Thursday, April 28, 2016

Announcing 2016 Creative Retreats At Leyden Glen Farm

Oh my goodness - I am so psyched. Today I was on Marly BIrd's Yarn Thing podcast and I announced that I would be listing the summer classes here at Leyden Glen Farm in western Massachusetts tomorrow. You can listen to the podcast here. And enter to win a prize here on the Show Notes on Marly's blog here. I was on Marly's podcast back in 2009 so it was fun to re-visit with her. 

But, I worked my little fingers and scheduling chores to the bone and was able to release them today. I want you all - my blog readers to have a chance to sign up first. 

Drum roll PLEASE! Here are the dates and classes for 2016 at Leyden Glen Farm.

July 16-17 - Color, Fabric Printing + Lampshade Painting for Your Home

July 30-31 - Color, Fabric Printing + Embroidery

September 23-24 - Color + Embroidery for Knitters + Crocheters

This year I have done something new. I am offering a discount for Early Bird Purchases for Two Day Classes. Sign up by May 15th and you will receive a discount of $35.

Hop on over to the website here for more information. 

Prices do not include lodging or dinner time meals. You will be provided with a list of places to stay and eat upon registration. 

I really hope some of you can come to the farm and have a transformational, creative and colorful experience. I can't wait to meet old friends and make new ones. If you have any questions, please send them to me at
kristinnicholas AT gmail DOT com

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Life, Spring + Upcoming Things Including MarlyBird Podcast LIVE

Last year, I planted two new varieties of daffodils on top of the graves for our farm dogs Winston and Phoebe. They are blooming now and I'm enjoying them on my kitchen windowsill. I've made this a tradition, marking the spot where our loyal dogs lay. It makes me think of them each year as the daffodils bloom. I would love to have tulips but the deer and sheep would eat them so I don't waste my money. The nice thing about daffodils is that they spread and live for several years. 

There is a lot of color popping up in my garden. I mean to document it but life has been busy. 

Two weekends ago, I took an on-line class called Pattern Camp with Jessica Swift. It was a great class on designing patterns using both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I did it all in one weekend but now need to go back and re-take the lessons so I don't forget. Jessica is a great teacher and was available all weekend long. There is also a closed Facebook group where she answers questions and you can get help from other students. The videos are available for one month and there are some PDFs that you have access to forever. If you are interested in designing patterns and know these two programs, you might want to give it a go too. Here is one of the half drop repeats I made. 

It's a sure sign of spring here in western Massachusetts when the Farmers Markets begin again. Yesterday I spent the day in Northampton at the Tuesday Market. It was rainy and freezing cold and needless to say the people weren't flocking to buy frozen meat. Thank goodness for lots of wool - long underwear, gloves, hat and scarves. There is always next week. 

I'm very sad about the local peach crop this year. It seems that the buds were destroyed. From what I understand, the peach trees hadn't gone dormant because of the warm December/January weather and when we had a deep freeze in February, it killed all the buds which had already started forming. I guess we will have to eat Georgia peaches instead of local peaches.  

I have finished doing the base coats on the bedroom I am re-doing for my upcoming book Crafting A Patterned Home. I love the colors. I used a gold for most of the room, bright yellow for the closet doors, and a pretty green for the east wall where the sun rises. Now for the fun part. To plan it, I have cut out some sunflower shapes and taped them to the wall to make sure I like the scale and feeling of the design. 

Many years ago, I stayed at a beautiful little hotel in Portland, Maine called The Pomegranate Inn. The bedroom I stayed in had hand-painted walls that gave the feeling of wallpaper. At that point, I didn't have a digital camera or a phone so I had the idea just floating in my head. I did find that the hotel is still in business (but with new owners) and there are photos of the rooms. I think that they have been re-done since I was there but they are quite beautiful and an inspiration. Here is one which is quite pretty. 

Room at the Pomegranate Inn in Portland, ME
I've put some more photos on my Pinterest Board here. I've been using Pinterest to collect ideas for the book. I can see how people get addicted to it. I can also see that people can spend a whole lot of time on it. I have avoided Pinterest for years and thought that I should probably see what it is all about considering I am still blogging and it generates traffic for my blog and website. I am a slow adaptor of things for sure. There is only so much time in the day. This is a link to all my Pinterest boards if you are interested in following me. There is also a link on my right sidebar. 

Tomorrow I am going to be on the Marly Bird Podcast. It is a live show (noon Eastern time, 10 a.m. Mountain Time) and there will be prizes that I will give away. You can also listen to the podcast later and still win the prizes. Marly is so much fun and I look forward to the conversation. You can listen live and call in to chat with me. The Listener dial-in number is (347)539-5589. 

You will be able to listen to the conversation later. This is the link to the taped show.  
The WEBS Annual Fleece and Tent Sale is Saturday May 14th. I will be selling our farm raised lamb and my books. Here is the link for more info.  The Tent Sale continues on Sunday but no me or fleeces. Hope to meet some of you in Northampton on the 14th. 

The first Brimfield Flea Market of the year is May 10 to 15. Check it out here. I'm going for sure - just not sure what day. Hope to find some new things for my book project. 

