the Intrepid Fiberwizard

adventures in spinning, knitting, gardening and life

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wizardly Deeds

The wizard has left the building.
Shall return May 1st or 2nd - there's a big fiber weekend coming up
Seattle Knitter's Expo

and What's this????.......
hmmm, could be the wizard is cookin' up somethin' more?...... could be another visual 'hint' about the yarn contest? (see my post on 4/19 if you don't already know what this is)
The wizard will reveal the contest winner May 1st or 2nd.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Mother's Love

This is a story of my oldest daughter. I am so proud. This blog entry is all for her. One day I will brag about her baby sister, but for now, no sharing of the spotlight... she was, afterall, the first. My Erin Anne.

Erin is an artist. While her life is filled with the normal joy of concerts, friends, boyfriends, work, tatoos and piercings, Erin is at her core an artist.

At age 16, she decided that she wanted to persue a job skill that would pay well and 'support' her, so that she could "create" without pressure. Her junior and senior years of highschool were a whirlwind of activity: cosmetology school, fashion & merchandizing school, regular highschool classes, commuting on the ferry to attend college classes through the Running Start program, dating boys, riding her horse, working on weekends as a waitress.. (AND getting mono during her senior year..) ALL the while, maintaining a 4.0 GPA. To say she is determined is a serious understatement !

After graduating all of the above, she set her sights on continuing her career as a stylist.... not at just any old salon; She applied (and was accepted) to attend a 3 year training program at the Gary Manuel Salon in Seattle. This salon recently won "Entrepreneur of the Year" award for salons internationally. (if you are EVER in Seattle, treat yourself to visiting this salon for any kind of hair care... you won't regret it!and by the way, ask for Erin)

Erin worked so hard during training program, pushing herself to achieve the goals that her boss set forth, being tested and retested until her haircuts were perfect. During the difficult and challenging 3 years, she never let go of her artistic gift - She continued to expand her skills in art as well. Erin graduated from the training program in Dec 2005. HURRAY! I am so proud.

Erin now has an apartment of her own, 2 wonderful cats, a slew of boyfriends, a close-knit cluster of girlfriends, a great job... and she paints.

We are in the process of designing a website for her to sell limited edition prints of her art work. It is not quite finished yet.... While she waits patiently, I asked her permission to share a few of my favorite works of art. I hope that you enjoy the glimpse of the beauty I have seen for the past 22 years.
(and if you're really interested, you can purchase one early for $30 plus shipping) Just send me an email : teyani AT crownmountainfarms DOT com.
Erin's art runs the gamut from whimsical to intense. I have selected a couple of her charcol drawings, and a couple of her watercolor paintings. A few of you might recognize the hours of work in each painting... I, personally, am in awe.

Please sing out your comments and send cheers of encouragement to this wonderful superstar of a daughter. (she'll be reading this post :-) She has continued to follow her dreams while working with amazing determination through a training program that only paid minimum wage.

I really do not believe that there is anything much sweeter than watching your child succeed. I am so very glad to be her Mother - this is what I will be celebrating on May14th - my incredible good fortune to have such a kind-hearted, amazingly talented, drop-dead-gorgeous woman who is both my daughter and my friend.

Here's one last photo - from a year ago. One lucky Mom plus a kiddo with a beautiful soul.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What would you do?

A couple of posts ago I showed a picture of a sock that just wasn't working for me.. the pattern was complex, and didn't show up enough when knit with handpainted varigated Lorna's Laces in colorway Mixed Berry.

I debated - I turned it this way and that - I knit another row or two - set it down... to rip or not to rip asks I... well, ultimately, my kittens decided it for me. I found said sock strewn around the house (yes, I mean aaaaaa-roooooooooound the entire house). The needles were on my chair, the partial sock was here.. and there.. and there.. Yarn threaded its way over the couch, under the dining room chair, up the stairs and under the bed :-)
I attempted to pick up the stitches, and then fell into a fit of laughter - since I had already made up my mind that the pattern really needed a solid colored yarn.
AND so.. last thursday, I searched that marvelous book again (Sensational Knitted Socks) and found just the thing!
This is a pattern called Welt Fantastic. It's originally designed for self patterning yarn - but the design caught me - inspired me - teased me as it beckoned my name. I was completely caught up. I felt so clever that I understood the directions well enough to add 2 more stitches to each repeat. Ta-dah... it was working! The pattern was so simple that I didn't need to take the book along. Off I went to Seattle, for a day of pampering with my daughter.. and blithely knit and knit. (that should have been my first clue)
I love the way this yarn works with this - wanna see it up closer?

