Maine Fiber Frolic 2017 Poster
MOFGA Common Ground Fair Poster

A Unique Country Fair

Do I look like I'm about to give up this gorgeous pile of locks?!

Do I look like I'm about to give up this gorgeous pile of locks?!

We look forward to the Common Ground Country Fair every year. It’s always held on the 3rd weekend in September, is organized by the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (MOFGA)  and is completely volunteer run. You won’t find a midway here but you will find all things Maine and, as the name implies, old fashioned organic fun. Downeast Magazine calls Common Ground Fair “Maine’s most authentic country fair, uniting, as it does, old-time folkways with progressive ideas about living the good life on a fragile planet.” I’ve volunteered in the Fleece Tent for many years and Jim has volunteered for everything from parking attendant to recycling crew (yuck!). It’s three days of great fun! I don’t have any fleeces left to sell in the tent or to put in the show this year. I’ve kept Gilda’s fleece. It won the Jane Hyland Memorial Award for the best natural colored handspinning fleece in the show & 2nd place Coopworth fleece at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival last May. I’d really like to spin it myself but if I put it in the show at Common Ground, it has to be for sale. Can’t do it.

Grass…Pasture…Forage

…whatever you want to call it, it’s been on our minds these days and in short supply.  Jim, the assistant shepherd in charge of pasture management<BG>, has been watching, worrying, reporting. Finally, with some rain, it seems to be turning around. Too bad that Fall is on the doorstep now and growth is slowing down. Time to switch gears to finding/buying/storing hay.  We’ve bought some from our very favorite hay maker — OMG! this man’s hay makes me wish I were a ruminant!  I just wish we could convince him to give up more of it.  But he’s feeding his own cows & beef critters so we forgive him.  Probably the rest of what we need will come from Canada.  We don’t like the idea of “importing” and would really prefer to buy locally but good hay is hard to make here on the coast.  Good soil is in short supply and there’s just too many foggy nights.  Decided to skip lambing this year…sigh. Feels good to have this decision behind us.  Jim is good with it, too.

Painting

here's a blue-green colorway

here's a blue-green colorway

For a couple of years, I’ve had a bunch of skeins hanging around that were dyed and came out a not very attractive grey color so I decided to paint over them. It’s been fun — I guess partly because I felt as though I couldn’t make them any worse than they already were. The results were very nice and infinitely better looking than what I started with!  Painting is what I enjoy most, I think, when it comes to dyeing.

Yummy Lamb Fleeces

here emily shears a black lamb

here's Emily shearing a lamb

Emily — our wonderful shearer — was here and sheared a bunch of lambs. Wow! a new supply of black fiber and the lamb fleeces are so-o-o soft! The last time we had this many black fleeces in one place at one time, I had them blended with black alpaca that came from my friend Elyse  in NY.  Her fiber is special. The yarn I had made is exquisite! Quite a bit has sold and one customer tells me that she’s going to give a photo of the cardigan she made from it.  I’m looking forward to seeing it and will post it, too.  Oh! And Emily shared her happy news with us — she’s pregnant! The baby is coming in January. Perfect timing…although I’m sure that our shearing schedule wasn’t a consideration! LOL!

Colorways

In the studio, I’m trying different colorways for the rovings that’ll go to Rhinebeck (NY Sheep & Wool Festival). There will be an indigo blue dyed on mixed natural colored Coopworth. I did a little sampling on my drum carder and it looks awesome. The mill will have to resist the temptation to blend this into a homogenous color because the beauty is in the random color variations. The second colorway is a work in progress but I’m trying to keep the base color an earthy green. I’m going to use very pale grey Coopworth lambswool for the base. More on this as it develops. Boxes of natural colors have already gone off to the mill and should be coming back soon. Can’t wait to see the magic they’ve worked!