Monday, November 7, 2011

49 Days

49 days until Christmas.  Growing up my mother encouraged us to make gifts for one another.  She always felt if someone cared enough to give up their time it was truly a gift of sacrifice and love.  Mama wasn't a knitter, but she was an amazing cook.  Each year a few days before Christmas, we would bake her famous cinnamon rolls.  Some with pecans, some with raisins and others with both depending on who was receiving the rolls.  I can still smell of yeast dough rising in the laundry room (on top of the dryer of course).  But that was nothing compared to the smell of cinnamon as the bread baked.  Now I am not talking about a couple of pans of rolls, I saying 3 dozen pans!  (She collected the aluminum pie pans all year and stored them in cabinet below the bread bag drawer).  You see my parents were children of the depression, and they saved everything.  In this world where it is cheaper to buy a new one than fix it, I appreciate the lessons they taught me about using what you have and learning to fix things yourself.  My dad could fix anything.  He grew up as the son of a farmer and had a career as a rocket scientist for NASA.  I am truly blessed to have parents who taught me to love others by sharing your gifts, to value what God has given you and take care of it. 
Now back to the rolls.  When they were done, we would cover them with icing, package them up, and my brother David and I would go out for delivery.  Of course we were greeted with squills of delight as we knocked on doors and handed over the much anticipated rolls.  Even now Mama's Cinnamon Rolls are a topic when we see old friends.  I believe I'll bake up a batch or two for my friends this Christmas, in between knitting up the scarves and hats I have in my project line-up.  Since I only have 49 days, I better get busy. 

What are you knitting for Christmas?  Have you got your list made up of all the memorable gifts you are planning?  I am working on slippers for Gary.  I've discovered thrumming and I am thrumming the bottoms of a cozy pair of felted slippers.  They will be at the shop Wednesday.  Stop by to see them.  Linda has worked up a beautiful scarf that is fast using a size 35 needle.  We've got some great projects and beautiful hand dyed yarns just waiting for you at the shop.  If you are running out of time, we are having a shop sample sale on Saturday, December 3 from 10-3.  Bring in what you are working on so we can gather some more ideas.  See you soon. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Marathon

The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards),[1] that is usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon (the namesake of the race) to Athens.
From Wikipedia
            I feel like the past six weeks have been a marathon of knitting.  Linda and I have been knitting up a storm in July and August, preparing for the Fall Cpt Kyle Comfort Benefit Fashion Show at the Jacksonville Community Center on Sept 10 at 9:30-12:00.  We are designing new knitwear, which means that I have been doing a lot of knitting and taking out, and starting over the see what looks cool.  (Something I never thought I would have the heart or the will to do).  We have sweaters, shawls, scarves, hats and cowls in the works and they are impressive, if I may say so myself.  You have to come out to the Fashion Show and see them.
            I have found that when I wear something I have knitted, it usually elicits the response- "Wow that's gorgeous- where'd you get it?"  I love to say, I made it.  Or more often I say Linda knit it and it was too big for her so she gave it to me.  Isn't it wonderful!  I have learned that if I practice and relax my knitting muscles will become stronger and stronger.  Soon I will be knitting like Linda!
            So, back the marathon.  They say there is something very rewarding about a marathon.  In order to complete it, one must practice and grow progressively stronger.  When it comes to knitting, you begin with easy patterns and then challenge yourself with new stitches and more complicated techniques.  Linda, Susan and I try to teach classes that advance your skills.   In September Susan is teaching a pattern Linda wrote and knitted which we have put together with a shawl box.   The pattern will include simple lace patterns, combined with other techniques.  Linda is teaching a sleeveless vest/sweater with an inserted medallion.  It is stunning and looks complicated, but when broken down into individual parts it is easy to tackle with Linda's gifted teaching and encouragement.  I will be teaching a class which will use you bits and pieces of stash yarn to knit a beautiful caplet. 
            With Fall just around the corner (a refreshing thought with temperatures kissing 100 degrees) it is time to begin thinking about knitting Christmas gifts.  I have heard there are actually people who have all their gifts wrapped by October.  I can't imagine.... and where is the fun in that?  My mom always felt there was nothing more special than a hand made gift.  A loaf of bread, homemade jelly, a pair of knitted slippers, or a beautiful shawl or afghan.  Come see what Yarns HomePlace Farm is putting together for your holiday knitting.  Scarf boxes, shawl boxes and more are in the works.  We are busy dyeing Auburn and Alabama yarn for fall, and other striking color ways that are only limited by your imagination. 
            To bring this blog to an end, I wanted to share some of the past projects we have knitted up to inspire us all to begin training for our own marathons. 