This afternoon, I turned the heel, having used the clever directions once again to figure out how many to slip and knit. I was so smug (that should have been my second clue). Once the heel was truly turned, I sat back down, looked both ways to make sure the room was a kitten-free-zone at that moment - and tried on my new sock.
Gack! Arrggh ! Drats! It is too small to fit over my heel. I take a deep breath, squeeze my foot out of its mummy-wrapped sock and examine it once again - How could I have done this to myself yet a second time in a row? - I hold the sock this way and that - could it stretch a little on the blockers??

And then I remembered what The Yarn Harlot said in her most recent book , Knitting Rules! : if blocking involves the word "yank" you've most likely done something wrong.... sigh.. right again.

To rip or not to rip?
Or should I just continue knitting, assume that my feet are never supposed to wear this lovely colorway, and pray that someone with a short narrow foot enters my life in the next decade? (note that both my daughters have the same size feet as me, and my Mom's are slightly longer..sigh..)
So what would you do?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sock Yarn Contest

Hey all you bloggie friends - The "Somethin's A-foot at Crown Mountain Farms" sock yarn contest will be ending earlier than I thought ! I will offically close the contest guessing on friday 4/28.
So get your guesses in now.

The arrival of this wonderful yarn will not take as long as we thought (and this is a good thing!)
Check my previous blog entry to read about the contest. We've received some great guesses - but don't let that deter you.. be brave.. take a guess! All the people who enter and get "close" will have their names placed in a hat to draw the winner...
The winner receives enough of this yarn to knit themselves a pair of socks.

And now for your browsing enjoyment - here's this week's photos of the critters at Crown Mountain Farms.

first up are the four month old goat babies and their mama's

Our newest goat addition, now one month old, playing with his sheepie friends

One of our original flockof Shetland's, Iris, and her two little babies

Here's five of the ten new shetland sheep - 9 of which are solid black

And last but not least, our one lone chocolate brown sheep (in this year's new additions), getting itself a tiny drink (ssshhh, don't tell him that he's not already a grown-up)

The weather has turned balmy - it was 70 degrees yesterday. I was tempted to plant some lobelia in my garden at work, yet thankfully I had no time, for the night time temperature dropped to 28 degrees. Good thing that our animals still have their fleeces. Shearing day will be the first week of May. Just wait til you see how tiny the Shetland sheep are without their fleeces -

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Something's A-foot at CMF

I've been busy here- working on some Lorna's Laces socks.. not sure if I care for this pattern.. It's got a 24 row repeat (sigh) a little too much for my brain to compute in socks. It's getting ripped out this afternoon. Any new pattern suggestions?

AND now.... a new little contest of my own - and some "sneak previews" for all my blogging buddies:

We're doin' something new here at CMF- anyone care to guess what this is? (yeah, yeah, it's a sock.. but what yarn is this?)
You'll have about 1 month to "guess" (that's your first hint) - and the winner (or closest guess) will be rewarded with enough yarn for a pair of socks ! This is a tricky one, so let your imagination go for it! We're looking for guesses that include six words.. and your second hint is that the last two words are ... sock yarn. Alright you bloggers... find those 4 little words! In case of a tie, K will select the winner from a random draw.

Here's the close up:

I'll post about the guesses so that people can keep on trying... but no more hints ! :-)
(P>S> this contest excludes family members of CMF and team participants.. yeah, that's you Cheryl! (you know who you are grins)).. and also our webmaster!!... oh, and better not leave out Lisa either.. she'll know!) That leaves a few hundred of the rest of you!

