summer wool gathering

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A couple of weeks ago we made another field trip to a local sheep farm, Bovidea Farm, with some good friends tagging along.  The last time we visited it was December and the ground was dusted with snow so it was delight to see the farm in the summer foliage.  The sheep had just recently been shorn and their fleeces have been sent off to the mill.  Farmers Jim + Rose were in good health and cheerful, welcoming our big gaggle of children and abounding in knowledge to share.  I had hoped to purchase a good bit of yarn to dye naturally and be able to share with you all in my little etsy shop.  This time around I decided to purchas a small quantity to see how I like dyeing with it, and what your interest in it might be.  I knitted Phoebe a flax sweater in the worsted weight yarn, and I knit my Tales from the Isle of Purbeck shawl in the sport weight, as well as the shiftalong hat.  I really love their wool, it is very sheepy, rustic and springy.  I am hoping to knit a nurtured sweater for myself in it soon!  The only place to purchase their yarn is by visiting Jim and Rose’s farm yarn store, but Jim was graciously willing to allow me to play around with dyeing and selling it so that others of you can access it also!

Phoebe, Noah and Philippa all wanted to use some of their own spending money to buy themselves each a skein of yarn.  Phoebe set right to work knitting hers up and bound off her first finished object by the next day.  She made a cape for her doll, Kaya.  Noah is working on making a green scarf for one of his animals, and I believe Philippa is also.  It is quite dear to this mama’s heart to see them catching my love for wooly things, however long it lasts.

After leaving Bovidae we went to visit Echoview Fiber Mill since it was just 10 minutes down the road.  We picnicked in the grass there and then did a short mill tour.  It was neat to see the process of milling the fleeces, and I was happy to purchase a couple skeins of their lapidary base to try.  Their yarn shop had so many treats and lovely things in it, and one can’t help but admire their passion for caring for the earth, sustainability, and natural dyeing.  There were a couple of women processing dried indigo on the patio by the front door, many beautiful samples of sweaters, hats, and shawls to try on, and all manner of beautiful, useful objects.  The children were quite wiggly at that point and it would probably be more enjoyable to go back next time without them.

Now I’m doubting myself for attempting to dye and sell such a small quantity of yarn, and with all the heat here lately I haven’t been inspired to dye.  But I’m hoping the inspiration will strike and that some of you may be interested in trying out this special wool.

natural dyeing + a little family etsy shop

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Like most of you, I’ll be busy this week prepping to host Thanksgiving at our home + birthday celebrations (on the same day) for Philippa.  Last night I wove in the ends and sewed on the buttons for her birthday sweater.  Brandon and I spent some time on Saturday shopping for her other gifts as well.  I think we are mostly prepared!  I am so happy with the way her sweater turned out.  Of course, it’s a lovely and classic pattern but it was really special to have dyed the yarn myself and see the sweater come together from start to finish.  I have a couple skeins of avocado dyed yarn that I didn’t need and I plan to include them in my first small etsy shop update.  I don’t know when I will actually get that little shop open but I do think I’ll be ready soon.  I hope that some of you find that exciting because I’m doing this not only to help provide for my family, but also to share some knitted goodness with those of you who have shown interest, as well as some other hand made things from our home.  Anyway, more about that soon, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

I never thought I’d be into dyeing yarn and I was so surprised with how much I enjoyed the whole process, particularly using things from our home like leftover avocado pits + skins, and marigolds from our garden.  I hope to get to do it again someday!

