The Fiber Side of Village Books

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Day to Dye For!

While I was working in my bookstore & yarn shop, I realized that I had WAY TOO MUCH brown & grey yarns (even tho' the Maine Shetland has just about sold out)!  So out came the Cushings acid dyes and my pots and some Romney batting from my friend Betty's farm in Winterport.

Royal Blue + Buttercup Yellow + Romney = lovely, Park Bench Green!  One of my husband's very favorite colors.

Watching the dye bath change from green to a series of gorgeous yellows was a treat too!  Mohair locks from Jefferson gleam in the 3 shades of olive, warm yellow & peach-yellow that resulted.

Of course, PURPLE just had to follow - my painter's soul cried out for it.
And guess what? Royal Blue + Magenta + Romney = purple.  Or periwinkle & lilac.  LOVELY.  Ran to the last, clean mohair locks I had and threw them in the pot.  The final color is a stunning violet that just glows on mohair.  The result is on the wheel right now & will be viewable in the next chapter.

But THIS YARN does me (& Betty & Cushings) PROUD:

Don't forget to check out my website at for the latest in great used books and fabulous Maine yarns!

Bright holidays to you & yours.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Last Day!

The Holiday Open House at Village Books ends today at 5 pm.  Stop on by for some hot, mulled cider!
 Last day of this season will end Christmas Eve, 3 pm.  Until April please either call me to arrange a visit (207-845-2133) or go the new website www, for updates on book titles and hand spun yarns..

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spinning & Dyeing, Dyeing & Spinning

Here are the latest yarns from Random Rovings, my new yarn company.  I'm taking this winter to develop a yarn that I love to spin & want to sell in my shop. It will be ONLY from Maine-raised, sheep and/or goats and Maine-processed wools. (And no, Village Books is NOT going out of the book business - VB is still the best used book store on the MidCoast!)

Above, from left to right, are a single ply Romney, a double-ply Lincoln Romney blend, double-ply Shetland, & a crazy art yarn made from Mohair & Lincoln plied together.   All are from small Maine farms and all are dyed with Cushing dyes. I love the Mohair!

Dyed & Uncarded

Bobbin O' Mohair

But the Shetland has also captured my fickle heart. So soft! So many shades of brown! So much fun to spin! Sigh...You can expect to find several serious skeins of natural Shetland for sale at VB during our Holiday Open House, Dec 3-5.

Then, of course, there's the CASHMERE.

This wee bowl is from my goats.


VB will also be featuring raw cashmere & gorgeous yarns from Black Locust Farm, just up the road. Yvonne Taylor is my goat mentor & I can only aspire to the greatness of her cashmere products at this point.  But my girls & I are working on it! They're both out under the apple trees fiercely concentrating on growing beautiful fiber as I write this post.

Village Books is open Fri-Sat, 10-5 through Christmas.  If you are curious about the new yarns or want to know about new titles in books, drop me a line ( or call 207-845-2133.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our Yearly Party!

         VILLAGE BOOKS  
         Fri,  Dec 3         10 am – 7 pm
Sat & Sun, Dec 4 & 5   10 am – 5 pm
            Now featuring yarn & roving from
 Maine sheep & local crafters

              Food, friends, unique, handmade gifts!
              Best used book selection!

Regular hours until Christmas are 10-5 pm Friday, Saturday & Sunday.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Village Books is all set to become a Cushing Perfection Dyes Dealer.  The brick & mortar shop at 18 Waldoboro Rd, Washington, Maine will be stocking the Cushing Acid Dyes (for protein fiber) starting this month.  When I am a vendor at sheep & wool festivals and fiber events, I'll be toting the Cushings along too!  Cushing Perfection Dyes is an old Maine company operating out of Kennebunkport.  No need to take your fiber dollars out of our lovely state! And Mid-Coasters save on shipping costs, while enjoying a scenic trip to the best used bookstore in Maine.

Next up: Fiber Maine-ia, University of Maine, Orno, Oct 16 & 17!  Gently used fiber arts books, handspun, hand-dyed Maine yarn, roving and other goodies for spinners, knitters, weavers, crocheters, hookers, etc...

The Fiber Side & My Life with Knitters Combine! See PS

 I've been playing with all the different fibers I've bought over the past month or two.  I'm calling the products of this daily practice RANDOM ROVINGS.  Above you can see a pile of various rolags composed of combinations of merino/silk & mohair, coopworth & mohair, & coopworth & merino/silk, dyed with Cushing dye (Egyptian Red, very weak) and handcarded.

