Where is Winter? – 1/15/2020

So far this is proving to be a mild winter, gray and drizzly. It suggests that stink bugs, ticks, and fleas will be prevalent this summer. It is so mild, that the weeds that are usually beat back in the vegetable garden in winter are not only growing, but thriving. Last summer, the garden was a lot of work and I tried to stay on top of the weeding, but was losing the battle with some of them. I never beat the mint bed and the Creeping Charlie is taking over and choking out everything. The garden is also too big for me to keep it all in rotation. I have looked at options for reducing the size, making some of the boxes 4 boards high instead of 2, but the perennials are at the two ends with a 4 X 8 bed of blueberry bushes that finally produced last summer, the 3 barrels that are old and fragile of red raspberries and I fear they would disintegrate if I try to move them and they finally have the raspberries contained at one end. The other end has the asparagus bed that is now 6 or 7 years old and produces more asparagus than daughter, a friend, and I can eat in a season. Those two perennial ends do control the garden size to some extent.

One side of the garden is a pathway away from the chicken pen for about half of the garden length, beyond the chicken pen is one of the worst patches of Creeping Charlie. I have considered pulling down all of the fencing and starting over. If the fencing was hard up against the boxes on the side that the chickens can reach, the length of the garden and if I keep the plantings far enough away from the fence to prevent long necks from reaching through to eat my veggies, perhaps their scratching would keep the weeds down on that side of the garden. The chickens won’t touch the Creeping Charlie to eat, but maybe their scratching for seeds and goodies tossed down there would reduce it. The sides of the garden nearer the house and south of the berries could be reduced and the boards from those boxes used to make the rear boxes taller so they are easier for me to work. The issue there is the post that has the solar charger on it is on that edge, though the charger is dead. Maybe it could be moved with the fence or just be removed entirely. If moved, I could hang a gate on it.

In April, the university has a service day that you can sign up for help. Maybe some help getting the fencing in order for the garden and chicken pen would be incentive to keep at it.

Today’s forecast looks like maybe the thunderstorms from a few days ago are going to be followed as the adage says with some snow to start the weekend. More likely it will be a sloppy mix of snow, freezing rain, and rain with little or no accumulation.

The hens must think it is spring. This week I have had a day with 3 eggs, one with 4, and yesterday I got 5. There probably won’t be any today, but that is okay. This is the first winter I have gotten any from my hens.

The warm weather has had me reluctant to use one of my Christmas gifts, a cast iron bread pan, but this bread is an easy loaf that can be made in just a couple of hours with no kneading, so we had a hot loaf of Herb and Onion bread for dinner one evening.

The drizzle outside, the doctor’s appointments, and now a pair of head colds between us have keep me indoors and instead of warping the loom, I finished spinning 4 ounces of Romeldale CVM that I got from my friend Gail (Sunrise Valley Farm) and got a generous 289.5 yards of light fingering yarn from it. It is now washed and awaiting the arrival of a purchase of mill spun alpaca, silk, wool blend yarn from another friend. The mill spun will be the warp for a scarf or wrap and the CVM the weft. I also spun 3 ounces of Coopworth from another friend, Debbie (Hearts of the Meadow Farm) and got 112.5 yards of worsted weight from it. I have ordered another 8 ounces of Coopworth that may be from the same lot, or will at least coordinate with it and it will become another scarf or wrap. I am going to try to spin some of it tight enough and fine enough to be the warp.

Today after a frustrating attempt to order a rigid heddle book online using a gift card, we went to Barnes and Noble and ordered it there. I hope to learn some new techniques and patterns to work into my weaving. With the 8 ounces of Coopworth to match the maroon above, I ordered another 8 ounces of this

It doesn’t really have a plan, but I have a 4.8 oz braid of BFL and Tussah Silk that might go well with it. I’ll have to wait to see how they spin before I decide.

Done – 1/4/2020

The blanket beat the baby. The weave was completed last evening, but I didn’t want to work with my sewing machine without very good light, so it rested on the loom overnight with the small towel.

After the morning Farmers Market run for some protein and veggies, which we did between the early morning rain and the arrival of the cold front with wind and more rain, the weave was carefully removed from the loom. The third panel was added to the other two, the ends hemmed. The other three pieces were also hemmed.

The crochet hook located and a single crochet edge applied.

With fingers crossed that there wouldn’t be too much shrinkage, the four pieces were put in a cool water quick wash in the washing machine and a dry on low in the dryer. The blanket shrank a bit as expected, but is still baby blanket size. I think the Lily Sugar and Cream shrank too much for the towel to still be a towel and the smaller one is a dish drying mat or hot pad size. The dish cloth is ok.

Maybe 3 more woven with the same warp amount and the three blocks, I will have a set of placemats. If packaged with the hot mat and 4 napkins sewn from a matching color cotton fabric, it will make a nice set to gift or sell.

As tomorrow is Olde Christmas at Wilderness Road Regional Museum, the rest of the evening is being spent making sure that I have clean fleece to spin, fiber on the ring distaff for spindle spinning, and a basic men’s hat cast on with hand spun Jacob on the bone DPNs. That will give me plenty to demonstrate to any visitors that tour through the museum. The militia will be outdoors and will fire off a salute to Christmas. There will be goodies to eat, craft beer to buy, some crafted gifts to purchase, and music. It is a family friendly event, so if you are a local reader, it should be a nice if cool day to come out for some fun.

A Studio – 12/30/2019

As a fiber artist that is acquiring more pieces of equipment with which to use/play, the loft was beginning to look cluttered. Since we rid the loft of the peeling pleather love seat and replaced it with a wooden rocking chair that was a catch all in our bedroom, there was more space between our chairs and the TV wall. I wanted a studio, an organized place for my tools, fiber, packing boxes for the online shop and my shop records.

I could have moved it all to the basement, but if I did, I would rarely be in the same room with hubby and since our computers, router, and printer are in the loft, it made more sense to reorganize the space available. The loft has a large roll top desk that was a gift to hubby about 37 years ago and it has lots of drawers and the printer on top, it is a good place for the shop records, labels, and cardstock used to tag yarn, garments made, and body products. The desk is behind our chairs. By shifting the chairs forward a few feet, there is still plenty of room to the wall with the TV, still room for the rocking chair and lateral file that acts as a side table as well, but gave me room to reorganize.

Before I started, my huge walking wheel which is functional but mostly a display piece was shoved back in the corner. It was pulled forward against the railing.

The cube unit that has bins of fiber fit against the side of the desk, moving it off the back wall, the built in cubby shelves were cleaned and reorganized, making space for bins with flattened boxes and bubble wrap. The bookcase that has tools, books, and yarn samples was shifted, the spinning stool moved to the other side of it and currently holding baskets that have yet to be sorted out. That made room for the 5′ tri loom.

I am currently weaving on the rigid heddle loom, so my spinning wheel is in front of the tri loom. If I want to spin, the table with the loom on it will be swapped or I will pull up the padded desk chair and spin.

When the craft of the day is weaving on the tri loom, the rigid heddle or spinning wheel just need to be shifted forward or to one side to give me space to work.

I dislike clutter and disorganization. It is frustrating to look for something and can’t find it or have to move things around to get to it. I can be in the room with hubby as he watches TV or works on his computer and still enjoy my fiber crafts. My comfy chair is still by his, a place to knit, read, spin, or weave, but by turning it around or swapping equipment, I can keep things organized.