Hope you all are enjoying spring!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Putting the Sheep In

Every morning, the sheep and lambs get let out of their winter barnyard to go graze a smallish pasture and woodland. They pick at the grass which hasn't really grown yet and also are supplemented with hay from last year. 

In the evening, the sheep and lambs need to be put back into the barnyard to protect them from the coyotes. They are safer close to the barns. These are some photos I took of them returning to the barns. Julia was away visiting her grandma so I took the opportunity to help Kate and Mark "put the sheep up." It was a beautiful evening at dusk after a nice warm day. It was nice to see that Kate is really improving her herding skills. The best thing is the sheep react and move for her. By the end of this coming summer, she will be a real pro. 

It won't be long until the grass greens up and the leaves come out on the trees. The sheep and lambs will be split up into different groups and go out to graze in various pastures near and far. Another growing season begins. The portable fencing will be moved and moved and moved. Mark will begin haying and harvesting and farming continues for another year. 

Enjoy the photos. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Floor in the Shed

Last Friday, our friend/contractor Kevin, his helper Wally and I put down the floor in the shed. With a little help from Beau. We had to keep Beau's nose out of the glue. That would have been a bad scene. 

I used VCT tile (vinyl composition tile) from Armstrong in my cellar studio we put in in 2010. I chose very bright colors and have been happy with the way they have worn and how easy they are to clean. VCT tiles are the tiles you see in hospitals, schools, and grocery stores. They are quite reasonably priced. I had several different color tiles left over from that project including 2 full boxes of 45 each in chartreuse and bright yellow. I had stuffed them into the shed in case another project arose. 

This shed is about 12 x 15 feet. Not real big but big enough. I counted the leftover tiles and came up with a couple designs. At first I was going to do a patchwork quilt looking design like this.

But after I thought about it, I decided that color blocking would be better for the space. Large blocks of the bright colors will be more WOW under the table I will have in the space and will also look better in the photos in my upcoming book. This is the color blocked design I decided upon. 

Putting down this tile is quite easy. You use a trowel and spread out the adhesive like this. Kevin spread it in small sections about 3 x 3 feet wide. We began at the center and worked towards one corner, over to the next and then worked the remaining half in double rows. You have to be careful not to box yourself into the corner. 

Halfway done.

Almost there. We ran out of some colors so we had to improvise at the end. 

The glue takes a while to set up. If you put too much on the floor, it will squeeze to the front. You have to let the glue set up for a day before walking on it. Now, I am working on removing the excess glue with a putty knife and paint thinner. It is coming up easily. 

I love the way the floor turned out. This shed is going to be for throwing pottery and other messy art stuff so I can get my potter's wheel and clay out of my other studio. It will be easy to wash the floor and be serviceable. It isn't insulated so I won't be able to use it in the winter nor will I be able to store glazes, clay or paints in it because they will freeze. 

I'm not sure what I am doing with the walls yet. I'm thinking on it. For now, I have put on 2 coats of primer to stop the bleed through of the plywood. 

More to come soon on the Shed Project. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Shearing Day Two At Leyden Glen Farm 2016

Big day yesterday here at the farm. Our shearers Kevin Ford and Gwen Hinman came to finish up shearing for this year. Rachel and her boyfriend Matt helped. I didn't think about taking photos until late in the day so don't have any of wool packing or of Rachel and Matt. 
Kevin and Gwen sheared 101 sheep so now we have a count of our adult animals - 234 total including about 6 to 8 rams for breeding. We never really know how many sheep there are until shearing. The wool is all skirted and packed and now I have to find someone to buy it. 

Gwen brought her sweet little dog Lyle with her. He is an Icelandic Sheepdog and the sweetest thing. I fell in love with him and by the end of shearing, I was talking myself into getting myself one. By the end of the day, I decided that best I get the two Great Pyrenees established before thinking about another dog!

Lyle was so mellow. He was next to Gwen almost the whole day and as each sheep was finished, the sheep would fly over Lyle. I got this action shot albeit a bit blurry. 

Here is a short 15 second video of the shearing. 

Here are some other photos from the day. 

Kevin wore his shearing shirt from his trip to shear in Norway. 

Here is his tool box and his clicker to count the sheep. We pay by the animal. 

Here are some close-ups of Kevin shearing. He is so gentle with the sheep. 

Gwen is just as gentle although she uses electric shears. 

All day long, the lambs (who do not get sheared) were curious about what was going on in the barn. I had to keep shushing them away. 

Kate did great this year, watching every move. She is improving every day and hopefully by the end of the summer she will be a real help. 

We are very relieved shearing is all over for another year. The grass is starting to grow. Today it is supposed to be 75 and the leaves are beginning to leaf out. The sheep go out to graze everyday but it is still quite brown out there and they are being supplemented with hay. 

The Amherst Farmers Market starts this Saturday and the Northampton Tuesday Market next Saturday. We're back at, it seems. It's a grind that goes until November. But then everyone has a grind. We look forward to seeing our customers and meeting new ones.