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Christmas Stocking?

December 12, 2010

I have been busy preparing for the pot-luck Christmas lunch at work. We are doing a Christmas Stocking activity (not sure what else to call it). We were all asked to bring in Christmas Stockings and a gift of under a dollar for each of the stockings. Then everyone gets a little something and it doesn’t cost much (there are 23 people in my office). I decided to knit a Christmas Mitten instead:

I used stash yarn (Montera by Classic Elite) and made it up as I went along using  a basic mitten structure and made it as big as I dared. Then I added a couple of trees knitted out of Nicky Epstein’s Knitted Embellishments (I love this book) and added a few beads for “lights”. It was fun and I think it came out great. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to put my name of the mitten, I am not totally pleased with the results (beads with letters) but it will do.

I filled small plastic ornaments with bits of wool and alpaca for the gifts I will put in everyone’s stockings:

They were fun to make. I need to tie on a ribbon or something tonight. I also have a pot of Carrot Soup to bring.

I have also been dying and knitting. I knit a Ribbed Baby Jacket for a friend to give to a friend who is having a baby. I used Wool2Dye4  worsted weight superwash wool which I dyed a pinky/peachy color. It is an easy pattern that I got on line but when I was putting into Ravelry it says it is a Debbie Bliss pattern.

I made a simple I-cord flower and put a small star button in the center.

I hope to get a picture of the baby wearing the sweater (after she is born!).

Here is a basket of recently dyed yarns, ready to be reskeined and labeled:

There is also a couple of balls of brown alpaca pencil roving I dyed and a couple of braids of top (one is merino/alpaca and the other is superwash merino).

David and I spent a couple of days in Portland Maine this week. It is our annual trip, the week of his birthday. We eat at great restaurants and shop for Christmas. We make a pilgrimage to LLBean and this year decided to send gift certificates for the kids in Texas. And we ordered the annual Gingerbread Houses.

We are getting the bad weather today that has swept across the country. There was a little snow and freezing rain overnight, today it warmed up and has been raining hard. I do hope we get snow before Christmas, but just enough to make a white Christmas.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect up with our fellow man.” Herman Melville.



Night Lights

November 28, 2010

I am continuing to add to the web site. Yesterday I added some patterns from KnitSpot. Ann Hanson is a very talented designer. I have knit a couple of her designs, her patterns are well written and complete. I added a bunch of sock patterns that look interesting. I am not much of a sock knitter, but there are a couple I would consider knitting, such as the Lighthouse Gansey and the Hayrick. Check them out.

Right now I am knitting a pair of her Spiraluscious mitts and plan to do a pair of the Snow on Cedar Mitts for a Christmas gift.

The other area I am updating is the knitting needles. I am adding bamboo circulars from KA, a Japanese company. The needles are great quality at a very affordable price.

I have not been doing a lot of dying. I did dye 10 skeins of Mary this week to restock. What I really need to do today is mix dye stock as I am low or out of a lot of colors.

Everyday I am amazed and pleased with the results of dying yarn and fiber. Sometimes it does not come out like I expected but is beautiful. And other times I throw it back in the dye pot to change it. Here is a picture of a skein of my lace weight yarn, Ida.

This originally was a bright, almost candy, color combination. I overdyed it with Raven and it made the colors richer. I call it Night Lights. I may end up doing something similar to other skeins of yarn I do not think will sell because of how the colors or color combinations came out. This is a craft and I know I have learned a lot but have much more to learn. I am enjoying it though.

It is cold in New Hampshire. This morning there is ice on the fish pond. The fish have been slowing down for weeks now. I was surprised when I was cutting back the overhanging hostas last month when I discovered a baby had been born during the summer. He was already about 2 inches long so had been hiding for a while. He is now hanging out with the big fish.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” Eleanor Roosevelt




November 21, 2010

The fall was busy with fiber festivals and fairs. We again attended the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival in Tunbridge and had a great time.The weather was better this year (last year Saturday was a complete wash out) and there was a lot of activity around the fairgrounds. The following week was the NH Wool Arts Tour. We again set up at Spring Pond Farm in Greenfield. Two weeks ago we were vendors at the inaugural New England Fiber Festival at the Eastern States Complex in Springfield Mass. It was a huge show for the first year, there were about 200 vendors I think. I had a lot of competition but there was also a lot of variety. The show staff and volunteers did a great job and I look forward to next year.

