Tag Archives: lambs

Cozy Cozy Snow

Yesterday we had a beautiful day of snow.  I didn’t have to be anywhere, our neighbor across the street who helps us had his plow blade thing on his truck, the wood stove was going- so I thoughtsnow-jan-8-2017– let it snow! It did and we have 12″ of beautiful fluffy snow.

I never think much about January until the holidays are over. So now that I realize it is 2017 I decided that yesterday was a good day to organize my thinking about the various places we as Eagle Lake Fibers are teaching through April. Each place has its uniqueness and I enjoy thinking about uniqueness (run of the mill is so dull) so here are my impressions:

Jan. 14th we are teaching natural dyeing at the Northeast Organic Farming Association Winter Conference in Worcester MA. This is the 10th year we have taught a fiber spinning related workshop there. NOFA conferences are always a breath of fresh air for me. They are full of idealistic young people full of ideas about self reliance and sustainability and – ok, I will say it,  people with some gray hair who continue to believe in it despite decades of real life. I had no gray when I started teaching there 10 years ago.   🙂   NOFAMASS.org


Marigolds and onion skins for natural dyeing at NOFA.

January 21st shows life on a different plane when I go to the Cabot Bradley  Estate in Canton MA to give an overview of the Sheep to Shawl Process and then allow people to try their hands at carding and combing wool. This is an estate that was given to the Trustees of Reservations in the 1990’s by Mrs. Bradley, of Cabot lineage which anyone anywhere near Boston recognizes was sort of royalty, who had enjoyed having farming on the estate including sheep. The Trustees are working to have more events and workshops on the estate such as one our friend Jenny Hauf of Muddy River Herbals gave last fall about herbs she grows, mine on spinning wool and many others.  It is a beautiful oasis of 90 acres and a mansion not far from Boston. Thetrustees.org     Muddyriverherbals.com


Guard llama and sheep – little and to the right- at Bradley Estate Canton MA Sept 2016

Then on February 5th I am teaching a drop spindling workshop at Auntie Zaza’s Fiber Works in North Easton. Elizabeth has created such a cozy little shop and it has become a happy thriving fiber loving community.  I don’t know what I would have done without it when we moved here. auntiezaza.com


This student will not be present at the drop spindling workshop because she is now proficient with the drop spindle

Our scary fiber tools and some not so scary will be put into use on March 5th at The Fiber Loft in Harvard MA when we teach a class on carding and combing. The Fiber Loft fills a much needed void for the sale of spinning wheels, looms, hand cards and combs in this area. I bought two spinning wheels and my little rigid heddle loom there. Harvard is a beautiful little New England town with a great General Store where you can get coffee or have lunch.     thefiberloft.com

tools fibers for Jan workshop

The drum carder which made these batts is my second favorite fiber processing tool. The combs on the left are the first.

Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School’s adult ed program Assabet After Dark has asked us to teach the Sheep to Shawl workshops we taught last fall again in the fall of 2017. Before that however we will be teaching intensive wool combing and carding classes in April. These classes teach students how to take clean, sometimes dyed, wool and get it ready to spin. assabetafterdark.com


Rolags from blending fibers on the right using the blending board behind

These workshops start soon but for today I will enjoy watching the birds at the feeder and watching my cat Pippi watch the birds at the feeder. I will enjoy hearing children nearby sledding and screaming with fun. At least I think it is fun screaming, not screaming because our bold coyote is coming around and I sit here hearing them and doing nothing to scare it away.

Me with Boone

Me with Gulf Coast lamb Boone on Cape Cod

I bet you could spin coyote- but that doesn’t grab my interest right now. Ugh. Back to thinking about sweet little lambs!

On Getting Our Hands Dirty

The other day I was in the car listening to an interview on one of Boston’s PBS stations with a man who was discussing the value that people put on objects they have created or put together themselves. He was using IKEA furniture as an example while stating that people who don’t make furniture feel pride over putting an IKEA chair together. He commented that few people in our society see tangible evidence at the end of the day of the work they have done. They have been doing work on the computer, or pushing papers, or both but have no object to show for it. He believes that we are programmed to want to see something tangible that we have created.

That was thought provoking for me because part of the joy I find in all of my fiber activities is that I have created something. Something I had to give thought to, envision,  and then I had to do something with my hands so that it came about. While intellectually I know that a lot of people in this world don’t care to create things, anything, most of the people I choose to spend time with outside of work do and that can skew my viewpoint. They aren’t all huge animal lovers and obsessed with fiber like I am, but they do things with their hands. Things that are slow, things that take time, things that make us forget time because we are so absorbed in them.

On Saturday I went to a place where hundreds of my kindred spirits who thrive on making things with their hands congregated. The 106th Connecticut Sheep, Wool and Fiber Festival. Here are some images from it.

lamb in sweater

Lamb in Sweater

big fleece

Gigantic fleece

Doesn’t get much cuter than a  tiny lamb in a sweater on a chilly morning. Normally a lamb wouldn’t be away from its mother at this age but her mother was unable to feed her so her owners are giving her bottles until she is old enough to no longer need them.

