Tag Archives: Meduseld

We’re back!

Good Morning Friends and welcome back, I mean me! My sincerest apologies for the absence but we have literally been without internet for 31 days! What didn’t help was lots of snow and icy road conditions, making going out difficult, too. In this rural location, we rely on the cell tower for our businesses’  communications, internet, weather, news, etc.  (In one conversation with an AT&T representative, “Paul” remarked that he was looking at a computer map that shows cell strength.  He said that around us it was completely white.  I asked, “What does that mean?”  “It means nothing, it means you have nothing,” was his reply.)

As you know, we had already been having AT&T tower problems for the last few months. The entire tower crashed, however, exactly two weeks before Christmas. I had several Christmas blogs in mind that will have to wait for next year, such as how to make Christmas Stollen, a German holiday bread studded with candied fruits and filled with almond paste. 

So time to catch up on some other news, as well as four weeks of Emily Estrada’s Fibretown Podcast :)

Meduseld is thrilled to be an advertiser inWild Fibers Magazine’s Tenth Anniversary Issue. I have been reading this magazine since before we even started up making yarn, and it is like traveling overseas without leaving the comfort of your living room. It covers diverse natural fibers all over the globe. My only complaint is that they don’t cover the wonderful domestic farms very often, but hopefully there will be more attention given to our own country’s fantastic (albeit struggling) fiber industry in the future.   Look for our ad in this issue, which contains a link to our free Icicle Shawl Pattern

We were not idle while the net was down. I started some seed trays for a friend who is firing up her own “high tunnel” or hoop house. While most of the seedlings are coming up fine, I have had the most frustrating time keeping a mouse out of the cucumber and squash trays, having to replant each time some four legged creature makes a feast of my seeds. I even put the four legs of the table in buckets of water and the little varmint still gets to them. BTW, sprinkling hot red pepper over the dirt doesn’t stop the mice either. I have now planted those trays for the fourth time. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

Coming up: Maple syrup making, new yarn I am expecting from the mill, gardening plans for 2014, and some recipes I have been testing while things were “quiet.”

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

In honor of the real Santa, happy Saint Nicholas Day!

Weckmann with Candies and Advent Wreath

Weckmann with Candies and Advent Wreath

We made Weckmann, or Nikolaus, for the occasion.  These are soft bread “men” made in the shape of ginger bread men.  I will share my own version below.

It has been tradition for the children to place their house shoes or slippers outside their bedroom doors for St. Nicholas to fill with Weckmann, oranges and candies.  Since we have a puppy in the house who could enjoy them before the children do, we decorate the table and place the Weckmann on plates.

Weckmann Dough

1 1/2 cups water or milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups King Arthur Bread Flour

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Combine all ingredients in bowl or in bread machine on dough cycle.  Let it rise until doubled.  Knead dough and divide into four equal parts.  Form each of these into “men” shapes by forming a ball head, and cutting arms and legs.  Place on greased baking sheets to rise.  When nearly doubled, brush on an egg wash and decorate. The egg wash will help to hold your decorations and will make the Weckmann shiny.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10-15  minutes or until golden brown.


Golden Gauze Shawl – Free Pattern

Meduseld's Golden Gauze Shawl

Meduseld’s Golden Gauze Shawl

Here is another shawl pattern that I have been asked for frequently. When I wore this shawl at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, someone literally offered to buy it off my back. She was even more disappointed when I told her that to my knowledge the yarn for this shawl was not available at any of the booths at the festival.

The shawl is generously sized, gauzy and light, and yet still warming. The sequins sparkle in their multitude of colors and no picture seems to do it justice. For all its beauty it’s incredibly easy to make one for yourself.


The finished dimensions are approximately 6.5 feet x 2 feet.

Materials needed are:

5 skeins of S. Charles Adele in gold (other colorways are available) click on yarn in Amazon store – will take you to Amazon where you can buy this in gold.

US 10 knitting needles

Cast on 90 stitches. Turn

k2, yarn around (brings yarn to p side), p2tog. Repeat this until end. You should end with 2 knit stitches. Turn

k2, yarn around (brings yarn to p side), p2tog….etc for the full length of shawl. It is really that easy.

By bringing the yarn around, it means a full loop around the needle bringing it to the front for the p stitches. This is more than a simple yarn over.


Notes: This shawl can be made in other dimensions. Make sure that you choose an even number of stitches that when you divide it by two gives you an odd number. For example about, 90 divided by 2 equals 45, an odd number, others examples are 50, 30, 26 etc… this provides for the two knit stitches on each side, giving you your border.




Only Four Days Until SVFF

Preparations continue for the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, this weekend, September 28 and 29, in Berryville, Virginia. 

If you have never been, this event provides so much fun for the entire family.  It’s a great time to load up on quality, locally made items for Christmas presents, which isn’t far off! 

We will have a new product that we are bringing to the festival, and it will be featured on this blog on Friday!  We are very excited about it – stay tuned!

