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fun weekend

Last weekend was a busy one and lots of fun! On Saturday, there was a baby shower for Rachel, our son Aaron’s partner, who is due in the beginning of March. We’re very excited about the arrival of our first grandbaby — a little girl! We don’t have many girls in our family! Rachel’s almost SIL, Holly, put the whole thing together and Rachel’s Mom and I helped with decorations and food.

Rachel and Aaron arrive...surprise!!

Rachel and Aaron arrive…surprise!!

I think she was actually surprised! She received a wonderful collection of gifts — all kinds of things from the totally practical to the fanciful. I knitted a little cap-sleeve sweater and my friend Nina knitted her a sleep sack. Despite the snowy forecast, a lot of people came and stayed for all the fun. So nice for Rachel!

little sweater

little sweater










sleep sack

sleep sack










On Sunday — again a snowy day! — our spinning group, the Salt Bay Treadlers, got together for our holiday party. It was supposed to happen before Christmas but it was postponed because of one of those big snow storms we had. We had a wonderful luncheon and afternoon of spinning & knitting at our friend, Chris A’s house. She has the most beautiful and cozy craft room!

Chris' needlefelted snowman wears a scarf made from the yarns and wears mittens made from the unspun fiber. His heart is, too.

Chris’ needlefelted snowman wears a scarf made from the yarns and wears mittens made from the unspun fiber. His heart is, too.

One very fun part of our party was the big reveal of what everyone had made from the yarn and fiber we’d dyed at our island fiber retreat last summer. We all took home a couple of small skeins — 1 dyed with cochineal and 1 dyed with osage orange w/an overdye in cochineal. And there was some cochineal dyed,  unspun Coopworth lambswool & adult fiber, too. What a wonderful bunch of items we cooked up…interesting that they’re all so different, too! I can’t wait to see what Kelley made. She wasn’t able to make it on Sunday. 🙁



Me and my wine cozy. Wine because we enjoyed a couple of glasses on our retreat and I used the magic loop method that Chris taught us while we were there. I spun the fiber for the salmon color at the top. The dark brown is from our sheep.

Me and my wine cozy. Wine because we enjoyed a couple of glasses on our retreat and I used the magic loop method that Chris taught us while we were there. I spun the fiber for the salmon color at the top. The dark brown is from our sheep.











The cutest hedgehog pin cushion in the world! Made by Nina. We all want one of these too!!

The cutest hedgehog pin cushion in the world! Made by Nina. We all want one of these too!!











Christine explains how she made this gorgeous headband...because we all want one!

Christine explains how she made this gorgeous headband…because we all want one!












Because I couldn’t possibly finish up this post without mentioning the weather… We’re back in the deep freeze again. Last week, the sheep were picking at the grass in the paddock and we’d put the garden carts back into service. Now we’re covered in snow and 14 degrees F feels balmy. It seems as though this will be the norm for at least a week. No doubt, this won’t be the last mention of the weather…it’s all people talk about these days!


Vinalhaven Memories

A week ago, I was just settling back into the real world after 4 glorious days away with 4 of my fiber buddies. We took a little fibery vacation to Vinalhaven, a beautiful island off the Maine coast and just over an hour’s ride on the ferry.

We were goofing around before we even got off the ferry! The weather was breezy and far cooler than it was on the mainland where all of our spouses were having to deal with 90+ degree temps and nasty humidity. Over the 4 days, we did a lot of knitting and spinning…mostly on the fabulous porch…and laughed and laughed! Laughing is relaxing!

We ate when we felt like it…and sometimes in our pj’s!

And then we did some more spinning…

Kelley’s kitchen sink fiber

Nina’s silk & camel

Christine’s black Border Leicester in the grease

My own hand dyed Coopworth lambswool

I somehow missed Chris’ spinning project, but got a few shots of the dyeing we did with the cochineal she brought along. Wow! is all I can say…it was fun and the results were amazin! I brought the yarn and Nina brought the unspun fiber.

Little bugs make big color!

Some of the yarn I had previously dyed with Osage orange shavings and it became a vibrant orange!

We all took some of the yarn and fiber home. Show and tell to follow… Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with !