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Benefit Fashion Show coming up Sept. 10

I have been back from California for almost a week.  I did have a chance to visit Rumpelstiltskin's Yarn Shop  (a fellow blogger suggested it) while in Sacramento.  It was fun looking around at the shop samples and getting some new ideas.  They were very sweet and helpful.  I did purchase a great hat pattern to teach to all of you in a class this fall.  We had a chance to see the state capital and see some amazing trees on the  grounds.  The picture I have shared is of my grandson and me in one of the huge trees. 

Linda and I have both been busy knitting for the upcoming fashion show. She is knitting sweaters at the same rate as I am knitting hats. Feel my pain? She loves to encourage me with words are great at knitting hats, not you are too slow to finish a sweater in time for next years fashion show. We each have our special talents :) . Alright, now for fashion show details.
Yarns by HomePlace Farm, the Children's Market Place Consignment Sale, and The Willow Tree are working together to sponsor a Fashion Show & Breakfast catered by Chef Bob of Birmingham. It will be held on September 10, 2011 from 9:30 until 12, at the Jacksonville Community Center. We are hosting this event to raise money to support the CPT Kyle Comfort Memorial Foundation. The cost will be $15 per person.
The CPT Kyle Comfort Memorial Foundation was created by his widow in honor of CPT Comfort who was killed in action while serving in the Army in Afghanistan on May 8, 2010. CPTComfort is an Alumnus of Riverside Military Academy (2001) and Jacksonville State University (2006). The Foundation has been established to assist soldiers and their families when they have been sent to attachment hospitals in Germany for further care after being wounded in the line of duty. Many times when sent to Germany the soldiers are sent with nothing but a hospital gown and their dog tags. The medical facilities give them basic necessities but when you are hurt and away from home it is nice to have some things of comfort.
Mark your calendar and please join us for a morning filled with fall fashion ideas. Linda and I are excited to be a part of helping to raise money for this worthy cause.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Small Town America

Small town America, that is where I live and I love it.  We still have a town square, with a statue of John Pelham (Historic Confederate Soldier) in the center.  There's a bike shop where the owner leaves a note saying he is next door, just come and get him if you need help.  We have an Ace Hardware where they still help you find what you need for your honey do list.  A hamburger joint where they still scoop your ice cream for you chocolate shake.  Jacksonville has a coffee shop, Java Jolt where they actually serve scratch muffins and cookies (not the wrapped and sealed kind you get from the big guys) to eat with your latte.   Our yarn shop is there too, dropped into the nostalga of a small town.  A place where you can stop by to knit and catch up on what's happening in the neighborhood.  There is a university here, which brings with it youth and culture, and 10,000 college kids in the fall of each year.  Yes, our population really doubles each fall.  There is a Christmas Parade with homemade floats, antique cars, high school bands, and Santa.  And yes we do have fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July.  Everyone gathers at the high school football field and we ooh and ahh together at the sparkling explosions of color.  When driving down Pelham Road yesterday, I read "Freedom is not Free" on Warren Ace Hardware's sign, This statement has never been more real to our friends at Ace than it is today.  Their son Ben, a US Marine, was shot in Afghanistan a few weeks ago and is still recovering.  As our whole community prays for his complete recovery we are reminded of our own sons and daughters, husbands, wives, brother, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers who have defended our freedom since the Revolutionary War. 

Let me suggest to you today to Google Freedom and Liberty and read quotes from our fore-fathers.  Here are a few I found and would like to share.

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

~Benjamin Franklin

The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree.

~Thomas Campbell

In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.  ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Give me liberty - or give me death!

