Category Archives: Fiber Artistry and Equipment

Flag Day at Smithfield – 6/11/2017

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Today was such a fun experience.  All along the fence posts were flags from various battles, regiments, units.  There were two encampments of re enactors, the Rebs above with their formations and cannon which was fired off every hour on the hour from 1 when the activity began until 4.

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The Union encampment was up by the blacksmith shop.

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Under the trees was a quilt with period wooden toys and two of the re enactor’s daughters who would demonstrate the toys and let adults and children play with them.

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Josh was in the blacksmith shop pounding with heavy mauls on hot metal on the anvils.

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I held my usual station in the Summer kitchen spinning local wool and discussing slavery, the summer kitchen, the slave cottage structure, the slave garden, and the spinning and weaving arts and how they were used on the plantation.

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Day lilies blooming just outside my door.

The house tour and all of the other activities were included in the gate fee today, including a dance and concert from 4:30 to the end.

During the afternoon, a skirmish occurred using the back and sides of the slave cabin for protection with much blackpowder gunfire.  I had several of the blacksmith’s children trapped in the cabin with me by the “fight.”  At one point, the cannon was pointed down in the direction of the Union soldiers hiding behind the cabin and fired.  It was loud when it was across the yard and pointed away from the cabin and deafening when fired in my direction.  The Rebs came down as a unit and apologized to me after it was over for not warning me ahead of time that a battle was to ensue. They didn’t know anyone was in the cabin.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the dance and concert as after leaving a fun filled day, I drove to eldest son’s house and am now sitting by the creek where I will spend the next few days prior to our backpacking trip next weekend.

Olio – June 9, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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Today was the last full day of the Harley Davidson 5 State Rally in Roanoke and the third ride that Jim was the ride Captain.  Grandson had his last day of school and I picked him up at 11 and we drove to the covered bridge in our community and sat for a few minutes until the 15 or so bikes rode by us on the way up to Mountain Lake Lodge to see the Dirty Dancing display, it was filmed there, and to have lunch.  We hurried in to town, picked up granddaughter from Preschool and back up the mountain where we joined the big group on the porch for lunch.  They were a really nice group of folks and the kids were well behaved and hungry.

Back home, my ride, the tractor was brought out and the yard mowed, showing the clear demarcation between the lawn and the hay.

It was such a nice afternoon that the new wheel and I adjourned to the front porch and a funky skein of yarn was plyed.  Daughter named it “Seussical” as soon as she saw it.  I am now spinning a yellow and orange skein that will be used with “Seussical” to make a hat and mitts for the Holiday Markets in the fall and winter.

While sitting there, the distinctive buzz of a hummingbird was heard and soon, the little emerald green hummer was feeding right in front of me. I have tried for years to get a photo of one and if I sat still and stopped spinning, it returned repeatedly to the feeder.

While I was prepping tacos for dinner, the haying team arrived and the area where the photo of the short grass and the tall hay along with most of the rest of the area in front of the house were mowed with a sickle bar to be raked and baled tomorrow or Sunday.  The big 15′ mower will arrive tomorrow and take on the big fields that have fewer obstacles and longer straighter runs.  The sickle bar will go around the rock piles and along the edges of the fields.  Soon the farm will be neat and mowed.  Farmer Jeff is right on schedule, he always gets to us in the second or third week of June.  The grands will be glad to have more area to play once the hay is all in.

 

Meet the New Addition -6/7/2017

Tracking showed the new wheel at our local post office this morning.  When travelling back home from the morning grand kids deliveries, they were still loading their vehicles at the post office and in I popped to save Ian a trip down our long gravel drive.  Really, the goal was to unpack and begin to stain her.

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Safely tucked behind the driver’s seat for the way home.

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The package was opened, counted, spread out on old feed sacks and paper.  The oil and stain mix was made, gloves on, and staining commenced.  This shows the wheel unstained next to the already stained pieces.

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One coat down and drying, but I think it needs a darker tint, so after grands are turned over to one of their parents, a trip to Lowe’s is in order to pick up something a bit darker to tint the mix.  This is Red Chestnut and Colonial Maple mixed with Tung Oil and Turpentine. The current color appeals to me, but if the wheel is going to go with me to Smithfield House, it needs to be a bit more brown and darker. The dilemma  for this afternoon.  Maybe the spinner friends on Facebook can weigh in.

