Tuesday, January 22, 2013

melts, markings and marsupials

The winter waters are flowing during the day, but at night they freeze again. There is a pattern to the pace. It repeats itself.

slowly and steadily the melting snow travels down to the river each day. At night it trickles underneath the film of ice that covers it, contouring around the rocks ...while the smoke from our chimney curls upwards into the night sky. Are we half way to spring yet?

As per a special request, I had my woodturning friends (Debbie with help from Fred) make a couple of reproductions from my Bulgarian Spindle. I decided I wanted to use the spindle with the Bulgarian Distaff (more on that later), but didn't want to risk damaging it. I burned the same markings or pattern that appears on the staff, into the wood of the spindle. The design on the staff, I am fairly certain, was chip carved...and since I lack those skills, I turned to pyrographing the pattern.

The finished spindle works well! A superb ergonomic design! It is so comfortable to use! A pure delight! The tip on the shaft makes all the difference to my fingers. Such a delicate thing...I hardly feel it in my hands. Thanks, Fred! And I am working with the Wallachian wool sample that my kind friend Vlad'ka sent to me ...all the way from the Czech Republic! Thank you, Vlad'ka! I am learning!

Last night, a marsupial came to call. A knock at the window. And when I turned on the lights...there were eyes looking back at me! The eyes of Didelphis virginiana..or the common Virginia Opossum...

The Algonquin Indians named them apasums..(white animals). Since it is mid winter, I wondered if there were any little opossums in the pouch. It is late January, their breeding season, and young are born a couple of weeks after that. I once found a tiny opossum in the snow, it was no bigger than my finger.

Opossums don't live very long, but as I think back on things, we usually see one or two of them in the winter. There was the time I was collecting the eggs from the hens nest boxes, and put my hand on a opossum that was curled up fast asleep...and the other time that one climbed way up high onto the post and then fell off backwards into the snow drift!

His/ or her pink fingers and ears tell the tale of cold weather. I suspect the critter was in search of some suet it smelled, my husband had recently filled the cages at the bird feeders. I took a few photos and then shooed the opossum off into the night.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

curious customs

January mornings have been mostly gray, with little bits of sunshine. The big oak looks like an etching or a pen & ink drawing in the sky. The buds on the branches of the big oak are waiting. Spring will come. All in good time, I tell myself. Besides, I've yet to place my seed order ...there is a forecast for an icy mix. And I've been spinning flax to linen.

When the sun shines in through my kitchen window, I reach for my sitting distaff. I spin on the spindle. I wrote an article for the Spinning Wheel Sleuth about my Guzaly..and it was published in the recent issue.

The spindle (that came with the distaff) has two whorls. I keep both of the whorls on when I begin spinning. The extra weight is helpful. As I fill the spindle, and the weight is no longer needed, I take one of the whorls off. Look at these beautiful lines, left by the maker.

I have been reading about different folklore customs..... tales that have to do with spindles and spinning. Some of the lore is interesting. ...and sets me thinking about the origins...the where and how and why these customs, traditions and stories started out...

...for instance..one of the customs involves putting a spindle in the cradle of an unborn child for which a girl is desired. If a boy is wished for, onions would take the place of a spindle. hum. why onions?

I wonder.

I also read about a ceremony that would take place for a new home. The new owners would throw a ball of yarn through the doorway and into the house. Then, the oldest member of the household would cross the threshold, holding onto the "guiding thread". This would insure good fortune and happiness in the new dwelling.

Some of the customs involve tying herbs and bells upon your distaff. So ...of course...I saw fit to play along.

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