Shepherd’s Harvest


This time last year I was stuck in an emergency room waiting to be checked in to the hospital for my second extended stay. Needless to say, we wouldn’t be visiting our favorite festival. So, when this year’s festival rolled around, I felt like I was having to make up for lost time (and, I’m sure the vendors were quite happy that I was).

Hanging with Siblings

I’m happy that the festival has grown so much in the last couple of years. It was not that long ago that all the vendors could fit in one building. This weekend, it took four buildings to house them all. I’m only happy to support some of the amazing producers, spinners, dyers, etc… that show up every year with their wares. I think my favorite for this year was a couple who use natural dyes to produce some amazing colors in their roving and yarn. See for yourself! There should be some sweaters spun and knit from this stuff in the near (or distant) future.


Of course, I’m a sucker for all the animals, and I certainly enjoy checking them out. I wonder if our neighbors would notice if we had a cloven-foot animal wandering around our yard? At least our grass would stay short…

Food on Face

I’ve got my work cut out for me this next year. Uh, who am I kidding? I think I have enough to last me for a couple of trips around the sun. Here’s just a wee glimpse:


Touching the Earth

The following are from a trip we took yesterday to visit Virginia’s brother and wife, with a side trip to Jay Cooke State Park. Fresh in my mind were some meditations by Thich Nhat Hanh, which we had read a few days earlier (excerpt follows the photos).

Fall Leaves

Rock and River

Birch Bark

St. Louis River

Rock and Root

The day has now ended.
Our lives are shorter.
Now we look carefully.
What have we done?

Noble Sangha, with all our heart,
let us be diligent,
engaging in the practice.
Let us live deeply,
free from afflictions,
aware of impermanence
so that life does not
drift away without meaning.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, “Gatha on Impermanence,” from Touching the Earth: Intimate Conversations with the Buddha.

View the rest of the photos from our excursion here.

Gearing up for consolidation round #2

Met with the oncologist on Friday, and even though my body is still taking its time to get the white blood count up, he thought I was ready to start my second round of consolidation on Monday. So, what do you do to prepare for another round of chemotherapy? You do whatever you can to enjoy the days leading up to it, because chances are it’s going to suck (I think that’s actual medical terminology) again.

So, we did what any normal couple would do on a beautiful summer Sunday. We prepared a picnic and headed for the park.

Picnic at the Park

Picnic at the Park

After a hearty lunch, a chapter or two and a leisure stroll back to the car, we stopped at the Birchwood for treats (key lime pie for me, carrot cake for Virginia) and iced coffee.

Back at home, the afternoon was still beckoning us to stay outdoors, so we sat out on the deck and created some scratchcrafty goodness (for those new to this blog, that’s typically spinning and knitting around here).

Virginia Knitting

Superwash Colonnial

Note about the yarn: The spinning of this yarn was interrupted back in March, but I decided to take advantage of feeling energized and finish it up today. This is a skein of 3-ply superwash colonnial wool, spun from about 3 oz. of dyed top, totaling 330 yards. Surprisingly, I was able to keep it the same wpi’s as when I first started. Some skills don’t get rusty, even with cancer.

Speaking of which… nah, I’ll stop talking about that for now and just enjoy the rest of the evening. I think there’s probably some more spinning on tap and an episode or two of The Avengers.

Northshore Escape

We both have a special place in our hearts for Lake Superior, and keep telling ourselves we need to make the trip to visit more often. We finally booked a cabin right on the lake and immediately started to figure out how we could rearrange our lives in order to move to said cabin permanently.

The view from our living/dining room was unbeatable.

North Shore

Of course, no trip up north would be complete without an outside trek. We made it to Split Rock Lighthouse (both because it was on the way to a yarn shop in Tofte, and because it’s connected to my job).

View from Split Rock

We also stopped at Gooseberry Falls, and were greeted by some extremely friendly deer (I could’ve reached out and petted them… they were happily munching on some seeds from one of the state park bird feeders).


The real reason, however, for our trip was this…

Cabinside Crafting

If you haven’t had the chance lately to get away, to disconnect from the day-to-day for awhile, and spend some quality time just absorbing and being absorbed by the beauty that is our natural world — do it.

North Shore

Shepherd’s Harvest (a.k.a. the weekend haul)

For those of you who live in or around the Twin Cities, MN and did not make it to the annual Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival, you missed out. I’m so glad to see how much this festival grows each year. Just in the short time that I have been spinning (has it been four years already?) the vendor section has grown to fill three large buildings (quite a jump from the initial one building). That, plus the many classes, music, events, demonstrations and, of course, the knitter/spinner’s source of material…


From sheep to alpaca, angora goats to bunnies, kettle corn to french fries this should be on your list of places to acquire stash. So, make note for 2009… we’ll be there.



Obviously, we didn’t go just for the animals. I use this festival to build my spinning stash for the following year. I was surprisingly restrained this year (probably because I still have quite a bit unspun from last year… and maybe the year before… and maybe even the year before that, but who’s keeping track?). Restrained enough, that I’m not ashamed to show you what I hauled in:

SHSWF 2008

SHSWF 2008

SHSWF 2008

Some great finds include a pound of Mulberry Silk (undyed), a pound of combed Cormo top (incredibly lofty), some beautifully dyed Merino blends, and a new fiber for me to try, bamboo… should be an interesting experiment. If only I had finished up what I currently have on the wheel, I’d be able to play with new fiber tonight.

Note: Virginia made a few nice acquisitions of her own, including some beautiful organic cotton, which I’m sure will be featured at some point on this here blog.