In other news, Wren has taken to crawling and is so very proud of herself.  Last week she realized she could get around from room to room, and the exploring and getting into everything has commenced.

making progress

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I mentioned a couple of posts back that we’ve been doing some work on our little “school room” which is a room right off of our kitchen, where my laundry room and also our little sunroom adjoin.  Since moving into our home over a year ago it was my plan to make some changes in this area of the home and make it more suited to study.  I think creating an environment that is beautiful, simple, clean and inspiring is important to foster learning.  Last year we mostly did schoolwork in the living room, but it became a difficulty for phoebe to focus, and for me always lugging all of our supplies and books from the school room over to the living room.  Thus far, keeping our schoolwork in the school and sun room area has really made a difference in helping us all to focus and I love having all of our supplies within reach.  It was essential to me to make a “bigger kid” space for Phoebe that was clean, minimal and well-lighted.  Brandon does such a great job taking my ideas and making them happen.  He built for me a simple floating desk in a little nook that was in the school room, and I think it’s been fun for Phoebe to have a more grown-up feeling area to work.  He also finished the chalkboard I dreamed up and I love everything about it.  I was just telling him last night what a huge difference it makes in our school room and in our teaching/learning to be able to write things out and keep work up on it that we aren’t finished with yet.  There is still, of course, a lot I would like to do in this space, but as with most projects we take on in this season of life we have to take small steps at a time because of both time and cost.  Instead of feeling like I want it all to be perfectly “done” all at once, I’m happy to make it a goal to improve, add to, and tweak it every new school year.  It grows as our little home school grows.  Anyway, I promised to share finished photos with you, so here they are, messy desk area and all.  I think a nice big rug would make this space a bit more cozy, a really great overhead light to replace that old fan (because this room is the least well-lit room in our home, unfortunately), and I will probably work on replacing chairs in this room as well.  We may add some book shelves in somewhere (the wall where the map is now?) because our school book collection is growing steadily.  Brandon would love to vault the ceilings in this room and create a nook up in the attic area above it, but those are lofty dreams.

I feel like I have a lot of creative projects on the go and in my mind.  I would really like to (and sort of need to) update and overhaul this blog space.  I mentioned that I have a few homemade items that we would like to sell in a little family etsy shop space.  I need to get that up and running, hopefully in October!  I have a litany of knitting projects and of course, Christmas and birthdays are approaching and I have a few birthday sweater ideas for the kids.  So there is a lot to work on and really so little time in the nooks and crannies that are leftover in a day.

I spent most of a recent Saturday working in the garden, pulling out the zucchini and squash and peas that were dead (everything got powdery mildew a few weeks ago) and tying up the tomatoes, tilling the soil to prep for planting a fall garden.  It felt so very good to get in there and clean everything up after some weeks of neglect.  Our tomatoes, green peppers, herbs, asparagus, swiss chard, sweet potatoes, and zinnias are still going strong, although with hurricane florence expected to arrive here Thursday evening, I wonder if we will have much that survives.  Maybe it’s good I haven’t planted any fall things yet?  I’ve never done a fall garden and don’t really know if I’m too late anyway, so if you have any tips on that, do comment below and share your wisdom!  I was hoping to do a lot of greens like spinach, arugula, kale, and try again at beets (the groundhog destroyed what I had planted earlier in the summer).  Is it too late to plant some butternut squash?

Our marigolds are abundant, and although I’ve sworn up and down to Brandon that I’d never have an interest in dyeing yarn, something has suddenly switched and I’m curious to use some of the plants we have in abundance on our little property to try a little natural dyeing.  (Because I really need to add another project to my plate!)  I’m really only planning to try dying a few skeins for sweaters for my girls, but we’ll see.  Both girls wandered into the garden with me to harvest the marigold blooms and all of the children want to help me dye.  I think it could be a fun little science-y experiment for us all.  You see your whole yard and surroundings differently when you know how many plants give such vibrant color!

Also, about the hurricane.  We are in the western part of NC in the mountains, but are still slated to see quite a bit of wind and rain.  Typically with any big storm our neighborhood looses power and has some flooding (our unfinished basement almost always floods), so that’s probably the worst that we will see.  Maybe some downed trees.  We do have some family on the coast who stand to suffer quite a bit more, so our thoughts and prayers are with them and with everyone bracing for a fairly big hurricane.  If things are quiet here on the blog it may be because we are out of power.  I went through the garden yesterday gathering as much as I could, and then made the most simple and amazing roasted tomato soup with all of our big heirloom tomatoes.  Hoping everyone stays safe, warm, and cozy this week/weekend.