Oops, Summer is back

Our cool days and chilly nights disappeared to upper 70’s days and warmer nights. It gives the garden a bit more time, and has provided some delightful days for walks on trails and the woods. I won’t walk our woods now because it is deer hunting season, but the Mountain Lake Conservancy is safe from hunting and has some delightful walks and hiking trails, only 4 miles and 2000 feet of elevation from us.

The roof through the trees, across the lake is Mountain Lake Lodge, aka Kellerman’s from Dirty Dancing fame. When we bought our property, we stayed here for a few nights with Son 1 and his family and the lake was full. It subsequently went dry and has partially refilled. We have spent two New Year’s Eves there enjoying a lovely dinner, big party with favors and champagne toast, room for the night, and breakfast the next morning.

This was another day, the cut through the mountain for the old Huckleberry rail line looking back at the walking bridge next to where the old rail bridge was. No matter the heat outside, this cut is always delightfully cool.

This weekend is an event at Wilderness Road Regional Museum, the Spirit Trail with horse drawn wagon and “spirits” of the region interacting with the riders. Because of the pandemic, the number of riders will be limited, reservations and masks required. For the past two years, I have portrayed an older, slightly crazy version of Mary Draper Ingalls. According to historical accounts, after her the capture, and that of her sister in law, and several children including hers, the deaths of so many of her relatives and friends in their community, her escape and walk back from what is now Ohio to our region, she was probably very fearful of Native Americans and of the dark. Because I am up on the porch of the house/store, and since the wagons only come by every 30 minutes. I am going to dress in my living history costume and participate this weekend. I have missed my living history and though I usually go inside and demonstrate spinning between tours, I will remain on the porch, masked when not “acting.” I love that this event can be done safely and give me the opportunity to participate and support the museum.

Friends who appreciate

My crafting goes back many years and has changed it’s theme several times. As a teen, I was fascinated by an adult friend on vacation, crocheting with a fine metal needle and thin cotton thread. She was crocheting lace and was a very willing teacher though I was a left handed learner. By sitting across from her, she patiently taught me a few basic stitches and how to read the pattern. Once home, a needle and the thread were purchased and I made enough lace strips to edge a couple of pillow cases that are long gone. They were presented to my Mom for Christmas that year. The skill moved me on to making larger crochet items with yarn, afghans, a couple of vest sweaters. That stayed with me as my craft of choice for years. I added counted cross stitch as a young adult and made pictures, Christmas ornaments, and at some point later used it to do cross stitch on waste canvas on commercial knitted sweaters. Between my first and second child, I took a calligraphy evening class at the local craft store and enjoyed doing that until people realized my skill and began asking if I would do this poem or my wedding invitations, etc. It then became stressful to be perfect and not just have fun and basically quit. At a craft show, I saw smocking for the first time, and I was pregnant with child two. I decided that if the baby was a girl, I would learn to smock. When she was born, I did take smocking and French hand sewing classes at the local yarn and fiber store and made her Baptism dress, slip, and bonnet, then on to make maybe another half dozen dresses and some bonnets (she turned into quite the tomboy, now a Mom with Second Degree Decided Black belt in Taekwondo and a third level instructor), she wore those dresses and wanted them for her daughter. With that skill, I made my Mom, Mother in law, and Sister in law smocked night gowns for Christmas. That craft also faded. Somewhere in there I did some hand monograming and learned crewel and each of my three children have a personalized crewel work Christmas stocking.

After the three children were born, I developed an interest in making baskets, made my first one, an egg basket from a kit without instruction other than the written ones that came with it, then took a class with my best friend and learned to make a simple square basket with a handle and my friend and I started making baskets to sell at craft shows. That was my first experience with people looking, handling, and making rude comments about how could we charge so much when they could buy a basket at — store for a fraction of that price. After a couple of shows, I quit that scene and just used baskets as gifts and for my own use.

