Friday, February 27, 2015

Odds and Ends and Lambs Running

Good afternoon everyone. I'm back again here finally after the unfortunante Cat Pee Incident of last week. I had to replace my laptop but luckily, the hard drive was okay and so all my files and work are in tact. Thank goodness for that! I was able to get a new Mac Book Pro and I am getting used to it. It is smaller and was less expensive than the last few computers I have purchased so that was somewhat of a relief. Another unanticipated expense of this winter from you know what. 

I read this article on Jon Katz' blog this morning and it made me think about the future for us here at our farm. None of us know what the future will hold, do we? You can plan and plan and plan and then life throws you curves that are unexpected. But it is always interesting.

Did you know I will be speaking in Boston next week about color and my new book Crafting A Colorful Home? If you are local and close to the Roslindale Public Library, stop by for this free event. It will be interesting to not only knitters and crocheters but anyone interesting in Making Things and in Interior Decoration. I speak at 7 p.m. More information here. As for parking, here is what the library says: 
Limited on-street parking is available in the vicinity of the Library at 2-hour intervals or at the Taft Hill Terrace City Parking Lot opposite Adams Park (Off South St) for free.  The Roslindale Village commuter rail station parking lot at One Belgrade Avenue charges an hourly fee.
Call them at 617-323-2343.
There is more information about getting there here

I promise you I will bring a smile and some much needed color to this winter that has been so difficult. Bring a friend and make a night of it. I will be signing and selling books with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Boston Public Library System.

The other day, the sun was shining and it was almost 20 degrees. Amazing how happy that can make a person when days have been hovering at 10 and nights have been continually below zero. I send Julia off on the school bus at 7 a.m., reminding her about mittens, hats and scarves but like most teenagers, she is oblivious to the cold. The other day, I was driving to town and saw a woman snowblowing in flip flops. I kid you not. Me, I am always bundled with hat, gloves, and scarf, two pairs of pants (one wool) just to go anywhere. We are -- like so many people who live in the country and heat our home with wood in our furnace -- out of wood. We went through 8 cords which is 2 more than we have ever used here at this house. There is no wood left around to be had as everyone is in the same situation. We have had to resort to purchasing oil which is way more expensive and doesn't feel nearly as warm. 

I'll send you off on your weekend with some photos of the lambs running. I bet you didn't know that lamb and sheep can really move it. At certain times of the day, the lambs run like crazy which is so much fun to watch. I have a video on my sidebar called Lamb Races from several years ago. I have been trying to shoot a new one to post but haven't had luck quite yet. These stills will have to do for now. 







This last photo is my favorite. What power in that little lamb flying off the hay bale. 


Have a great weekend everyone! I promise more regular content now that I am back in business with my new laptop.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What a Day

Julia and I are back from eastern Massachusetts. We spent a couple days with my sister at her family's home looking at mounds and mounds of snow. It is really amazing. All night long, I could hear dump trucks and front loaders removing the snow. They still have so much more to remove and I wonder where they are putting it all. 

On Wednesday night, I did my first speaking engagement about my new book Crafting a Colorful Home. I had a great group come out on a frigid night and it was so much fun to meet so many wonderful women who were interested in what I had to say and show them. Thanks to the lovely owners of Black Sheep Knitting Company who invited me. 

My sister Laurie helped me run the projector at the talk and at the end of it, I shared photos of her lovely home that are on the Houzz.com website. She is also an artist and decorative painter and since everyone was so enthusiastic about her work, I thought it would be fun to share it here too. Check out Laurie's colorful home here



I took this photo of the gorgeous antique woodburning stove that is in her kitchen. It was original to the house and luckily noone ever removed it. We were huddled around it for a few days because it was so cold. 

This morning when I woke up, I discovered that one of our cats (which one? I wish I knew!) decided to use my computer bag as a litter box (hence the title of my post). I opened the computer up after toweling all the liquid up and it started smoking. Not a good day here. I've been to Brown Computers twice today in Brattleboro and hopefully tomorrow, I will be picking up a new MacBook. Lucky for me, the hard drive is fine but the old laptop was fried. 