Our 'little' friends visited us again. This time there were three flying about -
this photo was taken outside our dining room, and yup, that tree IS that close. Can you see him grinning at me?
We love having them here- as long as they stay away from our little sheep and goat babies!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sheepie Update

This blog entry will be mostly photos -
First an update on Una (cashgora goat Mama) and her baby.. as you can see, the 'rescue' was successful a couple of weeks ago. This little guy is a gem! When he's not jumping about with his little sheep friends, you can find him curled up sound asleep on his mama's back :-)

It's been a sheep festival around Crown Mountain Farms this season! Last saturday was supposed to be shearing day - but it rained.. actually it poured rain. (rain = no shearing)Our shearer stayed for coffee and lunch, and left with a plan to return next week. Lucky for us (and the sheep) as one of the Shetland mamas delivered twins about an hour later.

I hope to get a couple pictures of all the new babies this weekend.... this is the year of black fleece.

Just to let you know how close the animals are to our house, here's a photo of the goats grazing.. and in the corner of that picture is my car :-). They love it when I'm out gardening - and beg enthusiastically for the "weeds" I've just pulled!

And more fiber dyeing is on my calendar for this weekend!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


To Inspire:
to animate the mind or emotions
to elicit, create
to affect, guide or arouse by divine influence
to communicate with divine influence
to breathe life into
...from the latin root spiritus, spirare... breath of God.

I love waiting for the moment when a fiber inspires me to create the perfect project. I'm a spinner and knitter who gathers fiber - the shelves in our living room are filled with color and texture. Some fiber inspires me the day it arrives, others simple lie in all their beauty, perfect as they are, yet unspun.
Finn wool calls my name today.
We belong to a group of spinners in the Great Northwest who meet for a conference every year in June. One of the events of the conference is a fiber exchange. Folks donate 8 ounces of fiberly goodness hidden in a brown paper sack. All the participants get to take home one bag, spin it and then make something from the fiber, and then gift back the finished product to the original owner of the fiber. You never know what you'll end up with in this exchange - and I love a good mystery!

Ah yes, so back to the Finn... and being inspired. Here's the fiber I received. Interestingly enough, there was an article about Finn sheep that came out in the Summer 2005 of Spin Off Magazine. Although my creative juices were flowing the moment I opened my fiber swap, I had other things on the bobbins, and the Finn had to wait.

This beautifully prepared fiber sat for six months on my fiber shelf, awaiting the little nudge from my mind to spin it. Since it was only 8 ounces, it wouldn't take very long... yet still I pondered.. thick or thin, worsted weight or lace.. or hmmm, perhaps even novelty yarn? blended or not, single ply or cabled?
I began to spin and the let the fiber lead.

Last November, I spun the green first, and ended up plying it with the purple, creating a soft heathered yarn. This fiber was wonderful to spin. Partly the fabulous preparation, partly the color.
The completed yarn rested gently on my spinning rack, awaiting the return of inspiration.

Many months passed - 5 more to be exact. Until a week ago. I was enjoying a particularly sunny day here, sitting on our deck reading kntting books. Books inspire me.
One of my favorite's is Viking Patterns for Knitting by Elsebeth Lavold.
This book is not just patterns, it tells the story of the designs - the intricate cables that criss-cross their way magically along your knitting.
Inspiration came. I have just recently learned to knit cables - and the wonderful designs in this book beckoned to me. Oh how I love the moment when a perfect pattern appears for the yarn you are hoping to knit. I leapt up from my perch on the deck, raced inside and grabbed my handspun Finn yarn and needles.... back outside I went. and the project began! I was inspired. My needles were flying along - I didn't stop for coffee - nor to answer the phone - I was enchanted by the cables.

The hat band was finished quickly - I picked up the stitches for the top , and my fingers continued to fly. Time didn't matter - dinner went uncooked (thanks for understanding K). I eyed my ball of yarn that remained. Would there be enough for the entire hat? I poured a glass of wine, took a deep breath and continued. Oh how I love this pattern - this yarn - the combination.
I decided to trust the inpiration -
to trust in the process -
and to remind myself that 8 ounces of yarn really IS enough for a hat (including all those yummy cables..) right?

Inspiration triumphed - the hat is complete.
I glance at the colors and textures on my shelf and contemplate... grateful for the art that feeds my soul.

Friday, April 7, 2006


It's a fine day at Crown Mountain Farms ! This fiberwizard is a happy camper !
Magic sweater is complete.

