Thursday, March 30, 2006

red red robin

Image hosting by Photobucket What a beautiful spring day we had. Sunny and warm...almost into the seventies! The robins were everywhere, bob-bob- bobbin' along....the chickens were lounging and sunning themselves...occasionally taking a dirt bath...and the rabbits were just lounging around. It was so pleasant and if everyone was sighing with relief that the winter was over. Image hosting by Photobucket I found a little bit of time to just go and sit by the water and watch it sparkle. Image hosting by Photobucket Out in the garden the chive is almost ready to pick. I grow 2 different types. The regular chive has a round stem, similar to a spring onion. It gets the puffy pink flowers on top. The other variety is the garlic chive. Garlic chive is my favorite. It has a flat leaf, and a beautiful white spiral flower. I cannot wait to pick enough to put on some potatoes, or eggs....with a little fresh spring tonic. Image hosting by Photobucket The rhubarb is coming along nicely too. I grow 2 types of rhubarb as well. One is a vigorous plant with short stubby green stems. I don't know the name of it. I brought it off a farmer who was dividing his about 15 years ago. He didn't know the name of it. He gave me a big clump for $5.00. It is just poking its head up now...shown on the right in the photo below. Image hosting by Photobucket On the left side of the photo is a red variety that I was told goes by the name of Ruby. It too was a division, but given to me by a close friend. It grows nice thin strappy stalks, and the leaves don't get too terribly large. I cannot tell the difference between the taste of the two. All I know is soon there will be PIE! I don't have much to report in the way of fiber news today. I did finish 2 hats that need to be washed and blocked before I photograph them. And I am still working on the socks. Soon, I need to get something going on the loom, but I am having an argument with myself as to which project, and which yarn to use. In the end, it will be whichever one I am in the mood to do ;-)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

recuperating I don't RELAPSE!
We are starting to get some really nice warmer weather during the day.
Some of the first flowers are starting to this lungwort,
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and this speedwell.
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Trouble is, I cannot get out to enjoy it just yet.  I have been trying to take it easy until this cold/flu/nasty germ...leaves my system entirely. 
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I have turned the heal on the "embossed leaves socks" and was pleased to find out that it was not as hard as I had expected!  I do need to pay attention to what row of the pattern repeat, as well as what row of the decrease AND what stitch -within the row I am working on.  All of this has been easily remedied with stitch markers and row counters.  And to think there was a time I used to rely on paper and pencils!
Did you notice the size of the buds on the quince bush?  They are starting to "pink up".

Friday, March 24, 2006

spring arrives when the snowbirds depart

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I think it is safe to assume that when most people think of a bird that they associate with springtime, they think of a robin.  I sometimes think that the Junco is the bird we should be watching.
A small flock of about 10 to 12 Juncos arrive on the riverim sometime during November, and they spend their winter here.  They look pretty in flight, and in the snow, and they hang around until the weather has determined that should return to their breeding grounds up north (around here that means late March or early April).  I have to say that I am happy when they signals an assurance of warmer weather.
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I have taken a break from working on the ELS chart pattern, and have picked up my swatch from the FLAK.  I started a small swatch of the horseshoe cable (from the meet the cables), and decided to turn it into a hat.  At this point, I am knitting in the round on circulars, so I am able to gain a little "mindless" knitting time....a nice break from the concentration required to follow the embossed leaves sock pattern.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

slow going

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This morning while I was washing the breakfast dishes, I glanced up to see something I have never seen before in my life.  It was so awesome that I cannot stop thinking of the image.  I wish that I had been able to take a picture of it.  It was an eagle flying up river with a huge tree branch in it's talons.  The branch was so large that the eagle was working very hard to get the loft that it needed to fly over the ridge.  I made note of the time on the stove clock.  I will be waiting tomorrow to see if the eagle comes back with more nesting material.  The branch was probably 3 times bigger than the eagle.  I was glad that my son was standing nearby, and that he got to see it too.  It was a nice way to start off the day.
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I have gone through all the tissues in the house...and find myself getting a sore nose.  Progress is slow on fiber projects.  First, I have almost completed the leg portion of the Embossed Leaves sock...a few more rounds and I will be ready to turn the heel.  I am becoming more comfortable with reading the pattern from the chart, but still prefer a written pattern.
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Meanwhile, the Icelandic wool waits for me to finish a bobbin. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

