Saturday, September 26, 2009

Common Ground Fair

Yesterday I took a little "me" time. With the kids loaded on the bus, water troughs full and sheep quietly munching hay, I headed out to the Common Ground Fair. It was such a beautiful drive into the central area of Maine, the leaves are beginning to turn, the sky was deep greys and blues and the wind was moving the clouds across the sky allowing the sun to peek out and cast rays of light on the earth from time to time. I turned off the radio and drove in silence. Ahhhh peace and quiet.

Quite a few of my fellow fiber farmers were vending at the fair this year, I was accepted, but was put on a waiting list. I didn't push the issue though, as I had such a busy year with the wholesale line that I decided to adjust to the demands of that new venture and enjoy one last year of being free to roam around.
I found my friend Polly first by following the smells of Sweet Annie. Polly was busy cutting this incredibly sweet-apple scented plant and hanging it in her booth. She was wearing one of her beautiful Icelandic sweaters, handknit from her Icelandic yarn ...gorgeous! You'll find the nicest hand-made soap around at her farm, Fibah For Ewe, she is a master soap maker! Next I saw Susan Perrine, my weaving friend. Susy was teaching folks how to weave in the Demo Tent. This summer Susy wove some beautiful scarves using two different weights of my yarns. She is an excellent teacher and offers classes for beginners. Don't have a loom? No problem! She can teach you using boxes, sticks ...just about anything! Ohhh and take a look at her Garden Structures on her website, I want her to build several around my property for my sheep!:)
After a cup of hot cider and roaming through the Craft Tent, Rabbit Barn and Poultry Barn I found Betty. She was busy sharing her knowledge of Angora rabbits and how to spin their fiber. Her booth was overflowing with hand-dyed yarns and roving blends for spinning. Across the way I found Louise and Stephen Hessert of Pleasant Valley Farm . Louise was her usual cheerful self, displaying her yummy Romney yarns and rovings.
From there I wandered off to see Robbi - my favorite potter from Maple Lane Pottery. Robbi creates pottery with sheep ( The "Judy Design" I call it as they look like my Judy ), and Belted Galloway cows, and the coolest chicken designs I have ever seen! I spent most of my money at her booth ( Thanks Robbi!!!) which prevented me from going back through the Rabbit Barn and purchasing another Angora rabbit!

Off to look at the beautiful oxen. mules, cows and goats.

These girls made me feel like my butt is not that big.

Please honey ..... can I have one of these?

Wouldn't Romeo love this little girl to play with?
My day ended watching these beauties effortlessly pull thousands of pounds across an arena.

Back to reality! Back to Romney Ridge!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Sometimes I have days when I go in circles, I used to think that I was this great multi-tasker, who accomplished so much in one day, but the reality is I start a lot of things and take three or four more days to actually finish them.
Yesterday I started and completed some very important tasks that I needed to get done, some because the yard was a mess, some because, well, the leaves are turning and the cold will creep up on us before we are ready, and some because I have several deadlines to meet before the end of the month. I started in my humble little barn, mucking out the stalls, and preparing to re-bed them for the winter. Comet, a.k.a. Evil Bunny is free once again to roam the paddocks and raid what is left of my gardens.
Once the barn was mucked out, I pulled down hundreds of dusty cobwebs, packed up the fans, plugged in the emergency lights, and moved the ponys to the front paddock where the run in shelters them from cold November winds and rain.
Then I set up the "boys" side of the barn. All wethers, three of which are still growing, and Angus, whose "beans" have yet to drop therefore making him a ram still, moved to one side where they can have access to plenty of grain and minerals and have less competition for food from the fat piggy ewes. Then it was on to Queen Uma, whose long locks needed to come off before it gets too cold, and they get too long. They fell from my scissors and piled up ion the stand, a beautiful clip!

