Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Gene and I are settled in for the evening, all the animals are fed (none were talking). We may watch the ball drop in New York. Above is the new and larger one described in all its glory with history included on Times Square Alliance website.

What we won't be doing is going out to celebrate. Although 2008 had its share of downs, for me personally, it had more and higher highs and I am looking forward to the surprises of 2009. We do wish all of you the best for the coming year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Brrrr - Ready the The Anne Wrap

Many months ago I wrote about kniting The Anne Wrap, a pattern from Kalamazoo Knits. I finished it early summer but never got around to photographing it for you to see. Well, now I am really enjoying being wrapped in this nice design and here it is.

Friday evening, Dec. 19, I will be displaying some of my hand dyed yarns and hand felted hats at the resurrected Baker Furniture Building located in the Historic Milling District of Downtown Allegan. About 2 years ago, Deb and Joe Leverence of Dearborn Michigan began the revitalization of this century old building, now known as Baker Allegan Studios. Acting as their own general contractor, and doing nearly all of the building themselves, the Leverence’s have worked tirelessly, making the drive across the state every weekend to put their heart and soul as well as their life’s savings into their dream. The newly restored, and handicap accessible building provides 6 working artists studios for rent in the lower level. The main floor has a 1000 sq. ft. Art Gallery, and the 2000 sq. ft. Fiber Arts Studio of Sow Spun Silk, the weaving and spinning shop belonging to Debbie Leverence. The top level will eventually become their apartment.

If you are near us, plan to stop by, more than a dozen artists from Allegan, Detroit and Grand Rapids will be featured.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gifts for the Holiday Season

The economy is making the holiday season difficult for many so I tried to come up with some unique and less costly items to give to those who knit, spin or felt. A 100% cotton Canvas Tote is one item that anyone can use to carry or store their projects, of course it makes a great shopping bag as well.This one I needle felted the design on the front and then lightly wet felted the inside design part to make it smooth. It really holds alot.

The Tote Bag is one of the items on our new Gift Page. I also listed the new collapsible Umbrella Swift and Yarn Ball Winder, really great for all the indie dyers, as well as, knitters, spinners and crocheters. For those who would like to knit, we have the set of 4 Round Looms and a really nice kit for kids that includes some yarn, needles and little pattern book. The other item I listed is the Locker Hook, this is an old craft but often unknown yet it can be a great way to use leftovers of yarn, roving and quilters fabric strips.

I like to think our standard items, like Marr Haven Yarn, books and patterns would all make great gifts, too. Those items can also be included in a Gift Certificate.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Winter Wonderland 2008

Our first accumulation of snow for this winter season. There is about 5 inches on the ground now, you can see how it has piled up on the old iron wheel at the shop door. This is what is known in Michigan as "lake effect", the water of Lake Michigan is picked up by the cold air crossing the lake from the west and all along the state shoreline - about 15 to 20 miles inland can get quite abit of snow. At mile 21 or so the sun can be shining.

We had a couple of "dustings" of snow last week, where it stays on the grass for a short while but melts immediately on walks and roads, those don't count as snow to me. The hunters will be happy as deer season opened last Sat. and the deer who hide behind our old barn will be happy because the heavy snow will bring down some more of the winter keeper apples that are still hanging on the tree.

I am happy because I love to look at it and snuggle more deeply into my wool sweater.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lambswool Limited Yarn was Lost

While doing some shop rearranging today I found a 10 # bag of Lambswool Yarn. I am very embarrassed since I have been telling everyone for months, it was all gone. Well, for awhile it is back again. This is the same and only lot of Lambswool Yarn that we had earlier in the year.

The title links to the page which tells all about this limited yarn along with a close up picture of a washed and unwashed knit swatches. There is also a link to a photo of my 'lazy moebius' knit with this yarn.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

2 Blessings - 1 week, God & the Yarn Harlot

I knew it had been awhile since I wrote, didn't realize it had been a month. September is always busy getting the farm, gardens, barns, animals and me ready for winter. This year I had a new curve thrown at me, an emergency gall baldder removal at the end of July exposed a spot on my kidney so the end of September there was surgery to cryogenically remove the spot. Both of those episodes were ' a piece of cake', I was back up and running in a couple of days. But, the Sept. event found the lymph nodes in my lungs were enlarged. Yeah, that put a real downward spiral into motion.

