Grapes and Shawls – 8/13/2019

More than a dozen years ago while eldest son and his wife were supervising the construction of our house, but before the erected structure was turned over to them to do all of the inside carpentry and the interior and exterior stone work, they put in a huge garden, made friends with some of the rural neighbors, and were gifted a slip of a very old grapevine from one of them. That vine has been moved a couple of times, but has never been given a proper arbor. It currently has a ring of garden fencing around it that has filled with tall grass and which has collapsed under the weight of the vine. Last year, after having been left alone for a few years, it produced enough grapes to harvest. They are a tough skinned, purple grape, each with about 3 seeds, and a very grapey flavor. Not wanting to waste them but not having enough to do too much with, I made juice, supplemented it with bottled no sugar added concord grape juice and made jelly.

I have been watching the vine this year and it is loaded with grapes. With all the chaos of a houseful of grands for two weeks, it got by me and yesterday I realized that there are many ripe grapes and that they must have started ripening at least a week ago as there are many dried up seedy “raisens” on some of the bunches. I noted them when I went out to do chicken chores yesterday morning, then promptly forgot about them because I had a head blowing headache all day and it got so miserably hot I didn’t want to be outside anyway. At dusk when it was time to again do chicken chores, I spotted them again and by flashlight picked about 4 to 5 cups of ripe purple grapes.

This morning the sky is thick with cloud cover, severe thunderstorms are predicted, but it hasn’t gotten unbearably hot yet, so I determined to dig through the thick vines and see what was lurking under there. I had also been hesitant to reach in there a couple of weeks ago, because that is where the big rat snake went after I first saw him. After grabbing him out of the coop and relocating him, I again felt safe to reach into the thicket.

The vines are full, many still green and most on or near the ground. I picked another cup full this morning in the light and will continue over the next few days to pick as they ripen, hoping to get the 5 cups of juice I need to make a batch of grape jelly that is juice just from our vine.

This fall after the leaves are off, I will take the time to build an arbor of some sort for the vines to climb and make the harvest task easier next year. I think thinning the vines will produce enough cane to make a wreath or basket too.

I mentioned in the title, shawls. Well, there are two in the works. One is a small triangular knitted shawl with lace inserts from yarn from the estate sale of our local indy dyer who passed away early spring. The other is a woven shawl of my handspun on the 5 foot tri loom.

A few rows after what you see here, I realized that there would not be enough of the rusty colored Pohlworth to do what I had planned.

Being in a glass half full mindset last night, I decided that if I incorporated more of the dark Jacob there might be enough. Well, the glass half full turned to glass not even half full and there isn’t enough. A design decision was made to make it a trapezoid instead of a triangle, to spin another skein of Jacob, making the center predominately the darker Jacob with the rust accent stripe down the center of the back and instead of fringed edges, use tassels or ties at the upper corners. With the plaid look and the trapezoidal shape, it will be a good wrap for jeans or a casual skirt on a cool fall evening.

Being a fiber artist doesn’t always work out as planned, but flexibility in design can still bring success.

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