Saturday, December 30, 2006

taking stock

In the late December newsletter from Countrywool, Claudia explains why she upholds a tradition of taking stock in projects that need to be abandoned. She has been doing it for over 15 years, and she has inspired me to start.

Since this was a sort of unusual year for me, I don't have that many projects in the works. So I have finished most of them...a few earflap hats needed tassels and ties...a few scarves needed the ends woven in ..nothing big...then I found this falling leaves scarf.

I had so many roadblocks while working on this. It was mostly due to poor planning, and the fact that I am not completely adept at reading from a chart yet. I then made a huge error while I was talking to someone (shouldn't have been knitting in public)...and only discovered the error when I was well past it....(note to self, always use a lifeline while doing lace knitting). So, for a time, I debated about ideas and theory's on how to correct the error. I have decided not to correct it.

....leaving only a pair of socks to be ripped, actually, only one half knit sock. I wound the rest of my end pieces into nice little balls, and will begin using them up on practice colorwork pieces in the new year. With all of my needles clean and tidy where they belong, I see the purpose in this exercise, and will strive next year to apply it to the spinning wheels as well...

Happy New Year!

phenological events December 4th first snowfall 12 eagles return

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sialia sialis

I had some pleasant company today on my walk, a small flock of bluebirds. I counted about 8 or nine. They are so full of motion, my lens hardly has time to focus.

It is a true delight to see bluebirds, they don't live nearby, preferring a more open area than the woodland I reside in. They are meadow birds. However, they do come by occasionally, to feed on insects or fruit. They will not often come to a feeder, they aren't considered to be seed eaters. They were foraging on the hillside today, and I also noticed them eating the barberry.

Some believe that the bluebird is a harbinger of happiness, love and hope. I embrace all that the bluebird symbolizes and read it as signal for the coming year, and thank them for bringing it my way...and to you as well! Happiness, love and hope, to you and yours in the coming new year!

I have completed another Andean head band, correctly this time.... made from the Icelandic that I spun on the Great Wheel, and a bit of Wensleydale that I spun up over 3 years ago. I have been sorting through all my old bits and pieces to use up while practicing color work.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


May your celebration surround you with wonder....and a sense of peace...

6 weird things meme

Fiberjoy has tagged me. 6 weird things meme.

1. I sometimes bring natural objects into the house to admire --as artwork. Case in point, the large hornets nest that has been hanging in the dining room for more years than I can remember.

2. I store rubberbands on the basement door doorknob, because my grandparents did. That is where everyone stores the rubberbands, right?

3. I like to count. Anything. 1. 2. 3. 4.... But I often loose my place....

5, um 4. I save things that my chickens have excavated from the hillside and imagine that someday I will sell them on ebay. Example, the brown glass clorox bottle.

5. I was once stranded in a snowstorm, on a Trailways bus on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. After 3 days, they attempted to put a pair of chains on the tires of the bus, so they made all of the passengers (myself included) stand in a line while they tried to get the bus out of the snowbank. One of the chains snapped and a link came flying in my direction. I had my hands in my pockets, with my head down, and was not watching this, but something suddenly knocked my felt hat off of my head, and landed at my feet. It was a link of the chain, and it was steaming and melting the snow beneath it. The weird part of this is that I still have the link...

6. I cannot tolerate dirty glass. It must always shine...on both sides...just ask my spouse how many gallons of wiper wash I go through in a year. I cannot help myself, I used to work in a gallery and spent many hours framing art work.

Ok, well, that was painless..I thought I would have trouble narrowing it down! Any other weird-o-s that have not participated thus far? Feel free to take the meme...

Friday, December 22, 2006

you go on ahead, I'll catch up later...

finally, we are on the other side of the solstice. The light will be returning, slowly, but it will be returning. I am a person who usually has an unfavorable response to this period of lack of light....but I try my hardest to do my best and not let it get to me (well, at least not too much). I suppose we all have our methods of dealing with the absence of light.

Not possessing the means to take a trip to a latitude with a southerly location, I leave a prism on my desk. From time to time- I look at the light through it. Does it enhance my ability to get things done? Does it influence my emotions? Does it have a psychological impact on the quality of my life? No, no, and probably not. But it does make me think about how much I love light, and color..and how much I miss the sun when it is so far away. I feel like I am holding a little bit of the sun in my hand.

December is the month that always has the fewest hours of daylight. Perhaps that is why I have trouble getting things done on time in December..."there just aren't enough hours in the day"....