I really surprised myself after a few days that I was able to tell myself - and believe - God wouldn't have put me through the earlier experiences just to bring me to this. That and a lot of prayers by wonderful friends and friends of friends were answered last night with a late call from the pulmonolgist who performed a bronchoscopy this past Thursday. No cancer cells in the lymph nodes, the enlargement is probably due to an infection I had years ago. Still have some follow up that will be determined but the big question is answered for now.

As if that blessing wasn't enough, the knitting community came through for me BIG TIME when the Yarn Harlot mentioned our yarn on her blog "Yarn Harlot" last Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008. Just about the time I could have panicked about the Thursday procedure, the orders from her fantastic readers arrived and I no longer had time for any pity party.

I really thank God for giving me this great author to write about our yarn at such an appropriate time for me. I have a couple of finished items to show and some great ones from customers, will try to make them sooner than later.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fall is coming???

As of this morning we are out of the heat and humidity, August held on for a few extra days it seems. September usually means cooler temps and some rain, and we generally need more of both at this time of year.

The Allegan County Fair begins this Friday, it is the largest county fair in Michigan. I love to go to see all the animals, watch the harness races and of course, eat the 'food'. When we were raising Registered Rambouillet Sheep and Registered Alpine and Oberhasli Dairy Goats for breeding stock, I would live at the fair in our travel trailer taking care of the animals there while Gene tended the flocks at home. I don't miss that much although it had it own perks.

Now my pre-fall schedule is to get the shop ready for the coming season of more knitting, spinning and felting. Two new hand dyed batts, Sapphire 'N Azure and Autumn Green 'N Gold, are on the website and in the shop. Plus we have a new supply of Merino and Silk top and synthetic sparkle, Firestar, both of these just pop with shine when used for hand spinning or felting. I am ready to do some felting and knitting of my own so I know many of you feel the same way.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

more Suzanne Pufpaff e-patterns

We have two new patterns designed by Suzanne Pufpaff in a format that you can purchase and download them onto your computer. The first is another Entrelac design. Entrelac Triangle Shawl with Lace Patterns in the Rectangles. It can be used with any weight of yarn, her sample was knit with hand spun fingering weight yarn.
This is a close up of the entrelac design with lace insert.

Suzanne's other pattern is for Reversible Braided Cable Scarves, these are knit with sport or fingering weight.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Michigan Fiber Festival

Well, it is over for another year. I did enjoy my first trip there as a 'tourist', being able to watch the joy of others when they found the just right yarn or fiber was fun. You would think after being on the selling side of fiber festivals etc, for 20 years it would be boring - NOT!

I got to see people I hadn't seen for a year or had only 'talked' with online and spend more than a quick Hi with them. I was so new to this tourist thing though that I didn't think to bring a camera. Fortunately, some of the Ravelry members took pictures and posted them. Here are the pictures from CoggieTM blog and
Holly's blog Tim also posted some on Flicker

Thanks to all the people who also came by the farm shop and let us serve them here. Now it is back to checking out the garden and getting the website caught up with new things for fall.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

God's Smile

A friend sent this picture to us and I thought others would enjoy it, too

We have had rain all day, soft and quiet, perfect for the garden and flowers. The rain lowered the temp and the forecast says the humidity will be down tomorrow. That is great news since last week we had temps in the high 80's and humidity in the high 60's, I don't do well in heat so spent much time inside. I wasn't inspired to knit but did get a few batches of black raspberry jam made. My DH braved the mosquitos to pick the berries.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Purses for Progeria

Sarah Strait of Michigan has organized a charity knit-a-thon, Purses for Progeria. Proceeds support The Progeria Research Foundation, dedicated to discovering the cure for Progeria, a rare, (at this point) fatal, "premature aging" diease that afflicts children, who die of heart disease at an average age of 13 years.