~Patrick Henry

On Monday when you are sharing the holiday with your family, take a minute to consider what freedom means and who has sacrificed so that we may live in the greatest nation in the world.  Call your sailor, soldier, airman or marine and tell them thanks.

Friday, June 24, 2011

“The Community”

Last year about this time, a friend confided to me her first thought on hearing that Linda and I were opening a yarn shop.  Note that she waited until we were busy with customers and new ideas before admitting thinking “who opens a yarn shop in Alabama, in the middle of a recession, in the summer, are they crazy?”  Note that my friend is from Wisconsin and her mother is a wonderful knitter.  And also note she is one of our biggest fans.  Realize there have been days when Linda and I have asked ourselves the same question.  We are delighted at how much we have enjoyed our first year here are “Yarns”.  It seems yarn shops are more than just retail outlets.  “They are more than the yarns that line the shelves, they are the people that bring life to the place.”  For the Love of Knitting.  They are a community.  I read once that the yarn shop is a place of respite, where knitters can turn with confidence when they run into snags along the way.  Sometimes yarn snags, and other times life snags.  We are amazed at how many of life little problems are solved at the Thursday Night Knit Along.  We once laughed that our classes should be free, and that therapy and entertainment should cost extra. 
The yarn shop is the knitter’s candy store.  We always visit LYS when traveling the country.  Linda was recently in the French Quarters and didn’t miss the chance to visit the Quarter Stitch yarn shop.  It is a wonderful way to meet new people in the “community,” and get fresh ideas for new projects.  I found a yarn shop in Sacramento named Rumpelstiltskin’s.   I’ll stop by when I head out to California in July to see my grandson Derek and his parents.  We can all visit yarn shops all over the world using the net.  How about stopping by a LYS on your next summer vacation, then come by and tell us all about what you discovered and who you met in the “community.” 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dyeing Days

There are few things I enjoy more than dyeing yarn. There is a real satisfaction that comes with creating something so beautiful. Linda and I dyed today. I mix the dyes (Linda tells me I am the chemist, but I believe this is just to make me feel needed and important) and "The Artist Linda" pours on the dyes. I believe she could never dye yarn without me.....well I like to believe that anyway. When the dyes soak into the yarn, the colors blend into new colors, like a rainbow, and we are delighted. But as we go through the process of setting the dye and rinsing the yarn, we have become quite a team. Like Lucy and Ethel, we rinse, wring, laugh, sing, stomp, layout the damp yarn and wait for it to dry. As the yarn dries the colors become brighter and richer. The next morning our first stop is to the dyeing room to see how our new yarns have dried. As we twist the color ways together names begin to form, Sunset, Dandelion, Hazel, Mango Smoothie, Stained Glass, Mermaid Tail, Sunflower Field. At that moment we believe we are truly artist, creative and free. So stop by during the next few weeks and drink in some color. You can even take home a little art for your collection.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spinning, Dyeing and Knitting

The benefit of knitting with handspun yarn has been variously described as the difference between eating tomatoes out of the garden and those available at the supermarket; the difference between reading every word of a classic and skimming Cliff Notes; the difference between a live orchestra and a recording . . . you know what I mean.  Much to my delight, we don't have to just "read the Cliff Notes, we have our very own source of handspun yarn.  Linda has been spinning and creating the most amazing yarns.  You can see the all online at and in the store. 

To spin or not to spin?  I have been asking myself that questions almost daily.  I see the beautiful chunky, funky yarns that Linda is spinning and I say to myself, I want to do this.  How hard can it be?  Well let me tell you, it may look like riding a bike, but this stuff takes co-ordination.  My dad once made the observation that I couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time (he was just teasing of course) and after trying it for a few minutes I was inclined to believe that my dad was correct. 

We dyed sock yarn today and it is bright, colorful and fun.  I finished my socks and they are being blocked now.  I am tempted to start on a new pair using some of the skeins we just dyed.  Wonder if they are dry yet?  Who wants socks for Christmas?  not that I am volunteering to knit them, but I am sure we can teach you to knit some of your own.  Some of the yarn in today's batch is great for guys with names like Camo and Gun Barrel.  So if you can't spin at least you can knit with some fantastic hand dyed sock yarn.  