Jacob Sheep

Jacob Sheep


August Garden Progress

The permaculture garden is one of the most visited places on our farm.  This is not just a place to weed and collect produce.  It really is a destination  – a place to pause, take in the beauty of God’s creation, look for surprises and appreciate His bounty.  I think the garden is missing a bench so that we’ll be able to sit and crochet or visit, or reflect, and learn -because the garden always has something to teach us.

Meduseld Permaculture garden  - August 3, 2013

Meduseld Permaculture garden – August 3, 2013

Here are pictures of the garden now.  We have pulled some of the earlier plants to make room for the new rotation of fall plants.  You’ll see some bare areas where cucumbers and squash have been removed and beets and turnips will be planted (and parsnips, if I can ever remember to order them…)

I love volunteers in the garden – the plants that re-sow themselves.   Every year there are varieties of plants that I do not replant because I know they will take care of it themselves.  This year’s volunteers include dill, arugula, tomatoes, and the best surprise of all, Holy Basil.  I had planted this basil last year and did not remember to buy seeds this year.  Fortunately, I did not have to! 

Holy Basil growing among the Merigolds

Holy Basil growing among the marigolds

Nearby, the garden is showing a thriving plant relationship.  Here you can see broccoli and Basil planted closely and both are doing well with no signs of insect problems. 

Broccoli and Basil - best friends?

Broccoli and Basil – best friends?

Brussel sprouts forming on stem


Cabbages forming good heads.  This one will make excellent sauerkraut.

Cabbages forming good heads. This one will make excellent sauerkraut.

Peppers hidden in the foliage.

We have had some setbacks – the horses and cows were out recently and one of them leaned over the fence and ate most of the corn plants.  And, there are still some weak spots in the garden, signs of recovering from the excess decomposition of  mulch layers as recommended in Gaia’s Garden.  I hope by next spring the last mulch will be fully broken down, making the nutrients available to the plants.  I am still learning and the garden is the best teacher!

Meduseld’s Open House 2013

Despite the rain and gloomy forecast, Meduseld’s open house was a well-attended and fun event!

open house 010b

The rain prevented us from putting out all the displays and products, however, people were  able to tour the nearby gardens and structures.

open house 011b

People meandered through the permaculture garden where we discussed soil and pest issues and how they can be remedied without resorting to chemicals.  Attendees also viewed the conservatory, taking in the banana trees with developing clusters of fruit, the assorted citrus, papaya, and jabuticaba trees. 

open house 025b

People visited and enjoyed hot dogs and good company.

People visiting and looking at yarn in the fiber tent.

People visiting and looking at yarn in the fiber tent.

Among all the wonderful people who came to the event, we were delighted to be joined by Emily Estrada, Fibretown podcaster, and her lovely family.  Emily also brought her adorable and animated dog, Alice, who promptly took up becoming close friends with our own dog, Beowulf.  The two were so animated, though, that taking a picture of them sitting still was nearly  an impossible task. 

Emilry and her family - her son ducked out of the photo.

Emily and her family – her son ducked out of the photo.

Photo-op  with the celebrity Alice!

Photo-op with the celebrity Alice!

Some of the young men in attendance took charge of cooking the hot dogs over a camp-fire and shared stories.

Around the campfire

Around the campfire

The children enjoyed other activities, including climbing trees and playing croquet.

Tree climbing

Tree climbing – Elve or girl?

It looks like this little darling won the croquet game.

Croquette game winner!

Croquet game winner!


A cowboy also attended.

A cowboy also attended.

We also had a raffle for a pineapple lace shawl crocheted with Meduseld Romney yarn.  The raffle was won by Julie Flanagan who was delighted!  Congratulations, Julie!


Calligraphy Workshop at Fort Edwards

My daughter Lottie and I attended yesterday’s Calligraphy workshop, hosted by the Fort Edwards Foundation and given by Abby Chapple, a member of the Washington Calligraphy Guild.  Abby has lead a fascinating life and is listed in the Who’s Who in America guide.

Abby Chapple Presenting the Calligraphy Workshop

Abby Chapple Presenting the Calligraphy Workshop

Chapple gave the historical background about calligraphy, its origins and uses.  She explained that the word derives from greek and that “calli” come from the greek work for beauty.  It literally translates to “beautiful writing.”    Chapple discussed its use in historic documents,  bibles and prayer books such as the famous Book of Kells, official government documents, records, etc.  Before our modern version of paper was widely manufactured and distributed, the writing was done on “parchment” or “vellum” – sheep and goat skins.

Diverse people attended the class  – from historical docents to artists to students.  One person was interested in learning this art to contribute to his skill in interpreting the colonial period. 

Chapple described the tools used for calligraphy.  She demonstrated the commonly seen feather quill pen and its frequent need for being resharpened, hence the penknife.  Chapple explained that the metal fountain pen tip was only patented in this country in 1803.  It likely existed earlier in Europe , but in the timeline of recorded human history, its existence is relatively short!