Tomorrow it will be coated again and allowed to dry then the assembly process kicks in and a good coat of Beeswax polish applied.

My Corner Looks Empty – June 6, 2017

In the past week, two of my three spinning wheels have gone to new homes.  The Louët left by mail last Thursday for Connecticut and arrived safely on Saturday.  The old Amable Paradis was driven by me about halfway to it’s new owner in North Carolina late this afternoon. The corner only contains the great wheel until tomorrow.

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If the tracking is right, the new Ashford Traveller arrives tomorrow. The oils and waxes to finish her are awaiting her arrival.  She needs to be stained with the tinted Tung Oil mix at least twice and be dry by Sunday when I will need her at the Smithfield House Flag Day Ceremony.  I really would like to get a good coat of wax on too, but don’t want to rush the drying process.

The delivery of the old wheel this evening was at a location chosen by the buyer’s husband.  He was to meet me without her and I had to drive to him solo as Jim is in Roanoke for the next 4 1/2 days at his rally.  Meeting a stranger in a strange location was a bit scary, but there ended up being 3 State troopers eating in Subway, a gas station, Chinese buffet, and motel all in the parking lot that made me feel better, then he called and said he had missed the exit and had gone miles beyond our designated meeting place in the direction that I needed to go to return home.  A new exit was selected between us and the meeting was uneventful, a pleasant retired Coastie, his wife is a lace maker and wants to spin too.

Prior to delivering the grands to Taekwondo and their Mom, granddaughter and I planted the pumpkin and tomatillo seedlings this afternoon.  The corn is several inches tall now.  Before leaving to babysit eldest grand next week, the Anasazi beans will be planted in with the corn and pumpkins.

Arriving home just before sundown this evening, the annual hay mowing had begun on our side of the ridge.  Our farmer friend mows and bales several fields around us including ours and the largest field near us was about half mowed.  By the time my week away babysitting and backpacking is done, our fields should be mowed and baled as well.

As it was still light enough to close up the coops and collect eggs without a flashlight when I arrived home, the hens, pullets, and Mr, Croak were secured and the lonely sole egg of the day collected.  The hens are so senior that eggs are being offered in very small quantities.  It will be nice when the pullets are mature enough to start providing.

The walk over to the coop and back revealed the first Daylily of the season bloomed today.  Daylily season is such a joy with the beautiful trumpet shaped, various colored blooms.  If only the season were longer.  Additions of later and ever blooming varieties have been added to the garden to extend the season but it is still too short.

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Though the header is a few nights ago, tonight was another lovely pink post sunset.

Olio – May 29, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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Thursday we awoke to flooded creeks after a night of torrential rains.  After taking grands to school, I left hubby in charge and took off for a few days of R&R to spin at Hawk’s Nest with friends.  The New River was muddy, the clouds hung low that day but gave us beautiful weather for the other two days.  There are always critters on the lawn, lizards, raccoons, this time 4 baby groundhogs and their Mom.

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I beat the rain home on Saturday night and woke to another nice day on Sunday.  My favorite guy hopped on his ride and took off for a bit.  My ride, the tractor, was driven out of the barn and the lawn was finally mowed.  A lazy dog as usual in the middle of floor for everyone to have to walk over.

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The pullets spent 5 days locked in the hen house and while they were getting large enough for that transfer, the run got overgrown with lambs quarter and this morning when they were finally released to run, they were lost in the overgrowth.  One has already gone over the fence into the garden.

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Today another great day and while my guy took off on another ride, the garden was finished except for the climbing beans that must wait for the corn to come up.  The three sisters garden was planted with 10 hills of sweet corn and 5 hills of heritage popcorn.  The potatoes in the barrels got another layer of soil and there are only about 3 more inches till the barrels are full.  The bush beans, tomatillos, and sweet potatoes were planted, bunny barrier installed around the beans, and all the beds weeded again.  The pumpkins are a couple of inches tall in little pots on the deck.  They will go into the garden in a few days. It will only require maintenance now.

