My Latest Yarn

I recently finished making a skein of yarn. It is always exciting to see what it looks like as a complete product. I am never 100% sure at the beginning of the process exactly what the outcome will be.

My recently completed skein of yarn

I have been knitting forever, but learned to spin wool into yarn about 14 years ago. I have always loved all the colors and textures of the fiber world. It is amazing to think that you can take an endless supply of fiber and make an infinite variety of necessary, useful, and beautiful end products. The first time I saw someone using a spinning wheel I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I knew I had to learn how to do that. It took a year of thinking about it before I took steps to learn. After borrowing a spinning wheel from a friend who was out of the country for four months, I bought one for myself.

People first figured out how to twist overlapping plant fibers into string at least 20,000 years ago. It was a turning point in human history to be able to make and use string and ropes for tying and pulling, nets and snares for catching animals and carrying things, and belts to use with primitive clothing. Note the image* of a reconstructed piece of fossilized string found in the caves of Lascaux, France, ca. 15,000 BC.

Until the industrial age, thread and yarn for all fabrics and textiles was spun by hand using various tools depending on the time and place and purpose. That includes all clothing, undergarments, stockings, outerwear, sheets and blankets, towels, rugs, ropes, sails, bags and baskets. Think about that. Many women spent all “spare” time they had on textile production.

Fiber can be prepared for spinning in many different ways. My recent yarn started out from two different sources of fiber. I had bought a “cloud” of a pretty blend of wool dyed blue, turquoise, and purple at the North Country Fiber Fair in Watertown, South Dakota this fall. I spun that on one bobbin.

I already had in my stash a ball of blue roving that I bought from Joanie Ellison’s Northcroft Farm in Pelican Rapids, MN. Joanie had dyed the wool herself before having it processed into roving at Dakota Fiber Mill in North Dakota. I spun some of that on another bobbin.

I plied them together using the spinning wheel and VOILA it became a 3.5 ounce (100 gram) skein of bulky two ply yarn, about 220 yards long. It will be for sale at Tangles to Treasures.

* The image of fossilized string came from a fascinating book called “Women’s Work: The First 20,000” Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber.

Things That Are Different

It is mind boggling to think about what I was doing, planning and expecting one year ago for 2019, compared to all the things that actually happened and what my situation is today.  I could not possibly have anticipated or planned for most of it. So now here I am living at Jewett Lake.

We have been living here full time since the middle of July, after we sold our house in Minnetonka where we lived for more than 30 years. We had already spent quite a bit of time at the lake over the years using the family cabin (my whole life), visiting my parents (since they retired and built this house 20 years ago), and more recently spending the past couple of summers in the house with my mom. We had been thinking about making this move for years. We already have a community of family and friends here. We knew what we were getting ourselves into, and we are happy with our decision.

We are about 12 miles north of Fergus Falls. It is a nice town with a population of about 13,800, a classic old fashioned main street, an old theater converted into a Center for the Arts, an active arts community, reasonable shopping options for the size, and Lake Alice, a lovely lake in the middle of the town surrounded by public space and 100 year old houses. The Otter Tail River flows through the town and area. 

Center for the Arts
A Center for the Arts in Fergus Falls
Otter Tail River
The Otter Tail River weaves through town

It is easy to come up with a list of things that are different here than in “the Cities”. I am not complaining, we like it here. But some things are just different.

You run into people you know when you are out and about in this size of community. Everywhere we go we find connections with people. Wayne’s sister and her husband, Marlene and Steve, came up from the cities for a short winter getaway. We recently had about nine inches of fresh snow and they love cross country skiing, so we went over to Spidahl’s Ski Gaard which is about 5 miles from us.   Marlene and Steve know Cindy and Dave Spidahl from 40 years ago in Minneapolis. While Marlene and Steve and I were visiting with Cindy, in comes Dave who had been out skiing with a friend who turned out to be one of the musicians who played at my mom’s Celebration of Life in Fergus Falls. I have known his wife for years through the fiber community in this area.

A perfect day for skiing
Wayne’s sister Marlene enjoying the trail

When attending an event at A Center for the Arts, I recognized at least 10 people there. That would not happen at the Guthrie or Orpheum in Minneapolis. I had the programs for my mom’s Celebration of Life printed at Victor Lundeens in Fergus Falls, a local gift shop / book store / print shop. They carry my mom’s memoir The Red Cottage in the local authors section. When I was picking up the programs, the employee recognized my mom’s name and noted that her book was out of stock. My mom’s self published book would not be in a store in Minneapolis, and employees in a print shop there would not pay any attention to the info on the item being printed or know anything about the people involved.

Victor Lundeens was established in 1914

I have the yarn that I bought from my cousin’s yarn shop for sale at a cool local fiber arts business (,  along with some yarn that I spun myself. In the cities no local yarn shop would consider selling my handspun yarn. It is fun being a big fish in a small pond.

