Friday, April 4, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away

Yet another day of winter weather preventing any signs of spring from emerging. We will be hard pressed for a relaxed start to spring because by the time it melts we won't know if we want to plant pansies or plant summer annuals. This weather makes for some quality time in the studio, felting and getting ready for those spring fiber shows we all love and travel to. Our first Fiber event in the western foothills of Maine occurs in just 15 days on April 19th, it is the Denmark Sheepfest, located in Denmark Maine. The day is filled with a rainbow of local fiber vendors demonstrating weaving, spinning, carding, color blending, rug hooking, knitting and
crocheting. Experts on raising, keeping and caring for all fiber animals will be on site to answer all your questions and may even invite you back to their farm.
Sheep shearing is the highlight of the day with Jeff Jordan, sheep shearer, at our service making sure our sheep our properly shorn and hooves trimmed for the spring/summer season.I will be gathering & throwing (shearing term) fleeces on the skirting table to be cleaned of all winter debris and manure. From there they will be sold to the highest buyer or readied for the small fiber mill to be processed in roving or yarn. Of course, there will be yummy homemade food, vegetarian and meat soups , homemade breads and desserts. This is a gourmet lunch , not just your ordinary fare, and not to be missed ! The quality of the food matches the quality of the finished products produced by the fiber artists which enhances the success of this small fiber fair.
The photo included shows my Corriedale ewe with her twins at home after going to the 2007 Denmark Sheepfest.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Made in March --- Nuno Felted wool & Silk Scarf

This was the month to work with those old used silk scarfs leftover from years gone by. Recycled into a new lightweight,soft,felted scarf. Quick and easy,instantly gratifying and ready to wear the same day. Can't beat that!

Only 1 oz. of wool was used on both sides of this silk scarf. Paisley print scarf now takes on an entirely different look.

Sunshine Daydream

It is snowing again in western Maine. I think it has snowed almost every day since this month began .I believe we have over 160"s of snow on the ground and it is the longest and snowiest winter that most of us can remember. This has been the winter of finding great books, spinning all the odds and ends from the leftover rovings, skiing and shoveling, shoveling, shoveling.

I look up at my horse's nose when I feed her, watch my sheep hop over the fence to get whatever treats they know I am carrying. My fence lines are non-existent! We have learned to be very creative this winter with keeping our sneaky Merino ram away from our lovely ewes who do not need to get pregnant. We have 15 mostly Merino sheep, corriedales , columbia-finn, and one romney -finn. All of our sheep are raised for fiber only ........we do not eat our sheep. I also keep angora rabbits who have beautiful fiber to mix in with my Merino wool.
We have a sheep shearer that comes to our farm once a year in April to shear our sheep. I use Matilda sheep coats on our best wool sheep. At shearing time the coats come off, go in the washer and get put away for next fall. After each sheep is shorn the wool is placed on a mess-wire wood framed table. The wool is 'skirted' or all the manure and debris is removed. It is then stuffed into a clean plastic bag , placed in the studio out of the sun and waits to be delivered to our local small fiber processing mill. Some of my wool I clean in an old fashioned, still working wringer washing machine. But with 15 or more fleeces it is too much wool scouring to do and so I leave that to the experts and I spend more time dyeing the wool. I sell all my natural dyed wool at several festivals throughout the season.
I love to use native plants that are plentiful and easy to gather. Spring plants consist of apple bark (light red), spring green ferns, St. John's~wort (yellows) and lichens that have been soaking all winter (purples-reds). Most spring colors are light yellows but it is fun to get a new fleece washed and colored before summer. My favorite natural dye book is ~A Dyer's Garden by Rita Buchanan.
Summer may never come until July this year but today while it is snowing out, with no sunshine in the forecast, we will dream about those spring flowers and those beautiful natural colors from the plants in our landscape.

'Knot'-Romney /Finn gift from fiber friend Diane Knowlen

'Knot'-Romney /Finn gift from fiber friend Diane Knowlen
The Winter of 2008

Winter of 2008

Winter of 2008
Where is the fence???