Sara recently met the Mother of a little boy in Stevensville, MI who has this disease and was encouraged to help raise funds by knitting a purse which the little boy's grandmother sells on etsy

The Knit-a-thon & Bake Sale is at Krasl Art Center, St. Joseph, MI on Saturday, August 2nd, 10 am - 2 pm.
Come with already knit projects to donate for the sale, come to help, or just come to sit and knit.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Belated Independence Day

Hope everyone had as perfect a weekend as we did, beginning with the Wed before the 4th, the sun was out, breeze was light and temps in the mid 70's during the day. We stayed home and enjoyed the neighbor's fireworks.

I did get more of the knitting pattern pdf's added to our website. Now 3 of Suzanne Pufpaff's entrelac knitting patterns are available as well as the gorgeous Civil War Shawl.

Seven of Suzanne's knitting with roving patterns are also available now as a download, including one called Simple Projects which is a primer to learn to knit with roving. It has 4 projects in the one pattern of instructions.

I finished the Kalamazoo Knits wrap that I started two months ago, it really was an easy and quick knit but gardens got in the way. I will get a picture of it taken next week to show it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oxen-powered Carding Mill, a rare view of bygone era

The American Sheep Industry Newsletter this week included the above title: Oxen-powered Carding Mill, a rare view of bygone era It is reprinted from

"The oxen-powered New Salem carding mill is all set to operate once again for the visitors who want to get a rare glimpse of how mills functioned before industrialization took over. President Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site is a reconstruction of a carding mill that existed in 1830s, where Abraham Lincoln lived for six years. This site is now managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
Spectators can take a look of this once-in-a-lifetime event on only three Saturdays, June 28, July 5 and July 19. The whole ambience will take the visitors back in history. The demonstrators will be present at the site to explain the entire process of how raw wool was transformed into usable fiber. The spectators will be able to watch oxen walking on a large wheel to power a huge wooden shaft, which in turn helps the carding mill and the double carder machine inside to move. As sheared wool is pushed into the machine, a series of carding rollers straighten out the fibers. After this process, wool can be spun and woven into garment.
New Salem is the only functioning oxen-powered mill in the United States and one of the three in the world."

Already one opportunity to see this is past and I don't think I can make either of the other two dates but thought anyone in the area interested in fiber would love to know about this.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Recent Rains & Floods

It appears the recent rains that caused so much flooding nearly all over the midwest is past and those poor people who had their homes and businesses nearly ruined can try to get back to a life again. We were blessed at Marr Haven, there were several floods and road washouts in Michigan but the closest to us was about 20 miles. Our land is quite sandy with no large rivers nearby so although we had some of the torrential rains,none of it caused damage.

In fact, quite the contrary, the 5 acre pasture that the horses are usually rotated to by now, grew so much grass that my DH decided to mow and bale it. He thought it might make 15 bales and at the price of everything now, that would be worth the time, gas and effort. Well he got 30 nice bales. The horses will be happier this winter, although they wondered why they couldn't have it now.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

New Knitting E-Patterns Available

I am really excited about a new venture with designer and good friend, Suzanne Pufpaff. I will now have her knitting patterns available for sale that you can download and print for yourself. This will not only save shipping charges to you but also get the pattern to you obviously, a lot faster.

Right now there are only two of her patterns on the website for download; a Sweater Shawl and her latest design, a knitted Swirl Skirt, which is shown here. Both were created with handspun yarn and can also be knit with sport weight commercial yarn.

I am not sure how quickly we will have all of her patterns ready for download, we both still have to take care of animals and run our businesses but I will try and keep you updated.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Recent Hand Dyed Yarn

I finished these 2 colors a week ago but just got them labeled and on the website today. The name of the first, Limeade, tells you what I was thinking about. We were working on our vegetable garden which we cover with plastic and it gets hot out there even though the air temp is only in the 70's.

The second colorway is also summer oriented, I call it Sand 'N Sea. It will certainly be awhile before we can make the short trip to the 'big lake' (Lake Michigan is about 20 miles west of the farm) and be in the water. My husband has been on top of the water already this season - fishing. Yesterday the temps were teasing for the water lovers, up to 80+ degrees, but today is overcast, cool with a breeze in the 60's.

