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Brighton Wool and Honey Co.

Fresh from the Farm

How Art Batts are Made

Art batts are wonderful things. If you’re a spinner, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Non-spinners, welcome to the wonderful world of fiber.

This, my friends, is an art batt.

turquoise-orange-art-batt

It is a mix of fibers and textures carded together and prepared for a spinner, who will sit down at a wheel or with a drop spindle and create beautiful, one-of-a-kind skeins of yarn.

I know, I know. You were thinking an art batt was a flying mammal with a proclivity to paint with watercolors or draw. But no. Not even close. It is the joy of hand spinners everywhere. And some felters too. We never want to leave out those felters.

Art batts start out with a variety of fibers.

Merino-roving

I started with some hand-dyed Merino wool. The color combination inspiration came from an unlikely source: the October cover of Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

Better-Homes-and-Gardens-Cover

Maggie saw the cover and fell in love with the oranges, blues and whites. She thought those colors, combined, would make a gorgeous yarn . And I have to say she is right.

So off to the drum carder I went. I happen to love my Strauch drum carder with my entire being.

Strauch-Drum-Carder

Isn’t she beautiful! There is something very therapeutic about loading fiber onto the deck, cranking away and seeing what comes out on the other side. If you have any worries or anything you need to work out, a few hours at the drum carder will clear your head and have you back on the right path. Not to mention you’ll have numerous art batts to show for your therapy.

So to the dyed Merino wool, I added a bit of silky bamboo. This will add a bit of shine and luster to the yarn when its spun up.

shiny-orange-fiber

But because a little shine and glitz is never enough, I threw in some iridescent Angelina fiber in a deep copper color for a bit of glamour.

Fiber-Bling

Then it was just a matter of layering and continuing to combine.

Fiber-on-the-Drum-Carder

As the fibers roll through the carding drums, they become lined up and ready for spinning. The spinner then has the choice of where to pull the fiber from the art batt. Want a few yards of blue yarn followed by white and then orange? Then that’s how you pull out the fiber for spinning.

turquoise-orange-art-batt

Or you could just spin it from left to right, giving you a mixed color yarn with a random pattern.

Spinning yarn from an art batt truly allows the spinner to become the designer of their own yarn.

Now its back to the drum carder for me. I’m going to go look at lots of other magazine covers for color combination inspiration. What are some of your favorite color combos? Let me know. It might make for a great art batt.

Lavender Scented Laundry Soap

You know how they say the right right tool makes the job easier? I always sort of knew it was true. I believed it in theory. And then we discovered how to make our own Lavender laundry soap and I became a true believer!

laundry soap
Lavender-Laundry-Soap

If I were a poet, I would write entire poems about this soap. And long ones. Not just haiku.

We make it ourselves out of simple old-fashioned ingredients. Things your grandmother would have used. Like Baking Soda. And Borax. And Fels-Naptha Soap. Things that actually clean and whiten your clothes without a bunch of added stuff that does nothing but add chemicals to your wash water.

But don’t let its pretty, delicate face fool you. This is a workhorse detergent. We use it for all of our really dirty farm grime. It gets out tractor grease and unmentionable things from the pasture. Yet you can use it for your sheets and most delicate of washables. We even use it on baby clothes.

Spilled-laundry-soap

You may not hear angels singing when you use it, but I do.

One little scoop does your whole load. Really. You don’t need to pour the entire jar in to get clean clothes. One scoop. If you feel better doing it, make it a heaping scoop. But you don’t need to. Sometimes old habits of using tons of soap die hard. We understand that. But seriously, you don’t need more than the scoop.

And yes, you can use it in HE washing machines.

Want to be really popular? Give it as a gift. Your friends will shower you with thanks. It may even inspire you to write a poem or two.

The Farm in Fall

All over Northeastern Ohio, the fall colors are exploding and bursting out … and the farm is no exception.

fall tree

This morning was the perfect time to take a stroll through the pastures to see what everybody was up to and to enjoy the scenery.

Farm in Fall

I’m not sure the alpacas were happy to see me.

