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Sock of the Month: World Traveler Series

Join us in our latest Sock of the Month adventure ... World Traveler!
Twelve Sock patterns inspired by places around the globe!
First Stop: Japan ... May, 2017

Our 2017-2018 Sock of the Month: World Traveler Series promises unique and colorful patterns based on exciting destinations from around the world. Amy's plan is to feature several different sock techniques along with super yummy yarns in 12 adventurous designs ... inspired by your travel suggestions!

Join the sock knitting fun and see where our newest Sock of the Month series will take you!

Spring in Japan Socks

Our first World Traveler destination is a spring time trip to Japan, featuring the "Spring in Japan" socks.  It's easy to join the fun.  There is no monthly commitment or subscription.  Just a new sock every month to keep you knitting!

World Travler Series

FiberWild! Colorado River Sock featuring Dream in Colors' Smooshy with Cashmere yarn in the custom colorway Grand Canyon

Caffeine72
"Saudade"

Colleen Grant "Nuances
of the Nabataeans"

Kim McKeon
"Stranded in Mykonos"

Pamela M.
"Springtime in Amsterdam"

FiberWild! Colorado River Sock featuring Dream in Colors' Smooshy with Cashmere yarn in the custom colorway Grand Canyon

Becky "Thistle"
Sharon Clare
"Highland Heather"

Sock of the Month: Fern and Forest Socks

Tammy Blondon
"Inukshuk"

Mammoth Springs Socks

Sue
"Mandala"

Judy Drew
"Celestial Light"
Rachel
"Chapel's Holy Twilight"

Grace
"Stained Glass"

Stout Grove Socks

Scout's Mystery Destination!

Sock of the Month: Continental Divide Socks

Scout's Mystery Destination!

Thank You to everyone who made travel suggestions and congrats to the winners!
Winners will receive a free PDF copy of all 12 World Travel Series Sock Patterns as they are released over the next 12 months ... and for the sock project you inspired, we will gleefully send you the yarn!

Giveaway Winners

Thank you all for the amazing design ideas. We were blown away by your feedback ... sock knitters are such a creative bunch! We had a blast going through them and coming up with ways to bring your travel destinations to the world of sock knitting.

Above are the winning ideas! We have indicated winners with your name and the suggested sock name. If there is more than one name listed, that means there were two outstanding entries mentioning the same place ... and we are using aspects of both in the design.

Note: Scout has two exotic mystery destinations in mind, but he's not talking!  All I we can get from him is a meow and a puuurrrr!

Amy, our Sock Knitting Guru

Amy's at it once again with her popular monthly sock designs ... this time inspired by places around the globe. Our 2016-2017 World Traveler Series, will start May 2017 with a new sock pattern each month through April 2018. For updates on each pattern as they arrive and fun giveaways, follow us on social media.

Ravelry
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Pinterest

You're also encouraged you to create project pages and share progress photos with the FiberWild and Friends group on Ravelry ... or share pix on your favorite social media with hashtags #FiberWildSockoftheMonth and #SockKnitAdventure

Other Sock of the Month Series

National Park Sock Series
Outer Space Sock Series

Flowers for Everyone!

Natufian - Homes of Wood and Animal Hide - Art by Fernando G. Baptista

Natufian homes constructed of wood and
animal hides, by Fernando G. Baptista.

No one knows exactly who was the first human to hold up a flower and say "Ooooo! Pretty!" but there is no doubt that ​people have been enjoying flowers for a very long time.

​The Natufian culture existed 15,000 to 11,000 years ago in the Middle East, and appears to be the first culture to bury their dead with flowers.  If they liked pretty flowers among their dead, we can assume that they probably appreciated the beauty of flowers during their lifetimes as well.  They may have decorated their homes with flowers, celebrated important events with flowers, or worn flowers in their hair and on their clothes.

The Natufians are believed to be the first non-nomadic culture.  They were still hunters and gatherers (no agriculture yet), but lived a sedentary life and built the first villages, including Jericho, the world's oldest city.  These Natufian villages were small by modern standards, probably just a couple hundred of people. But unlike other prehistoric ​camps that moved to follow animal movements, the Natufians primarily lived in permanent, year-round villages. 

How do we know they were mostly permanent?  I mean, it's not like the Natufians left behind travel diaries!  One clue is by studying the little prehistoric mouse skeletons left behind.  Skeletons of both house mice (Mus musculus domesticus) and field mice (M. macedonicus) were found.  The two species have differently shaped teeth, and the field mouse has a shorter tail (which makes it more difficult for a predator to catch!), so the archeologists could easily tell the two apart.  The theory is that the house mouse would be more common in a more permanent settlement, since they have evolved to be better suited for mooching off us humans, and the field mouse would be more common in a nomadic camp.  The abundance of house mice over field mice in Natufian villages tells us that they were mostly permanent homes. 

