Cozy Up with BIG BULKY!!

Yes, it has been a pretty mild winter as far as Maine winters go.  But we can count on a few more cold months, and many more nights snuggled up on the couch after a long day.

I started this blanket last fall, when my son began his first High School football season, however time got away from me and moments on the couch at the end of the day for me were spent with my head slumped to the side  …. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.    So I e-mailed my friend Susan –who saves my butt and finishes my work.  🙂

So here are the details of the Big Bulky Blanket.

Size: 40″X 50″

Materials: 7 skeins of Romney Ridge Farm Bulky Yarn -6 natural & 1 Over-dyed.

Needles: size 15 circular needles.

CO: 108 sts

Ribbing K2, P4 for 5 rows.

Knit MC for 5 inches then switch to stripe color. Knit 6 rows of stripe, switch back to MC for 2 rows, knit 2 more rows of stripe color then back to MC.

Knit MC for 22 inches

Switch to Stripe color and Knit 2 rows, switch to MC and Knit 2 rows, switch back to stripe color and Knit 6 rows.  Knit 5 inches of MC.

Repeat ribbing.  Bind off and weave in ends.

The Big Bulky is meant to be a lap sized blanket, but you could add two more natural colored skeins and make it longer.  Warning: once you crawl under it, you won’t want to leave!:)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Joe Romney

Beautiful Joe in his younger years.

Part of my grief comes from sharing.  Sharing helps me to ease through the process, and hopefully explains my feelings about life.   Every life holds a value.  Humans, animals, all of God’s creatures.   We all serve a purpose in my eyes.   This morning I said goodbye to Old Joe.  The decision to say goodbye to an old friend was not taken lightly by any means.  But I have watched him grow old and I have watched his body grow frail.

This winter has been kind in many ways, no brutal cold and deep snow to trudge through to get to the barn.  It was a secret blessing that I was unaware of until today.  It was a gift to let him spend all Summer on the lawn outside of any fences.  A treat to see him curled up under the front steps every morning, and the laughs I had over him nosing into my Yukon as I was unloading groceries were the best.  He trained me to be sure and bring home apples to distract him with as I carried bags into  the house.  It wasn’t until late December that I finally put him in barn and paddocks.  The grass was gone and he needed to be in a warm barn at night.

Does it seem silly that we put so much value into our animal friends?  Is it wrong to humanize a creature that speaks a different language?  We learn to recognize their wants and needs and they in turn know us.  As I sat in the barn this morning waiting for Dr. Doughty to arrive, I sat on the barn floor and held the head of my old boy.  Their was no silence.  The chickens, the Guinea Hen, and the rest of my flock created a hum.  A rhythm of life surrounded us.  We talked about his good long life, and decided that it his old body was ready to let go.  His breathing was soft and slow.

It is the end of an era for me.  Joe was my beginning.  He was my friend, and so yes, today I will be sad.   But he has gone to that big green pasture where he will always be full, he will become fat again and will grow a beautiful silvery fleece.  Judy, my old ewe, is with for him.  I find peace in his passing when think about his long life and knowing that one day I will see him again.  Please do not feel sad for me.  I have been blessed with this life and with it comes many ups and downs -for which I am grateful.

Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Winter Sunshine

Giant Bulky Pumpkin strands.

Large, soft, gentle strands of freshly dyed Bulky yarns are drying on the deck.  The winter sun is a peaking through a cold cloud cover, teasing me with its short appearencences during the first few months of the new year.  I spend most of my June – November immediately dyeing every skein that comes back the spinnery knowing fully well of the three-month challenge that winter brings.  You see it isn’t the warm temperatures or the gentle breezes of summer that dry my yarn the quickest, though they are quite helpful.  In fact the humid temps of August can be a challenge as well.  It’s the sun’s drying power that speeds up my process, and a productive day is planned around the peak hours when my front deck becomes the “drying room” for the day, creating a maze of colorful racks and railings full of beautifully dyed yarns, batts and rovings.

