This is the time of year that the herbs and wild plants that are used in the salves, balms, and some soaps in the shop are growing and being harvested. Once a batch is dried, jars of the herbs and the oils that make the infused oils are started. Sometimes they are suntea processed in a window sill for a month or so, but sometimes one or more are needed sooner than that and they are infused in a makeshift double boiler system for 3 hours. Once the infused oils are made and cooled, they are strained into a clean jar and the portion needed measured out and rewarmed to melt the organic beeswax needed to make the oil into a salve or balm. Before our weekend away, a kitchen alchemy session was conducted and several salves resupplied, labelled, and put in the shop. Some of the oils are needed for the Mountain Makings camp that is in session this week.
Today was day 2 of their camp, my first of two sessions working with the young ones. My friend, Jennifer, and I worked with them last year and again today. The children are 7 to 12 years old and all very involved in the activities. We had a very brief discussion of spinning and how and why it was used in past generations. They were each given a few ounces of hand dyed fiber and a hand made drop spindle, an improved version of last year’s with a heavier whorl. One parent was fascinated with this portion of their program today and stayed. She was given a spindle and fiber and followed right along with the children, making her first spindle full of yarn singles. After the spindles were all being used without too much more assistance, they put them down and each were given a packet that contained a cardboard loom, weaving needles, yarn, and an instruction sheet for reference at home and they began a small wall hanging that they wove themselves. Once they were all working well with that, we moved to our spinning wheels and gave each child an opportunity to spin a long enough singles to double it back on itself to create a length of hand spun yarn that they can use in their weaving. At the end of the day, they will go home with their spindle and fiber, their loom, yarn, and weaving needles.
Tomorrow, I will return alone to take the children on a plant walk to identify some of the plants that can be wild harvested for their salve making. They will get a handout of plants, their uses, and recipes for making the infused oils and instructions on making a salve. We will make salves together and they will take home a tin or jar of their salve.
Once home today, with a clear bobbin on the wheel, I tackled a one pound bag of raw alpaca locks that I had purchased at the Farmers Market earlier this spring. I have never spun raw unwashed fiber before, but the alpaca lacks the lanolin of wool and other than picking out some vegetable matter, it is clean to spin. The fawn colored alpaca is from “Graham” an alpaca living at Poplar Hill Alpacas, a local farm. It will be plyed with a brown ply from another local Alpaca farm. This yarn will be knit into fingerless mitts for the Holiday Markets. If enough is spun, perhaps a hat will be made to match.