Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Something is Brewing in this Little Old Farmhouse

I'm a bit frantic this week. Getting last minute orders out, trying to decorate a bit for the upcoming holiday season, doing a bit of baking and cooking. But it's not really the holidays that are putting me almost over the edge. You see, I've made it all more complicated.

Last January I got an email from an Editor at Yankee Magazine. She had seen photos of our home on the Houzz website and was wondering about my Christmas decorating style. Luckily I hadn't put our Christmas decorations away. I took some pictures and then didn't hear anything again. I put it out of my mind - I know how these things go - magazines change their minds all the time and move in different directions. No biggie.

In May, I heard from a freelance editor who had been assigned our story. We set up a tentative photo date for sometime in December 2014 for a feature to run in December 2015. I didn't think much about it nor worry about it because it seemed so far away. I was just jazzed that it might happen and hopefully help bring my creative work and our farm to a larger audience. 

Today it was time to panic, decorate, cook and bake for the Yankee folks. We are holding off on the tree until they see the place and tell me where they would like it set. Good thing I have a low maintenance tree style. Tomorrow and Friday at this little farmhouse in the countryside, there will be 6 or 7 strangers doing their magic, moving things around, taking close-ups of my decorations, my crafts, and whatever else they think their readers might like to see. There will be a writer interviewing me for the article. I'll be helping - dragging out things they might like, feeding them all, and watching and learning - I always learn so much on shoots when I can work with other professionals.

Fingers crossed it all works out. I'll take some photos and share them with you all. I'll be posting on Instagram and Facebook - not here - so follow me if you haven't (and you are at all interested!) You all have the inside scoop almost a year in advance. If anyone has any pull with the weather gods, we are hoping for some snow. 

These two little kitties left on Monday. Miss them. We have two left who are staying til just past Christmas. Then they go together to a local family.

Lamb for Holiday Meals on Saturday - Meat-Up at Webs in Noho + Amherst Winter Farmers Market

For all you local-ish people, The Farmer and I have some lovely legs of lamb for holiday meals. We also have other standard cuts which make appreciative holiday gifts for a friend or family member who enjoys good food and locally raised products.

Saturday Dec 20 
From 10 to 2 at Amherst Winter Farmers Market at the Amherst Middle School
From 3:30 to 5 at Webs Yarn Store in Northampton

The legs range is size from 4 to 5 1/2 lbs. Supply is limited. $12.00/lb.

Please place an order so I know what to set aside for you. Tell me where you want to pick up - Amherst or Northampton. 

To order - email Kristin at kristinnicholasATgmailDOTcom on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. 

I have a big magazine photo shoot here Thursday and Friday so unfortunately I will not be able to speak with anyone on the telephone during the day. If you need to be called back, email me your phone number and I will after the shoot!

Here are the other cuts we have with prices:
Leg of Lamb - Bone in - 4 to 5 1/2 lbs - $12.00/lb.
Half Legs of Lamb - Bone in - 2 to 2 1/2 lbs - $12.00/lb.
Boneless Legs - 2 lbs. - 13.00/lb.
Lamb Shanks $9.95/lb pack of 2
Ground Lamb $9.95/lb. (one pound packs) 
Lamb Sausage $12.50/lb. (3/4 pound packs - Sweet Italian - salt/pepper/fennel)
Shoulder Roasts - for Braising - 1 1/4 to 1/2 lbs - great for braising $8.95/lb.
Shoulder Chops - 1 lb or so - $8.95/lb.
Rib Chops - 2 per pack - $13.95/lb.
Loin Chops - 2 per pack $14.95/lb.
Rack of Lamb - a little over a lb in a rack - $14.50/lb. 

We take cash, checks, and credit cards via Square.

Check out my recipes on our Leyden Glen Lamb website here

Thanks everyone for your support of local agriculture wherever you live!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Olivia, Celia, + Cirilia + a Magpies, Homebodies + Nomads Book Giveaway

All of my nieces know how to knit. The cousins have been surrounded by women who knit, sew, craft, and create since their births so it seemed natural that they would pick up some needles sometime. I always figure it is good to bring kids into the fold of creating and being involved in projects at an early part of their lives. When I was working on Kristin Knits, I asked my two oldest nieces - Olivia and Celia - if they might like to knit a project for the book. They were maybe 13 and 14 years old at the time. I knew there was a back-up plan if they didn't finish (my sisters). But knit they did. Here are the Olivia and Celia Mittens from Kristin Knits knit by my nieces. 