Felted Flock

Felted Flock

With the introduction of the new Needle Felting Kits to my business, I am dyeing more roving than I used to.  Yesterday I looked a few greenhouse designs that might help get me through the long winter months.   A few years back a greenhouse served as a sheep barn, growing space, and a drying house.   It was a wonderful place for lambing and for babies to sun themselves in the cold spring.  But after many

Hello Sunshine!

years of sheep rubbing on the frame, and countless patches and “fixins”, it gave way to a heavy winter’s snow.   Fortunately the sheep were in the new barn by then, which we had angled to capture the sun from 11 a.m till it went down in the early winter afternoon hours.   I miss that greenhouse though as it held many fond memories of life and color.

Currently my large front garden is inhabited by a creature that most farmers would “take up their shotguns” and run out-of-town.  A giant, long-eared, wiggling-nosed bunny, lopes around the raised beds and watches for us each morning to bring him apples and pear

Big Buns enjoying the sunshine in a now empty raised bed.

cores and other tasty treats.  He too is a fan of the warm rays of sunshine.  His “winter” house is tightly packed with hay and was “upgraded” with a plexiglass window to let in winter warmth.

Winter may seem long here in Maine.  It’s challenges make us strong and industrious.   Yesterday we had gained a few minutes on the day before the sun gave way to darkness.  My mind is on the gardening season ahead, the sweet smells of lambs and the renewal of life.

Posted in design, dyed roving, Farm, Felting, fleece, hand-dyed, Lambs, Needle Felting, Romney Ridge Farm, Romney Ridge Farm Needle Felted Kits, Sheep, yarn | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Romney Ridge Farm Needle Felting Kits – Helpful Tips

Needle Felted Bunny

Poke, poke, poke, poke, tuck, hold back and admire …. poke, poke, poke, poke. How simple is that??? Place little pieces of colorful wool on form, poke it in with a felting needle and ta-da! A frog … or a chicken … or a colorful mural takes life. The possibilities are endless.

Needle felting is a satisfying, mess free, take-it-with-you, craft. Think of it as sculpting. Special barbed felting needles are your sculpting tools. By repeatedly jabbing a felting needle in and out the barbs catch the scales on the fibers and push them through the layers of wool. This process tangles the fibers, binding them together much like the wet felting process – without the water, soap and large space needed to work on. Fine details can be achieved by directing the fibers with the tip of the needle, or by poking around “muscled” areas of the creature you are creating. Think about the underlying skeletal structure if you want a well-defined piece.

In our new Felting Kits you’ll find a tightly felted white wool egg to use as your base. Felting Eggs are designed to provide a solid wool base so you can explore this craft while keeping the sharp felting needle at a safe distance from your fingers. After you spread a thin layer of colored wool over the surface of your Felting Egg, place it on your Safety Mat ( a 3-4 inch piece of foam works well ) and jab your needle in and out through the loose fibers into the Egg. If you look closely at your needle, you will see that the barbs are only on the first inch, so you do not have to push the needle in very deep to make felt. As you repeat this motion, the fibers will adhere to the surface of your Felting Egg and become solid.

Tips & Techniques

The more you poke, the tighter your object becomes. The rapid motion of jabbing the wool with your felting needle tightens the fibers. So keep “shrinkage” in mind as you felt. Let’s say, for example you are adding the wool to the egg – the beginning process of all of our kits. You’ll want to cover the egg equally all around, jabbing closely together. Examine the egg as you go making sure the dyed wool is equally covering the egg, and that it maintains it’s “egg” shape. After completely covering the whole egg, you can also gently roll it around in your hands to tighten and smooth the wool.

Poke in an up and down motion, only pushing the needle in about an inch -or to the point where the barbs end. Though well made, needles can break if you are overly aggressive with them. Gentle, quick jabs are sufficient as the wool in our kits is from the down-type breeds of sheep – a easily felting wool.

When creating cheek & eye pieces, arms and legs -any pairs, create them at the same time so that you can compare their sizes and make them as equal as possible before felting them on your creature’s body. Create like pieces at the same time to make them equal.

