Oh, so quiet…

…because this winter there was some pretty hefty, serious reevaluating going on around here. Ultimately, it results in a shift from this space into a new one, and I think you’ll like it. I’ll keep this home open for Spun Monkey-specific news, but I became less and less sure that this is the space I want to live and grow in. I’ll never stop loving fiber arts. It’s a huge part of me and is more than just a way to stop fidgeting; it’s a spiritual practice. I resolve to remain true to the main idea of my Kickstarter campaign from years ago, and continue to teach here and there throughout the year. I will offer special pieces for sale, on occasion, on a new site (goodbye Etsy). But, trying to make it into a reliable source of income made me a thousand kinds of unhappy, and there is no One Reason why. It’s just the way it is. Also, I don’t think it’s why many of you are here, anyway.


I’m hoping you want more goat pictures, and more about managing a subsistence garden and livestock while we juggle jobs outside the home, and how we create space and time for whole foods and body/soul nourishment with limited resources and a construction zone for a kitchen. Sometimes, it’s not pretty. In the new space, guests will come talk about their not-pretty realness, too. Sometimes, it is pretty, and we’ll talk about that, too.

Knitting and spinning will not disappear. It’s part of who I am. It’s also part of my day job, and somehow, I can still come home at the end of the day and let it take me relaxed places.


The new space isn’t open yet, and I’ll surely point you in that direction sometime in the next couple of weeks. I’ll continue to post here until then, and will be archiving and organizing pages for recipes, tutorials, and garden posts for reference.

I’m hoping that, by the time it goes live, you’ll be seeing a picture of this thing with an actual sink in the hole:


In garden news, we’ve rearranged our sort-of kitchen so we could start some seeds. Last year, we started too early and many of our plants got too leggy before it was warm enough to put them out. It’s hard to tell what-all will happen this time around, so we’re hoping setting it back about two weeks will make for happier transplants. Until we can re-build our collapsed greenhouse, we aren’t starting our own tomatoes anymore. This leaves us brassicas and flowers, mostly, that we need to start early. Squash, corn, legumes – those will all be direct seeded asap, and onion sets will be ordered.


Are you getting started early? What’s happening in your garden?


And March, it came in…

…with bird song, duck eggs (for the first time in months), and tiny, glittering snowflakes. I didn’t even mind that last bit, because they were backlit by a rising sun.

I’ll be honest; I was starting to feel a bit like this knitting project:


Tired. Broken. And with only the potential to be a warm thing.

It’s still not warm, by any stretch, but there’s something about the way the word March sounds coming out of my mouth, and the way it feels like hope. It stokes an inner fire I thought I’d let go out.


We lost too many of our girls to bitter cold temps this winter, and will be collecting some eggs to hatch. Looking out at this thick blanket of snow, I can hardly imagine duckling feet padding around, but the thought makes me smile. With ducklings will be soil and seeds and digging and barn-raising and all the goodness of warm, bright days ahead. Bring it.

In the meantime, audio books and neon knitting are keeping me sane.


Happy March!

Yarn Along


Whew, haven’t played this game in a while.

Joining Ginny of Small Things and her sweet Yarn Along, here’s what I have going on in the reading and knitting department this week: a copy of Watership Down that my mum sent me, randomly, in a care package from the home land. It has the flawless, flowing script of her signature in the upper right corner of the front page, and it just so happens that I’ve never read this book, so it’s a Very Nice Thing all around. I happen to be enjoying it very much.

I am also beginning to enjoy my Turmeric Sweater after a brief falling out. Somehow, tinking back 370+ stitches takes about ten times longer than knitting them, but now, the sleeves are separated and the going is simple and steady. The yarn was dyed by the fabulous Adrian of Knittink, and the colorful fabric growing in my hands is playful and happy-making. It’s a nice, seasonal transition piece that will warm me up for the next project, for which I’ll be leading a Knit-Along for the Wonderland Yarns Ravelry group (if you didn’t know, I’m the fiber division at Wonderland/Frabjous Fibers, which is why The Spun Monkey has taken a bit of a back seat).

