Friday, December 31, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
The Eastern Bluebirds came today. They found the bittersweet berries.
We did not get the heavy snows that our friends to the south experienced, but we did get some and it brought with it the winter wind. The wind was howling last night, and continued on into the day. The bluebirds come to eat the berries as the wind subsides.
Bluebirds eat mostly insects and small invertebrates, but during the cold winter months berries are a good supplemental food source when the insects are hard to find.
Bluebirds are a welcome sight in winter. I was happy to watch them eat the berries.
The mythology of the bluebird of happiness has deep roots that go back thousands of years. Indigenous cultures across the globe hold similar myths and beliefs about the bluebird. It is a widely accepted symbol of cheerfulness, happiness, prosperity, hearth and home, good health, new births, the renewal of springtime, etc. Virtually any positive sentiments may be attached to the bluebird.
May these bluebirds bring you cheerfulness, prosperity, good health, new births, renewal and happiness in the new year!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Well, of course, you probably do...but would you know one if you saw one? Would you be able to tell the difference between a Tomten and a Troll?
I think I have a Tomten. But maybe he is a Troll? I'd rather he was a Tomten. I think he might be. Mostly because he fits the description. He is an old, old Tomten, who has seen the snow of many winters...and no one know when he came here...he has always just been here. And sometimes, we see his footprints in the snow. Some say that Tomtens have features like animals. My Tomten has a nose like a pig. I'll show you a picture of him. Here he is.
But he might not be a REAL Tomten. You know, because I have him. And I can see him. And take pictures of him. You are not supposed to be able to see real Tomtens. But maybe my Tomten comes to life when I am asleep.
Someone made my Tomten with their hands. They carved his feet.
They patched his pants.
They knit his socks. And they knit him a hat.
His hat needs mending, but I don't dare touch it. I don't want to disturb the Tomten mojo.
I take him out of his house sometimes and put him near the window so he can look outside. His house is in the bottom portion of my Victrola cabinet..just in case he is a troll. It was pointed out to me by a friend- that living in a VicTROLLA is a good place for a Troll.
When I set him near the window, he takes on a strange shape in the moonlight. He must be Tomten. He talks to the chickens...in a silent little language chickens understands, "lay me an egg my jolly chickens and I will give you corn to eat." and he talks to the sheep...in a silent little language the sheep can understand...
"all my sheep, all my lambs..the night is cold, but your wool is warm and you have aspen leaves to eat."
Yes...I like to think he is a Tomten. Winters come and winters go...
If you don't know the story of the Tomten you can listen to it here.
May you have a very happy Christmastime, Yuletide, Wintertime or Holiday..whatever you celebrate... watch for the Tomten!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
The cold weather has warmed up just enough to keep the snow away, so rain fills the sky and puddles. It is a perfect day for finishing up, tying up loose ends.
The photo above shows 2 Russian Style Support Spindles, full of Ashland Bay Merino/Tussah Silk blend. The spinning was finished a week ago, leaving the plying for a rainy day.
The singles were held together and wrapped around a teabox to ply from. Plying on a Russian Support spindle is "slow going" for me, but it is enjoyable. I'm not going slowly- going slowly would imply that I'm taking my time and being careful, which I am not. Slow going is defined as "the rate of speed when one is making slow progress"..which I am.
When I need a break from plying, I switch to knitting...I'm working the second sock from a Zauberball....and the knitting is "slow going" on these size ones...so I have inches to go before I sleep.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Early this morning...as I was walking the indoor trash to the outdoor can, I noticed the spiders were busy last night.
Dew had formed on their webs, and sunlight reflected off the drops like little gems. It was quite beautiful.
There were sparkling images and designs on each strand.
I took lots of photos, but the camera really didn't capture the same beauty that I saw with my eyes. Wandering around and noticing the webs made me realize there must be hundreds -no- thousands -no- millions of spiders in the woods...and with Halloween just around the corner, it seemed a bit spooky!
But then ...spiders aren't really all that scary to me...I can relate and even admire them...we have a few things in common.
They like to spin and weave, and so do I.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The cooler weather has been moving in, and it is time to cut the thyme and other herbs for drying. The pumpkins and squash are in from the garden too. We didn't have a very big harvest this year, but what did grow was larger than years past.
After hanging them for a few weeks, the herbs are ready to be stripped and bottled up. Stripping thyme can be a tedious job, but it really smells nice while you are doing it. I will save the stems to throw in the wood fire, or for simmering on the stove top.
As I prepare this Lemon Thyme, my fingers tire from the stems constantly running over my fingertips as they peel off the dry leaves. I glance down at my hands, and think about all the work they do. I am grateful for my hands!