Finally (sadly), we packed ourselves up and headed back to the ferry terminal after one last moment on the porch to soak in the gorgeous view.

Great memories!


Taking a Fresh Look at the Nøstepinde

drawing: finished ball of yarm with flat top and bottom

The past week has been nøstepinde intensive. I’ve been doing a lot of work on the website and had noted that the graphics on the “Nøsting …or…Zen and the Art of Ballwinding with a Nøstepinde” page were looking very old-fashioned. They dated back to the days of yore when computer download speeds were abysmally slow and the web designers primary goal was to make image files as absolutely small as possible.

I decided that NOW was the time to “kill two birds.” I am re-jiggering the nøstepinde instructions and will finally set them up as a PDF file which people will be able to download, print out, archive in Evernote or whatever.

In the recent months I’ve been doing a lot of research in YouTube on various hobbies I’ve been adopting. So, I was not surprised to find a number of good videos covering the use of the nøstepinde. In the past, when folks asked me how they could learn to use a nøsty I would send them to our “Nøsting” webpage. These days, I have to admit, my first recommendation would be that they check out YouTube. It’s much easier to first learn to do something while listening and watching than by reading. I found Ann Kingstone’s “Nostepinne” especially helpful and complete.

drawing: wrapping parallel diagonals

wrapping parallel diagonals

But, it was “Using a Kromski Nostepinne” by Tim Horchler of The Woolery/New Voyager Video that really piqued my curiousity!

drawing: wrapping figure 8 "crosses"

wrapping figure 8 “crosses”

Tim promotes a completely different winding pattern than I had ever run across. Rather than placing all his wraps as parallel diagonals, he crosses his diagonals, making a series of “figure 8’s.” Noting that Tim’s video has been viewed more than 13,000 times I am guessing that a bunch of nøstepinders out there are “figure-eighting”.

I’ve set up a “questionnaire” (see below) that, if you’re game, you will fill out and submit. If there are enough submissions I’ll collate the results and post a report here and on the Nosty Luv group that I’ve just discovered on Ravelry.

drawing: Wrapping diagonally.

If you still have remaining form-filling energy you might want to jump over to the “Tools” page and get put on the “Woodshop News” mailing list. You’ll receive emailed announcements as fresh inventory is listed in the shop.

shearing 2012

We sheared all the ewes on the 10th.  Well, actually Emily sheared them and did a fabulous job as always.  She makes it look so easy and is never grumpy even when there are challenging moments.  It may have been over a week ago but memories of the big reveal are fresh, and Jim and I are still talking about how many people came by.  It was really fun to be surprised!  The weather was pretty good so nobody froze and afterwards, quite a few of us celebrated with a potluck, lots of chatter and laughs.

soaking up the sunshine

We had a wonderful crew of helpers who did such a good job on the fleeces that I’ll hardly have to do anything when I get back to them.  Thanks so much to everyone…for coming…for helping…for the food and good cheer. We couldn’t do it without you all.  And it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun either.

happy skirters

The photo above unfortunately doesn’t include the sheep wrangling/sweeping/shearing portion of the crew who really get down and dirty and don’t even get the chance to get their hands into those warm fleeces…except while trying to move the sheep onto the shearing floor.

The fleeces are stunning this year!!  I do believe the abundant grass and excellent hay we were able to get has contributed…we are what we eat, right!  The girls are also in excellent condition as they go into lambing and that makes the shepherd very happy.  It’s nice to get a look at what’s under all that fiber.  From what I can see right now, 8 of the 10 are definitely pregnant.  The other 2…we’ll see…still early.

really really like this one...

really really liking this one too...

Shearing done -- what a good day!

We were so glad the weather cooperated and we were able to get the girls back to their paddock on Tuesday. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned. Depositing poop outdoors is preferable to indoors where the shepherd gets to clean it up.

They know the way home.

And what of the boys?  They’ll be sheared this Saturday — 3/24.  Looking forward to seeing what they’ve grown this year!

what’s been happening

Just before shearing last year, I gave up on this blog Farm Journal.  Getting photos into posts was such a pain in the neck that posting just wasn’t fun at all.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who noticed because the good folks at WordPress have streamlined the process.  I’m giving it another try…

The ewes get to eat indoors the day after shearing.