This is a LOT like painting...

Back in the day, when I got tired of painting, I'd turn to sculpture.  I've used welding wheels like the one shown below as a 3-D material many times in the past.  (A blacksmith's wife always has a few of these!)

Best artist question ever: WHAT IF...?

A yarn sculpture! 

Actually, this is a new idea I have for displaying my handspun, which is beginning to take over the house as well as my bookstore.  Here you see a few of the skeins I've completed recently.  Jeff is helping by supplying me with hand-forged hooks.

Here is one of my current favorite spinning raw materials: Coopworth locks.

I spun some yarn directly from the natural colored, uncarded locks, then plied it.  I got a marvelously soft, fat yarn (it's a little too brown in the photo). Swatched it on #13 needles. Cushing is sending me some more dye this week, so I'll be making more of this to color!

Different fibers, beautiful swatch:

"Art Yarn" I think they call it.

The beautiful bench below was completed this past weekend by the husband-blacksmith.  The owners provided the rock & asked Jeff to create an iron support for it.  Don't you love it?

More from this creative outpost in a day or two, when the Coopworth is dyed!

PS For those of you who follow both, I'm going to make life easier for us all by combining my two blogs.  Village Books will continue to have its own, books only blog and a new website when Kathleen gets to it.
Meanwhile, the link to MY LIFE WITH KNITTERS is the one to use!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dye Job

Friday, August 20, 2010

My first dye job...
if you don't count my hair!  Here is the gorgeous combination roving I bought from Guinea Ridge Farm in Union during the Open Farm Tour.  I spun it and plied it. I set the twist (yes, I did, Jeannine!) Then I pulled wads of jewelweed from under the apple trees (much to the goats' chagrin - they love jewelweed) and boiled it up.  Can't say I cared for the smell much.  I soaked my handspun, 2 ply in warm water, with a little cream of tartar dissolved in it.  Then plunked it in the dyebath for only ten minutes or so, since I love this light, creamy orange. Et voila!

Village Books has been reorganized to display the gorgeous roving that my friend, Toni, & I have been producing for sale.  Currently on offer are Maine Finn, both dyed & undyed, Romney dyed & 2 shades of natural roving, white Dorset, white Border Leicester & some lovely brown llama roving from Eolian Farm down in Newcastle, who also provides me with Shetland roving on occasion.  

Since I'm just a neophyte, I'm keeping most of my doings for my private use, but I did sell my first skein of yarn this month!  My spinning wheel is busy every day.

Meanwhile, lots of new books have come in, from the latest great fiction to histories to classics in knitting  (I use these big hand-forged hooks to hang yarn).  The Fiber Side of Village Books will be a book & roving vendor at Fiber College in Searsport, Maine, happening September 9-12.  This is a beautiful venue and a wonderful learning & networking opportunity for crafters.  Come check it out!  And stop by my table to introduce yourself!


Monday, July 26, 2010

New Stuff!

So it was time for the Knitting Guild of America Conference in Manchester, NH and I was READY.  Here we see a tiny bomb (knitted by my sister Kathlene) in place at a McDonald's in Augusta, Maine.

Later that same day -
A railing outside the Radisson Hotel, Manchester, NH, was hit!

Then the KNITTING OUT LOUD team got to work!  We had a great weekend!

In other news -
I'm working very hard at my spinning.  Here's my first attempt at plying two of my handspun yarns together!  The grey is hand-picked, hand-carded & hand-spun Romney, and the gold is hand-spun from merino roving I bought in NH.  Very excited about the way the gold gleams through the grey.  We see this colour range a lot in late fall in Maine.

I'm also trying to hone my designing skills.  Here's a little sample I came up with, holding two yarns together & working in stockinette.  (one commercial yarn, one my Romney). I love the way it appears to form a pattern, just because the mohair I used and the Romney both have beautiful fuzzy bloom.

Washing & drying more Romney now in the cool, fresh wind that we're being treated to here today.

More soon!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


A glorious summer's day here in Maine, and farms throughout the state were open to visitors.  We managed Brae Maple, Agricola, Hawes and Guinni Ridge farms in Union, before visiting Sweet Season Farm Cafe here in Washington for lobster rolls and ginger ice cream. 