Alpacas

Do those look like welcoming faces to you?

Or how about these two?

Young Alpacas in the Fall

I’m sensing attitude here. I’m not feelin’ the love.

So I moved on to the chickens. Chickens never give me attitude. They are, after all, chickens.

chickens

They spent their time ignoring me.

But I persevered. I was determined to find someone who was happy to see me on this fine fall day. It didn’t take long.

scarecrow

He’s the strong, silent type.

Fall In Full Color

It’s true, Vermont and the rest of New England may get most of the glory this time of year. But I’m here to say, Northeast Ohio, you’ve got nothin’ to be ashamed of!

Spruce trees at a distance

Sure, sure … Summer can get stinkin’ hot and humid. Winter is grey and filled with snow (not that that’s a bad thing). Spring is mud. Lots and lots of mud.

But Autumn. Ahhh, Autumn in Northeast Ohio is filled with beauty.

Orange tree in fall

And one of the most beautiful places around is Holden Arboretum in Kirtland.

Peaceful

So many colors. Everywhere you look you think, “Now that’s my favorite view.” Then you turn around and say it again, looking in the other direction.

tree roots

But one of the best views is from the brand new Emergent Tower.

View from the  Top

The tower takes you 120 feet into the air, above the tree tops.

The Climb

And yes, I will admit to a bit of trepidation on my part as I climbed higher and higher. My life didn’t exactly flash before my eyes, but it may have meandered. And to my fellow acrophobia sufferers, I’m here to say, Let. It. Go.

The climb is worth it. The views of Lake Erie alone are worth it.

And as long as you’ve decided to live on the edge, make sure you do the Canopy Walk too.

swinging bridge

The Canopy Walk is 500 feet of swinging walkway, elevated 65 feet above the forest floor. Once you get into a rhythm, it’s kind of fun to be swaying with the trees, looking down on squirrels and other animals hanging out on the safety of the ground.

I would highly recommend a trip to this beautiful place before the leaves leave. You won’t regret any amount of time spent here.

Take that New England!

reflection

holden

Spinzilla Continues

Oh Spinzilla week, I had great plans for you.

In my head, I was going to sit down every free hour of every day this week and spin, spin, spin. I was going to spin like my life depended on it.

What’s that famous quote about the best laid plans of mice and men? I’m here to tell you that you can apply it to roving and women as well!

That’s not to say I haven’t spun at all. Because I have. Just not as much as I wanted to.

single ply alpaca roving
single ply alpaca roving

I have about 200 yards of brown and black alpaca spun. And really, it was like spinning butta! Smooth and soft. It’s  beautiful and I’m enjoying every minute of it — what few minutes there are!

black and brown alpaca roving
black and brown alpaca roving

This is roving from the farm’s own alpacas. I plan to go out to the barn tomorrow and thank each and every one of them. They grew very nice fiber and I think someone should thank them!

alpacas

Thank you!

Tomorrow, I start on this fiber.

Colorful roving
Colorful roving

This vibrant fiber is a mix of merino wool, silk, bamboo and alpaca. All hand dyed. All stunning on its own. I can’t wait to see how it will look spun into a mixed yarn.

My wheel is ready.

Louet Spinning Wheel
Louet Spinning Wheel

She was starting to squeak a bit (an overuse injury?), but I got her all oiled up and she will be ready for business.

The yarn she makes will be available at the Cleveland Flea this Saturday if you’re in the market for some handspun deliciousness.

Spinzilla Has Begun

Welcome to Spinzilla week. Never heard of it? It is a monster of a fiber spinning week. Here’s the skinny:

spinzilla-sm-icon

Spinzilla is a world-wide spinning event where competing teams and individuals challenge each other to see who can spin the most yarn in a week. There are 1,754 registered spinners this year. The goals are:

  • To raise awareness about the joy of spinning yarn by hand
  • To empower spinners to spin more
  • To connect spinners globally and locally
  • To support small business
  • To endow educational programs for the spinners and weavers of tomorrow
  • To spin enough yarn to reach around the globe in five years!

