Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Eat Local, Knit Local

Hi, Knitters,
The Madison Farmers' Market, which is officially called the Dane County Farmers' Market, is an amazing treat during the spring, summer and early fall seasons around here. It takes place every Saturday morning and the vendors circle the capitol square. The beauty and vastness of the market takes my breath away every time I go. Usually we have swim meets on Saturday mornings in the summer so we don't get a chance to go too often until the summer swim season is over.

Last Saturday we went to the gigantic market and I think the end of the season is the best time to go. Everything is rich and robust and the colors just knock you out. This particular Saturday was especially energized because another event, The Taste of Madison, was set to start immediately following the market. The Taste of Madison is an enormous food market where foodies get to sample small portions of every kind of food you could think of for $1-4 from 84 restaurants and caterers from the area. There are three live music stages going at different offshoot streets from the square as well. This is another hugely popular event on the square. Both my brother and sister attended this one later that afternoon. On top of all of that action, the University of Wisconsin students were just back to campus life and there was the first Badger football game of the season. Badger red was the color of choice that day.

Click here for the Dane County Farmers' Market website!

Click here for the Taste of Madison website!

As we were walking around the colorful market, taking in the fun atmosphere and beautiful fresh produce, my husband turned to me and said, "Why would we live anywhere else?" I agreed. Madison is definitely our city.

 Radishes are so incredibly beautiful to look at.  They get me every time.

 I didn't know that rhubarb came in different colors. Rhubarb reminds me so much of my mom and her seasonal rhubarb pie. That was an annual treat at our house when I was growing up. Added later: I've been told this is not rhubarb but Swiss Chard. Still looks like colorful rhubarb to me, I can dream there is such a thing. Does Swiss Chard taste like rhubarb?

 Eggplants? I am pretty sure these are some type of eggplant, pretty no matter what.

 Heirloom tomatoes and colorful cherry tomatoes. The. Best.

 Ahhhhh, the glorious sunflowers. I wait every year for the sunflower season.

 Someone had the perfect eye-catching display idea here. Powerful carrot impact on the eyes!

 We found the queen bee and watched for a moment. Hard workers those bees.

Then suddenly I ran across a small booth with a tiny shelf display of yarn. There was a young man in the booth and I asked him about the wool. The farm is called, Shady Blue Acres, located in southwest Wisconsin. They sell organic meats, vegetables and wool from their heritage sheep. They have Romney, Rambouillet and Tunis breeds. Their wool is milled at the Blackberry Ridge mills in Mt. Horeb, which is about a half hour away from me.

Shady Blue Acres has an interesting story behind it. Click here for their website.  The Tunis sheep breed isn't mentioned in their Heritage Sheep text section but there are photos of this breed in the slide show of sheep.

Click here to find out about the Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill. I have visited this mill before and had a tour and it was really interesting and fun.

I came away with a beautifully twisted skein of 226 yards of a medium weight yarn of Tunis wool. The skein cost me $10. It is the bounciest and squishiest skein you could imagine. I am in love with this skein for some reason, slightly obsessed. I have held it and squished and smelled it many times since it came home with me. I am thinking of dyeing it but I have no idea how to do that. 

Any suggestions in the dyeing area are very welcome! Anyone? 

Also, I am thinking I might have to go to the market next Saturday and get more. I asked if he did mail orders online and he said I could email him and they would charge me through Paypal but he seemed hesitant. I am thinking I would love a sweater in the Shady Blue Acres Tunis wool though.

 TC rested her toes for a moment.

 I literally held my Tunis wool like a baby while we walked around the rest of the square. TC bought me a maple sugar sucker which I promptly stuck in my yarn. It was a pretty sweet combination.

And then I ran into this booth! Again, the Wisconsin Highlands Farms offered fresh off the sheep wool and roving milled at the same Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill. I had to get a couple of balls of the fluffy white roving on the top shelf. I got 6.5oz for about $12. I might have to dye this, too. Any ideas in  simple dyeing techniques for a novice are again welcome here.

Click here for a fantastic little article in the Isthmus about the Wisconsin Highlands Farms wools! It's a pretty interesting read for anyone interested in the sheep and wool business.

 Next we happened to run into my niece and nephew on State Street. They were on their way to a tailgate and then to attend the Badger game. 

I admired my woolly purchases on the quick car ride home. I can't believe my good luck. What a great way to start the long weekend.

