Sunday, April 29, 2012

Birthday Boys

Twenty-four years ago this day I had my third son, Forrest. I remember watching Miami Vice during labor, that's how long ago it was. We celebrate Casey's birthday this day also.

Casey is now 10 and is Forrest's best buddy. Forrest brought Casey home when Casey was three years old and Forrest was a sophomore in high school. They instantly bonded and went nearly everywhere together. Forrest had to leave Casey behind when he went to college in Montana but as soon as he could he brought Casey out to live the good life in the west. They drove cross country in two long days and Casey spent days making friends in Missoula, running alongside Forrest's bike, swimming every day in the Clark Fork River and had the time of his life. I missed them both and was just as excited to see Casey as I was Forrest on our visits to Missoula. But the job market being what it is, Forrest decided to come back home to go to grad school at George Washington University. (yay!) Now I have both boys back and am one happy mom. Now I need to go make those cakes. Celebrate!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

More Yarny Goodness

This is what my dining room table looked like one day last week. It was a cold, rainy day, not at all conducive to drying wool outdoors. I turned the heat on, which had been off since maybe February (we've had such warm weather up till now) and played musical yarn on the radiators. As soon as one skein was nearly dry, off the radiator it came to hang on a chair nearby and another recently dyed wet skein took its place on the heat source.

 Yarn was everywhere, on every chair, railing, door, drying rack, and if the dogs would stand still, I would have draped them in colorful fiber.

Since Maryland Sheep & Wool Fest is coming up, I realize I needed more hands on deck. I've recently hired Claire to be a part of Dancing Leaf Farm's work force. She is a gem for sure. She is the sweetest, nicest girl and a joy to have around. Skeining yarn is a task that I just can't stay at for very long. My mind goes to a hundred different things that I'd rather be doing so Claire skeins yarn for me, much better that I could ever do. Listening to books on tape or musicals, she happily turns large yardages of yarn into smaller skeins of yarn. There's a trick to twisting the yarn into a nice looking skein and she got it down the first try. Right now I don't know what I'd do without her.
 A very nice customer dropped by with a friend a couple weeks ago. She arrived a bit before her friend and saw what the studio looks like when I'm getting ready for a big show. Yarn was covering the floor and tables and the place looked a disaster. She asked if there was any way she could help so I handed her a stapler and labels and she began labeling yarn. I guess she had so much fun doing that, that she asked if she could come back and help some more. Never one to refuse help when desperate, I said sure and put her to work assembling felting kits. She immersed herself in colorful fiber, smiling the entire time.
But I also have to give a shout out to Krista, Natalie and Ann who helped out at studio tour and help keep Dancing Leaf Farm ticking away. We only have 5 more days to create more colorful stuff so I'd better get those dyepots going!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I'm Finally Ready....Almost

It's been a fun week getting ready for my spring studio tour. I've been hobbling upstairs, downstairs, inside, outside, hauling, dying, fusing, making jewelry and just have a good time being creative. My helper, Abi, Claire and a new friend, Anne, who just showed up and started working, has made this week so much easier. They all pitched in and did the dreaded skeining, and labeling and all sorts of little and big jobs.

Krista brought her amazing things over today and helped set up. We hauled old shutters from the barn and she hung her 'Posie Pockets' on them. They're upcycled knit sweaters, felted and planted with cute spring flowers.

Old windows turned into artwork...
and one ready for photos, jewelry or favorite sayings...

Krista also makes pottery (yep, she's crafty!)
 and retro aprons, some mother/daughter/son ones too.
 Can't you just see yourself baking chocolate chip cookies in this?
 I have bracelets...

 dyed felt pieces (doesn't this look like waves and a sunset?)...

dyed mohair...
 old letterpress letters....

 plenty of Noro yarn and books...(I do heart Noro)

 I haven't had too much time to knit. Well I have, but I'm working on too many things at the moment and hardly have any of the projects done. They're not ready for their close ups yet. Except for these great little spa cloths.
 They're really wash cloths, but 'spa' sounds trendier. They're knit with organic cotton yarns, which come in 3 natural colors, cream, butter & taupe or some gently dyed pastel colors...all just yummy.
 I can just feel the softness in this photo. I've put together a kit with 3 skeins of 3 different colors. You could knit at least 6 cloths. Knit 3 for you and 3 for a friend.

 Three more of the colors.

 Phew! It got pulled together once again. I was doubtful yesterday. Now I just hope the customers come! Hope to see you! Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 10-5. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This and That for Studio Tour

Along with yarn, jewelry, and fiber, I've compiled a heap of vintage items that I'm setting up under the 'Vintage Vibe' tent. A few painted spindles....

 and lots and lots of letterpress letters. I adore these letters, so it will be hard to let them go. You never know when you want to spell something awesome.
I have this really great world atlas from 1941 when there were countries that aren't even around now. Who doesn't like old maps? There are so many things to do with them.
  (all map image projects courtesy of Pinterest)

OK, maybe I won't get rid of the maps!
Maps are soooo cool!
Love the muted colors
I've bundles up some cool retro pay cards and rulers, great for collages, projects, or whatever strikes your fancy.

Back to the yarn...I've been skeining miles of Happiness yarn in about 6 different colorways. These really will make you happy!

and for all you spinners out there who want some wool roving that's farm raised, farm praised, dyed right here in the studio and really wonderful,  I have paaa-lenty to go around.

 I've packaged them up in grab-and-go bundles, with a sweet tag to describe who you're buying it from. Includes a little bio of the girl who grew the wool...

The girls are growing more wool as you read this, so they'll be so happy that you got something right
off their backs.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Take it Off, Take it ALL Off!

 Last Monday was Shearing Day, a day to be celebrated by the wooly beasts and me too. It's always nice to have this chore behind us. When Farmer Anne arrived, I told her that I have a bad knee and she'd probably have to go in to get them, which I always help with. She said that she has a bad back due to being thrown on the ground the day before by an ornery alpaca. So I had a a little lecture for the girls in the pen. "See here. We are two old ladies in our 50's, one with a lame knee and one with a bad back, so you all better be on your best behavior. No shenanigans!" They looked at me attentivley, nodding along, so I thought we had an agreement. 

I only have them sheared once a year now, which is too long for a couple of them.
 For example, Mocha, my Rasta sheep. I don't know how she could even see, with those dreads hanging in her eyes.

 Farmer Anne got right to work.

But Mocha was a handful, apparently hadn't paid attention at the lecture, and kicked (what Anne calls the 'bicycle move'), twisted about and was just a bad girl.
Ann had to pause to catch her breath. The girls are still at Ann's pasture so we sheared in her barn, with Sugarloaf Mountain in the background and horses grazing nearby.

I cold hardly lift Mocha's fleece. This is just a third of it. (notice the green water bottle near the top to give you perspective)
 Sparkleberry was much more relaxed...

...until the blades started. She wasn't as bad as Mocha though. But Anne kept running into dense lanolin in the fleece, which just grips the blades and she has to push and push to get them through the wool. She's seen this a bit this year and doesn't know what causes it. She went onto a shearing forum to ask what do when this happens. The answer, "Shear the sheep and have a beer!" Well, when we got done with my 7, it was definitely wine-o-clock! My knee held out (I even went in to pull the sheep out), Farmer Anne's back held out and us two country girls got the job done. And the ewes feel soooo much better!