In the past few years, as all the girls have gone off to school, they have picked up the needles again. Mostly they made smaller projects but then they were tempted by the colorwork sweaters that I have designed. Celia began first with this design which was featured in Fall 2011 Vogue Knitting using my Color By Kristin Yarn. Not bad for her very first sweater!

Two years ago, Olivia began this - her first sweater - from my book Color By Kristin. Brave girl, wouldn't you say?

It has taken her a while but she was determined to finish it Thanksgiving weekend. Olivia also makes pottery and is majoring in Art at university. You can see Olivia's pottery on this post here. On CraftFriday, I helped her with a bit of surgery (the sleeves were too long). I showed her how to cut Fair Isle, pick up stitches and then graft the pieces together. She did it all herself. Here she is with her finished sweater. Once again - pretty amazing for a first sweater - don't you think? 

Here are the two girls hamming it up with the wreaths we made out in the snow. I am so proud of them!


Which leads me to the reason behind this post..... I have a new book to share with you by knitwear designer and new author Cirilia Rose. I do not know Cirilia but I have just recently received her new book cleverly titled Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads. This book has been recently published by STC/Melanie Falick Books


When I received Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads, I was firstly impressed by the cover, the layout and art direction - It is a Melanie Book and they are always guaranteed to be gorgeous. I know how hard Melanie works on all her books and she never disappoints. I have heard of Cirilia because she has worked for Webs, Berroco, and Skacel but I did not know much about her. 

As I looked through the book, I was trying to figure out the concept and the back story behind the quirky title. This is a pattern book but it is more than that. It is the story of a young woman's journey into the land of knitting and design. Let me share part of the introduction because I think Cirilia says it best......

"I've divided the projects in this book into 3 sections that I feel are 3 parts of a knitterly personality. We are all Magpies, collecting small amounts of precious yarns and never knowing what to do with them. We are Homebodies, sometimes preferring the quiet of our own perch, but we are also Nomads, venturing into the world to meet friends and gather inspiration." (from page 8 of Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads)

The photography was done by Jared Flood and Cirilia serves as her own model on the pages, along with (I am assuming) more of her handsome friends. The 25 projects are varied - from scarves, to cowls, hats, fingerless mitts, little sweaters and more.

I was on the fence about reviewing this book here because Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads was not written with me in mind, nor who I think my reader is - not that I really know! I'm a 50 and a half decade knitter/designer who doesn't care much anymore about fashion. I've figured out what I like and wear and knit and I am beyond trying to morph into someone I am not for the sake of fashion. But then I started thinking about who this book was written for and decided that this blog was the perfect place to share it. 

The Studio Pullover uses dyed curly wool locks in multi colors to form a heart design
After seeing my nieces at Thanksgiving - a light bulb moment went off. This book is written with the younger knitter in mind and it does a fabulous job at capturing the wonder of those early years of knitting --- the years where you are just finding your way and your style and discovering what knitting offers you for the rest of your life.  I am including some of my favorite photos of projects from Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads. All of the 25 projects are knit in only one color and are relatively easy to make.

The Jordaan capelet was inspired by a piece of clothing Cirilia found in Europe.

I love this slouchy, easy to knit coat called Gezell.

These elfish looking booties -- named Heima Slippers -- could also be laced with i-cord.

Another use for curly dyed wool locks - the Marion Collar attached to the skim fitting Isla cardigan. (When I was in my 20's I went through a period of using curly locks and thrifted fur tails and collars.)


Besides the lovely patterns and photos, Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads includes 4 to 8 pages of essays at the end of each chapter helping the newish knitter learn about color, finding their own style, substituting yarn, travel, thrifting inspiration, and looking for design ideas. Cirilia also includes her current list of favorite books (not all knitting books which is refreshing). 

I am suggesting Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads to you my dear readers as a perfect gift for the younger person in your life who may be interested in picking up knitting or is just beginning. It is beautifully produced and they will be captivated by the pages.  Hopefully it will inspire them to learn and grow as a knitter does - over time - over the decades. It will start them on their lifelong journey and we all know how much fun that can be. 

So here is what I have for all of you today. A chance to win Cirilia's Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads donated by the fine folks at STC/Melanie Falick Books

Here's how you enter. 
Answer the following question in the comments.....

Why did you learn to knit? What sucked you in? Was it the color, the fiber, the community and friends? 

Contest ends Saturday December 20th at 11:59 p.m. 

US Residents only please. As always, leave an easy way to get a hold of you - email, Ravelry or blogger id.

