Monday, February 27, 2006

how to spin a silk hankie

Dawn, from Not all those who wander are lost, has asked for an explanation of a silk bell or silk hankie. A silk hankie is made from a cocoon that has been stretched over a bamboo frame. It is made up of several layers, with each layer being made up of one cocoon. Image hosting by Photobucket This hankie has be dyed already, so all I have to do is separate the layers. I needed to prepare (exfoliate) my hands first because the thin layers of silk threads will stick to your hands if they are not, smooth as silk. I read about a mixture of sugar and olive oil to rub into your hands first. It worked quite well. Image hosting by Photobucket The next step is to push your fingers through the center of the thin hankie... Image hosting by Photobucket then you keep pulling (in an outward fashion) until you get a big circle...this is a method of pre-drafting the silk...and you can continue doing this until you have the desired thickness/ or thin-ness required for your project. There are some people who go ahead and knit or crochet with the silk as it is in this stage..but I wanted to spin it first. Image hosting by Photobucket My single hankie did not spin very much in the way of yardage. I spun a thin single, which I plan to string some beads on, and then perhaps ply it with something else. Image hosting by Photobucket I really just enjoyed the process of this type of spinning/drafting. It was different than anything else I have done with silk to date. The colors and the shine and the tiny thin threads all sparkling, were a delight for my eyes to gaze upon (at the end of Feb. with the dull gray and white frosted landscape outside my window). I should have brought several hankies.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

spinning A silk hankie

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Why, oh why did I only buy one of these??  I thought I would spin "just one"...just to learn how to do it...I didn't know I would fall in love.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


This morning while doing chores, I got to witness one of life's little miracles when I entered the hen house at the exact moment that my hen was dropping an egg.  Hens have to stand up just before they "lay" their eggs.  So my hen was standing up and depositing her egg in a position where I was the very first living creature to see it.  I saw it before the hen did! 
Want to see it?
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It was still warm, even through my gloved hand.  What a world,eh?  One minute I am the only pair of eyes to see it, next minute people half way around the world view the same thing...  notice all the pinecones on the ground....
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Pinecone harvest
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Pinecones are everywhere since the last big wind.  (That is, the wind that took out a portion of fence around the garden).  I figure there is a pinecone every 10 inches.  I am tired of stepping on them and feeling them crunch under my feet.
What to do with all the pinecones...I recall my neighbor telling me that her great-grandfather would collect them and sell them down in NYC to the florist...and then pay the taxes on his land with the money from the pinecones. a perfect world... 
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The smaller ones come from the hemlock...the large ones are from the spruce and white pine.
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A pair of gloves came to visit me.  I knit them from some of my early handspun, back in 2002.  The pattern was the sideways gloves from the cover of the winter Spin-off.  I had given them to my brother, and like so many things forgotten I had made them.  I was delighted when they came back for a few small repairs.  The yarn was thin in places, and was not wearing well, so I darned those troubled spots first.  Then, because he mentioned he was used to a cuff, I added one in a contrasting yarn....well.... I didn't have any of the original yarn leftover.
(It was a Wensleydale top roving that went by the name of ocean mist...but I could not even remember where I had originally purchased it.)  He seemed to like the alteration very much.
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Oh, and he tried the earflap hat on, and went home with that too.  He didn't take off, even while he was inside, but tied the flaps up on top of his head. Guess he liked it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