I did decide to breed two ewes, one out of curiosity and one for saleable lambs. Shirley, Lyra's dam, went in last week, and Annie, my brown Babydoll ewe is in for the rest of the winter. I am tempted to put Millie in as well, as she always gives me such beautiful lambs, but I have a busy spring ahead and two should be enough to lamb out.After barn chores were done, 125 bales of hay were delivered and put in, and I needed to sit down. I sat on the deck and skeined off the latest batch of Wool/Mohair/Angora blend that just came back from the spinnery. My plans were to over-dye the beautiful , light grey yarn, but seeing it in it's natural state, the mohair shimmering in the sunlight, I decided keep it it's true color. It is gorgeous! I'll put it on my website today along with the new shawl pins my potter friend Donna is making.
In two weeks I will be at the Harbor Arts Show in Camden, then off to N.Y. to judge fleeces and win that big ribbon ( that's a poke at my friend Betty! :) ) So the next weeks will keep me busy preparing, dyeing, and creating. The Harbor Arts Show is a beautiful "high-end" show on the waterfront park in Camden - October 3rd and 4th. Hopefully I can focus on the tasks as hand now that my "Sheeple" are all set for cold months ahead.

Maybe I should follow Sam's lead and talk football with Romeo. :)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

From Sheep To Sweater

Yesterday was a day I have waited a long time for. For years I have been saying " One of these days I am going to knit myself a sweater from Joe's fleece." Then every spring, I shear and Joe's fleece becomes roving that I spin. Some I sell, and some I have stock piled in my basket of I-will-eventually-get-to-it projects.
This year though, I decide it was time. Joe is getting old, his beautiful silvery fleece came off his old sheep body this spring and revealed a thinner fellow that years past. His teeth are wearing down and he is treated to a soft mash dinner once a day. Now don't worry, I expect a few more good years with him. My husband was working on the barn yesterday and when he crinkled the wrapper of his granola bar, old Joe came running from the other end of the paddock, hopped over a ladder and began begging like a dog for a piece of the yummy surprise that I am sure he thought was for him.

This spring, I needed a few good knitters to turn out some sample knitting for me so I posted my needs on Ravelry. A young lady from Portland responded and within a few weeks had whipped up two samples. WOW!...this girl is talented ...I knew I had found my "Joe Sweater" knitter. We looked at patterns, took a few measurements, and off she went with a 2840 yard cone of Joe yarn.
Saturday, she returned with the most beautifully knit sweater I have ever seen. I chose a pattern that made up into a long swing-coat type sweater. The detail is exquisite, the silvery yarn flows, and has beautiful drape. I can't stop looking at it, showing it off to friends, holding it, wrapping myself up in it! I just LOVE it! Thank you Bristol! Thank you for your beautiful work, and the time you put into this project. Thank you!
And thank you old's to many more seasons of watching you grow that beautiful fleece ... and to many more seasons of you.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Rich Reds and A Fall Palette

I'm getting really excited !!! A few of my very talented knitters are almost done with the patterns I am working on. Some have designed for me, some are following, tweaking and correcting my patterns, and some are following patterns they have used for years. All are creating finished products to show how nicely this beautiful 100% Maine yarn knits up. I have introduced some new colors for fall. One being a rich mulberry red, and another a soft pear yellow. YUMMY! They look so beautiful drying on the deck in this perfect weather. Look closely my Yarn-Of The-Month junkies ....September's yarn is in this mix. Remember to check out the Dachshund Rescue of North America's website - Hamlet is who I am donating sales portions to this month.

Aloisia Pollock, a knitwear designer from Jefferson designed this beautiful scarf for me using only one skein of yarn. She displays and sells her work at Pinetree Yarns in Damariscotta. I am so impressed with her work, and she uses Maine grown wools and llama blends. Yea!!!! Her patterns are available for sale at Pinetree Yarns.
Well I cannot show you the beautiful harvest from my garden this year. Mostly summer squash and buttercup squash made it through the damp, wet spring, the rainy summer and the cool late summer that we are experiencing now. The celery and broccoli didn't do too bad, but it is all eaten up and none was left to freeze for winter. These Jerusalem Artichokes look just beautiful though, I suppose I could dig up the roots and eat them. Romeo and Uma are enjoying the lower leaves, and will ultimately eat the whole thing when the first frost sets in. This week I will work on sorting another 250 lbs of fiber, clipping Uma is high on my "to-do" list as well, and Joker's bachelor pad needs securing. I am hopeful that we will have a beautiful Indian summer. Why not, we deserve it.

The cool, dry, sunny weather puts an extra spring in my step, and makes me feel very artsy-fartsy. Time to get cracking on the entry for the New York Sheep & Wool Festival. Last year I won 1st place, this year I am going for Best In Show ... hmmmmm I wonder what Betty is up to? ( wink, wink).