Home. Home to trees and fields, dirt roads, and cooler temperatures. Home to the family. Home to my friends and community.
When I arrived on Tuesday, the house was woodstove warm and welcoming. Both dogs were overjoyed that I wasn’t ( apparently) gone for good. Aah, home.
Now back to work. Winter projects on the docket. Work on the board and batting for the studio. Re-shingle the back of the house. Wool to spin and send out for the yarn CSA.
Speaking of wool, in Ireland the landscape is covered with sheep. Most are breeds suited for the conditions there, cold and wet, and most breeds are raised for meat. The market for fleece is not great and it may be difficult to find yarn made from Irish sheep. Real Irish yarn, that is. Not likely that you will find merino sheep on an Irish farm. The merino would not stand the conditions in Ireland. The breeds in Ireland tend to be a courser breed of sheep, great for rugs and weaving. The fiber in Ireland would be considered ‘carpet wool’, strong, coarse fiber truly great for weaving tapestries or rugs but often considered too scratchy for garments. But, I love wool and back in the day, even our wool here in New England was typically more scratchy than it is now. Remeber those wool snowsuits kids wore? Breed importing has improved over the last 50 years and raising sheep breeds that have soft, fine fiber, are now widely available here. Our weather in the Northeast being dryer allows us to manage with some of the finer wool breeds. Still, I personally love that old fashion course and strong wool all sweaters and socks ( and snowsuits!) were made from in year’s past. Bartlett wool and yarn from Briggs and Little are still companies that produce yarn using fleece that is a mixture of breeds, all put into a wool pool, and spun into yarn. Lots of my socks are knit with wool from Briggs and Little. I call them ‘socks that are not for the faint of heart’. They are a bit scratchy (I don’t get the heebie-jeebies from scratchy wool on my skin) and they are tough…the course wool does not pill or tear as easily after lots of use. In Ireland, I did find a shop that carried true Irish yarn ( in Donegal) and it is scratchy, but I love it. My green wool hunting pants are scratchy. My vest from Filson is a thick felted wool that is scratchy. But both are two of the warmest garments I own. The sheep we raise at Fernwood are a fairly longwool breed, soft and lustrous, beautiful wool….and warm. They are a sheep breed I find really works for all the various knitting and felting I do.They grow excellent lamb for the freezer. I’ll always buy some rough and tumble yarn for sock knitting or for that outdoor barn sweater I know will stand the test of time (and abuse). Among the other projects on the needles these days…a baby sweater, some mittens, a few scarves, there are also some hearty socks in progress, made with tough and gnarly wool, just waiting for the inevitable cold our Maine winters bring. And I know they’ll do their job!

22 comments on “Home

  1. welcome home! I do remember scratchy wool things were the only kind. Not that long ago all you could get fro soft yarn was synthetic. And I love a good Bartlett or Biggs and little sweater – they are COZY!

  2. Hi Denise, Nice that you are back home:)) it always makes me happy to get back to the island after a trip, but going away is so valuable:)) I haven’t sent the slipper pattern yet but plan to do that today, just a trace of my old slippers? or my keen’s? I suppose either will do…Also, do you sell those warm cozy socks? I would love some for my family as they are always asking for homemade socks and it probably will take me months to finish the pair I have started! I also wanted to know if I should keep the pots I bought from you outside or inside for the winter, the maple syrup pot with the tiny tree and hens and chicks? and the other one with hens and chicks…wasn’t sure…thanks enjoy being home! Jake Tuminski (vinalhaven)

    • Hello Jake,
      Yes, and old slipper or a well fitted sneaker trace would work great! You should leave the pots and their plants outdoors for the winter…all hardy but it would be good to cover them with leaves or straw and put them up against a building. Depending on how many pots i have, i sometimes cover them in groups with an old Styrofoam cooler. I have had great luck with this and with the pots not breaking. The plants are meant to go dormant so no worry there…even the succulents, don’t bring them indoors. Hope to catch up soon. yes, i do sell those “real wool ” socks but am a little behind on knitting due to my long ( but lovely!) journey to Ireland. love to see vinelhaven in the winter so let’s stay in touch and I’ll start your slippers once pattern arrives.
      Happy day and Happy December to you!

