Friday, December 30, 2005


Image hosted by

As the 2005 year draws to a close, I find myself thinking quite a bit about time.  Mostly because I have so very little of it to spend on fibery pursuits these days.  Abraham Lincoln once said that, "Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend".  Ah yes, and one should do so wisely.

One of the most interesting articles that I have read lately, was about the Leap Second that will be added to the world's clocks at midnight on the 31st of December 2005.  The original article that I read, mentioned the Tusnami of 2004, and how it had altered the rotation rate of the Earth, enough to cause an adjustment in the way the International Earth Rotation Service (IERS) determines it is required to keep Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).  Futher reading into this subject provided for a few interesting hours of research and mind boggling thoughts.  I found a bulletin that was addressed: "To authorities responsible for the measurement and distribution of time"....and thought, wow, this is serious stuff.  I was happy to have it come to my attention that I would be getting another second to spend, and pondered ways to best use it...but then realized how many minutes I had spent thinking of ways to spend my second wisely.  I came to a conclusion that underscored what a good friend of mine once observed about me in the seventh grade...and that is, that I could never determine the shortest distance between two points.  Hummm....

So, anyway, I will be sure to adjust my timepieces properly, and advise you to do the same.  Since I do not own and GPS parafanlia, and most of my clocks are wound, this should not take to much time. (heh heh).

I have been working on making these felted footies for several members of the family.  They are cozy wool slippers, knit up and then felted in the washing machine.

Image hosted by

The pattern works up very quickly, and you can carry several strands of yarn, on some large needles.  I brought the pattern at Countrywool.  I can make one of these footies in about 2 and 1/2 hours or by my time calulations 9,000 seconds.

In closing for the year, and in all seriousness....don't forget to go outside at midnight and look for Sirius.  It will be directly overhead, wishing you a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2005

burning the candles at both ends

Image hosted by
With the passing of the winter solstice, I can be joyful about the fact that we are past the shortest day of the year, and celebrate the few minutes of daylight we are gaining each day.  We have now entered winter officially..and around the rim, it has started off gently.  The grip of frigid weather has released it hold, temporarily...the 40 degree high feels downright balmy in comparison to the single digits of a few weeks ago. The gutters groan and clatter as the ice melts and slides off the eves of the house.
But the nights are still long for the most part, and I am literally burning the candle at both ends.  I find myself waking at odd hours of the night, unable to sleep, going over details and unfinished projects in my mind...trying to sort out the knots and snarls of the day.  I think this is due to the fact that I have not had much time for spinning lately...and I usually "defrag" during that pleasant task.
As I look out my window, I notice the beautiful clear sky full of stars.  The moon has been so bright on the icy snow, each shadow shows the detail of tree branches and evergreen needles.  "Go back to sleep", my conscious whispers, but my eyes are wide open and I feel quite awake.
The temptation to tip toe down the steps and spin is overwhelming.  There is something calming about spinning in the middle of the night when everyone else is sleeping, and the house is still...and the sky is clear and flooding the room with moonlight.
It is in these quite moments that I say my prayers, and think my good thoughts for those I love.  Problems are solved, plans are made, ideas are hatched, inspiration flows like the fiber through my fingers.
Image hosted by
Morning comes all to quickly, and I regret the loss of sleep, like I knew I would.  There is just sooooo much to do these days.  I enjoyed my morning coffee, and saw these girls munching on acorns that they found in the road after the snowplow kicked them up.
Image hosted by
May the beauty of the season be yours to behold.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