I made the Andean headband and it turned out to be a disaster. In the process of teaching myself to knit continental, while doing two handed color work in the round, a peculiar thing happened. I read the chart backwards, rather, I read the chart from right to left. Halfway through the pattern, I realized what I had been doing, and noticed that the pattern did not instruct the reader where to start. I guess they assume that one would have the good sense to start at the left and read right, but since my circulars had me knitting right to left, I followed the chart that way. So I did achieve a pattern, but it was not the one I intended. duuh

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

walking on

Most of my walking, these days, occurs in parking lots and stores, hastily, in preparation for the season of gift giving.

The only way to make time for a real walk, is to snatch a few moments in the early morning, after taking care of morning chores.

The sun is at it's brightest in the mornings now. It glistens on the frost from the night before. We still have not had any snowfall over 1/2 an inch so far, and we have set a record for the warmest December on record! It seems odd to have it so mild into December, it is almost like living in perpetual October.

The eagles have arrived. I have seen several starting to pair up, and it seems early for that. It is difficult to get a clear photograph of one with my camera. I need a bigger lens.

They prefer to stay a good distance away from me, and I don't want to disturb them while they are fishing. This one barely tolerated me, even though I shot the photo from behind the tree...and he was on the other side of the river!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

and Z

Z is for Z twist...

...a while back, I was musing along with Cathy about water going down the drain in different directions above and below the equator, and it made me wonder how many spinners spin Z, and how many choose S, as a habit. I usually spin Z to start, even while spinning on the Great Wheel. It does not really matter in the big picture, that is, if you ply, you will make a balanced yarn. Sometimes, I wish I could learn how to "ply" I am usually trying to achieve some sort of balance...

Now I've said my ABC's!

Thanks Anne.. it has been fun participating in the ABC along!

Monday, December 18, 2006


Dear Anonymous-

I am overwhelmed, and utterly humbled by your gift.

May you be blessed richly, for your generous and thoughtful heart.

Thank you....

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

walk with me Wednesday...woo hoo!

Woo Hoo! Did I throw my hat in the air because it is so warm that I do not need it? Or perhaps because I have reason to celebrate? Actually, it is a bit of just got a little bit easier for me today, and that calls for hat tossing!

I was so busy today, that I really didn't get a chance to enjoy a Wednesday walk. Life is like that. I headed out just as the light was fading, and it was really beautiful... for a few fleeting moments.

The fog was rolling in along with the darkness. Fog with a waning moon means there will not be much light around here tonight, and it will be dark, like an ink well.

I don't feel comfortable with the darkness, it is for the nocturnal...and bears. I remember a bad dream I had recently, about bears, and decide to head back to the house

...where the light is so inviting and comforting.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


There is a new KAL that someone brought to my attention, and I just could not resist.

Teaching myself to knit in this style has been something that has taken time. Having been taught in true "thrower" fashion, learning a new technique called the continental method is painstakingly slow, but from the looks of things, far more efficient.

It is not difficult to see that over time and with practice, speed will come. No "ache shoulder syndrome" is also a plus I look forward to.

My first project for the KAL will have to remain a secret for the time being. My floats are over 3 stitches. Oh, and I am having FUN!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

hen house

Gina asked a few questions about the hen house the other day...I told her I would try and take a few pictures, so here they are.

We generally use old fashion methods to keep the chickens. No artificial heat, no lights on. However, we do use a water heater to keep the drinking water warm. The Mr. built the hen house on the south side of the hill, along the slope of the hillside, so that it would block any north winds. He insulated the building, and he used lots of large windows, including a full light door. The house is narrow, but long. We hang tarp in the winter to protect an area from becoming snow covered. This way, the hens can still go outside everyday.

The inside of henhouse is difficult to photograph from the front. The nestboxes hang on the wall, with a ladder on the opposite side leading to the roosting boards located on the back and over top of the nesting boxes. The feed trough is located underneath the nesting boxes, this keeps it free from droppings. There are two water tanks that are place under shelves for the same reason.

We use a deep litter method that helps to keep the coop warm in winter. The chickens are free range during the day, so they spend most of their time outdoors...coming inside to lay or eat or sleep. Once a week (ideally) we change out the roosting board that holds most of the droppings.

When one board gets dirty, it is taken down and scraped into a large galvanized basin which is then taken far from the hen house and dumped to be composted. The board is left out in the sun and rain during the week. When we switch it out, we re-hang it and spread a little lime and hay on top and it is good to go...

So, where are all the chickie doodles?

They are out preening and enjoying this balmy afternoon!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

winter chores

After a few nights of below freezing weather, the early morning winter chores begin in earnest.

The daily trips to the coal bin to shovel a few buckets of anthracite for the stove, knocking the ice off of the water for the chickens, and making sure all the critters have lots of fresh hay are at the top of the list.

