Tales From The Summer Hills, Alice Cappa, - quote

Tales From The Summer Hills, Alice Cappa, - quote

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YarnTalk bookcover with lambs

Wool. . . Berry Juice. . .Looms and Spinning Wheels. . .
and Hurricanes!
All play a part in processing hand-dyed fibers. Follow SnoBelle and the other lambs as they try to figure out why some colors work and some don't. And where does your blanket really come from? And what's "green" anyway?
Why is Uncle PopEye's belly always green? Their view is slightly skewed, but actual processes fill in the stories.
All names, characters, and events are entirely true, almost.
Tall tales allowed.

    In Yarntalk, ...You Do WHAT With Our Wool? - SnoBelle desperately wants a shawl, handwoven, hand-dyed, and hand spun, like the ones she sees SHE-Curly making from across the fence. SnoBelle's family of ewes and lambs, including ornery Uncle PupEye, or Know-it-all Aunt Paisley, ignore her. Except for Gramma Filene, story-teller extraordinaire, who offers a little help now and then.
But SnoBelle, independent and stubborn, follows her own adventures, each one offering insights and more questions into the process. Can a lamb make her own shawl? Follow SnoBelle through the process... backwards, from the end steps to the beginning, as she explores lost woodsy trails, or sudden break-aways into the house, and a surprising rescue in a hurricane.
   In process, this illustrated chapter book includes full-page color layouts, steps in fiber arts processing, and an appendix of continuing activities for kids to try their hand at spinning, dyeing, and weaving.
Follow SnoBelle's progress
(and Ivy, the real lamb who inspired her) in blog postiings.


Meet SnoBelle, who developed from a composit of lamb stories, but actually was a real lamb. During one late, dark night, SnoBelle was born to Dixie Belle, deep in the woods behind the shed. In the process of helping her mother, hardly anything could be seen beyond black trees and thick black undergrowth. But the flashlight picked out the new lamb, which shown wet and bright in the darkness, white as snow. From the start, SnoBelle was an adventurer. She grew up to become Ivy’s grandmother.

lamb lamb leading ewe Meet Ivy. Today, she carries on the tradition of exploring, independently and courageously. Ivy gallantly leads her mom, Swee'Pea, from pasture to woods and back again. SnoBelle is actually Swee'Pea's mom, and Ivy's grandmother.
In "real life", Ivy visits schools, camps, and is friendly with everyone - at least, those who offer a handout of grain. Read more about her: blog

YarnTalk, TOC:
1. Gramma's Yarns (colors?)
2. What's A Shawl? (yellows)
3. The Rules (greens)
4.Weavers Weave (oranges)
5. Spinners Spin (purples)
6. PupEye Arrives (browns, ash)
7. PupEye Does (browns, ash)
8. Blue Sheep (blues)
9. Hurricane (reds)
10. Wool and a Party (whites)
11. Mr. Shears (rainbows)

Each chapter expresses varied rules throughout.
The Rules are: # "1 Eat. Alot!"   #2 "Stick with the flock!"
#3 "Be aware!"
   #4 "Not too close!"    #5 "Play!"

YarnTalk layouts began with photos of the sheep, then edited into double-page illustrations.
Click each for more.


There comes a time in stories and dreams when little lambs may grow fleece. Fleece is Dyed, Fleece is Spun, and Fleece is Woven, too.
And so this story of lambs and wool and also dyes is quite true.
But what does a young lamb know of these things? And how would she learn?
Her gramma told her.
* * * * *

"Stories? Not again!"
In South Pasture, green and breezy with tall waving grasses, Gramma Filene gathers the youngsters around her under the canopy of the Enormous Central Oak. The Oak that reigns over the pasture seems to roll and shake and laugh with the animals that trod beneath its boughs. Gramma shifts her woolens on her shoulders and prepares for story time.
    But SnoBelle hangs back. The eldest of the lambs,
she watches the others from behind the tree. So What! They're childish. Gramma's stories aren't real. Tall tales, just "yarns".
But are they really?

