Wool Buy 2017

Once again I had the opportunity to join Mid States Wool Company from Ohio on the Navajo reservation buying wool from the Dine people. This is the fourth year that I have been involved as a volunteer. We travel across the Navajo nation beginning at  Crown Point, and traveling on to Shiprock, Mexican Water, Tsaile, Pinon,  Kaibeto, Tuba City and finally Dilkon, over a period of 7 days. Each year more people have heard that we are coming to buy wool, and the number of sellers has increased dramatically. This year we filled 7 tractor trailers with wool and mohair. My motivation for joining this group has been to assist in bringing  a fair price to the Dine people for their fiber.  The logistics of the trip are quite complicated as lodging is scarce, distances are quite great and scheduling the tractor trailer pickups are challenging. Stanley Strode oversees all of these moving parts, and Felix Nez brings in workers from Dine College to help with the labor, and translating. Teddy and Lynn Varndell purchase mohair, and Peter Hagerty, with Peace Fleece, also purchases wool. Lisa Takata and I work the table, calculating the weights of fiber, and writing the checks from Mid States. Stanley grades each bag of wool as it comes in and many times one truck will contain 4 or 5 different grades/prices of wool. People have to wait patiently in their trucks in lines of up to 100 trucks for hours, as we go through the time intensive task of grading the wool, weighing it, calculating the final price, and writing the check. The beautiful smiles and warm handshakes we get at the end of each interaction is our reward for time well spent.

The following is an article from the Navajo Times the week we were there


Students came to observe the wool buy in Pinon
Teddy Varndell and Jay Begay Shiprock AZ
the wool tower is unloaded from the truck in the morning for compaction of the mohair as it is purchased
Stanley Strode inspects every bag of wool that arrives

Peter Hagerty of Peace Fleece hand picks wool for his yarn

Shiprock AZ
Lisa Takata assists in paying the sellers a fair price for their wool
Jay Begay helps with all the various operations of the wool buy
Wool is graded, coarse, medium to fine, and anything in between


At Mexican Water Utah, wool was delivered in livestock watering tanks


Items on display at a trading post museum in Grants NM

Dingle Peninsula

14 May 2017

Irma suggested we tour the Dingle Peninsula, and she helped us plan out the drive. Austin and Christina would arrive later that day, by bus, plane or car??? Long story.

Surfing Inch Beach


Dingle Peninsula



We were quite taken with Minard Castle. It is one of only three remaining mid 16th century Fitzgerald castles built on Dingle Peninsula. In 1650 Cromwell’s army detonated charges at each of the corners of the castle. It sustained massive damage but remained standing. All the occupants of the castle were killed.

The boulder beach is phenomenal

We drove on, along the Dingle peninsula, making our way to the town of Dingle. We were trapped by every little hand made sign along the way.

“Come pet the sheep, and see a real stone fort”.

“Prehistoric Celtic archaeological finds”

“Picture the dog riding the donkey”


As Reid said, we were there to be trapped, and loved every minute of it


40 Shades of Green

13 May 2017

We arrived at the Shannon Airport at 7 AM, had a quick cup of coffee,  practiced driving on the “wrong” side of the road and were good to go.  First stop  – Quin Abbey


Quin Abbey
Quinn Abbey

From Wikipedia – “Quin Abbey, in Quin, County Clare, Ireland, was built between 1402 and 1433 by Sioda Cam MacNamara, for Fathers Purcell and Mooney, friars of the Franciscan order. Although mostly roofless, the structure of the abbey is relatively well-preserved. There is an intact cloister, and many other surviving architectural features make the abbey of significant historical value.[1]”


We thoroughly enjoyed Craggaunowen. It is a living history museum representing Iron Age, pre-Christian life in Ireland. Primitive breeds of animals, thatched dwellings, a castle, and a moss-covered forest.


A light mist was falling as we strolled through the mossy woods of this picturesque county Clare

We picked Reid up at the airport at 9:00 AM and headed through Adare,  (Adare Castle) a quaint, busy town with a featured castle that we missed because of the crowds. We found  a pub and had lunch and our first Guinness of the trip.

Our first two nights were at Fern Rock B & B outside of Killorglin in county Kerry.  Irma warmly greeted us and showed us around. She recommended Quinn’s for fish and chips in town. After a nice dinner and a stroll we were more than ready for a good nights sleep.




Texas Bluebonnets























We took a little drive north of Dallas in search of Bluebonnets following the (what else?) “Bluebonnet Trail”.  This took us through the town of Ennis, where we stopped at a gas station for kolache, (a Czech sweet roll sausage combo). They have many varieties, so we picked out the sausage, and jalapeño and had a little picnic.

There are beautiful rolling hills and people graciously allow photographs to be taken in the fields.

Peace Fleece sweater 

I have been a long time fan of Peace Fleece yarn, even before I volunteered to go on the annual wool buys on the Navajo reservation. The wool is blended with mohair to create a hard wearing fabric that just does not pill and looks great year after year. I am just finishing my latest sweater using the ‘Ramona’ pattern and am delighted with the way it has turned out. It is slightly fitted at the waist for a vintage feel. This close up shows the many colors blended in the yarn to create the ‘tundra’ colorway

This is a “pre blocking, pre weaving in ends ” photo 

Hurricane Hermine

I was on Longboat Key during hurricane Hermine. The storm hit the northern gulf coast so we were at the southernmost end of it. Large rainfall amounts and a tidal surge sent water levels up about 3 feet.  The beach path was about a foot deep. Turtle nests suffered as many were underwater

2016 Wool Buy

Once again I am able to participate in the Peace Fleece yarn wool buy on the Navajo Nation. We just finished our third day of bringing  in pickup truck loads of wool, which will travel all over the world ending up in yarn and garments. Our goal with Peace Fleece and volunteers is to help the Navajo people receive a fair price for their wool with the hope that they can maintain their shepherding lifestyle. 

The mohair is placed in plastic bag on a stand and Nancy volunteered to pack it tightly

The mohair has to be skirted

Common Ground Fair

We spent Saturday at the Common Ground Fair. There is so much to seed and do that it’s a bit overwhelming and it was very crowded. I am so impressed with the colors of the vegetables .  They are the most vivid I’ve ever seen. And where can you find oxen plowing ?  It was all just awesome

Lobster Boat

   On our last night we were invited to watch a lobster boat come in and unload the catch.  Ty built the boat himself in a barn over a period of several years .  It is a magnificent boat. His dad is hooking the rope to the crates on the boat and they are placed in a refrigerated truck. Their day begins about 3:00 AM and ends around dark.  They generously gave us lobsters for dinner – best I ever had!

On the coast of Maine

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EXPORT - blog-22EXPORT - blog-13 EXPORT - blog-8We had the opportunity to stay in this old farmhouse on the coast of Maine last week. It sits on the St George Peninsula, near Tenant’s Harbor and is an old dairy farm. The barn is attached to the house in the old New England style, and the owners have kept much of the house in original condition. I felt like I was living in an Andrew Wyeth painting. It was a delight to just ramble around the house and barn, taking in the views, and salt air, and imagining all the hard work and long days that must have gone into this farm every day in years gone by.

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Davis and I enjoyed a little fire on the beach one night before the boys arrived. A sneaker wave surprised him while he was getting water to put out the fire
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Cooking brats on the beach . . .  we are a fire loving family
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Lobster, of course

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a lighthouse

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Day trip to Monhegan Island and the ferry

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Yoga on the Rocks



hiking all over the island

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Fairy Houses in Cathedral Woods


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We lost Reid for a few hours but eventually, there he was

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Local Farm stand

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Lots of Rock Hopping

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