I decided that it’s time for an “It Bugs Me” post again. It has been awhile. And what made me think of it? Last night as I was sitting there shredding envelope after envelope of credit card offers, it came to me. “This bugs me.” When you have a family of four, two family-owned businesses, and two college-aged kids, the credit card offers that arrive every day are annoying. What a complete waste of time and money. (Particularly annoying are the ones that contain a piece of bubble wrap to make it feel more substantial like something fun is in there, the ones that contain a fake ticket to “the destination of your choice”, and the ones that have a piece of heavy cardboard in there. I did find a dollar bill in one of them. That was unique.) Credit card offers. They bug me. (And that photo was as close as I could find to a “bug” around here, which is probably a very good thing.)
It also bugs me that I’m having so much fun knitting scarves and there are only so many you can wear. And it really does need to be pretty cool to wear them. You can wear socks on most days (except the very hottest) but you can only wear merino scarves when it’s cool. I finished the Noro Silk Garden Worsted scarf (colorway 282) in a modified Chevron-type pattern and I really like how it turned out. (Knitting with Noro is always an adventure because of the way the colors play out.) I mixed a few different patterns together and came up with my own version: cast on 36 stitches, knit a row, and then start in on this pattern and work on it as long as you want it, ending with a knit row. (I used 2 1/2 skeins for this):
Row 1: K2tog (x 3), K f&b (x 6), K2tog (x 6), K f&b (x 6), K2tog (x 3)
Row 2: Purl Row 3: Knit Row 4: Purl
K2tog = knit two stitches together as one. K f&B = Knit into the front of the stitch and then knit into the back of the same stitch, then pop the stitch off of the left needle.
And speaking of projects completed, here is the Creatively Dyed Seacell Roving that I spun up. This was a colorway from her first roving order here called Forest Path. (We put up more fun new roving colors from Dianne this week.) The roving didn’t bug me – it spun up like a dream. What bugs me is that I feel like I’m doing a good job while I’m spinning it, getting nice even yarn most all of the time. However, when I ply it and look at the finished results, it doesn’t look anywhere near even. I guess I just need to keep practicing. (Actually, given the quantity of very cool roving here, that is not going to be a hardship.)
Another thing that really bugs me is that this is Cassie’s last week at The Loopy Ewe. Cassie is in college and we hired her for the summer (so that the regular Elves could be a little more flexible with their summer schedules.) Cassie is getting married in a week and so her time here is about over. She has been a huge help and we’re going to miss her. We had a Going Away/Good Luck with the Wedding party for her here today, which was fun! (We’re sending her off with one of those gorgeous Atenti bags – the one that she has had her eye on all summer long.) But it bugs me that we’re losing her, albeit to a good cause! (Knitting Daughter has already laid claim to Cassie’s job next summer.)
Let’s end this post on a positive note! Something that makes me happy – our Second Anniversary “Loopified” Sock Kit! These will go up sometime soon (but not today – we’re not ready yet) and we’re happy to show you the photo of what’s in there! We had Jana at Hand Maiden dye up a special colorway on her Casbah yarn base that we call “Loopified” – the red and black are very “Loopy” colors, and of course the pewter color is in there because of Loopy Kisses, which is also part of being fully “Loopified”. We love how it turned out! Then Debbie O’Neill took the sample skein that Jana had sent and developed a cool pattern out of if, which she calls Halema ‘uma ‘u Socks (which is the name of a volcano, since the colorway reminded her of glowing embers.) To round out the kit, we have a Loopy Ewe Coffee Mug (I love the size and shape of this one), a Loopy Ewe enamel pin (for all of you who keep asking us for these), and two Loopified tattoos (for those of us who are too chicken to get the real thing like Lynda did. And like the others of you who have already emailed for permission to get a real Loopy tattoo, are planning to.) A couple of things to note about the kit – we are limiting it to one per person for now. Also, this has to ship as its own order, since we had to pack it in a certain size cube in order to fully protect the mug. (International orders – we will pack the mugs the VERY best that we can in the international padded envelopes, but we just can’t guarantee them because …. well, we’ve seen some of the things that happen to orders going that far afield. Please order at your own risk.)
So, those are the things that bug me (and make me happy) today. What bugs you lately?
Today in the Limelight we have Josette from Enchanted Knoll Farm. In addition to having gorgeous yarn and roving, she and her family are also living an interesting life in Maine. I know you’ll enjoy learning more about the dyer behind this line!
Loopy: Hi Josette! Tell us how long you’ve been a knitter and how did you start?