5/22/2017 Garden Day

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The morning came with light rain after the torrents of overnight.  The morning was dense with fog, but by noon, the sun began to come out and the garden and chicken run fencing called.  The posts were set yesterday for more than half of the second fence.  The first photo shows part of the run fences, but there wasn’t enough extra fencing to finish the job.  A roll of fencing will be purchased and the run completed.

Before leaving for the Spinning Retreat on Thursday morning, the teenage chicks will be moved into the big coop and left cooped up with food and water while I am gone.  The family will just have to make sure that their containers are filled daily, but the chicks will stay inside so that when I return on Saturday night or Sunday, they will be accustomed to their new abode.

Since the fencing job could not be completed and as the days of rain have caused the weeds to thrive, granddaughter and I tackled the garden beds again and weeded them, harvested the first radishes of the season, thinned the turnips.  Still having some energy, the rest of the corn and pumpkin patch, the three sister’s garden was dug in.  It has been pretty thoroughly weeded, but will still need a good raking to get the rest of the weeds and a few more rocks and then the hills made to plant the corn.  Tomorrow looks very rainy, but perhaps there will be a window of decent weather to get that done prior to my departure.

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At the community open house on Saturday, I plied 350 yards of sport weight natural colored Leicester Longwool and began spinning the 8 ounces of Romeldale that I  had purchased recently.  The fiber is very soft, but has such a short staple that it is spinning into an extremely thin single.  That is a dime under the strand.  Because of the short staple, it doesn’t feel very soft spun.  It may bloom after it is plyed and  washed, we will see, but 8 ounces is going to make a lot of thin yarn.

 

 

5/19/2017 End of week Olio

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Three or four years ago, my brother was making kitchen steps and selling them where he lived.  I requested one as my cabinets were built and hung by the Jolly Green Giant, aka eldest son who is considerably taller than I am and reaching items from the top shelf or the top of the cabinet required at least one step for me, though I am a tall woman.  Then the grands moved in and they needed the stool to even reach the counter tops.  The stool came to me with primer on it and in my laziness, it remained that way, though it was beginning to look pretty cruddy.  This morning, as a trip to Michael’s Craft store was in order, a bottle of Milk Paint Primer and a bottle of Port Milk Paint were purchased in addition to the little jar of Violet Cake Icing colorant.

First up upon arriving home was to soak a huge skein of sport weight handspun Leicester Longwool that I had spun a while back and while it was soaking in a citric acid bath, a pot for kettle dyeing was set up with some of the Violet colorant.  A friend had shown me some skeins that she had dyed this way and the way the color broke during the dyeing process fascinated me and I wanted to try it for myself.  When everything was ready to go, the skein was held with about half of if in the dye kettle and as soon as the color began to break, the rest was dropped into the kettle and submerged to simmer until the dye was absorbed by the yarn.  What a gorgeous skein it made.

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The color breaks to a beautiful teal blue, even some of the yarn that was originally submerged in the violet showed the color break.  This photo doesn’t do it justice as it was still very damp.  There is another very large skein of the same weight almost finished spinning and it is going to be dyed the same way and the two worked together into something lovely to wear.

The garden has received no more of my attention in the past few days due to the heat and the intermittent thunderstorms.  It won’t get my attention tomorrow either, as there is an Open House at the Newport Community Center and I will be there spinning as one of the local Artisans.  The local blacksmith will be there, a used book sale, an art exhibit and sale by local artists, a silent auction by the children’s Loco Arts program, activities for the kids, and a pig smoked outside for BBQ.  Next week is to be more seasonal and as the bi weekly garden notice was received today telling me that the corn and tomatillos could now be planted outside, it really needs to get done and the pumpkins need to be put in little pots to give them a head start.

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Fibers, yarn, handspun knitwear ready to go tomorrow.

Back to the stool.  After the dyeing was complete, the kitchen stool was thoroughly cleaned and received a coat of Milk Paint Primer and the first coat of the colored paint.