If you are finding stray fibers around detailed areas such as they eyes, use the very tip of your felting needle to tuck them in to the areas where they belong.  Gently poke them into place then jab a little harder to “fasten” them in.

The directions for our kits were designed for and tested many times by young and old alike.   Each kit is unique as the wools are hand-dyed in small batches.  Above all have fun with your work!  Make each creature your own, embellish them, make them with your kids!    And please share your work with us!

Posted in Batts, design, dyed roving, Felting, fleece, hand-dyed, Needle Felting, Romney Ridge Farm, Romney Ridge Farm Needle Felted Kits, Roving | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Creative Process

Which came first the Puffin or the egg?

It seems so often I am rushing to finish the projects that I need to get done for work, and struggling to begin or get back to the projects I want to finish for fun. Work before play right? There is the photshoot I will complete next week – need to finish asap. The pattern that goes along with the photoshoot need to finish asap. Then the mittens I plan to make my good friend for a Christmas gift … but the little Buffalo that was dancing in my head jumped out in their place … but I finished him and wound up the yarn … but the Bulky pattern I thought up is slowly gaining ground, and he knows I am alway late so the Bulky idea might happen today and maybe in between I can cast on the mittens ……. but I NEED to rake out the barn because I did not get to it last week ……………. do you see what I am up against??? I need a few minions!

Oh give me a home ...

So the little Puffin, and now the Buffalo, and then the Black Bear have moved into first place for the New Year.  They will be the  three new designs for 2012 in my Needle Felting Kits line.  Each follows the same concept as all of the first designs by Lorna – with the felting egg as the core.

And maybe you are noticing my blog has a little more “umpffff” to it?  Soon it will become a part of my new website with, yes,  a much-needed shopping cart!  Whooop whooop!

Posted in Batts, design, Farm, Felting, fleece, Needle Felting, Romney Ridge Farm, Roving | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In With The New!

Jack Black

Take a deep breath, look back and reflect.  2011 is coming to an end.  Do you do all of those things that were on your list?   Are you a goal setter, or do you fly by the seat of your pants?  My days are never the same  … thankfully.

The year ahead is going to be exciting, and unpredictable, and maybe a little scary at times.  On the farm, I have always been proud of my well organised ( though not always pretty ) fencing system, that keeps my rams close enough to the ladies to not be lonely, but far enough to not do any unplanned breeding.  Not so this year.  The Mighty Hercules, living up to

Dorothee and Jack playing "King of the MAMA".

his name, found a way to spend a few hours with the girls this Fall.  The “damage” is unknown.   And so in April, we will begin “counting sheep” so to speak. Counting little round dumplings, bouncing and racing around Lamb Rock when mud season returns and the robins are singing.  Not the Springtime plan I had in mind, but out of my control at this point.  Lots more cleaning, lots more nightly treks to the barn … lots more babies to LOVE!  Sweet smelling, precious new life!  …and it will be good!

Posted in Farm, Lambs, Romney Ridge Farm, Sheep | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Away We Grow!

Good Ole' Joe

I felted my first fleece.  My first sheep Joe’s beautiful fleece , my first Romney lamb fleece no less … yep, into the washing machine it went to be washed to then become my learn-to-spin fleece.  I was so excited … then so disappointed.  But, I kept the large, beautiful donut for many years and sat on it.  It flattened and became a great support for my back while I was pregnant.  Lesson learned.

When I heard about needlefelting I was super excited.  Having gone the back-breaking-scrubbing, roll-out-throwdown-on-the-floor-fulling route, ( though the outcome was fantastic!) I was thrilled to see objects come to life with minimal effort, no needed space, and no mess.    My kids and I made sheep, dogs, ponies, Easter eggs, Santas, and embellished knits with designs. I even won a blue ribbon one year at The New York Sheep and Wool Festival for a felted mural I needlefelted  Fun, fun, fun!

