I think it’s pretty telling of our cold spring that Neil and I took the Vermont Maple Open House weekend tour back on March __ and we’re STILL in sugaring season now.
No, it hasn’t been the bestest season ever, there’s been so much cold that the sap stops running for days at a time. But I think everyone can agree that it’s FAR better than last season, when the whole thing was done by that third weekend in march.
The actual weekend of the open house was so cold that most of our local sugar-makers didn’t even have sap to boil for display. One family actually laughed and told us they were boiling sap straight from the trees – whereas usually they put it through the RO machine first to cut the volume and save energy.
But they’d already had enough of a sugar season to provide plenty of taste tests, flavor comparisions. And my favorite sugar on snow.
Because we still had plenty of snow at that point!
As you can tell, maple sugar is a bit more modern than those pictures of the horses and metal buckets that you see on syrup jugs. But with any luck (and I need all the luck you can send me) this evening I’ll be heading out to a sugar bush where they still collect sap the old fashioned way. I have a book photo shoot I NEED to finish. But this weird, cold weather keeps forcing us to postpone…
It’s winter here in the north country.
Snow’s so high it’s up past my knees.
Car won’t start and the wood pile’s low,
everything moves so slow.
And it’s so cold,
maybe I’m just getting old.
So I’ll hunker down for another night,
eat my supper by candle light.
And it won’t
’till summer’s here again…
Lyrics from Won’t Be Long by Susannah Clifford Blachly
Everybody loves a sale right? My friend Kim, over at Grand View Farm, has one you’ll probably like.
She’s offering some percentage discounts and some gift certificates for folks who want to visit the Bed and Breakfast. Her place is gorgeous, her classes are wonderful, and the workshop is amazing (it makes me want to weave, just standing there surrounded by the looms)
Grand View B&B
Pretty much if you read my blog you’d love a visit to Grand View. She’s got the animals, the local foods, gardening, chickens, fiber arts… What’s not to love about a vacation like that?
Kim Goodling e-mailed me asking if we could help her out a little. She says:
I am trying to raise money to convert our little milkhouse that is in the driveway to a small yarn shop selling yarn from local farms and to provide a meeting place for local knitters and shepherds to come together. Thanks!!
So please could you help her out? All you need to do is GO HERE and click the “vote” button. You don’t have to register, you don’t have to fill out any forms, just vote! And if you really love farm yarns, vote every day :-)
You all know how much I love farm yarns. They’re unique, created with care that can’t be duplicated. Dedicated farmers care for the animals, harvest the fiber, create the blends, and bring us knitters truly special yarns.
I’ve worked with Kim of Grand View Farm to create patterns that show off her unique farm yarns to their best advantage. (Sheep Herder’s hat, Grand View Gansey, and now my November Guest cowl)
If Kim is able to convert the little milk house she’ll use the space not just for her own yarns, but as a place for other farms to sell their yarns too. The little house will become a space for fiber artists to gather, and a place to educate new knitters on the wonderful yarns, sustainable practices that are behind our favorite farm yarns.
If you’ve been reading for any amount of time you’ve probably heard me mention on and off how I’m working on improving my photography. Well this last year I feel like I’ve made some major improvements! And with the gift giving season coming up I was thinking it’d be fun to share some of my work with my family. One thing lead to another, and I ended up designing a little calendar:
I’m actually pretty proud of this. I only started using the fancy layout software last spring. This calendar projects was a fun thing that combined my new layout skills and my new photography skills and I think the whole thing came out really well.
Each month has a feature photo and a little photo. The calendar includes all the standard bits: previews of last month and next month, holidays, phases of the moon…
The content is more of what you see here, there’s knitting and some other crafts, views from around Vermont, from my garden, and even some chickens!
And since I’m using MagCloud to print some copies for gifts it’s easy for me to make the calender available to you as well. If you’d like a little sampler of Vermont to hang on your wall click on over and help yourself!
Last spring I took you on a visit to the water without price spring in Craftsbury Vermont. And now I’d like to take another little trip, this time to a spring in Mongomery, VT. This spring is not as fancy as the first, it’s a simple spigot on the side of a little back road. And what a back road it is.
This is a town maintained road, but further uphill it get too steep to maintain safely in the winter. This road is closed from the first snowfall to the last. But the spring runs year ‘round. In the winter you can visit it (and people do) by parking just below the plow truck turn around and hiking up the trail.