Skip forward to near my second retirement and the move to the mountains. First, I was here for a couple of years without hubby as he wound down his practice and retired and though I had Son 1 and family nearby, I was in an apartment alone for a year. I stumbled on the local yarn shop, I had picked up knitting again when grandson 1 was due and made t-shirts, soakers, sweaters, and diaper covers for him. I met many new friends there, enjoyed going in after work or on weekends to knit with them and buy yarn. A weekend event sponsored by them had a workshop on drop spindles and that got me hooked on spinning. At the yarn shop, I met a gal near my age that made her own soap and I mentioned that I would love to learn to do that. One day, she scheduled for me to come to her house for a cup of tea and soap making lessons. She was an excellent teacher, drilling in the basics, but having me actually do the process while she watched and guided. We made two large batches of soap that day and I came home with a pot, an immersion blender, instructions, and a silicone pan of curing soap. We have been friends now for years, sharing molds, instructions, plants, herbs, and enjoyment of each other’s company. Those lessons sent me into a soap making frenzy, trying different blends, different scents, different additions, until I had more soap than my family would use in a lifetime, and Cabin Crafted Shop was born.

As another friend says, “Land the plane,” so I’ll land it now. My craft show adventures in past years had me set up next to a lovely gal and her husband, she is a potter. I love pottery, but that is not a craft I tried. Each year we were set up beside or across from each other and became friends. She likes my yarn and my soap. I helped get her started spinning with a drop spindle and she now has a wheel she is learning on. I have bought pottery from her, she has bought soap and yarn from me. She is Dashing Dog Pottery and will be vending at the holiday markets this year, I will not, but she asked if I was still making soap. I have a supply of some varieties, but hadn’t made any in almost a year because of not expecting to vend during the pandemic. Yesterday, I made two batches of scents she requested, that I either didn’t have in stock or had less than she wanted. It felt good, and two very successful batches were made.

Two batches about to be cocooned to saponify over night.
Perfectly unmolded this morning.
16 beautiful, consistent bars curing to useable hardness. The end slivers cure and are cut in half for guest soaps.

The two pots, spatulas, and business end of the immersion blender sat out overnight on the counter so the caustic paste in them would saponify to soap that can easily and safely be cleaned up this morning. It is all clean and packed away for another day, another session.

My friend gets her soap, I will shop her pottery at the Holiday Market (Blacksburg Farmer’s Market) Saturdays in November and early December.

The End Result

Last night, according to the indoor/outdoor thermometer didn’t reach low enough for frost. I was lazy and slept in until it was fully light out, so I can’t attest to whether there was or wasn’t any frost on the grass, but the windshields were clear. The covers were all removed from the garden and the fig. The inside of the fig shelter was like the inside of a tropical greenhouse and it looks great. I might get those figs yet.

Because I lacked enough clear plastic, the larger Jalapenos were covered with garbage bags, black ones. I probably should have removed them yesterday and put them back on last night because the very top leaves are “sunburned.” Though it never got above the mid 50’s yesterday, the sun was out. Those peppers will keep maturing for the next couple of weeks and more harvested.

The peas and other peppers had a single 10 foot wide sheet of heavy mil translucent plastic over them and they look great. The ground cherries are a semi tropical plant, they were covered with a single sheet of thinner of clearer plastic and they don’t look so good. All of the tops are badly burned, the lower leaves look ok. They will be watched for a day or two, but maybe just cut my losses, harvest the immature fruit and plant them earlier next year, the extended season I was hoping for didn’t happen this year, instead we got an early frost.

With nearly two weeks of mild weather and relatively warm nights, there is hope for the peas and more peppers.

The sweater gift is coming along. Only about 2 more inches until I need to make sleeves and move on up to the upper body. If I spent more time knitting and less spinning, I could get it wrapped up in a week.

But alas, I like spinning more than knitting, so this …

The full 4 ounce braid of the Shenandoah colorway of Falklands that I ordered from the virtual fiber festival was spun in just over 2 weeks with two 5+ gram samples, some Moorit Shetland, and some Jacob thrown in for good measure. That bowlful are all my favorite tools, photographed for my third challenge update of the month with 17 days worth of spinning. The Shenandoah will sit until after the final challenge post and I decide if I want to ply it as the gradient or use half of the singles in order and mix up the other half.

After a beautiful day yesterday, my timing to go lock up the hens for the night was perfect, just as the huge red sun was slowly dropping behind the hill to the west, dotted with the neighbor’s cows. You can barely see a couple just to the left and below the setting sun.

Two more weekends and I will have to adjust my bio clock again, that gets more difficult every year, and adjust to the new norm for locking up hens, preparing dinner, and other routine events. I still think Daylight Saving time is worthless.