Josette: Knitting, for me, was a series of stops and starts at first. For many years, I was convinced that I didn’t want to be a knitter. In fact, I sort of came into knitting by consequence of being a spinner, which was a consequence of raising sheep. When we moved to Maine 12 yrs. ago, we knew we wanted to grow our own food and possibly grow enough organic produce to sell. I also hand-milked a cow for a couple of years and sold the butter/cheese to neighbors and friends. When we bought our cow, a little lamb jumped up in the trailer with her. It had been quite a job to get her loaded and the farmer just waived her hand and said we could have the lamb. That’s how I fell in love with wool, sinking my fingers into his back to pet his wooly coat. I soon added more sheep to the homestead and got my first spinning wheel. Only a few years later, when I had started to accumulate an abundance of handspun yarn, did I begin crocheting again (had done this as a child) and, eventually, learned to knit. Like most things we are afraid of (going down the big slide the first time, etc.), it wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d assumed, and I was knitting along the slippery slope to yarn fanaticism in a jiffy.
Loopy: It sounds like that little lamb knew just what it was doing by jumping into the trailer to come home with you! What is your favorite item to knit?
Josette: I love shawls but end up knitting my 2nd favorite most – socks. I love socks because I need little ‘sessions’ of knitting throughout the day – they keep me sane. A sock, especially one done in a simple and functional style out of some exciting hand-dyed color play, is a perfect start to my day. Well, that and a cup of organic coffee. If I can fetch 15-20 minutes at the beginning of the day for sock knitting and a cup of coffee, I am a happy woman. I find myself coming back throughout the day to work a few rows at a time and re-visiting that sense of peace.
Loopy: What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Josette: Hmmm…Unfortunately, in terms of this question, I am incapable of remembering difficulty for a long time. It could be due to my naïve nature but I just like to take those things that fill you with angst or make you really nervous and ball them up and roll them away. I do know I have knit some lace shawls that were sort of tense and I think my first sock was entirely frustrating because I had such a hard time conceptualizing the heel. Then, I found Wendy Knits’ blog and have been comfortably knitting socks since!
Loopy: That’s really a nice thing to be able to do – forget angst and difficulty. I like that. How did you go from knitting to dyeing?
Josette: Actually, I went from dyeing to knitting. With my herd of Cotswold sheep, years ago, came some fleece. I had the best summer dyeing up the fleeces and carding them up to spin! It was there that I learned how to play with color, how to formulate the hues and tones, and how to mix and match color. When I knit it up, I figured out how much color and where I would need it for different items like shawls, socks, etc.
Loopy: We like the way you mix colors. How do you come up with your colorways, and do you have a favorite?
Josette: I can’t pick just one. My three top favorites are : Wood Elves (which was created one fall afternoon when I was sitting outside looking at the woods and thinking, “fall in Maine doesn’t look like the autumn colors traditionally depicted in reds, oranges, and browns but is rich with the evergreens and blue skies and golden leaves”), Queen Mermaid – which came about because of my fascination with the ocean, and Esmaralda (because it is a sort of marriage of the earthy ‘wood elves’ and the watery ‘queen mermaid’ in dark, rich color). In short, you can see I pretty much wear ‘color hunting glasses’ everywhere I go. I can’t help it anymore, it just happens. I can see two cars parked next to each other and stop to think, “hmm, look at how those two colors look next to each other’. Likewise, I can be in the garden, walking around the homestead, or just daydreaming and will be better able to recollect what I’ve seen if I can describe it in color.
Loopy: You’re a Color Hunter! What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Josette: My favorite part is that I feel so comfortable when dyeing, knitting and spinning that it just sort of takes me away from everything. It’s like a total state of relaxed calm that I so enjoy. The not so favorite? That would be that the enjoyment of what I do sometimes means that I have a blurry idea of when to stop.
Loopy: It is hard to stop something like this, isn’t it? That’s why we love it so much. Tell us about your family and your farm!
Josette: This may be a long one. The family consists of James (aka Dad) and Things 1, 2 and 3 who are commonly called Emma (15), Gus (12), and Henry (8). We are all spinners, knitters, and some of us crochet. We moved to our homestead 6 years ago, after leaving our farm. In one summer, while camping here, James and I built a cordwood home by ourselves. Our remote acreage is surrounded by habitat for many water birds and other animals so we knew when we moved here that running power lines across the streams would not be an option. We were already committed to walking softly so we felt confident taking the plunge. Our 6 years on the farm had taught us much about caring for animals, growing crops, and generally being as self-sufficient as possible. We started with a very primitive power system and a generator and have since added more panels and solar equipment so that we power the house with solar power and use the generator to pump water. Within a year, we were working on building our actual home (the cordwood would then become the barn – a great round house for the sheep, which they love, because they love to pace. And when you pace a round house, you never have to stop pacing!). Living in our home as we build it has posed some challenges but the pleasure of making your own home a reality is empowering. In those six years, we’ve added a herd of sheep, some homestead hens, and a pig. When not dyeing, spinning and knitting, we grow a 1/4 acre organic garden every year and I can, dry, and preserve all sorts of jams, sauces, and veggies for the winter ahead (which, in Maine, is REALLY LONG). Fortunately, we love winter in Maine. The wildlife presence on our homestead is wide ranging – from an occasional bear to deer, to many species of owls, eagles, and, of course, so many other birds. Yet, we still get internet service, and we’re 5 miles from a town that serves our shopping needs. It’s a good balance for us, we think.
