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