Monthly Archives: June 2011

Hot Pots

And a commissioned baby's set.  I love that there is someone out there that wants to give handmade pottery to a baby!

Yarn Road Trip!

I'm super excited to turn the I-91 Shop Hop into a road trip! I only knit a little bit, but finding interesting yarn shops in CT, MA, and VT will be a fun. This:
View Larger Map(or this: is our generic map of where the yarn shops and our lovely hosts are, but we will definitely do some other exploring along the way.

Yarn Road Trip!

I'm super excited to turn the I-91 Shop Hop into a road trip! I only knit a little bit, but finding interesting yarn shops in CT, MA, and VT will be a fun. This:
View Larger Map(or this: is our generic map of where the yarn shops and our lovely hosts are, but we will definitely do some other exploring along the way.

Another giveaway!

Hop on over to Juniper Moon Fiber Farm for a giveaway of hand washed, hand carded, hand spun wool from one of my favorite sheep (one of everyone’s favorite sheep actually!) Alabama!


I have had a super-busy Spring, and as such my Etsy shop – though you are welcome to visit it – is rather bare! So, rather than one of my hand-dyed skeins, I have a super special give-away this time. Susie presented me with a truly amazing gift at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May, Alabama’s very first fleece! For those of you who don’t know, Alabama is the love-child of the May/December romance of dear Miss Daisy and Truman - sly whippersnapper that he was! He is Susie’s very first Cormo/Babydoll Southdown cross and his fleece is delicious! It is super lofty and buttery like a Cormo with a lovely crimp but is not quite as soft and has a great spring to it. I suspect it will knit up rather like a soft shetland with that nice spring, good for showing an open stitch. I washed the fleece, hand-carded some and spun a skein up! It is the first time I have tried to spin a true long draw- hopefully preserving some of the springy goodness of this yarn! I need to work on my tension a bit and would not use this yarn for socks, but for mits? Heck yes!

So, the prize is one skein of undyed hand-loved Alabama, and a copy of the book “Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece” by Gail Callahan. This is one of my favorite how-to-dye books because it is chock-full of great information about tons of dye techniques (using things like microwaves, crock-pots, mason jars and parking meters), has a spiral spine so it lies flat, has a nice set of projects in the back, and has LOTS of great pictures! The skein is 6 oz. of Alabama goodness, about 225 yards of two-ply which will probably knit up as a sport to light worsted weight.

How to win – I am gearing up for another set of instructional knitting videos, this next will be on increasing and decreasing. After that, what would you like to see demonstrated? Cables? Two-color knitting? Basic sweater design? Dyeing techniques? Go have a look then let me know on the Fiber Farm blog what else you have been itching to try, and as usual, by magical random number generator Jenny will pick a winner on Monday!


Very busy spring this year - not good for blogging. Here are two videos of the chickens.

Aggie and Ethel take a bath together on a hot June morning:

Bathing Chickens from Lisa Stockebrand on Vimeo.

Lulu, Mavis and Mini discover a new snack...

Jumping Chickens from Lisa Stockebrand on Vimeo.

So Much to DO

So this is our first spring and summer in our new to us house.  I swore I would just care for the yard and manage what was there....but like usual I had to brighten it up and make it OURS.  So through the 98 degree days we have been having (only 80s this week thank God!) I managed to accomplish quite a bit in the garden:

New hosta bed under our pink dogwood, all moved from the back yard where we have a ton more....

Bee Balm (the bees and butterflies are happy)

Lavendar.  I hope I have better luck with it here...

Another new bed with plants sent to me by a friend in Massachusetts!  I think these hot days have been quite a shock for them.  Luckily we have full rain barrels....

LOVE this coreopsis.  I've been trying to keep natural dyeing in mind while planting....

Chocolate Mint sent to me from Texas!  (You'll notice its in a pot.  Learned my lesson years ago about the invasiveness of mint!!)

Echinacea (should be a good show next year) zinnias and dusty miller with some basil in between. (MMMMMMM  pesto!)

Our first tomato is almost ready!  Thanks Aline!!

Cascadian Hops.  The previous owners were homebrewers.  Greg packed up his homebrewing supplies when he bought his last guitar....his aunt wants to use the cones for baking bread and I am researching the dyeing possiblities for the vines.  One things for sure.  THE VINES ARE LETHAL.  The sticky spiney vines left bloody scars on the backs of my legs after a day of weeding.  Now I know.

Of course, in the evenings I found time to spin...Wensleydale from Flying Fibers in Pennsylvania.

And YES I have been throwing pots.  I have a few commissions that are ready to be bisque fired...
Below are some assorted farm style cereal bowls, slipped and painted and ready to go.

A herd of sheepy banks....

Full to the brim.  But I have two more small plates that I have to make room for....

I only have one table to work on in my studio, and a small one at that.  So my Dad and I came up with a plan, carried out by Dan the Handyman.

These two side by side shelves have become....

...a terrific canvas covered work surface!

