Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Great February Spin

This month’s Enchanted Knoll Farm Batt Club offering is a Shetland/silk blend called “Conversation Hearts”. Now, I have only been spinning a year, but Shetland is one of my favorite fibers to spin. I spun some last year that was 100% Shetland, and the sparkly batt using a base of Shetland and silk is just as dreamy as I’d thought it would be.

Anyway, I’ve spun up about half of it. The colors are very bold, and I think this is destined to become a Citron…what do you think?

Here’s the rest of the batt – I get it with super duper extra sparkles:

And here’s what I’ve spun up so far:

Sheep of the Week: Ara

Our Sheep of the Week is Ara!

She’s one of the four Border Leiscester ewes in our Colored Flock and, as such, is named for a constellation (the other ewes are Lyra, Cassiopeia, and Carina).

Unlike Lyra and Cassiopeia, however, she doesn’t have any distinguishing markings– no stars in the sky, to keep carrying the metaphor. In fact, she and Carina are pretty easy to confuse with one another in their solid blackness, except that Ara is TALL (below, you can see her standing next to Carina). She also seems a bit longer than any other sheep has the right to be. In fact, before her name was settled, Zac and I shorthanded her as “The Big ‘Ole Black Sheep,” because we are exceptionally creative.

She’s a little more wary than the other Border Leicesters, and definitely likes to stick with them– it’s a little endearing, seeing how devoted she is to her (half)-sisters.

Since we put all four of them in with Solomon this past fall, there’s a very good chance that she’s bred. I’m really looking forward to getting to know her (and her lambs) better.

NEXT WEEK on SotW: Everyone’s favorite PEEGS, Charlie & Churchill!

Next NEXT WEEK on SotW: Send in your suggestions, and I will make certain you’re introduced.

A Yarn Storming Progress Report

It started two and a half years ago and it started with a mistake. My mistake, actually.

I had some yarn to give away and, rather than letting the random number generator chose the winner as we had always done before (and since), I asked people to enter by leaving a comment on the post telling me why they should win the yarn.

The stories people left on that post broke my damn heart. Stories of sudden unemployment and imminent foreclosure. Stories of loss and tragedy and loss of hope. I could scarcely read those stories because I didn’t have enough yarn to send to every single one of them and that killed me. Absolutely killed me.

Not because yarn would have solved any of their problems, but because- to a knitter and crocheter- yarn is hope. Yarn is several hours break from thinking about the lousy state of your finances, the lousy state of the world. Yarn is the opportunity to use your skills to make something both beautiful and practical, to remember that you are good at something and to be proud of what you can do.

Like I said, it killed me that I didn’t have enough yarn to send to each and every person who commented on that thread. And then I thought about my own enormous yarn stash, a stash so big that I wouldn’t have time to knit it all if quit working today and lived to be 100. And I thought about all my knitting friends, sitting on similarly huge stashed. And I got the germ of an idea.

I went to the women in our Ravelry group and asked them what they thought about collecting unwanted stash yarn from knitters and redistributing it to knitters in need. Everyone agreed that it was a great idea but one person, Nancy Pope, stepped up and said she would take the project on. See, I’m really good at having ideas, but executing them is another story. I was stretched so thin back then that, if Nancy hadn’t stepped up, Yarn Storming would never have happened. Nancy Pope is the hero of this story.

With an incredible logo designed by our friend Lisa, Yarn Storming was born.

To date, Nancy and her son Matt have sent out more than 370 Yarn Storming packages. Generous boxes of yarn have gone out to many, many individuals who are going through a hard time due to illness or the bad economy, or even divorce. But that’s just the beginning!

Hundreds of charity knitting groups have been Yarn Stormed. Retirement community groups, elementary schools, prison knitting circles, women who knit hats for the homeless, socks for soldiers, scarves for battered women. You can pretty much name a knitted garment and a need group and Yarn Storming has it covered. This project has reached thousands of people.

And where did Nancy Pope get literally thousands of pounds of yarn to send out in her magic boxes? From the other heroes of this story. From you. From my lovely blog readers and from other knitters who heard about Yarn Storming and wanted to help. Yarn Storming has it’s own Ravelry group these days, with 716 members as of this writing.

Nancy receives yarn in boxes large and small from all over the world. From individuals and yarn companies that have heard about what she is doing and want to contribute. Knitters and crocheters are generous people. You wouldn’t believe the quality of the yarn we receive- absolutely gorgeous skeins of sought-after yarns turn up fairly regularly.

