Thursday, July 26, 2007

Under a hot July moon

The moon is rising over the farm tonight, the sheep are up in the back fields, the day was hot but tonight there is a slight breeze and a complete calmness over all. It's still warm; 70 degrees at 9PM but it's mighty hard to find a reason not to be thankful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This is our town!

After we finished haying Sunday, Jack and I took Sidney for a swim. This is Jack's pickup, therefore it's Sidney's pickup and no one takes his front seat! Westmoreland is still quite agricultural, and the views are gorgeous all four seasons. When I am driving to and fro I am always amazed at just how beautiful it is here. The second and third pictures are of the county farm which has a milking herd of holsteins and some priceless land along the Connecticut River. You can see the corn, which is now over my head high and also an eagle/osprey perch just on the rivers's edge. The 4th pic is Sidney getting that swim. The 5th pic is of Windyhurst Farm, another dairy farm in town, exemplary in every way, from the herd stats to the farm cleanliness to the setting. Windyhurst, is run by the Adams', for many generations now. They also have a maple sugar business and you can come to Stuart and John's Pancake House adjacent to the farm for some fantastic cooking! Stuart Adams and John Matthews are childhood friends who started the pancake house years ago like kids run lemonade stands, and over the years they improved it and it grew and now is an established destination.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

More hay...hooray!

80 more bales of hay in the barn,
80 more bales of hay,
We picked them up and tossed them in,
80 more bales of hay in the barn!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My results

Here are the skeins I painted in Seattle amongst all the other work we were doing! Handpainting was new to me as an artform and the concept crept in slowly, but surely! Of course there are many ways to paint a skein and tastes vary greatly. The 1st skein I painted to the last run left to right. The 2nd and 4th skeins are overdyed with indigo, their partners are the 1st and 3rd. The 6th skein is what not to do for good color blending, at least in my mind! The 5th and 7th flow nicely. Skeins 1-4 are cotton/rayon, 5 is silk, 6 and 7 are wool. As important as understanding color and blending is the actual technique for the painting as well as the project that the yarn will be knitted for.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Coming and going

It's been a big week both here and at the farm. In Seattle painted skeins, color theory, blending, mordanting options and friendships were made and renewed. On the farm new water lines were dug for 24/7 frost free sheep water at the barn, new windows in the cottage and baby bluebirds grew and flew the nest to carry forth another family for next spring. I look forward to coming home to Jack, the dogs, cat and sheep. And I will miss the intensity this week held for me in the dye studio as well. Here is our dye group in Seattle left to right: Karen,Pamela, Donna, me, Ramona, Roberta and Coby. Also me and Donna modeling our dye stained hands. There is some fabulous talent amoung these women and not withstanding all have a great sense of humor. I'll miss you till we meet again!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Let the painting begin!

Today and Thursday we are all handpainting yarns; 9 skeins of rayon/cotton, silk and wool. Each of us has chosen our own palatte of colors, I make it sound so simple but the lead-in to today was quite a project! We began painting and steaming and overdyeing with indigo around 11AM and by 5PM I still had 6 skeins to paint on Thursday! There are many considerations when painting color on yarns from correct blend of colors to an even flow of the color changes and how to overdye areas of the skein with one dye without affecting another dye that should be left alone. Once again too busy to take pictures but here I have Roberta painting and the brick wall outside the studio. It is a study in texture and color and natural blending! And maybe I "hit" the wall tonight! I'll bounce back to my dye work in the morning, ready to strike out once again along the trail of color.

My hue cards

I am brighter today, still stuck between EST and PST, too late to bed, up at dawn! Here is a picture of my hue cards that I made yesterday. The top of the circle begins with red and there are 5 major hues and 5 minor hues around the chart.
Today we begin to apply the theories to natural dyeing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Today was another cranial day for me in the natural dye world. I am sorry not to have any pictures in the studio, too busy! We spent the entire day working with color palettes; and I specifically spent most of the afternoon creating my Munsell Student Color Set. What's that, you ask? It is a set of cards that build a hue value/chroma chart. I had to set out color chips for 10 hues on cards using the Munsell chart. There is only one correct value/chroma placement on each hue card, each card having between 18-30 value/chromas. This really fined tuned my eye to the values of color, excellent exercise.

