Tag Archives: Spinning

Rhinebeck 2017

Another year, another Sheep & Wool festival.  Though precious little changes from year to year, it’s precisely that known-ness that brings us back. If it’s autumn, it’s time to see the familiar sights and smell the familiar smells we can only get from the Hudson Valley. The smell of woodsmoke mixed with the tang of apple cider and fried donuts on the breeze, the brightly-colored trees all around, and the sounds of baaing from the barns. We’ve come to rely on these things as part of our year, and though the weather was less than cooperative (it was far too warm out and by noon most of us had shed any and all woolens we had worked so diligently to complete in time to show off) it was still a solid success.


Probably wins my award for best handknit at the whole damn festival.


These honeybear hats were super cute, though.









Look at that beautiful wheel!



This little cutie tagged along with us for awhile. One of my oldest friends, Janet, met us at the fair and brought along a friend and her daughter.










BFL roving that Emily bought for me. I tend to always get these same colors!


Since I always tend toward the autumn colors, I decided to get away from that when visiting my friend Lisa Check at her Flying Goat Farm booth. Not only is she one of my favorite people, she is a dyeing dynamo. I have mad envy of her color skills!


Finally, I grabbed a few samples of roving from Delly’s Delights, which is, amusingly enough, located just a few miles from us in Virginia.

Hopefully this will keep me happily spinning for awhile (though really I have probably 100’s of pounds of my own fleece I should work on washing, carding, and spinning!).

As we were leaving we stopped by the apple cider booth (run by a Hudson Valley orchard) and ordered some fresh cider and cider donuts. Oona wanted the cider shake, which i assumed would be like a slushy. It was actually fresh cider blended with french vanilla ice cream. It. Was. Divine.  It was like apple pie a la mode in a cup. I’m going to have to try and replicate it at home. As for the cider donuts, well. Let me just say that I’ve gotten used to the offerings here in the south, and I had forgotten just how a true cider donut is supposed to taste. I remembered once I took my first bite. If there’s one thing New York State does well, it’s apples. And Sheep Festivals.


Tagged: food, Knitting, Spinning, Trips

Do What You Love

Currently I’m working on trying to make more time to enjoy the things I love. I’ve been spending so much time shuttling the kids to their various appointments, schools, and activities, and I haven’t had much energy left over for much else. Slowly, though, I’ve been adding back in time in my schedule to work on my knitting and spinning, to cook and bake, and to be more present in the moment when I’m checking on the flock. And you know what? I feel more energized now, and I’m even more convinced of the magical qualities of pursuing what you’re passionate about.


I’m still struggling a bit trying to find my rhythm with the spinning wheel and getting the twist right, but I am very much enjoying the learning process.


I’m still working through the roving I bought at Rhinebeck last year, and I’m hoping to have it used up by Rhinebeck this year (because you know I’m going to bring home more!).



Oona and I moved the flock up to the front pen this evening. I love seeing them out there when I look out the front window.




I’ve decided that I’ll be looking into finding a Blue-Faced Leicester ram for breeding again this fall. The kids were sad to miss out on lambing this year, and I’d really love to add some new life to the flock.


As for the garden….we suddenly have watermelons growing again in Oona’s garden.  I doubt they will get very big, but the late-season heatwave has seriously confused the plants that haven’t died off. It’ll be interesting to see how these little guys turn out!

Tagged: Farm, Garden, Knitting, Spinning

Shearing Day 2017

I’ve watched our friend Emily shear our sheep for several years now, and it never stops being mesmerizing to me. Her speed has increased dramatically over the years,  and the ease with which she handles even the biggest sheep is wonderful to see.  Yesterday she arrived after shearing probably 100 other sheep and goats on various farms in the area and got ours handled in less than an hour. Which was a good thing, because it started sprinkling just after the last sheep was done. The wool was packed off on bags with her, off to be sold to the wool pool. I have a substantial amount left here for hand-spinning, and until we decide what direction we are taking this venture, I’ll be allowing commercial buyers decide where it will go.

The disappointing news is that it looks fairly certain that our ewes are not bred this year.  But, that gives me another year to prepare and plan.  The good news is that everyone is fat and healthy.






As soon as the weather clears out and the thunderstorms (and tornado watch) have passed, I’ll be moving everyone out to the back pasture, where plenty of fresh, green grass awaits.

Tagged: Farm, Spinning

Freshly Spun Yarn…


This beautiful white yarn…


…was spun from this incredibly soft roving by my daughter.