Keep buying books and patterns friends because it is going to take lots of sales to pay for my new one. I am so dependent on my computer. Luckily I had backed it up just a week ago so even if the hard drive was gone, I would have most of my files. It is going to take me a few days to get it all sorted out. 

I did ask the folks at Brown if they had ever heard cat urine frying a computer and no, they hadn't. Cat throw-up yes, cat pee - no. I guess there is a first time for everything. Do you have any entertaining computer crisis stories? 

Have a great weekend everyone! Bear with me as postings, photos, etc. may be lacking until I get my new laptop up and running. I never relish getting all the programs running like they were before the cat incident or whenever upgrading a computer system. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Doctor Z, Doubling Up Knit Gloves + Last Chance for Craftsy Discount Today

The other day I went to the Saturday Farmers Market in Amherst. It is the only day of the week that I even try to make myself presentable. When you work from home, or are involved with sheep and lambs in the depth of winter, all thoughts of cleaning yourself up kind of evaporate. When I got home from the market, I couldn't figure out why I was so cold. And then I realized, it was the first day in weeks that I hadn't had two layers of pants on, including a pair of wool ones. Layers of wool really help keep you warm. Also, wearing a wool hat inside has become normal. Wool fiber is probably why the sheep do not to seem to be bothered at all by the unbelievable cold we are having. 


Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the movie Dr. Zhivago. Do you remember this scene? 

 

And the interiors of the farmhouse Lara and Yuri go to escape in. I must watch that movie again. If you haven't ever seen it, totally worth a watch.


 
This morning, the pipes in the kitchen sink are frozen. Once again, a first for us living here in this farmhouse. I must admit, I have never experienced frozen pipes! The kitchen pipes run along the outer wall of the house so I shouldn't be surprised. Luckily, the rest of the pipes in the house are fine. I'm working on thawing them with an electric heater. It is supposed to be this cold for several more days.

I've been wanting a new pair of knit barn gloves. The pair I have been wearing for years have had all the fingers re-knit at least once. Because my gloves are going to be barn gloves, I thought it might be advisable to use a superwash wool. I grabbed a skein of my Regia Design Line Sock Yarn and a skein of my old Best Foot Forward Sock Yarn (from the Nashua days). My plan was to double strand them and see what happens with the colors. I also tried triple stranding the sock yarn but the fabric was a little too heavy.


I cast on and knit. I used a basic glove pattern similar to one from Ann Budd's "The Handy Books of Knitting Patterns" (great book - highly recommended - basic patterns in many, many gauges). Here is what they looked like before washing. I love how the colors mingle together in no particular pattern or order.


Below is what they look like after washing. The fabric stretched out a bit in length but I think they will work out fine. 


I must admit though, I do prefer wool that isn't "superwash treated." I like the grab it has vs. the silkiness of the superwash. I think I may make another similar pair of gloves but just use my basic Color By Kristin


Lastly for today - you have one more day to get UP TO 50% off on Craftsy classes. Use this link to grab your savings: http://www.craftsy.com/ext/KristinNicholas_holiday
By using my link, you will help me generate a little bit of money, and get yourself a nice discount. Check out my Craftsy class Stitch It With Wool: Crewel Embroidery. I myself have been wanting to take the Craftsy class on the photo program Lightroom. I must do it soon. 



This just in from Stephanie - one of my students from the Summer Crewel Class here at the farm. Stephanie also has taken my Craftsy crewel class on-line. Her finished pillow is shown above. She edged the block with some pretty quilting cotton. Isn't it gorgeous? I love how everyone's pillow looks different because they change up the colors. Nice job Stephanie!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Snow Talk + Upcoming Appearances + A Sneak Peek

We survived the latest storm and it was a whopper. Here in western Mass we haven't gotten as much snow as in the eastern part of the state. Don't get me wrong - there is a lot of snow. Snow banks are getting higher and higher which makes pulling out of streets dicey. The Farmer has been having truck trouble and tractor trouble which is making things even more difficult. We're hoping this next round of repairs to both vehicles he uses daily fixes them. Luckily his brother David farms across from our sheep barns and he has been able to borrow his tractor in the afternoons.