Have a good Tuesday!
best, susie

32 comments:

Suzanne said...

What a bountiful trip! I think that was Japanese eggplant...but I could be wrong. Your photos take me back to the farmers market Saturdays I had when I lived in Brooklyn. Fond memories!

Barb said...

Did you happen to mention to the man at the Shady Bliue Acres booth who you are? That you have an incredibly popular blog? That we all love you? And that we will now all want yarn from Shady Blue Acres?

If not, you should have warned him - 'cuz you know the power of your blog and the incredible power of the Internet. they won't know what hit them!

Your Farmer's market looks amazing - love your photos.,
Thanks for sharing them.

Brandi Schoch said...

You were asking about dyeing the wool. I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have about dyeing with acid dyes, Koolaid, natural dyes, or even food dyes. Feel free to email me.

Sharon said...

Check out the Ravelry group "It's a Kool Way to Dye" for one way to dye your yarn and/or roving. It is acid dyeing but with food safe dyes. Some of the colors are "to dye for". I have had some great success using methods suggested there.

Kathy said...

Beautiful pics! Swiss chard does NOT taste like rhubarb. I usually cut up the stems and leaves and sauté it with a little garlic and onion. My husband loves it--me not so much. It's ok, worth a try.

Amaia said...

uau!!!!
very interesant!!!
and beautiful!!!

Luna Grey Fiber Arts said...

How fun! There's nothing like finding some fiber goodness where you least expect it : )

-Jackie

Monkeymama said...

I went to college in Madison and really miss it this time of year! It was a great place to live.

My kids think the rainbow Swiss chard stems look like licorice - it only took one taste to realize I wasn't stocking up on candy.

Rae Lynne said...

Hi Susan! Looks like you make out at market! :) All your pictures were so colorful and bright, I wish we had something like that here. :)

If you go to your group on Rav, we've got a Dye-a-long thread going - I've posted some good links for beginners in dying.

I find Koolaid to be a pretty simple, easy way to dye yarn. I could probably answer questions you have about dying your roving as well. :)

I can't wait to see what you come up with! :)

Rae Lynne

Julie said...

What a fun trip downtown for you (and me). I love that you're so excited about finding fiber. I am embarrased to admit that I am a farmers' market grouch usually, so your lighthearted perspective is appreciated. I get there once a season; I just don't like crowds and have figured out my own way to enjoy the market.

I also live in Madison and have never heard of those two businesses. I'll definitely check them out. I toured Blackberry Ridge last November and was utterly fascinated. I'd liked their yarns before then and I was so glad I was able to learn more about them in person. I love, love, love knitting with their wool -- it makes me feel like my grandma would be so proud that I was knitting with the good stuff. They take their business quite seriously and do a good job.

How crazy that you saw your niece and nephew celebrating a football Sat. They look like they're already having a great time. I had to look twice at the young man because I thought, that looks like MY nephew! It wasn't.

Julie said...

What a fun trip downtown for you (and me). I love that you're so excited about finding fiber. I am embarrased to admit that I am a farmers' market grouch usually, so your lighthearted perspective is appreciated. I get there once a season; I just don't like crowds and have figured out my own way to enjoy the market.

I also live in Madison and have never heard of those two businesses. I'll definitely check them out. I toured Blackberry Ridge last November and was utterly fascinated. I'd liked their yarns before then and I was so glad I was able to learn more about them in person. I love, love, love knitting with their wool -- it makes me feel like my grandma would be so proud that I was knitting with the good stuff. They take their business quite seriously and do a good job.

How crazy that you saw your niece and nephew celebrating a football Sat. They look like they're already having a great time. I had to look twice at the young man because I thought, that looks like MY nephew! It wasn't.

Renee Anne said...

I miss the Farmer's Market in Madison :(

The ones in Alameda and San Francisco (by the Ferry Building) cannot compare. Of course, Madison has the largest farmer's market in the entire country...

Nothing can compare to that.

Anonymous said...

Dyeing classes at my favorite LOCAL YARN SHOP - Sow's Ear, Verona!

Kepanie said...

What beautiful veggies to look at there and how cool to run into some wool booths. Man, $10 is a STEAL for 226 yds. We don't get yarn booths at our Farmer's Markets out here :O(.

Debbie said...

I've had great success dying with Kool-aid. Found instructions online and it's so easy and safe. Not to mention AMAZING when the color goes from the water to the yarn! Plus the aroma really does linger for a while -- I have some socks I dyed several years ago and I can still get a whiff of Orange Kool-aid after they come out of the dryer (yes I machine wash and dry them!)

