The powers that be, that is to say, the computer people, have informed us our e-commerce is back up and running.
Thank you for your patience with us while those with a much different skill set than I will ever have figured out the problem.
You are now free to shop, shop, shop!
We are experiencing a technical snafu with our e-commerce site today. Shipping charges will not calculate, making it impossible to check out. The web hosting folks assure us it will be fixed by tomorrow (Monday).
We apoligize for any inconvenience this may cause you and we hope to be back up and running on Moday.
Thank you for your patience.
There comes a time in every knitter's life when he or she feels the need to dye. (Notice that is dye with a y and not an i. Dye with an i is very bad indeed.)
There is that struggle of how to begin. Do I start with Kool-Aid dyes? Do I go the natural route and chop up a bunch of the neighbor's prized plants for the dye bath? Do I invest money in acid dyes and the necessary bells and whistles needed to use them?
You can see the dilemma. It could keep a knitter up for days.
Well, never fear. That'll Do Farm has come to the rescue. Think of us as your knight in shining dyed armor.
We've taken the guess work out of dyeing for new dyers and created Mason Jar Dyeing Kits, where everything you need (except the vinegar and the water) is included.
You'll dye right in the Mason jar. No fuss, no muss.
The dye is pre-measured so you won't have to work out dye formulas.
The yarn is a blend of our beautiful white alpaca and super soft Merino wool.
By this time tomorrow, you could be saying to friends, "Yeah, I dye my own yarn. It's easy really." Of couse, you will have to figure out how to work that little bit of info into conversation because it isn't a natural ice breaker. Most people won't come up to you and ask, "How are you? Did you perchance dye yarn today?"
Right now, we are offering our Mason Jar Dyeing kits in two colors: Turkey Red and Copenhagen Blue. More colors will be added soon.
It really is a lot of fun, and much easier than you think.
Once you catch the dyeing bug, there is no end to it. There are literally hundreds of different ways to dye yarn -- some more fun than others, but all of them fascinating.
Calling all spinners. Mark your calendars for Saturday, February 4th.
Lee Ann King from Midwest Fiber Company is coming to That'll Do Farm to teach a few new techniques to advance your spinning skills.
The class is from 1 - 4 p.m. and is $30 per person.
You must already know how to spin and ply and have your own wheel.
Lee Ann will teach how to Navajo ply and explain the advantages of plying this way. She'll also teach you how to ply from a wound ball and (this is the part I'm most excited about) how to add beads to your yarn.
But that's not all. You'll also learn how to spin and ply short samples using your wrist.
But it's not all fun and games. You do have pre-class homework. Please bring two bobbins partially full and don't forget your wheel.
You will go home a spinning diva!
Registration is required, along with your payment, and class is limited to eight people.
We picked up our new sheep yesterday.
Over the course of the two and a half years of starting this farm, we've picked up dozens of animals dozens of times before. It should be fairly routine, just another "chore for the day" type of thing.
But it wasn't. Yesterday . . . well . . . yesterday was a whole lot of fun. Really. It just shouldn't be this fun to load animals into a trailer and then unload them into a pasture. But it was.
It was late afternoon when we came back with our four handsome Romeldale/CVM sheep. Getting them into the trailer was an experience -- similiar to playing tackle football on the frozen tundra, but that's another story. It's the unloading that is the REALLY fun part, and watching the reaction of their fellow That'll Do Farm animals.
Several of the alpacas found it necessary to come running out of the barn to see just who had arrived. Usually that trailer pulling in means somebody new is coming into their alpaca world -- perhaps a handsome male? -- and they wanted to see.
Quintessa wanted to show the newbies her pearly whites. It's always nice to be welcomed to a new place with an engaging smile.
But, alas, they were disappointed. The sheep are going into pastures on the other side of the farm and will not be hanging out with the fetching Quintessa. She said that's the last time she'll give herself a new stick-up hair-do, complete with a hay barrette, for nothing!
So we pulled the trailer up as close as possible to the west pasture gate. The problem was that "close as possible" wasn't very close at all. With our mild winter, the ground isn't frozen and we were afraid the truck and trailer would sink into our water-holding, tire-sucking, Ohio clay. And not come out until Spring.
This is a LONG walk with a 200 pound sheep that has no idea where he is, who we are and has hever had a halter or lead rope on before.
Plus, we had to do it without dogs as the sheep have never been worked with dogs before and we didn't want to scare them. We would lure them the old fashioned way -- with food.
So farmer Mike grabbed some hay and carted it off into their new pasture.
And the sheep wrangling began.
Milo was the first one out of the trailer, and the most most stubborn.
It took four humans pulling, pushing and guiding to get him into the pasture.
But once there, Milo was a model citizen.
His buddies, Dash, Zipper and Spice soon followed and all were happy in their pasture.