When we ended the studies today at 5PM, with Karen as our guide , three of us took to the Ballard streets and found our way to the Lockspot Cafe where the captains and crew of The Deadliest Catch are sometimes known to visit. Jack and I are fans of the Discovery Channel series which chronicles the on deck experiences of king and opilio crab fishing on the Bering Sea. During the winter season the ships work out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska but during the summer months many of the captains, crew members and the ships return to Seattle, Ballard specifically. We didn't find any captains, but had a good sea fare dinner, bought some tee shirts and yes, I did the love-being-a-tourist picture!

Top to bottom: Karen; The Lockspot Cafe; silly me; view of Puget Sound

Monday, July 09, 2007

No parameters

Color as it translates, top to bottom, inside and out, primary to hip, I am immersed!

I am posting a few photos and have learned that what I thought would work before may be even more effective in new ways! Natural dyeing has never been an exact science and this week is proving the theory true by teaching me that prior parameters of mordanting, dye temperature and dyestuff collection as well as many other variables can be change yielding with even more exciting results. Tonight I need to do some homework and then get to bed but trust me, this is an eyeopener! Natural dyeing is never conclusive, never dull and never finished!

Top to bottom: Michele Wipplinger; weld studies; madder studies; Rose, the dog who rules my home away from home!

Sleepless in Seattle

I have arrived in Seattle; left the east coast at 5:30 AM and had a 3 hour delay in Charlotte due to a number of mechanical problems on the airplane but arrived at the Earthues studio at 4:30PM, enjoyed a few hours of socializing with the group attending this week and now am settled for the evening. My body says 12:30AM, the clock says 9:30PM....oh dear, and it's till light out! This is a picture of the fresh Weld Coby brought down from Canada for the work this week....isn't it magnificent?!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Seattle and secrets

I am leaving today for Seattle to spend the week at the Earthues studio for the annual invitational, delving into more natural dyeing concepts, color theory, color trends and a complete immersion in Earthues world, both in Seattle and beyond. I am completely excited!

Stay tuned for entries this week in late evening or early morning as the week unfolds.

Also, there are just a few spaces left for the August workshop here at the farm with Michele Wipplinger, click here for the printable brochure Michele will not be on the east coast for an open workshop again this summer/fall...don't miss the chance!

I think the sheep in this picture are sharing secrets, don't you? Today is a gorgeous summer day, a moderate breeze, high 70's, no humidity, perfect for such nonsense and daydreaming!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Shed Friends forever

And on to shed number three! Jack had lots of assistance for this one as the sheep were using this pasture when he built the addition. At first they jumped and ran every time he made a move, but by the time the walls were up the sheep were lying around like it was old news. When Jack put the metal roof on Trinity was lying in the new area and never even budged while he lifted, placed and screwed the metal down! Later in the old area Trinity, Charlotte, Georgia and Jasper all just chewed cud and snoozed! They be happy!

Shed Friends Unite!

With the addition of 6 more lambs last year our summer pasture sheds were standing room only so Jack added extensions to each of the three. When he first built them they were for 2 sheep, then he added a second half to accomodate 9 sheep and now the extra room works for 16! The sheep love the additions so much they will hang there most of the time, except overnight when they sleep out on the pasture. And if it is sweltering hot or a miserable rainstorm they have a place to take refuge. I know, they are spoiled, but ain't life grand! Top to bottom: getting started: east pasture shed: getting started part 2: west pasture shed.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Second cut

Second cut haying is right on time. We got our first cut Memorial Day and the call to get second cut came Sunday afternoon. The sky threatened our plans all day with big gray clouds and it was pretty cool so the hay had to sit before baling til about 3:30, but we hightailed to the field and managed to pick up and get into the barn 140 bales in about an 1 1/2 hours. Lauren, grandaughter and pony paid us a visit and as we left the field after the second trip, the raindrops started but, thankfully, not for long. We have been getting our hay home with pickups for too many years now so we are buying a multi-purpose trailer this week to make one trip with 150 bales. We aren't getting any younger! We now stand at 1/2 way to done for haying. Yea!