Still have a long list of things to do this Summer....painting rooms in the house, new stock for my Etsy shop, preparations for the Fall Fiber Festival (I need to modify my show setup) three looms to warp, concerts to attend (The Decemberists, Gillian Welch and Ray LaMontagne to name a few!)

I'll be back!

Tips for People Who Hate to Write

Last time we talked about the reasons people don’t like to write.

Today, we’re going to talk about ways to help them.

  • Dictate into a recorder rather than typing. Maybe it’s the physical act of getting words out of your head and onto paper/screen that’s too intimidating. So just try doing it aloud. Countless famous writers in the history of the world have done this.
  • Imagine yourself talking to a friend, a client, or a student. Still having trouble getting the words to flow normally? Be conversational and try to think how you would tell this to someone who needs to know.
  • ACTUALLY talk to a friend, but record the session to transcribe later. (Bonus points if they can take dictation and do this for you.)
  • Take a notebook and go sit somewhere comfortable, away from the scary, empty computer screen. Sometimes just moving to a different, low-key environment helps creativity flow. Writers write in coffeehouses for a reason, you know, and it’s not just the copious amounts of caffeine. (Of course this assumes you’ll be able to read your handwriting later on)
  • Jot down notes to yourself in an email. This becomes no-pressure writing because you’re just electronically talking to yourself, but once you send the email, voila, you’ve got text that you can read and edit and tweak.
  • Get something, anything, down on the screen. Stilted phrases. Sentence fragments. Half-realized, wandering thoughts. Anything at all. Then walk away and don’t even look at it until tomorrow.
  • Then, after your writing has rested, go back and read your fragments, no matter how unstructured, and try to fill them out for people who don’t know as much as you do.
  • Ask a friend or family member to read your scribbles and make suggestions on how to fix them.
  • Pretend that everything is riding on this–your livelihood, your family, your home. If you don’t get this written, you’ll lose everything.The sun will cease to shine. Your life as you know it will end, so–you’ve GOT to do this.
  • Or, if that’s too much pressure (grin), Tell yourself that NOTHING is riding on this. You’re just idly passing the time, randomly putting words on a page just for the hell of it. No pressure.
  • Start a journal. I know. You’re having trouble writing the things you need to write and I’m suggesting a completely unnecessary journal of more writing. But, bear with me. Sometimes, all you need to do to be able to write is to PRACTICE writing. You know, somewhere it doesn’t matter in the least, and what you say doesn’t mean anything to anyone but you. The important thing is that you’ll start getting used to putting words on a page.
  • Start by describing something. What do you see outside your window? What color are the leaves? Really? Green? That’s the best you can do? What KIND of green? Are they all exactly the same color? Are they plush and healthy? Are they in direct sun so that they’re sparkling? Or in shadow? You can delete this later, but for now, just get your fingers and your brain moving.
  • Take typing lessons. Maybe part of your problem is that you don’t feel comfortable enough with a keyboard. Maybe you spend so much time hunt-and-pecking for the letters, your brain’s getting distracted by the mechanics of it. Try one of those typing-tutor programs. Even if you already know how to touch-type, you’ll improve your time and that never hurt anyone. Sometimes just getting used to hitting the keys is enough to segue from “asas asas adad adad afaf afaf agag agag” to real words.
  • Type randomly. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you have to write. If you truly can’t get started, just type random gibberish and work on moving toward full, random sentences, and then into sentences on a topic (any topic), and then, when you’re ready, about whatever you actually should be writing in the first place. (Just, um, don’t forget to delete the gibberish later on.)

Okay … I’m tapped out. What suggestions do YOU have for people who don’t like to write, but have to?

There are People who Don’t Like to Write?

I’ve been told that there are people who don’t like to write.

I know. It was a shock to me, too.

I don’t mean that feeling that writers get when they can’t focus, or when they dread sitting down at their desks and come up with all sorts of other tasks that need to be done right this second in order to put off the inevitable. Word avoidance isn’t what I mean.

No, I’m talking about people who actually don’t like writing. At all. Any form of it. The kinds of people who can just about summon up the energy to write “Happy birthday. Love Dad” on your annual card. Or the people who write one line emails like, “I made reservations for dinner next Saturday,” and then sign it with their initials.

I’m not talking about a 15-year old, either, for whom you might be able to blame the texting thing–Kids These Days don’t know how to write full sentences, we’re told.

No, this not-liking-to-write avoidance transcends adolescence. It affects businessmen trying to write memos, mothers emailing teachers, bloggers struggling to post …

The irony is that, in this computer-driven world of ours, writing is more important than ever, and yet more and more people are completely tongue-tied when faced with a blank page (digital or otherwise).

So … what do you do?

