Friday, October 31, 2008

phenological events october 2008

phenological events

Oct 2008

1st - witch hazel
3rd - acorns fall
5th - dig potatoes
7th - plant winter rye
15th - make corn shook
22nd - harvest winter squash
29th - first snow

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

walk with me wed, first snow

Yesterday, we had our first snow. It caught me off guard. Lots of leaves are still on the trees. And lots of leaves are on the lawn under the snow. There was not even time to put the rake away! Or get my mittens out!


It isn't that unusual for us to have a few squalls in October. Accumulation is another story. Snow in October feels colder than January snow. It really is not, but it just feels that way because there has not been time to become acclimatized...physically or emotionally. When I don't have time to acclimate to things, I find it difficult to accept them. It is one of my faults.

So, I try to accept the won't be around for long...the moisture is good for the ground. I reassure myself. Thankfully, we didn't loose any trees or power.

By this morning, every trace of snow was gone. I still need my mittens...and my hat. Woodland critters pick the barberry bushes clean...


and this years fawn gets a little reassurance too, from someone who has seen snow before.


Monday, October 27, 2008

button up alpaca neckwarmer


I have finished making a neck warmer. I designed it to fit a mans neck. It is the second piece I have completed from the yarn spun from Violette's blanket.


I carried two strands of a double ply (wpi of 16) over the needles, and knit a simple basket weave stitch.

The button holes were worked separately from the main body with a sort of seed stitched i-cord, and then attached with a 3 needle bind off.


The buttons are hand made and completely washable.

Project notes:

Fiber: 100% handspun Alpaca
278 yards of a 2 ply with a wpi of 16

Needles: 6mm Bernat

Finished size:
width = 9 3/4 inches
length = 22 inches

Buttons: 1 1/2 inches square.

This piece was commissioned by Paco Fino and will be available for purchase.

Friday, October 24, 2008

preparing alpaca for spinning

Comments are always welcome here, and I do try to personally email a reply and answer as many as I can...forgive me if I owe you one ...I'm not as quick on the draw as I once was! I am working my way through my inbox and hope to get to yours soon- if I have not already.

One comment that I have been meaning to address is one from Knitchick, who was wondering how I am preparing the alpaca for spinning....

You may have said this before, but how do you prepare it? Do you wash it? Card it? I've been spinning it raw, but I really can't imagine doing that on the GW. I will answer this question in a post... I continue to work with Violette's blanket. Oh, by the case you have not met Violette yet, here is a nice photo of her. She lives a happy life at Finca Alta Vista farm.


I have been processing this fleece entirely by hand. I have not washed it before working with it. This is a lovely cria blanket, very clean in comparison to other alpaca I have worked with.

First I select a small bundle of locks...about as much as you can fit in a coffee mug (for lack of a better reference). I then flick the ends, and set this bunch aside to spin as prime. I spin it directly from the locks as described here.

But what to do with all the leftovers that remain behind in the flicker? Some of it has small bits of VM and chaff. But not enough to make it objectionable. Slowly, I have accumulated a bag full of these combings. I decide to pick it, and send it through the drum carder.


Next, I spin it on the Great Wheel. I can draw out a good length... 5 to 6 feet of very thin yarn, and as I do this, I can inspect it before winding on the spindle. Because the wool is drawn out so thin, most of the hay like bits fall out on the way to the twist.

Some of the slubs that have trapped chaff or short cuts are then picked at a time, before winding on. Tedious. If this blanket had been sent out to be commercially processed, I doubt if the yield would be the same. I hate to waste perfectly good fiber just because of a little VM....but I do admit this method is very time consuming...The results are pretty much what I am looking for, so time is a trade off for quality.


The Great Wheel spun cops move to the Ashford for plying. Mostly because I have better control on that wheel, and don't have to deal with dropping and crossing the drive band on the Great Wheel.


The above photo illustrates an example of both styles of prep and spinning. The one on the left is the drum card prep...and the one on the right is spun from the locks. Both skeins have been spun on the Great Wheel.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

keeping the pace

Everyday life is moving at a hectic pace. I find myself wishing for a nice- quiet- boring routine. A routine with things that I can count on. Lately, I have to check a calendar to see what day of the week it is..the days tend to blend together, speeding by in a blurr of things to be done as I juggle the responsibilities. Note to self...get back to walking. Making time for something that is a constant helps me to feel grounded.