When you get there you’ll find a little wall built up to support the spigot. Water runs downhill through a pipe to get here, and it runs fast enough not to freeze during the winter.
Who, I wonder, went through the effort of putting in a pipe and a wall? Who uses this spring, who maintains it? No signs give us any hint to the origins of the spring. But here it sits, providing water to any who desire it.
I’m excited to say that I have just released another pattern! My Stammel sweater:
Details, as always, on its page here, or on Ravelry.
Stammel is a very simple pullover with a few fancy details. The cap sleeves are gathered at the top and the hems are all trimmed with handspun yarn in a pretty broken garter pattern:
Like I said, I used handspun for this sweater, but I’ve also swatched several commercial alternatives: Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair, Peace Fleece Worsted, Harrisville Designs Highland, and Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted. In fact, for most of the sizes there’s enough yardage in the Cascade Eco skeins that you could knit this up in just one color if you preferred!
I have a lot of deadline knitting going on these days, so much so that I didn’t even know if I’d have time to finish a whole sweater this fall (even a short sleeved one)
But I’m really glad I found the time for this. I’ve been LIVING in it the last two weeks. If you saw me at the VT Sheep and Wool festival (and I wasn’t wearing my coat) then you saw this top. I’ll be wearing it at Rhinebeck too – assuming the weather cooperates.
Sometimes it’s good to take an evening off from homework, knitting work, garden work, etc… And go to the fair! where I can look at other people’s knitting work, garden work, preserves, chickens, etc…
We had a taste of spring in the form of maple cotton candy
you know, like regular cotton candy, but maple flavored!
And a taste of fall
There was old fashioned farm equipment
And other people’s farm animals
The 4-H and farm animals are so much better than the petting zoo animals
Why yes, that ox does weigh over a ton. Bovines are BIG.
It started to get dark, so we went inside to see the prize winning veggies, crafts, and art displays.
The best way to see the midway is after the sun goes down. At which point I had to switch to my cell phone camera, as I couldn’t find the flash override on the fancy one…
After the rides, we had some funnel cake. It’s like fried dough, except better. Because they pour the batter in through a funnel. Which means it’s full of nooks and crevices = more surface area for sugar!
I’ve released another pattern! Let me introduce my Lime Sorbet cardi:
As always you can favorite and queue it on Ravelry or see more details and buy the pattern here.
This cardigan came about as a result of a specific request. I met Karin of Periwinkle Sheep last fall at the VT Sheep and Wool festival. She was looking for someone to design with her yarns, and you all know how I love supporting other local fiber artists! She sent me some of her new merino sport yarn with a directive to “play” and a request for some sort of a garment.
Like many other knitters I love merino yarns, they’re so soft! And I love superwash yarns, because they’re so easy to care for. However as a designer I also know that superwash merino can be tricky, especially for garments. But this isn’t problem as long as I keep it in mind. So my goal, when designing with this yarn, became to design something that would highlight the yarn.
This cardigan is fitted, I’m wearing it in the photo with about half an inch of ease. Positive ease in a cardigan keeps the button band from gaping. But the fitted measurements across the shoulders and in the sleeves, as well as the length of the body, all keep the superwash in check. It’s fitted so the garment doesn’t become to baggy if the yarn grows as it’s worn. Also the yarn twist is wonderful with tightly coiled plies, so it’s sprongy and bouncy and less prone to bagginess than other superwash yarns might be. The design is simple, with carefully planned little details, which allow the yarn to shine through.
The color is bright, playful, spunky, and perky. I have lots of adjectives for this sweater, but none of them are demure. This is a design for biking along the beach, chasing fireflies, climbing trees, all sorts of summer activities when it might be a little cool (not that it’s cool at all right now) I love this Avocado green but was hard pressed to choose just one color. I think it’d look equally good in the others. What about her purple Craving? Would that make it a grape sorbet cardi?
*yes, that’s a word, I’m sure of it.
This time of year the road sides of Vermont are blooming. Literally. I feel like I see a lot more wildflowers here than anywhere else. I travel to other states in the summer and their roadsides are mostly grass*. I feel badly for them. Where do they go to pick wildflowers?
*Possibly I should get off the interstate before jumping to conclusions. But even in VT (and NH) the interstates are planted with wildflowers…