Unfortunately, the book giveaways are only open to US Residents. The reason for this is I ask publishers to donate books and ship the giveaway copies to the winner. Shipping for books to Canada and overseas is extremely expensive because of the weight of the book and the postage charges. In fact, it usually costs more to ship a book than the retail cost of the book. These folks are being nice to me (and my readers) and I think it is unfair for them to incur ridiculous shipping costs. I'm sorry for this if you are an overseas reader but I'm sure you understand my reasoning.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kids Embroidery - An Awesome Christmas Gift for New Stitchers

 In preparation for Thanksgiving, I was doing some rearranging of the boxes and junk in our farmhouse and I discovered a limited number of my Kids Embroidery book that I think some of you might like to give as a Christmas gift to your kids, grandkids, and little friends.

Embroidery is a timeless craft and it is experiencing a bit of a revival these days. Wouldn't you like to help a young person learn a craft that they can practice the rest of their lives? 

Kids Embroidery was published in 2004 by STC/Melanie Falick Books. It has very high production values (in book language - hard-cover, gorgeous photos, thick glossy paper, modern art design, a dust jacket - remember them?) and I am selling them for the retail price from 10 years ago - $19.95 plus shipping.


Along with the book, I will include a skein of embroidery floss, a piece of linen fabric, and a needle to get your young stitcher going. (I bet Amazon won't do that for you?) Package the book up with some other colors of floss, some cute scissors and some felt, and you have your one Christmas or Hanukkah gift done!

Stitches covered include needlepoint, cross stitch and 17 free-form embroidery stitches. It also includes 23 different embroidery projects. 

Here are some highlights from this book - one of my very favorites.
•Over 50 how-to (hand-painted by moi) illustrations 
•Instructions and illustrations for needlepoint, cross stitch and 17 free-form embroidery stitches
•22 templates for transferring designs to fabric
•5 needlepoint projects, 1 cross stitch project, 17 free form embroidery projects
•Instructions for printing on fabric
•Inspirational illustrations and info on traditional samplers and embroidery around the world
•How-to host an embroidery party
•Lush photographs including girls and boys stitching

Here's the link to my website to order. If you want the book signed to someone in particular, please add a note to the order form.  If you would like me to ship to an alternate address, please specify that on the order form. I can put a gift card in the box letting the recipient know who the book is from.

NOTE: I do not like to ship books to Canada or Overseas. Postage is more than the book - this book is heavy! If you are desperate, I can but the postage charge is at least $25.00 extra. Email me and I can send you a Paypal invoice for purchasing book and extra postage.

While you are at, check out my Vintage Embroidery Collection Kits that are a nice add-on for new stitchers. There are 4 kits and they come with a printed 8 page set of instructions and a cotton/linen printed design to stitch on. You can read more about them here.

Thanks everyone for helping me tidy up my living room before the holidays and for helping me spread the embroidery cheer!

And to brighten up your day, here's a photo of some of the new residents at the farm. There are 7 - can you find them all?

Monday, December 08, 2014

Circular Knitting Workshop by Margaret Radcliffe + A Giveaway

It's Monday and it is the beginning of December. That means it is time for a new book giveaway. I'm hosting giveaways all this month every Monday. Today's giveaway is a great one if you are a knitter. I have been wanting to share Circular Knitting Workshop: Essential Techniques to Master Knitting in the Round by Margaret Radcliffe for a while now. Never got to it until today! This fantastic, helpful, thorough tome of a book was published by Storey Publications in 2012 and they have sent me a review copy and will send the winner this book. Thank you Storey.

Please excuse the poor quality photos guys - it was a gray day and the reflections from the lights were quite bad on the glossy paper. I wanted to get this giveaway up on Monday, as promised, and give you all plenty of time to enter.

I have been a "circular knitter" from my beginning days back when I was 19 years old - beginning with a knit in the round yoke sweater. Those were the glory days of "yoke sweaters" - especially those from Iceland. Isn't it funny how that trend is now back and knitters everywhere are re-discovering those techniques?  (Check out Kate Davies new book Yokes.)

I used the word tome to describe Circular Knitting Workshop because it is. describes a tome as a book, especially a very heavy, large, or learned book. And that it is - 310 pages of 8 1/2 x 11" paper with a soft cover.  Margaret Radcliffe has written several books and they are always well-researched, thorough, and precise. Margaret does not gloss over any of the techniques she offers. Each technique is thoroughly taught and photographed so that you will be able to master them by following her words and the photos by John Polacek. Edited by my friend and editor Gwen Steege.