It is time to switch the rabbit water bottles over to earthen ware crocks, and run the extension wire over to the hen house to heat the water tank.

Lakota is in full coat. She should be clipped soon. She fits neatly under my arm, and sometimes while doing chores, I like to carry her around and talk to her so she will relax a little bit.

Jack is always so laid back, but Lakota is usually very timid of me. She is a pleasure to clip, very well behaved, but always so very shy. I'm not sure I can change this, I've been trying for awhile, so it might just be her temperament.

A few days before Thanksgiving, our little black lop-eared rabbit suddenly died. There were no signs of anything being wrong, and though I have no idea how old he actually was I believe he was not more than 2 or 3 years old. I do not know why he suddenly died, his appetite was fine, as were his droppings and attitude in general. I am sorry that I had not taken any pictures of him recently... I will miss him, he was always full of spunk and mischief....

Almost complete, a pair of fingerless mitts sit on the desk. All they need is a row or two before I bind them off, and I don't know why it is taking me so long to get to it. They are made from a nice blend I spun up from Black Finnsheep and Angora.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

walk with me wednesday

Occasionally, I like to walk along the road (hunting season). Sometimes I will even drive to a location and then get out and walk a ways. So, when I am out driving around to those places I have to go, I keep an eye out for places I will return to when I want to do some walking. At times, the Mr. will accompany me (not liking the idea of me walking the roadside woods by myself) I am agreeable.

He noticed them first. And had to point them out to me. I have to admit that they blend in pretty well..see them?

Now who could have done this? They are up rather high. I'm not sure how I feel about them.

At first I was entertained, humored. But the more I think of it, they disturb a rather "natural graffitish" sort of way....although now when I pass them they seem to be waving at me.

And I confess to an urge to build one or two myself....

Monday, December 04, 2006

y is for yarn

"There is no better way to keep ones head than to use one's hands."

These words are not my own...but they do speak to me. When I feel like the world is going to fast for me, I make yarn. I love to make yarn.

The article continues... "To talk of the things one loves is always to risk being sentimental, but the time that I spend in spinning gives me some of my greatest happiness and spinning wheels have come to be some of life's most priceless possessions. As the yarn travels from my hands onto the bobbin it seems to conjure up thoughts of beautiful things that I have known- thoughts of those I have loved who are no longer with me in this life, music, mountains, downs and hills and flowing rivers, the ebb and flow of tides and the sound of the sea.

Perhaps flowing water, of all things in nature, comes most to mind, for the flow of fleece to the wheel instinctively suggest it. I always tell my pupils to keep the fleece "fluid", so that it goes as running water towards the spindle eye.

Spinning gives to me a wonderful feeling of Eternity. As I cast my mind backwards to the countless thousands of years that mankind has spun and forward to the time when my last length of thread will be spun, as I watch the little bridge of fleece travelling ever onwards to become yarn, it seems symbolic of that tiny step which we all shall take from this world to the next. When my own time is up and my wheel is still and I shall spin on it no more, I can only hope that others will find in it the joy that I have found and that on and on, for still thousands and thousands of years, yarn will yet be spun by one of God's best gifts- the human hand. From the Quarterly Journal of the Guilds of Weavers and Spinners and Dyers...No.1 March 1952.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

hang up the hoes

It is time that I hang the hoes for the year. With the wonderful weather we have been having, it would be possible to keep working, but it is time, the ground will soon freeze and the soil sleep.

The winter rye has germinated...spotty at best. No wonder, the seed is over a year old, purchased from Cornell, remember?

A few beets still linger down in lower bed...left there for "experimentation purposes".

Meanwhile, work begins on another project, which cannot be disclosed because it shall become a gift eventually. I overdyed some of the alpaca/finn and the color is what I call "purple oxalis".

events for November Nov 1st - golden crowned kinglets Nov 2nd - dug dahlia, 4oclocks

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

walk with me wednesday

Over at Smatterings, if it is Wednesday there will be walking. I look forward to checking in on the participants of Walk with me Wednesday. It is fun to read about their walks, and see the photos that they post. I have asked to be added to the list, and hope that I can keep up the pace because I really enjoy walking.

You can always find a good excuse to get out for a walk...fresh air, exercise, time out etc...but there are times when one feels the NEED to walk ...just to keep in touch with the elements. Actually, it is when I am walking that I am IN my element!

Walks, for me, are seldom long enough. Sometimes, the pace is fast, today it was not. Some days, an object of interest will present itself, and find its way into my pocket, or onto a shelf for closer observation. Today there were no such objects.

Today the things that caught my eye did not fit in my pocket...!

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