At Brae Maple I met a bunch of spinners who graciously invited me to sit and knit (I didn't bring a wheel), then I went down to Agricola and bought some lovely black alpaca yarn.  At Guinni Ridge we looked at the Katahdin & Suffolk sheep, and I bought some white roving (Corriedale & Romney blend).  Definitely would like to carry roving at Village Books and talked it up a bit with the spinners.

At Hawes Farm we bought some beautiful French green beans and small red potatoes (which we were going to have for dinner until I got the lobster roll/ice cream idea).

All in all, very satisfying day.  And now to my spinning wheel! Do you think spinning will burn off those calories?

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Fiber Side of Village Books: Check it out!

Don't forget to stop by The Fiber Side blog here for the latest on gently used fiber & textile books.  We only carry the best, in the best condition and you'll pay a lot less! Plus, you'll be supporting a Maine independent bookstore & small business.

 Alice Starmore

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fiber Frolic, Windsor Maine, 2010

The animals were the stars of this year's Frolic, especially the cashmere, Finn, and Angora kids, who let me hold & stroke them.  Melted my heart! Chris Leith of Eggemoggin Textile Studio was our fantastic neighbor to one side. Beautiful silks and handwovens!  I also got to meet knitting maven Mary Jane Mucklestone, a real delight. My knitting circle, The Washington Handcrafters, were out in force, doing their part to boost the economy. Congratulations to Janet Eckhard of Burkettsville, who won first place for her cashmere wristlets in the first ever Make It With Fiber in Maine contest, juried by Mary Bird of Fiber Maine-ia fame.

 During quiet moments in the Knitting Out Loud booth, Kathy & I worked at our knitting, of course!  I've gotten this far with my Shetland Nemesis shawl:

 Added 4 rows of Fair Isle just to get crazy:

 When my hands got tired, I began my search for my FF knit bomb target.  I finally settled on Golding Spindles.  This company's booth always gleams like a jewelry store.  The spindles are one of the holy grails of
handspinners - truly beautiful, functional works of art. But Seth, minding the booth alone, seemed restless during the quiet stretches.  "My duty to cheer him up", I thought.  Soooo...

Golding's cunningly designed seller's stand received a friendly decoration.  Seth was intrigued and amused.  So I taught him to knit!

Being a clever lad, he caught on right away & settled in to help with the knitting of  a future "bomb".

You may be next!

Watch for Knitting Out Loud in Manchester, NH at the Knitting Guild of America conference July 9-10.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Knit In Public Day, Washington, Maine

There will be a celebration of World Wide Knit In Public Day at Village Books on June 12th from 10 am - 1 pm.  Join us to knit (or sit) and for a potluck lunch!  If it rains, we'll take over the shop & house.

Anyone interested in contibuting to the Washington Village Knit Bomb Project** should let Karen know!  Squares, swatches, and unwanted handknits eagerly accepted.

Village Books, 18 Waldoboro Rd, Washington, Maine (Rt 220)
FMI: 207-845-2133.

** The Washington Village Knit Bomb Project is the brain child of Karen Jelenfy, who is determined to bring glory to our humble town!  First target: the old Silvia's Market site!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Read us in The Free Press!

My Life With Knitters will be available online in the Free Press as often as I can get to it!

Up first, my interview with Kathy Goldner of Knitting Out Loud fame.

Stay tuned for interviews, pictures, fair & festival reports and other handcrafters' concerns.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Unnecessary Struggles

My mind is buzzing with new projects - from paintings to public sculptures.  All of these include knitting or other needlework, of course.  This morning I sat in Village Books awaiting the "Sunday morning rush" & trying to jam a gesso'd canvas into a large (but flimsy) embroidery hoop. (Don't ask...)

And it set me thinking.

As an artist and as a woman, I'm constantly trying to do things that require more than two hands.  Stretching canvasses, walking two goats, knitting my Shetland shawl together, frying 14 cheeseburgers for the crew at get the picture.  How is it that we have all arrived at this place in time where we mostly are on our own?  I think of the people I know who farm alone.  We run businesses alone.  Alone, my husband cuts down large trees in the forest.  We drive long distances alone. Build sheds alone. Sometimes we raise children alone.

