Hello FIBERuary Friends

From time to time I will be letting you know of happenings in our local and New England area.

Classes at Sheep and Shawl

Fiber Arts Classes at Sheep & Shawl in South Deerfield:

Beginning & Refresher Knitting – Short Course, Linda Forget – Wed. 6 – 8 pm  Mar 30, Apr 6, 13  (3 sessions) $60 plus materials
Crochet Refresher – Heather McQueen  – Sun. 1 – 3:30 April 3 (1 session)  $25 plus materials   Not a beginner’s class.
Knit Your Dog a Sweater  –  Susan Wright – Sun. 2 – 4 pm April 3 & 10  (2 sessions)  $40 plus materials
Sock Knitting for Beginners – Emily Gwynn – Thurs. 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm April 7, 14, & 21 (3 sessions) $60 plus materials
Learn to Spin on your own wheel – Carole Adams – Sat. afternoons 1:00 – 3:00  April 9, 16 & 23 (3 session) $60 plus materials
Rughooking with Yarn – Carole Adams – Sun. afternoons 1:00 – 3:00 April 10 & 17 (2 session) $40 plus materials  No experience needed.
Helping Hands Project Class (knitting)– Emily Gwynn – Wed. 6-8pm April 13 & 20 (2 sessions)  $40 plus materials
Sweet Marguerites! (fine crochet) – Heather McQueen – Sun. 1 – 3:30 April 17 (1 session)  $25 plus materials
Two-color Brioche (knitting) – Linda Forget – Wed. and Thur. 1:00 – 3:00 April 20 & 21 (2 sessions) $40 plus materials
Helping Hands Project Class (knitting) – Emily Gwynn – Wed. 6-8pm May 4 & 11 (2 sessions)  $40 plus materials
Entrelac for Beginners (knitting) – Beth Altemari   We hope to offer this again in May.  (3 sessions) $60 plus materials

For more information please see the website Call 413-397-3680 to register.


Click on below for information on entering your woolcraft items

You still have time to make or finish you item for the contest.  Lets make the tables overflow with wonderful handmade items.


The Wheelhouse Farm Truck from Brookfield Farm in Amherst will be at the fair serving up great food.  Those of you from the Amherst area know how good their food is.

The fair is held Saturday and SUnday of Memorial Day weekend.  COme and join us to celebrate  fiber and sheep.  Lots of vendors, dog trails, sheep contests, lead line good food and lots to see  No Dogs please. 



The Linen Symposium is full with a waiting list.  I am gong to be a volunteer and will report on this highly successful event.    


This program is put on by the local ATHA group.   A unique program to keep informaion on your rugs for the future.



August 20, 2016

10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Shelburne/Buckland Community Center

53 Main Street

Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts  01370



The 4th Annual Region 1 Rug Registry will be held in August

in the picturesque village of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.


Region 1 of A.T.H.A. has undertaken this service so that

rug hooking artists can preserve and document their heirlooms of the future.


The Registry is not limited to A.T.H.A. members.

It is available to all rug hookers and owners of hooked items.


The form below should be used to make your appointment.

Return it to:      Diana O’Brien,   PO Box 310,   Shelburne Falls, MA  01370-0310



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Region 1 Rug Registry Appointment Request


Name ____________________________________________ Tel _________________

Address ____________________________,______________________,____,_______

E-Mail ________________________________________________________________


___ Number of Items to be Registered    (Fee is $10.00 per item.)



A Hook-In will be held at the same time & in the same facility as the Rug Registry.

The fee will be $10 per person; beverages and goodies will be provided;

bring your own brown bag lunch or order something delicious from a local establishment.


___ I will be attending the Region 1 Hook-In (A prepaid $10 reservation is required)

___ I will not be attending the Region 1 Hook-In, only the Rug Registry


Upon receipt of your appointment request, a Rug Registration Form will be emailed to you.

Fill out as completely as possible.  A trained volunteer will review the form with you at your appointment.


The item(s) must be physically present.  Digital photos will be taken.


The fee per item is $10.00 payable to Region 1 of A.T.H.A. due at the time of registration.

