So wow, I haven't updated in a while. I'm not sure why my blog updates have decreased since I got out here. I've been knitting a lot, maybe that's why. I found that once winter hit I didn't have a scarf to wear, so I rummaged around in my knitting closet, found some blue heathered Wool-Ease that I've had forever and have been unable to figure out a good use for (blue really isn't my color when it comes to sweaters, although I once thought it was which explains why I have 14 skeins of it that I bought on sale from Jo-Anns), and saw a really great pattern for a wavy scarf off of Knitty
. it seems to go well with my handknit hat, and now that I have a handknit scarf, handknit hat, handknit mittens, and handknit gloves to wear while I wear a handknit sweater, I feel a bit like I've just gotten the full set of Mark of the Viper armor in World of Warcraft. I now have an extra +2 resistance against frost attacks.
Maybe my lack of updates can be explained by the fact that I've been reading a lot about sheep lately. I picked up Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep the other day, and it's surprisingly fun to read. Now that Len and I are living in Wisconsin, and having been encouraged by the fact that a woman I work with who's an artist on our X-Men game owns sheep, I plan to begin researching for My Long-Term Plan.
My Long-Term Plan will be something I can slowly work toward for that day when I decide I don't want to work in the game industry anymore (not that I'm considering that now) or want to retire and do something different. I've been knitting for nearly half my life and spinning for the last two or three years, and I keep moving closer and closer to wanting to be a shepherd myself and own the sheep I get my wool and yarn from. But I also want to take it one step further and turn my future hobby farm into a yarn shop in which I spin and sell the wool from the animals right out behind the shop. In my little dream, this would be the primary draw of the shop.
I figure that it's going to be at least 2-3 years before I can even think of buying a sheep. Len and I first need to buy the right place to do it, someplace with enough land for what we want to do that we can also live on. Fortunately, this area of the country is perfect. Len and I have been perusing the real estate listings and we constantly see 10-20+ acre plots with old farmhouses and barns on them. We've got some time to look (probably about a year) before we're ready to buy anything, which means we can take the time to look for something we really like.
So in the meantime I can research as much as possible before even looking at my first potential buy. My first choice in breeds -- until I research more -- is Shetland so far, assuming that their foraging abilities are suited to the types of pasture that can grow here in Wisconsin, and assuming that they're a breed I can get reasonably priced here. If not Shetland, I'd like to go with Bluefaced Leceisters or maybe Ramboulliet.
I've been on Yahoo's SpinList for a couple of years now, so I've been able to follow some of the discussions from the shepherds on the list when they talk about their own herds. I've also joined a shepherd's list, so hopefully that will help with research, too.
So while I read about sheep, I'm still spinning and washing fleece. In fact, I'm spending the day scouring the alpaca wool that our alpaca-owning friends Mary Ann and Joe sent me as I promised I'd card, spin, and knit it into something for her. So, back to scouring...
Some of the people who post at PlanetCrap
have been asking me to revive The Great PlanetCrap Writing Experiment
, and I've decided that the first day (okay, the second day) of the new year is a great time to do that. Some of you reading this might have participated in past PCWE's but don't actually read or post at PC anymore, so hopefully this will be a good head's up for you.
The experiment actually grew out of an argument (an argument on an Internet forum? How UNHEARD OF!) a few of us were having. We were teasing a resident poster who claimed to have gotten several local awards for writing but wouldn't actually let any of us read any new material beyond two stories, one unfinished, he'd written ages ago. He told us to give him a topic and he'd write something new for it to prove himself. I'd felt bad that I was the primary antagonizer, so I offered to step up, too. I figured if I'd pushed him that far, I deserved to be put under the critical microscope, too.
Other people became interested in participating, and the first of the PCWE's was born. It was fantastic. We had a lot of fun, and about fifteen people participated, each writing something based on their interpretation of our first theme. My friend Chris wrote up a small PHP system to handle the submissions and I hosted the whole thing. After the success of the first one we decide to continue it. At first we voted on theme ideas that people submitted, but pretty soon people were unhappy with the choices that came out of the voting. They unanimously decided that chris and I should be the sole arbiters of what theme we're going to write on. (Chris hasn't participated in a while since he's busy, so I'd been deciding the themes for the last couple.)
We did about five or six themes, but enthusiasm began to wane. I think it was because we were trying to do them in the space of a couple of weeks. Ever since I let them slide by due to lack of participation, people have been asking me if I'll revive it.
I've decided to revive it on a quarterly basis so that people have more time to write something. I'm also considering adding a contest element to it. I would really like to get a small Amazon.com gift certificate or a writing book or something like that and award it to the best submission that quarter. I'm waiting to hear some feedback on that from the PC crowd.
Anyone reading this is encouraged to participate, but the only problem is that feedback on submissions at the end of the quarter will be confined to PlanetCrap, and I hesitate to point anyone there because much like, say, Greenland, PC is insular, harsh, and unforgiving to the new and inexperienced foreigner. What I'd really like to do is build chris' system out a bit into something that can stand apart from PC and maybe grow into something that anyone can participate in. For instance, I'd like to tie in a forum system to each story entry to contain feedback and criticism for that story (or maybe to the theme itself). But one of the things that's made this so much fun in the past was that PC is a tight-knit group with long-time posters, and knowing most of the people submitting pieces (or at least knowing them via Internet-o-vision) made the feedback more valuable and detailed. Chris raises a good point, though, and says that if we can just seed it with enough regulars to contribute, it can grow into its own community, which is what I'd like to see. He and I are talking about ways we can build this out into a stand-alone project: he'll design the system, and I can manage it.
At any rate, if you've participated in these in the past, please consider doing so again (I'm looking at you, Jamie Madigan).