new residents and a visitor

This past weekend I was asked to give two rabbits a new home and TLC (tender loving clip!).  They are now being kept separate from my other 2 rabbits while they adjust to their new home and life around the riverrim.
One is a buck, and I believe he is fuzzy American Lop.  He is small and quite friendly and very alert.
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The other is a doe, and a pretty fawn color.  I am not sure what is in her background, but she is somewhat shy. 
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I understand that both of them are about a year old.  I have not gotten any names yet, so I will see if I can get to know them better before I decide.
We also have been visited by a flock of cowbirds that flew in on Saturday.  I don't welcome a visit from these birds.  The female is a nest parasite, meaning she lays her eggs in the nest of other birds.  I do what I can to discourage them when I see them arrive in the spring.  Brown-headed cowbirds are not residents.
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I have witnessed the yellow warbler build a nest, only to have the cowbird lay in it.  The yellow warbler will build on top of it, sometimes several times, trying to outwit the cowbird.  But it is not always successful.  In my hemlock trees, the yellow warbler has built a nest and laid eggs..along with the cowbird.  When the cowbird hatches, it pushes the other little warblers out of the nest...and then you have this little yellow warbler taking care of a large cowbird fledging.  I have witnessed this with the cardinal and the black and white warbler too.  The catbird, however, has been seen pecking and eating the cowbird eggs.  I have read that the cowbird will lay its eggs in the nest of over 100 species of birds!
I've been spinning some Icelandic roving that I purchased from Tongue River Farm.  It is prepared nicely and spins fast.  So far I have finished one bobbin, and getting ready to finish the other to ply. 
I seem to have come down with a head cold, and have not been getting very much accomplished.  This afternoon I discovered the kitty curled up in my Finn wool that has been washed and waiting for the drum carder.  She looked so cozy I didn't have the heart to disturb her, besides, it looked like a good idea to curl up and take a nap.
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Saturday, March 18, 2006

ABC Along "f" is for

F is for FIBER....
from the Latin fibra
Filaments of which yarn is made...
Be it a plant-as in:
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Flax (probably the oldest natural textile...found in burial shrouds believed to be more than 5,000 years old.)

Be it an animal- as in:
Fur From my Lagomorphs
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Be it insect- as in:
this silk cocoon
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or Be it man made- as in:
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its all good...
so I think I have all the major groups represented here...except for Fiber of the other kind...
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Friday, March 17, 2006

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My lettuce seedlings are getting tall enough to tickle the tops!  I have been taking them for a walk to the growhouse each day.  The temperatures dive down to 21 degrees at night out there, so I have to bring them inside for the evening. This process is know as "hardening them off."   No wonder there are certain areas of the greenhouse that they call the "nursery".  Young seedlings need constant attention, just like a baby!  As you can see by the photo, most of the seedlings still have their primary leaves.  Once they sprout their secondary set, I will lift them into a larger container for a few weeks before setting them directly outside.  The cold temps are concern for a fungus, or a dampening off of the seedlings.  Cold and moist are not a good combination for seedlings.  I sprits my seedlings with a weak solution of chamomile tea to discourage any "dampening off micro organisms" that might be lurking.
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I have been so busy with so many "to do" items...that I have not been finishing any fiber arts...As a matter of fact, it seems I keep starting new items, like the Embossed Leaves Socks from Interweave Knits Winter 05.  I really like the pattern, and it challenged me in the form of learning to read a chart pattern.  I'm from the old school, and like my patterns written out.  I almost caved and typed out a separate sheet to follow, but my libriarian enlarged the chart, so now I find it easier to read.
L� Fh�ile P�draig Sona Daoibh
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Dydd Gŵyl Padrig Hapus
DEETH GOOEEL PAD-rigg HAPP-iss (TH as in That)
Happy St. Patrick's Day (Welsh)
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Pionta Guinness, le do thoil
Pin-tah Guiness, le doh hull
A pint of Guiness, please!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