If you would like to contribute to Yarn Storming, there are two way you can help. First of all, postage is always a need. I fear that Nancy has absorbed far more of the cost of shipping these packages than she would ever let on (she’s that kind of person). If you would like to make a small contribution to the Yarn Storming shipping fund, it will be gratefully received. A buck or two is absolutely fine. You can send the money via Paypal to: but please send it “Personal” so that we don’t loose most of it to Paypal fees.

If you have some stash yarn that is languishing in plastic bins in your closet and you’d like to find a home for it, please send it to:

Yarn Storming
2091 Sydney Drive
North Merrick NY 11566
But most importantly, if you know a knitter in need, please email Nancy with their name and mailing address so that we can send a little Yarn Storming love their way. You can send your nominations to: .  And don’t worry, all Yarn Storming packages are sent anonymously, so you needn’t fear embarrassing your nominee..


Thank you, Nancy and Matt, for all that you do. You are two of the best people I know, and you’ve brought comfort, joy and warmth into the lives of thousands of people with Yarn Storming.


Happy Leap Day

Shawl fever continues around these parts. I spent most of the day yesterday knitting as I puzzled out the next few turns in my novel-in-progress. Instead of knitting on things I am going to sell at the Farmer’s Market or things I am going to sell in the etsy shop, (like the rest of that self-striping sock yarn that still needs to be reskeined….) I cast on another new project. I mean, it’s not a surprise really, I said on Monday I was planning to do so.

Blog, meet Ebbtide.

It’s a charming little pattern that I am knitting out of a cheerful canary yellow. I am justifying knitting this by telling myself it will be a display piece at the farmer’s market. A “Look what my yarn can do!” thing of beauty–and something to wear on days when it is just a bit too chilly.

I am in love with this color. I called it “canary” when I dyed it, but the more I knit with it, the more it reminds me of Big Bird–in a good way. Yesterday was mostly grey and rainy, so the bright pop of yellow on was exactly what I needed to keep my inspired.

I did a tiny bit of work on Snow Drops.

I don’t think I am completely a lace weight convert yet. I am enjoying it but it still feels so dainty. (Perhaps I need smaller fingers?) Then again, sock yarn felt the same way to me the first couple of times I used it, so I imagine by the time I am finished with The Lace Shawl, I will be able to knit with lace yarn in my sleep.

For now though, I am going to plow away on Ebbtide.

Because it is yellow, and it is leap day, and because I am in a yellow, self-indulgent, leap day kind of mood.

If you wish to behold the awesome yellow-ness of Ebbtide in person, it is what I will be bringing with me to the PFF night tonight. Here is your official invitation.

Open Stitch Night
Potwin Presbyterian Church
Topeka, KS
All fibers and crafts welcome.
No business. All fun.

Leap Year Update

Newest member of the family

newest member of the family

This week has been all about getting to know the newest member of our family. We’ve wanted an elliptical for several years and finally took the plunge on President’s day. It was delivered Friday after I left for SPA so Monday was my first chance to use it. So far, I really love it.

Still a few spots left for Lizzy House’s Workshop!

I am definitely going to have trouble sleeping this week because Lizzy House is coming to the farm on Friday to host a series of workshops!  In addition to being one of my favorite people in the world, Lizzy is an artist and a textile designer extraordinary.  She is also an amazing teacher, who translates her love for her art to each and every one of her students.

She is also more fun than ten barrels of monkeys! As you can see, I’m a total Lizzy fangirl. And if you take one of her workshops, you undoubtably will be too.

We still have a few spaces in two of Lizzy’s workshops; Lizzy’s Two Day Quilting Workshop this coming weekend has two spaces and it includes an exclusive Lizzy House quilt design that she created especially for the JMF workshop!

Block Printing on Fabric on March 10 has 5 spaces left. I have taken Lizzy’s Block Printing workshop before and it is so cool! I have zero hand skills- can’t draw my way out of a paper bag- and even I managed to create a treasure with block printing.

If you live in the area, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to take a workshop from Lizzy while she’s on the East Coast.  You will not be sorry you did! As an added inducement, the JMF staff will be making sure you are well-fed with lunch and snacks throughout the day.

Spaces are crazy limited for snap up your space before they’re all gone.

The End of a Precious Day

I'm not sure what it was about today that was so satisfying...

One of my favorite kinds of days - the kind where I don't have to leave the property for anything.  The knitting class was a little more informal today, so we got to share more about our lives.  Outside, the air was warm and humid, and the breeze picked up over the course of the afternoon.  It felt more like April than February.  We hit that sweet spot on the thermometer - not too cool and not too warm.  Really blissful.