When there is this much snow, the sheep and lambs stay close to the barns. The snow is deeper than their legs are tall so until it gets packed down, they cannot get through it. This group of sheep is using the tire tracks from the tractor to venture out a little further. 

 

I was thinking about the little lambs this morning. They were born in January and they know nothing but white snow. They do not know that there is green grass to come. Think how happy they will be to run through the grass and munch on it. That is after they live through mud season. 

Thanks to all of you kind folks who have been sending me notes upon receiving your copies of Crafting A Colorful Home in the mail. Thank you so much for the direct orders. I am so happy you all are enjoying reading it. I hope some of you feel inspired to shake up your homes with some more color. If you feel like it, would you mind spreading the word about the book? I have been seeing some photos of the cover on Instagram and Facebook which is awesome. When a book comes out, there is a small window of opportunity for it to develop any traction, so help me spread the word if you like it. Thanks! I am still fulfilling direct orders for it via my website here.

Next Wednesday February 18th, I will be speaking about color and my new book Crafting A Colorful Home at Black Sheep Knitting Company in Needham, MA. I will also be selling and signing books. Seating is limited and as of today there are spaces available. The event is free and they will have a waiting list and will call you if there are cancellations. Here is the link for more information. Next week is school vacation for all of Massachusetts and Julia and I will be going to my sister Laurie's family's house for a few days and combining it with this talk. I cannot wait to see how much snow they have. Well, maybe I can.

On Thursday March 5th, I will be the Keynote Speaker at the Roslindale Public Library's Opening Night of their Yarn and Craft Book Sale. I will also be selling and signing books with a portion of the proceeds to go to the Boston Public Library System. Roslindale is a section of Boston and is easy to get to. If you have ever been to the Arnold Arboretum, you have been in or close to Roslindale. Here is the info you will need. Again, another free event. This is one of the library's biggest fundraisers and is a fun event and a chance to pick up yarn and craft books while helping the library. 

Pom Pom Applique Pillow - Photo by Rikki Snyder
I will close with a sneak peek from Crafting a Colorful Home since this post is so brown and tan and white. Here is a photo of a pillow featured in the Living Room Chapter in the book. I call it a Pom Pom Pillow. This project uses many different textile techniques but none of them very difficult - pom pom making, felting wool fabric, applique with embroidery stitches onto wool fabric, and sewing a pillow. I love this project - very sculptural. It was of course, inspired by my Sunflower Garden. Hard to believe, it will be time to plant them again in a few short months. I hope everyone is having a good week.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Snowy Sunday Afternoon

More snow coming here today in western Massachusetts today. I have made a pot of homemade tomato soup with a smattering of orzo pasta. 

Got good news from Roost Books that Crafting a Colorful Home has been reviewed very favorably in Library Journal. How cool. Check it out here

Julia and I are looking forward to the Grammy's tonight. Going to be hard to top the following performance from 2012.



Sir Paul McCartney - Abby Road Medley - Grammy... by IdolxMuzic

What are you doing this afternoon?  

Friday, February 06, 2015

Shipping News, Upcoming Appearances + More Sneak Peeks from Crafting A Colorful Home

Wow - I did it! I have finished shipping all the books that have been on order (and delayed because of the snow). It has been a pile of work - Thank you EVERYONE for the generous orders. It has really helped me and my family. (Read below for the extension of the free shipping plus.) Boxes, tape, postcards, labels, signing Sharpies, mailing bags and more boxes have been scattered all over the dining room, living room, and library in our house. I've been watching Monarch of the Glen while doing this. Do you know it?


