Saturday, March 15, 2008
Spring and the alpaca
The drive over to Morro Bay was an absolute gift from the daylight savings time gods.
It is as green as Ireland and the sun was just at the exact right angle to give every green thing perfect lighting. The incandescent greens are scattered with literally miles of wildflowers, rioting on the hillsides. Brilliant orange california poppies, dense mats of blue and yellow lupines, lemondrops, and daisies.
The hills are also loaded with herds of sheep with new lambs frolicking. The Basque herders are (unusually) located in adjoining fields, so I actually saw more than the usual solitary man. They all had dogs, so even the border collies were getting a little socialization. I've always thought that job was exceptionally lonely.
Here in the Central Valley, there are herds of sheep that roam the fields and hills, "sheeping" off weeds or the leftovers of a harvest. Each herd has a shepherd who lives in a little gypsy caravan, called a sheep camp. It's a little like a travel trailer, but outfitted a little differently. The guys cook outside, live alone except for their dog. When I was little, they were, without exception young Basque men, in their late teens or early twenties. They came over here, worked for three or four years and went back home.
The Central Valley has a large Basque population, so it is sort of a chain immigration, without the idea of staying forever. I'm not sure who or how all this is arranged-I just know that it is. I've never even seen the herds being moved.
So it was fun, seeing the little lambs, so new and tiny that their tails haven't been docked yet. They are still white and bouncy and quite entertaining to watch. It made me think that I'd like to get a couple of sheep to keep the weeds down in my huge backyard. There is MORE than plenty of grass for them!
Now about the alpaca. I am still trying to cast off with an elastic edge. The first time, it was too stiff. The next time, I added a stitch every three--too ruffly. Then I did one every ten stiches--not stretchy enough. Then during Fight Club last night (man, I do not like Brad Pitt), I tried an extra stitch every eight--still not stretchy enough. So now, I have a row with an extra stitch every eight stitches and another row of an extra stitch every five stitches. When I'm done, I'll cast off and see if I get an elastic edge.
This is what makes knitting interesting for me. It's just mindless enough (I am very fond of miles of stockinette) but then there is always just the tiniest of challenges.
Granted, trying to figure out how to make a straight cast off a little bit stretchy isn;t brain surgery but it is hard enough for me.
And I even brought along RuthieJack's Sweater to start.