a state of coldness

Image hosted by
Things are really busy around the rim...the last two storms have kept us very active...just tending to chores takes more time out of the day when the elements are working against us.  Walking around has become a bit of a challenge...opening gates and keeping paths clear requires constant attention- due to frost heaves that have formed during the recent cold snap.
Image hosted by
I am busy working on last minute details for the Christmas season...and I don't want to show to many photos in the risk it may give something away...but here are a few sights from my world these days.
Image hosted by
The mornings are pretty frosty, and the riverrim is beautiful.  It is something that few people see early in the morning.  The warm waters of the river float up and hit the cold air, causing instant condensation, and therefore the vapors crystallize and fall along the edges of the riverbank.  Sometimes, it looks to me like I am inside a snow globe as the crystals fall slowly and float around on the vapor.  It is difficult to capture with a must be standing in the correct position for the light to find and reflect the beauty.  By the time the sun comes up the beauty is already melting away.  This phenomena only occurs when the air is colder than the water.
Image hosted by
My roosters decided to brave the weather, and came out for a walk today.
Image hosted by
Both of them have full beards and long saddles at this time of year.  The Aracuna is a breed that has what is called a pea comb...Pea Combs are a good thing in very cold weather.  They are not as susceptible to frost bite as a regular comb.
Image hosted by
I made my jelly this week.  I used Elderberry Juice (from my good neighbor!) that was frozen from this past summer.  This is the first time that I ever froze the juice and made jelly in the winter instead of August.  I have to say that I enjoyed it. It was pleasant to stand near the warm stove, and smell the fruit.  Usually, when I am making jelly in the summer...I am sweating over the stove and complaining about how hot the stove makes the house.  Also, the jelly was very clear, as any sediment was settled at the bottom of the container of juice.
Image hosted by
Well, back to work...'tis the season you know...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Image hosted by
Well, we have surpassed our monthly average snowfall the most recent storm dropped about 11 inches on us.  A good portion of the day on Friday was spent moving it out of the way.
Image hosted by
Still, as hard as it is shoveling it out of the designated pathways, it  looks beautiful when it falls off the trees in clumps and swirls. 
Image hosted by
Down at the confluence today, a few brave souls were fishing.  If you have your binoculars on, you can see the eagle sitting in the tree behind them....see it??...the eagle is smack dab in the middle of the tree.
Image hosted by
I have appropriated my sons music stand for use with my 3ft. triloom.
It works just fine, and allows me a more comfortable position while I weave.
Image hosted by
Decided to make a nice pot of pea soup today...and cannot help but think of silly rhymes.
Peas porridge hot..peas porridge the pot 9 days old....also...what did you have for breakfast? (pea soup)..what did you have for lunch? (pea soup)...what did you do all night?? (well, you see where this is going).  I like pea soup, and wonder why it got such a bad rap.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


The low last night was 11 degrees.  The sun is getting up later and later...and lower and lower.  I come down to make the coffee this morning...the house is cool, so I open the draw on the coal stove, and throw on a piece of kindling to kick things up a notch.  I look out the window and the sun is trying its best to show itself.
Image hosted by
Ahh yes, December.  Long nights and cold days.  The trees stand naked, the blossom has become seed....even the river seems to have a slow flow about it.  Snow has started to fall (along with the mercury)...and the wind howls through the river valley.  So begins our final descent down to the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.  I notice the changes, but most of all I notice the change of light (or lack of it thereof)...short days are upon us.  Monthly snowfall, averages of about 10 inches..will fall from now until March..those short days are full of stratus cumulus clouds and squally.  Grey and white.  Without the warm glow of the sun, I see grey and white.
The rabbits will now get crocks of water in place of the bottles.  I also added foot boards in the hutches.  The snow is crunchy under my feet as I go about my chores.
Image hosted by 
The glass door on the henhouse was beautiful this morning.
Image hosted by
The chickens took one look at the snow flying and decided not to come out to play.  I brought them some milk soaked bread for a diversion.
Image hosted by
I have finished my second Irish Hiking Scarf.  I made it from the Border Leister fleece that I purchased from Betty Levin at the Maryland Sheep and wool festival...seems like ages ago.  I will gift this scarf to the owner of the antique store where my Great Wheel came from.  The previous Irish Hiking scarf that I knit- went to the previous owner of my Ashford I thought it was only fitting to make another.
Image hosted by
Today, we baked cookies for the soldiers.  We met at the firehouse, and it was nice to share the company of fine friends while baking favorite homemade treats.  We made some chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, choodles, peanutbutter cookies and spritzs.  Many hands make light work.  I am happy to contribute to this loving chore...but it saddens me to think of these young men and women over in Iraq, far from home during the Christmas Season.  The family members must miss each other terribly.
It was already getting dark by the time I got home...and it was getting colder too!  I was happy to get home in time to kick the stove up again...I am warmed by the glow..."Is it any wonder that there are so many festivals of light which gather in the valley of the year?" 
Image hosted by

Friday, December 02, 2005

one for the money

One for the money....
Image hosted by
two for the show...