I lingered over my chores because it was so nice just to be in the earthy air, studying the sheeps' eyelashes, burying my nose in Vanni's soft ruff, examining the young turnips, sorting luxurious fiber.

Inside, I took time to check in with community members on-line a bit.  These days we're all wrestling with issues political, spiritual, familial, medical, mechanical, interpersonal...  That takes energy.  I got to visit with a friend on a day she got some of the most joyous news of her life--what an honor.  That will add some richness to your afternoon, let me tell you.

And now the sun is down and the animals have settled into their nighttime routines -- the dogs to their stations, the sheep bedding down together, the alpacas dotting the pasture like sculptured topiary.  Springtime is the busiest time of the year on a farm, so these pensive, slo-mo days are gifts to be treasured.

Catching up, Project Edition, Part 2

Or, as they became known around my house this fall, the baby blankets that would not die.

Twins, it turns out, make a lot more work for everyone, even the knitters in their lives.  This should not have surprised me, that knitting TWO blankets in the time normally allotted to one, would be a whole lot more work, and yet, I remained firmly in denial and happily planned that OF COURSE I would knit blankets for the twins and it was no big deal, really, I could sample knit and test knit at the same time.  NO problem!

Oh, the pride that goeth before a fall and that means the babies get their blankets at 5 months old instead of before they are born.  I do believe, though, that these blankets were totally worth the wait.

When Carrie’s older daughter Katie was born, we didn’t know if she was going to be a girl or a boy, so I knit her a blanket in bright, cheerful gender neutral colors.  It was one those fantastic patterns where the effect far exceeds the effort, and I loved it.  Katie loved it too, and she still uses it for her dolls.

Katie's blanket - it was slightly less eye-poppingly bright than this photo, but only slightly.

When we got the news of twins and then found out that she was cooking a boy and a girl, I had the inspired idea to knit two more of that same blanket, in coordinating colors for the new babies.  What I forgot from the first time around was just how long it took to knit and then sew down the binding on this blanket.  It takes a REALLY LONG TIME, and when you multiple it by two, it starts to feel like it will never, ever end.  The forgetting is why I should be forgiven for thinking that I could commit to sample knitting and test knitting projects in the same time frame as I needed to be blanket knitting, and the ENDLESS is why I should be forgiven for the overdue delivery.

But, finally, last week I finished them and gifted them, and they are as gorgeous.  I used the same green I used for the original blanket and then found two colors schemes I loved for the new ones – pink with a purple-y grey and  blue with a deep chocolate brown.

Ella's blanket on the right, Sam's blanket on the left

And as much work as they were, it was worth every minute to give these two dear babies gorgeous blankets to keep them cozy and warm. Even when I had to knit the border of the blue blanket twice.

Foxing Day

Well, we knew this day would come.  It was a quiet fall and winter, we had a huge hatch – out of chicks last August and not one of those idiots will remain in the penned areas where it’s safe.  We have a large-ish group that free – ranges all over (even into our neighbor Jack’s yard – good thing he likes them) and I am always worried those dummies are going to get eaten by something.  I freely admit we get far too attached to them, and when they get snatched it’s sad and traumatic.

Fortunately, we have Tevye.

I’d been noticing that his rooster-ish behavior has been much like our dear departed Big Jim – unlike our other roosters who hog all the food to themselves and run at the first sign of trouble (or beat up on each other as well as us humans).  By this I mean that he is an exemplary roo – he makes sweet clucking noises when we bring out the food to tell his ladies to come eat.  He keeps them around him when they’re all free – ranging.  The few times I’ve noticed a hawk circling fairly low I’ve seen Tevye gather all the hens into the underbrush and wooded areas to keep them safe.

He’s also pretty darn friendly to us.  In other words, the perfect rooster.

Today he’s proved himself again.

Today the foxes came back.

We were alerted by the sound of probably all 40 or so of our chickens clucking in unison and when I looked out the window I could see a fox departing across the creek and away, a chicken clearly in its mouth.

Emily and I ran out and I heard a loud “squawk”, and then the fox dropped the chicken and ran.  It was Tevye, and he came bounding back to us.

A check through the yard proved no one was missing.  Tevye clearly gave the fox a good fight and kept the other chickens safe.  He’s got some rather nasty wounds right now, but they could have been much, much worse.  I doused him with Blue Kote, gave him some treats and sent him happily back to his girls, where he crowed loudly and triumphantly.  My fingers are crossed they heal up quickly and don’t fester.

I think somebody deserves a bag of meal worms, don’t you?