Sunday, December 23, 2012

Farm Walkabout

 Last Week I started getting cabin fever, so I took a walk around the farm. My first stop was the manhole cover that the beaver keeps covering. I cleaned that off and walked down the stream to check out our water fall. With the water flowing again, the stream was roaring. Now that the leaves have fallen, you can actually see it. Not as pretty!
 I suspect that there is more than one beaver. This is all that remains of one of the trees. Three trees are down and two more are being worked on.
 Since it has gotten cold, the animals are eating between 7 and 8 bales of hay a day. If we run out, I am going to buy pellets. Amazing how much of a mess they can make! The colored goats are looking more pregnant than the white goats. Based on size and the fact that they are not due for another two months, I am predicting a lot of the older ones are going to have twins.
The chickens know how to fly out of the coop now. They come up to the side door because they recognize it as the one that we come out. The Fedex guy is now watching for them as he drives up. I counted 10 out this afternoon. They can fly back in, if they want, but they usually wait to follow me in with their feed.

My son and daughter are both coming for Christmas. Kyle is going to love the wildlife. Kristie calls the farm a story book picture.

Merry Christmas! Might not write again till the new year unless something super exciting happens!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Textile Museum, New Yarns and Dairy Goats

My presentation at the Washington, DC, Textile Museum on "Fiber Connections: The Art and Science of Weaving" went really well. I had a very enthusiastic audience who plied me questions, so I know they were interested. Above is one of the three shawls that I used as a basis for my talk. I loved how the supercoils created the look of a bouquet by just draping it a certain way. It and the more traditional (but still with art yarn) shawl will be for sale at my Chantilly show this coming weekend. I rarely do all white, so will dye them, if they do not sell in the next six months.

This was the third piece that came off the loom.  It was dyed at the Greater Baltimore Weavers' Guild meeting in October. It is not quite long enough to be a shawl or scarf, so I am looking at it as a piece of material that will become something one day.

A friend wanted a picture of what my studio currently looks like. Two weeks ago it was very tidy because I taught an art yarn class. You can see that as I get busy and inspired, piles start to accumulate. I am getting more Internet orders, which makes me happy. Repeat customers always become friends.

I di not include a picture of the Gaithersburg boot, because it would be a case of find the changes. I am using a set way of setting up, so I can save time and find things easier. The Gaithersburg show was really worth doing. I like art shows because people are looking for all sorts of things - and usually the unusual. My yarn scarves are selling well here, so I think the move from Tucson will be worth it.

 I am busy spinning yarns for Chantilly. Since the supercoils and elastic yarns are doing so well, I am spinning one of each in each colorway. I am currently spinning a "Monet" green with ivory beads. I hope to have time to spin one freeform yarn.
And, as if that is not enough, Marc and I went to pick up Rosemary (on the left) from the East Rivendell Farm in Damascus, Maryland. Last year I spent more money on powdered milk replacer for the babies, that I had to bottlefeed, than it would have cost me to buy a dairy goat. Notice in the picture that there are two goats? The younger one, who I have still not named, was an afterthought. While I was cleaning out stalls in preparation for her arrival, I remembered how loud the Nubian goats are and that all goats do not speak the same language. Marc agreed to let me get a second one. I am going to breed her to an angora buck. She is over 6 months old and larger than a lot of my adult angoras. I let Marc pick her out. She is super friendly - but she sure is loud!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Goat Coats and Beavers

 The Oaks Sugarloaf show turned out to be a happy surprise. The Mountain Refuge Landscape at the back
left sold to a lovely lady who will cherish it. I met lots of interesting people and, as always, my neighboring
vendors gave me a new perspective on doing shows.

The kids were shorn on October 27th. It turned cold with the Hurricane Sandy and now is dropping down to freezing at night. The animals who were shorn are all in the white barn. Parts of the barn are drafty, so I put t-shirts and sweatshirts on the kids and one adult. I also bought a heater to raise the temperature and dry out the barn. I have a few that I am watching for pneumonia. Unfortunately, their immune systems are weak due to parasites. I had to treat all but one of the kids yesterday. They are all looking perkier this morning.

 Above are Flower and Orphan. I have a hard time getting photographs of them, since they hang on me when I am in their area. The does all got Onsies. Easier to tall them apart that way!
 I don't know whether the beaver is still in our pond since he did not cover the grate last night. His lodge looks like it has more canes on top and more trees are down since the last time I checked.
I don't know where the top of the tree on the right went but, in my Internet reading, I discovered that beavers have multiple tunnels running into their lodge and that they can haul entire trees under water. They also do not hibernate. I do hope that he is still around. Natural live entertainment!