fo fog & phenology

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I finished this prayer shawl about a month ago, and just recently gave it as a gift.  I was very glad that the recipient was so happy and touched by it. 
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The mohair roving came from Tintagel Farm , a cottage industry run by Leslie & Ron Orndorff...They pride themselves with fiber originating from their farm (Made in �PA� USA)...Llamas, alpacas, angora goats, and sheep.  This was my first experience purchasing from them, but it will not be my last, I assure you!  The name of the roving was red turnip", and had some beautiful flashes of color that spun up like butter, and knit like a dream.  The finished product was so soft and fluffy and cozy...however, I did make an error in the pattern that I did not discover until I had blocked it!  Because this was a prayer shawl, I was concentrating on other things while knitting, and not the pattern.  I decided to leave the error rather than rip it out...because as my good friend Judy  pointed out..."It is a prayer shawl, and like life, it can be imperfect...and the imperfection does not make it less beautiful or useful."
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The temperature around the riverrim has been warm.  Yesterday, the high was 70 degrees!  What little snow that was left is gone now and resulted in a dense fog overnight and into the early morning hours.  The sun has been burning it off, and when I look at the overall landscape, I can see a flush of green and yellow rising into the branches of certain the willows and birch.  I think the sap has started to rise, however, when I cut some grape vine to root, it did not drip.
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I was busy in the garden yesterday, and spent a few hours in the rhubarb and asparagus beds.  There was an abundance of acorns to be cleaned out.  I use some weed block fabric in the asparagus bed, so it needed to be rolled up and cleaned off.  As I was working, I heard the eastern phoebe arrive!  I also saw my first moth.  I made a mental note to chart these events on my calendar.
When I noticed how jammed my calendar was getting...I decided that I needed a way to condense all my records.  I have been charting events around here for at least 10 if not 12 years.  I chart the arrival of birds, insects, flora and fauna, bear etc.  Even things like when they come to stock the river with trout...I log all of it, and need some sort of program to average out these numbers!  I found a 30 day free trial of phenology charts that I downloaded
but darned if I can figure how to save my data!   If anyone out there knows of a better way, please contact me.
(you can find the email address on my sidebar)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

"e" is for....

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Each day, I collect, wash and pack eggs.  And daily, I admire the simple, yet complex beauty of them.  Over time, I have come to know which egg is laid by which hen.  There are subtle changes that happen... day in and day out...size, color, shade, texture and overall shape...none of which detracts...but only adds to my fascination. Have you ever seen a wind egg?  Wind eggs happen when the young hen or pullet lays a small egg without a yolk.
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And so, it is not hard for me to understand why the simple loveliness of the egg has been symbolic to many different  cultures, customs and belief systems through out time.
When I was a kid, my father practiced a custom he called "picking eggs"...something he told us he used to do as a kid.  He would call out, "Who has an egg?"  This would be a challenge that would send my siblings and I running to our Easter baskets to select an egg we thought would be worthy of the game...which basically involved holding your egg firmly while the opponent would tap it without breaking his own.  We would pick eggs with the entire family, and out of all the eggs - would emerge one champion egg.  Sometimes that egg would bear the battle scars of a cracked butt or tip..but it was a champion egg nonetheless.  When I was 16, my father gave me this egg (shown below) in my Easter basket.
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It has become one of my treasures, and brings back fond memories of "picking eggs" when I look at it.
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"e" is also for experiment...something I did yesterday with the yarn that I spun from the silk stringing some beads on it and then plying it with some thick and thin spun wool that I dropped into the dye pot with a little kool-aid sprinkled on top!  As it stands by itself, I like it...yarn for yarns sake.  But I am not quite sure what to do with it.  The experiment only produced 68 yards.  Guess, I will have to experiment some more....

Monday, March 06, 2006


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Shadeyside Farm....Dyed Tussah Top...."Festiva"....2 ounces...double ply.... Image hosting by Photobucket

time flies when you are having fun.....yum!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

making comparisons

Well, its the time of year again, where they flock together to strut their stuff, showing off their colors and trying to impress members of the opposite sex with their swagger and extravagance.  Their posture and pose is an elaborate dance that they love to perform.  They show themselves off, begging for attention from their onlookers.
No, I am not referring to the parade of stars on the red carpet for the Academy Awards ceremony from Hollywood...I am talking about the parade of turkeys in my backyard.  The spring gobblers are strutting their stuff, and it is much harder to photograph them- than celebrities that strike a pose! 
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I had to sneak up on these tom's late yesterday afternoon.  Turkey's have fantastic eyesight, so you really have to try to hide and remain motionless if they see you.  The turkeys were gobbling and displaying and going through the rituals of breeding.
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I did not want to get too close...I felt as if I were an intruder and did not want to disrupt them in any way.   I counted 26 turkeys all together, but noticed only 2 toms that were fanning.
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When people hunt during spring gobbler season, they can use a turkey call like the one pictured below called the "Sweet Talker".  The hunter tries to imitate the sound of hen yelp ...and attract a gobbler who is looking for romance.  Next time I go out to watch the turkeys, I will take the turkey call, and see if I can get one to come closer.
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Before I went in, I noticed the moon..
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It is because of the moon that I have postponed planting the broccoli.  A glance at the chart tells me that the moon will be favorable for planting broccoli between the 7 and 14 of March...and then again from the 29 to the 31st.  I can wait a few more days.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