A Double-Flyer Wheel has been living here for the past few weeks! I have been spending my spare time with it! I will transport it down to the National Museum of the American Coverlet where I will be doing a workshop about how to spin on it. I think there is still time to sign up~ so if you find yourself in Bedford, Pennsylvania this weekend...come into the Museum!
My hands will be happy to show you how to spin twice as much yarn in half the time!
Sunday, October 03, 2010
After a few days of rain, the river levels were about 7 feet higher than normal today. A blue sky reflects its color in the muddy waters. Weeks have gone by without a walk down by the riverrim, so it was especially nice to soak up the sun and watch the water rush by. A few days ago, when the river was cresting, pumpkins tumbled over riding the white water..I thought how disappointed the farmer must be, an entire growing season stolen by the river!
I collected some rocks today, for a future project....I took my time selecting exactly the type of rocks I wanted. As I turned the rocks over in my hands, looking for just the right shape, I discovered a curious egg case. I think it is beautiful!
What creature made this? Spider? I wonder...
Sassafras mittens of orange and red and yellow are waving to me, overhead. Sassafras is always the first to go, the rest will follow in a few weeks. The passenger train, with 5 cars full of leaf peepers, sounds the whistle at the crossing. I wave to the passengers, my hands feel the cool of the mountain air... soon I will be wearing my mittens too....
As I walk back to the cabin, I notice my yarn is still on the line. On Friday, Grace invited the spin group over for a little dyeing...I'm drying some singles..."dyed THEN plied". The plying part comes next.
I love seeing the yarn on the clothesline...it says "a spinner lives here!"
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Today, I wanted to take some time out for myself. Spinning flax is at the top of my list, I need to hone my skills for the upcoming event at the National Museum of the American Coverlet. I will be presenting the Double Flyer Spinning Wheel, and I'm very excited to be a part of this educational workshop.
Under a gorgeous September sky, I decide to work outside, on my mother's little saxony flax wheel. I gave the wheel a nice rub down before I got started. When you polish a wheel, it gives you time to pause and admire its finer points...like the wonderful turnings....
or the makers marks...
or the detail to the treadle...which sorta looks like a cross section of one of the maidens...
Once the wheel was cleaned up, I worked on dressing the distaff. Then, I decided to make myself a little water pot.
Several years ago, at a workshop about spinning in the old way, I heard a story about a little flax water pot that was made out of a gourd. So I grew the gourds, but life gets busy and I never had time to make the water pot. Today was the day.
First, I drilled a hole in the neck, and dumped out all the seeds. I'll set those aside and plant some more gourds next spring. IIRC, these were mini bottle gourds and I don't remember where I got them. Should have written it down!
Next I drilled some holes, and braided some flax for the handles. I knotted the end before threading it though, so I would have a wick. Then I filled the pot with water. Fabulous! It works like a charm! Every so often I simply pinch the wick on the bottom of the pot, and my fingers catch the drip of water from the wick. I like it so much better than a regular water dish! When I use a water dish, the water drips all over the place from my fingertips. The wick provides just the right amount of water, moistening the fingertip and thumb. When I get a chance, I will buy some flax seed and make a proper flax mucilage made from pouring boiling water over about a tbsp. of flax seeds.
I practice first with one hand, then the other. Warming up for double flyer spinning, letting my fingers know the flax and remember the movements...I spent a few hours spinning the flax and just soaking up the sun, listening to the river flow by and the occasional crow of the rooster. It was enchanting. Flax knows its power over me, and I am mesmerized...
Next thing you know, the light is fading and its time to start supper. I didn't fill the bobbin, I will have to work on that during the spare moments I find in the coming week.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This week finds me helping out at the library as a courier for the special order intra-library loan books. Their regular courier has to take some down time, so I'm filling in. The drive to deliver the books is enjoyable, and the view from the front seat is, at times, bucolic.
The books ride with us in the back seat. Occasionally, we stop and deliver, then pick up other books that need to go back to the main branch. I am tempted to stop and look through the books to see what titles the patrons are ordering, but I resist. Back in the car I notice that the rural country roads are peaceful and quiet. I imagine that in the winter months these roads will be a little bit harder to navigate...it is easy for me to picture that in my mind...lots of snow and ice in this area. But for now, it is still late summer, and there is green everywhere.
The roads undulate, up to the top of the mountains, and down into the valleys...
Around the bend, I suddenly come upon an orchard of apples. They are ripe for the picking! We stop and buy some directly from the farmers, an elderly couple, whom we exchange pleasantries with. We munch on the fresh apples while we drive.