We had a entertaining night at the Knit Along.  Thanks to everyone to dropped in.  We would love to have more next week. 

Knit in Public Day is Saturday.  Diane and Susan will be knitting "In Public" at the Jacksonville Public Library from 9-1.  Stop by and knit "In Public" with us. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Spinning "Wonderland"

Today, I Googled spinning yarn.  It said and I quote:
"Learning to spin on a spinning wheel is tricky! How can your body do so many different things at the same time?"  I asked Linda to teach me the other day, thinking, this doesn't look to tough.  I should be able to master it in a couple of hours.  I even promised to give up my new Chico necklace and earrings if she would just show me how. is much harder than it looks.  But I am not giving up, just practicing. 
One hand pinches, one hand pulls, and your feet pump the treadle. What a lot to think about at once. However, if you learn each step in the spinning process before you put them together, spinning will be easier. And with a little practice, it becomes second nature
, that is what they say anyway. 
Now, Linda on the other hand has been spinning like crazy.  Don't miss the "Wonderland Collection" on our website,  The yarns are full of texture and color.  It has inspired me to knit and spin.  I know you'll love them too. 
BTW, my socks are coming along great.  I hope to finish them this weekend.  Next, I will tell you they were easy.  Well, I gotta say, they were a whole lot simpler than I had imagined.  Join us in July and learn to knit socks too!  Later Gator, Knit on!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Socks are coming along nicely

I have my sock ready to take some off and put on a holder....what to do next?  Hum....I think I'll ask Linda.  I am knitting "My First Socks" out of YPF Big Honk'in Sock Yarn.  Very Cool!  I'll update you after the weekend.  :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Long, Hot Summer Knitting

Many knitters take a break from knitting during the summer, but I think summer's custom-made for engaging the sticks and string.
The temperatures are expected to rise into the mid 90's by Monday and I plan to be at the Lake!  But you better believe I will have my knitting with me.  Summer knitting can be great fun.  Small projects can be finished quickly, which to me means instant gratification.  I like to finish fast.  I am planning to start my first socks this week and have them going gangbusters when I buckle myself in the car and head to Tims Ford Lake in Tennessee.  Car trips are made for knitting, as long as you aren't driving.   
Come spend some time at Yarns by HPF, browsing the new summer yarns and patterns.  Buy something that inspires you to knit.  I have some HPF hand dyed sock yarn that I found hiding in the display by our register.  I can't wait to start. 
I just finished an angular sweater out of 3 different yarns.  I absolutely love knitting with cotton in the warm months, and I love wearing it even more! Its natural properties keep me cool even on a hot summer day.
I thought you might be ready for some summer knitting, too, so come see Linda and me and we will help you with a new project for the long, hot summer days. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sheering Day 2011

We sheered 18 alpacas on Sunday.  Not exactly your day of rest, but we had to sheer when Eric, our expert was available.  Sunday was a great day for sheering, the temperature was cool, with a little breeze.  We started at and finished by .  Fast and efficient, that's the way we like it. 
Alpaca fleece is as prized today as it was when the animals were first domesticated 6,000 years ago. Huacaya fleece is dense and crimpy, and the suri alpaca has silky fleece that grow in long spirals.  At HomePlace Farm, after reducing our herd this spring, we have 18 animals, compared to last years 33.  We are excited to announce, we will be breeding this spring and expect to have several new crias on the ground next April. 
Springtime is shearing season. Much like a barn raising or a quilting bee, shearing day is a time for teamwork and sharing. Some farm owners shear their own animals, but at HomePlace Farm we hire a traveling expert.  Thanks to Pete of Pura Vida Shearing the day came off without a hitch. 
The key is to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible so there is minimal stress on the alpacas.  Front and hind feet are constrained by ropes anchored on a pivot. One person holds the animal's head at all times.  The shearer begins at the lower belly, moving front to back, and proceeds up to the spine. The alpaca is rotated as shearing proceeds down his back and over to the other side of the belly. This 'blanket' fleece is the prime fleece, and it is gathered into a bag and marked with the animals name.
Next, the neck is sheared, then the front legs and the back ones, rotating the animal over again as necessary. The secondary neck and leg fleece is gathered into another bag.
Samples of the blanket are taken and sent off to a lab for analysis.  This aids in breeding decisions.  One factor we look at is the fibers micron count and density, pairing a densely-fleeced animal to one less dense in order to improve the quality of the next generation.
After shearing, the alpacas check each other out, as if to make certain that these skinny creatures are their same buddies. A freshly sheared alpaca is always eager for her getaway and will gladly head back to the field.
After all the work the team sat down for a rest, an alpaca cookie and cool drink.  Spa day was over at last!  I think it is time for Linda and me to head to Atlanta for another spa day of our own.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


