Category Archives: Fiber Artistry and Equipment

Experiments, successes, failures – November 13, 2018

The first craft event is creeping up quickly.  The preparation is plugging along.  Last night, the hand spun, hand knit Assymetrical Scarf was finished.  I played chicken trying to use every inch of the hand spun Merino and Bamboo and failed, resulting in having to tink back 3/4 of the width of bind off stitches and an entire purled row in order to have enough yarn to bind off successfully.  There certainly wasn’t much waste, only about 18″ of the skein remained.  It is currently spread out on a beach towel on a guest bed drying from being blocked.

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It will add one more scarf to the inventory for the upcoming events.  The other one I am working on is a 5″ wide rectangle and have decided once it is 20″ long, bind off, stitch up the ends and pick up stitches along the edge, knitting upward to make a hat.  I don’t really like it as a scarf and it is hand spun superwash merino, so it will make a good reversible hat to add to the inventory.

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Other experiments have been in the soaping.  The use of cosmetic clays has been part of the chemistry as natural colorants of the soap and as the clays have very beneficial properties, but the clays have always been blended in thoroughly, giving the soap an even color.  A few days ago, I decided to play around and divided the batch in half, mixing the clay with half and dark cocoa with the other half.  Cocoa is a good antioxidant and a natural colorant.  The clay layer was poured into the mold, the cocoa layer on top and lightly swirled with a plastic spatula.  I am very pleased with the resulting product that is curing for the December events. The green tea with European clay is a success and a nice green color.  It was fairly highly super-fatted so it is soft and will require a long cure.

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The favored Goat milk, oatmeal, and honey soap did not fare so well, there is a very soft tunnel through the top quarter that even if it firms up will leave a miscolored, misshapen bar.  That one fails about a third of the time.  The resulting product are bars that get used here at home.  It is most successful if I let the sodium hydroxide solution and the oil mixture cool to room temperature before mixing and by adding the goat milk, honey, and oatmeal before adding the solution.  It takes forever to get to trace, a thick pudding like consistency, necessary before pouring it into the molds.  So that one was a failure.

The 4th batch is saponifying now.  It is a Himalayan Pink Salt and Moroccan Red Clay scented with Lavender.  It will be interesting tomorrow to see how red it turns.  The poured color is never true.

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From Fall to Winter – November 3, 2018

Yesterday’s rain and wind blew through last night and the night was chilly, it was quite cool this morning still blowing strong making it feel colder.  Animal chores were done and after not making it to the Farmers Market in a few weeks, we headed in to town to get breakfast and shop at the Farmers Market.  We knew today was a home football game that always makes traffic worse and eating in local restaurants nearly impossible.  We didn’t know that it was Homecoming, there must have been 40 people waiting in the cold to get in to the little local diner where we often get our breakfast on Saturday.  The Waffle House and fast food places all had lines.  A little further out, not in walking distance is a bagel shop and we got there, got breakfast and sat down just as the line snaked out the door.

It was cold enough to warrant my winter coat, a knit hat, and gloves for the market, but veggies, bread, and meat came home for the week.  One stall has whole hog sausage, fresh mozzarella, and fresh cultured butter.  The Italian sausage and fresh mozzarella purchased decided dinner.

Once home, the huge 2 gallon bag of frozen red cue balls that have been in my way were dumped in the sink, some warm water run over them so the skins would slip off, chopped with the big butcher knife and seasoned with onion, garlic, and Italian herbs and set to simmer.  When started, I wasn’t sure if it would be pasta sauce or pizza sauce.  My recipes are basically the same but the pizza sauce if reduced until it is thickened.  There is 1 ripe tomato sitting in the kitchen window, it will be part of my breakfast tomorrow with a scrambled egg and a slice of toasted bread.

Because of the morning’s purchases and because we really like pizza prepared from scratch at home now that I have a crust we like, the decision was to reduce it to pizza sauce.  Seven half pints were canned plus one left out for dinner.  I had them about half canned when I remembered that I hadn’t added citric acid or lemon juice, so pulled them from the canner and we left to take a walk in the woods and around the pond.

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The pond always had a dozen or so geese and ducks, but this huge flock must be passing through and taking a feed and rest break.  There must have been more than 100, diving and honking at each other.

The walked relieved my frustration at myself for forgetting the lemon juice and once home, each jar was unsealed and reheated, lemon juice added and re-canned with fresh lids.

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Other than enchilada sauce once the Anaheims are all dry and toasted, the canning is done for this year.  There are many jars of Rotel style tomatoes for chili, plain canned tomato sauce, pizza sauce, apple sauce, bbq sauce, and jams to enjoy this winter.

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The remaining cup of sauce with the local sausage, fresh mozzarella, Farmer’s Market red onion, our own green peppers and pizza was made.  The trouble with making it is that one pizza is too big for the two of us and neither of us like cold pizza, so we both always eat too much and one slice always goes to the chickens.