Thank you so much for reading and following FIBERuary.  You have made this a successful event.  I will keep you informed of wonderful events in our area.  Happy Fiber hunting.  Carole-Whispering Pines Farm


FIBERuary Carole Adams


FIBERuary Day 26



Black Walnut nut and leave detail.JPG

Black Walnut trees are found from Canada to Florida.    They are found in forests and in neighborhoods.  The nuts start dropping in late September and sometimes you can smell the tree before you see it  They have a delightful odor.  The nuts are covered with a greenish-brown hull.

I have found that people are always glad for you to pick them and take them away.  They stain cars, clothes and can make a mess of a yard.    If the hulls have turned brown you will need to wear gloves when picking them otherwise your hands will be stained  a pretty brown. If you can’t find a tree near you check on Craig’s list, I have seen ads to come and pick for free

I do not take the walnut out of the husk as the walnut contains tannins which are a mordant helping the dye to adhere to the fiber..

                             PREPARATION AND DYEING

If you are not going to use them for dye right away I suggest you either let them dry out or freeze them.  You can also make up the dye solution and freeze it.   I prefer to let them dry out.  I put them on a  baking rack and let them dry naturally.


They will turn a dark brown when dried.  I then store them in a glass jar for future use.  You can also freeze them.  I always have an ample supply at the ready..  They  can be used many times.  

I fill up my dye pot with water and put my hulls in a cotton cloth.  Tying the ends so the walnuts don’t come out.  (They tend to come apart during the dyeing process and the pieces are hard to take out of wool.)  I bring this to a simmer.  You will notice the color of the water changing almost immediately after you put the nuts in.   I let the water simmer for an hour or so  Then I remove the cloth with the nuts in it and let it drain.  You will find you have a wonderfully colored cloth


.  I let the water cool before adding wet wool, slowly bring it up to a simmer again and after 30-45 minutes bring out your wool. .  This dye will work on all sorts of natural fibers.

The picture below is  of cotton and wool fabric and wool roving.  It was left in less than a half hour.  If left in the dye pot longer the color will deepen .  Adding more hulls to the water will also make the dye darker.



I like to over dye plaids with this dye as it give the plaids a primitive look.  


This dye can also be used to dye and over dye embroidery thread.


I am going to put it back in the dye pot in hope to get a little darker color.


Below is some roving dyed with the copper solution


Enjoy Natural Dyeing

Carole Adams   Whispering Pines Frm




FIBERuary Day 21  MOTHS   Whispering Pines Farm

If you have wool at one time or another you have had moths.  They ruin fleeces and put holes in your clothes.  Here are some way to discourage them from making a home in your woolen items.

Lenny’s Yarn Story

My good friend Lenny passed away in the late 90’s.  I was the recipient of her wool yarns and equipment.    There were many boxes and in one  I found a shirt box.  I opened it up and in between tissue paper were four skeins of handspun singles.  They were surrounded by Bay leaves.  Each skein was tagged with the year it was spun, they were all done in 1948!    I think there were two factors here that prevented the moths.  There were stored in a cardboard box and the bay leaves.Since that time I have always packed my woolens in bay leaves along with some lavender and other  herbs.


Moths can also come in with fleeces.  Storing the fresh fleeces in paper bags help.  ALWAYS inspect new fleeces.  A few years ago I bought three beautiful fleeces.It wasn’t until I saw moths flying around my kitchen did I realized that I had an infestation..  Most of the fleece had to be thrown away.  Luckily I got it in time as the other fleeces were fine.  I immediately washed the rest of the damaged fleece and the other two.  Another thing I like to do is add some lavender  oil  to the final rinse water of fleeces.  Be careful not to pour the oil directly on the fleece as it will stain white wool.  I have learned this the hard way by ruining a favorite Irish Sweater.  I till wear it around the house and have considered dyeing it with black walnut dye.

If you have a minor problem with moths you can put the item in the freezer for a week.  That will kill them.

Be sure and wash thoroughly woolen items that you are going to put away for the warm months.  Moths are attracted to any stained clothes.