Then the fun and games really began.
Joey the llama came over to see what was going on.
Next, the goats came over, mostly behind the protection of their big buddy Joey.
Except for Fred. Fred decided to take the lead on this exploration mission. Which is quite funny since Fred is the most timid of the goats. But not this day. Nope. He was high goat on the totem pole yesterday. Brave, fierce and daring.
Soon we opened the gate to let the goats and llama meet the sheep up close and personal.
The sheep made the first move, slowly walking towards the goats.
The goats, who we thought would be big and tough because of their horns, took about one second to think about it and turned to give way to the sheep.
And then they ran. They couldn't get out of there fast enough. And you'll notice their fierce protector Joey is nowhere to be seen. That's because he was the first guy outta there!
That's right Joey. I'm talkin' about you. Standing over there, about as far away from the sheep as you can get. And using two innocent little goats for protection. Shame, Joey, shame.
Fred stands alone in his bravery.
Joey, seeing how much fortitute and spunk Fred exhibited, decided to get a little closer himself.
That and the fact that Mike had a scoop full of grain and Joey loves his grain.
So closer and closer he came, never turning his back on the sheep . . .
. . . until he was mere feet away.
And then came his posse, at lightning fast speed.
And Joey was able to eat his grain, in relative comfort, with his back to the sheep.
Then dear, sweet Fred, with his lion heart, decided to meet the sheep.
He discussed his findings with Raphael, who, up until yesterday, we thought was leader of the pack.
Raphie discussed it with the others and Donatello took the news to Joey.
The goats have decided the sheep can stay. However, they have warned Joey that he needs to step up his whole guardian of the flock act and take the lead on these matters.
They would hate to have to replace him with a guardian donkey.
This is Farmer Gal's dog Grady.
Grady is one of the nicest, most jubilant border collies I know. He has a joie de vivre we should all have.
When you walk in the door, Grady greets you as if you are the most important person in the world. He has no doubt you were put on this earth just to be his friend. Carefree and happy are the two words that describe him best.
Unless he is sheep herding. Then intense and focused are the two words that best describe this bundle of energy. Grady loves to work sheep.
He is also an educated young man. He goes once a week to sheep college to work with his beloved trainer Debbie David.
Debbie teaches him important things like how to hold the sheep off the gates, how to drive them, how to gather them and how to get them to go exactly where you want them to go.
It's a fascinating thing to see. If you ever get a chance to watch a working dog do what it was born and bred to do, I would highly recommend it. Watching a border collie stare down a rogue sheep and give it "the eye" is an astonishing thing.
And the sheep know.
They know this small-ish black and white dog is in command. They know the dog and the handler are working together as a team. And they know the team always wins.
Way back in May, we packed up hundreds of pounds of alpaca fiber and shipped them off to a small mill in Michigan.
And then we patiently waited for socks to be shipped back to us.
Socks made from our own fiber. Socks so warm and cozy your feet will be begging for cold weather just so they can slip themselves into these babies.
And then, last week we got the call. The socks were shipping, the socks were shipping! I don't think a UPS delivery guy has ever been more loved.
Look what he brought us:
You may see brown socks, but I see comfort, warmth and happiness.
Here's a close up. Don't you see it too?
If you are a fan of warm feet and would like to keep your tootsies toasty, check out the Alpaca Socks and Gloves page.
I'm pretty darn sure your feet will send you a thank you card.
We're so excited here at the farm, we could just burst! But since that would be awfully messy, we'll keep it together long enough to tell you the good news: five Romeldale/CVM sheep will call That'll Do Farm home starting this coming weekend.
Here they are -- the men. These big, beautiful guys have been happily living at somebody else's farm for the past four or five years. But their human family is moving to a new home without a barn or pastures, so a new sheep home was in order for these fellows.
All you hand spinners and knitters, get yourselves ready. These are Romeldale/CVMs, with dense, soft fiber in a variety of natural colors.
To quote from the excellent Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, this breed's "wool is consistently soft, long stapled, and uniform as to fiber quality within a single fleece and it does felt. These wools are good selections for next-to-the-skin garments and for knitters who want soft, lofty yarns. They provide a good introduction to fine wools for spinners who may be tentative about working with fine fibers."
Plus, these are nice boys, with winning personalities that enjoy hanging out with their humans.
We'll spend this week getting their home ready for their arrival. We'll tell the goats they will have five new friends. We'll tell Joey the llama his guardian workload just increased by five. We'll check the hay to see if we need to order more. We'll check the fences to make sure they are secure and sheep-proof.
If you're in the area next week, stop on by to say hello to the new sheep on the block. And starting thinking about your next knitting project.