This morning, I headed down to the Bernardston Post Office to ship the last 20 books that were on order. Here is a photo of the old Post Office which sat on the main road of the town. The new post office (shown on the right) is about 30 feet away and doesn't look much different. 


I was there every day at lunchtime this week so that Jim, the Postmaster, could run the orders through while the post office was closed as to not inconvenience any customers. What a nice guy he is. He is retiring soon (he is younger than me!) and I do not think the place will be the same for anyone who frequents this cute and convenient little bit of America. I should take a photo of him and Julia together because they have been buddies for years - since before she could see over the counter. What nice memories for her when she grows up of small town living. 

I have decided to extend my FREE FREIGHT, Kristin illustrated bookplate (specify Flower or House on the order form or I will pick for you), and free postcards through the end of February. Hop on over to my website if you haven't ordered yet and would like to help out my family and I with direct sales of the book. Here is the link. This book makes a lovely Valentine's Day gift (hint hint - if your special someone is looking for a gift idea!) If you don't "do Paypal", never fear - send a check written to Kristin Nicholas for $27.95 to PO Box 212, Bernardston, MA 01337 and I will send a book, bookplate, etc.

Last week, on my Newsletter I sent on Sunday (before the big game), I let my readers in on some more sneak peeks from CACH. If you aren't a newsletter subscriber, you can sign up on the top right hand side of the blog. I have been sending it almost every Sunday this winter. Not sure how long I will keep it up. I include some bits of news from the farm, some good links, and I preview upcoming products before they hit the blog, market, or website. Sign up if you like - you can always unsubscribe if I start to annoy you.  

(For anyone interested in starting their own newsletter, I use MailChimp and I LOVE it. Very easy to figure out and if you have a small list, it is free. Good for small businesses, churches, even families. I began free - but as my business and list has been growing, I now pay per month. It is a sliding scale, depending on how many subscribers you send to.)

Before the Sneak Peeks - just an FYI about some upcoming appearances I am doing. Man, this is getting long - sorry.
• First, tomorrow - it isn't really an appearance because I am there every Saturday - but I'll have a pile of Crafting A Colorful Home books with me at the Amherst Winter Farmers Market at the Amherst Middle School. If you are local and want to pick up the new book to read during the NEXT SNOWSTORM ON SUNDAY (seriously - when will it stop?) - stop on by the Leyden Glen Lamb booth.   
On February 18th, I will be at Black Sheep Knitting Company in Needham, MA from 6:30 to 8:30. I will be doing a talk, and selling and signing books. Check it out here. Seating is limited and you will have to call the store. 
• On March 5th, I will be the Keynote Speaker at Opening Night of the Roslindale Library Yarn and Craft Book Sale. The talk is from 7 to 8 and I will be selling and signing books from 8 to 9. This is a great event for a good cause. Pick up some yarn, buy some gently used donated craft books - the event continues from March 5 to 7. Here is the link for more information.

Onto the Sneak Peeks....      If you are a longtime blog reader, you know that I am a big fan of printing on fabric. See here and here for older posts. I use kids fun foam mounted on foam insulation board. Sounds crazy but it works and it is a heap of fun. There are three different projects in Crafting A Colorful Home that feature this technique. Here is a photo of what the stamp looks like.

Photo by Rikki Snyder
I printed my studio stairs with this block.  Here you can see the stairs on the cover of Where Women Create (Spring 2014 issue).



Here are more stamps I have made.

 

Here is the tablecloth I printed with these stamps. This project and all templates for the stamps are included in the new book Crafting a Colorful Home.

Photo by Rikki Snyder
Here's another project featuring hand printed fabric. This chair pad layers the different stamps on top of each other to create a rose. Directions for sewing the chair pad are also included. 

photo by Rikki Snyder
Here is a close-up of the chair pad.



This little turquoise rocking chair came to me many years ago when my friend Scott passed away. It has sat on the porches of the only two homes we have owned. I love the thought that Scott is still with us - he died way too young. I have many fun memories of Scott and if you ever come to the farm for a class, I will share them with you. It was nice to be able to make a new chair pad and include it in the new book. 

