Monday, December 28, 2009

Spinning Up Hand Dyed Experiments

Here are the hanks of Jacob wool I dyed in the September workshop. They're Navajo plied (so, three-plied) and come from Sara's first flock in Kennebunkport. We used Indigo (the bluish hank) and Marigold (the yellowish hank) among other dyes during the day-long dyeing event. I also have some yet to do in Sumac, which turned a rusty orange.

This is a Jacob ram that resided at Overlook Farm/Heifer Project in Rutland MA. They are black/brown and white, and can sport two or more sets of horns!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Recent Getaway . . .

We've been in Rhinebeck NY recently (home of the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival) and have a wonderful B & B to recommend. Whistlewood Farm on Pells Road is operated by Maggie Myers and is situated on a gorgeous 30+ acre horse farm just a few miles outside of Rhinebeck Village. We had a gorgeous room in a guesthouse, fully loaded with Adirondack/Montana style decor and extremely comfortable. Walking the grounds with Jeric and visiting the six horses, donkey, chickens and two resident dogs was a delight. The village of Rhinebeck has WONDERFUL dining options and entertaining shopping. All decked out in holiday lights for the season, it was all extremely picturesque. Plus, Maggie makes an awesome breakfast!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

Making the rounds with the holiday phone calls, I was updated on Sara's new handknitted hat venture. She just delivered her first bulk order of 10 locally-grown, hand spun (and in some cases, hand-dyed with natural dyes), and hand-knitted Maine wool hats to her customer. A chief contributor to the Babydoll Southdown wool knitwear was this guy, Rollie the Ram, chief sire of the growing flock, the guy who started it all with Sara's Southdown's.

Rollie's flock are producing a beautiful fleece in colors of cream, oatmeal, and chocolate brown. His offspring are sweet, fuzzy creatures (including Little Bill in the photo above with me). So exciting to see Sara manfest yet another facet of her creativity and shepherding skills.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas around the corner . . .

Slow start to this blog but there's no shortage of photo and fiber activities happening. Experiments with "wild wool" or spinning with a multitude of fibers, colors, and textures is underway with my friend Maile and it is VERY liberating. New books borrowed from the local library including spinning, Teva Durham designs, and sock patterns. Mailed off hand dyed and knitted socks for Mom -- in Florida colors of yellow and green -- today to arrive in lieu of "three French Hens" or whatever day of Christmas they get there. She too, has been eyeing fiber animals and sent this photo to me of a llama she spied in the Buffalo NY area.

And, back to dog hair . . . have been mourning and trying to move on after Marsh's death, and so found myself looking at her brother Jeric's spun fluff that was an early attempt at my spinning. Needless to say, it was a very fragile hank at that! So, gave it a whirl with Navajo plying to attempt to spin it up into something relatively bulky and strong. I think it worked.

Here's the boy himself (thank you, Erika Sidor, for the beautiful portrait).

Chow Chow fluff is softer, I think, than alpaca and I'm told extremely warm. I haven't finished my first dog yarn scarf yet, so can't confirm on the heat factor.

Hope to shoot some sheep and horses next week at Sara R.'s farm. Cameras and the cold are a tricky mix!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pining for Signs of Sheep

It's December and so unseasonably warm that it makes me think I should be outdoors tracking sheep with my camera. Spinning and knitting are the typical activities this time of year. I've been getting to some of it, as I've been home much of this fall, regrouping on personal and professional levels. Lots of loss to absorb, and new directions to focus on. So, nothing like fiber to comfort the mind, body and soul during a stressful time as this.

Here's a photo taken at Overlook Farm/Heifer Project, Rutland MA.

Thanks to my friends in the Wachusett Spinners Guild I have twice-monthly meetings I plan to get back to. I miss their company very much! For four or five hours on a Sunday afternoon we enjoy spinning, show-and-tell of new discoveries, and tasty eats at one home or another. I haven't seen my gang since our early September natural dyeing workshop with Ellen Stone of Rhode Island. It was a superb long day at Dorothy's Shetland sheep farm, cooking up goldenrod and marigolds, experimenting with indigo, and learning about traditional dyeing practices as we perused Ellen's vast fiber sample rack. Our group has also done much work toward producing a Central MA Fiber Map, and I look forward to seeing where that stands and how we can share it with the general public in the near future (2010?).

In the interim my friend and teacher Christina at The Sheep Shack has kept me inspired with new yarns from Berroco and I've already whipped up some neat new projects. And, my spinning wheel has seen some action again just in the last week or two, as I've been working to ply the wool we dyed in September.

Early this fall some exciting news came in. Wearhouse, an upscale retail store in Great Barrington MA, expressed interest in selling my farm animal photographs. I am so grateful to Carrie for taking an interest in my work, and taking on a dozen or so enlargements of pigs, sheep, goats, and cows up to 20 x 26" framed and displayed in this beautiful setting. Sales are happening already, so I'm very encouraged!