  3. Hey Denise glad to hear you’re home…I can’t wait to hear all about it sometime… I don’t have any memories of wool clothing growing up if you can believe it but when I was about 13 I decided I’d wash and wear this really good looking sweater that was my dads from the 60s which my mom had obviously been saving… Of course you know what happened.. My mom was heartbroken and I was in total shock that it now would fit a doll not me…. When I moved to Maine with Josh I caught on pretty fast and bought my first wool sweater at Reny’s . It’s pretty easy to remedy the scratchiness with a thin cotton shirt or socks to wear underneath… I love wool. My winter wardrobe is wool, wool, wool… I still have the darling wool sweater you knitted for Makylah. It’s a treasure as are you. xo

    • Hi Sharoney!!! Home, home , home. I’d love to talk and catch up. Just getting my feet under me and hope to send you a long emails…with tid-bits and photos and loveliness. Ireland was dreamy. That landscape gets me every time! How are the girls? And you/ ready for the holiday? I’ll try and settle in and write more over the weekend. Love ya! denise

  4. Welcome home. So is the scratchy wool what they refer to as ‘rag’ wool? I remember the Shetland sweaters as a kid – very scratchy, but tough. In the 60s, cream-colored Irish sweaters were popular, probably from Julie Christie in the movie ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ – loved that film!

    • Hello Eliza, Not sure if Rag wool referred to those old scratchy sweaters, it could be. now I’ll have to do some research! Even if the wool is scratchy wearing some undergarment helps the matter…can’t have everything soft and cushy!

    • I always wanted one of those Irish fisherman sweaters but couldn’t afford it. Years later when I met Denise ( and happened to be wearing one) she told me that the Irish fisherman families all had a different pattern unique to their family to identify a fishermen in case he drowned and his sweater had been washed ashore 😦 I also love the movie Far from the madding crowd but I saw the 2015 version with Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts ( yummy lol ) Michael Sheen and Tom Sturbridge… I would love to see the older version with Julie Christie.

      • I actually prefer the Christie version. It has one of my husband and my favorite lines, “And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be— and whenever I look up, there will be you.”
        -Gabriel Oak
        They cut it out of the new version and we missed ‘our’ romantic line!

  5. Welcome home. It seems like you just left. The time just seemed to fly or is it: I’m just getting older :+). I remember a scratchy pair of snow pants that were so scratchy that my Mom finally put a lining in.

  6. Hello Molly, It felt like a longer trip this time. All wonderful though. Another highlight with regard to wool was the beautiful woolen plaid fabric I brought home from Donegal. Woven right there with true Irish wool.I’m thinking a vest, what do you think? I’ll post about it sometime soon. Good to be home to my roots…no place like home!

  7. I, too, wondered if you’d gone for a shorter stay this time–it didn’t seem like so long ago you were telling us goodbye! Where do you go in Donegal? I love Donegal best, I think, of anywhere I’ve been in Ireland. The last time we were in Ireland, the hand weaver at Avoca told us that most of the wool being woven, at least there at Avoca, was from China now . . . that seems wrong to me!

    • Hi Kerry,
      Actually, this time i was gone a bit longer! Just over a month. My time is almost always In County Kerry ( the farm is in Glenbeigh and Sally’s other home is in Kilorglin, it’s only about 5 miles between the two places). A t the end of my trip this year , we went up to Belfast and then down to Donegal. The wool industry is almost non-existent in Ireland with regards to using wool produced in Ireland. Most of the garments that are being sold as “Irish’ are made with wool from New Zealand ( or China!) and many are not even being spun or knit in Ireland. There are two places in Donegal that are making cloth…I bought some beautiful plaid fabric in Donegal. Real Irish yarn is hard to find is hard to find. I hope as hand-crafts become more popular with the Irish themselves, that wool will find a market again.

  8. I imagine that it feels wonderful to be home. You have that huge orange moon to greet you. I’m a bit surprised to hear that Ireland is importing wool from China for their sweaters. How very sad. Sheep, sheep everywhere and not a fleece to spin ….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s