Sunday, August 28, 2011

bear mountain

Our family trip to Vermont was wonderful, and we had a great time swimming in lakes, taking long hikes, and scouring the countryside for the most delicious locally-made cheeses.

One of the most enjoyable things for me was hanging out with Joanne Smith and her flock at Bear Mountain Farm. The pretty lady you see pictured above is Iris, one of the beautiful ewes who make up Joanne's flock of Romney sheep. Joanne raises the sheep for their fleece and for breeding stock, and her fleeces makes some of the finest artisan yarn I have ever seen. Anyone lucky enough to live nearby should go visit her at the West River Farmers Market in Londonderry and see it for yourself!

Here's what I picked up when Joanne was kind enough to let me paw her wares when we visited the farm:


My hasty photo doesn't begin to do it justice, but these are 5 undyed skeins of natural, minimally-processed yarn from 2 of Joanne's ewes, Kitty (dark) and Joy (white). Each shearing is processed and spun in separate micro-batches at an eco-friendly mill in Maine. As a result, each skein of yarn is labeled with the name & photo of the very sheep from which it came. And because each sheep's fleece changes from year to year, no two lots are ever alike. Bear Mountain Farm's yarn is truly an artisan product. It's also lustrous, gorgeous, and wonderfully soft.

The yarn is mainly sold in 4-oz skeins, all worsted weight, and only available at the farmer's market or by special order, so they aren't exactly easy to come by. I'm glad I splurged a bit and brought home enough for a nice robust project!

If you're in Vermont, go to the West River Farmer's Market in Londonderry some Saturday and stop in on Bear Mountain Farm - or look for her at Rheinebeck, where her fleeces have won numerous awards. I can't wait to start knitting with this yarn!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

back from the dead

Mwah hah haaaah! Just when you thought this blog was dead...

jacket in progress

Really, has it been all summer since the last time I posted?

Appropriately enough, I resurrected a couple of knitting projects that were resting in peace, and thought I'd share. We just got back from a long road trip (from North Carolina to Vermont and back - 2,400 miles round trip!). I decided to restrict myself to working only on UFO's, and pulled out two from the archives: a spring hoodie for the Little Pea (started last winter), and the Minimalist Cardigan that I've been picking up and putting down for about four years now.

The Minimalist Cardigan is a tedious chore of a knit, what with all that pokey moss stitch. And I have become quite spoiled by top-down and bottom-up knitting, and am bored to tears by knitting flat shapeless things that need to be sewn together. Needless to say, I did not finish it on this trip. But I dutifully forced myself to work on it (at least while HWWLLB was driving on long boring stretches of I-95), made a lot of progress and can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Will I ever reach the end of this cashmerey little tunnel? Who knows. Maybe I'll be wearing this thing in the fall of 2012.

The spring hoodie, on the other hand, is done except for the zipper that needs to be sewn in. That's my mom's job, as I only know how to destroy things with a sewing machine.

I have to admire myself sometimes - I know my habits. Though it was meant to be a spring jacket for the Pea, and though I started it in winter, I made it at least a whole size too big. Somehow I knew that it would be next spring before this thing ever got finished, blocked and worn. If I can remember what I did to it, maybe I'll even post the pattern in time for other, faster people to knit it for spring.

I promise another post soon - I need to tell you all about the wonderful sheep farm where we stayed in Vermont, and the luscious yarn I got there!