Thursday, April 29, 2010

Clown Barf?!

How can my studio go from this......

to THIS?!!!!! in such a short time?

Some folks (not MY customers though) have described variegated colored yarn as 'Clown Barf'. Well, I don't think my yarns usually look like clown barf, but laying all over the floor like this, they sorta do resemble clown barf. But once my yarns are all nicely and neatly packed into crates and hung orderly on racks, they will look like the rainbow of colors (unicorns, kitties, puppies, cinnamon, flowers and all things happy) and people will come from miles around just to buy them. Yep, packing up for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Fest which takes place at the Howard County Fairgrounds this weekend. Yay! I and my clown barf yarn will be there. (outside tent, S6). Cya

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Legs Hurt and Other Parts Too!

In spite of the terrible forecast, (gloom and doom, rain, thunder and lightning) Sue, Houston and I took off for Confluence, PA along the Great Allegheny Passage. This trail begins at Cumberland and meanders 150 to Pittsburg. I've only done stretches from Cumberland up to Meyersdale so was excited to see more of the trail. This was a trial run to see if the new bikes and various gear would work out for Sue and Houston who, along with Bruce (a friend who lives in Alaska) are riding from Missoula, MT to Talkeetna, Alaska (where Bruce lives) over 7 weeks this summer. Both Sue and Houston just got new bikes (I was riding my trusty steed of 11 years) and wanted to make sure that 1. the bike fit 2. that the gear would stay put and 3. that they could actually pedal all that weight. I was just going along for fun (whoopee!) Fun being described as 45 miles uphill to camp in the rain and 45 miles uphill (how is THAT possible?) back to the comforts of home.

But boy oh boy was this trail beautiful. It's a rail to trail that some geniuses sunk some major cash into. 150 miles of gorgeousness that connects with the 184 miles of the C&O Canal so one can ride from Pittsburg to DC without the worry of being hit by a car.

Our bikes needed a rest now and then so we usually stopped at great views.

We saw many creeks and rivers, the main rivers being the Casselman and the Youghiogheny. Miles and miles of the trail ramble along the Casselman and the path was wide enough that you could safely look down at the water. Both rivers are la-de-da calm in places and kick-your-ass-silly in others. We saw mostly calm and crossed over them on bridges a few times. A kayak trip down the Casselman may be next!

This trail was similar to the woods we would go backpacking in, but we are going a lot faster and can travel many more miles in a day. Cascading creeks were plentiful... were wildflowers. This is trillium, a showy, girly flower that invites a closer look.

This is a gathering of the adorable and aptly named, Dutchmen's Breeches.

See how these cute little flowers resemble Dutchman's breeches?
We saw spring beauties, wild phlox, and lots of others I couldn't identify. I was surprised to see how far behind the Laurel Highlands (this part of the trail goes through the Laurel Highlands) were, about 3 weeks behind. The further north we got, the less leaves were on the trees and in Confluence, the leaves were still tiny buds. Spring is my favorite season so I was thrilled to have another one.

Along the trail are many ridges which are studded with wind turbines. At times we could see the massive blades turning in the breeze. As you can see, I was always in the back (GIB: Girl in Back) which was fine with me. I listened to my Ipod (thanks Chemical Brothers and U2 for keeping me going!) and just looked at the beautiful scenery with an ear to ear grin.

I know that the bridges have been in existence as long as the rail road, which is the early 1900's. People have been working on this trail for 30 years and I think they've made a nice transition from large trains passing over to having bikes travel across.

And this very long span traverses Highway 219.

This is the highest point along the trail, the Eastern Continental Divide. The western waterways travel to the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern waterways empty in the Atlantic Seaboard. No matter which way we traveled on the trail, it was uphill to this spot.

The trail passes through 'trail towns' which boast amenities to the bicyclists, like bike shops, delis and taverns (!). Since this is a rails to trails, a metal sculpture combines the train and bike theme.

We also passed a few homes along the way and a few car graveyards.

We arrived at our destination of Confluence, set up our camp in drizzle before the real rains set in. We hightailed it to the Lucky Dog Cafe (we were the lucky dogs!) where we had yummy portabella fajitas, wine and beer and gratefully hung out in the warm and dry cafe until dark thirty when it was time to crawl into the tents for a restful night of sleep.

It rained bunches during the night and we woke to dense fog but the promise of a sunny, dry day. The forecast was worse for Sunday but it was proved wrong by a day full of pleasant riding in the sun (except for that darn uphill stuff!). We rode back to our starting point just as the first few drops of rain were falling. Lucky us! The Allegheny Passage Trail is simply a delight and I highly recommend it to everyone. It really is an easy ride, with many put ins so one doesn't have to ride very far. I see kids on bikes with training wheels so it's meant for all levels of riding. Get out there!

Monday, April 19, 2010

From the Jaws of Death

Today I was 'recovering' from the last three days of studio tour. By recovering I mean doing 3 loads of laundry, 1 load of dishes, vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, cleaning toilets, tidying up the rooms that I trashed in the last week, dying 25 lbs. of yarn, mailing 5 orders out, ordering tons more yarn and dyes (didn't get to the mowing) and saving Flopsy from the jaws of death.