Even though TSM has been on the backburner, there are several things of note coming up:

On September 5th, I’m teaching a class at Fiber College of Maine called Spinning Your Story. There’s a plethora of amazing workshops, and the whole event is sure to be a blast, so come check it out if you’re near!

On September 6th, and for the rest of the month of September, my work will be on display with other talented area artists at the Crowell Gallery in the Moore Free Library of Newfane, VT for the Windham County Sampler of Weavers and Felters exhibit.

On November 1st-2nd, I’ll be repping the aforementioned fantastically awesome Adrian of Knittink at the Fiber Festival of New England. I’ll have some Spun Monkey goodies there, too, but if you’re worried that she moved away and took Knittink with her, I’ll be ensuring her presence at the FFNE, don’t you fret!

Also, I’ll be scheduling some classes in felting and spinning at Madison Wool this fall, so stay tuned for that.

Heh. Well, that almost looks like a schedule of events! Whew.

Thirty-Six and Thirty-Seven: 52



Portraits of my main squeezes (just one again), every week (except when I forget to post before the Taproot Gathering…holy amazingness. More on that later this week. So, anyway, here: have two portraits today).

O, these past couple of weeks you…

…have been full of a whole lotta silly. The evening I got home from Squam, you sat down to have a perfectly normal conversation with me, except for the fact that you were a unicorn monster from outer space. I love you.

…only missed me a little while I was away, but really it was a much.

…have been very busy with your neighborhood buddies on the construction of a fort, complete with corrugated roofing. The sign nailed to the front reads “NO GRLS ALOWD” and you just had to make sure that was clear before the fort is finished.

…had your first soccer practice and your first soccer practice canceled due to weather. You have your first game today, and the whole season wraps up on October 17th. After that, we have to start thinking about Winter Sports. What??

…still covet my handmade objects, which is very heartwarming. I’m glad you like the acorn hat, and I’ll have to remember your “please, can I have it?” and those puppy-dog eyes when we’re struggling over bedtime later.

Speaking of the hat pattern (to play along with the new Sparkle Stories audio book, Martin & Sylvia: Knitting From the Beginning), the link wasn’t ready when I last posted about it, so here’s where you can find it:

On Etsy: The Acorn Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

On Ravelry: The Acorn Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

And here, have the adorable outtake that I couldn’t bear to actually take out:


Tomorrow, I have a giveaway! If you don’t yet have the current issue of Taproot, you’ll want to pay attention. xo

Feeling Listy…and a Preview

From Che and Fidel via bluebirdbaby, I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been under-the-weather and feeling rather stagnant…it’s nice to take a step back from me and see that I am, in fact, doing things.


I am…
making : progress, even if I don’t see it.
cookingwith winter roots. already.
drinking : spiced hot chocolate. already. 
reading : C.S. Forester (I am always reading a Hornblower novel…right now, it’s Ship of the Line), along with various poets, photography manuals, knitting books and listening to a collection of Ray Bradbury’s short stories on audio while I run (this is not motivational for movement, not in the least, but I have become an audio book addict and this is the only time I can listen when I’m not in the car).
wantinga few more weeks of sun to ripen the tomatoes.
looking : for antique birdcages. oh, and a job.
playingwith the baby kitties. Whether I mean to, or not.
wasting : energy worrying about…everything.
sowing : ideas. It’s going to be a Winter of bringing dormant projects to fruition. 
wishingfor abundance, on all fronts. It’s been a lean Summer.
enjoyingcollaborative work.
waitingfor the Taproot Gathering (4 more sleeps!).
likingwinding down our evenings earlier as the nights lengthen.
wonderingwhen we’ll look back on this difficult time and smile at the memory, able to seen then how much it helped us grow.
loving : his sense of humor. 
hopingthe sinus pressure lifts and I can lead a couple of great classes tomorrow.
marvellingat how easily we fell into the school year rhythm. We’ve made it to the bus stop every morning!
needingan oven. It was fine not to have one during the summer, but it’s time to start roasting and baking again and I am sadly bereft.
smelling honey. The aroma coming from the hive right now is so strong it can knock you down. 
wearingwool from head to toe.
followingmy own advice.
noticing : the turning of leaves, in only a few select trees for now, but soon we’ll be surrounded in the brilliance of Fall in New England.
thinking : I need to learn how to say “no” when my plate is full.
bookmarking : warming recipes.
opening : the last jar of OMG Peach Salsa from last summer, as I jar up this year’s batch.
gigglingat my son wearing my old Felix the Cat suspenders with a purple tie, blue plaid shirt, and camouflage pants.
feelingoverwhelmed, but also blessed.
In other news, I have, today, only a preview of Martin’s Acorn Hat. It’s a pattern I’m calling The Acorn Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree, because I have included sizing for adult and child, with instructions on creating either the top or the bottom of the acorn.
As I said above, I have been under-the-weather these last few days, and it hasn’t been all that comfortable to have my eyes locked on a screen. So, I’ll finalize the pdf and have it ready for Monday morning instead. It’s nice to have something to look forward to on a Monday, isn’t it?
Shoot to Sell! Photography workshop and my Nuno Felt workshop are happening tomorrow at Wildwood Farm in Madison, CT. There is room for last-minute additions, so come on by. See you Monday, with links to the Acorn Hat pattern on Ravelry and my Etsy shop!