Two years ago I met Lorna at a trade show.  I with my yarns, and she with her needlefelting kits, both shepherdesses, both creative entrepreneurs – with hit it off immediately.  At the time I did not know how much she had put into the cleverly packaged kits.  The designs were simple, well thought out and at the time, I had no idea how much she had put into the design.   But now I do – and I am super impressed.

Three Little Felted Pig

At The New England Fiber Festival a few weeks ago, Lorna approached me with plans to sell her business.  She wanted me to have the first refusal … and I was humbled.   After a long ride home with numbers and dates and supplies and “how can I make this work” going through my head – and while trying to listen to the Patriots game,  I realized that this was an offer I could not refuse, and that I must make it work.   We will use our own Maine-grown fibers for materials like Lorna had done keeping it local in her home state of New Hampshire.   It will become a family run business with my kiddos helping and learning another process of being an entrepreneur.   I am excited!

Lorna's Frog and Toad design.

Not to worry, my yarns lines will continue to be produced as always.   In fact, I am expecting my latest Bulky run to be here shortly, followed by a short run of Willow,  and a big run of sport-weight.   We have already started the design process, creating our own creatures for the new needlefelting line.   I will share this journey as we go … it will be a long fun winter making kits, designing critters, and best of all working with my family …and wool!!
Posted in design, Felting, fleece, Needle Felting, Romney Ridge Farm, Roving, The Fiber Festival of New England, Uncategorized, yarn | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Little Lost Sheep

Little Athena

Athena was the funniest little lamb when she was born.  Her tail was so long that it tangled around her feet.  Her mother stepped on it and snapped off the end, forcing me to dock the remaning to a still rather long length.   Her first little “words” were loud yet the tiny voice of a lamb, but very distinctive from the other lambs.  It seemed she was calling “Mom!” instead of “maaaa” when she spoke, and several times she fooled me into thinking it was one of my kids needing me.   Along with her brother Zues, she basked in the warm springtime sun in the front of the barn, and grew into a hearty beautiful Romney yearling ewe.

Parasites are a problem in the sheep world.   Diligence on the Shepherd’s part is imperative in order to keep ahead of the “plague”.  They can strike quickly and suddenly you’ll  have a sheep down.  Fully woolled animals make judging body condition a more difficult, so you’ll need to take a more hands-on approach, feeling bodies and looking at eyelid membranes. At least once a year you should run individual fecal samples on your sheep and weigh them so you know you are dosing them with correct amounts of wormer for the correct worms they have.  Every sheep is an individual and every farm has their own methods.

My methods are usually quite effective, but the busy summer got away from me, and Athena suddenly was infested.  I began the worming regiment and the long road of rebuilding her thin body, keeping her in a large stall for two weeks, making sure she was safe and that she had plenty to eat with no competition for the others.    Seeming stronger and healthier I let her out before I left for a weekend away, assigning her to my husband to make sure she was in at night and to keep checking on her during the days.

Without realizing he missed making sure she was in on Sunday and I came home late.  When I started chores in the morning I could not find her.  I looked in and around the barn, then ran up the hill where we had just finished fencing.  There she was tangled up in a deep thicket of blackberry vines … lying in a heap.   My heart sank, but as I said her name she lifted her head and spoke back.

Down the hill and into a warm stall I carried her.  She drank and drank but could not stand.  electrolytes, b vitamins, sheep drench, warm water and molasses, hay, cracked corn and grain …I ran all day keeping the fluids and food going down.  By the end of the day she was standing.  Then my awesome friend Tammy The Vet told me about a supplement called FIBERevive.   Down her gullet it went.  For a full week she was treated like a queen.   Today I am happy to say she spent the day in the paddock with her friends.  She is locked in at night and will be for the next few weeks.  As long as I am home she will spend her days outside but will stay in at night.

Hello Beautiful!

Those little eyes peeking through the stall are a welcoming site each morning.  A reminder to pay attention and to be a good shepherdess.   Someone was watching over her on the hill that night, and to them I am eternally thankful.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Two Yarns, Three Stitches – a class for the creative mind.