You can see pictures of the full skeins on the webpage My knitting is taking a backseat right now with the yarn dyeing. I have a custom order that must be finished first. The Kalamzoo Knits wrap is laying beside my favorite chair, patiently waiting.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day (observed)

Thank you to all the veterans of the past and those serving us now. We are so blessed and hopefully remember this more than this Special Day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Knitted Sofa Throw - Wrap

This hand knit sofa throw was just delivered to its owner. It is knit with our Medium Grey Sport Yarn and is approximately 30 inches by 70 inches. The lady who commissioned it wanted a size that she could also use when traveling as an oversized Wrap.

The pattern is an adaptation of an Ann Norling baby blanket; a rib pattern worked inside a garter stitch border.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lois' socks and Jan

Lois, Schiplady, visited our farm shop a couple of years ago. I forgot she had taken photos that day, then last week she sent me a picture of the socks she knit from our sport yarn and also sent a copy of the photos.

She is looking for some way to double the thickness on the topside of the toe as that seems to be what wears the fastest. I have problems with the heels on my socks and suggested either nylon reinforcing thread or picking up a 2nd strand of yarn for that area. Any other suggestions for Lois???

Here is one of the other pictures she sent.

This is Jan waiting for a command to go to work. Jan is the 3rd Border Collie who has owned us. She passed away last fall at age 15. As every good Border, she was ready to work and please at any time.

Friday, May 9, 2008

My Woods Treasures

Last week I had a full 3 days as a bachelorette so between tending to the shop, internet and animals I was able to play 'country girl' again. The weather was wonderful, 60's-70 temperature, a little windy Tuesday but that kept some of the no-see-ums (a pesky gnat that really bites) away part of the time.

Two of the cats and Dance, the Border Collie, and I wandered the woods behind our barns on a couple of occasions. We were rewarded with a find of morel mushrooms, only 1/2 pound but that is enough for a good taste when sauteed then mixed in scrambled eggs. That is a country delicacy for me.

The end of the week cooled to 40's - 50's which isn't good mushroom growing around here but the forecast promises rain in a couple more days with a warm up so maybe I can find some more - before the deer or sheep find them.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Temperature Roller Coaster

The middle of April was very mild for Michigan, temps in the 60's and 70. However the 25th was forecast with thunderstorms, high winds and dropping temperatures. The tulips here were in full bloom, I was sure the winds and hard rains would ruin them so took a picture to enjoy them l0nger.

I thought the cooler weather would be good for Holland, Michigan's Tulip Festival which begins in a week. Holland was a Netherlands settlement and the city continues to celebrate it's great Dutch heritage by having a week long festival with street washing, klompen dancers, parades and activities at the windmill that was actually brought across the ocean.

Next surprise by Mother Nature was to have the temperature at 8 am this morning at 29 degrees. I hope that won't cause problems for the fruit orchards all around us. Now we have forecast for 50 to 60's again next week with rain. Since we didn't get the rain last weekend, we do need it. This weekend will also be the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, I so miss not being a tourist.

Monday, April 21, 2008

After Shearing

Friday was "Shearing Day", such a good feeling for the ewes and for us. You can see #400 in the right hand corner after her coat was removed. Her ''before" picture is at the bottom of that column. I detect a bit of a smile in the after shearing picture, don't you?

Our Merino Rambouillet sheep are shorn once a year. You can see more pictures of a typical shearing if you click on this days title 'After Shearing'. As soon as the wool is shorn from the sheep, it is then called a fleece, the fine wool holds together so well that the entire fleece can be flung like a blanket onto the skirting table. Our skirting table is shown in the 3rd picture on the website. It isn't fancy, just a cattle panel framed with some lumber sitting on 2 saw horses big enough for the full fleece to be spread out evenly with the cut side down. The open squares of the cattle panel allow any 2nd cuts (wool that is cut short by the shearer) to fall onto a tarp laid on the floor.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hand Dyed Yarn

The beautiful weather brought thoughts of flowers to mind so it was easy to choose the latest colors to dye.

The first is called Daffodil, most of our daffodils are in bloom now. I love that bouncy little yellow and gold head swaying in the spring breezes.