I will be home this weekend and will be at the Gaithersburg Sugarloaf show at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds next weekend.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane, Beavers and Woodbine Fiber Festival

 I took this photo the day before the rains started. Gorgeous colors of autumn that are now gone.
 Since most of my shows are now art shows, I am trying to make more finished items. The scarf above used 28 yards of my supercoils and I added two copper accents to create a closure.
 The Woodbine Fiber Festival was mall this year since the storm was coming in the next day and everyone was busy preparing for it. Those who came had fun and, as always new friends were made. I actually sent some of my fleeces home with Heather of Sweitzer's Mill, PA, to have them spun into lace weight yarn suitable for the Green Crochet Shawl.
 Last week we discovered that a beaver had dug a channel in our pond and created himself a lodge at the north end. He is very industrious, but we are managing to keep the water flowing - Marc is going out twice a day to uncover the manhole that allows the water to flow south. His lodge is the pile of cattails and wood just to the left of the tree trunk.
 I actually spotted the beaver checking his perimeter during the storm. The two pictures above were taken during the height of the storm, so I was really glad that they kind of turned out.
All of the animals went into the barn on Monday morning. The wind was coming in horizontal, so their shelters were not working out. I managed to get all 100 of them in. If it does not rain today, I will slowly start moving them out. The areas where the goats usually hang out is still too wet to let them out.

I head to the Oaks, PA, Sugarloaf tomorrow. I plan to leave later than originally planned in hopes that the road cleanup will have been finished. Don't know that many people will come out, but I have committed to doing the show.

I have scheduled a art yarn classes and nuno felting since they have been the most requested:

Art Yarn Class: November 8, 2012 11-4 as well as Dec 13, 2012 10-3

Nuno Felting: Nov 10, 2012 10-1

Drop Spindling Set your own date.

Evening classes available upon request.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Merino Lambs and Gaithersburg Show

I have been waiting for Sweet Pea to deliver. She was terrific. She popped out Snow Pea, a white ram, and very quickly thereafter popped out Cow Pea, a black and white ewe. Both babies are dry and drinking off mom. I have a black ewe that should deliver within the next few weeks. She will probably have a single. It is exciting to have babies for the Woodbine Fiber Festival next Saturday. I did not realize that Merinos bred out of season till Terry Mendenhall told me that this spring.

The Gaithersburg show was really slow on Friday and Saturday and the beginning of Sunday. Towards the end of the show I taught someone how to drop spindle and sold a lot of yarn. It was exciting and I hope to see some familiar faces when I go back next November. I am actually knitting up a few scarves and headbands.

My daughter Kristie is visiting with her husband. When they leave tomorrow afternoon, I will have to get serious about spinning and tieing up my loom. The festival is next Saturday and I need to work in the barn in case it rains. There will be a place to hang out and spin, if anyone is interested. The shearer has told me that she needs to finish about 2 p.m. since she is giving a presentation for the Maryland Sheep Breeders Group and needs to go home and change. So, if you want to see shearing, aim for earlier rather than later. Marc and I will be going to the presentation.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Carroll County Maryland Fall Home Show

Another show has come and gone. The attendance at the Carroll County Home Show was pitiful, so I had a chance to meet with the other vendors - a really nice group. I had time to knit several inches on my latest project. I am writing a pattern for a tunic and knitting it with a Rambouillet and llama blend.

Marc and I did the Famancha eyelid check again on Friday. We got through it in 45 minutes and only found 6 angora goats that needed to be retreated. Progress!

All of my earnings from the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival went into an invisible fence to keep Left and Right in. They have not escaped yet, so I guess they have it figured out.

I am back to watching for lambs to pop. One of my Merino moorits is due any day. A black one is due within the month. I still have to name them!  It  is nice to have babies at different times of the year. I might have lambs to pet at my Woodbine Fiber Festival.

The angora goats have been separated for breeding and all of the males that I am saving are together on the hill next to the house. They are all getting along well right now.