Image hosted by

three to get ready...
Image hosted by
tomorrow I go...

I have finished the mobius scarf (mohair wool blend), and the cut length logcabin pattern scarf.  And I have scoured the wool that I will be spinning.

Tomorrow is the last show of the season, and I am happy about that.

I was somewhat happy with how the mobius scarf turned out.  It is nice when you pull it up around your head, but I think next time, I may want to add a finished edge to it.  I think it would define the face better that way.

I like the way the log cabin pattern gives an illusion of a basketweave.  It takes a little bit of planning up front, but once all the yarn is cut and in place, the weaving goes quickly.

We had a bit of snow today, but they say early next week- we will have an "event".


Sunday, November 27, 2005

collecting green

Today we went to get evergreen on top of the mountain.  Today was the day to do it because tomorrow will be opening day of deer season, and yesterday was still bear season.
We hiked up the old washed out township road to an area where there are some beautiful old pines.  There is an abandoned estate up there, and the owner has given us permission to hunt or take firewood etc. 
Image hosted by
The first place we check out is the bear trees.  These are trees that the bear like to mark. There is little data available about why bears mark trees, but I think it has something to do with their territory.   Sure enough there were some fresh markings.  The photos are a bit dark, but the light areas on the trees are where the bear has been biting it.  From the looks of things, the bears must be standing on their hind legs to mark the trees.  They are taller than I am because I could not reach the marks with my teeth.
Image hosted by
We looked around and notice bear scat.  We made a lot of noise, and headed down to clip some evergreen.  We pass an old wishing well.
Image hosted by
We collected evergreen, shadberry, rosehips and pine cones.  On the way down the mountain, my husband was hard to keep up with...he was dragging the tarp, while I was busy taking pictures...
Image hosted by

I found several specimens of tree fungi (Ganoderma or artist fungus I think)
Image hosted by
And I took a picture of the mighty oak and its reflection in the pond.
Image hosted by
Now I have enough evergreen to fill the window boxes, and make some wreaths. 
Started making a mobius on the triloom.  Well, actually, I have made two 3 foot weavings, which I assembled, but now I think I need a third which I will work on tonight.  I was going to work on it last night, but wound up watching Braveheart instead.

Friday, November 25, 2005

this to these

I think it is very funny that some of my husbands co workers send home a bag of this...
Image hosted by
thinking it will give them some of these...
Image hosted by
If you cannot read the "chicken scratch" on the brown paper bag, it says, "Chicken Food".  The items in the bag usually contain someone's left over lunch morsels.  They are sent home with hopes that it will encourage the hens that devour the tasty treats and to lay more eggs.. 
At the moment, egg production has slowed down considerably.  Due to daylight hours subsiding, and the temperatures dipping down below freezing - coupled with the fact that pullets were not purchased this past spring- I'm not collecting the usual weekly supply of eggs out of the henhouse.  This is causing disappointment in some homes that look forward to getting their weekly carton.  I knew this day would come.
Last spring, I just was not up to all the work that was involved with getting new the hens that I have are busy molting.  Molting requires that their body replace old feathers with new ones.  Hence, the hens body stops laying eggs, and uses the protein to make feathers. All of the hens old feathers drop off, and new quills grow in, making them look a bit like a porcupine for a short while, but eventually, they look like a beautiful new bird!  So, cut the girls a break- even they need a nice rest once in awhile...sheeze...the things a gal goes through for beauty!
Oh, btw...notice those sharp curved objects at the bottom of the photo?
They happen to be my rooster's spurs.  While I was raking leaves one day, I uncovered them.  I could not believe I found them.  What are the chances?  They were both within a few feet of each other.  I took them inside and soaked them in bleach.  I don't know why I am keeping them.
They look like something a witch doctor would have.  I never knew that a rooster just drops his spurs.  I was under the impression that you would have to have them removed somehow.
The drive home last night was a bit treacherous as we came close to home.  A squall had moved in and the temperatures plummeted, causing black ice on the roadways.  We saw so many cars in the ditch that I lost count.  I think the tow trucks were overwhelmed.  Flashing lights and flares all around.
Image hosted by
Started spinning the blend that I purchased from Tintagel Farm.  Red Turnip- Dye lot 3.  146yard/ply so far... This Mohair/wool blend is nicely prepared.  I have been spinning a very fluffy, woolen long draw.
The color changes are subtle...I like that.  Not sure where I am going with this yarn yet... as I continue to spin what is left, I am hoping it will tell me what it wants to be.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Image hosted by
I picked the last of the gardens offerings for Thanksgiving.  I picked them yesterday... just in time.  This morning when I went to check on chickens and rabbits, there was frost in the ground.
Snow expected later today.
I will make these garden veggies for the Thanksgiving table.  I planted them in mid July....just after I lifted the last of the snow peas.  The carrots are a Danvers variety, and the turnips are Gold Ball.
These are the last offerings from the garden for this year.
It has been a very good season.
God has blessed us with a very good harvest.
So Happy Thanksgiving!
Thank you for the world so sweet-
Thank you for the food we eat-
Thank you for the birds that sing-
Thank you Lord for everything.