There is something very sweet about a project that you take from inspiration to completion... something vibrant and alive.
I went from this:

to this:

to this:

and then to this:

and then this in the magic sweater stage:

to this in it's completion: here is the front and the back:

For those of you who are just checking in, this is handspun from a bombyx/merino 50-50 blend, Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks colorway Peacock Plume. I can honestly say that I am loving this fiber. I bought 14 (2 ounce) skeins of this - and spun it all - resulting in about 1400 yards of fiberly goodness. If you are a spinner - don't hesitate.. do not pass go, go directly to ordering some of this fiberly soul food :-)
It is soft, drapes perfectly, feels like heaven as I wear it.... what could be better ? ah yes.. the purrfect pattern :-)
I found this pattern, Cinixia, on Knitty dot com - and it worked exactly as I hoped. The yarn travels gently across the back, in one continuous motion.. and flows effortlessly around the yoke - color blending into color - no matching of stripes (since it is all one piece). Absolutely grand.
And the finishing? well, it was 10 stitches under each arm.
Any hesitation about the pattern?.. well, I might consider adding about 1-2 inches on the length of the body of the sweater (since my childbirth years seem to somehow have added a tiny bit to my midriff) (she giggles) but I am darned proud of those love handles.. came by them honestly.. and have two lovely daughters to show for it !..oh.. I digress... but yes, if you are considering this pattern, check the measurement from your waist to your armpit and decide from there.. you might wish to add an inch or so.
Overall - I'd say I'm content.
This was a dream sweater of mine, and now it's complete. The yarn danced its way from my wheel to the needles and now into my heart.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006


Know what this is?
Wooly noodles ???
A mixed up mess?
Nahhhh, I promise !
watch what the magic of washing can do.

Hmmm.. little kitten paws linger closely, kitten about ready to pounce on my handspun bombyx-merino in colorway Juniper Berry.
I had about 140 yards (4 ounces) of fiberly goodness, and wanted to make another sample for our booth at upcoming fairs...
so I made this.... a lovely lace scarf ! The pattern is from one of the best little books EVER - 365 Stitches. It is the fishtail lace pattern.

Wanna see it up close?

This was a one day project - fast, yummy fiber, quite rewarding.
Nancy Finn, the artist behind the Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks name, will be teaching classes at the June Black Sheep Gathering this year, and we will be having almost an entire booth dedicated to her fibr and yarn. (yes, I'm in heaven!)
I love working with this stuff - it's the same fiber as I have been using for my 'magic sweater' (which is completed by the way.. photos soon, I promise!)

Oh and, here's proof that my sweetie, K, really does wear his socks.
AND, thanks to Leah (you cutie!.. see her comment on my last post) He now walks around saying "cool dude, cool dude" (imagine heavy German accent with this deep bass voice) I laugh every time he does that. (yes, yes, I know, my sense of humor is a little silly)

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Sock fever

You know, I was warned about the addictive qualities of knitting socks - small quantites of yarn, endless patterns, colors that tempt the most stalwart of souls... you might say I was a non-believer.
And then I began (just one) last thanksgiving day.. in the attempt to have a display for our booth of the fabulous Dicentra Designs yarn. I was enchanted.
The yarn beckoned - I answered.
The siren call of socks had captured yet another intrepid knitter !
Amanda and Becky further encouraged this addiction by including me in the Bloomin' Feet sock swap..... and that was all she wrote folks! Not to worry though - the 'I've got to buy more yarn' contest is done, and the fever remains stable now. (translate that only 3 pairs of socks currently on my needles!)

The photo above which I present for your viewing delight is the fourth completed pair of socks... this time for my wonderful sweetie, K. (modeling one of his cozy toed socks) He selected this Lorna's Laces sock yarn while we were at the Madrona Fiber Arts Fair. As I wandered out into the garden this morning to see spring's newest offerings, I noticed these tiny primroses. I wonder if she was inspired by these colors ?

Our spring is arriving slowly this year - and while we await the flowers, we have been treated to a new neighbor. Perched in a tree, in the middle of this photo is an adult bald eagle. This tree is so close to our house that I could almost toss a stone and hit it. It appears that our wonderful friend has also brought his siblings. Aren't we fortunate to live amid such beauty.