Kieran Andersen said...

What a shame there is no online store! I would love enough for a particular sweater I am dreaming of.
Maybe you could work your magic and convince them to sell online?!?

Suze said...

I am a total sucker for local yarn. I bought yarn at an orchard once! It was kind of scratchy, to be honest, but I didn't care. How many people can say they bought apples and yarn at the same place?

Dorothy said...

We have lots of nice features here in the Minneapolis area too, including various farmers markets, but I'm alwya jealous of the wonderful mix that is Madison. Graduated from UW and I love it so much! Thanks for the beautiful photos.

Sally said...

My family and I stopped at the Madison Farmer's Mkt on our way to the Dells years ago. It was truly the best market ever, and the fact that it surrounded the capitol was so so cool! I've always imagined Madison would be a great place to live. Lucky you!
P.S. Rhubarb always makes me think of my mom, too! :)

Broogie said...

I think the farm is cool, but in the beginning of their description they're talking about how tasty the sheep are. That turns my stomach. The reason I love yarn is because they dont kill the sheep.

Tanknit said...

Looks like an awesome day!

Arlene said...

Glad you had a chance to experience the market and had such a good time. I had really good results with Paas egg dyes, but now is the wrong time of year to find those. Have fun with the process.

Pam said...

Hi. Thanks for sharing all of those pics. I lived by the Capitol during one year at UW. It was nice to relive memories of the Farmer's Market. It's been around a long time:). The yarn looks wonderful. Maybe we'll hear more about it in the future? Pam

Sunrise Knitter said...

I love the farmers market in Madison. Thanks for sharing the fantastic pictures. And finding the yarn! I'll be there is a couple weeks when we return to WI for a Badger football game---I hope the yarn is still at the market.
Lois

Sunrise Knitter said...

I love the farmers market in Madison. Thanks for sharing the fantastic pictures. And finding the yarn! I'll be there is a couple weeks when we return to WI for a Badger football game---I hope the yarn is still at the market.
Lois

Amber said...

I also have had some good luck using kool aid to dye wool. I like that you an just use your normal kitchen utensils and not worry about toxicity, so your girls can get in on the fun too. I mixed some flavors and got some better less kindergardeny colors (black cherry and orange was one I remember as a nice combination). Maybe buy some chair-store wool to practice with first? I dyed the roving and fabrics for pins I was making. I found directions online. I wasn't spinning my wool.

I also used easter egg dyes once, but it gives a very easter-egg kind of look, and might not be just what you want. It was great fun and I now keep a "hoard" of a few boxes of easter egg dye on hand in case I have an uncontrollable urge to dye with those again!

Can't wait to see what cool stuff you do.

Ruth said...

Check with Jaala Spiro, KC for either tips or maybe she'd be happy to help you out while you do it!

idiosyncratic eye said...

What an amazingly cool market! :)

Anonymous said...

This is a great site for koolaid dyeing. Your kids would love doing it. I dyed some knit picks bare yarn that I had around for years.
http://maiyamayhem.blogspot.com/2011/07/kool-aid-popsicle-dyeing.html
Good luck..kparkerwatson@yahoo.com

whatzitknitz said...

Why don't you try plants. Right now golden rod is blooming and it gives you beautiful yellows.
Jewel weed is growing and ready to pick and that gives a wonderful orange and so does marigold blossoms.
And I have been collecting walnuts for the rich browns the last few weeks. Home owners with walnut trees love for you to pick up walnuts so they don't have to before they mow.
I could go on and on.

Cate said...

Beautiful post!

Re dyeing, it's important to note that Kool-Aid dyes are only semi-permanent!

I run a tiny hand-spun yarn company (infinitetwist.com) and do all my own dyeing. I highly recommend Cushing's Perfection Acid dyes (wcushing.com). They're really easy to use, set permanently with vinegar, and come in a wide range of great colors.

Make sure you pre-soak until your yarn sinks, and leave it in the dye bath until the dye bath is completely cool for saturated colors.

Good luck!

Amber said...

Found my way to this site via pinterest. Dying all kinds of colors by mixing koolaid.

http://www.dyeyouryarn.com/kool-aid.html

Hope you get to play at this. I know I'm picking up lots of kool aid and some off-white yarn next time I'm out!