Shearing in March went off without a hitch.  Thanks to all who came to help out, we zipped right through the woolies and then enjoyed some good food and down time together.

In early April, our first batch of meat birds arrived and then, after 2 lambless years, we welcomed lambs to the farm.  We’d really missed all that cuteness.

Candice bonding with her newborn lambs.

Our ewes did a great job and gave us tons of cuteness but one of the lambs suffered a broken leg at 3 days old and ended up in the house with us for 4 weeks.  By the end of the first week, Margaret (she got a name when she visited my spinning group) was leaping out of her playpen…cast and all. There was no containing her!  Eventually, we let her have the run of the house (wearing a diaper) and she would go into her playpen when we went to bed.  She learned to eat hay in our living room…I don’t recommend that!  Skye tolerated her and Gemma was happy to have a playmate…the cats mostly avoided her.

Little Margaret's big day more cast! YAY!

Today she’s part of the flock but she’s the first to greet us at the gate and is quite the character.

The critter count was growing… piglets arrived in May.  We parked them in the shearing pen where they had lots of bedding to root in and could learn about fences.

The piglets get acquainted with their nipple waterer.

Throughout the Spring months more meat birds arrived in batches of 50 and 75.  We’ve become big fans of the slower growing old-style birds that thrive on pasture.

In June we were running everyday to stay ahead of the grass.  There was so much of it that we were moving the sheep every couple of days sometimes.

After the winter, there's always fence to be fixed and we're managing to stay just ahead of the sheep!

We could almost see the lambs growing if they stood in one place long enough!

We had fun at the Maine Fiber Frolic weekend…always great to see old friends and meet new ones!  The piglets outgrew their pen and moved into the woods where they have tons of space to roam and root and wallow and play.

Once they were well muddied up, they investigated their new digs.

We joined a budding Farmers Market right here in Bristol so for the rest of the summer, I was easy to find every Saturday morning.  It turned out to be lots of fun and I think it was a good beginning. Hopefully, it will grow and become a fixture here in our town. Put up some strawberry-balsamic-black pepper jam.

Skye in one of his favorite places.

July began on a sad note.  We lost Skye to prostate cancer.  There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of him and miss him.  We still expect to see him rounding the corner of the barn after his walk around the farm.  Although Border Collies aren’t supposed to be guardians, he always checked our boundaries and we wonder now whether his absense will make a difference here.  We’re grateful that Gemma got to know him at least for a little while.

We had a bit of a dry spell mid-summer but it turned right around and the grass came back pretty well. Put up some tomato puree and bread & butter pickles.

Ewes and their lambs loving the grass.

The grass is growing like crazy and the lambs look great!

By September, some of our lambs and all of the pigs were ready for the butcher.  Emily came to shear some of the lambs on a stormy day.  Thank goodness for the generator and an adventurous crew.  I don’t think the sheep noticed the power outage!

A number of our lambs and a couple of our adult ewes and rams went to new homes as breeding stock, too, so they’ll be making lambs and beautiful fiber for someone else.

Shearing lambs by headlamp during a power outage. Emily is such a trooper!

Farmers Market was winding down but SOAR and NY Sheep & Wool Festival (Rhinebeck) were coming right up.  The start of October was a little crazy with Jim at SOAR and me at NY but we managed and had a good time, too!

Our first customers at Rhinebeck. Happy spindlers!

And then our attention was turned to breeding time.  Which rams would get lucky?  Which ewes would be with which ram?  All the ewes were checked for body condition and internal parasites. Then they got pedicures and nice clean coats. Bartok and Cole met the girls in mid-November and by Christmas, it was all over but the waiting.  We finished our Good Eats page…phew!

The holidays were quiet and very enjoyable with our boys and grand-dogs visiting.  It was so low key that I forgot to take photos…but maybe Jim posted some on Facebook.  Santa brought us an iPad which I’m really liking.  I’ve already moved a couple of magazine subscriptions over to it. Saving some trees is nice but really, not having that paper coming into the house is wonderful!

It took winter a long time to get going but it’s here now and we actually have some snow on the ground. Coasting along now waiting for shearing and the arrival of lambs.  This is a good time for playing with fibery things.