When I went to the fiber retreat last month, I came home with 2 pounds of fiber.  One pound was more of some that I had purchased at Shenandoah Fiber Festival as I decided to spin and knit myself another sweater.  The other pound was a light green alpaca/merino blend.  Almost half of that has been spun and is to be plyed.

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Once it is plyed, I think I will change colors for a while.  Tomorrow I am going to introduce spinning to a new wanna be spinner.  Hopefully she will fall in love with the art as I have.  And later this month, I have two new wanna be’s to teach.

 

A week on the farm – Oct. 26, 2018

Today was to be the Spirit Trail event at Wilderness Road Regional Museum, a fund raiser for the education program there.  I was to be in the old kitchen serving hot cider and playing with kids as they made corn husk dolls or besoms.  The event has outdoor actors and a horse drawn wagon ride.  The weather had other ideas.  The day started at 43ºf and heavy rain.  Both have held all day and the event has been postponed until Tuesday afternoon and evening.  Some of the characters won’t be able to reschedule, but it will still be a fun event.

After two days of garden and fence work earlier in the week, followed by a couple hours wrestling the huge  Stihl line trimmer to beat back areas that have been neglected most of the summer, I was beat.  Yesterday, chest muscles and lower back revolted and said take a day off.

 

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Yesterday morning was spent knitting on an Asymmetrical scarf from some of my hand spun merino/bamboo, followed by a grocery run and dinner prep of a cold weather treat of Stout Beef stew.  While the stew simmered, enough energy was rallied to do a bit of mowing and bush-hogging.  Hubby had started at the top of the property and worked his way down to the house while I was fencing.

Last evening as we sat down to enjoy the stew, our hay man arrived and began bush-hogging the fields.  About a quarter was done before it got too dark and today too wet.  We will work areas that he can’t do with his 10′ machine and once done, the mowing will be done for the winter.

There are still two sections of fence to be taken down and one to erect when the weather improves this weekend or next week.  Most of the creeping charlie was covered with tarps, cardboard, and paper feed sacks to try to kill it off.

My favorite jam from this year’s prep was Asian Pear Orange Marmalade.  The recipe only made a few half pint jars and I knew it wouldn’t last the winter, even using it sparingly and interspersed with raspberry, wildberry, or grape ones I kept.  As pears are still available, a couple pounds of Bartletts were purchased and another batch this time Bartlett pear orange marmalade was made today for the shelf.  It again only made 5 half pints, but so delicious.

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The chicken molt seems to be ending, the coop and pen no longer look like daily pillow fights, but egg production hasn’t picked back up.  The daily count is zero to 3.

Now is time to sit back with the garden plan, the seed catalogs as they come in and plan next year.  It is also time to get more knitting and spinning done for Christmas gifts and for holiday craft shows.

 

Olio – 10/16/2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Time goes on, the summer and garden fading rapidly with seasonable though still damp days and chilly nights.  Sweater weather, just in time to wear the newly finished sweater of yarn spun by me and then knitted by me.

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It now sports deer antler buttons made by one of my daughters in law and the sleeves were lengthened from the 3/4 length they were when this was taken to wrist length.  A nice addition to the sweater wardrobe of hand knits.

The past weekend was one of my favorites, a group of folks, men and women, have a fiber retreat in Tennessee.  The trip there was dicey as the remnants of Hurricane Michael made their way here the morning I was to leave and the first couple of hours of westward travel on the interstate were in heavy rain and the always present semi trucks spraying the water back up as fast as it fell.  The retreat is at a state park with delightful cabins in the woods and a conference center that accommodates the 30 or so participants who come to knit, crochet, spin, and other crafts such as spoon carving, needle felting.  I attend as a participant and a vendor, selling soaps, salves, yarn, buttons, and knitted items.

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There are classes, Brioche knitting, and yoga for the hands then later for the neck and back.  It felt so good after those classes I wanted to adopt the instructor and bring her home with me.

One optional activity was making  a My Word token.  Cards are used to ask questions to help you select your word.  My choice was a reminder to myself, the word CALM.  To look at when I am stressed, to remind me to take a deep breath, possibly practice some of the yoga.

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Once home after the long weekend, relaxed and calmed, the car unloaded, the accounting done, some inventory taken, prices adjusted prior to the next event in a month, I reorganized my spinning wheels so they can be used, not just admired.

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This is big sis and little sis, the two quill wheels.  One a large walking wheel, the other a smaller sitting hand operated quill wheel.  The little Spinolution Pollywog, Miss Polly, sits by my chair with the box loom nearby for my daily craft release.

As fingerless mitts and hats were sold, knitting of more for the fall markets is underway.

