Tuesday, March 31, 2009

phenological events March 2009

March 2009

1st- start pepper seeds
3rd- titmice and chickadees sing
in the morning
5th - start broccoli seeds
12th - insects & snowdrops up
14th - woodthrush arrives
18th - phoebe arrives

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

take me with you


These are busy days. Time is spent on winter clean outs..the henhouse...the greenhouse...the garden...the cabin. Hours are divided between them~ listed in order of priority.

Fiber pursuits fall to almost the bottom of the list. On a beautiful day, the river beckons for me to come and sit beside it in the sunshine. On my way out the door, my weaving calls to me..."take me with you!"


The double hole tape loom is easy to tie to a sapling. The other end is tied to me. I become one with loom ;-)

Lean forward, relax the tension and select threads, lean back, lift the heddle and shuttle through the shed.


there is nice rhythm involved, and my mind flows with it, selecting a piece of music that has been with me for days..I slow it down to keep the time...


My fingers sometime snag on the threads..the disastrous effect of dry skin, cuticles and nails being damaged from too much garden work. I've been trying to keep up with a nightly hand care regimen.

my point of view Photobucket

Although I could easily sit here and weave the afternoon away, I am allowing only an hour. I congratulate myself for having the discipline to pack it up, and head back to the cabin..where an overhaul of the bathroom awaits. I purchased a new shower curtain in honour of the event.


Yesterday, I cut this off the loom and started over. The silk and the linen were not working well together..I think my linen was to thin, or perhaps it was the silk, anyway the pattern didn't pop like it should. I started over with some handspun Wensleydale in place of the silk and it is giving me better results.

Friday, March 20, 2009

galanthus nivalis on the first day


Spring happened this morning at 7:44 on the riverrim. It was a chilly morning, snow showers heralding the arrival.

The snowdrops on the lawn are up, but not really open. They are a pretty little flower, but to really appreciate them, I think you must be a fairy, or at least a bee. Otherwise, you have to sit on the ground to admire them. And the ground is still pretty cold this time of year....


snow drops, virgin flower, snow piercer, winter gallant, firstling, blackbird flower, little snow bell, little white bell, baby bell, spring whiteness... Galanthus (greek in origin and signifies milk or milk white)... Nivalis (a Latin adjective...relating or resembling snow...)


Conflicting lore surrounds this flower. Some say it represents purity, hope and protection. But there are some superstitions that associate it with danger.


Whatever you do, don't pick it and give it to someone of the opposite sex (to do so would mean you wish to see the recipient dead)...and don't bring any inside.....


A single snowdrop growing in the woods portends bad things! No worries here, this one came from a very large patch of snowdrops!

All lore and legend aside, snowdrops are the first flower to bloom around here. I can smell them when I step out my door, and I like them. I've seen bees and other insects visiting them, so I'm glad they have some pollen for the early feeders!

Happy First Day of Spring! Schwwew! WE MADE IT!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

thread hooks

The Eastern Phoebe arrived early this morning, and has been informing everyone of his arrival since daybreak. It is a familiar song, a harbinger of spring for me.

I've been making some thread hooks.


They are constructed from semi-precious stones and wire. A few are made from wooden beads and wire. Some of the stones are quite beautiful when the sun catches them and illuminates the clarity.


These thread hooks can be useful for several things. I originally made them to be used for pulling fiber through a diz. I've also used them in projects for knitting with beads. Recently, I have found them to be helpful when warping my double hole rigid heddle tape loom.


I hold the wire from the hook close to the loop end and insert it into the holes and the slots on the heddle.


...on the backside of the loom, I catch the thread and loop it through the wire to pull it through on the front.

I am warping the loom with my handspun flax, and will finish the top row with some handspun silk, just as soon as I finish plying it. Every time I want to use the Andean Ply method, I'm forced to pick up a book and refer to instructions for winding on my hand. I'm always so delightfully surprised when it unwinds!


The loops just fall off the wrist, no tears, no tangles, just loop after loop after loop!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saturday Night~ Grada!


Yesterday afternoon we took a drive north to see a favorite Irish Band. Grada!

We saw them once before, years ago, and have been waiting for a chance to see them again...that chance came yesterday evening. For those of you who have seen my YouTube Great Wheel Spinning video, Grada is playing that beautiful music.


The Center for the Arts, located in Homer NY, was a great place to see and hear Grada. The building itself is the former First Baptist Church of Homer, and is the location of a terrific organization with wonderful educational and performance initiatives. They have a very informative website that offers slide shows and streaming music of past performances.

As for the music, well it was just the best! These musicians are so talented- they are amazing to watch, and sometimes their melodies are so beautiful that you are tempted to just close your eyes and listen.

Sing Out Magazine writes: "If this talented quintet appears anywhere within 100 miles of you, hi' thee hence!"