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Another coat of the Port color will be applied tonight and tomorrow if there is time or Sunday, the sealer coat will be applied.  It has only taken 3 or 4 years to get this done.  At the same time I bought the stool, I had my brother make me a spinning stool.  It was totally unfinished and it sat for about two years until it was finally given a Polyshade finish of Walnut.

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It sits in my spinning area, sometimes used as my spinning stool, sometimes as my side table with a hand woven linen dresser scarf, made by a friend and won as a door prize at the spinning retreat we attend a couple of times a year.  She was excited that I won it, I was more excited that I won such a great gift.  She and I will be heading out later next week to attend the retreat.  It is normally held in February, but the lodge had HVAC failure requiring major reinstall and they moved us to May.  I am looking forward to seeing folks that are only seen a few times a year and having 3 full days of spinning and social time.

 

Recovery Day

It seems that after a day of toil in the garden, this senior citizen needs a rest day.  Yesterday was basically a nice day, mostly cloudy, but warm, but the body said no more.

The spring cover crop seed has arrived and it needs to be planted, but the area in which it is to go must be cultivated, sown, then raked. We don’t own a tiller, nor can either of us manhandle more than a small one at this point and the only other option is to take the 3 prong cultivator and do it by hand.  It is a large area and the tractor drove back and forth over it while clearing it and moving soil for the boxes, so it is fairly compacted.  Instead of tackling it yesterday, I opted to stay in and craft.  There is a good supply of Leister Longwool fiber from Sunrise Valley Farm locally and a plan still in place to spin enough to make me a sweater from it.  The first attempt was just too heavy trying to do Fair Isle with yarn that was at least light worsted weight.  One bobbin was full of a very fine singles and another was started.  By last night, the second bobbin had been spun and the two plyed into 405.33 yards if fingering to sport weight yarn.  If knit on slightly larger needles than that weight would normally call for, I think it will be a nice draping fabric for a sweater. There is a lot more of the fiber to go and more from this year’s shearing reserved for me.  More must be spun, about 3 or more skeins that size, a pattern selected, and a decision about whether to add color, keep it natural, or dye the completed sweater.

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In the midst of the spinning, grand daughter announced that she was old enough to learn to knit and wanted to learn to spin.  The first knitting lesson was given with her sitting between my legs and me doing the wrap while she held both ends of the circular needle, picked up the next stitch, criss-crossed the ends in the right position, let me wrap, then over the top and off the needle.  She did a row and a half before her brother came home and she wanted to go outside and play.  She is in no way ready to knit on her own, but she is eager and understands what she has to do.

Also breaking up the spinning on the Louët, making the yarn for the sweater, continued practice occurs on the great wheel.  There are still a couple of issues that a solution evades me.  The post that holds the wheel if fully set causes the wheel to drag at one point.  If it is shimmed enough to allow the clearance, it tends to pivot slightly causing the drive band to walk off.  This requires fairly constant readjustment to prevent the drive band from falling.  The mother of all that holds the quill is slightly loose in it’s mounting and even the light tension required to draft the fiber causes it to pivot slightly which can also cause the drive band to walk off.  Both of these problems need to be solved, though the process of long draw spinning and winding onto the quill is getting more consistent.

Last night the wind howled and at first light when taking grandson to the bus stop, it revealed that both row cover domes had blown off the beds.  Once both kids were dispatched to bus and preschool, a bit of repair work was done, hopefully to stay in place during today’s continued cold wind.  Tonight is supposed to drop to 24ºf (-4.44c) and though there are no sprouts yet, the beds need protection.

The plum trees still need to be planted.  Maybe after lunch.

The March “Blizzard”

I know that points north of us have gotten and are still getting deep late winter snow.  We only got about 3 inches and the roads stayed relatively clear.  The snow is wet, sloggy snow.  The cedars and pines are heavy with the wet glop.  The snow less of a problem than the ice layer beneath it.  Brushing the snow off of the car revealed an ice glazed vehicle with doors frozen shut and ice glazed windows.

Our local county schools closed for the day, announcing last night, the other counties around us opted for a two hour delay which would have been a better option for here, but the western half of our county may have received more snow.  Granddaughter’s school in the next town was not closed and driving in it was apparent that they received much less than we did, and her teacher said she received even less in the valley.