This is a close up of the colorway in the worsted weight skeins. You can see the full view on our website page

The second colorway is named Sweet Pea. Actually these flowers don't bloom till summer.

Sweet Peas are an old vine type flower that some dislike because of the vining. Sometimes you even see them in the country road ditches.

The blossom begins with a dark pink, almost maroon to bright pink. As the blossom ages, it fades to a light pink to white. There is a faint fragance to the flowers, that is one of the things I like about it plus they stay in bloom a long time.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I am excited to have a new line of knitting patterns, the company name is Kalamazoo Knits. The reason I am excited is Kalamazoo, Michigan is only 40 miles from our farm - and where we lived "before farm". A group of women published their original knitting designs; the patterns are well written on heavy cardstock, the styles are creative and the projects are perfect for quick, small projects for yourself or gifts.

The patterns include socks, mittens, hats, a really neat 'knit then felt' bag that I think would make a great knitting bag and (my first project of their designs) a shoulder wrap. More great news about the patterns, they are all knit with circular needles!!

This is the photo on "The Anne Shoulder Wrap" pattern, Erica, the distributor, is modeling it.

I will post a photo of my wrap later. First I need to choose the colors I want to use and oh, yes... finish the Magic Loop socks. I still like the Magic Loop technique but I lost my place in the pattern and skipped the whole instep so had to frog it back to the heel.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spring and new grass

How fresh is the air, the green of new grass and daffodil sprouts, it makes everything feel all right with the world. Obviously, spring is my favorite season; I love to walk around the yard to see what new things are pushing through the earth and try to see what or where I can add another perennial.

The sheep were even more ready to see new green on the ground. Because of the excessive snows we had this winter our pasture area is still a little too damp for them to roam very far but they will push out a little further each day. Today, they were just trying to figure out what I was doing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Happy April Fools Day

Appropriately, I will be going in to speak. The Lambswool Limited Yarn has been so popular, all of the lambswool that our spinner put up in hanks/skeins is gone. Some of this yarn was put on cones to be used for hand dyed yarn but already part of that yarn has been wound off the cones into skeins and found its way to the shop, now guess I will do the rest.

The lambswool yarn has certainly lived up to expectations. it is so soft and white. It does pill with the first washing, that is understandable with the shorter and extra fine baby fibers, however it has worn very well. The first item I knit with it was the Lazy Moebius. I have worn that alot in the shop because it allows full arm movement and won't fall off. Wearing anything in the shop is a good test of durability.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Michigan "Saying"

A saying common in Michigan is: "if you don't like the weather, stick around, it will change soon." Very true this past year. Last week the ground was brown in most spots, except for the big piles of left over snow from plowing; then Friday 21st we got 10 inches of snow.

Well, this am it was mostly brown again till about 4pm and then huge flakes of snow began falling. It looked like one of those paperweights that you can shake to make it snow. The flakes were floating straight downward, now nearly an hour later, the flakes are smaller - but still big and they are coming at a slant, bit of a north breeze. Hope this isn't another Friday Norwest'r.

The sheep have open range right now between and around the barns because the pasture grasses haven't woke up yet. There is some left over grass (meaning not mowed late) from late fall around the buildings so they can pick their own hay, they think it is better than the stuff in the hay feeders. It has shocked a few people when they come in the drive and see them out in the open. Only one of the nice traits of merino & rambouillet sheep breeds, they don't wander far and never alone.

BTW, for those who don't know... we are in the SW part of Michigan about 1/2 way between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Marr Haven Wool Farm Blog

Welcome to our new blog. My friend, Suzanne Higgs of Hooked on Felt, has encouraged our felting friends to create a blog, so here I go!! Do check Suzanne's blog to see the list of bloggers that she has compiled.

This blog is one of several firsts for me this year. After the Christmas rush I began dyeing some yarn for our website.
Of course, this is called Blue Lavender II. My husband knit a scarf with it.

I am learning the new circular needle technique for knitting socks, called Magic Loop. It keeps getting interrupted but maybe one day I will have a sock (hopefully, a pair) to post a picture.