I'm finally getting a chance to post pictures of last weekend's Inaugural "Get Stitched on the Farm" weekend class. From these photos, you'll get the idea of what we did although by all means do these show everything. Next time, I must do a better job of documenting the students work!
Everyone arrived early on Saturday morning. Julia made little hand lettered nametags, we shared a cup of coffee and got acquainted. Then it was off to learn about sheep farming from Mark (aka The Farmer).
Here, The Farmer is talking about rotational grazing and teaching the knitters more about sheep farming. He is holding a section of electronet fence and demonstrating how the fields are fenced and grazed,
The lambs grazing in the field as we looked on.
After a tour of the farm, I gave a little tour of our farmhouse. I explained how I did all the different wall treatments including the handpainted walls in the dining room.
Here is the bookcase in the living room full of my textile and The Farmer's animal husbandry books. The house looks pretty clean, doesn't it? (Not an easy task, I might add!)
It seems that a lot of the experience this weekend was centered on food. We grow food here and our Leyden Glen Lamb figured prominently on the menu. I had the good fortune of having some very good friends who volunteered their time and exceptional cooking and baking skills on this first inaugural weekend. Linda Pratt was the Chef (Linda's real gig is Marketing Manager at Westminster Fibers where my yarn Julia and my new sock yarn Best Foot Forward is on the roster in the Nashua Handknits product range). Cathy Payson, longtime friend (and now Creative Director at JCA) did all the baking of miraculous cookies, muffins, and breads. Here is the kitchen table with the morning snacks, coffee and tea arranged.
Julia's official job was to keep us on schedule. I gave her a clipboard of the schedule and she constantly reminded all of us what we were supposed to be doing at what time! When it turned 9 p.m. at night, she told everyone the class was over. Needless to say, noone heeded her direction and dinner conversation lasted until 11 p.m.!
We started out the knitting day in my studio. I gave a quick overview of how I use my natural surroundings to influence my designing with color. Then we began working. First up was learning to make a steek using my sewing machine and the swatch the students brought with them. Each of them was terrified to sew a steek. But after a couple deep breaths, they took turns sewing and cutting. Later, they wondered what they were so apprehensive of!
The gang with their successful steeked swatches! Don't they look proud and excited!
The knitting portion of the classes were held on the porch.
Here we are finishing up our lunch on the porch Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, I didn't get photos of the beautiful embroidered, fringed swatches everyone made. I wish I did because you all would have found them to be so inspirational! As it was, my friend Cathy took many of these photos! Thanks Cathy!
After the knitting day was over, the fun really began! Mark drove his enormous tractor into the yard and using a bale of hay, everyone climbed aboard the haywagon. Here are the knitters riding on the haywagon as The Farmer drives us all up one of the giant hills on our road. In the beginning, everyone was hanging on for dear life but after a couple minutes, everyone relaxed and enjoyed all the very green scenery.
At the top of "Our World" taking a break from the hayride and enjoying the beautiful view to the west.
Another easterly view of the hayride.
On our way back, we stopped the hay wagon, hopped off and stopped in at our neighbor's blueberry shed. They had just started harvesting their low bush blueberries that day. We had a quick little lesson in blueberry harvesting and then everyone bought boxes and quarts and took them home for their freezers and friends. Yummy low bush, wild blueberries are a real treat every August!
Dinner lasted for a good long time - between Linda and The Farmer, the leg of lamb was done just right. Accompanied by veggies from the garden and the farmer's market, it was a great meal. We ended with pints of Bart's ice cream and Cathy's awesome brownies. Yum!
Sunday morning, the students got a preview of my new book and even got to see all the projects.
After that, we spent the morning learning edging stitches and tricks. After a rather rushed lunch, everyone packed up their embroidered, edged, and steeked swatches, blueberries, memories and assorted treasures and headed off back to their own worlds.
My family and I loved sharing our special place here in western Massachusetts with the knitters who came. It wasn't a typical "knitting retreat" nor was it envisioned to be. I wanted the retreat to reflect who we are as a family - farmers, knitter, designer, art lovers and family. I think with the help of my friends Linda and Cathy, we pulled it off. There were some kinks, as could be expected but none too insurmountable to fix by the next weekend.
Incidentally, the next "Get Stitched on the Farm" Knitting Immersion Weekend is September 19th and 20th. It promises to be a fun time full of sunflowers (fingers crossed there!), knitting, sheep, wool, color, and good food.