books meme

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Leslie from Greenberry House has tagged me with this meme of books...(she had no idea how difficult this was for me, (....I used to work in a book shop remember...)
I save books like I save seed...each book not only tells a story, but has a story behind it...When I look at a title, I am transported to a different time, or place or even an exact moment...there are memories about my books...and so it was very hard to pick favorites.
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1) Name five of your favorite books.
Treasure Trove with illustrations by S. Eytinge, Jr.  copyright 1873
Idylls of the King by Alfred Tennyson   copyright 1910
The Streams  1867-1872
The Biography of a Grizzly  copyright pre 1910
Balm of Gilead published by Luke Loomis & co.  1830
These are my favorite books because they are my oldest books.  I wonder about their previous owners, and I know exactly where and when I became the new owner.  Take the Treasure Trove...when I was a SYT there was a restaurant/bar called "The Library".  When they first opened the place-it was decorated with shelves of books...floor to ceiling.  They used to promote themselves with a "bring a book, take a book" night.  I took a haiku book of poetry and exchanged it for the Treasure Trove.
2) What was the last book you bought?
Actually, I brought a book home from the library today!  It is called "Creature Crossing" by Betty Levin.  The SAME Betty Levin who sold me the beautiful Border Leicester that I recently spun up.
She is an author of children's book, as well as a shepherdess and sheepdog trainer.

3) What was the last book you read?
The Colour Cauldron...history and use of natural dyes in Scotland.

4) List five books that have been particularly meaningful to you (in no
particular order).
The Prophet by Kahill Gibran
Gifts from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
More Little Visits with God
Love is a Special way of Feeling by J. Anglund
Journeys through Bookland
These books are meaningful to me because they were read aloud to me, or read aloud by me ...when was the last time someone read to you?
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5) Name three books you've been dying to read but just haven't gotten around
to it?
Unfinished Tales J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien & The Silmarillion
The Dogs of Bedlam Farm by John Katz...(because all the dog lovers are raving about it!)
6) Tag five people and have them fill this quiz out on their own.
Hummm..well...only if you read this and you want to...good luck...its hard choosing!

Just one more book....
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I have mixed feelings about this book...It is a beautiful book with an embossed librarian knows that I like old books, so she snagged it for me when someone brought it in for a donation.  I was delighted until I opened it....and found that some child had colored in all the engraved black and white illustrations!  Still remains one of my favorites and has a bit of its own character.
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Friday, February 17, 2006

"D" is for

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my darners

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and my doorknobs....(yea, I collect doorknobs...)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

the weather is fine

It was so nice outside that  I opted to work in the garden doing some long overdue clean up.  In the process of picking up stray pots, I turned over some critter's winter stash of acorns.
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Before long, I was scolded for my actions.
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The black berry bushes are needing pruning.  It should have been done two months ago, but there was to much snow on the ground.  Last years berry bearing canes need to be cut back down to the ground, and the growth of the newer canes need to be topped off at around 5 feet...and then they need to be trellised.  This will force the side shoots to branch out more, and hopefully produce more fruit.
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There is a little bit of snow left on the ground, but most of it is melting and running off down to the river.
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Just a few rows left on the needles and the hat will be finished...I spun a blend of the Border Leicester and angora, so the earflaps are nice and soft.  This hat was fun to make, so I think I will make another.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

mid feb

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Not much snow from the big nor'easter, but that is fine with me.  Our water tables are where they should be, so, less melt to have to deal with. 
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I have started weaving the 2/2 twill on the triloom with the Border Leicester yarn that I recently spun.  It goes pretty fast with the use of the shed stick to hold the warp open. I am starting to see the diagonal pattern of the twill appear.  It should become more defined after I full the finished shawl.  The sett is a good half inch across the top, so the take up should be noticeable.
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Finished the hat and packed it up and sent it out! 
The early morning moments of daylight are starting to get  longer.  The chickens are at the gate at the gate by the time I get out there!  They are happy too,that we didn't get much in the way of snowfall.  They enjoy coming out to walk around, and tend to stay in the yard when the snow is deeper than 3 inches.  Take a look at this hen getting her new feathers...she looks like a porcupine!
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She is a late molter, and I miss her eggs.  With the increased daylight, I should start seeing more in the way of production out of my hens...(it's about time).  The hens will not lay while they are moulting.  Their bodies get a chance to rest and put all the energy into making new feathers.  Feathers are mostly made of protein.  During the winter months, there are not very many bugs around to provide the protein.  I sometimes supplement with a treat for them of leftover stew meat which they attack like a swarm of piranhas.  I also offer cheese and  yogurt when I can.  Here is an interesting link that will take you to an article about sauerkraut, yogurt and bird flu.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Saturday, February 11, 2006