This fleece had just been sheared from

a Dorset sheep on the other end of the spectrum, one that weighed around 250 pounds. The shearer was a woman who probably weighed half of that. She is very experienced so she knows the very specific techniques and positions to use so that she can keep the sheep relaxed and docile and allow her to shear it.

I have never wanted to shear but I sure do like getting the fleece right off the sheep, getting rid of dirty parts and then using my hands and imagination to go through all the absorbing steps to get it to the point where it can become a sweater…maybe for a tiny lamb, who knows?

Just A Few More Thoughts on Peace and Spinning

Today my spinning sister Lori, who has her own inspiring blog at walkingwool.blogspot.com,  sent information about Ghandi and spinning in a comment to my blog about creating our own peace. I knew that Ghandi spun cotton on a charkha. A charkha is a unique type of wheel that spins very fast which is what is required to spin the short cotton fibers. I knew he said everyone should spin at least a half hour a day because of the inner peace it provides and he advocated that people in India spin as a form of rebellion against England. If they could create their own cloth they would not be dependent upon England for these goods. Women did this in America before and during the Revolution to reduce dependence on England. (I am not picking on England 🙂  I have been there twice and remember the first time I arrived feeling that I had come home. I love it.) It is just history.

Ghandi spinning cotton on a charkha

Here is the information Lori sent:

Regarding peace and spinning, remember how Gandhi felt about that combination . . . “Charkha is the symbol of the nation’s prosperity and therefore freedom. It is a symbol not of commercial war but of commercial peace. It bears not a message of ill-will towards the nations of the earth but of goodwill and self-help. It will not need the protection of a navy threatening a world’s peace and exploiting its resources, but it needs the religious determination of millions to spin their yarn in their own homes as today they cook their food in their own homes. I may deserve the curse of posterity for many mistakes of omission and commission, but I am confident of earning its blessings for suggesting a revival of the Charkha. I stake my all on it. For every revolution of the wheel spins peace, goodwill and love. And with all that, inasmuch as the loss of it brought about India’s slavery, its voluntary revival with all its implications must mean India’s freedom.” (Young India,8-12-1921)

His ideas are so beautiful and powerful. I felt emotional when I read the line “For every revolution of the wheel spins peace, goodwill and love.” As I have said before, I think every spinner feels this each time he/she spins. It may be inner peace, or greater, but we feel it.

This particularly resonates with me as I sit here watching the Boston Marathon on tv. I  don’t need to comment specifically about the horror of the bombing two years ago, or the recent trial, but instead am thinking about two images that brought me some peace in the wake of it. First was seeing on tv that very soon after the Marathon there was a baseball game played by the Yankees, the arch enemy of the Boston Red Sox. I truly don’t understand the extent to which some fans on both sides take their dislike of each other. At this game, and it still chokes me up a bit, the Yankee fans started singing Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. For some other reason I don’t understand, that song has  become the song of the Red Sox and is sung at every game. For Yankees fans to show that form of unique support when Boston was reeling was a surprise and felt wonderful.

Secondly was the end of the Marathon last year. TV coverage went off at 4:00 and I was watching because a friend, who was stopped the year before one mile before the finish line, was running to complete it for his first time. I didn’t think I would pick him out but had to watch. What we saw was wave after wave after wave of runners approaching the finish line in the sunlight. Again I feel choked up as I remember thinking  “This is the way it is supposed to be.” It is supposed to be a fun, traditional event. It is supposed to be an event that parents can take children and feel safe to cheer on runners and watch for their family members and friends cross the line after 6 hours (!) of running.  Last year it was again and I believe will be the same this year.

Tahkli Spindle for Spinning Cotto

Tahkli Spindle for Spinning Cotton


Coincidentally, although I know people who don’t think anything is a coincidence and maybe this isn’t, a few days ago purchase I made from The Woolery http://www.woolery.com,  a wonderful spinning and weaving store, arrived. I have been thinking about spinning cotton, and have dyed some that I threw in when dyeing lace for the ring bearer’s pillow for a friend’s daughter’s wedding over a year ago. When I read up on spinning cotton I realized that my wheel would not spin quickly enough which is why Ghandi used a charka which can . Cotton can also be spun on a drop spindle that twirls quickly so I decided to get one. My tahkli spindle arrived with a little bowl in which it will sit as I spin. It weighs half an ounce and is 7″ long.

Cotton to spin

Cotton to spin

I want to spin and then weave the cotton into dishcloths.

Of course first I have to learn to card and spin cotton and how to use this spindle, but I guess the signs point to my learning it now.  I will start today. My challenge will be to feel peaceful as I practice with it and fail and fail at first until I get it down.  I guess this is part of persistence towards peace on any level even this teeny.

I didn’t plan to be quite so somber for this week’s post but it felt right as I wrote so I will leave with some pictures of lambs frolicking. Who can’t smile and feel good when they see crazy lamb behavior.

Frolicking sheep

Frolicking lambs - if only!

Or even just lambs sitting and looking darling.

I’ll go card cotton but cotton bolls just aren’t as cute as lambs no matter what the bolls are doing.