It is only 11 days until I get to leave for the Knotty Ladies Fiber Retreat in Black Mountain, NC. I am excited, this is a new venue in a beautiful place. Trying to get ready to pack my car quickly as I will be traveling north for a few days later this week to help out family and I want to have everything decided and ready.
The agenda has many items:
make sure I have the goody bags packed with the items I have acquired, the door prizes, and my gift for the Dirty Santa gift exchange. DONE
gather items for the “free to take” table and other items for the “sale” table, items I don’t want but don’t want to give away. Working on it.
Assess my vending stock and decide what is going. DONE
Make some healing salves and labels for same. Maybe tomorrow
Decide on what the non crated items will be packed in as I don’t know this venue or how convenient loading in will be.
This sent me on a creative frenzy, weaving a wrap from hand spun yarn. Dyeing some hand spun yarn. Spinning another skein of yarn. The plying of that skein produced a skein of fine fingering weight smooth Shetland wool yarn of 348 yards, but it was too loosely plyed, so I sent it through the wheel again to put in more twist. It is a nicely balanced yarn now. The wrap got a crocheted top edge and some reweaving to repair the flaw and it is washed and is blocked to dry. The dyed and newly spun yarns are drying.
I need to get some crafting and a book together and make sure the laundry is done before I have to pack for the trip to help family.
I’m sure there will be way too much to do, but most of it will go with me to the fiber retreat as well along with my wheel and more fluff to spin.
If the salves don’t get done, it will be okay. If I have too much to entertain myself, at least it is contained in a basket. I never run out of crafting to play with.
Woven trapezoid is off the loom, by daylight I saw a flaw that I will need to address. It needed an over weave to fix it and blocking but I think turned into an interesting piece. The third photo is by natural daylight and the colors show better.
The first harvest of grapes were juiced, and jelled. The second harvest is underway over the next few days. The results were so delicious that more is going to be made, then the remaining grapes left for the local wildlife that also enjoy the spoils of the garden and orchard.
Some years the garden overwhelms with tomatoes and there are no cucumbers except those purchased at the Farmers’ Market. Some years the tomatillos don’t grow or seedlings can’t be found. This year, the tomatoes are the scarce commodity in our garden, the plants never looked very healthy, the fruit output poor. Tomatoes can be purchased by the box at a local organic practices farm for $1/pound, but I’m not sure that economically it is worth the purchase. There are 21 pints of tomatoes canned, 9 half pints of pizza sauce, and I am still gathering a few tomatoes each day or two and freezing them to make another batch of some sort of tomato product; pizza sauce, tomatoes with hot peppers, or spaghetti sauce.
The fruit trees weren’t hit this year with a bloom frost and the fruit is too plentiful. The peach trees had fruit for the first time and every peach had worm damage and didn’t ripen. The Asian Pears are so heavy with fruit that several branches broke, I should have thinned the fruit. Lesson learned. Today I cut out the broken branches and picked some of the pears to hopefully prevent further damage. The apple trees look like they have a fair amount of fruit too, but the deer have eaten all that they can reach. It is going to take a ladder to get what is left unless I can reach it from the tractor seat.
We started our orchard with 3 peach trees. When I started raising chickens, I deliberately put the run around one of the trees for shade and put rocks around the trunk so they wouldn’t damage the roots. That tree did not survive the chickens scratching and possibly the hot fertilizer they produce. The largest tree got out of control and I cut it back severely a couple of years ago and have tried to keep it properly pruned since. It had the most, largest but most damaged fruit this year. The third tree near it produced some small hard peaches, but looks like it isn’t going to survive.
Winter before last I took a pruning class, but maybe I need a class on how to raise fruit organically so that the fruit is usable, or accept that I will have pears and apples only. My little fig is growing, but there won’t be fruit from it this year and the 3 year old plum keeps getting the new growth nipped by the deer, so I guess it needs a fence.
Another round of garden harvest will happen this evening and if I get enough additional Tomatillos, another batch of Tomatillo simmer sauce with jalapenos will be made in the morning.
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.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, please click the like button or leave a comment occasionally so I know it is being read. If you are drawn to it, there may be others out there who would also enjoy it, so feel free to share it with your friends.