Have a great weekend everyone! Cook something good. Stay warm and safe if you live in the path of the upcoming storm. Here's a photo of the lambs in the barn trying to stay warm this frigid morning. One found a feed bowl to sleep in. Clever little lamb. 


Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Snow, Snow, Snow, Delays & FINALLY A Book Update

Good morning everyone. Boy, it has been a difficult couple of weeks. Here I was so psyched to be selling and shipping books to you all and then the snow came TWICE and it really screwed my shipping up. Suffice it to say, I am back on track after waiting forever for cases of extra books to fulfill orders. I will not bore you with all the shipping, UPS, snow and useless tracking of routing numbers that said my shipments were on the trucks but they never arrived. The bottom line is during this Monday's storm, our UPS driver arrived - amazingly - with several cases of books and I have been packing them ever since.



That is between life with sheep, a few photos, Julia being home from school, shoveling, bringing in wood to keep the furnace going and some baking of bread from this recipe.


Below are some photos from our big storm which began Sunday evening and dumped over a foot of snow. The fact that the UPS truck made it here during that mess is still dumbfounding me. 









At the barns at dusk during the storm -





The day after the storm - 



New England weather - you've gotta love it! 

So hold tight everyone - your books are going out today and tomorrow. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

From Folly Cove - Julia Farwell-Clay's New Book of Designs + Giveaway

Today I am the next stop on the Folly Cove Blog Tour - a new knitting Pattern book designed by Julia Farwell-Clay. The pattern I am featuring is Julia's Annisquam Beret which uses my Color By Kristin Yarn from my friends at Classic Elite Yarns. It is featured on the cover of this book of lovely knitting designs.


A little back story because you know I love back story! Folly Cove is the name for a group of designers (mostly women) that worked in Cape Ann, Massachusetts - on the north shore of our state. The Folly Cove designers worked under the leadership of Virginia Lee Burton, a prolific and successful children's book illustrator who lived there too. You probably know some of Virginia's books - Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Little House are two of my favorite kids books. You can read more about the Folly Cove Designers in this article (and where I found the photograph below). 



The Folly Cove Designers worked in linoleum block prints and were primarily self-taught and guided by Virginia Lee Burton. The business ran from 1939 until 1969. Their work was mostly printed on fabrics and wallpaper. I learned about Virginia Lee Burton a few years ago when I visited an exhibit of her work at The Eric Carle Museum. There is also a fantastic movie about her life. 

When Julia Farwell-Clay asked me to be part of her blog tour, I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce you all to the Folly Cove artists, Virginia Lee Burton, and Julia Farwell-Clay. The Folly Cove Collection includes 10 different projects and you can purchase books at your LYS, online as single PDF's or as an e-book. More info here. Here is the Annisquam Beret. Isn't it beautiful?


It is a simple to knit beret featuring a little bit of color work in a flower motif, some lovely scrunchy welting produced by reverse stockinette stitch ridges, and a pretty shaped top.



Here is the shaping on the top - really nice. 


The colors Julia used are 3218 Sage, 3212 Deep Forest, 3289 Julia’s Pink, and 3250 Sunflower. Of course, you can choose your own. 

You can purchase this pattern via Ravelry and receive 10% off when you use the Coupon Code FFC10. 

The blog tour continues tomorrow at Stephanie Roy's Blog And She Knits Too.  

I also have a free Annisquam Beret Pattern for one of you. To enter - just leave a note in the comments about whatever you like - what you are knitting - how much snow you got or didn't - what you are making for dinner! Also leave an easy way to get a hold of you - email, Ravelry id, or blogger id. 

Deadline for entry - Friday evening at 11:59 EST the 6th of February. 

At the end of the week, Classic Elite is giving away yarn for a project from Folly Cove. To enter, go here - http://blog.classiceliteyarns.com/