Sunday, October 14, 2012

Local Produce: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Wool

Ten days ago, the season changed. Light in the early evening  is golden and over night temperatures dip down to freezing. I love autumn and mark the season with my own rituals. One night I picked the remaining rosebuds and several bouques of lavender. The next evening, I filled three colanders with herbs. As I washed and laid them on a paper towel, the scent of parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and chives filled the kitchen. After a few hours on the counter, I stacked the towels in two piles and put them in the fridge. In a few weeks, I'll crumble them and put them in containers in my kitchen cupboards. Since this is the first year I've grown sage, I'm looking forward to seasoning soups, roasted chicken, and the Thanksgiving turkey.


I also continue knitting on warm weather gear. Among other projects, I am working on the Deephaven Cowl in Prairie Silk yarn by Brown Sheep Company. The textured stitches keep the project interesting but not so challenging I can't knit on them in the evening at the end of my work day. The periwinkle color suits me and the yarn is dense, warm, and soft to the touch.

When I bought the yarn twelve years ago, I knew the company was located in Mitchell, Nebraska. Brown Sheep Company manufactures and dyes yarn on a farm that has been in their family for several generations. Owners, Peggy and Robert Wells buy most of their wool from growers in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. In addition, they have developed a process to reuse 70-90% of the water used in the manufacturing process. The Prairie Silk line has been discontinued but the company has other yarns available. Maybe the slight silk content of the yarn didn't meet Brown Sheep criteria for environmentally friendly manufacturing or maybe obtaining and/or manufacturing yarn with silk was too expensive. However, their other yarns are a good quality. I've enjoyed using the Lamb's Pride worsted for warm hats and mittens. More recently, I knit a Christmas stocking for my grandson from Lanaloft Sports Weight yarn. The yarn felt good in my hands and worked well for the intarsia pattern.

Now, knitting the cowl brings back memories of the trip my daughter and I took to celebrate our milestone birthdays of twenty one and fifty. At her suggestion, we drove west to Montana. Along the way, we hiked around Devil's Tower in Wyoming, drove the Bear Tooth Pass, and stayed at a lovely old hotel in Red Lodge, Montana. We enjoyed the shops and restaurants in Red Lodge. By the time we arrived, the local yarn shop owner had moved the shop to her home. After a phone call, we meandered around the outskirts of Red Lodge and located the shop where I bought the Prairie Silk. Like most knitters I buy yarn from many sources but I try to support local businesses and increasingly, I like to know how yarns are produced.  I also like the idea of a warm wrap around my neck in December and January.