Olio-9/4/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Some weeks are spent in the kitchen, others doing fibery crafts.

About a week ago, I left for a fiber retreat in the south west part of the North Carolina mountains. The venue was delightful, as was the company of the friends that gathered. It began a week that has been devoted to fibery crafts. For the retreat, I had packed plenty of fiber to keep me busy spinning, but half way through the first day, I got bored with the natural colors that I generally spin and indulged in a grab bag of sunshine yellow and heirloom tomato red Romney wool. The idea was to work a gradient beginning with the yellow, but as I pulled it out of the bag, I realized that though they looked lovely together in the bag, they would not gradient, so the slightly more than 3 ounces was spun separately and it plyed up finer than I had hoped for as I wanted to weave a shawl with the 8 ounce grab bag. Once home Sunday afternoon, I began on the red using a long draw technique and got 4.9 ounces of yarn heavy enough to weave, but not enough yardage.

At the retreat, we do door prizes and have a dirty Santa exchange and in the exchange, I got a 4ish ounce bag of Pohlworth that I realized was very compatible with the Romney.

It was spun yesterday, plyed this morning and though I haven’t measured it off the bobbin yet, it is 4.2 ounces or similar weight long draw spun yarn.

This day is too hot to garden or cook anything more than a stir fry this evening, so the morning was spent playing with other fibers as well. The last of the Santa Cruz wool was washed and rinsed for a 4th time and set to dry on the deck. It is so full of vegetable matter, mostly feed or weed seed that I may never get it prepped to spin.

Before I left for the retreat, I realized that a lovely little Jacob raw fleece that I had improperly stored had several moths in it. Hoping to save it, I put it in a black garbage bag and threw it in the deep freezer. This morning, I removed it and hung the black bag in my closed car. It is supposed to get up into the 90’s today which in the superheated car should kill off any eggs that may have been layed. The freezer should have killed any moths and larva. After it has had a couple of days in the car, I will open it and examine it for damage and wash it if I caught it in time to save it.

Though today is stifling hot, there are signs of autumn, some of the early changing trees and scrub coloring, the Autumn Joy turning pink.

At the retreat, I took a class in Rigid Heddle weaving. It is not new to me, but looked like fun. The instructor had prewarped the looms with white cotton and I grabbed a skein of Aran weight Acrylic to use as my weft. We made two mug rugs in class and after. I failed to leave enough space between my two to get good fringe, so did rough easy to remove knots until I got home. Last night I sat and hem stitched the edges after removing my temporary knots, and evened the fringe on them.

A gal never has too many spindles so about 10 days ago, I ordered a Jeri Brock Turkish spindle. It came today and is cute with it’s laser cut out. It is a bit stockier and more substantial than my Jenkins and looks like because the shaft is heavier, it might be better to carry in my bag with a bit of fiber to spin and save the more delicate Jenkins for home or when it can be securely packed in the middle of a suitcase along with my Snyder turk that I use for plying. When traveling not to a retreat or demonstrating event, I always have a spindle or two so I can still spin.

My Facebook memory of today was jars and jars of tomato sauce canned and cooling on the counter. Not this year, the tomatoes failed early and the bed sits idle. I’m still toying with buying a 25 pound box when the weather cools again and getting at least a pot of spaghetti sauce cooked down. The cost is about the same as buying the Organic store brand at the local grocer, but then I would have to “doctor” it up. Indecision.

Whew, I’m back then gone again-8/26/2019

These few weeks are on the road. Away last Thursday to help out family with packing and as transportation as they prepare to move. Time was spent enjoying their company and some time alone at their house with empty boxes to fill with books, music, and linens. Thursday was hot when I arrived and after picking up grandson, we waded in the cool creek before preparing dinner.

The tiny fish darting around our feet and a few crawdads skittering away if you disturbed their rock.

Friday was rainy but much cooler and the time that everyone was away from the house was used to pack boxes, clean up the garbage that the bear got into and taking photos of the jewelweed with rain drops on the leaves.

Saturday after grandson’s volunteer time at the library, he and I drove to a local State park and walked a trail that his Mom’s Master Naturalist group had done and looked at some of her art used on the signage. It was a beautiful mild day for a nice gentle walk in the woods.