Just when you thought the holiday party season was over, I'm here to tell you you've been missing one of the bigger holidays. One certainly worth celebrating. The one; the only -- Saint Distaff's Day, also known as Rock (or Roc) Day.
How do you plan to celebrate?
What -- you say you've never heard of Saint Distaff's Day. Have you been living under a Roc? (really bad pun intended -- sorry.)
I'll admit to not knowing about Rock Day until a few years ago. Until I became a spinner. This is, after all, a holiday dedicated to the fine art of spinning.
(That's me in my traditional spinning outfit -- a little something I wear every time I spin.)
A Distaff is a tool used to hold unspun fibers, keeping them untangled and at the ready for spinning. A distaff was also called a rock for reasons I have yet to discover.
If push comes to shove, I'd have to admit that Saint Distaff's Day isn't really a holiday at all. Hundreds of years ago, in many European cultures, Rock Day was the day after the feast of the Epiphany -- or the first day after the 12 days of Christmas. It was the day women took up their household work again after the Christmas holidays.
Women of all classes spun, usually in the evening after their daily chores were done. It was important work and Distaff Day was a big deal. So big, in fact, that 17th century English poet Robert Herrick wrote a poem about it:
Partly work and partly play
You must on St. Distaffs Day:
From the plough soon free your team;
Then cane home and fother them:
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow.
Bring in pails of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give St. Distaff' all the right:
Then bid Christmas sport good night,
And next morrow every one
To his own vocation.'
Many modern spinners still celebrate Rock Day -- although now it's an excuse to get together and spin and not a day to resume work. I know we will still have clothes to wear even if I don't spin the fiber and then knit, crochet or weave it into cloth. At the rate I spin, knit, etc..., the entire family would be dressed more like the Flintstones than like the spinner pictured above. Thank goodness we now spin more for fun and less for necessity.
So how and where do you plan to celebrate St. Distaff's Day?
I plan to spin the day away with the Medina Spinning & Weaving Guild as the guest of a fiber loving friend.
I think I'll leave my pilgrim attire at home.
If you've read this blog for any length of time, you may have picked up on the fact that I am passionate about a few things, namely local food and local fiber. (Chocolate enters into the whole passionate thing, but we'll leave that for another day.)
I know that a tomato from our fields tastes better than anything you can get at a grocery store. I know that our chickens forage for a healthy diet, supplemented by grain given to them by us, and that this diet is responsible for the fabulous taste of their eggs. I know that you get the full flavor of the farm in every drop of our honey, not flavor that has been strained and pasturized out, leaving you with nothing but sweet honey-colored liquid.
I guess that makes me a locavore -- "a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market."
And as passionate as I am about local food, I am equally passionate about local fiber. I guess that makes me an Ohiofibervore -- "a person interested in knitting or spinning fiber that is produced by fiber farmers in the state of Ohio, not produced overseas or by large mills." O.K., I made that definition up, but I think you get my meaning.
My home state is rich in fiber farms. We have more alpacas than any other state in the country.
Ohio is also home to sheep, goats, rabbits and llamas, which all produce some of the nicest fiber you'll find anywhere.
(Jacob Sheep photo from Roving Acres Farm)
Just as local foods have a terroir (taste of place) unique to the individual farm, so does local farm yarn. This is fiber you just can't buy at your local craft store, or even at most of your local knitting stores.
This is yarn designed by the fiber farmer -- the person who has raised and cared for their animals in the best possible way. The fiber farmer that knows how each fleece will "behave" when turned into yarn. The fiber farmer who knows how to spin their animals fiber for the most loft, or best drape, or whatever else is important to that specific farmer.
It is yarn with the terroir of the farm. Until fairly recently, it wasn't that easy to find local farm yarns. Yearly fiber festivals were your best bet.
But in Ohio, it is easier than ever to find these great, unique yarns. We have an organization called the Ohio Natural Fiber Network.
The Network is made up of fiber farmers and artists around the state. That'll Do Farm is a proud member of the Network and I am honored to be the group's president.
You can help support the Network's members (or local fiber farmers in your area) by making 2012 the year you go on a Local Fiber Diet.
No, that doesn't mean you have to eat bran flakes or anything boring like that. It means that we ask you to think about your yarn, roving or raw fleece purchases. Can you source your next sweater locally? What about your next spinning project? Could it be a mix of alpaca and llama from a local farm?
Check out the various farms on the Network's website. Each one has a unique story to tell. Some of the fiber farmers specialize in dyeing fiber, or weaving, handspinning, or felting. If you see something interesting, send them an e-mail or drop by their farm. Our farmers are as passionate about their animals as I am.
As the Network continues to grow in 2012, I hope you check its website often and use it as your go-to site for listings of Ohio fiber events, classes, or new yarns.
Give local fiber a try this year. With the huge selection available to you, we think this could be one diet you'll be able to stick to!