When I was a little girl, I did not like to follow rules.  I wasn’t a disobedient child, I just always thought there was more than one way to do things, and liked to “seek the alternative route”.

I started a sweater last year ( at just about this time ) with no pattern, and several skeins of my vibrantly colored Kaleidoscope yarn.  The sweater was a challenge to myself to knit simply with the end result looking very intricate.   BUT most importantly, to keep me engaged and excited, and to make me want to finish the project.

Carrying no more than three stitches, to keep the back side “clean”, the sweater made itself as each row was finished.  It was satisfying as the rows grew into a sweater!  ……….Whoa!  Stop right there!  Me, not switching projects mid-way through????  Nope, not gonna happen.  So, the truth is, the sweater is 3/4 of the way done.   Gifts and simple take-along projects have taken over for the summer and fall months, but I am ready to get back to

Had to add a row of sheep of course!

work Sunday afternoons during football games when I feel justified to sit on the couch and relax.

 The point is that I like to customize my work to make it uniquely mine.  So when I was designing the sweater, and now several fingerless mitten patterns, I thought it would be fun to write them so that my students could do just that … make their finished work uniquely their own.

In two weeks I will be attending The Fiber Festival of New England in Springfield, MA.  It is the second year for this well put together show, in a wonderfully clean, heated building with ample parking ( just sayin’ 😉 ).   My Two Yarns Three Stitches class will be held on Sunday, November 6, 2011  from 10-11:30 Workshop room 1.     Bring your creative spirits and and open mind, and make your mittens uniquely you.

YArn Cakes ready to be exploited!

All materials are provided, yarn is would into balls and we will be ready to get to work.  See you soon!

Posted in design, Kaleidoscope yarn, knitting, Knitting Class, Romney Ridge Farm, The Fiber Festival of New England, yarn | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Hats and Mittens and Fencing … ooh my!

Auntum leaves are yummy!

Hey!   Whoa!    Hold on one minute!    Who said turn the calendar page??  I was just settling in to September!!  Leaves are flying through the air, my garden is finishing up from a successful abundance-of-tomatoes-slight-failure-of-pumpkins season, my sheep are getting “fluffy” and fat, the daylight takes just a little longer to appear  … oh yes, cooler temps, knitting inspirations, deep rich colors!!!   Yes!  This is the season I look soooo forward to!  Pull out your fingerless mittens!  Air out your sweaters!!  Cast on the rich colors that will brighten your spirits in winter!

I spent a little time in the barn yesterday, then up on the hill admiring the work my neighbor Frank has helped me with this week.   We started with by extending one paddock fence over and down the right side of the barn, then moved all the woolies into

The right Barn Paddock

that paddock.  Then we attached one 100 foot roll out to the tree line of the left “hill” paddock, moved 6, 22 foot cattle panels to the “deep dark woods” border and started up the back side of the hill.    Whew!    I’m figuring on at least two rolls to meet the current fence.  It will be so nice to get it done before winter.  If time allows, we can divide it and finally rotate grazing.  My hope is that we can turn this giant rock that I live on into pasture over the next few years cutting back on my hay bill would be a blessing for my wallet AND my back.

I’ve been blasting through a few simple projects, hats, fingerless mitts and such, making up a few as samples for classes and some as gifts.   I’ll be teaching a class at The Fiber Festival of New England in a few weeks called: Two Strands, Three Stitches.  Be aware … this class follows no rules, and I’ll expect you to tap into your inner creative person if you participate!  We will start a pair of Fingerless Mitts using a variegated skein and a mulit-colored skein.  Think outside the box in the class and have fun with your work .. you may surprise yourself!  You can lean more about my class,  and several others on the FFofNE site.   There is a sign up link in the right hand corner.  The class limit is 12.  🙂

Posted in design, fleece, Kaleidoscope yarn, knitting, Romney Ridge Farm, yarn | Leave a comment