We drove over 140 miles to get there...and it was well worth it. If you like Irish traditional music GO see this band if you get a chance, they have taken it to a new level....here is a handy link for their tour date information.

Although this song was previously recorded...they did play it last night-- I snagged it from YouTube:

Happy St. Patricks Day!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

inside the loop

It started with the gift of some music. There were rattles in the song. I wanted to make something to show my thanks for the gift. I kept thinking about those rattles.

Cocoon Rattles made by Native Californians appear on the cover of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot- issue 101- winter 94/95. The photographs give clues as to how to construct the rattle. The article describes the materials used...and why. A rattle is a personal possession, it can only have significance for the person who uses it. The rattles were believed to be very powerful, not everyone possessed one...and they were used for various purposes.


On paper I design my rattle based on the photos and other information I find on the internet. "Maa-Yoy" is the Eastern Pomo name for both cocoon and rattle. Native American Rattles represent three kingdoms. Animal. Mineral. and Plant.


...I gather my materials, they are symbolic. Cocoon rattles make a soft shusshing sound, thought to clear ones mind. I try to include the same sorts of materials used in traditional cocoon rattles..(seeds and seed beads, bits of seashell and egg shells and bones) I am fascinated to learn that traditional Pomo Indian rattles contained (among other things) grains of sand or gravel from ant hills, and seeds from the scat of certain powerful animals. Some people/cultures believed that because these seeds passed inside the animal, they possessed certain spiritual attributes or strength associated with that animal.


The base of the rattle was constructed from sticks that the porcupine chose from the hemlock. This is my favorite part of the rattle. You can still see the teeth marks where it stripped the bark.


In order to fill the cocoon, the "former resident" must first be extracted. Humm..what to do with THAT? Richard Peigler- in his article about Moth Cocoon Artifacts states: "There is some debate about whether or not native Californians ate the pupae from H. euryalus cocoons they collected, although it seems that routine entomophagy would be unlikely given the power most groups associated with the rattles made from the cocoons."


I tied the rattle with braided handspun flax and decorated the ends with porcupine quills and seed beads. thanks for keeping me inside the loop!


Monday, March 09, 2009

spindle weight and a distaff

So the winner of the guess the weight of the spindle is DebbieB (Debbie, please send me your address- I have something for you!)


As you can see by the photo, the cop weighs in at a little over 1.5 oz. Add in the spindle weight...


and your total is approximately 2.25 oz. Now I just need to ply this up and I am finished with spinning the cria alpaca. I'm anxious to see my total yardage numbers for Violette. Stats can be interesting AND educational for the spinner.

Thanks to Loyce for posting to the Antique Spinning Wheels Group on Ravelry about how she dresses her distaff for the Double Flyer Spinning Wheel. I had been having trouble dressing the distaff. I had tried the "ponytail" hang down method...and the cross-combing method, but the flax was too long, and it was getting tangled in the process of spinning. Loyce explained that to shorten the fibers, I needed to make a wider fan with the flax before placing it on the distaff. Thanks Loyce!


I tried it out this weekend. My Ashford Traditional does not have the distaff accessory, so I improvised by using two wooden dowels. The flax looks very inviting, my fingers got itchy and I had to try it out, ... it works fine.


When I catch sight of it out of the corner of my eye, I can't help thinking that my wheel looks like it is about to compete in a jousting tournament...the distaff reminds me of a big lance!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

walk with me wednesday in dreamland


I didn't get a chance to walk yesterday...I really wanted to, but it was just a very busy day, and every time I got ready to go, something got in the way, and the walk never happened.

Finally- I went to bed...and I went walking somewhere very unusual...

"Its a long, long way from canada
A long way from snow chains
Donkey vendors slicing coconut
No parkas to their name
Dreamland, dreamland
Dreamland, dreamland"
Joni Mitchell...

....I walked all around in a wonderful garden (humm...I sorted my seed basket out yesterday- must have triggered a nerve).

In the dream, I saw the most wonderful plant. The leaves were like nothing from this world, and they were important and needed to be collected. For what seemed like a very long time (dreams can be deceiving this way) I selected perfect leaves and picked them, and held them carefully but tightly in my hand.

I heard a wood thrush and woke up. Was this my woodthrush outside? Has he returned from his winter hiatus? Or was the music of his voice in my dream? Hard to tell...I waited - listening- and noticed that my hand was still clenched but didn't have the leaves in it. What a pity. They were quite beautiful.

Onto fiber, I have prepared the last of the cria fleece by combing and dizzing and making nests.

In an attempt to make a yarn that changes in value gradations-- I tried sorting the lighter colors from the darker, and have now arranged them in order to spin. It is a difficult exercise for me. Reminds me of all those Munsell color chips...


I never was any good at separating out the shades of gray.


I'm spindle spinning it....want to play "guess how much my spindle weighs?"

Monday, March 02, 2009


I found this on Youtube....turn on the sound....Enjoy!

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