There is no recycling or organics pickup in rural areas. We have a compost “pile” here …literally…we just pile food scraps on and occasionally turn it over with a shovel. We are probably not doing it the “correct” way, as we sometimes see neighbor dogs trotting across the yard with an egg shell or two in their mouth.  We have some waste baskets in the garage to collect the various types of recycling. We have to take the contents into the county recycling center in Fergus Falls and unload them into big dumpsters. Inside the building is a fun display of empty pop cans and a free book exchange.

At the Otter Tail County Recycling Center

Mail goes out only once per day Monday through Saturday at the main post office in town. There is no pick up on Sunday. Back in Minnetonka I would sometimes drop a piece of mail at the local post office in the evening, knowing it would go out later that day or first thing in the morning. Here there is not a better method than putting outgoing mail in our mailbox with the flag up for the mail carrier to take. It won’t go out any faster if you take it to the post office in town. If you miss the pickup on Saturday, your mail is not going anywhere until Monday afternoon. On the other hand, a piece of mail that was addressed to us incorrectly with the cabin address (different street name and number) got delivered to us anyway. 

It is scary to venture out after dark out in the country. It is REALLY dark out. And forget it if it is snowing or icy. It is also VERY quiet, especially at night. The only sounds you hear are trees blowing in the wind, an occasional owl hooting or sometimes coyotes howling. In the near suburbs of Minneapolis we could hear trains, sirens, airplanes, and sometimes traffic noise even though we were a half-mile away from Interstate 494.

It is exactly 11.8 miles from the house to the Service Foods grocery store in Fergus Falls. You have to plan better as you do not want to run out to the store every time you are missing one ingredient for a recipe.

There is a Walmart, Fleet Farm, Home Depot, Walgreens and other smaller local stores here. If you have not shopped at Fleet Farm you are in for a treat. Fleet Farm has almost anything you need including but not limited to clothes and shoes, hunting and sports equipment, kitchen accessories, every possible snack food, many different kinds of chopped nuts and chocolate for cooking, cleaning supplies, and products used on a farm. In case you need a “free range chicken catcher”, a 50 pound horse tub, or a “Kow Kan’t Kick” (Safest, easiest and most humane way to stop wild & unruly cows from kicking) you are in luck.

There was a Target Store in Fergus Falls until it closed about two years ago. People were incensed as it did not seem to be a decision based entirely on economics. Although I have been able to find whatever I need locally at one of the other stores, or online, I do miss having a choice of four Target stores within easy range in the cities. 

We see quite a few animals in our yard at the lake including Coyotes, Foxes, Owls, Wild Turkeys, and Woodpeckers. Surprisingly, we had all of those in our yard in Minnetonka so that is NOT different.

The last thing to note is that there IS a Caribou coffee shop in Fergus Falls.  That may have been the deciding factor that made it seem doable to move here. Not really, but I do love a Caribou Mocha.

On to new adventures and new connections in 2020!

My First Post

Welcome to my new blog, Yarns from the Lake. I will be writing about a variety of topics including observations on life in Otter Tail County compared to life in the Twin Cities, retirement, my yarn adventures, things that happen, projects I am working on, cool photos I take, essays on various topics, traveling, and whatever else I think of.

My husband and I recently moved to my parents’ home on Jewett Lake, about 12 miles north of Fergus Falls, and about 200 miles north and west of the Twin Cities. It is a big change after spending most of our lives in “the Cities” as they say here. We have spent a lot of time at Jewett Lake over the years due to my extended family having a cabin here, and my parents building their retirement home on the lake 20 years ago. We are happy to be here but a little nervous about January and February. The Twin Cities is not exactly tropical either, but this is a land where there are gates to close off the highway during snow and high wind conditions. Think of the winter scenes in the movie “Fargo”.

I find no end of things to do with knitting, spinning, reading, watching movies and shows, doing bookkeeping and other duties for the family cabin, walking and hiking, visiting my Dad in the nursing home, helping with Tangles to Treasures Weaving Studio and Yarn shop in Fergus Falls ( , and sorting, purging and rearranging stuff in my parents’ house. My husband, Wayne, is more worried than I am about cabin fever during the winter, so he just bought a bunch of ice fishing equipment. Watch for a post about that later.

Thank you Cindy Lindgren for creating my site logo that you see above, as well as a business logo and business card for my sales of yarn and handmade goods. My sister-in-law Marlene Maloney came up with some sketches of possible looks, and Cindy took one of those and made it look awesome and perfect. Cindy is a professional graphic designer who designed the St Paul Winter Carnival button for this winter…how cool is that? Luckily for me, she is good friends with Marlene. Cindy has cards and other products for sale at multiple stores and online including images of Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox riding a bike, playing hockey, etc. Following is a link to her web site:

I will be posting photos of things that you don’t see in Minnetonka, and other pictures I take. Following are two for today.

I hope you enjoy my blog!

Something you don’t see in Minnetonka
Not one but TWO Pileated woodpeckers on the tree in front of the house