Friday, May 31, 2013

Life in the fast lane

(Moonrise over the farm)
At least that's how it seems these past few weeks.....which I know is pretty laughable to some of you who work full time away from home and also manage to maintain things on the home front. I'm such a homebody and cherish my quiet time on the farm, but it's been a whirlwind of activities during the month of May.  I can't really complain because everything that's been going on has been so much fun.  I'm just feeling a little disorganized and behind in the chore department.   I've discovered that those chores don't seem to go anywhere.  They sit there waiting until I get myself together and starting working on them-which can be bad or good, depending on how you look at it.

(some flowers in progress)
(Marlene and I made these beauties)
Last Friday I had so much fun in Nicola Brown's felting workshop that was held at Jan Durham's house.  I went with a very small goal. I wanted to learn to make felt flowers and I accomplished that, plus had such a fun day with my table-mate, Marlene Williams.  Everyone else worked very hard on bigger projects like nuno felted scarves and iPad cases, but we were content to play along with our flowers.  I'm very happy to know how to do these now and can see unlimited possibilities for using them as embellishment on lots of things. Nicola is always fun to take a workshop with and if you ever have the opportunity, jump on it.  She's gone on to teach in California right now, then will be returning home to Ireland after that.  I'm hoping she'll be back in Kentucky to teach again this time next year.

I've got more good stuff getting ready to happen and I'll be back soon with news about that.  Happy summer everyone!

(Haven't tried duplicating these poppies in felt, but I'm thinking about it!)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Number Nine

We finally were able to go to Cincinnati on Sunday and I got to spend some quality time holding grand-baby number nine!  I was sick for more than a week after he was born and didn't get to go to the hospital with Mike.  Shortly after I got well, Mike came down with the sickness, then it was the natural dye workshop and finally the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival.

Baby Atticus is such a little blond cutie, it was hard to relinquish him, once I got my hands on him.  I'm a baby lover from way back and there's nothing I enjoy more than having a tiny body snuggled up against me.  After raising three boys and experiencing the eight grandchildren before him, I know all too well that these first months go by in a blur.  Crimson and Taylor are in a bit of a newborn-in-the-house fog, but settling in and hitting their stride in their roles as a mom and dad.  We can't wait for Atticus to be big enough to come find out what life on the farm is all about!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

(my beloved peonies are blooming-avert your eyes from the weeds!)
 So, it's back to real life.  The Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival is behind us and it was pretty terrific - the best yet!  I saw so many of you and met lots of new folks and answered the question, "What kind of sheep are those?" at least a hundred times.  Everyone who got a look at my girls in their pen wondered where they got those gorgeous curly locks.  For the record, they are half Wensleydale and they've got luster and curls galore.  My grand-daughter, Jordan, was a fantastic help the whole weekend and grandson, Coleman, pitched in on Saturday and Saturday evening for the Farm-to-Table dinner.  It was great fun having them around.

(Carson enjoying the view of growing, growing grass)

So what's happening around the farm this week?  Mostly regrouping, reorganizing and gearing up for the next event on the calendar.  What's not happening?  Mowing .... mowing that desperately needs doing.  Mike reminded me last night that I'm always in this agitated frame of mind in May and early June because the grass it growing and it's raining and getting the timing right for mowing is so difficult.  We've even hired a little help this year and are still struggling to hit a day when he's available to come mow and it's not too wet.  Our farm is one of those "picturesque", hilly places that makes mowing a bit of an adventure, even when it's dry.  You do not attempt it when the ground is wet.  Mike also reminded me that this phase will pass and soon enough the grass-growing frenzy will slow down.

Tomorrow I'm off for a felting class.  The fabulous Nicola Brown is here from Ireland again and I'm taking one of her workshops.  Honestly, Nicola is so much fun to be around, I'd take the workshop even if I didn't already know I was going to learn so much!  Nicola comes to the states for teaching gigs at least once a year and we're so lucky to be on her itinerary.

So, here's a question.  If you knew you were going to have only two days to spend in New York City, what would you want to see and do?  That's going to be part of my next adventure and I'm having trouble making a plan.  I need help!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Crazy time, lazy time

(under stormy skies last week)
It's that time of year.  The one when I feel I'm totally crazy for living this life I live.  So, so much to do and it all needs doing right now!  I'm sure I can hear the grass (and weeds) growing and it has rained so much that the ground is saturated and everything is too wet.  By the time it dries out enough to get on the mower and the tractor, another rainy spell is forecast.  Plus, the fiber festival is THIS WEEKEND!  (and, I am so not ready)  I'm giving myself a pep talk.  I'm trying to relax about it and just go with the flow.  I'm probably not going to get any more new yarn dyed or any more fibers spun up or any more felted bowls ready, but I have some fabulous natural colored roving and some freshly shorn fleeces that are lovely and I'm going to have a good time!  New to my booth this year are some really great yarn tools (and you know how we fiber people like to add new tools to our arsenal!)  Wes and Elissha Waltrip have designed some great "yarn buddies" and a very clever and affordable swift/skein winder that I'm sure many of you need to add to your collection. My wonderful grand-daughter, Jordan, is coming to help me again and we'll have time to sit and spin together or knit or just chat, so what more could I ask for?  Well, maybe some lovely weather so all you folks will want to be there at the festival with us.

I am excited about this year's festival.  It promises to be bigger and better than ever.  All the vendor spots are full and there will be even more vendors set up outside.  I'll be in the livestock area, which this year has been moved so that it's adjacent to the big vendor areas.  I'm going to have a few half Wensleydale yearling ewes with me that will be for sale.  Their fleeces are so bright and beautiful, they practically sparkle!  I'm even thinking about bringing Miss Luna along (she's a big girl now).  Come on by for a visit while you're at the festival.