A Sparkling Tutorial For You!

I’m pleased to present a series of tutorials I curated and created to celebrate the launch of Sparkle Stories new audio book, “Martin and Sylvia: Knitting from the Beginning.” What a fantastical pleasure to be working with the Sparkle crew and share these fun projects with you!

This first tutorial goes with a free story that Sparkle is offering on the itunes Sparkle Podcast and also on the Sparkle Blog!  It’s called “The Fingerknit Necklace.”

In this sweet story, Martin and Sylvia want to make a gift for their friend the children’s librarian.  They decide on a knitting project, and it’s not long before both Martin and Sylvia are hard at work on a clever fingerknit necklace.   They end up with two spectacular projects, and one problem: who will get the second gift?

The knitting project they create is the one featured below!  Listen to the Free Story HERE.

If you’d like to learn more about the full Martin & Sylvia’s Knitting from the Beginning Audio Book, you’ll find it on the Sparkle Single Stories page.


(yup, it’s a fun project)

This necklace idea is curated from papier mache, with a bit of my own twist on it.

I loved this idea for incorporating finger knitting into a unique necklace, but as I am a felt artist, I couldn’t help but want to replace the ribbon with a strip of felt. I also thought about children wanting to put this on themselves and each other, and about how I like to have a tidy finish, and so replaced the bow tying concept with a simple button closure. With felt, all you have to do is snip your buttonhole into the fabric and you’re good! No finishing stitches required. Also, for further simplification for short attention spans, I left out the glue by securing the wrapping string or yarn with a knot and sewing it through the felt to attach it.

I might have gotten a little carried away…

Finger Knit Collage Necklace

I call this a collage necklace because it’s such a fun combination of scraps and bits…a piece of finger knitting, strips of scrap felt, waste thread or yarn, and a special button.


To make the necklace, begin with a six to eight-inch strand of finger knitting (it’s just about the length that kiddos make before they want to move on to something else). There are lots of great tutorials online and so I won’t attempt to recreate what has already been done well. In fact, if you click on this link to papier mache, the pictorial finger knitting directions there are fantastic!

Cut two lengths of felt about 1″ wide. You will be overlapping the end of the finger knitting by about an inch, so keep that in mind when you cut the felt to your desired length based on where you would like the necklace to sit. As you can see, I tried a variety of lengths. Craft felt, hand made felt and old felted sweaters will all work well for this project.


Thread a needle with either embroidery thread, some scrap commercial yarn, or handspun. For the purple necklace, I used sock yarn, and it wrapped up much more quickly than the thread, so I recommend yarn for younger crafters.

Knot the end and thread your needle. With the end of your felt overlapping the end of the finger knitted piece by about an inch, bring the needle and thread through the felt and and knitting a few times.