At home, the summer bounty decorates the table...and makes a delicious desert!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Late summer finds a bumper crop of Jewelweed growing near my garden. The flowers dangle, like delicate orange speckled jewels that glisten in the sunlight and early morning dew. Other names include (but are not limited to) Touch-Me-Not ... (Balsaminaceae)..Impatiens capensis...snap weed.
The humming birds love the nectar hidden deep inside the flower, and will use their long tongues to find it. The wasps enjoy their share of the nectar as well, but are known to bite holes in the back of the flower to get at it. This action would seem to side step pollination. Not to worry. Some of the last flower buds never open, but pollinate themselves inside the flower....known as a "hidden marriage"...the plant makes a genetic clone of the parent plant and a seed is still produced for next years plants.
A yellow dye may be made from the flowers, but I have yet to try working with them. I had hopes of trying it out this year, but I am busy with other things. Jewels and Gemstones of another sort...the Endless Mountains Fiber Festival is coming up, and I've been working on making some new thread hooks and stitch markers and buttons for my offerings this year.
Soapstone, Cats Eye, Bloodstone, Mikuki Cubes, and Pietersite...just to name a few, from the Potomac Bead Company. Wonderful quality, color and clairty, lustre and luminescence...they are a delight to work with...
My camera attempts to capture all the details, I can hear the auto focus changing and buzzing with frustration.
Moss Agate Rice and Jasper stones from Happy Mango Beads find their way to onto stitch markers...tools to enhance a knitting project somewhere, someday, and will assist the owner in keeping track of pattern repeats..
I enjoy making functional tools that are beautiful to look at...
...and I hope they continue to bring the same sort of enjoyment after they leave the booth. Hope you can stop by and say hello! I'll be in the Antique Spinning Wheels booth... number 27 & 28....
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
les fileuses ...the spinners....dancing with distaffs!
another version, with another use for the distaff (be sure to watch to the end of the video)
and marching with distaffs!
but where are the spindles? perhaps tucked inside the distaff, or a pocket, I like to think...
because what good is a distaff without its spindle?
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Since then, it has been difficult for me to find words for this blog.
There is so much to say. And yet, there are no words.
I am grateful that I was able to be at her bedside during the last few weeks of her life. Words were difficult at that time too.
The words are in my heart, but they have a hard time finding their way out, to be spoken.
While she slept, and sometimes when we talked... I spun some silk on my spindle.
I finished spindling the last of this silk in the evening, a few days after we laid my mother to rest.
These threads have now become very special to me. There are words and tears and prayers and oh, so many emotions that were locked into the draft, the lengths and the wind on.
When I look at it, I don't see wraps per inch, or grist, twists per inch, yards or ounces, or even a future project. When I look at it, my thoughts are simply transported back to a time, a place, a moment, a conversation, a glance and a goodbye.
Many thanks to those who know me personally, and have sent your kind notes of sympathy. I appreciate them very much.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
i'm happy with the pea trellis that i built this year, my peas are starting to set flower...it won't be long before there will be peas. the poles and the vines are taller than i am, and the trellis is holding strong in the high winds that accompany the thunderstorms. i'm growing a good crop of norli snowpeas, a dutch variety with a lovely purple blossom. my seed bank supply of this variety has been dwindling, so i'm hopeful about a good harvest.
the daylilies are coming in, the reds...
and the oranges...
Leucanthemum vulgare, oxeye daisy....marguerite...moon daisy, dog daisy ...he loves me..he loves me not...they line the roadside where I walk
...by all accounts, he loves me.
beeflies amuse the eyes..."is it bee? is it a fly? it is a beefly." this one is a villa, i think.
Bufo americanus lives here...eastern american toad... in her red phase...at least i think i should say "she"...the color of the throat may be darker if it was a he. size would also be an indication of the sex, with the females being larger than the males. this toad was easily the size of the palm of my hand.
is it any wonder that some people think you can get warts from a toad?
while these warts may secrete a noxious milky bufotoxin, you cannot get warts from it....but i do remember reading that the native american indians from this area would use the toxic secretions to dip the tips of their arrows in. ouch!
the elderflowers from the black elderberry trees are everywhere! it will be a good summer for the berries, if all goes well, i will restock the shelves with jam and syrup and cordial. there are enough flowers this year to also pick for drying for tea. i don't care for the flavor by itself, but when mixed with lemon balm leaves and blackberry leaves etc. i will take some if needed for those winter colds or sore throats. elderflower wine (elderblow) is something i've never tasted, but i have heard that is is delicious and has a beautiful pale yellow color. other things like salves or oils or bath salts can also be made from the dried flowers. (always use caution with leaves or stems and seeds...those should not be ingested)
a walk through the garden leads me down the path and stops at the hillside where i can see and hear the river..although it beckons "come and swim", the water is still to cold for me to enjoy it...maybe by mid July...