Review: Yarnitecture

Review: Yarnitecture post image

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First, the facts:

Title: Yarn-i-tec-ture: A Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want

Author: Jillian Moreno

Published by: Storey Publishing, 2016

Pages: 239

Type: Spinning


1. The Blueprint: Yarn Vision
2. The Foundation: Sheep Breeds and Beyond
3. The Frame: Fiber Preparations
4. The Walls: Drafting
5. The Roof: Plying
6. The Paint: Color
7. The Front Door: Finishing
8. The Landscaping: Knitting with your Handspun

KS: Yarnitecture

The In-Depth Look:

You know a spinning book means business when it’s got Forwards written by yarn luminaries like Clara Parkes and Jacey Boggs.

Rightly so, because this book means business, going into great detail on how to spin exactly the kind of yarn you want–because isn’t that at least half the point? Spinning is a pleasure in itself, and there’s something to be said for the joy of experimenting with techniques and fibers that has nothing to do with a finished yarn you could knit socks with. But usually, you’re going to want something you can use.

She says in the beginning that, “What was once a cozy, tiny group of weirdos has become a loud, brash family … Many spinners are coming from a knitting background, as I know I did. I spin to use my yarn for knitting. These spinners know about yarn, know what they want in a yarn, and want to know how to make it. They want something unique, something they can’t find in a shop.”

As a spinning knitter myself, I entirely agree with this. When Jillian goes on to say that the reason she loves knitting with handspun is because she loves the choice and control of being able to make exactly what she wants, along with that sense of accomplishment that comes with crafting exactly what you imagined.

Which is why what follows is an in-depth exploration of getting exactly what you need to make your spinning dreams come true. Using a framework of “Yarnitecture”–or the process of building your ideal yarn just like you would a house, starting with your blueprint and working through construction to the final finishing touches–she touches on pretty much everything.

What do I mean by “everything”? Here’s a quick overview: After determining exactly the kind of yarn you want, she discusses the different types of fiber and their advantages. She goes explains why fiber preparation matters, and then goes into great detail about drafting and pre-drafting and the differences between woolen and worsted, and … we’re not even a quarter of the way through the book yet. There’s still plying and color, and ways of finishing your yarn. There are notes and tips for knitting with your handspun, as well.

And then, patterns. As a spinning knitter, it would simply be wrong not to include patterns, don’t you think? (Yes, I thought so, too.) So then you’ve got 12 knitting patterns designed by Lynne Vogel, Kirsten Kapur, Rosemary (Romi) Hill, Kate Atherley, Amy King, Julia Farwell-Clay, Laura Nelkin, Briston Ivy, Adrian Bizilia, and Jillian Moreno herself. The patterns run the gamut from socks to shawls to sweaters, with some mittens and a necklace along the way.

All this detail comes in a frankly beautiful book–hardcover with amazing photos by John Polak.

I’ll sum up with another quote from Jillian:

“I love being part of something that reaches forward and back and that has a vibrant ‘now.’ I may not always be in the thick of it posting on Ravelry (I’m shy that way), but I love the underground rumble I always feel. I love that when I have an idea or question I can look at old books and magazines and search online and find a variety of answers and opinions. I love that when new magazines, books, or conversations come up, there is always something new, a new twist, a new process. In-person spinning energy is crazy. When I spin with friends or go to a fiber sale, class, retreat, or one of the big events, I am always full and exhausted afterward. It takes me a while to work through the things I learned and even longer to try them out. There is such a feeling of process and liveliness when spinners get together; it’s the best, really.”

I agree. And this book? Also the best in the same kind of way, because it feels like you’ve just spent an incredible weekend chatting about all the little details of spinning with a friend, so that your head is full but you’ve just had the most wonderful time.

You can get your copy of this gorgeous, informative book from Amazon or at your local bookstore.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Storey Publishing. Thank you!

My Gush: Wow!

Decluttering: Studio Progress

Through this whole decluttering process, my beautiful studio became a dumping ground for all things that fell into the “art supplies” category. In my house, that’s a large category: candle-making supplies, misc. soap stuff, yarn, looms, wool, markers, fabric, paint. Anything that didn’t go in the kid’s art supplies got tossed in my studio to be sorted all at the same time.

Getting through it all was a huge job. It has taken multiple passes through my little 8 x 15 sun room, but over the last few days, I have made major progress.

Here’s the Before:

The other side of my studio, filled with badly stacked boxes, leaving just enough room for my bike and indoor trainer.
The other side of my studio, filled with badly stacked boxes, leaving just enough room for my bike and indoor trainer.

