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New Podcast Episode: But I’m not an Artist

Have you said this statement to yourself? I know that I have. I never thought that being creative is your human nature. It is embedded in our instincts and in our DNA. Only through society have we now lifted up artists to a heroic stature. Listen to this podcast to find out the truth. Do my suggested exercise to train your creative spirit. And as always let me know what you think….

To listen to the episode, subscribe on iTunes, follow on Spotify or click here.

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TOTW: Keeping your Patterns

Do you print out your patterns? I have some I have printed and some I have bought. And I needed a way to organize these and keep track of them. I borrowed my system from a customer. She always carries her notebook to shows or to stores so she has all the information about the patterns she wants to make next.

Watch this video to see the system….. Click here to download the dividers for your own pattern notebook

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Three Yarnie Apps I Really Love

**Disclaimer: I have not received any compensation for this blog. I truly love these apps and use them personally. The opinions are mine alone.

There are 3 yarnie apps on my phone that I simply can not live without. I have to say that these are mostly knitting oriented and so I apologize to my crocheting friends. I simply don’t crochet myself, so I don’t have that frame of reference. I’d love to hear about apps that you use that would be helpful for my readers.

  • Stash Bot–This app is a great little reference to have in your pocket at a fiber festival or a yarn store. I will give you the approximate yardage needed for knitted garments. You need to know the size of garment and an approximate gauge of the garment. Then it will dial in the number of yards that you need. I believe that it is a paid app, but it was well worth the money.
  • KnitCompanion–This app is a way to see the PDF’s of your patterns without all the paper. I just use the free version and it is amazing!! It will automatically upload the PDF’s of patterns in your Ravelry library. And you can keep track of where you are with the vertical and horizontal lines. It is great to use when reading charts. There are also many stitch and row counters that you can use as well. I love this app!!
  • StitchCounter–This app does just that. It will help you count stitches or rows. It is simple to use and so convenient. You always have it in your purse or pocket.
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The Fall Foraging Continues

If you follow my social media and these blog posts, you know that I am currently working very hard to bring a naturally dyed yarn line to you. I also want part of the yarn line to be Fibershed certified, when it is possible to do in our Chesapeake Fibershed. So I’ve been foraging around our 25 acres and in places within 10 miles here to find dye plants that I can use. Yesterday, I was able to get some of these dye plants collected and prepared for dyeing into the fall.

Black Walnuts grow wild here on the property. They are just beginning to ripen and fall off the tree. I collected several pounds of them. Walnuts are dual purpose. The outer husk is where the dye lives. And the inner nut is oh, so yummy. Yes, they are hard to pick out from the shell, but they are worth the trouble in my opinion. So yesterday I broke open the husks and put those into a dye bag and laid out the nuts to dry in the sun.

We grew Hopi Black Sunflowers this year. Bill harvested the seed head several weeks ago, and I’ve been slowly picking the seeds out of the sunflower head. I’ll save these until later to dye, they will keep just fine. I saved the seed heads with some seeds in them to plant for next year. The plants are lovely and grew probably 8 feet in height. There’s nothing prettier in summer than a row of sunflowers.

And then there were the pokeberries. I cut off the sprays of berries and put them straight away into the freezer. I have to read up on how to dye with these. Unfortunately this dye tends to fade but still it will be lovely to try to use plants that our ancestors used.

We also harvested acorns, although we don’t have nearly enough to do anything with at this time. I will just keep adding to the stash until I have enough. And we picked up hickory nuts too. Those are just to pick and eat. They are also hard to crack and to get the nut meat out of, but they are really really nice. It feels great to live in a place where we can go out and forage for dyes and for food.

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First In-Person Show for Us in 2 years

On Saturday our first in-person fiber festival goes live! Yes, it’s in-person. The show is Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. It’s at the Clark County fairgrounds. You can find out more information here.

I’m super excited so see people and to be in the presence of unbridled creativity!

I’m nervous because we haven’t set up the booth in 2 years…will we remember? Will it actually be better?

I’m a little scared too. Will people wear masks and be safe? How can we provide a safe place for our customers?

So many emotions!

I know you must be feeling these things too. I also hope you are feeling excite to touch all the yarn and see all the colors.

We are in the Arts and Crafts Building. We are right by the front door. To keep us and you safe, we will be wearing our masks. We will be bringing a fan so there is more air circulation and less opportunity for the virus to transmit. The festival is from 10-5 on Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday.

