Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September 2008 phenological events

1st - fall warblers
4th - harvesting tomatoes, corn, squash
15th - pull beans to dry
23rd - frogs migrate 25th - hummers & cat birds leave
28th - Toms and Hens spotted at different times. They have not yet joined up.

dye baths and tape looms

A few weeks ago, Grace sent an email around, an invite...to her farm for an afternoon to play with fiber. As things worked out for me, I was able to attend. I had a very nice time!

When I arrived, a few friends were already there. They were out on the patio picking grapes! Beautiful purple/blue concord grapes. I brought my basket and with the help of extra hands, it was filled in a short time. Audrey was joking that we should all fill a vat and take off our socks and shoes and stomp around on the grapes! Maybe next year!


Once we moved inside, we got busy with the dye pots. Grace had already overdyed some hand spun Finnsheep wool that was hanging up to dry. It was gorgeous, and provided great inspiration to dive in and get going. There was still some of the dye bath left so we added to that and I threw in a skein that I had brought from my stash. I got a nice purple.


I also shared Audrey's dye pots (twice) on the stove and did one of my own in the microwave...in addition to a few silk hankies that I dyed in the microwave.

Pretty soon, Bonnie arrived with a tomato pie! It smelled great, so we hurried up to clean up and take a coffee break with the pies. Grace had prepared a pumpkin pie...so we had 2 pies to enjoy! YUM!

After lunch, we moved out into the living room for some knitting...got a chance to see the new (antique) spinning wheel that Fred has been working on. I was going to take a few pictures, but I wanted to use the memory card in my camera to shoot a video of Grace working on her Double Hole Tape Loom. Fred made it for her last year.

The double hole tape loom is a great for weaving tapes, or strips. Some of the patterns are quite beautiful. Grace wrote a good article about the loom that appears in Weavezine..you can read it by clicking here, ...or find it by way of the Weavezine button on my sidebar.

One of the things I love about my loom is the portability of it. You can take it anywhere. My favorite place to weave is outside by the river. I tie one end of the warp around my waist...and the other end around a sturdy object (a tree). Your body becomes the tension device, and both hands are free to raise and lower the sheds and weave! Pick up patterns are fun and easy after you get the hang of it!

Here is the video I made of Grace weaving on her loom. Thanks Grace!

Monday, September 29, 2008



There are 13 weeks of winter, and 13 color bands on the woolly bear caterpillar. This one looks like the global warming trend is spot on.

The crickets are chirping a little bit slower.

leaves are changing color...


and the leaf peepers arrive. All of these things indicate change.

As the end of September approaches, my pheneology reports are incomplete...not that I haven't noticed.. I just didn't take time to enter the data.

Apparently, others are more dedicated to record weather and track data.

What about you? Do you record data? What kinds of things signify the arrival of autumn in your backyard? I invite you to record your data here - in the comments!

As things are shaping up, it appears that we will escape a first frost in the month of September. Long live the garden!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

thank the tree

My good friend and neighbor Happy Acres Judy, has been sharing her harvest with me. A week ago, it was some nice cherry hot peppers...this week it was apples! Thanks Judy!


"Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the beeeeeesss...pleeeease!"

Remember the blossoms in May? Here is the fruit...crisp, sweet, juicy. Thank the tree...and thank the bee.

My virtual good friend Judy Smatterings has been working on apples this week also...she has a good recipe for freezing them, and mentioned her "gizmo". We all have our "gizmo's" of choice...mine is an old one that still works just fine..


When my husband was a young teen...he cleaned out a chicken coop with his friend. When the job was finished, the owner of the coop directed the boys to select something they wanted out of an old shed. My husband took the gizmo. His friend took an old fashioned crank ice-cream maker.


I made pie filling with some of my apples. The recipe calls for 6lbs. I have more apples than that..so I will try Judy Smatterings recipe and freeze the rest..tomorrow. I plan to try an apple pan dowdy too....yes, this just might be the year of the apple pan dowdy!

Pint jars were handy, so I filled those. Six pounds made 5 pints. They cook down. Seems like a lot of work...but the tarts I will make this winter will be easy. Pop off the lid and away you go!


6lbs of fresh apples, peeled with a gizmo, and sliced. (You can dip them in ascorbic acid if you want them to stay nice and white)

2 cups of sugar stirred into the apples...and let sit so the juice can start to run...about 30 minutes. This is exactly the amount of time it will take to get your jars and lids ready.

Stir in about 2tbsp of flour and some cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg and the juice of half a lemon.

Cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble and the juice thickens. Pack into jars, fill to 1/2 inch head space and process in a hot water bath for about 25 minutes. If you need more syrup, you can make some ahead of time...just use about 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water..more or less depending on if you want it thicker or thinner.

Oh, and don't forget to wipe down the counters and mop the floor when you are all finished...that gizmo sprays apple sticky-ness all over the place.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

frog migration


The frogs are on the move. I have been noticing them more and more.


Each day there are a few more green frogs, and they gather together... This could be due to the nice spell of dry weather we have been having.

Or perhaps, they have other ideas....


I have been taking advantage of the dry weather. The cabin shutter windows need attention. They are high maintenance. So, I scrape, then re glaze and apply a fresh coat of paint. To finish the job, I scrape again...you know..the places where I didn't have a steady hand and got the paint on the window...and finally, I pull out the Windex. Nice new windows ready for the indoor season! The south face of the cabin is finished. Hopefully, the weather will hold out and I can get all the windows done in the same year.

I've also been busy with buttons....

Kristi had sent me a swatch that she knit for the february lady sweater that she is making. She was looking for some buttons. It was fun getting the swatch in the mail..her knitting is lovely and the button hole fit the button perfectly. The vote was in favor of the square shape in padauk wood..the wood color is a nice match with the yarn, and the square shape will really set off the neckline. I'll be looking forward to seeing the finished project.


Anne had recently ordered a few buttons also. She choose the toggle shape for her Tudora. The toggle shapes are fun! And I think they were a good choice for those "one button" projects.


I'm having fun sending the buttons out, it is a kick seeing what is choosen and where it winds up. I contemplate making the buttons available on etsy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

walk with me wednesday, savor the sun

On Monday, summer will be over. The last of the summer sun finds special places to distribute it's rays and warmth.


It settles on ferns in the wood,


reflects the sky on the river,


and defines the smallest of seeds.

The last of the summer sun glistens, shimmers and beams. It is sweet. I want to say good-bye.


Good-bye to the warm long and lingering afternoons.. to fireflies in the evenings. Good-bye to the catbirds, and rubythroats, to the flowers full of color, to the dragonflies and beetles...the bees and wasps.


There is fulfillment, and ripeness in the garden.


It is the time of year when we reap and then glean. And the sun shines a little less, shadows grow tall and once again, it is time to turn.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Hey, it's my 5th blogiversary! Snort!

Thanks to everyone who visits me, your comments and readership are what keep me motivated, inspired and blogging!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

pulling the flax

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Manise had asked if the flax I was spinning in the previous post, was the flax I have harvested from my garden. The answer is no. The flax I was spinning came from Belgium. It was lovely! I dream of have such good results with the flax from my garden!

I am still pulling my flax. Pulling it at different intervals is necessary, it is not ripening at once, and I am experimenting and keeping notes. I have been making sheaves of several handfuls, a little larger than a quarter, no bigger than fifty cent sized bundles.

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I tie them together with a farmers knot, using smaller strands of flax.

While pulling, I think of how beautiful these plants are, and I am grateful for the harvest of my small plot. One can only imagine how important a good crop of flax must have been to our ancestors.

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When I have many sheaves, I carry them to the south side of the deck, where they hang to dry.

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The sheaves look beautiful to me when the sun strikes them. Once they are dry like hay, I will ripple the seed heads.

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I finished pulling the flax a few days ago. With the smaller bits that were left in the field, I made a flax maiden.

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She will guard over the retting process (and next years field), and hopefully make sure everything turns out just right! After all this work and time, if the flax is not retted correctly, all will be lost!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Beardsley Sanford double flyer spinning


A long time ago, Beardsley Sanford (1790-1868) made this spinning wheel, and signed it. This past weekend at the PA Endless Mountains Fiber Festival, I had a chance to spin flax on it. What a challenge! What fun!

Fred Hatton restored this wheel to working condition, and did a beautiful job. The wheel is gorgeous. The first time I tried spinning on it, I was having trouble drawing the flax down.

Another spinner and friend of mine, Freda, had come by to see if we could get it going. I told her that I was having trouble dressing the distaff, and just at that moment, Pam Mawhiney from the Home Textile Tool Museum had stopped by Grace and Fred's Antique Spinning Wheel Booth to drop off some brochures. Freda asked her if she would help us out. Within a few moments she had the flax dressed on the distaff. Freda gave it go first.

Photobucket These are Freda's hands....


Freda gave me some good pointers. She has spun more flax that I have...and she showed me how to spin it wet. Grace gave us a little water cup that she quickly made out of the bottom portion of a water bottle. It is shown sitting in the middle of the table on the wheel. I think it looks like a little crystal bowl!

Freda and I spun for a little while, side by side, "Gossip Wheel" style. We spun our flax wet, dipping our hands in the water from time to time to smooth down the loose ends of the flax before we wound onto the bobbins. We both agreed that it was fun, but most likely, not what the wheel was truly made for.

This wheel was made to spin flax with both hands at the same time- by one person. One hand for each flyer. Oh my!

Photobucket These are my hands...

Thanks to Grace and Fred, and Pam and Freda...I was able to get it going, but I spun the flax dry.


I admit it took some concentration, no "zoning out" for this wheel. It is a mystery to me how one would be able to spin and wet the flax on this wheel. Any suggestions? Any documentation? Oh, if only they could talk!

As a post script to this entry.. Grace made a video of me spinning on the wheel. You can see that there is very little time for hands to dip into a water pot!

Monday, September 01, 2008

phenological events August 2008

phenological events

August 2008

1st - Blackberry ripen
2nd - Broccoli ready
4th - Pull peas/plant lettuce
6th - Corn ripens
12th - first red tomato
15th - blueberries ripen
18th - harvest string beans
20th - begin pulling flax

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