Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My own Mystery Stole 3 offering

Here it is, my swatch for the Mystery Stole 3 that Melanie is preparing us for!

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I knit this over the weekend while at the lake (see previous post). It is from my fine white Corriedale roving, all from farm raised sheep. Spun and plyed on my Louet S45, knit on my new Addi Turbo Lace needles. I love the look and feel, and am just about finished with my first full bobbin ~ hopefully will have yardage complete before the first clue day (this Friday, June 29) Once I have seen the clue, I may decide to go up one needle size for a more open look. Or I could block harder (grin)

This is also part of my Journey To A Shawl project.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

He Leads Me Beside Still Waters....

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Those of you who know me have heard me speak of the one weekend each year that I try to move everything else aside and travel with some very special friends to a cabin in the woods, overlooking a lake. We pack a change of clothes and toothbrushes, some simple food, our knitting projects and our spinning wheels. We visit the loons there, who call to us mysteriously in the dark (you can click on this link, if you aren't sure what a Common Loon is - or do a google search). They urge us to wake up in the morning and walk down to the dock to look across the stillness of the water. It seems to me that it is that very call and that very stillness that both calm and stir something in my soul and my heart every year that I am there.

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This year, in our everyday lives away from the lake, the world around us had changed. It is a very different place than it was a year ago ~ than it was even six months ago. Death and loss had invaded ~ unwanted, unwelcome, unexpected. And it is still so very real and fresh, walking hand in hand with one very special person in our group. But touching all of us in ways to numerous to list. Would the lake still offer the comfort and serenity it had in the past?

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It did. It offered sweet sleep under the rafters. It offered the beauty of a little blue eyed grass along the trails, glimpsed on a hike in the woods. If offered the bounty of the lake waters and fresh trout on the supper plate, thanks to the able fisher-women in our quartet! It offered bright colorful roving spinning around our wheels, and solutions to spinning and knitting problems as talk flowed around the screened-in porch. And especially in that call of the loons on the lake, reminding us of the mystery and uncertainty of life. Somehow in that, it seems we were reminded that we don't know or understand why ... that is a question we have to save for the day we meet God face to face. Sometimes as we walk ahead into those days after the loss of a person who meant so very much to us, we ask why in fear, in anguish, in sorrow and yes - in anger. But we remember that He is a good God. We can trust His heart for us. He does lead us beside still waters....He does lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.

I don't know, maybe my jumbled up words aren't making any sense....I only know that in that huge, aching hole of sorrow was also a reminder of life, and friendship and the beauty He allows us to glimpse to give us hope to continue on. To slowly and cautiously stick our toe in the water of life and keep going. It seemed to me that we were able to do that this weekend.

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Maybe I should be quiet and just let some of the profoundness of the place speak to you? Here they are, just a few images captured:

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I am sorry that in my photo journalism (LOL!) I didn't capture an image of Mary, another of the four of us, on film! The fish in the picture above were actually taken by Mary and Carol, with Pat manning the net. In this photo you see Carol on the left, and Pat on the right.

I am so grateful for the friends I have who even offered me the chance to share in this very special place! Every year I am awed and honored to be asked again to make the trek. It has become a golden nugget of the year to go. I already have this years memories tucked quietly away in my heart, to carry me through till next time.

So, to Pat and Carol and Mary ~ thank you. Till next time ~

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Flowers, Friday Fibers

What a glorious Friday this is! Sunny, breezy, low humidity and some decent rain fall for the past two this is what June in Michigan is supposed to be like!

Kim over at The Woolen Rabbit has started something she calls Fridays Flowers. I love the idea, because at this time of year, I am in my gardens constantly snapping photos! I will put a button and link in my sidebar as soon as I can get blogger to cooperate with me ;( In the meantime, here is my first offering for Fridays Flowers:

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This is the Sally Holmes rose, which I adore! The color is just right with the first of my Asiatic lilies. And see the rain drops on the petals? Ahhh, bliss!

But at Serenity Farms, it is just as much about fibers as it is flowers, and so I am going to start my own theme of Fridays Fibers - LOL! The lavender has exploded and this morning, early, was a day of harvest. This is done (hopefully) when the florets just begin to open and on a cool, dry morning such as this one. They will be bundled and hung to dry upside down in a cool, somewhat dark place to preserve the fragrant oils and the color of the flowers.

Here is a small token of the Provence lavender in all its glory, along with some of my "Comfort Wool" ~ Serenity Farms Corriedale rovings:

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The smokey grey is called "Warm Campfire" and is a blend from my grey, black and brown sheep. It is just amazing to spin and cuddle with! The antique ivory white comes from the fleeces of Amanda, Abby, Charlotte, Caitlyn and Autry and is called "Vanilla Dream" (was going to call it Whipped Cream, but saw another farm with fiber of this name) All of the fiber that went into these rovings are from fleeces that I sold, but I always like to keep about a pound from each sheeps fleece for myself to experiment with and check for quality. This is the result for this year, processed at Zeilingers Mill and I could not be happier with both of them!

Notice the little sample skein of white? I spun that yesterday and will be swatching as a possibility for my Mystery Stole 3 yarn, as well as my second shawl for my Journey To A Shawl project.

Finally, this roving is also doing duty as a prize for the winner of our first prize drawing for Journey To A Shawl. You will have to visit the Journey blog to find out who the lucky winner is (grin)

I am leaving today to spend the weekend at a very special place with some extra special friends. No tv, no radio, no computer...just spinning, knitting, eating well, swimming, walking....and wonderful friend time. I plan to remember my camera and share some photos when I return...hope everyone else has a grand weekend! See you Monday!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Best Pature Management

We have been so lucky with our pastures this year! Early spring rains in abundance and just the right amount of warm days brought on even more pasture than the sheep could eat! (I know, I know...I need more sheep, right?) Here is a picture taken just a few weeks ago, in lush green grass...the little bumps you see out there are actually sheep!