Officially, Spinzilla started at 12:01 this morning. Call me lazy, but I did not get up to ring in the week. I was sound asleep, resting by treadle foot, and mentally preparing for some early morning spinning. So after a shot of caffeine, in the form of ice tea, I am ready to start.

cvm roving

Bring on the alpaca. Bring on the mohair and CVM. No bamboo or silk or Merino is safe during Spinzilla. I’ll spin yarn full of “bling”. And yarn in natural colors. Thick yarn. Thin yarn. I’ll blanket the world in yarn!

art batts

Or, more realistically, I’ll spin about six or seven nice skeins of yarn. I was caught up in the moment there for a minute!

My goal is to spin at least two hours every day for the duration of Spinzilla, which ends on Oct. 11th.

You can follow along the whole Spinzilla revolution on Ravelry or FacebookAnd I’ll be blogging about it here and on our own Facebook page.

spinning wheel

But now, my wheel is calling.

I’m going in.

Upcoming Shows & Special Events

fall colors

Welcome to October!

If you’re like me, you’re shaking your head wondering where Summer went and how exactly did October get here already. Wasn’t it just the Fourth of July?

We’ve had a great Summer, meeting so many new people at a variety of farmers’ markets, craft fairs and special events. And we have a full schedule going into Fall and Winter. We look forward to seeing you at the following markets and special events:

Countryside Farmers Market

Howe Meadow, Peninsula.

This is a beautiful, vibrant, outdoor producers-only market managed by Countryside Conservancy. We’re here every Saturday, from 9 a.m. – noon, through October 31st,  before we move indoors to Old Trail School, November 7, 14 & 21 and December 5, 12 & 19.

mums

Cleveland Bazaar at Winterfest 

Saturday, November 28th, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Cleveland Bazaar is northeast Ohio’s longest-running independent craft show. Join us on Small Business Saturday at the beautiful 5th Street Arcades in Cleveland for a fantastic DIY, craft, art, truly wonderful show.

That’ll Do Farm Holiday Open House

Sunday, November 29th, noon – 5 p.m.

Bring your camera for this one! Meet the alpacas. Say hello to a goat or two. Tour the barn and stock up on alpaca socks. If you’ve always wanted to pet an alpaca, you won’t want to miss this open house.

Cleveland Bazaar on Coventry

Saturday, December 5th, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

We’re hanging out at another location for this week’s Cleveland Bazaar. We’re heading to the East Side and Coventry Village in Cleveland Heights. Cleveland Bazaar is always a fun time and we’re excited to be in this eclectic neighborhood.

Cleveland Bazaar Holiday Show

Saturday & Sunday, December 12th & 13th , 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

This will be our second year at this show. We had so much fun last year! We were next to the wonderful people of The Sweet Spot and were willing samplers of their outstanding gelato. It was a tough job, but we were up to the task. The 78th Street Studios, on West 78th Street, is a great place with so many talented artists. Don’t miss this one!

Last Minute Market 

Saturday, December 19th, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Our second year at this show, too, except this year, the show is moving to the Galleria at Erieview in beautiful downtown Cleveland. The Last Minute Market is a curated, one-day marketplace of modern art and craft. More than 100 jury-selected artists and craftspeople from Cleveland and across the rust belt region will have their best work on display, just in time for all those people on your Christmas list you forgot about!

We’re working on adding a few more shows to our schedule, and once we have all the details worked out, we’ll let you know. Please plan on coming to see us at at least one of these great venues. It’s an opportunity to avoid the big box stores this holiday, support local, small businesses, and – the icing on the cake – find a unique gift you know will be perfect for those on your list.