Then, start wrapping!


When you reach the point where you’ve covered the end of your finger knitting, wrap a few more times, then tie a knot and bring the needle and thread under and through the wrapped section and trim the end for an invisible finish (see the top right in the step-by-step photo collage).

Repeat for the other side, and then we’re almost done!

Simply attach a button to the end of one felt piece and cut a small buttonhole on the end of the other. Always start with a smaller hole than you think you need. Felt stretches and a buttonhole that is too large will be too loose to stay fastened.



Next up: Sylvia’s Garden: magical finger knit flowers! Also, my sweet model is wearing another project from the story series that I’ll share with you on Friday.

Have you made anything interesting with finger knitting? I’d love to hear about it. Link to your projects in the comment section!

Impromptu Terrarium, The Extent of His Tomato-Hating and Some Fiber Things

Every week there is a lovely selection of caterpillars in the corn: bright green, ochre, mocha, burgundy…their fate, generally, is to become dinner for the chickens. I admire them, and then they’re tossed into the coop with the husks. The birds aren’t allowed to range much in suburbia, so they need all the fresh protein we can provide.

This weekend, as I shucked, I plucked out a particularly robust lime-green caterpillar and showed it to The Boy. He grabbed a step stool and I placed this new friend on the cutting board for a walk around. Pretty soon, there were seven caterpillars curling up, stretching out, or strolling around on the board amongst the corn trimmings.

When it came time to bring all the trimmings and husks out to the birds, including the caterpillars, The Boy grabbed my wrist and said, “But Mama, I LOVE THEM!”

And so we’ve had some pets for a few days, munching away and getting fatter in a glass jar, their impromptu terrarium. The Boy marvels at their sticky feet and their mandibles and Mr. Lime Green’s massiveness, especially.

We’ll let them go for Equinox, to fulfill whatever their destiny…an autumn feast for some other birds in the garden, perhaps.

Finally, as the first day of Autumn approaches, we are seeing some tomatoes ripening…still not enough for preserving…just enough for a salad here and there, so I’ll be acquiring some bruised heirlooms from the farmer’s market next weekend for a canning fest. As I was asking about them, The Boy could be seen stomping fallen tomatoes into oblivion on the pavement. They were already smashed from their fall, but it wasn’t enough for him to see tomatoes the way he would prefer them: inedible and NOT on his dinner plate. No, they had to be completely obliterated…deliberately, with malice and spite.

I admit they are on my long List of Foods I’d Prefer Not to Eat Fresh (just wait until I show you what’s happening in the dehydrator), but I don’t take pleasure in their destruction. I led him away. Quickly.

And then I finished this:

Some old handspun from Way Back. Before the Lendrum, even. I suddenly felt the need to knit up some comfort with it instead of letting it languish in a box. Must be the changing seasons…oh, and the impending garage sale. Anyway, I will really appreciate this thing for two days every month, at least, so definitely worth the effort.

To add to the randomness of this post, I have been listing lots of carded batts and dyed locks to the shop…yarns are on hold until I finish up the fresh order for Purl Jam, which I should be shipping out tomorrow. Helen will be holding a Spun Monkey Preview Night at the shop, so if you’re local, keep an eye on the Upcoming Events listings or pop in to get the skinny. There may be wine involved.

Lots of Autumn-y colors and such.

Happy Tuesday!

buzz buzz buzz~i wonder why he does….

…’cause he needs some new digs, that’s why…

Yesterday afternoon, we saw/heard this football-sized swarm on the rose arbor:

As we were bereft of beekeeping equipment, I tried to get hold of some beekeeping friends who I knew would be interested. When I didn’t hear back, we decided to go for it ourselves. C was on his way home from work by then and so he stopped at Biofuel Oasis to pick up the necessaries. He already had a Tyvek suit from work…

…and was soon ready to go.

He was very calm in this new situation…you never would have known how adrenalized he was…

…even when the bees got reeaaally mad. It wasn’t an easy catch. They were wrapped around part of the arbor and the rose vine…nothing we could cut off for removal all in one go.