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Good pasture makes so much sense in livestock production...the animals are eating what God intended, they are out in the fresh air and sunshine, they stay in good shape physically. For sheep, the critical point in pasture management is rotation as sheep are so susceptible to parasites (internal worms) Now that we have sold the horses, I have plenty of pasture for rotation and the sheep are following behind the few horses we have left - they clean up what horses don't.

Just at the time when the grass was starting to get away from the sheep (ripening faster than they could eat it) it is hay making time. Because my husband has always done such a good job of managing our pastures, they actually make very good hay. So, hay was made off the pasture fields. This benefits in two ways - first the hay and second the grasses are clipped, giving them the chance for more nutritious regrowth. A good rain to get things growing again, and the sheep will go back into one of these pastures.

This photo was taken at 7:30 in the morning, today when the temperatures have shot up to mid-nineties with high humidity and is the same field as the one pictured above. You can probably see the haze in the air. This is the man who makes the hay in partnership with us, loading out the round bales that are already sold. Isn't it interesting to see the paths that the sheep and horses have worn into the fields? They follow those same routes almost exclusively, for reasons known only to themselves!

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For me, I have a load of square bales in my barn, ready for winter. Before we put new hay in the barn, we sweep the chaff from last years hay and straw out of the mow to clean the floors. That is the "job" for the youngsters...and here is one of my favorite "helpers", four year old grandson Mason. Up until just a few years ago, that job belonged to Alex. Now fourteen years old, Alex has graduated to the real hay help, and spent his day on the wagons - loading and then unloading square bales. He did a great job and we are proud of him.

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Mason chose his work attire ;) His Uncle Michael, my brother, wears a bandanna when he is working in the fields and Mason wanted to do the same. He couldn't stand still for very long though, and was soon hard at work:

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First we pray for sunny, dry weather to get the hay put up and we had that...this June was perfect haying weather. Now, in the fickle way of a farmer, we pray for good soaking rains to kick start re-growth of the pasture and hay fields as well as the corn and soybeans and wheat in the crop fields.

Just enough, but not to much....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Picture Taking Help

This morning I was outside trying to take photos of the progress of my Journey To A Shawl spinning.

Evidently, Christy the barn kitty thought she made a better photo than the yarn:

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I thought she was pretty cute myself, so I promised her I would put her picture up for all to see ;) You can click on the link above to read more actual spinning details!

And, if its June it must mean strawberries:

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Its very hot and breezy here today, but these berries are delicious and refreshing. Wish I could share with you all!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Spinning, Knitting, Journaling and Nature

All of these things have in common spins, knits or swaps I am participating in for the summer.

The first is my own Journey To A Shawl spin and knit along that I wrote about in a previous entry. We now have a blog to share with others (why don't you come join along with us? We would love to have you!) You can read more about this project at the Journey To A Shawl blog, by clicking here...

Yesterday, locally, we had a workshop for those interested to create a journal for documenting our progress. Here is my journal, photographed in my garden this morning:

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I will be knitting the Pendants shawl from Heartstrings Fiberarts. But before I can knit it, I need to spin the yarn (grin) I am finding little spinning time these past few weeks, but I will get there.

Also knitting along on my Sock Hop Sock '07 sock for my new friend on the west coast, Deb (hi Deb! By the way, if you clink on the link from Deb's name, you should be at her blog and you can read about the fiber swap she is hosting. I am signed up for that, too. I love sending roving out into the world and having some come back to me from someone else!) Of course, I can't show you a picture of that sock in progress, but I can show you a picture of the sock I received from Katrina, who was knitting for me:

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This is just the neatest sock!!! It is the Acorn Sock from Fiber Trends (daughter has already confiscated the pattern to start a pair for herself - LOL!) The yarn is Lorna's Laces in the color Aslan. This sock fits as though I had knitted it for myself, what a great job Katrina and I thank you so very much! Um, there were also chocolates but they have mysteriously disappeared...hehe...and some soft and fresh Healing Garden Mandarin Therapy shower goodies.

More knitting looms on the horizon....

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I call this photo Boudica Sky because the colors of the sky look like the colors in the yarn I am using to knit the Boudica Socks. My new friend Brooke and I are going to work on this pattern together at some point this summer, when life settles down for both of us (what? when???) If you haven't heard of this sock, be sure to take a look at the kit here at Wooly Wonka Fibers. I am using the colorway Wasatch.

Tracey has started a really neat KAL, too. Its called Inspired By Nature and the idea is that you go outside, "look around, find something in nature that you love or are intrigued by....take pictures, draw it, paint out a pattern and yarns that represent the elements that you love...then, knit it!" If you are interested in this concept, you can still join. Click on the link to find out more.

Here is my "something":

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These beautiful lavender-orchid colored irises in my garden never fail to inspire me. The yarn was dyed by my friend Sharon in Ohio, and though it is called Roses and Violets, the color is so very close to the iris that I couldn't resist. It maybe doesn't truly show just how close in this photo, but it really is. Not sure what the pattern will be yet...but think this will be the inspiration and the yarn.

Finally, Melanie has announced the Mystery Stole 3!!!! Oh my....will I have time??? I am sure going to try! And I am certainly going to follow along.

There you have kal confessions for the summer. Maybe I will see some of you at some of these....