Setting out, the grass is now covered with autumn leaves... they make a loud noise as I shuffle through them. I notice that I deliberately walk slower when everyday life is hectic. An attempt to return to a slower pace? Maybe.


So many sassafras mittens under my feet...I try a few on, but fail to find a perfect fit.


The river is low and still, it moves at a steady pace


the reflection broken only by the shoals.


When life is hectic, things tend to pile up...and go unnoticed for days. It is time to start moving the wood to the shed.


The pumpkins and winter squash slowly make their way out of the garden and onto the dinner plate.


I've been working with different ways to prepare and spin lace weight Alpaca. So far, I think the Great Wheel is giving me the results that I am looking for.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

soar gallery and market

My trip to the SOAR Gallery and Marketplace was wonderful.


The Gallery was filled with creative and skillfully executed works of fiberart. I took so many photographs that I filled the memory card on my camera.


Being able to view the actual finished pieces of so many talented people was rare occasion for me, and I was in awe of the color, texture, design and perfection of the works of so many hands.


And then there are the people who belong to those hands!

There were friends I have met before, and many people that I recognized, but did not have the chance to meet...and a moment to say thank you to a mentor.

But like most perfect sunny fall autumn afternoons, it was over all to soon for me. A new group of people were arriving for the retreat, and I slipped out to return to every day life and responsibilities that are necessary. I carried two special packages home with me, they will be a nice reminder of great afternoon.

I tried to make a slide show of some of the photographs that I took- alas- my poor antiquated computer is not able to keep up with some of the programs required to run if you are interested, you can visit my photobucket page and browse through them there.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

diggin taters

It is the time of year that I get to thinking about ants and grasshoppers...


There is always so much to be done in the way of harvesting and putting the garden to bed. Days go by, and I feel like all I do is work, work - work and store things away for the winter. I feel like an ant.


Potatoes are taking center stage this week. I'm getting pretty handy with a fork. I only forked 2 out of this entire bunch. An old window screes holds the result of one days digging. They are washed and left to cure for a few days before storing. The harvest was good this year, with only a few white ones showing some presence of solanine (green). I tossed those over the hillside. We raised several different varieties...russets for baking, and whites for boiling...and fingerlings for roasting...


This one wins the prize for the far.


And this one wins for best, ahem, artistic expression? Or as my husband says, the biggest "ass". You need a sense of humor and an active imagination when you grow your own veggies.


And lest we forget that this IS a fiber is a sneak peak of something I have been working on for what seems like a very long time....some handspun alpaca woven on the tri... I do have a plan going on here...really I do. It has just been taking me so long to do it I may have forgotten what it was. No worries, I'll figure something out!

And because even us ants have to have a little fun...tomorrow I take the afternoon off and head to Pocono Manor to visit a few friends (grasshoppers) who are attending (playing) SOAR (Spin Off Annual Retreat).

PS ...note from author....It was not my intention to offend anyone with the potato photo, the human body is a work of art and the potato was a reflection of that. I apologize for violating the terms of my photobucket agreement. I must have missed the part about vegetables....

Friday, October 03, 2008

things to study


Today was a crisp day. It started out overcast and dusky grey. There are a few whitetail that, lately, have taken to bedding down in the side yard. They offer a good study.


If only there were not so many things that need doing. I'd take out a few pencils and few sheets of paper, and spend some time with them.


I take out my camera instead. It's quick, but not as relaxing as a pencil would be.


My hyacinth beans are finally forming seed pods. I was worried the frost would take them before I would have any seed to save for next year. They provide some of the last color in the garden. The violets and purples close out the year in my garden.


Grandpa Ott..(as promised for Cathy)


Most of the color now is overhead. In the next few weeks, it will peak and fade and finally fall to the ground.

Cutting the corn stalks down and making a shock or shook- is on the top of the to do list. I left several ears on the stalks, again, for my seed bank. But today, I discover that something else has been helping itself to my bank.


Speaking of my bank...pardon me whilst I sing a few verses ... " O The Wells Fargo Wagon is a 'comin yander...."

And has anyone else noticed that in sec. 325 of the Great Bailout Bill, 148 million has been marked for wool research?

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