Calligraphy Writing Instruments and Inks

Calligraphy Writing Instruments and Inks

During the class, Chapple taught the packed class of students the basic pen strokes that are the foundation for every letter of the alphabet.  Once these strokes are mastered the remaining letters can all be written.  It sounds easier than it is.  Each stroke has a varying width and must be perfected before advancing to a completed letter. 

Chapple Assisting a Student with her Penstokes

Chapple Assisting a Student with her Penstokes

Due to the popularity of the class, Abby Chapple may be offering another and if there is interest please contact the Fort Edward Foundation for more information or call (304) 874-4291.  Chappel recommnded the calligraphy book, The Universal Penman, and I have placed it in my Amazon Store to the right.

The Fort Edwards Foundation hosted this event in their museum/bookstore.  The Foundation is offering other workshops and is a real benefit to the community.  The Foundation would like to expand its building in order to have more space for displaying the 6000 artifacts that they have found on the property, as well as more room for future workshops, hosting events etc.  Please consider donating to their mission of preserving this valuable piece of George Washington’s past.   Donations to the Foundation are tax-deductible. 


Display Case of Fort Edwards Foundtion

Display Case of Fort Edwards Foundtion

Grass Fed Lamb



Meduseld Grass-fed Lambs

Meduseld Grass-fed Lambs

  We are accepting reservations for six grass-fed lambs that will be available this fall.  The lambs were born in March or April of this year and will be ready for butchering late fall.   These sheep were just recently weaned.  They have never been grained.  They receive Thorvine Kelp as a nutritional supplement. 

Meduseld does not butcher or sell the processed meat.  We sell the sheep and will deliver it to Gore’s Custom Butcher in Stephen’s City, VA, which is conveniently located off Interstate 81.  Meduseld’s charge is $100.00 for the sheep, and Gores charges $75.00 to process it (pricing as of June 2013).  You will be able to pick up your lamb directly from Gores.

The lambs are crosses of the Romneys, Dorset Down, or Jacobs.  The weight of each lamb will be approximately 100 pounds.  Typically, approximately 50 percent of that is lost during butchering.  

If you google prices for grass-fed lamb, you will find that this is a bargain. 

The sheep are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Please email meduseld@live.com to reserve your lamb!  We require a $25.00 deposit to hold the reservation.

Meals at Meduseld – Moor Park Apricot Tart


Moor Park Apricot

Moor Park Apricot

“It was only the spring twelvemonth before Mr. Norris’s death that we put in the apricot against the stable wall, which is now grown such a noble tree, and getting to such perfection, sir,” addressing herself then to Dr. Grant.

“The tree thrives well, beyond a doubt, madam,” replied Dr. Grant. “The soil is good and I never pass it without regretting that the fruit should be so little worth the trouble of gathering.”

“Sir, it is a Moor Park, we bought it as a Moor Park, and it cost us–that is, it was a present from Sir Thomas, but I saw the bill–and I know it cost seven shillings, and was charged as a Moor Park.”

“You were imposed on, ma’am,” replied Dr. Grant: “these potatoes have as much the flavour of a Moor Park apricot as the fruit from that tree. It is an insipid fruit at the best, but a good apricot is eatable, which none from my garden are.”

As a great fan of Jane Austen, I have been determined to grow a Moor Park apricot tree.   The first tree was planted about thirteen years ago, but suffered a collision with a trailer, and is still struggling to get past that challenge.  I planted another pair of Moor Parks in front of our cottage/office and one succumbed to insect damage at its base.  But small victories do sometimes  occur and mine was to feast yesterday on my very own juicy Moor Park Apricot.

I have to disagree with Dr. Grant.  It is sweet and honeyish with just a hint of tartness.   And for this tree’s first crop it produced enough to make an apricot tart.  Here is how we did it.

Tart crust

2 packages of cream cheese

1 cup butter

2 1/2 cups pastry flour

1/4 confectioners sugar

Combine all ingredients into dough and roll or press into a large tart pan or two medium.  I made a large tart and had enough left for 8 little tart shells.



10 oz jelly, preferably apricot or peach.  I used Crofters Blood orange jelly because it’s what I had and its tastes wonderful.

8 oz water.

Combine both in thick bottomed pan until a nice rolling boil.  Turn off heat and reserve.



Wash apricots and cut each into quarters.  Arrange decoratively in your tart shell.  Spoon the glaze over the apricots pieces. 


Moor Park Apricot Tart Ready for the Oven

Moor Park Apricot Tart Ready for the Oven

Bake in a 375 over until apricots have softened and the crust has developed a golden brown color, approximately 55 minutes.  this time varies greatly depending on the size tart you are baking.  The little tartlets bake in approximately 30 minutes, for example.


Meduseld's Moor Park Apricot Tartlets

Meduseld’s Moor Park Apricot Tartlets

I suspect even Dr. Grant would eat this.