Loopy: Wow. It’s amazing to be living a life like that. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be where you are. So all of you are knitters and spinners?
Josette: All of us! I have made a particular effort not to force the kids or husband to knit. Instead, I went about it in a more strategic way (which is so not the norm for me) and just started to make them things I knew they’d love. Then, when they were sufficiently spoiled, they would inevitably start to ASK me to make them things. That’s when I’d start to suggest that maybe they’d like to learn so they could make whatever they wanted. James started spinning and knitting almost 2 years ago – and both Emma and Gus have been spinning and knitting for about 4 years. We’re the odd family that fights over who gets the spinning wheel next! Last, but not least, came thing 3 who became enchanted with knitting when I gifted him with an Errol owl from Charmed Knits last year. Suddenly, he realized he could knit TOYS! He’s just started spinning on the wheel – graduating from a spindle for a year or so.
Loopy: Very sneaky. And it worked! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Josette: Sewing, gardening, reading, and long walks
Loopy: Your life sounds very filled up. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Josette: I’m having my first day off (three, actually, IN A ROW) next week and the plan is to spend it camping on the beach with the kids and canoeing around the coves!
Loopy: We hope you have a great time and that you get more days off soon!
We’ve had fun getting in more boxes this week! On Wednesday, it was the overload of Possum Sock yarn from Cherry Tree Hill. We have 32 unique (beautiful!) colorways that we have photoed and they’ll be up on the website next week. (What in the world is “possum” doing in sock yarn? Making it really really warm and toasty, that’s what.) This comes from New Zealand possums, which are much nicer looking and much peskier than their American namesakes. They are destroying the environment in New Zealand and using their fur in a yarn blend is one positive that can come from them. Cheryl at Cherry Tree Hill is only able to get the mill to spin this yarn base for her once in a blue moon, so she doesn’t anticipate that she’ll have it again for several more years. The yarn is soft and takes dye beautifully. I can’t wait for you to see the photos. (I grabbed a few skeins from the top box so that I could have a quick blog photo for you. Click on the photo to enlarge it.) This is perfect for socks, scarves, mittens and gloves. For those of you who want to make warm shawls, we still have some possum laceweight left from Cherry Tree Hill. It’s incredibly soft, too!
The other boxes that arrived are the Schacht Spinning Wheels! Silly me, I thought these wheels would come packaged in compact boxes like Louet, and we’d have to put them together. Nope. They come assembled with a box built around them. So you can imagine the space they are taking up here! We have the Matchless Double Treadles and the Ladybugs in. (We can special order the Single Treadles or their other wheels for you.) I’m itching to take one of each out of their boxes and set them up for spinning here at Loopy, but I’m not letting myself. First of all, we won’t have the room to do that until our expansion space is open. Secondly, I need to save this first batch for all of you. But SOON, I am going to have one of those cute Ladybugs with the RED wheel sitting here for spinning. We’ll have the wheels up for sale on the website early next week, too. (It looks like we are only going to be able to ship these to the 48 continental states, and we will ship them out to you via UPS.)
Several of you have asked what scarves I have on the needles. (Remember I told you that I had FOUR on the needles? Turns out I was wrong. I have six.) I have two scarves of Wollmeise going – one in another Feather and Fan pattern and one in a lace pattern that I bought at Knitch a few weeks ago, one in a Chevron-type pattern out of Noro Silk Garden Worsted (mmm – warm and wonderful. I’m using colorway 282), two regular Chevron patterned scarves – one in Fiesta Boomerang (Madrid and Plum Pudding) and one in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport (Jeans and Vera) and my KAL scarf out of Dream in Color Baby (In Vino Veritas) with the Gust pattern. Since I’m almost done with the Noro Silk Garden Worsted, I’m about ready to cast on another. I think that any normal person knitting person would do the same thing, when faced with completing a project. Why not start up another? This time I’m making another Feather and Fan out of the new Noro Silk Garden Sock in that gorgeous ivory colorway. I have a rather goofy looking chenille-type scarf (one of my first scarves that I knit up several years ago – it really needs to be retired) that I seem to grab a lot in the winter. I know it’s because ivory/cream/natural tones go with whatever sweater or coat you’re going to wear it with. I’m doing myself a favor and knitting up a new one with the Silk Garden Sock, so that I can get rid of the other one. (In the photo – the top three don’t really have too much finished. And look at how the Gust heads off to one side in a bias as you knit it. I’ve been assured that this blocks out. The bottom three have more done and are turned under. I really ought to finish some of these…)
So am I alone in this continual casting-on, or are there some of you out there who start new things even though you have other projects going that you still like working on? I know people cast on when they get tired or frustrated with other things, but what if you LIKE all of the things that you’re working on? Does that stop you from starting other things? You’d think that it would.