Circular Knitting Workshop begins with Cast On Techniques - 31 pages worth! Next up is how to Knit Circularly - including double points, one circular, two circulars, i-cord, and more. Next is Finishing Techniques - Cast Offs, Hemming, Seaming, Grafting, and more. 

Margaret then teaches you how to convert a "flat - back and forth" knitting pattern to an "in the round" version. This is invaluable help. Once you become a circular knitter, you frequently do not want to turn back to the back and forth method. Since most publications give their patterns in "back and forth" verbage, you will understand how to "fix" the patterns and knit them circularly. She shares how to translate back and forth charts into circular knitting too.

The first 101 pages are all technique for circular knitting. The book then includes 210 more pages of circular knitting projects. Beginning with very simple projects - headbands, hats, and potholders, further chapters include 
• Bags and Hats
• Scarves and Shawls
• Socks
• Mittens and Gloves
• Vest and Sweaters

Each project in these chapters is written for a certain yarn BUT THEN Margaret instructs you how to change the pattern to fit your yarn and your body. This is pure magic. If you are wanting to "design your own" knitwear and become a "knitwear designer" which it seems everyone wants to be these days, Circular Knitting Workshop should be in your library. Do you have yarn for which you can't find a pattern? Use this book to help you knit a project anyway.

If you are a newbie to circular knitting, this is the book you need to begin your journey. If you are an experienced knitter, you still need this book - it will teach you many tricks to better your knitting. It is not particularly a "fashion knitting book" although the layout looks current. There are no photos on people - everything is shot flat and simple which is perfect for this type of book. Circular Knitting Workshop is one which you will probably keep in your knitting library for your lifetime. If you don't win, you might want to put CKW on your Christmas wish list!

Do you want to win your very own copy of Circular Knitting Workshop? Here's how to enter.....

Answer the following question in the comments section. 
Circular or flat knitting? Why?

Contest ends Saturday December 13th at 11:59 p.m. 
US Residents only please. As always, leave an easy way to get a hold of you - email, Ravelry or blogger id.

Contest is over - the winner Jeannette O has been notified and I am waiting for her address. Thanks everyone for entering!

Unfortunately, the book giveaways are only open to US Residents. The reason for this is I ask publishers to donate books and ship the giveaway copies to the winner. Shipping for books to Canada and overseas is extremely expensive because of the weight of the book and the postage charges. In fact, it usually costs more to ship a book than the retail cost of the book. These folks are being nice to me (and my readers) and I think it is unfair for them to incur ridiculous shipping costs. I'm sorry for this if you are an overseas reader but I'm sure you understand my reasoning.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Another Thanksgiving To Remember At the Farm

Some photos from another memorable Thanksgiving Holiday here at the farm. We had the added excitement of a foot of snow on Wednesday which added to the suspense of who would be able to come and who wouldn't. We were expecting 17 and 15 made the tables. The kids always hate being at the "kids table" so this year I was able to sneak it into the corner of the room so they were close by and could enter into the conversation. 

We were extremely lucky to only lose power for a couple hours. Many around this area, including neighbors up the road, lost power for over a day and had to rearrange their Thanksgiving plans. We got lucky although I can imagine that those who did lose power had a real Thanksgiving to remember and talk about for years to come.

Before - the shipping table is cleared and the room is ready to roll.

Outside, it looked like this....


The table is set and ready for the gang.....

Besides the grocery store flowers which I managed to make into a somewhat decent arrangement (boy do I miss my garden flowers), I used some kale from the garden in large Italian pottery vases for a bit of fun. Now we get to eat the kale. 

During the feast...... I post this picture because I want to remember this day for the rest of my life surrounded by the ones I love, with some missing - maybe next year they will make it. 

We couldn't do the hayride this year because of the snow and the ice but everyone took a nice walk with the dogs. The day after the dining room looked like this - everything ready to go away again until next year. It's a bit lonely.....

The next day, we headed to sister Nancy's place and had leftover turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, and a day of making. What a nice way to spend Black Friday - our day is called Craft Friday. We glittered pine cones, made wreaths and garlands and caught up.

I hope you and yours had a lovely holiday weekend if you celebrated Thanksgiving. Now onto the melee that is Christmas and the holiday season. Cheers everyone!

By the way, have you noticed my new blog changes? You have Helen from Wyoming to thank for that. Her eyes have been getting less young and she told me she was having trouble reading the gray type. I've changed the type color to black. I've made the headlines bolder and darker. It was a bit of a challenge for this non-HTML girl but I figured it out.

There's a giveaway going on this week - see the next post down to enter. I'm doing giveaways every Monday in December. Pop in to enter.