Natufian Graves - Photo by E. Gernstein

Natufian graves, with a reconstruction
showing the bed of flowers below them.
Photo by E. Gernstein.

But back to the pretty flowers!  The Natufians had clearly identified cemeteries, whereas earlier cultures had just buried their dead where ever - if they were buried at all.  The Natufian dead were buried with beads, carved bones and stone artwork ... all of which are easy to identify by archeologists working many thousands of years later.  But flowers?  You know that flowers get mushy and gross two weeks after Valentine's Day, so how does an archeologist identify a 15,000 year old flower?

The flowers themselves were long gone, but archeologists found the impressions of flowers and other plants left in the sediment of Natufian graves - sort of like finding a footprint long after a person has walked by.  The arrangement suggests that the graves were lined with flowers, and the deceased were laid down on top of the bed of flowers.  Although there were beads, carvings and stone artwork with the burials, none of these left any impressions in the sediment. The beds of flowers and plants under all of the bodies were so thick that these heavy items didn't leave an impression.  Not a bad way to spend eternity! 

All of the graves had some flowers, but one in particular, a double grave with an adult (possibly around 30 years old) and teenager (around 12 - 15 years old) had over 30 flower impressions.  Were they leaders, members of a royal family, or otherwise higher ranking people?  Or was it just by chance that they died at the time of year when flowers were especially abundant? No one knows.

Laughter - by Jill Martin

Laughter, by Jill Martin

But Wait . . .  You thought that Neanderthals buried their dead with flowers, 20,000 years before the Natufian Culture had begun?  The thing about history is that it doesn't change, but our interpretation of it does.  In the 1950s ten Neanderthal bodies were discovered at Shanidar Cave in Iraq and were dated to being 35,000 to 65,000 years old (that's much older than the Natufians).  One of the bodies, named Shanidar 4, was found with piles of pollen around him and the theory is that he had been laid to rest with flowers.  Much of the pollen was from flowers with medicinal properties, which gave even more credence to the idea that they had been put with the body intentionally.

It's an awesome theory!  So if you were a student at any time between the 1950s and the early 2000s your social studies teachers all taught you that Neanderthals did bury their dead with flowers.  Period!  Unfortunately, they were probably wrong.  More recently it has become more accepted that the pollen piles were left there by burrowing rodents, bees or even the wind. The Neanderthals, it seems, did not bury their dead with flowers.  What a shame!

Wouldn't it be awesome if you could knit with flowers?  Well, you can!  The newest color in the Art Walk Series from Zen Yarn Garden is a tribute to "Laughter," Jill Martin's painting of a vibrant collection of wild flowers.  Knitting with the red, purple, blue, yellow and green wool and cashmere blend is the perfect way to welcome spring!

Happy Knitting! ... Scout

Mary and Her Little Lamb

Most nursery rhymes are so old that their origins are lost to history, but that is not the case with "Mary Had a Little Lamb​."  Not only do we know when it was written and by whom, we also know that there really was a Mary, a lamb, and a schoolroom full of children who laughed!

From "Denslow's Mother Goose" by W.W. Denslow, 1902

A page from "Denslow's Mother Goose"
by W.W. Denslow, 1902.

Mary Sawyer was born in 1806, and the story of her lamb started when she was ten years old.

For the most part, lambs aren't very interested in people.  They stick close to their mother, bleating and crying when separated from her and while a bold lamb may investigate a person in the barn she will run back to her mother at the slightest movement or noise.

But bottle lambs are an exception to that rule.  When a ewe dies or for any other reason abandons her lamb, a farmer will feed the lamb with a bottle.  These bottle lambs grow extremely attached to their human handlers, and will follow "their" human around like a friendly dog, bleating and crying when the human is out of sight, just like any other lamb will baa for its mother.  This was the case with Mary's lamb.

Young Mary went out to the barn with her father on a cold March morning in 1816.  There they found a ewe that had twins and was taking good care of one but had abandoned the other.  Mary asked if she could take the abandoned lamb into the house and her father told her no.  But as every kid knows, if Dad says no then ask Mom!  Mary snuck it into the house and asked her mother if she could keep it. 