As a person who loves words, loves writing, and (while able to procrastinate with the best of them) can usually find something to write down, it’s hard to comprehend how other people can’t summon up three consecutive sentences. For example, I might mention to, oh, my father, that I “only got 500 words written today,” and he’ll look at me speechlessly and say he can’t imagine writing that much in a month. Or, I’ll casually refer to my novel and its 90,000 words and he’ll tell me that he’s never written that many words in his life. The mere thought of being able to do so astounds him.

Now, my father (and other afflicted souls) have plenty to say. You can sit down and have lively conversations with them where they spread good advice, brilliant ideas, and generally interesting factoids about all sorts of subjects. Yet, when you say, “That’s great. You should write it down,” fear sets in.

I know, I know. Many people don’t like to read, so their familiarity with sentence structure may be weak. They not be facile with words because they’re mere nodding acquaintances. But then there are the people (like my father) who take weekly trips to the library to check out new books to read … and yet the idea of writing more than a sentence or two makes him dig in his heels and say, “I can’t!”

My question to you is … why? What makes this happen?

Next time … tips for these poor, lost individuals.

Camp, Libraries and Yarn

When you try to describe what Pinewoods is like to someone who has never been there before it is, like many other places that are deeply special to many different people, a difficult task. I began dancing when I was twelve, adopted by my neighbors and brought into the contra/English/Morris dance community. It was then that I first heard the stories. Everyone I have met who has gone to camp carries a nostalgic urge to tell their Pinewoods. It became a dream to go. Neither of my parents dance and anyone under 18 needs a chaperone. So, I began commissioning, to no avail, my mom's friend, a contra dance musician, to take me; we still haven't met in person.

At 18, with a nudge from a friend who was taking her family and a hefty amount of scholarship support, I finally went. I hardly slept I wanted to take in every aspect of camp and the last night I broke down. Exhausted and overwhelmed by sentimentality of the last waltz I started to fall apart: if I left the next day, how could I ever get back? It had been a stretch to afford going the first time, a second time seemed truly impossible. Which is when a scheme emerged: if I got in again and could not afford to go, I needed to let people know, because they would send me five dollars in the mail and collectively they would help me get there. It was a wonderful thought that cheered me up enough to get through the rest of the night and the next day, but I did not realize the impact it would have.

Two years later I decided that it would be easier to go while in college than after and so if I wanted to get there again I needed to act. I applied, got in and got some support, but not as much as before. I was heartbroken. Almost on a whim I emailed the camper created list and informing the group I was holding them to their promise of five dollar pledges. The support streamed in, cards and notes, crumpled bills and neatly folded cheques started arriving with other people's stories of needing help to be able to dance and wanting to pass along the support they got now that they were in a position to do so. I still cannot believe how generous people were, many of whom I hadn't met. That was how I managed to go back a second time.

The first weekend in June I went back for my third work weekend, helping open camp for the summer. Along with the crew, 18 volunteers raked paths; opened cabins; moved docks; cleared the irrigation systems and rebuilt the burms that divert water off the paths; cleaned the remaining and difficult to reach windows; cleaned, organized and readied the kitchen; spread wood chips across paths and made Pinewoods ready for a summer's worth of singing, dancing, story telling, and some crafting on the side. Every work weekend I get a chance to give back to a community that has done so much to help me get to programs like Pinewoods. I have been given rides, room and board for weekends in exchange for babysitting, and donations from nearly-strangers so that I can be a part of this world, and it is incredible. Each time I sign up for a work weekend I relish writing: "No work or food restrictions" on my registration. I can show up and do what needs to be done so that others can have experience the magic, as one camp-mate of mine said, "each camp has their own magic, it's hard to describe", of their week at Pinewoods.


Last summer I created a pilot program for teen programming at my local library. We had summer-long projects and weekly programs. It was fairly successful and I kept well within my budget. It was great experience and the moms loved me. This summer I've been asked back to run the weekly programs. We will be doing some fun projects and I love getting to know the kids who go to the library. This year's theme is One World, Many Stories which I think leaves the door open to some much easier projects than last year's Splash/Wave theme, which is hard to craft around in a library.


Lastly, but not leastly, a very generous co-worker picked up a passport for me (and it came with a big purple reusable bag, hooray!) for the I-91 Shop Hop and I am going to make a weekend of it, driving up to Northampton on Friday or Saturday, staying the night with a friend, driving the rest of the way on Saturday or Sunday and then going to Boston on Sunday (or Saturday night if I can find another couch) to go to a meet up with some Juniper Moon Farm fans!

WSJ: YA is evil; Readers: YA saved my life; WSJ: We hear you

On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal published a scathing article on Young Adult fiction. There is definitely some truth to the article, but as someone who is just barely familiar with the genre, it's impossible for me to judge just how accurate or representative the writer's examples are.

Readers objected, of course, starting a thread on Twitter called #YASaves. But here's the most interesting part of the story: the Wall Street Journal posted a subset of those tweets to their Storify account, pointed to it from their Twitter account, and invited further comment to their Facebook page.

So what do you think about the stodgy, conservative old Wall Street Journal proving to be the savviest of new-media newspapers?