Monday, November 21, 2005

some days are for playing

This weekend provided some beautiful sunshine. The mild temperatures during the day were perfect for doing many outside chores.  We are getting ready for winter around here, and the chore list is long.  Forecasts predict a storm is brewing and it will not be long before the snow flies (imagine- we still do not have our hay yet!)  At least the coal bin has been built, and the 5 ton of anthracite is safely tucked inside. (it looks like so very much, but we shall see what it looks like in April). We have started burning the wood/coal stove, and my son has been nagging me for a big batch of stew to simmer on top of it.  And we know if I make the stew, I will have to make some bread...(sorta like the story of "if you give a moose a muffin"...)
Image hosted by
So we attempted to check a few chores off the list...but the river beckoned- the sunshine added to the temptation to leave the chores and take a walk.  The shadows are getting long now...and the angle of the sun seems to make a difference in the color and intensity of the light and the reflections all around me.
Image hosted by
Sometimes, a walk along the riverrim provides such a respite from the hustle bustle returns refreshed and restored by the sights and sounds of water rushing by.
Image hosted by
We enjoyed the afternoon, and decided to go out for dinner (which we do not do often). So, we never did get to all those chores...some days, you just have to play.
Image hosted by
I made this needle felted bear for my husband.  Opening day of (3) the season starts today.  No more walks in the wood for a little while.
Image hosted by

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I've finished spinning the mohair and wool blend roving...shown here with my new nostepinne that Fred Hatton made.
Image hosted by
The nostepinne tool is Scandinavian in origin...and I believe if you translate the word it means "nest stick".  I have been learning how to use it..but most of my center balls come out looking rather oval in I guess I need some practice.  The Nostepinne was made by Fred in his workshop.  The wood is Padauk.  There are three species of this tree, all are in the legume family and have the Latin names of Pterocarpus soyauxii, Pterocarpus macrocarpus, and Pterocarpus dalbergioides.  Mine is a beautiful color of red now, but will most likely darken with age.
Image hosted by
Speaking of "practice"...I have been trying to get a block of time each day set aside for me to practice spinning on my Great Wheel.  Fred just made me a new spindle, and it works wonderfully.  I decided to try the tip that Sharon Peffer told me about this past summer.  I am referring to the use of corn husks wrapped around the spindle shaft.  I found that this is helpful to the structure of the cop.  Without it, my cops lose their shape and don't hold together very well, once I have taken them off the spindle.  With the corn husk, they seem to be sturdy enough to ply.  I tried putting them on my lazy kate, but it did not work very well, they were a little bit to long for that.  So I just put them in a bowl, and plied from there.
Image hosted by
This picture of my finished cops reminds me of Pyrometric Cones reaching temperature in the kiln...but it gives you an idea of how the corn husk gives the cop stability.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