Tap, tap…into the hive box.

We’re not 100% sure yet they’ll stay…there’s a lot of activity around the hive box, but still clumping on the arbor…and, well…I don’t really have any idea what I’m talking about. Right now, we’re just hoping there are some scouts doing the happy dance.

Exciting. And I’m hoping we have enough borage and blossoms and berry bushes in our own yard to keep them busy…anyone know how far they travel? Pretty much every neighbor around here owns one of those poison sprayer-backpacks or pays someone else to wear one for sickening their flowers and trees…I’d like to think it won’t be of interest to these bees or present in the honey they produce, but…

Shifting gears, we had a birthday:

There were smiles and wishes and a crepe paper crown…

Click the picture for a link to my Ravelry project page. It was a fun knit…quick and satisfying, although embellishing was the best part. I saw some comments about tearing issues, but I made sure to crinkle the paper every few yards before I knit with it, and the crown whipped right up, nice and smooth.

Pete also got a birthday knit…

The photo links to Ravelry, but you can find the free pattern here on the Bamboletta blog. I used some of my long-draw handspun and I’m really pleased with the results.

Sadly, I did not photograph the Handmade Ho Down on Saturday…it was a little crazy and I was totally exhausted. I had an awesome helper (thanks, Alli!) and so for most of the show I spun, spun away and felt buzzy with fresh ideas. Expect new goodies in the coming weeks. Many thanks to everyone who came to play!

Rockin’ the Rain Day

My boy is in pajamas and a helmet, a knight in the night, dutifully putting away the things of a rainy day. Books and a log cabin, his uncle’s old game of Mousetrap. I will tend to the dripping raingear later…this afternoon he tried to dig a hole in the mud large enough to make a lake for his boats, but it wasn’t raining hard enough to fill it. Maybe tomorrow…

A good day, slow and gray, and now that it’s just about story time, I can cuddle up with the Fuzzy Beast:

Laura, Mary, Ma and baby Carrie are waiting out the blizzard for Pa to come home, with icy snow blowing into the house and onto their bedcovers…while the Boy and I are snug, he with his story wax in hand, me with my knitting and C’s soothing voice in our ears. We are two chapters away from finishing book four, btw…and after reading the third, Farmer Boy, which I enjoyed immensely, I find the trials of the Ingalls family almost unbearable. And how, tell me please, did they not die of malnutrition eating corn mush and white bread all winter long???

Speaking of fooooooood, today was Baking Day. Since our Pa’s the workin’ man now, we’ve been trying to think up healthy snacks to make for him to grab on his way out the door in the mornings. Inspired by this granola bar recipe, we imagined up our own variations.

The only failure was in that the above picture should be showing you a slice of a granola BAR. Instead, we ended up with just plain awesome granola.

Basically, we followed the recipe, but with our own flavor variations. I’m not a fan of corn syrup, so I chose to replace it with honey or maple syrup. Perhaps it is the “glue” ingredient that prevents the bars from falling apart?

Flavors we invented: Cashew Orange…for the 2-3 cups fruit/nuts we used 1 1/2 cups cashews, 1 cup sesame seeds and 1 cup currants. We added orange peel (2 oranges) extract instead of vanilla and used a combo of butter/honey and our homemade pecan butter.

Pecan Coconut…1 1/2 cups pecans, 1 cup coconut, 1/2 cup currants. For this one we used a combination of butter and coconut oil and used maple syrup instead of honey and our homemade pecan butter.

Peanut Butter Chocolate…(we doubled this recipe) 2 cups currants, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1 cup almonds, 1 cup coconut, 1/2 cup pecans, 1/2 cup sesame seeds. Butter/coconut oil/honey for the liquid ingredients plus 2 chopped up semisweet chocolate bars.

I realize now that we forgot to toast the dry ingredients first…we were a little too excited about our project! I’m sure that would have improved the flavor slightly, but it’s hard to say as these are all Wicked Awesome.

I will leave you with a Perfect Sky, since ours will be dark and dripping tomorrow: