Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The rafter of turkeys (22 of them) marched down the mountain for a visit early this morning.

I was surprised at how calm they were. They did not display their usual wary attitude. After close observation, it became clear to me that the reason for this was the absence of the gobblers. So-- they have now separated for the winter. This time of year, the tom's become rather solitary. They are not attracted to the hens, and so go off to themselves or to keep the company of other gobblers. Come springtime - they will assemble their harems.

I noticed how the hens are at ease, much like my chickens are without a rooster to keep them in line. They allow me to photograph them.

The early morning sunlight brings out the color blue in their almost bald heads. Their eyes are very large. Turkeys have very keen eyesight.

And a face only a mother could love.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

october notes

Pheneology results for October

6th white pine needles yellow and drop

8th hazel nut flowering and catbirds have left

9th colors are peak

14th first frost -hermit thrush and kinglet feeding on barberry

16th juncos arrive -Goldie molts

21st turkey strip barberry

24th flock of bluebirds noted --planted winter rye today

Sunday, October 29, 2006

which witch hazel

This is not the witch hazel I mean to tell you about...although, we have been having some wicked winds coming out of the west...rather, I would like to point you in the direction of this sweet smelling bloom that appears just after all the leaves have fallen from the branches.

For years I have referred to this shrub as a hazelnut. That is what I was told was it's name by an oldtimer from these parts. Only recently did I discover that it is witch hazel!The leaves on the bush look very much as if they would belong to the hazel family, and the nuts that form -bear a striking resemblance to the hazel nut we all know and love...but lately.... I have been wondering why this bush is associated with a witch. Perhaps there was a mistake, and it should be which hazel instead.

I did a little reading and found out that some articles suggest that the limbs were used for divining or dowsing. Humm, and here I thought that they always used willow branches for that! I don't know anyone who dowses, so I have no way of knowing if there is any truth to this theroy.

I also read that witch hazel grows in the shade, and if exposed to full sun it dies off quickly. Winter bloom, or snapping hazel are also common names for this bush. The snapping refers to the way the bush spreads it seeds. When they are ripe, the seed capsules burst open and can shoot the seed as far as 20 feet. I've never seen my bush shoot its seeds, the red squirrel usually eats them all.

So, as I wonder what's in a name, I will let witch hazel cast a spell on me while I watch the pretty yellow ribbons of the blooms flitter and flutter with the wind....the last blooms of the season...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

abc along u is for upside down

u is for upsidedown...

because sometimes things just turn out that way.....

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Go deer Go

Hello ...


Do you like my hat?

No, I do not.



Tuesday, October 24, 2006

virgin's bower

This is what the virgin's bower looked like a few short months ago. I like this vine, it goes by several names. Traveler's joy, Old Man's beard...devils darning needle...It belongs to the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae.

In summertime, it smells wonderful, and climbs all over other trees and shrubs along the riverrim. But this is the time of year that I enjoy it the most. And so I watch for it, and wait for it to bear it's fruit heads with it's long feathery plumes...is it any wonder that the spinner in me wants to try it out?

The weather today was gray and blustery. The color in the landscape is leaving and some trees are standing naked already. Last night I started an earflap hat, and almost finished it. I carried a strand of Icelandic and a strand of ummm...don't remember what it was...but it makes for a nice warm combo.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

canopy leaves

This morning, just at dawn, we noticed these visitors had spent the night on the side lawn.

The squally weather these past few days has been stripping the leaves from the trees...(except for the oaks, they are holding strong.) While the canopy of leaves begins to disappear, summer secrets reveal themselves.

No Rhinebeck for me this year, and I am trying hard not to miss it. Work on the triloom continues, every once and a while I have a moment to add a few lengths. The wool has such a nice "cush factor"..the tactile experience is pleasurable! I am pondering the idea of brushing this shawl, an technique I have not yet tried. I'm thinking that the mohair and angora will make a nice halo if I do.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pinus Strobus

I live among these towering pines. I love them. Sometimes I feel very small when I walk past them. I like to notice them and breathe in deeply when their refreshing scent fills the air.

Lately, they have been dropping their needles... sending their golden arrows soaring to the ground. Sometimes the needles land softly in my hair, but mostly they land on the ground, making a blanket to keep their feet warm under the snow that will surely fall this winter.

I have read in a book by Euell Gibbons that you can make a tea out of the pine needles. I've never done that. But if I did, I would be getting a source of vitamins A and C.

I've also read that white pines used to be harvested and made into masts for ships. Sometimes I imagine these pines sailing out in the ocean, far from their homes in the mountains. I imagine the trees that were cut for ship masts must have been tall and straight.

When I was in elementary school we studied the Native American Indians. One of the things I learned about was how they measured how tall the trees were. I still use this method sometimes when no one is watching....you have walk a distance away from the tree, then stand - facing away from the tree- with your legs apart and bend over, and look under your legs and up...until you can see the top of the tree. If you cannot see the top of the tree then you have to find a different spot..but when you have found that spot, then you measure the distance from where you are to the base of the tree, and that will tell you the approximate height.

When I measure these pines, I figure them to be about 100 feet tall. The Mr. says he thinks they are about 80 feet. Either way, they seem like giants when you live under them. Unfortunately, we have noticed that one of them that is near to the cabin has died, and needs to be taken down...hopefully before it falls down!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

cut length

Started working on the 5 foot triloom. I am weaving with cut-lengths, and have turned the loom to the side to make it easier.

The yarn was given to me in the form of roving...(thanks Judy) It is a blend of her goat's (Storm) mohair and Border Leicester and has a beautiful sheen to it with many different shades of gray, and a soft and lofty hand. It is pleasing to touch, and enjoyable to work with. I am also using some black Finn that I blended with my angora. It should be a soft shawl, and warm.

It rained most of yesterday. The woods smell fresh and like pine. We had our coal delivered (5 ton of pea), although I don't think we will use all of it this winter. It is getting more expensive and harder to get each year, so it does not hurt to get a little extra.

The black cohash has lost most of it's seed already, which is unusual to me, considering that last year it held it's seed throughout the winter.

Monday, October 16, 2006

T is for transition

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

transition - an event that results in a transformation
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This year has seen events that have resulted in transformations along the river rim and in my personal life as well. I learn from my surroundings how to transition. The edge of the river changes constantly as ebb and flow dictate.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The plants and trees along the river bank have to be strong so that the flood waters don't erode them. And so I too, need to be strong when life and events test endurance. Faith anchors me like the roots of the tree are anchored to the shoreline. I am living in the riparian zone.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The river, like life, is ever changing. It changes it path throughout the years, as time and events devise the course.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It takes patience to watch and see what that course will be.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

bad habits

This is the second time that I have had to stop the knitting to spin up more yarn for this project! I really should learn to check my yardage before I start a pattern....

Friday, October 13, 2006

fruit of the vine

It is good to have friends that share their bounty... (thanks for the pulp- Judy, thanks for the grapes- Grace!)

I've been making these grapes into jelly and juice. It has been a good year for grapes. These clusters show it, but you can only imagine how they taste.

When I pop a grape into my mouth, I am transported back into time. I think I am about 5 years old, and I am standing in my grandparents kitchen. My grandparents grew grapes. I remember being able to look outside the kitchen window and watch them ripen. This was at the instruction of my grandfather..."go and take a look at those grapes and see if they are ripe yet"...he would tell me.

As a child, the grapes always looked and smelled better than they tasted to me. They tasted sour, and it wasn't until my grandmother added all that sugar and turned them into jelly, that I enjoyed them. As an adult, I love the tartness of the skin, wild and tangy!

My grandmother used to seal her jelly jars with paraffin, which is no longer recommended because it sometimes fail to be airtight. So, I seal my jars with lids and an open kettle bath.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I suppose some people don't like to look at certain dead creatures, and so I warn you ahead of time that you may not want to see these photos of a critter and some bugs.No fiber in this post...so you may move along if you are not interested in seeing what goes on in the woods. Kitty sometimes hunts and brings little trophies (dead critters) home. These are placed on the back steps for us to admire. Sometimes, I get busy, and cannot "clean up" after Kitty as soon as I would like. This morning, as I was making the coffee, I noticed one of Kitty's trophies on the steps, and made a mental note to "get to it". The day began to get busy and it was mid afternoon when I glanced out the window and noticed that the trophy had moved! And was still moving! It looked as though it was trying to crawl off the steps!

I kept my eyes on it as I finished doing some dishes, and watched it roll over and heave itself off one of the steps. Ok, enough, I was heading out there to see what was going on. It was Silphidae, one of the staphylinoid beetles.

I had found another type earlier this summer...This one is also known as a Burying or Sexton beetle. They bury the carcass ...and then use the food for their larvae.

For a moment I thought I had found the endangered Nicrophorus americanus...but on closer identification, well, I'm not sure which one it is. Due to the markings behind his head, I'm having trouble identifying him.One thing I am certain of, I will leave the "clean up" of this critter to the other critter. I just have to figure out where to hide it where the chickens won't find it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

abc along...s is for..

S is for spinning,


in the sun,

on a Sunday.

This silk roving is from Carol Weymar, the silkworker. I had originally ordered it last spring to use during a workshop that I was going to teach. Sometimes, life gets in the way of our plans, and so I had put it away. Recently, I came across it when I was looking for something else. I am glad I did......

Sunday, October 08, 2006

harvest moon

"Come a little bit closer...

Hear what I have to say .....

Just like children sleepin .....

We could dream this night away. .....

But theres a full moon risin .....

Lets go dancin in the light.....

We know where the music's playin ....

Lets go out and feel the night." ....

....so begins the song Harvest Moon by Neil Young. I have been watching this harvest moon rise over the mountain for the last 3 nights. It is beautiful. My camera cannot capture its beauty. When we went out to feel the night, it was beautiful too. So mild, yet crisp...the smell of the hearth fire burning...the quiet rush of the river water...night time.

The Full Harvest Moon is always the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal Equinox. This year, it comes to us in October.

I went looking online for harvest moon information, and learned about moon trees. How have I lived for these many years, and not known about moon trees?

For more full moon info..check out full moon fever...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Vadmal Bag

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
And I use the word "vadmal" loosely..it may not be actual or true vadmal (wadmal).
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
According to the little bit of information I was able to find online, Kerstin Gustafsson explains in her book Ull (Wool) that there isn't any given measurement, but cloth will be called vadmal when it is so tightly stamped that no warp or weft threads can be pulled out of a cut edge.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Gail Lambert writes in her thesis (The Taxonomy of Sweater Structures and Their Origins) that valmal is a woven and then felted fabric, and was once accepted internationally as currency.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I was able to find a page that indicated that in medieval Iceland and Norway, wadmal was a standard item of barter.  Six ells (or about 6 yards) of wadmal were equal to 1 eyrir, 24 grams of silver: 8 eyrir made a silver mark.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I found out that wadmal cloth was woven on the warp - weighted loom..my bag was woven on the triloom..so...I guess it isn't really historically correct...sorta faux vadmal..
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Project notes:
The fiber for this bag was spun from Icelandic Sheep raised by Susan Mongold Briggs.  Purchased in the form of a batt from Tongue River Farm.  This fiber could not be nicer, I was extremely happy with the quality.  It was so beautifully prepared, that it begged to be spun on my Great Wheel.  I spun singles on the Great Wheel, and then plied the singles on my Ashford Traditional.  I then wove 5 triangles on the 3 foot triangle loom.  Four of the five were woven normally, with the fifth triangle using a closer sett.  This was achieved by doubling the strands on each nail.  Then the triangles were positioned in the fashion of the bag.  The pieces were then slip- stitched together.  The size before the fulling process was a 23 inch square, and afterward it measured 13 inches by 14 inches.  I then scissor trimmed the flap to a size and shape that I found suitable.  The straps were made by spinning the double ply in Navajo ply fashion, and then fingerlooping a braid that was handstitched onto the edges of the bag.  The button was fashioned from a branch of a maple tree, that I shaped and hand finished.  A smaller piece of fingerlooping that was braided with the double ply, serves as a button hole.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin