Friday, August 31, 2012

The color purple

 This post was originally written several days ago, but in the mysterious ways of my (lack of) computing skills, combined with the unimaginably poor service from my DSL service provider, it somehow disappeared into the great unknown.  I was so anxious to show you all how wonderfully the new yarn was taking to the dyepot,  I was ready to do war (again) with Windstream.  We are in the midst of a battle at the moment and I'm not going to subject you all to the rant that's going on in my head.  So, onward .....

Above is the first batch of circa 2012 yarn being mordanted and below is the actual dyepot.  I'm using natural dyes for a large portion of this years yarn crop.

The first dyepot is purple logwood and though I used enough dye matter for the medium shade, there was plenty of dye left in the pot at the end of the recommended time, so I took out the first batch and put in another.  I'm so enamored with the two shades that resulted and I especially love how well they coordinate.  They just beg to be used in a project together.

(first batch)

(purple logwood - first and second batch together)
(first batch of madder)                                   Many  

Over the years, I've taken many dye workshops; some natural, some chemical.  The best workshops have been with Michelle Wipplinger.  I admire and respect her so much for her knowledge and commitment to natural dyeing (and she is a sincerely wonderful person).  I've had the honor of staying with her while visiting Seattle and the last time I was there, got to see her beautiful studio at Earthues.  When I first got to know Michelle, she and her staff were working out of her basement.  Now, Earthues and Michelle are known far and wide.  I'm really pleased with the colors I'm getting with Earthues and plan on working my way through my current supply of dye matter, before deciding what to use for the rest of the yarn.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I for one am glad to be tearing off the August page on the calendar.  Fall is my favorite season and after the summer we've had here in Kentucky, I'm even happier than usual to see leaves turning and cool weather on the horizon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


These were taken a few weeks ago.  Marilla is my bottle baby and a bit of a clown.  She loves attention (can you tell?) and will go to great lengths to make sure I notice her.  She gets along just fine with the rest of the ewe lambs, but if I'm around the barn or where she can see me, she puts on this face and "talks" to me, until I come over to give her some scratches and a little sweet talk.  She's not the prettiest baby I've ever raised, but what she lacks in looks, she makes up for in personality and her fleece is gorgeous.

It's been so hot and dry, the ewe lambs spend a major portion of each afternoon lying under the shed on the side of the barn, which means they are so, so dirty.   They've got such bright white, lustrous fleeces,  it makes me cringe when I see them look like she does here.  In fact, a few nights ago, I haltered the white ones and brought them into the barn aisle for a little spray shower to get the worst of the dust off.   I know it won't last long, but for a few days they will look like the sheep you read about in nursery rhymes ..... "white as snow".

If we ever have cool weather again, I'll put the girls coats on to protect those pretty fleeces through the winter.  I'm already looking forward to shearing next year, so I can play with what they're growing now.  (I know ......  it's a sickness with me, but there are plenty worse things to be obsessed with than sheep fleeces.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A change in the weather, some plans and my state of mind

As a little relief from all the complaining I've done about our horrible, hot weather this summer, I just want to say that it's been heavenly for the past week or so.  We had some rain and then a cool front and it's been 50's and 60's at night and 70's and 80's for daytime temperatures.  Sheep, lambs, alpacas, dogs and I have all been so much more comfortable.  It's forecast to be back up in the high 80's by next weekend,  but this little reprieve has given me hope that I can hang on until autumn weather arrives.

(Can you see why they are looking that way?  It's Carson!)
We had planned a little get-away over the weekend. We were going to take a trip down to Asheville on Saturday morning, spending some time wandering around the River Arts District and looking forward to having Lori Therault give us a tour of her pottery studio and point us in the direction of other places to check out.  On Sunday, we were going to make the short drive out to Echoview Fiber Mill to pick up the finished yarn from the wool and alpaca fiber I had delivered to them not long ago  and then have a leisurely afternoon in Asheville, or maybe head over to Snowbird Mountain Lodge for the night and come home sometime on Monday.  Instead, life happened and it became increasingly obvious that our get-away was not going to happen without enough accompanying stress to cancel out any benefits.  Sometimes, it's hard to give up on a plan and I have been known to push on through, but this time I did not and it was a good thing.

I ended up driving to Echoview on Monday, once again making the trip down and back in one day.  This time, I got an early start ( 6 am ) and was back home by around 7 pm.  All I can say is that I'm in LOVE with my new yarn!  I cannot recommend Echoview highly enough to do them justice.  As I wrote before, their facilities are beautiful and their people are just so, so thoughtful and anxious to please.  Marcia was a joy to work with and I felt they all truly cared about producing the nicest yarn possible.   I made myself finish up a small project ( kiddie hat and mittens ) that I started over the weekend and immediately knit up a gauge swatch with the new yarn.  It's a light and squishy two-ply worsted weight, in what I think is a gorgeous oatmeal color.  I do plan to over-dye most of it, but am going to knit a sweater for myself in the natural color.   I'm hoping to get the dye pot fired up a little later this week and will post pictures when I have some things to show.  I've already selected the pattern for my sweater - it's Hallett's Ledge.  I know I should absolutely not start another project, but my rationale is that I really, really should have a knitted sample for folks to look at, if they are considering buying some of my yarn.  Right?  I thought so!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New bowls

I've been making these felted nesting bowls for a while now.  Not long ago, I had a request for several sets and I spent some time knitting one bowl after another, while we were catching up on the last season of "Justified".  We don't watch much television and have very little tolerance for all the time the commercials consume, so we had used our satellite provider dvr to record the whole season of "Justified".  (Do you watch "Justified"?  If so, please don't believe that all people from Eastern Kentucky are like that!)  Anyway, this gave me several weeks of occasional, night-time, guilt-free knitting.


For me, one of the most enjoyable parts of making the bowls is figuring out the color combinations that I want to put together.  Sometimes, I get on a roll and make several different colors in different sizes and then play with them until I find them interesting.  I've been loosely naming the color combinations for the seasons, but maybe I need to branch out and use my imagination a little more?

I'm starting to work on getting my etsy shop back open with some handspun yarns, hand-dyed Tanglewood "Fresh from the Farm Yarn"** and a few bowl sets.  Plans are coming together for an Open Barn at Tanglewood Farm Day, when the weather is a little more conducive to thinking about wool.  That would be sometime in October, I'm hoping.  (If cooler temperatures haven't arrived by then, you may be invited to a farm dispersal sale instead!) 

**Check out the Echoview Facebook page today for a sneak preview of our fiber before it becomes "Fresh from the Farm" yarn.  It's a wool/alpaca blend that will be overdyed to create some beautiful heathered shades.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


(welcome storm clouds that actually brought rain)
I've been noticing that I'm apparently not the only blogger suffering from the heat of summer doldrums.  A lot of the blogs I read on a regular basis are offering succinct commentaries at the moment.  I don't know for a fact that it's because they've fallen into a stupor, as it seems I have done.  Hearing me whine about the heat is, I am sure, getting more and more (and more) boring.  So today, just a few pictures of what's been happening around here.

(sixteen year old boys can sleep almost anywhere)
(and so can some cats)