31 May 2013

fiber love

We got out the wool carder last time I was home and started to blend an assortment of dyed CVM Romeldale wool with some dyed mohair. Ashley made some lovely batts of fiber that she promised to spin up soon. (Hope that's true!) I'd forgotten how much fun it is to blend different fiber types. You kinda get stuck in a rut with one means and methods and just go with that - you know what I mean?

It's nice when something new presents itself.

I have to blend some batts for myself soon. I'll be making another quick trip up to the farm this weekend for yet another wedding. My brother is visiting from Philadelphia, so we will be pulling out all the stops. By that I mean, we will have multiple fish fries (if the river provides) and sit long through the morning hours chatting with cups of coffee.

I'm looking forward to it all.

That's my dad on his tractor in one of the images above. He was cleaning out the sheep barn last time I was home and spreading the manure on the cornfield. I'm happy that I caught his black angus beef cows in the shot, as well. Those girls are skittish! Details about his small herd can be found here. I don't want to upset anyone, but my parent's farm is a working farm and we do love our grilling - especially when it's an ethically raised, downright wholesome product.

Happy Friday, everyone - hope you get your grills fired up!

29 May 2013

happiness is

When I was younger I was a big fan of self help books. Back then I was a naturally happy person without many troubles, so it seems odd to me now that I would have devoured book after book on self growth and development. I think I used the books back then as a gauge for how well my own life was going, at the time I was single and young, blessed with good health and (thank goodness) a healthy family too and the books seemed to affirm all the good things in my life - everything I was doing right without even trying.

All of the lucky things that I just took for granted.

So having read all of those books I thought I was prepared to face the challenges that life throws at us with confidence and ease. To face those challenges all I would need (I thought smugly, back then, when I was reading those books) was a witty slogan to persevere. For example, any of the titles from the hundreds of chapters I read.

When you get knocked down, get back up again.


Be kind.

Do unto others as you would yourself.

Happiness is a choice.

I'm focusing on the last one today. About happiness. About choices. Choices take effort and determination. You find your thoughts tripping back into the negative and you have to gently pull them back and remind yourself to breathe. To pray. To hold and take things lightly. To be flexible. To treat the ones you love with the gentlest care.

Oh, yes. Happiness is a choice.

27 May 2013

hello sheeps

Ashley and I made an impromptu visit to the farm yesterday afternoon - I swung by her place and picked her up on the way north. Once there we met up with our nieces, grandma and rest of the family.

My niece had on a yellow hoodie that my sister wore as a child. My mom tied the hood up and I had a flashback to my childhood. Suddenly, I was looking at my sister as a little girl instead of her daughter. My niece has her father's grin, however, so I couldn't imagine she was my sister for long. She has too much of her own personality. What a little trickster!

We played around with pots, pans and dye. I wanted to see if I could dye fiber to transition in color, instead of having random color placement, so I used some rectangular pans and placed the fiber in them "accordion-style" and then poured the dye on in strips. Turned out pretty neat. Hopefully it spins up like I want it to. I plan on using these for some more weaving projects.

Can't let the loom get dusty.

Oh yah, I'm going to finish my lace cowl today. I only have a few rows left. Then I can block it and see how it looks. I've never made a cowl before, or worn one.

Hope you all are having a fantastic Memorial Day.

25 May 2013

the seeds you sew

The verb sew always relates to stitching, knitting, and other tasks involving a needle and thread or a sewing machine. It also appears in the figurative phrasal verb sew up, meaning to complete successfully or to make sure of.

As a verb, sow means (1) to scatter seed for growing, or (2) to implant. It’s the correct word in the idiom "to sow one's wild oats."

I guess I'm doing a little bit of both here and I love how the garden influences my work and my work influences the garden. I was talking to a coworker yesterday about our passions outside of the office and he commented that if he doesn't have something to do in his workshop (he creates beautiful one-of-a-kind furniture) his work at the office suffers. I feel the same way, if I only go home after work and sit in front of the TV I turn into a zombie.

Not a harmful zombie, though. Just a boring, uncreative one - we can't have that.

The last two days have been filled with hard work in the garden. In my previous post I bemoaned the state of it, now my husband and I are digging in, pulling weeds and planting all those bulbs we dug up last fall. I can't wait to see everything in bloom and to start harvesting the fruits (well mostly veggies) of our labor.

Lots of baking and cooking around here lately. I made fajitas last weekend and that set us on the path of eating Mexican-style dishes all week. The leftovers ended up in some really tasty omelets.