One whole side of the room was covered in boxes and the bike trainer was set up in here, taking up the rest of the floor space. I couldn’t get to my sewing table because of the bike, and my desk got so covered up in stuff that didn’t belong anywhere else, that there was no using that either.

Here’s what it looks like now:

From the doorway, a place to spin
From the doorway, a place to spin (and mint from the garden tied to the ceiling fan to dry)

How I Cut My Art Supplies in Half

  • Paired down my yarn so it would fit into my large set of rubbermaid drawers and put that in the closet. This still leaves me with TONS of yarn. I’m a little afraid I’ll never knit it all.
  • Paired down knitting needles, sewing notions, weaving supplies and shipping materials so that they fit in one of the smaller set of rubbermaid drawers. That fit in the closet also.
  • Also in the closet are my Ashford SampleIt! loom and my homemade Inkle loom, my Foldio.
  • Sorted through all of my WIPs and frogged the ones I was never going to complete and rewound the yarn
  • Organized my spinning fiber and accessories into two baskets. If I can see it, I am more likely to spin it.
  • There is a third set of small rubbermaid drawers in the corner where the iron is living. Inside are candle making supplies and a few misc. packaging and shipping supplies like raffia and tissue paper that didn’t really fit anywhere else.
  • Threw out any paints, ink, or markers that were old and dried out.

Getting rid of any art supplies is an emotional journey. To admit that I was never going to use some old, crusty fabric paint again was a hard decision. And trying to part with spinning fiber? Gut-wrenching. But in the end, I only kept the things I really loved and actually saw myself using in the near future.


The Sewing and Art Table
The Sewing and Art Table

I contemplated putting the sewing machine away and making this into a soaping table, but I came to the conclusion that this room is too small to house everything, though that would be fun to do someday! There are a few projects that could contribute to my soap business where I could take advantage of the sewing machine and the printing supplies. Little draw string bags with my logo on them maybe?

The desk
The desk

I’m still using my old Luke’s Diner table as my desk. I love the clean white work space. It’s perfect for spreading out with notebooks and devices, and when I keep it clean, it’s easy to clear off and use as a daytime photo backdrop. In fact, the green bowl in the lower right hand corner of the has a pile of stuff waiting for me to photograph.

Not pictured is a wire wrack next to the desk stuffed with notebooks and business guides and my file folders. I’d like to get a bookshelf for that eventually, but right now we’re working with what we’ve got.

I’m so excited to have this room in working order again. It’s lined on three side with windows, and has beautiful natural light. I hope to spend plenty of time in here over the next few months as I get my soap business off the ground and continue writing.

My next project for this room is decorate it. I found a photographer on etsy, and I’d love to cover my walls with her work.

Felted Fleece

When you raise sheep, inevitably, you have wool.  It used to be that all the wool from my sheep were sent in with the wool from the Juniper Moon Farm sheep for the fiber CSA.

Now that the CSA has been discontinued, that left the problem of what to do with my fleeces moving forward.

I’ve been learning to spin, but I haven’t gotten around to learning how to clean and card raw fleeces yet (and, um…I still need to actually BUY some carders).  Eventually I will get around to doing just that. Even so, I’ve got a few bags of fleeces sitting her that I’ve been dying to play with.

Then I came across the idea to make a felted fleece throw. Essentially, a sheepskin rug without having to skin a sheep.


I placed a raw, unwashed  fleece from Piper shorn-side-up on the deck. Next, I drizzled some Dawn dish soap while waiting for a stockpot of water to boil.


Just look at that lovely fleece, waiting to be worked on!


Working in smaller portions, I poured a mason jar full of hot water over the fleece and gently worked up a lather (while wearing thick rubber gloves, of course!), attempting to felt the side I was working on without felting the locks on the underside.


Once I felted the entire thing, I set it out to dry.


This is the point where I was supposed to sew up any thin spots or holes that hadn’t fully felted the rug into one piece. This is also when I learned that in an attempt to not overfelt, I had in fact underfelted.

I had a lot of sewing up to do. I used a large darning needle and some scrap cormo/mohair yarn I had left from previous projects (always save your leftover yarn scraps!)


Once the gaping spots were fixed, it was time to wash the whole thing. Once again, I was afraid to felt it, so I may have given it less of a washing than I could have. I simply made sure all the grossness was gone and the rinse water wasn’t running brown anymore.