On Thursday I will be setting up the the Montgomery Fairgrounds for the Gaithersburg Sugarloaf Show. It is an art show, so a much better venue for me. Hope some of you can make it out to visit with me!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Greater Baltimore Weavers' Guild

This is the time of year when I get really busy. If you look at my schedule, you will see that I have a lot of shows over the weekends between now and mid December. I am not going to set my shop up, if the shows are back to back - unless you call and say you are coming. I did the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival this past weekend and sold most of my freeform yarns, so I will be working on new ones starting Wednesday.
Tomorrow evening I will be giving a presentation to the Greater Baltimore Weavers' Guild on Fiber Connections: Art and Science. I will be talking about how I got the nerve to call myself an artist. I designed two shawls to illustrate some of my points. I used funky yarns in both and elastic yarn in one of them. The photo above shows what happened when I took it off the loom. The ripples are a natural result of the elastic yarn. I never waste - so the piece above was woven to finish the warp. I will be dyeing it at the meeting.
This is one of the finished shawls. I used a variety of white fibers - all whites are not the same color. This piece includes Rambouillet, Suri alpaca, kid mohair, Merino, and tencel. The shawls will be available for sale after the November Textile Museum presentation.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Art and Science

 At Spinquest last month I learned a new technique for spinning a funky yarn from Wildhare Studios. I knitted it up to see what it would look like since she did not have a sample available. Very interesting effect - like a shag rug, but not a yarn that I will spin often. Too time consuming and not as showy as I would have expected. It did make a cute little scarf - about the size of my boas.
 At Spinquest, I realized that the easy coast fiber artists are much more traditional and that they really like the pretty packaging. I have the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival next weekend and I plan to take roving, batts and mohair locks in both plastic bags and the plastic containers above to see which sells better. All of the plastic containers have pretty tags and pricing in them.
 Marc and I are going to be pros at the Famancha method of determining when the goats and sheep are parasite ridden and anemic. The second vet I had come out said this goat is good. Is it not ugly? Marc and I have also taken a course on using a microscope and centrifugue to determine what kind of parasites are living in my animals. Gross subject, but I don't want to over treat and make the wormers ineffective. We have the microscope and test tubes. Just waiting on the centrifuge. This is a little too much like being a scientist for me. Marc has really taken to it.
 The chickens are now running around in a temporary pen. The grass is gone and I am supplementing them
with garden scarps and grubs and slugs. Yuck! At least the bugs are not getting a chance to reproduce!

 I am still listing yarns on my eshop and etsy. The west coast customers are mainly looking for the art yarns, so they are my focus.
I have been asked to give a presentation at the Greater Baltimore Weavers Guild on October 2, 2012 on Fiber Connections: Art and Science. The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. saw that and has asked me to do a talk on weaving and its connection to science on November 29, 2012. As a basis for my discussion for the Textile Museum, I am weaving two all white shawls with lots of texture. One will be very traditional, while the other will be more like a tapestry weaving on a countermarch loom with a few twists - since it has elastic yarn in it. . One of the shawls will be dyed at the Baltimore meeting.

Upcoming post - we have bought a tractor. Does that make us farmers now?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer

It would be easy to say that I am lazing around this summer, but not totally true. We have been gathering animals up almost nightly to treat the animals for worms. We have learned how to do the FAMANCHA test and about 10 animals are still seriously anemic. I am going to shear a few of them over the next few days, since the stress has caused them to blow their fleeces. My feed bills have become vet and medicine bills.

My garden is thriving. I love the sunflowers and I have been playing around with a few apps on my ipad to create some cool looks. This one is called Broken Wall. I love the Twirl the most.

I have been canning tomatoes in various forms. I have Thai peppers and have been adding them to make hot sauce. Seems like tomatoes are turning red every time I walk by them. I am picking them as soon as they start to turn red, so the slugs and worms do not get them.

My sister, Nadia, came to visit with her husband, so I took a break from spinning. I have to get back to carding, since I am going to Spinquest in Front Royal, VA, as a vendor this Saturday. If you are looking for some cool stuff from independent fiber artists, come check it out.

I am also focusing my yarn sales on my online eshop. I am listing periodically on etsy, but have discovered that people get lost there since there is so much.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fog? Yarns!

I took this photo early yesterday morning. Makes me think of fall. I had just let all of the angora goats into Watusi's area, since it is now fully goat proof. Watusi got moved up to the pen near the house.
 This was taken in the afternoon. The goats are making a serious inroad into the ragweed, so I will not have to mow! The farmer is coming to build the 3 sided shelter for the alpacas in this area tomorrow. It is the last one that we will do this year. Next year we will fence in more areas where tractors can't get to mow the hay and put shelters there. It will allow me to rotate pastures and keep the animals from having so many parasite issues.
I listed these yarns on my eshop last night: Buy 2 or more and get free shipping. Let me know, so I can send you an invoice.