What to Expect at the Farmers’ Market

September and October are perfect times to enjoy the late Summer harvest and there is no better place to do so than at your local Farmers’ Market. But shopping at the market can be a little intimidating if you’ve never done it before.

the shoppers

You may have tons of questions: What’s in season? Are Farmer Jones’s tomatoes better than Farmer Smith’s? What the heck are rutabagas and how do I cook them? Bison? What does Bison taste like? Do I need to bring a bag? Do they take credit cards?

beets

Let the following serve as your primer on how to shop the market. Look at it as The Farmers’ Market 101:

  1. Take time to enjoy the market. Slow down. Don’t rush through. Farmers’ Markets are meant to be savored. To be enjoyed. Take a look at all the colors. All the variety. Many markets have music. Most have food trucks. Get a sandwich. Sit down to people watch. ‘s Smell the fresh food cooking. It’s so much more than a trip to buy food.
  2. Have an idea of what’s in season. The Ohio Farm Bureau has a great on-line tool called the What’s in Season Calendar that allows you to put in the month and discover what’s growing at that time of year. It can stop you from being disappointed that there aren’t any fresh blueberries in April.
  3. If you see an unfamiliar vegetable or fruit, ask the grower. Typically, the person on the other side of the table from you is the person who grew the produce. If you see something you don’t recognize, ask them about it. Farmers love to talk about what they’ve grown. They have a love for the food they are producing and want you to love it too. They are also the best source for recipes or new ways to cook those veggies.
  4. Bring a bag. A reusable cloth bag or a basket is a must. Some farmers don’t supply bags so its best to be prepared with your own. And if its hot out and you’re purchasing meat, bring a cooler.
  5. Sample. Try new things. You aren’t expected to buy just because you’ve sampled. You usually can’t do this in a typical grocery store. Who knows, you may find the next food love of your life.
  6. Bring Cash. Sure, thanks to mobile credit card apps for smart phones, most stands now accept credit cards, but cash is still preferred. And the smaller the bills the better. If you have singles, you will be universally worshiped and adored by every single farmer out there. Singles are the holy grail of currency.
  7. Be Prepared for the Unusual. There are unexpected finds at the market. Maybe a bag of homemade dog biscuits, a fresh cut bouquet of flowers, or fiery hot jars of salsa. Be open to taking those home! It might not be what you came for, but that’s the fun of it.
  8. Winter is Market Season Too. Many markets move indoors for the Winter. Find out if yours does. There is plenty to be had off season. Maple syrup, honey, fresh bread, canned goods, eggs, cheese, chicken, beef, grains, root vegetables, apples, soaps, baked goods.

We are at three Farmers’ Markets each week: Gordon Square Market from 4 -7 p.m. on Wednesdays through September; BAYarts Farm+Art Market on Thursdays from 5 – 8 p.m. through mid-October; and the Countryside Conservancy Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon through the end of October and then indoors on select Saturdays through the Winter.

cheese

You can always find a list of Farmers’ Markets in your area at Ohio Proud.

fall produce

A Hand Knit Bandana Cowl

Last week, a customer came to the Farmers’ Market in Peninsula to purchase a skein of our 100% alpaca yarn in a heavy worsted weight. The yarn was in a gorgeous natural, off-white color.

We told her to bring back what she knit with it. It’s what we tell all our customers. We WANT to see what they’ve made with our yarn. In fact, we LOVE to see the creativity of all the knitters, spinners and felters out there.

So this past Saturday, Deb Klug, of Walton Hills, came back with her project in hand.

cowl

Deb chose to knit the Bandana Cowl from the Purl Bee by Purl SoHo.

It was a quick, simple knit and she did a beautiful job.

modeling cowl

Deb didn’t think the cowl went with her Tigers t-shirt, so Maggie, Brighton Wool’s own resident beekeeper, is doing the honors. We love this soft, drapey cowl so much, we are choosing to overlook Deb’s Detroit Tigers shirt. We are, after all, in Cleveland Indians country!

The cowl uses between 100 and 130 yards of yarn and size 10 needles. It’s a simple, mostly knit, pattern, but it does use short rows. If you’ve never knit short rows before, never fear! Purl Bee can help with that too. They have a short rows tutorial.

So dive in. You’ll have this bandana knit in no time. When the cool, fall weather hits, you’ll be ready and looking stylish.

bandana cowl

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