I’m pleased to say that most of the luscious locks are still just that. There’s certainly still some lanolin left, and plenty of vegetable matter. I pulled an awful lot of hay and twigs out during the washing process but there’s plenty of smaller matter stuck in there still that I couldn’t remove without doing damage. If I were to do this process regularly, I’d consider jacketing the sheep to avoid this.


Either way, the cats are all insane for it.




Tagged: Farm, Pets, Spinning

Pumpkin Day, and Spinning Love

After I bought a bag of wonderful fall-colored roving at Rhinebeck, I could not stop thinking about how I needed to spin it!


Though I am still very new at spinning, one of the things I learned is that it makes it easier to keep practicing when you are spinning with fiber that you love. So, caution (and thoughts of saving it for when I am an expert) aside, I jumped in and spun that baby up into three spindles.


Once I had three spindles of single-strand I couldn’t wait to see how it would look all plied together.


Boy, it did NOT disappoint! I am so in love with this yarn I have made!  It isn’t a very large amount, but definitely enough for a nice autumn-y cowl. Now I can’t wait to get my wheel going again!

In the meantime, Halloween is very nearly upon us, and the kids kept reminding me of the many things that needed to be done, like pumpkin carving.


This year I let Oona do all her own tracing and cutting. The only help I gave was removing the pieces, since it was a bit fiddly for her.

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They made such a glorious mess.

You know who wasn’t complaining about that, though? The pigs! Pumpkin day means it’s time for their annual treat of pumpkin guts.


They loooooove pumpkins. In a few days (before total rotting can set in), they will be given the Jack o’lanterns as well. But for now, we are enjoying our day of handiwork!


Emily’s Raven, and my “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme.


Oona’s pumpkin


Neve’s pumpkin.

Now that Pumpkin day is accomplished, there is only really Trick or Treating left. Tonight we’ll watch Hocus Pocus and bask in the last remaining glorious bit of October before it is done.

Tagged: Knitting, Seasons, Spinning

The Best Weekends Are Fall Weekends

It’s Monday morning, and boy am I feeling it. I packed a lot into the last few days, and I fear that the cold Paul and the kids have been dealing with may have finally reached me.

For most of Saturday I worked on baking and spinning. That luscious Blue-Faced Leicester roving was calling to me and I couldn’t tear myself away from the wheel!  I’ve got almost two spindles full; when I’ve got three I’ll ply them together. I can’t wait to see how it all blends together!

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I mean, those colors!!!! When Neve and I were wandering around Rhinebeck, I realized we kept grabbing the same colors. The colors of fall!  I had to make a conscious effort to look at other colors as well. There’s just something so homey and comforting about the golds, oranges, and reds of this time of year, though.

To match that coziness, I tried a recipe from King Arthur that I’d been eyeing for awhile: Cranberry-Pumpkin rolls.


I left out the cranberries this time; Paul isn’t crazy about them, and I wanted to see how they’d do as plain pumpkin rolls.


The result? Absolute deliciousness! I crammed them all into a 9×13 pan as suggested by the recipe, but I actually had dough leftover as it wouldn’t all fit. Cranberries would have been delightful in them, but in all honesty they do well enough without them as well.

That evening I met my sister out for my birthday gift from her: The Avett Brothers in Charlottesville.


They are so good live, I can’t even tell you. Maddie and I had such a good time; I have the best sister!



Tagged: food, Spinning

All That’s Fit To Spin

Happy New Year!  It’s been a quiet one for us so far.

The day after Christmas Paul packed up the kids and went to see his parents in New York for 5 glorious, peaceful days. They saw the tree at Rockefeller Center, went ice skating, went to the American Girl store, and saw the holiday show at Radio City Music Hall.

I spent the entire time getting to know my new spinning wheel and catching up on my favorite shows and podcasts.  I watched Broadchurch TWICE.  I’m just that excited for the new season to start in March!

I spent a lot of time watching Top Gear and Doctor Who reruns as well.  Just me, my wheel, plenty of wool and British television.  Bliss!

New Year’s Eve we had our annual tradition of game night with friends, and we’ve enjoyed all of us being home and lazy for awhile.

We are officially back to school this week and it’s not been the easiest transition after such a wonderful holiday season.

As for my spinning, I’d say it’s going better than great!  I enrolled in a Craftsy class for beginners  (“Foundations of Spinning”) and it really made it click for me. I even plied my single spun into yarn! Real, actual yarn!


This is a mohair blend. It made sense to start with something I have an abundance of!


With this, I am officially hooked. It’s fortunate I have a supply of fresh wool growing outside!!!

Tagged: Farm, Spinning