Friday, August 3, 2012


My multicolored sunflowers are now opening. The colors are very close to the colors inside my house. I love them! I will dry a few, but will probably give most of the seeds to my African Gray and the goats. They love them and it helps their coats shine.

These are two of the photos that I took for someone who wanted to see what colors I have in kid mohair. The tan skein above is Suri. I have been spinning for projects and just realized that I need to be spinning for the shop! Most of my colors have gone pastel. I am going to have to spin and then dye to get some vibrant colors.

These are all kid mohair batts. I have almost finished spinning the one on the left and will over dye it with slate blue. I plan to spin and dye each one a different color. The sheen shows up beautifully in this photo.

Above are mohair locks from two "black" kids. The silvery gray one has taupe tips and is as soft as a white fleece. The one on the right is the blackest fleece that I have ever had. It is funny since the black kids all start out pitch black when born.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Ever since we arrived in Woodbine, MD, the Shetlands, Merinos and Mounds have hung out at the top of the pasture. I have to go way up to check on them. I managed to capture them with the bank barn in the background. They sure do love the grass.

Now that our chicks have arrrived, we are back to our "normal" from Tucson. These are Speckled Sussex and we chose them because they are supposed to lay 4 eggs a week and be good brooders. I would like to hatch our own chicks nex year, so I got a straight run. There are definitely a few roosters in the bunch.

My Green Crochet Shawl pattern was chosen to go in the 2013 Crochet calendar. It is featured for April 12th and was renamed Lacy Shawl. Kind of exciting, even if I did know about it months ago!

I am going to weave two white/natural colored shawls for a presentation that I am giving for the Greater Baltimore Guild on October 2nd, 2012. Title - Fiber Connections: Art and Science. The yarn is spun, so I am working on tying on my loom.

I was able to catch a photo as my first sunflower started opening this afternoon. I took an even cooler picture of one about to open, but I don't want to bore you!

There is always a lot to do here. I turned my compost, dealt with some animals that have health issues, and sheared a buk who looked too hot. This is his fleece. It is 5 or mre inches long - but it weighed only 23 ounces - even though it is a full 6 month fleece. His fllece feels like it has already been washed. No vm in it and no grease. Guess the rain does a good job. I have been delousing them routinely, so there is no back scratching and no felting. His fleece is superfine. I am thinking that eating grass and clover gives a finer fleece.

And here he is - no nicks or cuts. He is registered and for sale ($350) - out of a great line. If he does not sell, I will use him with the older does.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spinning Yarns and Gardening

I am bouncing all around in my color and fiber selections right now. The coiled one is going on my eshop, while the rest will go in the physical shop here in Woodbine, Maryland. I am alternating between listing on my own shop: and my etsy shop:

I am not sure whether you can tell what is growing in Watusi's pasture, but it is ragweed. The goats, sheep and alpacas had all been eating around it. My neighbor finally informed me the other day that it is ragweed. Sure enough, I did an Internet search, so I could be sure, and then I was out there mowing it down. It really needs to be tilled under, but then I would not have the grass and other "weeds" that Watusi has been eating. It pulls up fairly easy, so I am weeding a little each time I go out.

This is my real garden. The sunflowers are over 5 feet tall. They tower above me now. My beans, cucumbers and tomatoes are growing in their shade and twining around their stalks -instant trellis. Where the wooden pegs are in the rear of the picture is the last bed that Marc helped me dig. I have peppers, stevia, catnip and corn with a few more sunflowers in that bed.

This is my first cucumber. I have not harvested it yet, since it is so small!

I have some really great neighbors, who started their gardens while I was moving in and doing kid and lamb deliveries. They have been keeping me supplied with different types of squash, peppers, zucchini. Ruth gave me basil and tomato plants. I cut 2.6 pounds of basil off and stripped the leaves this weekend. I dried a quart and used the rest to make and freeze pesto sauce. In two weeks, I will be cutting a bunch more. Gardening is occupying almost as much time as gardening. I am almost ready for chickens. Marc mentioned them when he got back from Tucson last week. Guess he misses them also. We need to figure out where we want to put them, since we don't want to lose them to the dogs.