Long ago, when farming thrived and clothes were made by weaving or knitting and paints were hand-ground, humans were surrounded by EACH OTHER.  And helping was part of what one did.  Nowadays, we have to force ourselves outside of our little spheres and contact each other - by mail (snail or e), by phone, by Facebook, by blog, by walking up the street, by driving across town.

It's harder.  But not impossible.  So I tell myself: don't forget to ask for help.  Don't forget your neighbors.  Don't be afraid to grab a surly teenager & request assistance. Don't go into the forest alone. There is no need.

Think I'll call Kathy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shetland Knitting

In solidarity with experienced and fledgling knitters in Shetland, I've taken back up the "monster shawl" project, a pattern in the beautiful book Country Weekend Knits by Madeline Weston. (This is the opposite side to what's posted on my KnitVision Ravelry site) Shetland knitting & its traditions are being threatened for the usual reason : MONEY.  A mere 130,000 pounds will be saved by cutting the now free knitting lessons provided by Shetland schools.  School children and other citizens from all over the world have written to the Shetland newspapers in protest.

It is rumoured that mega yarn merchants, Jamieson & Smith, are doing something to help out.  I hope this is true.
In Shetland, knitting is a WAY OF LIFE and PROVIDES INCOME - it is no fad.

Find a gorgeous, traditional Shetland pattern in a book or on Ravelry and start knitting.  Post your thoughts here!  Use as much homespun as you can.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why is this SO MUCH FUN?

A Rest Stop in Maine
Dunkin' Donuts in Henniker, NH

NH Sheep & Wool Festival 2010

The Kearns's house in Derry, NH

Merrimack County Savings, Hopkinton, NH

A child at the S&H Festival

Four years old

Sharing the warmth with a friend

Motorcycle at McDonald's in Augusta

Ode to the Festival Folk

Kathy Goldner: freezing but still cheery!

Having just gotten back from the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival in Hopkinton, NH, I'd like to devote this morning to the hardy men & women who devote their lives to freezing their asses off at these events.  These sturdy people risk their sanity month after month to bring you & me fleece & other beautiful, handmade things.  For two days, as part of the Knitting Out Loud team, I watched & listened as our neighbors patiently and winningly recited their mantras.  Generous Sue Carey of Marble Meadows, the unflaggingly cheerful Nancy Brome of Hair of the Dog, spinner & knitter deluxe Eileen McCormick of Prairie Wind and Sarah Pollock &  husband at Spinner's Warren all helped us not to slit our throats in despair and fend off the vicious wind gusts & rain in the open-ended barn to which we'd all been assigned.  (There was some brisk :) business in fingerless mitts and alpaca socks, I assure you!) Check over at the Knitting out Loud blog where I'm sure Kathy Goldner, so much more organized than I, has pictures of beautiful wool & blue noses & fingers.

Now back in Maine, where it remains in the upper 30's, I am happy to be typing in front of the woodstove.  But these heroes of the handmade nation must not go unsung!

More later... ( I yarn bombed a CHILD!)


Monday, April 26, 2010

Guerilla Knitting on the Road

Kennebunk, Maine Rest Stop South Rt 95

Cracker Barrel, Rt 84 just inside Massachusetts heading north again

Rest Stop Kennebunk, ME, heading north on Rt 95

Pattern used:

Cast on 34 stitches (I used size US8 single point needles) and work in K1,P1 rib for five rows.  Increase one stitch at both ends of row 6, which is knit. Purl Row 7. Continue in stockinette stitch for three more rows, ending on wrong side.  Increase one stitch at either end of Row 11, using K1, P1 rib. Row 2-5 are worked in K1, P1 rib.  Row 6: Bind off loosely in rib pattern.  Use extra yarn to sew into an open-ended cylinder.
Use bright colors!  Be happy! Spread knitted joy!

This is a quick & easy knitted coffee cup cozy that makes an excellent "pop-over" knit bomb ready-made.  You need open-ended poles to install these if you decide to sew them up prior to installation - or you can leave the piece open until bombing time. (I tend to bomb in full daylight so I favor sewing & swift placement.) These also make cute cuffs just to wear on your wrist.  Of course, anything goes yarn-wise, length-wise, width-wise etc.  Just play! Make yourself smile! Others will too!

Thanks to Knitting Out Loud  for transportation, laughs & encouragement over the past year.  If you find out where to buy Yak Butter Tea, Kathy, I'm going along for the ride!