As far as lazy time, that would be what all the animals who live here are enjoying.  Without lambs to raise this year, the ewes are doing nothing but eating and sleeping, eating and sleeping and then, maybe more eating.

(Pippi - all her spots revealed!)

Friday, May 10, 2013

The workshop in pictures

This week has gotten totally away from me.  I intended to get another post-workshop post up right away and here I am on Friday scrambling to do it.  Warning:  This is going to be a picture heavy post that's light on words.  These were all taken by Sara when she came over to document the happenings for me.  I hope I've managed to include everyone.  I was trying to find pictures with everyone included and these are in no particular order ...... just random scenes of the fun we had last week.

(There was a lot of this particular activity - nosy alpacas having their picture taken.)
(Prince and Robyn - up close and personal)
(Sue, Dagmar, Reg, Miho, Diane-with-one-N, Mary)
(Chris, Robyn, Dagmar, Anne and Reg in the background, Diane-with-one-N.  This picture could be called "Cochineal Behaving Badly"  They were able to make it behave and become red.)
(Diane-with-one-N-checking her iPhone timer.  This was a lesson for me - I had no idea I could use my phone as a timer.  See the valuable stuff I learned last week?)
(Carson chose Lisa to be his personal servant for the workshop)
(K. and Dagmar - I tried the whole time to figure out a way to confiscate Dagmar's apron - I love it!)
(There were lots of teaching moments)

(Barb and Lisa dubbed themselves the Remedial Team, but they did great!!)
(Beautiful steaming madder)

(One of Dagmar's gorgeous hand-dyed, handwoven scarves)
(The girls were not the least disrupted from their routine. It didn't faze them at all to see all those cars parked in front of the studio.  Can you see Pippi inside the little shed?)

So, this week has been a mostly rainy blur and now it's on to the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, which will be next weekend, May 18 and 19.  We've got so much good stuff to offer this year.  There will be new fiber vendors, skein, picture and fleece competitions (don't forget that some of those fleeces will be for sale when the judging is finished), new food vendors (we're having gelato this year-that makes me so happy!), some great Bluegrass and Celtic music and we've added a Farm-to-Table dinner on Saturday evening.  Check out the website for all the happenings and then come out and enjoy the weekend with us!

Edited to add:  Check out Lisa's post on the workshop.  She did a fantastic job of explaining the whole process!  Lisa Binkley's Fiber Art Blog.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The joy of making friends while dyeing

I hardly know where to begin.  This past Thursday, Friday and Saturday Tanglewood Farm was the gathering place for a natural dye workshop and it was such a great experience.  Dagmar Klos, who wrote the Dyer's Companion came here from Chicago to teach twelve of us the joys of dyeing wool with natural dyes.  We learned to do the math (it wasn't too scary!), prepare our fiber and the dye matter and so much, much more.  I'll confess that beforehand I was a little worried about how the studio would accommodate that many of us for three full days and if people would enjoy themselves while they were here.  I needn't have worried.  It turned out to be the most wonderful group of women and by the time it was over, I felt I had gained a new group of kindred spirit friends.  The camaraderie and teamwork displayed during the three days of the workshop were examples of every good thing I know about a group of women coming together for a common interest.  One of the best things I noticed was that though we ranged in age from 30's to 60's and many different walks of life,  every single person spent time in one-on-one conversation and sharing with everyone else.  Thank so much to all of you who braved the country roads and lack of road signs (!) to find your way here.

I can't say enough good things about Dagmar.  If you ever have the opportunity* to take a workshop from her, jump on it!  She's such a good teacher.  She's warm and encouraging and keeps you focused and on task with just the right amount of direction.  This was a very hands-on workshop.  We learned by Dagmar patiently taking us through each step of the process.   Added to that, she was the very best kind of house guest (and was even willing to eat leftovers on her last night with us!).  (*You should make a note right now because if all goes as planned, she'll be coming back to teach at the 2014 Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!)

 I'm pretty sure Dagmar has never had to conduct a class in the kind of working conditions I presented her with.  We spent time around the table in the studio to begin each day, but after that we were mostly in the barn aisle with our dye pots.  Between Luna being part of the class on one day and the alpaca boys continually peering at us over the fence, to the birds flying in and out of the barn over our heads all day,  our natural dyeing class was surrounded by nature.  She was a great sport about it and never complained.

I'm going to take this opportunity to thank great friends for helping me feed everyone while they were here.  David saw to it that we had fabulous food from Shaker Village (everyone especially loved the tomato celery soup), Mary Cherrey baked her famous banana bread and cookies to help fuel us up every morning and Teresa presented us with an elegant lunch on Saturday that had everyone thinking they'd been invited to a fancy Derby party!  I can't tell you how many times people told me how lucky I was to have such good friends who are fabulous cooks!  (Believe me, I know how lucky I am!)

K. Crane was my partner in crime for this workshop.  It all happened because we had a conversation about how fun it would be to have a natural dye workshop here at the farm.  K. volunteered that she knew Dagmar and would be happy to talk to her about coming to Kentucky sometime in the spring.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  K. was instrumental in helping me get it all set up and she also spent a considerable amount of time skeining up half of the 900 mini-skeins we needed to have prepared ahead of time.  (I'll confess that I used making mini-skeins as my excuse for watching many years worth of "Monarch of the Glen" within a 3 day period!) Thanks so much K. for all your hard work.

(Chris and Robyn cooking their stinky bugs - cochineal)
(our indigo solution)

(So many glorious colors - all from natural dyes!)
I have lots of pictures to share from the workshop and will be posting those later this week.  My friend Sara came out on Friday and took some really good pictures that I want to share.  (I'm not so great at taking pictures when things are happening around me - these were all snapped with my iPhone.)