Remember Flopsy is my lone hen who escaped the massacre a few weeks ago. I let her peck around during the day, keeping me company in the yard and I see her passing the doors and windows when I'm indoors. She flies way up to the barn at night to sleep.

I was quietly doing some computer work when I heard Flopsy making a racket. Then I heard a crow squawking madly so I ran outside to see what was aflutter. I followed the crow's screeching, it was flying low over my side field yelling at something down below. (thanks crow!) It's then that I spotted the fox whisking Flopsy away in its mouth. I yelled, "HEY! Drop that chicken!!!!" and to my surprise it did! It looked around at me, dropped Flopsy and hightailed it off my property. Luckily Flopsy bolted toward me (limping a bit) and hunkered down under a thick bush. It took me a full minute to find her, she was hiding so well.

Her massive red comb gave her away though. She was in shock, breathing hard, feathers ruffled and just a drop of blood on her back.

I gently picked her up and carried her to an outside couch where we sat in the sun while I stroked her back and told her everything was going to be ok. She settled in, closed her eyes and seemed to be thankful to not be fox food.

But her free range days are over so I took her to the chicken coop to introduce her to the 11 chicks. They had never seen a monster chicken before and immediately scuttled to the corners, then the braver ones tiptoed out to inspect this giant creature.

The chicks are now teenagers, that gawky stage where they're kinda ugly. Their downy feathers are poking out at odd places, their eyes are too big for their heads and their beaks take up a lot of their face. But soon they'll be lovely girls like Flopsy. And Flopsy does not quite know what to think of these little nuicances. She tends to stay in one corner while the chicks take up the rest of the coop. But the chicks better get used to Auntie Flopsy cuz she's there to stay.

And this is Daisy May. She has broken from the pack and has become my new bff (although I still miss Miss Crossbeak). Daisy May slowly comes up to me when I open the coop door and I always have chickweed or young dandelion leaves for her. I keep looking to see if her beak will be crossed. So, just another day at Dancing Leaf Farm where foxes are not at all welcome.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Peek at Studio Tour

This weekend is our Countryside Artisans' Spirng Studio Tour. I think this is the favorite tour that I do. The gardens always look their best (well, where Flopsy the chicken hasn't dug things up), and I'm always inspired to do crafts at galactic speed. As you can see from the photo above, the riverwalk pathway was completed in time. (love when that happens!)

Even the entrance was ready...

and the patio is ready for customers to bring their picnics and enjoy the views.

I've been dyeing silk scarves along with my yarns and they look so flirty blowing in the breeze (until the huge winds bring the entire chandelier down!)

A painted bamboo motif silk scarf

A peek inside Dancing Leaf Farm studio.

plenty of roving for your spinning or felting craft needs

and scads of yarn in case you need to add to your stash.

Sock yarns continue to be popular so I've got an abundant supply to keep those fingers knitting on those tiny needles.

I was busy dyeing all week

and even Casey got in on the action.

After taking a day off and viewing the cherry blossoms in DC, I came up with this colorway called "Cherry Blossom" (duh!), a pale pink with hints of white. Very cheery cherry.

I have a bit of handspun but need lots more as my goal every season is to spin last year's shearing. I have a couple large bags to spin and the girls are getting sheared next week.

I knit up this cute little summer vest out of Tabali, a cotton/viscose blend of yarn.

I'm now carrying Noni patterns. Nora Bellows is the creative force behind Noni patterns. I've recently met her and we will be collaborating on some felting kits in the future. In the meantime, she's carrying my yarns in her awesome shop at Savage Mill in Savage, Maryland and I'm carrying her adorable patterns in my shop.

Sara was out recently and I always plead with her to model for me ( Dancing Leaf Farm's First Top Model!). She's such a natural, even when it's cold and windy out.

My all time favorite and best seller, Slubby Nubby cardigan in the colorway, Carnival.

Huggin' a star. My Slubby Nubby handwarmers.

Sara modeling my Slubby Nubby Blanket with the fringe blowing back. She was happy to be wrapped in wool!

My Victorian Neck Wrap. Free pattern with purchase of this luscious linen/cotton blend yarn.

I've always liked this color combo for the 1 Square, 4 Rectangle Baby Cardigan. Spring Meadow Rhumba yarn with pink Peace Fleece for the ruffle.

For some reason I was smitten with these felt flowers. It's all I wanted to do. I cut about a hundred pieces of my hand dyed felt, then put them together in color families, some complimentary, some just the same hues (I know, I know, it's so stupid, but I couldn't wait to do all my other chores so I could get back to layering felt!). I made about 50 of them and still want to do more, go figure!

I've been teaching a lot of nuno felt classes the last few months and have finally put together some kits. I so enjoy doing these and each one comes out differently.

The kit includes one of my hand dyed silk chiffon scarves and enough fiber (hand dyed in the same colors) of wool, silk, mohair, and glitz to make your own art to wear piece.

I got downright crafty with these Scrabble necklaces. I had all the ingredients already so decided to put together these fun and whimsical necklaces.

I have my 'Jewelry with Sassitude' line of felt, glass, resin, lampwork and silver necklaces for sale in a multitude of colorways.

and plenty of glass bracelets in fun summer colors.

Hopefully you can stop on by for a visit this weekend or visit my on line store or my etsy sites fiber and yarn or jewelry & scarves. Happy spring!