Sunday after a late breakfast out with everyone, he and I used my Lifetime Senior Pass for the National Park system to drive up on the Skyline Drive and hike a couple miles up a mountain trail, mountain goat on a couple of the rock piles, and back down the trail. I guess there were too many people out to see any wildlife other than a few butterflies.

On the way back off the Parkway, we ended up behind this lanky young man skate boarding down the Skyline Drive wearing earbuds, so he probably couldn’t hear the traffic behind him. Eventually the car in front of us, us, and the line behind us were able to go around him. It was a very long down slope, quite steep at some points causing him to do tight S turns to slow himself. I hope he made it safely without causing anyone else injury because of his stunt.

Other down time was spent spinning on one little Turk and plying on the other slightly larger Turk and knitting on a small shawl. I was so enamored with the last issue of Ply magazine that I read it through cover to cover and took it with me to reread. I had two books with me and finished one, but found the second one of zero interest to me.

I’m home for a few days to get laundry done, the house vacuumed of dog hair, the chicken coop cleaned out, then off again later in the week for a long weekend with friends as a vendor and participant at a fiber retreat. When I return from that, again a few days at home to clean up and unpack to repack and return to help the moving family out for a few more days.

The garden has given up on tomatoes and cucumbers. The sunflowers are drooping and need the heads cut. The tomatillos are not really producing anymore, but I am hopeful that there may be a few more to harvest. The peppers are heavy with fruit and there are a few pumpkins, but the chickens got in my garden every day I was gone and destroyed the fall plantings and the cover crop beds. I guess those beds will just be covered with hay for the winter instead.

Signs of Fall – 8/16/2019

The vivid emerald green of spring is fading to a drab green with highlights of yellow and red leaves mostly on the weedy shrub and weed trees, but the Sycamores are yellowing, several trees are shedding leaves already. Putting by is also a sign of impending Autumn season and that has been a task multiple days a week for the past several weeks. Some days it takes many hours and produces quantities of goodies to be enjoyed over the cold, non productive months. Some days a small batch or two of a sauce or jam are made. This morning, the Tomatillos gathered over a couple of days were made into 5 half pints of simmer sauce with the recipe from Canning by the Pint, one of Mellisa McClellan’s books. Some of those recipes are followed to the letter, others are a jumping off point for me as was today when I added several ground Jalapenos to the recipe to kick up the spice level of the sauce.

After lunch, more grapes were picked, giving me enough for another batch of grape jelly from our grapes. That recipe is from Food in Jars, another of her books. It is a low sugar recipe compared to the one on the pectin box, using 3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of juice and requiring about 20 minutes to cook, rather than the 7 cups of sugar to 5 cups of juice and the couple of minutes of cook time. I would rather spend the time and have jelly that tastes like grape, not sugar. The remaining grapes will be left for the resident critters that roam our farm at night.

It is very satisfying to hear the lids pop to seal after they are set on the towel to cool.

The pollinators are busy today, a very hot, uncomfortable day to be out. Native bees on the sunflowers and bumblebees on the Autumn Joy.

The sunflowers are Hopi Dye Seed and I hope to harvest a flower or two to try dying some wool with them. Behind them and on the edge of the Tomatillo bed are mixed sunflowers, some Mammoth, some Bronze, and one smaller flowered variety that produces masses of 6″ flowers per stalk. They are great for cut flowers for the table. Most are the typical golden yellow but one yellow variety produced lemon yellow blooms.

Most of the sunflower heads will be cut off when mature and some given to the chickens to peck the seed, others hung from the wild bird feeder pole for them to enjoy this winter. This year was a good year for sunflowers.

Unless I purchase a box of tomatoes, canning season is drawing to a close for me. I will make a couple of small batches of Asian Pear Orange Marmalade and will can the remaining Tomatillos whole as they mature. The apples are too small to make applesauce but will be pressed for cider and maybe a batch of cider vinegar made. Maybe when apples start appearing fresh at the Farmers’ Market, I will make one canning of applesauce.