For everything there is a season, or so the saying goes. This couldn't be more true for knitting---where one season a certain color yarn is all the rage and another season everyone is beading the same style neckline.  This season knitted sleeveless sweaters, vest and shells are everywhere.  The cable vest Linda is teaching on April 7, 1, 21, and 28th is right off the runway.  Trends give us new ways to think and design and inspire us to try something outside our comfort zones. 

COLOR is the story for Spring!  Bright strong, exciting COLOR.  Linda, Jessica and I took a little trip to Atlanta for Spring Break and we have returned with all kinds of crazy inspiration.  We shopped “til” we dropped, and all the while thinking of you, our friends J.  What ideas can we bring back to “Yarns” to brighten our buddies lives?  Imbellishments, crocheted and knitted.  Loose, lacy shrugs were everywhere.  We saw layers of color, texture and variety.   Now we are knitting samples and planning classes. 

Back to the subject of color.  Did you know the human eye can discern more than 3 million colors; isn't that amazing?  When we dye, one of our tools is the color wheel. 
A 12 step color wheel will provide the basic information needed
to grasp most color design challenges.

 The basic principles of color theory and design are simple. The color wheel becomes a visual aid in helping us understand the principles of color.  We all use the principals of color everyday when choosing what to wear or in our case what to knit. 
It is also an excellent tool to help create harmonious color schemes for painting, interior decorating, and dyeing yarn. It creates an orderly progression of color that helps us understand color balance and harmony.  Some of us have a gift for coordinating color, but it is a skill which we all can learn.  In June, Diane will teach a class on color and how to use organize and use your stash.  This is a class you won’t want to miss. 
So stop by and let us share what we learned on our mini vacation to 'Hot-lanta!'

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Friends

I just never know who will walk through the door next.  This morning I was running through all the characters, and I do mean "characters" who stop by the shop.  Linda and I have re-named a few, for example.... That Pat, Zumba Kim, Little Becky and some others stand alone...Jane, Ki i i i m, and Susan.  We even have nicknames, Linney and DeDi.  Why do we do that?  Re-name people?  Perhaps because they have eeked out a special place in our heart.  They have brought something to our lives that no one else could.  Friends are gifts and we appreciate them, love them.  I look forward to coming to the yarn shop just to see who will walk through our door next.  Today it was Jill, a new friend.  We can never have too many friends. 

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wish I had remembered my gloves

I was right......freezing.  It took us 2 hours to thaw.  Great fun filming the spot for Absolutely Alabama!  Fred said it will air in 2 weeks.  I have to say the alpaca hat did keep my head warm.  Wish I had remembered to wear my gloves.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fred is visiting the farm tomorrow

Linda and I are going to meet Fred Hunter from Fox 6 News tomorrow.  Linda asked him today if he really wanted to come out tomorrow to film the farm for Absolutely Alabama and had he seen the weather?  Duh, okay just kidding.  20 degrees and they are coming.  We will be scooping poop at 8 a.m. if anyone wants to come help.  Right.........didn't think so.  Raising alpaca stirs up some interest.  Hope we don't look fat or like rednecks on TV.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wow, It's official

Wow, it is official!  I am a blogger and thank goodness, there is spell check.  Apparently, I make a few spelling and typo mistakes in my emails.  But who really doesn't? So Linda thought it would be cool if I post updates about what is going on at the store and what everyone is knitting.  Tonight I am finishing up a neck warmer just in time for the 20 degree weather.  Which in Alabama is pretty cold.  I will post a picture later when finished, if I figure out... oh I see the picture thingy now.  So later.....Diane