This Week’s Dye Bath

Just out of the dye pots this week inspired while raking fallen oak leaves…………..

From plants in our fields or dye/bee garden: Oak leaves

Copper on the left and gold on the right are were dyed with goldenrod leaves and stems. The one on the right was overdyed with amaranth leaves, the one on the left was overdyed with zinnia flowers and copper liquor made from copper pipe. The olive in the center was dyed with black eyed susans and zinnia flower.

Out of the synthetic dye bath is this self striping yarn:


Pumpkin and spring green, the two balls have been dyed together to provide matching color transitions for knitting slippers.

All of the fiber for the yarn comes from animals we have raised and sheared and who live out their lives on our small farm in Maine. Eolian Farm

SheepscotFiber on Etsy



Fall Dyeing

There are so many ways to dye and all have a fascination of their own. Recently I have been working with the goldenrod that grows in the fields and the giant marigolds from the garden. The process is simple…..After chopping up the flowers and simmering them for 45 minutes I strain out the flower material and am left with the dye bath.


The yarn from our Shetland sheep has been prepared for the dye bath with an alum mordant (45 minute simmer in water and alum) to make it color fast. The final step is another 45 minutes with the wetted wool in the dye bath.

The finished product is shown below, the goldenrod on the left and marigold on the right.

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Right now I’m working with madder root, that lovely red that comes from the roots. Check in next time to see!

The story of Nugget McFluffyhead

Portland Press Herald — Staff photo by Gregory Rec

Nugget was born in Maine on March 22nd this year, one of three East Friesian lambs. Being the last of the three born, his siblings were already adept at nursing and he just could not push his way to one of his mother’s two teats. It was cold and he was not getting enough to eat, a downward spiral began and he got weaker and weaker. As he weakened his mom favored his stronger siblings so a decision had to be made about his fate. He would not make it until the next morning without some human intervention. You can see from the picture below how the rest of the story goes. Nugget stays close to his new parents and even runs errands with them as they run their farm and participate in the farmer’s markets. When not in the baby sling he wears a sweater and diapers. You can imagine that he has made quite a hit with those he meets along the way. To read his whole story and see some cute photos of Nugget go to the Portland Press Herald.

Staff photo by Gregory Rec

Heide Purinton-Brown of Toddy Pond Farm talks with a customer at the market while Nugget snoozes in a sling bag. Portland Press Herald — Staff photo by Gregory Rec


Taking a stab at needle felting

There are so many cool needle felted landscapes, portraits, bags, you name it…..amazing what you can do with wool. After being inspired by all of these wonderful projects on Pinterest I decided to take a stab at it myself, literally.  Decided to start with what is close to my heart, our animals. Meet Woodstock, one of our first llamas and here is his story.


Woodstock arrived at our farm 20 years ago along with 5 other llamas. He lived his life out on our farm as an intact stud and helped to produce three beautiful babies, Cappachina, Comet and Blue Moon.  Their mother was Countenance who arrived on the farm with Woodstock. Woodstock was a fine fiber animal as well as one of our best ambassadors. He traveled to many events and participated in the Maine Llama Drill Team, a story for another day.  My felting of him makes him look a bit standoffish, but he was the opposite, a sweet gentleman and I miss him.





What’s the buzz about?

This is our first year with our honey bees and I am getting anxious to see the bees after a long, cold and windy winter.  The only way I could keep track of them was with a stethoscope and a cool gadget from FLIR which plugs into my iPhone. (A model is also available for Android devices).

The stethoscope helped me track their location and a good guess about their activity from the noise volume, but I needed a visual. With the FLIR One I can see where the ball of bees are hanging out and how big the ball is.



Even better, there were a the few warm and sunny days in February when quite a few bees ventured out to clean out their systems and get fresh air. Unless bees are sick they do not defecate in the hive, otherwise they would contaminate their own food.

Beeutiful bees!



Portuguese Knitting

I am new to knitting, having arrived here because of my love of animals. It all started with a beautiful old barn 20 years ago. The barn had most recently been used for storage, prior to that for horses and cows. We carted out all the stored junk and moved in a few llamas and sheep. That began my journey with fiber animals and all of that lovely fiber. Fast forward to my topic, Portuguese knitting.

So I have been trying to knit since I processed our first fleece into yarn. Many unfinished projects later I have found my way to knit! I began my knitting adventure the way my grandmother knitted, English knitting. Moved on to Continental knitting, better but not quite right for me. Now I have found my love, Portuguese knitting.  I must say I was doubtful I would like it, yarn rubbing against the back of my neck doesn’t sound comfortable or wearing a pin, I never wear jewelry! I tried it anyway and adore this technique. It puts the working area in front of my needles so I can see everything better. Using a magnetic pin on my left side combined with the working end of the yarn looped over my right fingers solved my yarn tension issues. Furthermore there is minimal hand movement, seems like my left thumb does most of the work! Even better, I knit faster and with fewer mistakes.


There are a couple of other things I must mention, I get bored easily, I get bored knitting. I also feel guilty if I am unproductive, like watching TV. This has been the only knitting technique where I can watch a favorite show and knit at the same time, how is that for yin/yang?

There are numerous YouTube videos on Portuguese knitting and Crafty has a class. You can find a variety of pins are available on Etsy, pin or magnetic style. Give it a try and let me know what you think.