"Gramma's Yarns", YarnTalk.
~ Alice Cappa
   * * * * *

illustration-spinner of yarn, bird, lamb

Silently, they watch and listen to the wheel's rhythmic whirring sounds. SnoBelle's sensitive ears hear even more subtle clicking and humming. She likes sounds and her hearing is superb.
"OK," SnoBelle demands of Aunt Paisley. "How? How does it work?"
"I think that big pedal pushes it," interrupts Angel. "She's always peddlin'."
Aunt Paisley fills in. "It spins our raw wool into long yarns. The Wheel turns when SHE-Curly steps on the peddle. Watch." She juts her chin, shaking the flowers on her head. When SHE-Curly lifts the wool up to the wheel, it must be hungry because it grabs and yanks it inside the little mouth hole in front, right out of her hand.
I know that thing's alive, thinks Angel.
Betty Bea's eyes are wide.
"Wait 'til your Uncle PupEye comes," suggests Aunt Paisley. "His wool is Speckled. Except where it's Green," she chuckles. "Now he's a green sheep. Baaa Ha Ha. Baaaha. Just don't tell him to his face. And get out of his way, if you do. Baa ha ha ha."
SnoBelle just stares at her aunt. Why is Uncle PupEye so unusual?

"Spinner's Spin", YarnTalk.
~ Alice Cappa

* * * * *

And then ...the sound of thunder! To SnoBelle's sensitive ears, the thunder roars. A large, brownish, greyish, reddish-blackish charging blur bursts from the cote. The sound of pounding hooves rushes down on her and she looks up in time to see PupEye charging. Charging her! Baaaah! He lowers his great horns and aims for her shoulder, tossing her aside as he sweeps past. SnoBelle is thrown clear, then gets up, shaking. Breathless. She can't even cry out. Then the tears come. Baaaaah. Baa Waaaah. Why? But PupEye is gone.

"Regarding PupEye" , YarnTalk.
~ Alice Cappa


sheep face


Meet Gramma Filene, mother of Dixie Belle and founder of the entire flock. She's very wise and an expert "yarn spinner" (or tale teller).



twin lambs

Meet the twins, Betty Bea and Angel. They always hang out together and sometimes talk in unison. They are SnoBelle's cousins.



Meet Aunt Paisley, a li'l huffy, but knowledgeable of all the weaving and spinning methods. She is SnoBelle's aunt.  sheep with flowers on head



illustrated flying lamb




Meet Uncle PupEye, a large ram with even larger horns. He is also wise, but rough and bold and looks out for the flock. Sometimes.

ram sleeping

...   The twins watch SHE-Curly dump a basket of mulberries into a large black pot. Into another she adds deep, dark walnut hulls. Into each she adds yarn.
     "My shawl will be Wooly Green," SnoBelle interrupts.
     " Baah! - did you ever see a green sheep? Or purple? Maybe magenta? Like berries?"
     SnoBelle does not want to argue and edges away. "Actually, I AM going to get a shawl", she insists.

     "Come with me," SnoBelle suddenly calls to the other lambs. "I'll show you Colors!"
     "Can't," counters Angel. "SHE-Curly shut the gate this morning. Besides, we don't want to play with you."
     The lambs watch SnoBelle's face fall, then look back across the drive.
She'd gone off on adventures without telling them! Twice!
illustration, hedge and lambs
 "Spinners Spin", YarnTalk.
~ Alice Cappa

* * * * *

    .... Aunt Paisley batts her long eyelashes with importance and shakes her own top curls. "You wait 'til later, Hon. The heat will rise so, you'll be glad for a haircut." She adds, "when the shearer comes.
     "Shearer? What's a shearer?"
     Dixie Belle gives Paisley a sour look and ignores the question. None of the ewes want their lambs to know. Not yet.