In total, I did 4 shows this year (I was also at the Knit and Crochet show in Manchester in July) and hope to increase to about 6 next year. The first one of 2011, and I am sooooo excited about this, is the Spa Knit and Spin in Freeport Maine February 25-27. For those that are not familiar with this event, it is an annual gathering (this is the 9th annual) of fiber enthusiasts who spend the weekend knitting, spinning and just hanging around with friends. It is mostly unstructured. There is a “Vendor Mercantile” of 25 vendors from the region. I have attended Spa for one afternoon in the past and I look forward to being immersed in the fun and fiber of the whole weekend.

I will apply for the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool and NH Sheep and Wool again this year (they limit the number of vendors so the waiting list is long). I am also thinking of the Maine Fiber Frolic in June. We’ll see.

The past month has been hectic around here. We had to have a new well drilled and we had some old windows replaced in the upstairs. I am finally getting the house back together and cleaned. I am in the process of doing an inventory of my stock and updating the website. I am also reassessing which yarns to continue to carry and which ones to retire. I would like a variety of weights but not be too overwhelmed trying to keep up with the dying and the stock. Lace has been my biggest seller, I currently carry 3 lace weight yarns and will probably keep it there. I also need to look at each yarn and determine how it will likely be used to better estimate the number of skeins of each color. My capacity is small but some yarns, Hildegard in particular, would be a great yarn for a sweater but up to now I have done one or two skeins of each color, far less than needed for a sweater.

Here is a list of my hand dyed yarns:

Florence – 100% Superfine Alpaca; Lace Weight; 1200 yard and 320 yard skeins

 Mary – 70% Alpaca/ 20 % Silk/ 10% Cashmere; Sport Weight; 400 yard skeins

 Lillian – 80% Baby Alpaca/ 20% Silk; Lace Weight; 1000 yard and 500 yard skeins

 Ida – 70% Baby Alpaca/20% Silk/ 10% Cashmere; Lace Weight; 1300 yard and 330 yard skeins

Virginia – 100% Alpaca; Sport Weight; 375 yard skeins

 Hildegard – 50% Suri Alpaca/ 50% Merino; Sport Weight; 320 yard skeins

Imogene – 70 % Alpaca/ 20% Silk/ 10% Cashmere; Fingering Weight; 437 yard skeins

 Eddie – 50% Superwash Merino/ 50% Silk; Sock Yarn; 437 yard skeins

 Frontier – 70% Merino/ 20% Alpaca/10% Silk; Bulky Weight; 72 yard skeins

100% American Alpaca – Alpacas Raised in the US; Fleece Mill Spun in the US; Yarn Hand Dyed in the US; Worsted Weight; 250 yard skeins

 Ernestine – 80% Superwash Merino/ 20% Nylon; Sock Yarn; 400 yard skeins

 Please visit the site to see the available colors. I also continue to carry Alpaca Yarn Company yarns. And we still have free shipping through the end of the year.

 “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” T.S. Eliot

Peace, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving day with family and friends.




May 9, 2010

My trip to Italy was great. My sister and I went to Florence to visit her son who is a student and spending this semester there.  We were undeterred by the volcano because we flew direct to Rome from Philadelphia taking a more southern route. We spent one night in Rome then took a train to Florence for the week. The countryside of Italy is beautiful. The wisteria and azaleas were in bloom and everything was green. Here are some pictures:

The Colosseum. Very impressive how the ancient Romans built and used this facility.

Overlooking some of the ancient ruins in Rome.

A hilltop view of Florence. We did a lot of climbing, hills and the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo.

Wine tasting in Greve-Chianti. I shipped David 6 bottles of wine. I am not much of a red wine drinker but did like some of the ones I tasted. The whole wine tasting was automated, you purchased a card that you put into the carousel and pushed the button to taste a wine.

A vineyard. There were acres and acres of these perfectly straight rows of grape vines. I am sure it is more beautiful later in the season.

