Today I am super excited to introduce you to Mary Jo of Five Green Acres. I am lucky enough to know Mary Jo in blog life and real life. She is a whirlwind of creative energy! When she walks in a room you cannot help but be swept up in her projects and plans and insatiable curiosity about all things crafty.
This is wool. First Harvest: Backyard from Mary Jo, FiveGreenAcres on Vimeo.
Years ago, Mary Jo had an idea that started with carting home sheep in the back of her minivan. Since that day, she has thrown herself into raising sheep, grazing sheep, birthing sheep, and shearing sheep. If that weren’t enough, she then went on to clean the wool, card the wool, dye the wool, and spin the wool. And now yarn! gorgeous, squishy, soft, subtly colored yarn! Please watch this lovely video to see the birth of beautiful yarn, named appropriately First Harvest.
Because we live so close, Mary Jo delivered a skein in that same minivan! Then my work began. I needed to find a project that was worthy of the yarn. A skein of First Harvest yields a precious 100 yards. I asked her how she determined the weight and length of each skein:
When I set about spinning up the dyed fiber, I knew I wanted to make a yarn that could be knit up fairly quickly – something that was at least worsted weight or heavier. The downside of this is that I can only fit so much on my spinning wheel’s bobbin before it becomes too full, limiting the length of each skein to about 100 yards.
Another thing about designing yarn – determining the gauge can be something of a guessing game. It all depends on the size of needle (or hook) used, right? I had determined that First Harvest was about a worsted weight, comparing it to other yarn I had in my stash, but now that I’ve added the yarn to the Ravelry database, I see that by their standards First Harvest is a Bulky weight. Ravelry gets the final say, I suppose, so I’m changing my tune – Bulky it is. The semantics of weight don’t matter as much in the actual working up of a project, as long as you do a gauge swatch, which we all do, every time, right? Hee.
I of course did not swatch, so I crocheted and ripped and crocheted and ripped and crocheted and ripped. I couldn’t find a pattern that was special enough for the yarn and used just the right amount of yarn. Finally I gave up the never ending Ravlery pattern search and made up my own pattern (first harvest cowl pattern here).
I came up with a pebble-y stitch that shows off the yarn beautifully. Mary Jo created this gorgeous gray/brown color with sumac berries of all things. She named it Portobello, which describes it perfectly: mushroomy, earthy, soft and loamy. Of course I’m not perfectly pastoral, so I added a stripe of shocking blue for the city side of things.
Visit Mary Jo’s blog, Five Green Acres (and shop, This is Wool) to see more of First Harvest and hear stories of her yarn from sheep to skein.