IMG_6432As you can see I do buy Bay Leaves in bulk.  I do sell them at shows or you can e-mail me for more information.

Thanks for joining me today in FIBERuary, I hope that I have helped keep your woolens safe.









FIBERuary Day 14    Copper Dye Recipe    Carole Adams


For all you dyers out there this is a simple recipe for making a wonderful blue dye.  The color of blue will vary depending on your water source.  All fibers seem to take this dye.


Copper tubing, wire or lots of copper pennies (I used copper pipe from a plumbing job)

Gallon Glass Jar with Lid (a pickle jar is good)

1 Quart clean ammonia ( NOT SUDSY)

3 Quarts water


Place the copper into the gallon jar, pour in the 1 quart of ammonia and the 3 quarts of water.   Cover and let stand for 1 week or so until the color turns from a light blue to a deep royal blue.  Now it’s ready to use. Drop a handful of wet, clean fleece, yarn, silk or cotton in.  You don’t need to stir it but don’t let it sit on top.  Take it out within 15 minutes, If you want it darker you may put it back in .  Leaving the fiber in for longer than 30 minutes may cause damage to the fiber.  This dye can be used for approximately 8 months then new ammonia can be added.    I think its best to make a new solution.  Colors will vary from blue-green to a deep royal blue depending on your water source.

Have fun.  I would love to have you send me pictures of your dyed fiber    Carole













FIBERuary Day 3

Today, Michelle Parrish grower of flax here in Western Massachusetts and dyer and weaver is writing about her adventures.

Michelle Parrish is a weaver, natural dyer, and spinner, who has been growing flax for over ten years. She is a member of the New England Flax and Linen Study Group, and an organizer of the upcoming symposium Flax and Linen: Following the Thread From Past to Present.

On February 28th at Sheep and Shawl in Deerfield from 1-3, she will explain the steps involved in growing and processing flax, and share some of her research into different varieties of fiber flax.


Planting Flax In Western Massachusetts

Flax is the plant that linen comes from. The Latin name, Linum usitatissimum, tells you it’s the “most useful” plant, and highlights how important flax has been for thousands of years as a source of fiber. The fiber has been used for yarn, thread, rope, fine and rough cloth, sails, and a multitude of other purposes.

Flax is a bast fiber, meaning that the fibers are found in the stalk of the plant. Growing flax isn’t too tricky, but getting the fiber out of the stalks is a long and complicated process. In agricultural communities before the Industrial Revolution, the knowledge of how to grow and process flax was commonplace. However, since this crop is no longer widely grown, knowledge is harder to come by.

I’ve been learning to grow and process flax for over ten years. I’m still learning, and every season brings as many questions as answers. Learning by trial and error is slow, so a few years ago I was thrilled to meet up with some other flax and linen enthusiasts, and form the New England Flax and Linen Study Group. I learned so much from the enthusiasm and support of this group. In our quest to learn more, we hatched the plan to organize a symposium, where we hoped to bring together as many knowledgeable people as possible to share experience and advice. The symposium will be Saturday and Sunday August 20-21, 2016 at Historic Deerfield, and is organized in collaboration with Historic Deerfield. We’re proud to say that registration is now open for this symposium! You can learn more about the symposium on our website ( and can register on Historic Deerfield’s website (

On this FIBERuary blog, I’d like to share some of the steps involved in growing and processing flax. Step one is getting seeds. If you want to plant flax this season, you should order your seed now. Flax is typically planted early in the spring, as soon as the ground has thawed but while it’s still wet. Usually around here you can plant in April, though this winter has been so mild we may be set for an earlier planting date this season. If you are growing flax for the fiber, rather than for edible seed, make sure you have bought a fiber flax variety such as Marilyn, Evelin, Viking, or Ariane. Two reliable sources for fiber flax seed are The Hermitage in Pennsylvania ( and Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum’s Heirloom Seed Project (

You can read more about Michelle’s adventures in dyeing, weaving, flax and other fibers in her blog:



Today we hear from Cynthia Herbert and Bob Ramirez of KELDABY and Moonshine Design


Musings of a (somewhat retired) Valley Fiber Producer

Cynthia Herbert, Moonshine Design


It was nearly 30 years ago when my husband and I said to each other, “This is it!” as we stood beneath the two immense box elders and surveyed the 200 year old Cape. And so, opting to drop out of our New York City life we bought the farmhouse, named our farm Keldaby (a made-up name from the old Norse words meaning, more or less, farm amidst the springs, a prophetic name if ever there was!)