Please do come out for a beautiful fall day! It’s supposed to be just gorgeous weather that day. I’m want this weekend to be a real celebration! Be sure to stop by and show us anything you’ve made with our yarn or fiber. We love seeing all your fantastic creativity on display!!

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Weekend Foraging

It’s just days away until Summer is over. And it’s time to be gathering some of the best dye plants in our area. This past weekend, Bill and I headed out to find Goldenrod. It is an amazing dye plant. It grows wild all along the roadways here in Maryland. And we were lucky to find some that had been spared from mowing and herbicides that are used along roads to keep the weeds at bay. They were in full delightful bloom.

Goldenrod

My plan is to separate the blooms from the leaves and woody stem. The stems will go into the compost pile. The leaves will be dried and frozen for later dye sessions throughout the winter. The flowers will be made into a dye pot this week.

Here’s what I will be doing…. I will cover the blooms with water (at a neutral pH). In fact I may put my rain barrel back in service, since we should be getting some rain this week. I will slowly raise the temperature of the flower water mixture, careful not to boil it. I will keep the water just below the simmer. Then I will set it aside and let it cool. Once cool I will remove the flowers.

When it’s time to dye, I will presoak my scoured and mordanted wool and then add it to the dye pot. A good rule of thumb is to have equal weights of fresh flowers and dry wool. This will give you a nice shade. I will begin to raise the heat of my dye pot and again keep it under the simmer for 1 hour. I will check it to see if I want to leave the wool in overnight, or just stop there.

Then I can make a determination if there is leftover dye (exhaust) that I can use to dye more yarn in a soft, more muted color. I’m super excited to get started!!

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Yarns Perfect for Fall

What are you planning to knit for the fall? Socks? A shawl? A sweater? Something smaller like a hat or mittens?

cormoworsted yarn
Livily Cormo Yarn. Find it here

These farm yarns are perfect for all of those garments. We have colors that are great for all your needs, whether that’s a young one who loves pink or camouflage or if you are trying to match your wardrobe. We have farm yarns that are fingering weight (Trasna Light), worsted (Livily) (Polypay and Fibershed Polypay) and DK (Trasna). We just got a sport weight back from the mill, so that is coming up before the fall shows!! We also have mohair yarns that are mostly natural color right now. So head on over to the shop here and choose the Farm Yarn tab to see it all!

These yarns will be available at the following fall shows: Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival and Rhinebeck Fiber Festival.

Trasna Light fingering weight Cormo farm yarn Find it here

Want to know when more colors will be added to our online shop? Click here to get our email blasts that will alert you to shop updates.

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New! Website Page for Free Stuff

I just created a page on the website that is the place to find lots of free stuff. All through the past 2 years and really probably the whole 16 years I’ve been in business, I’ve written and recorded lots of educational content. I have printables and links to the videos of tips of the week. There are book guides too.

And of course, my podcast is free and can be found here on the website OR you can subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

I also have videos of the tips of the day and podcasts and other learning opportunities on YouTube here or on Vimeo.

I’ll be added more and more to this page weekly. So bookmark the page and come back often to see what’s new!!

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Small, Quick Projects for the Dog Days of Summer

It’s hot. I think it’s hot just about everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. My friends in LA and Oregon have been talking about trees becoming sunburned and the forests dying. And we here on the East Coast are stuck in the heat and humidity of summer.

Knitting becomes more of a chore in summer. Even so, I feel like I need to have the rhythmic motion of slip, wrap, slide of each stitch to let my mind get into a flow and to let my mind wander. I don’t want a big project that is sitting in my lap. I want something small and light.

I have some perfect little cowls that fit the bill. They are quick. They are smallish. The yarn is Oh-So Soft and gives your fingers joy just touching it.

What are they? They are my Zephyrette Cowls. Zephyrette is our signature yarn. It is made from soft baby alpaca fleece with long, strong silk and the king of all softness: Cashmere. Alpaca is cool to the touch. So it is a good choice for summer knitting.

There are 3 choices of pattern: Lacy Cowl, Interlaken and Rivulet.

Here’s how you get a kit for a project. First, go here and pick a color of zephyrette. There are so many choices. You just need one skein. Then go here and pick a pattern. Click on the shopping cart and check out. Your new project will be out in the mail to you and you will get it within days.