Not only did her mother say yes, she also made the lamb some catnip tea.  Mary fed the tea to the lamb and while she initially couldn't swallow she eventually was able to take some.  Mary spent the day in the kitchen, sitting on the floor next to the stove with the lamb wrapped in a blanket and feeding her sips of tea.  By the end of the day the lamb had improved some.  But Mary was afraid that it would die if left alone during the night, so she spent the night on the kitchen floor with the lamb. 

When a lamb starts to improve they tend to improve quickly and that was the case with Mary's lamb.  Soon she was able to drink milk and Mary continued to care for her.  The lamb was put in the barn with the other sheep, but she always preferred to be with Mary.  Mary treated the lamb like a doll, dressing her up in a shawl and pantalets, washing her and combing her fleece and putting bright ribbons on her head.  In her later years Mary said that she didn't have many dolls and there were few girls her own age near her farm.  She said she and the lamb were "companions and fast friends."

One day as Mary and her brother were walking to school she heard the lamb bleating.  She called out to the lamb and the lamb ran to Mary's side.  Her brother suggested that they bring the lamb to school.  What could possibly go wrong?  So they did.

Inside the Redstone School, where Mary went to school, used as a school from 1798 to 1856.

Mary's Little Lamb Schoolhouse,
where Mary was a student.
The school was used from
1798 to 1856 and is now a historic site.

Mary and her brother arrived before the teacher ... she had the lamb lay down under her seat and covered the lamb with a blanket.  The day progressed without any incident and Mary noted that she even took her turn at the blackboard a few times without the lamb making a peep!  But then the lamb let out a bleat and stood up (probably because she was bored and tired of laying still!).  Mary was mortified to have been caught with her contraband!  But the teacher just laughed and told her to put the lamb outside the schoolhouse ... at lunch time Mary walked the lamb home.

That would have been the end of it, except that the school had a visitor that morning:  John Roulstone, a teenage boy who was preparing for college by studying with his uncle, a local minister.  He was impressed with the little lamb's devotion to Mary and the next day he came back to the school and gave Mary a poem he had written:

Mary had a little lamb;
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out;
But still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear.

Factoid:  Sheep produce an oil called lanolin.  Lambs are born white, but life in a barn and out in the pasture is dirty, dirt sticks to the lanolin on their fleece, and they quickly start to look like they are a dull gray color.  It's just dirt and washes out easily - but nobody washes a sheep, you are supposed to wait and wash the wool after it has been shorn.  Mary's frequent washing of her lamb would be why Roulstone said the lamb had "fleece as white a snow," which would have been very unusual for a sheep!

In 1830 Sarah Hale published "Poems for Our Children," which included the poem with twelve extra lines added:

And then he ran to her, and laid
His head upon her arm,
As if he said "I'm not afraid
You'll keep me from all harm."

"What makes the lamb love Mary so?"
The eager children cry
"O, Mary loves the lamb, you know,"
The Teacher did reply.

"And you each gentle animal
In confidence may bind,
And make them follow at your call,
If you are always kind."

from "Denslow's Mother Goose" by W.W. Denslow, 1902.

Page from "Denslow's Mother Goose" by W.W. Denslow, 1902.

While Roulstone's lines are just a silly poem about a girl and a lamb, Sarah Hale's additional lines give the story a moral lesson - which was very common for children's poems of the 19th century.

So what ever happened to Mary's lamb?  The lamb lived as a pampered pet for four years.  Mary reports that the lamb gave birth twice, once to a single and once to twins and that the lamb-turned-ewe was very devoted to her sheep family.  Her life ended when she was gored by a bull on the farm and the lamb died in Mary's arms.

And the lamb's name?  No one seems to know.  Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford (yup, the guy with the cars) moved Mary's school house from its original location in Sterling, MA to Sudbury, MA.  His plans were to build a museum of Americana in the area (he didn't, but he later realized his dream with the awesome Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI).  In 1928 they published an incredible and well researched 60-page booklet "The Story of Mary and Her Little Lamb."  The booklet republished a 1902 interview with Mary plus information from Mary's friends and relatives about the story of the lamb.  But no where is there any mention of the lamb's name.  The lamb was a pet for four years, surely she called it something!  But the lamb's name is forever lost to history.

Factoid:  Thomas Edison's first recording of a human voice was in 1877.  What did he record?  Himself reciting the first four lines of "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Are you or someone you love expecting her own "little lamb"?  Join in on Michelle Hunter's newest Knit-Along - the "Adorable Ewe Baby Sweater."  Appropriate for a boy or a girl, the little sweater is sized to fit a six month old baby.  It is a mystery KAL, so we don't know what it will look like, but we are told it has a sheep theme and will be too cute to miss!

Happy Knitting! ... Scout