 The art, of course, was great to see. The statue of David by Michelangelo was much bigger than I thought it would be. As my sister remarked, we saw a lot of male anatomy during our visit!

New updates on the website, including a new homepage. I am now stocking one of The Alpaca Yarn Company’s new yarns, Astral. It is a 50% Tensel, 30% Alpaca and 20% Wool blend. The Firefly Shawl seen in  Interweave Knits is knit from this yarn. It is soft and has a great drape. The colors are fabulous.

It will be up on the website this week.

I also want to announce I will be a vendor at the upcoming Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester, New Hampshire on July 8-10.

Virginia Hand Dyed

April 8, 2010

I put up new colors of Virginia tonight. This is a 100% Alpaca sport weight. The skein size has been increased from 240 yards to 375 yards to make it more appropriate to buy one or two skeins for a project. 100% Alpaca yarn is too warm for a large sweater but makes great fingerless mitts, mittens, hats and neck warmers (scarves, cowls). There are still some 240 yard skeins available and I will occasionally dye it in the smaller skeins.

Here are a few pictures:

My sister and I are going to Italy to visit her son who is studying in Florence this semester. We leave on April 16th. We are going to spend the first night in Rome and take the train to Florence. I am very excited, a little nervous about such a long plane trip, but I am sure it will be worth it.

There is more conflict at work, but that is for another time………

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” Eleanor Roosevelt




April 4, 2010

It is a beautiful day in New Hampshire. The sun is shinning, it is warm and at long last I can put yarn out on the deck to dry.

Don’t look at the yard! Spring means rebirth but it also means clean up and reevaluation of the gardens to set goals for the season. We had a big tree come down on one of the decks during one of the storms in February so we have repair work to be done also. At least it did not hit any structures like the house, gazebo or garage.

The yarn in the above picture is a new yarn that will be introduced in the next couple of weeks.

I have also been working on restocking the inventory. Virginia is ready to be labeled and put up on the website:

Lillian, a lace yarn that is 80% Baby Alpaca and 20% Silk, was one of my best sellers last year. I am skeining some up and will be restocking the store in the next couple of weeks. It comes in two size skeins – 1000 yards and 500 yards.

Happy Spring.



March 28, 2010

You will notice changes here and at the website over the next few weeks. I will be blogging more about what is going on with the business. Check here for updates on new products and what fairs and festivals you can find me at. I will still tell stories and show you what I am knitting.

The website changes may be less noticable but you will see a new home page soon. The changes will, hopefully, give my business more exposure on the web.

Doing my inventory and preparing for my taxes has given me a good picture of the product lines I now carry and food for thought as I go forward. Some of the product lines I now carry will be “retired” and some will be expanded. I am looking at the hand dyed yarns I carry and deciding which ones to continue, what to add and also changing some of the skein sizes to better suit my customer’s needs. I will continue to refine the dyeing process – hopefully to improve my productivity. I am learning as I go.

In my last post, I mused about what to knit with single skeins of sock yarn. Here is what I recently knit for a co-worker’s new baby:

The pattern is the Garter Yoke Baby Cardi by Jennifer Hoel – very easy and very cute. I used a skein of Spunky Eclectic’s Super Nova Superwash (important for baby things) in the colorway Burning Bush.

My sister visited this weekend to finalize plans for our trip to Italy next month. We are visiting her son who is studying there this semester. Unfortunately, we did not get as much done as we had hoped. Our mother was admitted to the hospital on Friday and that consumed two days. All is well, she had an adverse reaction to a new medication and only had to stay overnight. Life does not always go as planned.

Here are a few new colors of Ida, a lace weight 70% Alpaca, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere yarn. Very beutiful. It comes in skeins of 1300 yards and 320 yards.

 “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” Eleanor Roosevelt.

Peace, and think Spring.


It’s all about mittens!

February 3, 2010

I have knit a lot of mittens lately. First, I made a pair of  Delicato Mitts by Anne Hanson for David’s brother’s wife for Christmas. I made them with yarn from one of their alpacas, Ode to Joy, that I handdyed.

Then I made a pair of  Super Mittens from Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick for a coworker’s mother:

I have made two more pairs for coworkers:

I am using yarn from my stash for these: Brown Sheep and Malabrigo.

