Nuno felting

I love to learn about new things to do with wool from our customers!


Last month I had a customer from St. Louis, MO contact us for a fleece.  She runs an Etsy shop called Wooly Worms and makes felted dreadlock hair extensions, felted animals and scarves and other wearable art.  




All of her items are hand-dyed with ecofriendly materials.  She purchased Monty’s fleece and plans to spin it into for yarn for herself.


This week I was contacted by Anh Sawyer.  She and her husband Philip are both multidisciplinary artists in Providence, RI.  You can read about them here.  Just scroll down until you see their picture.




What a pleasure to meet them both this morning!  


Anh (who is also a published author and speaker) told me that she had been studying a relatively new felting technique called Nuno Felting.  It was developed by an Australian woman and is becoming more and more popular from what I’m reading, and looking at some finished products, I can certainly see why!




Wool – dyed or undyed – is felted onto sheer fabrics such as silk to create a gauze-like, drapeable garment such as this beautiful shawl.


Can you just imagine the possibilities?!  


I can’t wait to see what she makes!  I could see the creative wheels spinning in both of their heads while they were here at the farm- as she was stretching out the fibers from Laverne in her hand I could tell that her mind was looking ahead at what she would create.  She had intended to get whilte and dye it, but as she was looking at the white she was thinking of keeping the natural creamy off-white color.  


Philip was inspired by the black/grey of Laverne’s fleece because it was in keeping with many of the black linen items he creates in his fine line of clothing, so what else could they do but take home a little of that as well as some of the white fleece?!


By the way, if you’re in the Newport, RI area Dec. 9th, you might want to stop by and say “hello” to them at the grand opening of their gallery store!


I am so pleased to have made a connection with them and look forward to our Icelandic wool being a part of more of their work!




Keeping busy…and getting "off the farm"

We had a pleasantly busy weekend preparing for the winter and Christmas.

Oldest daughter and I started working on my birthday present.  We took an old felted wool sweater, felted it some more in the washer and dryer, and then cut out some mittens.  My daughter then felted on these designs with a felting needle.  The yarn used to make the white of the sheep bodies is what we spun when we took a spinning lesson at the Fiber Studio in Stonington a couple of weeks ago.  Aren’t they adorable?  They just need stitched together!



Roy and the boys finished up making our newfangled hay feeders for the winter and we put them to use out in the pastures.  Here is one almost complete – just needs the side covered and a tin roof.  This keeps the hay dry and off the ground.  The sheep pull it out from the sides (there is a v-shaped bin open on either side.  It can be loaded from open end on the high side of the roof.




Major hat tip to fellow Icelandic-lover Karen at Birchtree Farm for posting a picture of her version of these, which was our inpsiration.  I literally printed out the picture from her website and carried it down to the barn for Roy to work from!  You can see Icelandic sheep feeding from hers at this link.


As for the sheep, Monty took Bindi as his wife last weekend.  This weekend he had his eyes on Millie.  Boomer also tried to woo Molly.  Still waiting for Monty to take a shine to Matilda and for Drover to take notice of Roxanne.  


While the boys were setting things up for the winter outside, the girls and I got a head start on our Christmas baking…




We had a marvelous Thanksgiving Dinner, complete with squash and sweet potatoes from our garden and mashed potatoes from Stonyledge Farm.




We had lots of pleasant weather.  This morning started out incredibly foggy, but that quickly cleared away.




We took advantage of the fair weather to get off the farm and take a couple of hikes.


We hiked the Bicentennial Trail in North Stonington after our Thanksgiving Dinner.   There is a very old cemetary (Old Plains) at the start of this trail, and this time when we visited we brought paper and crayons so we could do some tombstone rubbing.

ADDENDUM:  Just learned that tombstone rubbing is NOT the right thing to do!  These stones are old and the action of the crayon, though not in direct contact with the stone, can cause the stone to wear away faster!  Sorry!!



And today we actually went to the beach – yep – imagine that – the beach for Thanksgiving weekend!  And yes, the younger kids were wading in the surf!  We went to our favorite beach, Napatree Point, in Watch Hill, RI for about a 3 mile walk.


The view when you come up over the dune.



Looking out toward Watch Hill and the lighthouse…




A rockier part of the peninsula.




This poor duck didn’t make it to see another spring…It was beautiful, though!  We looked it up when we got home and learned that it is a long-tailed duck, also called an oldsquaw.  This is the male’s winter plumage.




And our goal today was to find Ft. Mansfield, which we did!  It is a fortress built at the end of the 1800’s.  Here is an underground room – one of many in the different parts of the fort.




Anyway – back to the grind tomorrow, with lots of fun weekend memories on board!


Happy Thanksgiving

We wish you and your families a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving!  


I know that we here certainly have an abundance of blessings for which to be thankful!  We just need to keep all of that in mind as we prepare for Christmas, keeping things all in perspective so that we don’t lose sight of what Christmas is really about!


OBVIOUSLY these turkeys have LOTS to be thankful today!  And I guess they must feel pretty safe cruising through Morning Star Meadows on this, their big day!



Gobble, gobble!

Shotgun wedding

Wedding bells rang today at Morning Star Meadows!   We noticed a couple of lovesick sheep this morning when we turned the ewes out into the back pasture and Bindi couldn’t seem to tear herself away from visiting Monty through the fence.  


Knowing that it would be about 3 wks before she would be in heat again, we decided to move up the wedding day from Thanksgiving to today.  Monty and Bindi were quite pleased with the arrangement.  


So, Monty’s harem includes Bindi, Millie and Matilda.  Boomer is with Molly, and Drover is with Roxanne.  We have good reasons for our matchmaking, and are hopeful that we’ll have lots of healthy, beautiful twins.


