I'm admiring the view from the dining room window as I type, taking in the flat gray light before the snow begins. In the foreground, the tubular feeder full of sunflower seed and millet is suspended from one branch of the magnolia tree. The heavy skies obscure my distant view of the Holyoke range. It smells and tastes like snow.
This morning little ewes, Java, Violet and Pumpkin (left to right) poked their faces impatiently through the gate while I fiddled with my camera, capturing some final images of the year. Fed the boys outdoors on snow. Calvin, below, cleaned up, and is calling to his pal Cinder.
Thought I'd take a moment to share some reflections as '09 draws to a close:
An exciting spring brought 27 new lambs to the farm - all named for colors to celebrate the launch of my very first book, Teach Yourself Visually Hand-Dyeing. Looking back, I'm not sure where I found the time and energy to work on the book in the midst of everything else that happens here on a daily basis. For sure having good support and back up made this possible. My love of teaching and sharing provided the catalyst. Thank you for the feed back on my first print venture.
2009 saw the launch of Sheep Shares, my club for farm yarn and fiber fans. I've loved getting to know so many members personally over the course of the year. Your sharing of stories and pictures of f.o.'s created from the wool of my flock was gratifying. Thank you all for truly "getting it" and helping to sustain my working farm. It's been a joy (and I'm really looking forward to next year!).
Summer brought the arrival of our very first brown sheep: four moorit lambs from Alice Field at Foxhill Farm! Two lovely ewes, Bailey and Cognac joined our Cormo ewe lambs. A gorgeous ram and wether, Chai and Latte, joined our wooly boys. I can't wait to get my hands on their exotic brown locks come shearing day next spring. And to see if we can mint our own moorit flock over the next few years.
This year I shared my passion for fiber farming with the readers of the on-line magazine Twist Collective in a five-part series of stories: Yarn Farm: Four Seasons from Sheep to Skein, (while diving into my next literary project, Adventures in Yarn Farming for Shambhala Publishing). It was my pleasure to work closely with Julia Farwell Clay and the editorial talent behind Twist Collective as this exciting resource gets away. I'm continually blown away by the design work in each issue and look forward to seeing what the coming year holds.
Keeping the Fleece and keeping it real - In celebration of the United Nations Year of International Fibers we contributed skeins to help knit the world's largest scarf. Kudos to Linda Cortright of Wild Fibers magazine, the driving force behind this world-wide collaboration to raise thousands of dollars for Heifer International - while raising awareness of the importance of sustaining the natural fiber industry. The hundreds of feet of knitted scarf on display at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival in October was a powerful testament to the generosity of the fiber community in helping others.
Wooly Inspiration - This fall was time to celebrate another exciting arrival - Clara Parkes' new book, The Knitter's Book of Wool . I am honored to have contributed skeins of my very own Cormo Silk Alpaca yarn for the design of the Nara Scarf by Sheila January - and grateful for Clara's work to raise awareness of wool diversity and recognition of the work behind it's production. Her book is destined to become the go-to reference for everything you ever wanted to know about working with wool.
Closer to home, I worked closely this year with a team of enthusiastic, dedicated fiber artisans to orchestrate the fifth annual Franklin County Fiber Twist, a educational forum and marketplace featuring the diversity of fiber arts and production right here in Franklin county Massachusetts and in the surrounding region. The spirit of this event makes it unique and special and as one of the founding coordinators, it's been gratifying to see attendance grow each year. Although I am taking a hiatus from the planning committee in order to complete my book in the coming year, I look forward to supporting this event in the future and seeing what the planners have in store for 2010.
With much winter still to come, I'm already looking ahead to next year's lambing season which should kick in about mid-March. I can't help but think about it every time I feed the ewes and note their expanding girth. Once again, will keep you all posted with bulletins from the birthing barn, lamb-cam footage and pics of our adorable new arrivals.
As the crocus bloom, watch for my story about lambing time in Living Crafts magazine. Editor, Pardis Amirshahi asked me to share my perspective on the joys of spring and lambing season.
Still time to join us for Sheep Shares 2010, This year we're adding some new yarns and fibers to the mix as well as an exclusive members-only sock pattern. There's no better way to get your wool fix season by season.
Will keep you posted on classes, shows and special events - if you sign up for my e-news letter you'll hear it first.
And you know you're always welcome to take a break from your world and visit with us here at the farm, any time, any day. I've enjoyed sharing my world with you this year. Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing in the life of my flock this year.
The snow has started falling (actually it's really coming down!). Just spotted a male cardinal at the suet feeder, so glad I thought to fill it before the storm.
Wishing you all the best for 2010.