  SnoBelle nods deeper into her dream. Like a drop of lemon-hued light, she sees a luminous shawl drift down from the sun. Shining, flying, it reaches the treetops. SnoBelle bounds up high and onto it and rides with the breeze.
Swish, swish, za-zing! A little yellow warbler swoops out of the Great Central Oak tree and joins her. "Wh00000, whoooo!" they both cry.

"What's A Shawl?", YarnTalk.
~ Alice Cappa

yellow warbler

* * * * *

Gramma Filene entertains the lambs this day while the other ewes drift off to graze. Or maybe the lambs entertain her, playing King of the Mountain across Gramma's broad and wooly back. They love to tease and gambol and spin in the air. And Gramma is the mountain.


    SHE-Curly pushes her foot to another treadle and began again: Chink-Chink, Shloop, Thunk. 
     Fascinated, SnoBelle steps closer and her hooves click-clack on the floor.
     Suddenly, SHE-Curly turns and looks at her. "Oh!" she says. 
     "BAAH!" SnoBelle says.
     Startled, she runs for the open doorway.
      SHE-Curly is right behind her. "Wait! How...?" she calls, reaching for SnoBelle. But SnoBelle is fast, sprinting away.
     "BAAAAH!" she yells, racing across the drive toward the small shed. "Not too close!" Rule #4 is running through her mind. Screaming through her mind. She rushes in circles. Where is the gate?!? SHE-Curly is closer. Closer! SnoBelle leaps ahead and dashes behind the shed, straight into a mass of brambles and stops short. "OWWW!" Thorns hold her fast.

"Weavers Weave", YarnTalk.
~ Alice Cappa
* * * * *

There comes a time when lambs may wander, and their moms may forget them, too.
Lambs sleep, moms creep, and drift away in their grazing. And so they may end up quite far apart. Adrift, alone, and appraising....
woodsy path and text
But what of the rest of the flock?
bird calls from deeper within the forest lead her on. Her nose twitches, her ears strain....
Should she go on? But why not?

"The Rules", Yarn Talk.
~ Alice Cappa


    SHE-Curly loads a two-inch paint brush with dye and reaches for Dixie's collar. Dixie backs away. SHE-Curly reaches again, grabs and catches her. Dixie bucks. This is too strange, even for her. SHE-Curly holds on.
"Oh, c'mon. It's only a li'l face paint," SHE-Curly says. " All the kids like it."
But not too close!  thinks Dixie Belle.
The two of them dance around the corral a little more until SHE-Curly can press the brush to the tuft of wool at Dixie's forehead. SHE-Curly lets go and whirls around in time to grab for Sprinkles as she springs away behind her. Sprinkles is younger, bigger and stronger and does not like to be handled. They "dance" some more and SHE-Curly gets her marked.

"Blue Sheep", Yarn Talk.
~ Alice Cappa

sheep head
Meet Dixie Belle, Head Ewe of the flock
and mother of SnoBelle. She's very wise,
and concerned about SnoBelle's obsession
for a shawl.

Meet SHE-Curly...
The flock doesn't know the shepherdess's name, so they give her one themselves. They do know she has light, curly "wool" on her head,
sooo...she becomes "SHE-Curly".

* * * * *

Meet Pa Bambi. More chocolate-colored, more playful, and with a bigger appetite, too. He is SnoBelle's dad.
ram's head


All the ewes and Pa Bambi, too, are hungry.
They all patiently wait, tentatively call, then begin an all-out shouting match.
"Baa! BAA! BAAAH!" "BAAAAH!!!"
"There's no excuse," complains Aunt Paisley. "We do not like to be kept waiting for meals. But on this day, SHE-Curly never appears. Finally, the ewes stop yelling.
Where can She be? No breakfast? Unheard of!

"The Rules", Yarn Talk.
~ Alice Cappa

contact: yarntalk@alicecappa.com
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