First lambs should hit the ground around April 10th if Bindi conceived today.  Can’t wait to meet them!

Denison Homestead Open House

It’s a last fall fling before the holiday season officially gets under way!  


The Denison Homestead will host an Open House this Sunday with costumed reenactors.  If you have yet to visit us a the Denison Farmer’s Market, this will be the last one of the year.  It will have a special harvest and pre-holiday theme, so you can pick up your produce for your Thanksgiving feast and a few hand crafted gifts for Christmas all in one spot — and add to that a special opportunity to tour the Denison Homestead, and you get the perfect way to spend one of our last “warm” days of the year!  Temperatures are supposed to approach 60 with some sunshine peeking through!

Here’s the lastest from the market master:

It’s hard to believe, but it’s the last market of 2011! We have lots of fall vegetables, as well as pies and other Thanksgiving-related items, so come out to the market this Sunday between 12 and 3. We’ll have a few guest vendors to round out the market, and we’d love to see you one last time before our winter break!


In addition to the farm market, there’s a lot going on at the Denison Homestead this Sunday! Come see the newly-painted woodwork and power washed exterior of Pequotsepos Manor, made possible by a grant from the 1772 Foundation. There will be tours of the 1717 homestead with costumed historic actors.  You can see cooking in colonial kitchen, with an open-hearth cooking demonstration of Stone Soup. Also, there will be a weaving demonstration on our original loom. Refreshments will be available in the house and donations will be gratefully accepted.


We’ll be there with our remaing fleeces.  We’ll also have plenty of our Wacky Woolies for your stocking-stuffing needs.  



And we have a few football-themed wackies, too.  Also, the girls and I have been knitting scarves of all colors.  


We’ll have sheep Christmas ornaments to grace your tree.






We’ll also bring our loom and spinning wheel so you can see what we accomplished yesterday at theFiber Arts Studio!  Maybe you can try throwing a couple of shuttles through!




Finally! Spinning lessons!

No.  I’m not talking about THAT sort of spinning – the one that makes you sweat and fade from exhaustion…the one that is trending these days…


THIS is what I’m talkin’ about!




The girls and I are heading over to FiberArts Studio in Stonington today to have spinning school with the studio’s owner, Lola Liepold.  Her studio is primarily a weaving studio.  Lola has quite the collection of looms!  And even though Lola has been a shepherdess herself, she’s not just weaving wool!  Have a look at her Facebook page – they’ve been weaving velvet, silks and even having kids weave chair seats!  And Lola told me the other day she’s trying other fibers like bamboo and sugar cane!  Talk about your renewable resources!


I definitely hope to learn to weave eventually.  We’ve been given an old table loom that hopefully Lola can help us restore.  But for now I am excited to turn Matilda’s 2010 fleece into yarn before Christmas!



Nostalgic Wool video


Heads up!  If you like sheep, carding, spinning and old stuff, this video is a must!  The sheep are Shetlands in Scotland, a breed quite similar to Icelandics.   The year is 1932, and boy, have things changed!  After a rather amusing chase scene in the beginning of the film, as seemingly everyone in the neighborhood (Scottish croft) gets involved, they go on to “roo” the fleece off the animals and then process the wool.  The women are incredibly fast at carding and they make spinning look like a breeze!  And then…the piece de resistance…they knit a gorgeous Fair Isle patterned sweater!  I only wish the video was in color so we could see the colors of the sweater!

Lard revisited

Well, it didn’t take long for our lard to disappear!


Last week the girls made the most crispy, addictive chocolate chip cookies we’ve made in a long time!  They disappeared so quickly that there was no time to take pictures of them!


With the remainder of the lard I finally got to make my pie crust.  I used this recipe.  It seemed a little labor-intensive, but the results were worth it!


After really chilling the lard (in the freezer), you scoop little balls of it with a melon ball scoop and toss them with the dry ingredients in a ziplock bag, then use a rolling pin to roll them out into sheets of flour coated lard.  You then refreeze them in the bags and dump these fat sheets/flour into a very cold bowl.




You then add the ice water and some cider vinegar, toss this around, then back into the bag to mix into a ball.  The balls are then coated with whole wheat flour (helps add crispness) and put in plastic wrap, flattened into discs and then refrigerated until ready to roll out.




The dough was very easy to work with, which is always a big plus!  We stuffed the pies full with macoun, cortland and granny smith apples.  Variety is the spice of life (cinnamon and nutmeg help, too!)


I know when Roy and the boys come up from the barn after building hay feeders for the winter, these beauties won’t last long!



Some fleeces still available


Is this crisp autumn air giving you a hankering to start knitting something warm and woolen?

I’ve updated the Raw Fleeces for Sale page.  There are still 8 fleeces available, including greys, whites, and black/white.  And for those of you who don’t hand spin, I’ve also included links to two of the local fiber mills that will happily process your raw wool into whatever color or yarn type your heart desires!  Fibers 4 Ewe is in Putnam, CT, and Still River Fiber Mill is in Easton. 


The starlings have been flocking here for the past couple of weeks.  It’s amazing to see them move together en masse.  I had videotaped a flock here at the farm to put on the blog, but it pales to insignificance after watching this!  Enjoy!

<p>Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.</p>

The One-cow Revolution

a grass-fed homestead

Today at Firefly Farms

You'll never guess what happened at the farm today!

Iceland, Defrosted

The story of one man’s obsession with the people, places and music of Iceland.


Family isn't a word, it's a sentence.

Dancing Aspens Farm Blog

Finding the beauty along the way.

Tomcova Farm

Featuring naturally raised pastured pork, pastured poultry, golden retrievers, and family life on our eastern Connecticut farm.

Sawyer Family Farm

The story of our lives with horses. And goats.