And now I am making a pair of Spiraluscious Mitts by Anne Hanson for a niece in Texas.

I think I like knitting mittens more than socks. I don’t know, socks just take me too long and I am not sure they are worth the effort. I probably would not give them to any one and inevitable my socks get felted in the wash or end up with a hole. I love sock yarn, though. So I am on the lookout for patterns to use up single skeins of sock yarn.

Cowls are good. Fingerless mitts (could probably get two pair from one skein). Small scarves. Baby Kimonos. There as so much more you can knit with sock yarn.

“The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.” Anonymous



I’m Back

January 10, 2010

A new year. A new decade. I always become a little melancholy at this time of year. I  feel that with each passing year, I need to reevaluate where I am and where I want to be. This January, there are definitely good things in my life, but unfortunately, I feel there are negative things getting in the way of my enjoyment. Instead of listing New Year Resolutions this year, I am going to ask questions:

1. Should I find another job? – I have not written much about my job except some great birth stories. The truth is, my job sucks. I am a Nurse Midwife in an environment where midwives are not valued or allowed to practice their craft. Two years ago, my organization decided the midwives should work Monday through Friday 8-5 :(. This has taken the choice away from women and degraded the value of what midwives do. The passion is gone from my work. I spend the days I am “assigned” to the hospital babysitting the physicians inductions. Women are shuffled through the office like cattle, they have to see everyone, are not given much education (except when they see one of the midwives, if she has the time to spend with her), are labled high risk for stupid reasons, and do not have a choice as to the philosophy of care she wants.

I feel I am at a cross-roads in my career. I have been a midwife for 18 years, have worked in my current job for 15. Now there is discussion to have the midwives work nights and weekends again. Does this have something to do with the fact there are less physicians now and they need help? Or is it that administration sees the decision they made 2 years ago was wrong and they want to reestablish the midwifery practice? I am not sure what our role will be if we go back on “call”. But my skeptical side says it will be a slave to the docs (at least now we are slaves with good hours) and not to allow women the choice of provider 24 hours a day. I will see how much they are asking for and how much they will be willing to give us at a meeting later in the month.

2. Can I feel good about myself? – A few years ago I lost 40# on Weight Watchers. I have gained back about 10# and have not been able to take it and the rest of the weight off. I hate myself for not exercising regularly and drinking too much wine. I eat well most of the time (Christmas candy aside) but there is definitely room for improvement. I walked on the treadmill this morning 🙂

3. Will my business succeed? Or another question What am I trying to accomplish? In some ways 2009 was a good year for the business. I did not make money but I think I am getting my name out there and for the most part enjoying what I am doing. I love dying yarn and the fairs and festivals I did were fun. But . . . .  what is the goal? To make money? That will probably not happen. I do not have the time to be on Ravelry all the time tooting my own horn in the forums like some other Indie dyers who probably do get business that way. Realistically, I work full time, this is a hobby that I hope does not bankrupt me.

4. Is there more to life? You get up, go to work at a job you hate, come home, drink too much, watch stupid TV and then go to bed. Maybe the question really is: Where do I want to be in 5 years?

I don’t really have answers to any of these questions. Only more questions. 2010 will be a journey for me. I am not sure where it will take me or what road I will even be on. But I know I have to make  changes in me, my life and my future.



“Life’s problems wouldn’t be called “hurdles” if there wasn’t a way to get over them.” Unknown

Peace and Happy New Year


A Daily Dose of Fiber

August 10, 2009

I skirted and prepared over 30# of alpaca fleeces this weekend. They will be sent off to the mill for processing into a worsted weight yarn which I will dye. While preparing these fibers it was fun to imagine the personality of the individual animal they came off of. From the dirty juvenile to the pristine queen.

Ready to start


Onto the skirting table where as much trash (sticks, hay, stuff) is removed as well as any fiber that is not good quality (second cuts, guard hair).


Then into the tumbler. Here the sand, more debris and short cuts fall out.




Beautiful “clean” fleece. It will be washed and further separated at the mill.



All bagged and ready to go



And now I am off to a three day Spinning Colorwork for Knitting workshop with Lynne Vogel at Harrisville Designs. Very cool.