It is enough snow that the cooped chickens will not go outside their coop.  Though it is not a practice employed often, their food and a bucket of water were put inside for them but the pop door open if anyone gets brave.  The 16 chicks are cozy in their brooder as we fortunately did not lose power.  Tonight we will build fires in the woodstove and fireplace to help take the edge off for the heatpump.

Tonight we are going to have the first of three nights of temperatures in the mid teens (-9ish C),  The ice glaze, snow melt during the day today, and plunging temperatures with more flurries due today, overnight and tomorrow, the roads are likely to be a slippery mess tomorrow, especially the mountain roads to get to the main road that is always well maintained for the truck traffic that uses it instead of staying on the interstate.

This school closure makes one more day to be made up.  The built in days have all been used and they are down 2 days now.  There may be another day or two built into their schedule.  It isn’t common to get much snow this late in the winter, but it is always a possibility with our last frost date not until near Mother’s Day.

At least the garden planning and indoor seed sowing doesn’t rely on what is going on outside, as it continues to flurry.  Of the 4 small sweet potatoes saved from last year’s crop, the two purple one have roots and shoots,  one of the orange ones has roots though the other one got mushy and had to be composted.

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As soon as the slips are large enough to root, they will be broken off and rooted.  I guess the orange ones are going to have to be purchased at the Feed store when they come in later this spring.

The birds have found the feeder that was hung earlier in the winter and is now frequented by Tufted Titmice, House finches, an occasional chickadee, and the tiny ground feeding juncos enjoying the spillage on the deck. One of the birdhouses on the garden edge deteriorated and fell apart last year so there was only one.  It  too needs repair, but as we have a couple of families of blue birds each year, we bought another box to mount on the second pole.  With all of the scrap lumber in the garage, I should be making them myself.  Perhaps this one will get measured and a plan drawn before it is fastened in the garden.

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For now, it will be an indoor day with more cancer/heart health garlands being made for the yarn bombing efforts of a knitting group to which I associate.  Breast cancer, heart health, children’s cancers and melanoma sections have all been mailed off.  The skin cancer is about half done, crocheted this time, then on to white for lung cancer and a second skein of gold for children’s cancers.

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Return to Novice Status

Old skills applied to old new to me toys make me feel like I’m learning all over again.

The little ancient Saxony wheel is up and running, or plodding.  The effort to keep it going wears my right hip out, but it will be authentic to the period when spinning in costume.  The first skein of yarn off of it is only marginally better than the first skein that I ever spun.

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I have to admit, since I only had two bobbins and they were full of the singles, it was plyed on the Louet.  Now there are 3 bobbins.

The quill for the Great Wheel came and it was just an ornament for a few days while videos were watched and study of why the 49″ diameter wheel seemed to tilt inward at the top, causing the drive band to walk off.  It is difficult enough to learn a new technique when the equipment if functioning correctly.  It appears that the axle that holds the wheel on was not at right angle to the post holding the axle.  Upon close examination, it looked like a not very good repair had been made at some point and with much effort, half a dozen or so  old square headed nails were removed from around it, allowing it to be removed and reset at the correct angle.

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A bit more effort and the wheel was remounted, but touched the supporting table.  More is being learned about antique wheel maintenance than I believed was possible.  The upright that holds the wheel had to be removed and shimmed so that the wheel cleared the table.  Tonight some singles have been spun on that wheel.  Not really the prettiest, but a beginning.

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The other new fiber toy that came home the same weekend as the Great Wheel is the supported spindle.  That is another learning curve.  A drop spindle was the first spinning that I did and began doing it about 7 ot 8 years ago, but the support spindle is a different technique, so three new techniques to learn in just a couple of months.

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There can be no more.  There is no more room to store and use the wheels and spindles, no room for other crafts in “my space,” a corner of the loft with my chair, three spinning wheels, Lazy Kate, Swift, spinning stool, bookcase of spindles and fiber books,  and crates of Cabin Crafted stock.

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This is my cozy corner to learn, relax, read, spin, and knit.  Back to honing my skills so I don’t look like a total novice on April 1, the first day back at Smithfield Plantation.