seed basket

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"Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God,
nothing seems to me more surprising that the planting of a seed
in the blank earth and the result thereof.  Take that Poppy seed,
for instance: it lies in your palm, the merest atom of matter, hardly
visible, a speck, a pin's point in bulk, but within it is imprisoned a
spirit of beauty ineffable, which will break its bonds and emerge
from the dark ground and blossom in a splendor so dazzling
as to baffle all powers of description."
-  Celia Thaxter
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Finally getting around to going through my seed basket, and figuring out what I need to order.
I am a big seed saver, and have been growing as many OP and heirloom types as I can-- for more years than I care to admit!  As I sort through the basket, it seems a lot like sorting through old photographs or letters...because I remember when I brought the seed, or who gave it to me, or why I ordered the particular variety.  I save seed for more reasons than just to plant it.  I save seed and plant seed that has some significance to me ...either spiritually, culturally or most of my seeds are like a snapshot of my life that can only be viewed by me.
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Since I am a big believer in bio diversity...I buy seed like I buy wool...checking the market for rare seed (rare breeds).  Like the breeds of sheep, types of seed are disappearing because they are not popular to the grower.  This year I  will order just a few new (old) varieties to plant alongside some tried and true favorites for my vegetable garden.
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I have a few germination tests to do before I plant.  Some of my seeds have been sitting 10 years or more, and its time to see if they are still viable.  Did you know the
 record life span for seed longevity is held by a species of lupine, (Lupinus arcticus)?  Those seeds were found in the  Arctic permafrost and they germinated after 10,000 years!
Compare that to The seed of the Silver Maple.  That seed only lives for about a week before it looses its ability to germinate.
"So I sing to my seeds.  What about it?"
-   Leslie Gaydos 
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I have finished spinning all of the Border Leicester.  Totals equal 1278 yards and 26.4 ounces.  The remaining basket of "waste" (or the  combings that I cleaned out of the dog slicker) were blended with the angora that I combed out of Jack recently.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

snow shadow

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All the trees were wearing them this morning.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

staying on task

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I have been plying, winding off and setting the twist on skeins of the Border Leicester P-29.  At one point, I decided to use the Jumbo Flyer attachment to ply with.  I think this changed the drive ratio, and subsequently the take up was different and inconsistent with the other bobbins that I plied with the regular flyer.  The jumbo bobbin easily held the 315 yards...but the finished yarn is different from the other skeins I have completed so far.  Not to worry, I will keep this for myself to make the shawl, and package the remaining skeins for sale.Image hosting by Photobucket

I plied using a sort hand over hand technique...counting the number of treadles between moving my hands together and then apart.
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Plying can become mesmerizing as I watch the little bumps flow past my fingers and into the bobbin.
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The weather has been recorded as the second warmest January for us.  Most of the snow has melted off the mountain and the ground is showing itself once again.
The stream is rushing on its way to the river and the ground is soggy in spots....but the advantage to having raised beds that terrace down the hillside is that they drain off pretty quickly.  It helps that the garden is situated on a southerly slope!   I wandered over to the carrot bed and pulled a few for the rabbits.  Soil temperatures and drainage really influence the carotene pigment of the carrots....I think the optimum is between 60-68 degrees...these do not look half bad all things considered.
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I managed to do some clean up in the broccoli and kale beds.  It was nice working out there!  The river is up and the sound of the water over the rocks is so peaceful and constant.
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However, there was a steady damp breeze that finally got the best of me and sent me back indoors.  I planted the corn bed with some winter rye...I know I am taking a chance, but it's an experiment.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"C" is for....

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C is for camel that's been processed to roving...
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which spinners will tell you is easier than Carding
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C is for chamomile, homegrown tea to drink...
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my supply is dwindling..which leads me to think....
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C is for seed order is due..but C is for another thing that might interest you..
click on the link  to go and see what the mystery C could be!
For those of you who are wondering about the letter "C"...I have joined the ABC along........."C "olor me "C" razy..
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