digging tubers and corms

a few weeks ago Marla asked how to take care of dahlias...
Around here, our winters are to cold for the dahlias tuber to survive in the ground, so you must dig them up and store them over their dormant period.  The first thing to do is dig around the base of the plant carefully to loosen the roots gently.  I use a digging fork, and then I lift the entire clump.
Image hosted by
These dahlias must be separated!  I think I will leave that job for spring!
Image hosted by
Another tuber that needs lifting is the 4 o'clock.  My 4 o'clock is over 5 years old grows like a bush, and makes lots of little grenade shaped black seeds..but I usually just dig out the tuber and store it with the dahlias.
This one is a honker!
Image hosted by
Next on the list is the sunchokes.  I will dig some before the hard freeze sets in.  They will be stored in the small fridge in the basement, so I can use them for salads and soup and stew, but also to supplement the chickens and rabbits diet over the winter.
Image hosted by
Last up are the Gladiolas.  My husband really  likes the glads, so he always buys me some each spring.  I have quite a collection (oh my aching back)...and all must be lifted.  The blooms are worth it.  The smaller corm and cormels must be removed as well (oh my aching fingers!).  The blooms are so worth it.
Image hosted by
After all the lifting is finished, I trim the tops down to the base of the corm or tuber as the case might be.  At this point you may want to think about attaching a label as to color etc. if you need (or want) to.
Then I hose them down and set them aside for a day or so to allow them to cure.  After that, they can be stored in a paper bag, or an old Styrofoam cooler, cardboard box etc.  I check mine every so often over the winter to make sure they are not drying out, or molding or for some other bad thing like bugs or disease.  I store them in a cool dark and dry area of the basement to let them  hibernate for a few months. Usually, they are waking up and sending out little pink shoots long about late April.   So, sleep tight little tubers and corms...see you next spring !

Friday, November 11, 2005

prewarp speed scotty

I have finished my sample prewarp pieces on the 3 foot triangle loom.  I just tried two of them, so that I could get an idea about how they would look, and if I needed to trouble shoot any areas, and also the amount of time involved in completing them.
Image hosted by
This first one I tried was made from some of my first lumpy handspun (I think it is from Finnsheep, but I am not really sure).  That is what I used to warp the loom.  Then I went back and wove the weft with a blend of Finn and Angora that I dyed this past summer.  The Finn took the dye rather well, and became a rich ultra marine blue, and the Angora (in the same dye bath) turned out to be a reddish purple...but when I blended them together with my handcards I was happy when it spun up to a nice color.  It toned the purple down and jazzed the blue up.  I used Createx Permanent Liquid Fiber Dyes, and a salt mordant.  Not sure I liked what the salt mordant did to the wool, it seemed to make it just a tad brittle, compared to what it was originally, but really not enough to make it objectionable.  The bias weave shows up clearly because of the stark contrast.
Image hosted by
This next neck scarf was done out of the wool I spun during demonstrations and workshops this past summer.  The wool is entirely Finnsheep from the Hatton Farm.  It is so very soft.  I tried to make a chevron pattern, and it worked out ok...but because of the bias weave, the color is not consistent on both sides of the scarf.  I will need to take this into consideration when I decide future has the potential to be a good thing...or an undesirable factor.
Saw some snow flurries this morning while I was letting the chickens into the garden...MY HEAVENS!  (you say)  CHOOKS in the GARDEN!!  Well, yes, it is true.  I had no choice...we have contacted someone who not only has his furtrappers license, but also a permit to take bobcat.  Now this is extremely difficult for me, but we seem to have more than one coming around...and my chickens, the cat, and even myself are at risk.  We really have no choice...they should not be coming down the mountain and hanging around this close to the house.  Anyway, the chickens are locked in the run, and only allowed into the garden during the day.  They are cleaning up the last of the tomatoes etc, but destroying my kale :-(.
I picked the last of green peppers
Image hosted by
and the marigolds that I had wanted for the dyepot.  The temps are projected to fall into the upper twenties tonight, so it was time.
Image hosted by
A special thank you goes out to all the Veterans- (That includes YOU MOM!)--- and don't forget, tomorrow is the last day to send your packages out to the troops so they can get there by the holidays (Dec. 9th if it is priority)
Blog Widget by LinkWithin