Nov 8, 2016

Fall Round-up

Fall round-up on the islands, the event that for me marks the end of the growing season, and the final chore to get done before hunkering down for winter.  This year a gray, but thankfully warm and calm day makes the task a bit easier.  

Round-up in the fall is quite different from spring round-up.  It is deliciously quiet.  The lambs are bigger, the ewes calmer, so there is less of the frantic baaing, just the occasional 'those people are here again' baa.  And the sea gulls are gone taking with them their constant cacophony of complaining. 

The lambs are almost as big as the ewes now, making for a very full coral.  Our task is to sort out the 'long tails' (the buck lambs) and check all the ewes to make sure they are healthy.  The buck lambs will be taken off the island for market and we will take a head count of the remaining ewes to ensure the proper balance of island pasture to sheep grazing.

Day two of fall round-up is warm, calm, and sunny.  The kind of island day that begs for lingering. Today's task is to retrieve the rams from their summer island and bring them to the mainland until they are needed for breeding. 

It's no small feat to wrestle two large rams into a boat while trying to stay clear of the rocks.  Thankfully the seas were calm.

Mainland bound with a boat load of sheep.  Amazingly these wild sheep are very clam and quite content to go for a boat ride.

The lobsterman are busy this time of year bringing in their traps so sometimes there is a bit of waiting and working around traps to unloaded sheep at the wharf.  

And just in case you were thinking this was an idyllic and glamorous chore, someone does have to swab the deck at the end of the day.

This is always a bitter sweet moment for me.  End of the season and a long winter ahead before lambing comes round again.  But I have a mill full of wool to keep me occupied while I dream of spring.

Mar 14, 2016

Nash Island by MJM

                                       Nash Island 
                         pattern by Mary Jane Mucklestone 
                                  Nash Island LIGHT yarn 

Last June my friend Mary Jane Mucklestone arrived on Nash Island to help with shearing, knitting in hand, as usual.  Nash Island Yarn, of course.  Wisely knowing a compact portable project makes for light dunnage (an essential for boat travel) Mary Jane was designing (on the needles, in the moment, on the island) a sweater knit flat in pieces. 

         Mary Jane designing with her muses, photo by Gale Zucker.

Nash Island is an old school Maine sweater, the kind we wear year round in all seasons. For hauling wood in winter to summer evenings on the lobster boat.  Nash Island is knit old school too, entirely flat, with the color work 'lice' happening only on the right side to make it easy.  With  modified drop shoulders and a lace up placket it's a comfortable everyday sweater.  With spring just around the corner, a Nash Island sweater will be the perfect portable project for my island lambing season knitting.  And maybe I'll get it done in time to wear to shearing!

Nash Island by Mary Jane Mucklestone is available on Ravelry.  Nash Island LIGHT yarn is available at Starcroft and at Clementine in Rockland. (We are currently spinning up more LIGHT yarn from the 2015 clip, more colors will be available soon!)

Feb 29, 2016

Starcroft Mill Monday

         FOG ready on the spinner. 
         Let the bobbin filling begin. 

      ...and at the other end of the mill... 
For the past several years we have been working on improving the breeding on one of the islands to produce natural colored fleeces. Last year was our first clip of beautiful dark brown fleeces.  I just finished skirting all the fleeces and washing will commence this week in preparation for a NEW yarn in the works for release early this summer!

Feb 16, 2016


Two more completed in my Through The Year with Through The Loops shawl project. 

ziggity ~ Nash Island FOG in spruce and single ply handspun wool/silk in shades of cove. 

moulin rouge ~ deadman's fingers from highlands on the fly. 

Jan 13, 2016

Winter Expedition

new year. new journey. setting off on an expedition.

expedition (n.) 1. an excursion, journey or voyage made for some specific purpose or exploration. 

This expedition is inspired by Sarah of Fibertrek's Shackleton CAL which invites you to join a community of fellow explorers and challenge yourself to go beyond known boundaries to 
pursue that epic knitting/crafting project that will test your resilience and skills. An expedition requiring perseverance, thinking through obstacles, flexibility to change with circumstances and the courage to follow your passion into the great unknown. 

After much pondering, I have mapped out an itinerary, gathered in supplies and set forth.
Combining my love of islands and the sea, my passion for the art of hand knitting, and my curiosity for learning about ancient craft and ancestral roots my new year's journey is taking me to the islands of my ancestors to study their traditional hand knits.  First stop, Fair Isle for an exploration of pattern and color, then on to the Orkney's for a study in the structure and texture of the Gansey, and finally to Aran to traverse the interlacing intricacies of cables.  At journey's end ~ three hand knit pullovers steeped in tradition and a wealth of new knowledge and confidence.

What is your epic hand crafting challenge?  Where will your journeys take you this year? What new skills will you be exploring?

You can join in the Shackleton CAL adventures HERE and follow Fibertrek's expedition HERE.

Happy New Year and Bon Voyage!