some answers

A few questions came my way in the last couple of days, and I thought I would answer them all in one post.  The first two are dealing with finished shawl from the previous entry.  The third one deals with roosters.
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Stacy from cledryyarner asked:  Is that a yarnshifter you're using to make it?
My loom is not a yarn shifter, although I have heard of them and have seen them on a website.
I believe they (yarnshifters) are somewhat similar to the triloom or triangle loom, which is the loom design that I have used to make my shawls.  I have several looms that we constructed by hand...but there are a few people who market the triangle looms.  I learned how to make my loom a few years ago, when I had joined a yahoo group.  There are a nice bunch of people in the group, and the photos of some of the shawls are very inspiring.
Terry of pygora blog asked: Do you full your yarn once it's spun, but before you weave or knit with it?
I normally just set the twist after spinning yarn, but sometimes I will experiment with different methods if I am trying to achieve a particular design.  When I spin Angora, it usually goes through a process all its own to produce a nice "bloom".  But in the case of this Border Leicester wool, that I had spun from the locks, I had simply set the twist with a soak in warm soapy water...and let dry (without weight or blocking).  The thing that was so interesting, and something to make note of, was that in the fulling process of the shawl, the plied and set yarn returned to it curly lock texture.
I normally will full a shawl to a point where I like it.  To do this, I fill a basin with warm soapy water, and immerse the finished shawl into it.  I gently rub it around by hand, occasionally checking to see how much the weave is changing (getting tighter).  When I have accomplished the look that I am going for, I will rinse and dry the shawl.  With the BL shawl...the regular fulling was not happening fast enough for me, and I decided to shock the fiber a bit by dunking it into a basin of cold water.  I think it was this shocking process that caused the yarn to result in the boucle' look.  I should mention that when a fulled item is finished, you must always then wash it in the fashion that you normally would to prevent further shrinkage.  If you were to continue with agitating and shocking the fibers, they would (sometimes depending on the fiber) continue to full...or even felt!
Now...moving on to the question about the roosters... 
Gina of raisingfrolic asked:  Do you keep the Roosters separated from the hens some of the time??  How much space do they all have to roam around in?  
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I keep my roosters with my hens all the time.  I have 3 roosters and twelve hens.  Two of the roosters are Aracuna, and one of them is a Black Cochin.  The Black Cochin is named Buddy, and that (above) is a picture of him with his mate Honey.  These are very gentle birds, and they stay together most all of the time.  The other two roosters are years apart with the young one just becoming a they pretty much have established who is in charge and get along well with each other.  As for the space they have to roam...they are pretty much free range.  We only fence them in if we are going away, and the rest of the time, I let them out daily in the early morning, and they return to the coop by dusk, when we go out and lock the doors.  When they come out to range, they tend to break off into little groups...with each rooster escorting several hens.  They have worked out a definite pecking order about who "belongs" to whom....and I find it fascinating that the breeds seem to select "their own kind" to stay with.
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The first days of March have dropped 6 inches of snow on us...I have dug a path to the greenhouse to get supplies for my starts.  On your mark -  get set-  GROW!  I started broccoli and lettuce because I only have 8 weeks before they need to be set out!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


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The river was snowing on the rim this I tried to take a close up shot of the crystals on a black surface...
It has been below freezing around here lately, but it was a beautiful morning with crisp blue sky...and I noticed the river has been freezing up along the rim.
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I stand next to the water, watching it flow past.  The cold snap has been making the water freeze around the rocks near the can see the channels of fast water that are starting to form.
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The day is early and I am aware of the few sounds around me.  I hear a cardinal and the occasional crowing of my roosters coming from the hen house.  Other than that, it is quite still, and I notice that the ice flowing by is gently scraping against the ice on the makes a soft brushing sound.
Staring at the ice flow, I am mesmerized by the constant motion, and it suggests to me the same rhythms of the movement of fibers, flowing through my hands while spinning at the wheel.
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I am becoming very aware of texture, and realize that in these late days of winter - with all of the gray colors...that texture is easier to see than in springtime when all the color dominates the landscape.  It is a great time of year to take notice of the texture and its beauty..seen here on the bark of this river birch.
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Realizing how cold it really is, and that I didn't "layer up"...I climb the hill back to the house.
I have finished the 2/2 twill, and notice how gray that is too!
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Funny thing about this piece, all the crimp and curl of the Border Leicester locks returned to the yarn after I completed the fulling process.  It gives the finished piece a texture all its own that was not visible while it was on the loom.
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It almost looks like it was done with a boucle am happy with the outcome, but it was a surprise, and not something I planned on happening.  I was thinking the 2/2 twill would be more pronounced...but I guess the texture is ok...
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