Spring? or …

On our walks, the daffodils, crocus, pussy willow, and a low purple daisy like flower I can’t ID are blooming. The forsythia, even in our hollow is beginning to bloom and yesterday, the white blooms of our plum began opening. This is good for the early bees, though I have no active hives at the moment, but it will be terrible for fruit production if we have a freeze which is inevitable this early in the season.

The longer days are upping the egg supply. At least 9 of the 11 hens are laying as I got 7 on Saturday and 9 yesterday. There will be fewer today and tomorrow, but last week there were more than 3.5 dozen which delights daughter and a friend who benefit from overabundance. Three or four hens would likely produce way more eggs than I would use in a week, but there is safety in numbers and as long as there are folks that want the extra, I will keep the larger flock.

And the variety of color is a treat in a bowl or basket on the counter top.

The coop needs exterior maintenance come consistent warmer, drier weather. The hens have pecked a small hole in the siding that is not large enough for most predators, but large enough for a snake or mouse. It needs to be filled with wood putty or a framing strip nailed over it. The exterior needs to be stained again, a job I abhor as it requires a lot of over my head reaching which my shoulders object to strongly. Maybe a sprayer would solve that problem or a long handled roller instead of trying to brush it on like I did summer before last.

The spinning challenge for February was to “Dare” yourself to a challenge of your choice. Some chose to try to spin a different weight or style of yarn than they usually do, some to just commit to a daily amount of time if they had not been spinning as much. I want to knit a real Shetland Hap, the traditional shawl of the Shetland Islands, usually square with a simple center and a lace edge. But I also want to spindle spin all of the Shetland wool necessary for it. My challenge was to spin enough yarn for the center square. About 10 days into the challenge, I changed the pattern which made deciding how much yarn was needed a difficult calculation. The original pattern had a solid color center square and concentric bands of lace of different colors around it. The new pattern is a solid color, but knit from the center out with eyelet lace bands that then create the concentric bands for the outer bands. My math skills were never great and disuse of more than basic calculations make it even more difficult to figure it out. I ended up spinning about 43% of the yarn needed for the entire shawl, and since I am not knitting it in a single natural color, using two other naturals for the outer bands, concluded that my goal was met. I succeeded in spinning and plying 409.5 yards of fine Shetland for the month. I had purchased 200 grams of the Moorit color for the shawl and used just about 100 grams to spin the skein.

Last night, I began the knitting, which wasn’t part of my challenge and will continue to spin more of the Shetland Moorit, White, and dark Brown. At this point, I am unsure how many bands will be the other colors, and if the Moorit is enough to do all but the Birch Lace outer most band, it may be done in the dark brown and the white saved for another day and another project.

Since ending the cottage business, any spinning being done is being done with a specific project in mind for me, for the household, or as a gift for a family member or friend. And with that in mind, only spindles are being used for spinning. With 6 Turkish spindles in 3 sizes, there is always one available and they are so portable with a few grams of wool roving or combed top to carry in my bag in a small tin or zip case to have when there is time away from home to spin or to pull out when sitting in my chair at home.

Life goes on one day at a time, seasons change, though this year not in a normal average pattern. Perhaps hoarding some of last year’s apple sauce, apple pear sauce, peach Sriracha sauce, and pear marmalade might be in order. There may be no fruit this year except figs and grapes (I hope).

45 and Counting

Forty five years ago we became Mr. and Mrs. A special day on a significant day. It has been a great run and I hope for more to come.

When our children were young, my parents or a babysitter would stay with the kids and we would go out to a nice dinner at a restaurant we could barely afford, and one year left an 18 year old babysitter over night and stayed in a hotel on the beach in a snow storm. With the kids grown and gone, most years we have gone to one of 3 nicer restaurants in our nearby town, often in a snow storm. Five years ago, we took a cruise and spent our Anniversary swimming with dolphins and rays, riding horses on the beach in Honduras, and enjoying warm weather in the winter.

With Covid and continued healing from the fall medical issues, we have not been able to travel and this year even have to postpone our dinner out until much later in the week.

For three out of the past several anniversaries, my love has managed to get me a spindle from my favorite spindle craftsman, Ed Jenkins with the help of his wife Wanda. This year’s spindle is extra special as it has our anniversary date and a heart on the date arm.

This is a lovely gift from my dear, that indulges my hobby and contributes to it, helping my well being. I love him dearly and hope for many more.

Just In Time

This is a part of Virginia that gets at least a couple of several inch snows each winter, once in a while, a foot or foot and a half that prevents us from leaving for a few days as the State 700 roads are the last to be cleared, plus we live downhill about 2/10 of a mile on a dirt and gravel driveway. This winter has been an anomaly. There have been flurries and barely dusting bare surfaces, an inch or two that lasted a mere 6 hours before there wasn’t a trace left. If all the rain we have gotten since September was snow, we would never get out. Each time the forecast says snow possible, weather patterns shift just enough for it to be wintery mix or rain. There is another weather event predicted that could/might unload 2 up to 4 inches late Sunday, but chances are it will just be another cold rain.

As I was walking back from releasing the hens into the yard, you can see a few inches of Daylily leaves emerging and the daffodils in the back garden have buds. The snow won’t bother the daffodils, the Daylilies won’t be too happy, but will be okay. The Snowdrops on one of our walks are blooming. They will be fine, they often bloom in the snow when it happens.

In the fall, during hubby’s early months dealing with the health issues, an online friend offered to proxy shop for a spindle for me from the craftsman who makes the best Turkish style spindles available, Ed Jenkins, Jenkins Yarn Tools. They are in Oregon and only do events within a couple hours from home. Linda bought me a lovely Crabapple Finch, a smaller size that I love and wrapped it in some gorgeous black Merino/Alpaca/Silk blend roving, a very generous amount. About a month or so later, she was going to attend another event where Ed and Wanda were set up and offered again, this time getting me a Lilac Finch, and packed it in the same blend in a camel brown color. Those fibers were spun on the spindles they came with and a shawl/scarf was started for me. Last night, I cast off “Linda’s Hug,” soaked it, blocked it, and because it is so delicate, the yarn spun to 20 wraps per inch or lace weight yarn, it dried over night.

The two yarns were used together and in spite of the light weight (50.94 g or 1.8 ounces) of the shawl, it is very warm with the Alpaca and Silk, just in time for a possible winter blast.

I am ever grateful to the friends I have met through my Jenkins group and also my two local friends who I taught to spindle spin and hooked on the Jenkins spindles. They have been very generous in their time and support first through the Covid lockdowns and then through the early days of hubby’s issues. Each time I wear this shawl, I am reminded of love and concern.