Well, as to be expected, I did not finish all of the items I planned to make for Christmas presents.  I am still working on the last of them.  (Thankfully, I do have until Christmas morning!)  I didn't make any sweaters for Christmas this year, but there were a number of hats, shawls, fingerless mittens, scarves and socks.  I am finishing up the last hat this evening, I hope.  It will make about 6 items I have finished this week.  And, before you say, Ah, she has all that time working in the store to finish her presents, I'll just say that 90% of the work was done at home.  We have been busy this week and I do try to help my customers!  The good new is that I have a lot of projects planned for the New Year.  I hope to get started on those projects soon!  Maybe I will do better next year!

We are going to spend Christmas with relatives so will be doing a little traveling!

Safe traveling to all of you who are driving to visit and spend time with friends and relatives!

To all of our wonderful customers and friends and anyone else who happens to read this blog:

                                                                          MERRY CHRISTMAS
and just in case I get lazy next week:

                                                                           HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Don't you just love the hat and fingerless mittens made in Louisa Harding's Grace beaded yarn.  The beads are pre-strung and to knit the projects you alternate the beaded with plain yarn.  The hat and gloves were so much fun to make and very quick!  I still have to make a scarf to match,but have put it on hold, because I haven't decided who on my list would like these.  Maybe I will keep them for myself to wear in the store later on this winter  when I get a bit chilled. 
Christmas is just about a week away and I am still optimistic that I will finish all of the gifts I started (in December) for those on my gift list.  This year I planned to give everyone a hat, scarf or shawl, and socks (or fingerless gloves), depending on the individual).  Thanks to the Skacel Knit Along that started last January, I had a really good start.  Imagine my concern when people (people I had intended the gifts for) said things like--I don't like the color (of the pair of socks I had knit for them) or I could never stand wool socks.  My confidence was dashed and I was a bit disappointed--but instead of running out to a store and buying some junk, I have chosen new yarn (without wool, or in a different color), new projects, and started again.  I am making remarkable progress. Those chunky yarns that are so in vogue this year certainly do have their place.  Scarves, shawls, hats and even socks can be whipped off in a couple of days.   I have also done a bit of switching of recipients for the different completed projects, so I think I am in pretty good shape.  A lot can be accomplished in about a week! The socks and projects that no one liked can go into my drawers-- a windfall and very much appreciated since many of my handknit socks are wearing a bit thin!  Too bad folks, it doesn't pay to be too picky!
Will Skacel have another knti along next year?  I hope so, it is a great way of staying on track and getting things done!  So far, I have loved everything we have made.  We still have two projects in the Progressive Needles Knit Along--a pair of mittens in January and socks for February.  I also think I will make some more beaded projects since they are so much fun!




This has been a big week for Machu and Picchu, our new alpacas.  On Wednesday the vet came to visit them, check their health and give them their vaccinations.   Living overseas as a child exposed me to some of the horrors of not vaccinating and we want  the best for our animals.  The vet agreed that the boys should have rabies shots and triple mix shots which incuded tetanus, clostridium, and something else that I can't remember right now.  They boys also needed shots to prevent meningeal worm which is rampant in the midwest and east coast.   The vet and her assistant are very familiar with alpacas and had clothing with hoods to protect themselves from alpaca spit.  Mamma, Shanna, is very protective of her baby and was very unhappy--ears were pinned back and she was humming vigorously--and the professionals were concerned about spit.  Fortunately, there was no incident.  The vet pronounced the boys to be in good shape and went on to the next farm. 

The next evening we came home and the boys had multiflora rose tangled in their beautiful coats.  We knew we had to get those twigs out before they tangled in, and ruined their fiber.  In addition, Picchu could hardly walk because his twig wrapped around his back and then down across the back of his hindlegs effectively hobbling him.  Mack went in to work on them while I took care of the birds.  A few minutes later he came over and said "Now I know what alpaca spit smells like."  Mamma Shanna got him and got him good!  Green slime was dripping off various parts of Mack's face and clothing--I couldn't figure out how Shanna's spit could hit in so many places on the front and back at the same time--and he smelled vile. He backed off for the day, but we knew we had to try again.

This morning Shanna was hanging over the fence waiting for her treat, but pinning back her ears and belching every few mintutes like she was planning another nasty surprise.  We tried a different approach--penning her up, and working on the boys in the paddock.   Mack twisted the twigs and they popped right out, just like hair off a hairbrush.  The boys both seemed to feel much better and are friendlier than ever.  (Amazingly, they have been friendlier every day since the vet's visit.)  Shanna recovered her cool friendly self when we let her out of the stall and back with her baby.  Mack and I have learned about different levels of  alpaca spit and DID NOT have to do laundry this morning before we came to work.  All is well back on the farm.

(Sorry, there are no pictures with this blog--no opportunities to take pictures of green slime, spitting alpacas-things happen too fast!  Nor are there pictures of multiflora rose in coats--how humiliating and embarassing for lovely boys.)
Turquoise and blue topaz are the beautiful birthstones for December.  Although both are blues or shades of blue, they are not at all the same color.  We have mostly turquoise in our sale basket this month  (some of the colors tend a little to teal--but they are all beautiful)!
Blue is a cool color, so it seems surprising to me that it is the color for December, even though December is a cold month.  Maybe it was chosen to cool the Christmas season a little, or as an antidote to so much red and green.  My guess is that the choice is buried in the depths of history.  Turquoise and or topaz are included on some lists of the 12 stones on the Breastplate of Aaron.  Each stone represents one of the 12 tribes of Israel.  And, blue and silver are the colors of Hanukkah which begins at sundown on Tuesday, December 20.  Perhaps Hanukkah colors, or the Breastplate of Aaron, are the derivation of blue as the color for the month of December.  I will also concede that it is possible that blue was chosen because December is generally a cool month, and the lead-in to more.  Well, I don't know, so we will move on to some of the lore for turquoise and blue topaz. 
Many ancient people considered turquoise to be a sacred stone which protected its owner from evils and ill health.  For those reasons, it was one of the first gems to be used in jewelry.  Turquoise is mined in the southwest of the US and Native Americans from that region use it in their gorgeous  jewelry, which is often symbolic.
Blue topaz is a hard stone and has many of the same properties as golden topaz (November's birthstone).  Ancient lore holds that blue topaz has special cooling properties such as cooling a pot of boiling water when it is thrown in.  (This is something I would never do  with any gemstone.)  It is a symbol of love and fidelity, which seems odd for a gem with cooling properties.
I guess this is another of the weird contradictions associated with December's birthstones.

I find it interesting that I just completed my Repeat Performance (November's knit along) sock project and  guess what--tthe socks are the cool blue color of December.  In spite of the fact that cool blue is not a favorite, I love the socks.  I am getting used to the color, but I love the yarn and the pattern-so I am very happy with the socks.  (I might not even give them away as quickly as possible, which had been my original plan.)