We had a great time at the Midwest Fiber Fest last weekend! I headed out on Friday morning (and of course Loopy insisted on tagging along.) Does it mean anything that my knitting bag was as big as my luggage for the whole weekend? I really love that bag. I had to pack a lot of knitting in there, because heaven forbid that I might run short of something to knit. (Never mind that we were going to a fiber festival where I could buy more. That doesn’t count.) My drive up took forever. Chicago is really only 5 or so hours away, but I was driving “in Chicago” for about an hour and a half, between the road construction, the rain, and the rush hour traffic. I was glad to finally get to Crystal Lake, where we were staying.
Saturday morning we had a cup of coffee (Caribou Coffee - yum!) and we headed out. It was drizzling, but fortunately many of the booths were inside. We met up with Adrianne and Kris within the first few minutes and had fun hanging out with them the rest of the day. It didn’t take too long to find the animals. Loopy and I both really liked the angora bunnies that were for sale. I stood and held one for about 20 minutes while talking to their owner. The bunny couldn’t have been sweeter! I tried to talk Janice into getting into angora bunnies, but she would not be swayed. (Seriously – she has the perfect setup for them. I don’t.) Oh well. We also saw two alpacas who were more chatty than any I had been around before. They make a kind of humming noise and these two were humming the whole time we were standing around photoing them. Very cute.
I was happy to find Jennie the Potter in one of the booths, and I bought a vase-type-of-thing to hold needles. I had seen her wonderful pottery before and now have a few pieces of it on my wish list. I posed Loopy by one of the bowls so that you could see her work. She makes mugs, plates, bowls and vases, with knitting and spinning themes and different color options.
We also saw a few different sock knitting machines and this guy was demonstrating how to use them. I have heard that the learning curve is high, but boy, does it ever look fun. Just turn the crank and out pops the knitted fabric. He said it takes him about 3 hours to knit a pair of socks, which includes the set-up and the kitchenering of the toes at the end. Interesting. (I do still like knitting them myself. I just think it would be awfully fun to be able to whip out some samples of how different yarn lines knit up. But then again, who has time to learn to operate one of those things?) This guy is an elementary school teacher and is looking forward to retiring in a year so that he can spend more time working on this machine.
What did I buy? Well besides the pottery, I bought … quite a few fun skeins of yarn! But some of it are lines that we might be getting here so I will keep it all under wraps for now. It was fun to see lots of different options. Here’s a picture of Dianne from Creatively Dyed. She had a great booth set up and it was nice to find her there. She also does booths at Stitches, so you can look for her in all of those places as well. (We just got in a big order from her. The yarn is absolutely stunning – wonderful colors. That went up this week. The Seacell roving will go up next week.) I also ran into Gale from Gale’s Art (forgot to take a photo) and she promises that our next Black BFL order is in the works. We love her roving.
After we had gone through the entire place twice, we decided that we’d had enough (or maybe we decided that we had spent enough – or maybe, like this photo of Janice shows, we couldn’t make up our minds any more) and headed home for an afternoon of knitting and spinning. Here’s a photo of Adrienne giving Janice some spinning instruction (and Kris helping!). Adrienne is such a great encourager and teacher. (She repeatedly said, “Don’t say that I’m a spinning teacher. I’m really not!” But she really is. She talks about spinning things that are way beyond me and is a wealth of information. Which just shows me how much I have yet to learn!) I finished a sock out of Earthly Hues, which I’ll photo and show you on Friday. This is a new line that we’ll put up next week. I also realized that I have FOUR scarves on the needles. FPS. I really thought I was done with scarves, but I keep finding fun patterns for them that I want to knit up. And fun yarns to do them in. Still wishing I could find more time to knit, too. You know, to get all of those scarves done.
I definitely want to go back to this festival next summer and Janice agrees. Who wants to join us?