Happy weekend everyone.

22 May 2013




A rainy evening has kept me inside. I won't stress about the weeds that are taking over the garden, because they'll certainly be there tomorrow afternoon - much bigger and therefore easier to grab onto to pull out. I've managed to plant more seeds than pull weeds, this is the way I usually cultivate my garden. You have to know what's coming up where in order to gauge what you should do next.

The garden always looks the worst just before it looks the best.


It's always the darkest before the dawn.

Not sure that one works either. How about I make a promise to myself that I will get out there as soon as I can, and instead of worrying that it's not going to look like the "cover" garden from a magazine? I'll just enjoy the soft dirt beneath my hands.

Okay then.

I did a sketch of my garden at work the other day. I'm going to try to turn it into a little pattern for stitching.  The dark combed top is also spinning up nicely. I can't wait to combine it with the sparkly novelty yarn. One of my favorite parts of spinning is plying the strands together.

That's where the magic happens.

18 May 2013

some sparkle

What may seem like a collection of random photos summarizes my day today. An assortment of textures and images from the studio and garden. I'm working on some new yarn - a combination of novelty yarn with sparkles and our dark brown top. I'm not sure what I'll use the yarn for, but there's always a place for sparkle in our lives, right?

I found the pinecones on one of my walks last week. They were all just perfect, strewn across the sidewalk. I filled up my purse and carried them home. I'm not sure pinecones really shout 'it's summer!' but I love their crisp and delicate edges.

Dried poppy heads. These friends have sat on my desk all winter long. Last week I went to bed with the window open and the wind blew over the vase. I woke up to a scattering of poppy seeds across my work. I carefully gathered them up - poppy seeds are one of the smallest seeds that I know - and planted them in the garden.

With any luck they'll grow and keep us company all summer.

16 May 2013

grit embroidery sampler

Grit embroidery pattern can be found here.

This past week has been a whirlwind, I'm still recovering from Shepherd's Harvest, but each night when I get home from work I try to do something in the garden. Yesterday I planted some hollyhock seeds and some canna lily bulbs along the western fence. Tonight I pulled some weeds and praised the seedlings in the lettuce bed.

I'm finally posting my grit embroidery sampler to our shop. It was a thrill to create. It just sort of popped out of me and then I had to tackle a bunch of obstacles trying to figure out how I could make it work and make it into something I would hang on my wall. I got there, but not without pulling out a lot of stitches and a lot of edits to my pattern file in photoshop. Right now I'm printing the patterns using my ink jet printer, but I'd love to know how the pros do their work.

C'est la vie - such is life. Trial and error and a lot of pretty bits along the way.

I'm planting flowering kale in the garden this year. I love the way these guys "flower" without really being flowers. They look like those tissue paper flowers we all made in grade school to celebrate spring strewn along my garden walk. Fun and silly. I need that right now.

For those of you interested in how I framed my project. I got a frame on sale at one of those craft stores whose frames seem to go on sale to 50% off every month and then wrapped the fabric and taped it around the glass that would usually be used to protect the photo behind it. This might not work for a piece that's going to be hung in a kitchen or bathroom . . . but I placed mine in our living room. I also sewed a fabric edge around my piece and accented it with a feather stitch border.

I worked so hard on those stitches, I didn't want to smash them behind glass.

Happy evening, everyone.

12 May 2013

thank you

I just wanted to thank all of our wonderful supporters (and customers) for such a successful Shepherd's Harvest for Crosby Hill Farm - and I want to give another shout out to the hard-working people who organized the weekend. They had to choreograph animals and vendors and make sure the right sheep and the right vendor ended up in the right place.

And it felt like most of them did.

I took a quick stroll around with my camera yesterday afternoon and tried to capture some of the 'flavor' of the event. None of the alpacas would strike a pose for me, but several of the vendors let me take photos of their wonderful work. I really like the needle felted turtles above. They definitely need to be stacked.

The top shot is some handspun Ashely and I spun up at turbo-speed over Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. It was a sampling of fiber from many of the shops at the festival. There was some angora bunny, alpaca, every breed of wool imaginable - in all shades imaginable - all packed into a plastic bag and free to spin for anyone who was willing to donate the finished product to a silent action, the proceeds of which went to a worthy cause.

Adventures all around.

I also want to thank all of the kind people who told me that they read my blog - thank you.

Thank you, so much. 
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