. I was, as far as I could tell, the only person knitting while waiting for Old Faithful to blow a couple days after leaving the ranch, while playing tourist in Yellowstone. And then, 90 minutes later, while waiting from a different vantage point geyser-side, I was the only person ripping out 8 inches of cashmere lace, having found too many dropped stitches to live with. I think the cashmere lace will wait until I can work on it in one spot.

Monday, May 07, 2007

the song from Rocky Horror

Have you ever had an incredibly great meal, with every bite delicious from the first appetizer nibble on? And you sit there wishing you could spread the great food over two weeks of your usual boring meals, instead of having them all happen in 2 hours? Yeah. That's how I feel about life the last six weeks. So many interesting people, so many stunning views, new tastes, interesting conversations, revelations, challenges. I want to grab a clock and pull back the hands like a super hero so it all goes more slowly and I can spread the goodness over a year or two.

The Shear Spirit Oregon to San Francisco photo shoot road trip tour was just such a feast.
1200 + miles, two farms, cashmere goats, chubby woolly sheep, one sheep herding dog bite, many losses of bearing on remote dirt roads, great hosts on each farm who let us bust into their lives and then fed us well and told us stories, nightly digital slide shows with people who actually enjoy looking at 500 more images of fiber related subjects you shot that day because they raised or spun or knit or dyed it, a hike and wade through icy water, redwoods, espresso huts (seriously why do we not have these on the east coast? are we not civilized???) , one little earthquake just so we knew we were in California, a charming off-the-grid cabin with woodstove, and much more.

One police stop for speeding . My lame-o excuse "oh I'm so sorry officer but the Oregon coast is so FABULOUS and I've never been here before and no I didn't see you trying to pull me over for two miles because, well, I was looking for a........sandwich. "

I wouldn't admit I said that if I were alone but once again my 16 year old son was riding shotgun, on his spring break. Like any good teenager he zoomed in on it as hilarious, and it probably was the funniest thing I said that day, because the rest of our conversations were
"Oh. Wow. Look. Wow. Whoa. Don't look while you're driving. Wow that's beautiful. Whoa thats the Pacific and a....CLIFF!"

We stayed at a cashmere farm in Oregon where I sat in the evening test knitting some sturdy New England botanically dyed wool/hemp until the cashmere farmer/fiber artist could stand it no longer and inisted I cast on a cashmere lace scarf with her delicate, glimmering, natural colored yarn. Oh..OK!. Force me.
Here's cashmere lace from its true start start to finish. Mine didn't advance so smoothly, until days later in Mendocino I got my lace groove.

Its hard not to share more from the trip . Not just because the best stuff has to be saved but I'm only half edited and I need to leave again, destination on Wednesday is Montana. I don't know much about Montana except for what I read in novels or blogs or learned in my youth. What I can count on: sheep, yarn, beauty, surprises.