A while later, armed with a NY Times article on the wool industry in Vermont and several clippings about Angora goats and mohair sent to us by a friend’s 90 year old father who had taken our search for the perfect animal and product very seriously, we headed north to buy our first Angora goats. We knew nothing about farming except that we didn’t want the daily demands of dairy nor the goal implicit in raising meat animals.


But we learned quickly through books and magazines, from neighbor farmers and other goat breeders and by trial and error. Our shearer soon became our advisor and go-to vet in an emergency and it wasn’t long before we brought our first fleeces up to the Green Mountain Spinnery where it was transformed into a soft beautiful single-ply yarn. Great, except that we were out of funds! Then one day serendipitously I got a call from a woman I had only met once asking if I would sell her our mohair; she had decided to go into the mohair blanket business. Without stopping to consider how brash I sounded I said, “I have a better idea. Let’s go into business together because I have no money but lots of ideas!” “Great,” she said…and so Moonshine Design was born.


If Bob and I were naïve, Sarah and I were even more ignorant when it came to the creation of yarn. Keldaby’s first yarn was fabulous, Moonshine Design’s attempt to replicate it was a disaster. We had become shareholders in a Quebec-based co-op mill where English was barely spoken . We visited and using hand gestures, whatever remained of our college French and a self-assurance based on a total lack of knowledge, we left raw mohair there with instructions  and samples of the yarn we wanted. What we didn’t know, and didn’t know to ask about, was that Green Mountain Spinnery is a woolen mill and Cabritex a worsted. The resulting comedy of errors we named TURP yarn because when we got it back it was like butcher’s twine, hard and skinny! Back it went to Cabritex because we thought untwisting it would soften and plump it up a bit but instead turned it into mush that couldn’t even be dyed! Back again it went for retwisting! Next we implored David Ritchie up at Green Mountain Spinnery to ply the whole run of this useless Cabritex yarn, so there we were with TURP: Twisted, Untwisted, Retwisted and Plied. It was all fruitless, the yarn shed and shed….and shed. And so did the throws we had Peggy Hart (Bedfellows Blankets) weave for us on her 1940s vintage mechanical looms.


It set us back a year but didn’t discourage us for long. Our next yarn was a wonderful “faux” boucle that we had made as long as Cabritex lasted—the cost of production was so reasonable that the business couldn’t survive. Since then we have used Green Mountain Spinnery for more than 90 percent of our yarn. Through a friend we found a Quebecoise weaver who wove for us several years before teaching me the rudiments. I now do all the weaving and some portion of the knitting although a friend of mine, Betsey, makes an incredible number of texting mitts, hats, mittens, baby caps and booties for me every year. Moonshine Design has always done all its own dyeing using Lanaset acid dyes—very reproducible, consistent and color-fast with just white vinegar to set the colors.


The business grew over the years and eventually Sarah decided to bow out. Bob and I now run  Moonshine Design—he and I go to a number of shows mostly in the autumn.  We used to keep our flock of between 40 and 60 although one crazy year we had nearly 90 goats on 15 acres—all of them named. Try trimming 360 hooves every six or eight weeks! Today just seven young wethers remain, barely enough to keep me in farm-raised yarn. The animals, the products, the business itself, however, still delight us so we have no plans to quit any time soon!





Welcome to all

Day one of FIBERuary


Three or Four year ago I discovered WOVEMBER.  I learned so much from the wonderful folks that wrote daily blogs.  From knitter to spinners and weavers to dyers and writer’s of knitting books.  Everything I needed to know about British Wool was in the blog.  I still look forward to WOVEMBER each November 1st.  
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