One of the items I have wanted for the house is a moveable kitchen island.  There really isn’t room for a large one, but yesterday, the one below popped up on my Facebook marketplace and the price was too good to pass up.  We drove an hour to see it and because the folks are downsizing and knew how far we drove, they knocked the price down even further.  The cabinet came home, fits nicely behind the couch, will provide more cabinet storage for counter top appliances not used daily, and a serving area for holiday meals.

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It is a little low to work on but counter space isn’t a problem if I move some of the counter top appliances, and it can be used for cooling bread or canned jars to keep them out of the way.

The chickens are in hard molt, eggs are scarce, but feathers are not.  There is some new feather growth being seen.  If they don’t all freeze this weekend, they should begin to fill out again soon and some egg production return.  It is about time to get new chicks for the spring egg laying and retire these girls.

Peace and calm until next time.

 

Garden Quirks – 8/11/2018

Each year the garden has some thrivers and some fails.  Usually the tomatoes overwhelm, the peppers keep me busy canning and fermenting sauces, but the cucumbers and pumpkins are just so, so.

This year, the tomato plants stayed small and then the blister beetles came and a deer is getting in at night, the electric charger needs a new battery and the wire needs to be restrung.  As a result the tomato harvest is puny.  I have one overstuffed 2 gallon bag of them in the freezer awaiting processing, but it is only going to be one canning of pasta sauce this year which is sad.

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The 4 X 8 foot bed is sparse and has few tomatoes.

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The ones I am getting have to be picked under ripe and ripened in the window, or I find this.

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A half eaten, smashed red tomato a foot or two from the bed in the wide aisle.

The cucumber vines are lush and loaded with blooms, several jars of pickles have already been fermented and hopefully, many more will follow.

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The sole pepper in the lower right corner is supposed to be a serano, the one that didn’t fit in the bed with the others and was planted with three anchos that failed, but the peppers on it look like anchos, not seranos, they are a large tapered  slightly flattened cone.  The jalapeños and seranos in the adjacent bed are beginning to produce.  As the weather cools, hopefully there will be enough to provide sufficient jars of pickled jalapeños for my hot pepper loving husband and son.  The tags on the starts must have been mixed up because at least one of the seranos in that bed is producing a pepper that is either going to be a cayenne or Tabasco, they are too small to tell yet.  I should just start my own seed, but haven’t had much luck doing that in the past.  They sprout and in spite of my grow light, get too tall and leggy.  After getting hardened off and planted in the garden, they usually fail and I end up buying from a Farmers’ Market grower but then sometimes don’t get what I thought I was buying.

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The pumpkin vines are starting to fade and they are covered with juvenile stink bugs so I cut the three pumpkins that were ripe and hope for a couple of pies at the holidays and maybe one stuffed with rice, veggies, and a bit of sausage.  There are still a few about the size of navel oranges out there, we will see if they mature enough to harvest.  The vines are going to get sprayed with Neem oil today to see if that will reduce the stink bug load.

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Planting two of the beans sprouted nicely.  We should still have 6 to 8 weeks before frost date, sometimes more and hopefully will get enough to enjoy and to freeze.

We went down to the Agricultural Fair this morning to watch some of the horse events.  Our former riding instructor was the judge for the events and we reconnected with her and may start taking lessons again after our vacation.  After watching events we went over to see the results of the display judging and to determine if I wanted to enter in any other categories next year.  I won, I won, two blue ribbons for my two entries of hand knitted shawls, one a modified pattern, the other of my design.  I am so excited.

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Next year I will enter that category again with other items and think I may enter some of my preserves and or sauces as well.  I don’t think my produce is sufficient to enter and my flowers are certainly not show quality except for some day lilies that are bloomed out by fair time.  I will display the ribbons on the items until they sell, then just hang them on my stall at craft shows.

 

A Week on the Farm – 7/27/18

Summer is going so quickly and the weather has been so strange this year.  A foot of snow in mid April after spring like temperatures in February.  Rain and more rain in early summer, making putting in a garden a challenge, then hot and arid.  Then the rain returned, along with insect pests in the garden, first Japanese beetles eating the leaves off of the Raspberry bushes, then they were joined by bean beetles and together, they decimated what remained of the first bean crop.  Then the blister beetles arrived and defoliated some of the tomatoes.  I hand picked them, dropping them in soapy water then sprinkled diatomaceous earth on the ground around the plants to try to kill off any that escaped to earth during the hand picking. The plants are alive, not putting out new growth, but fruit is ripening.

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The tomatoes are being frozen whole but there are so many in the freezer now that I will pull them out, slip the skins off, and begin canning them this week when the rain resumes.  The cucumbers that I planted this year for pickles are small and greenish white, interesting mild smooth flavor raw.  Most of them are being lacto fermented into sour dills thick slices.  Maybe a jar or two of spears too.

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The silicone nipple lids and glass jar weights make the fermenting so easy.

There were two partial days off the farm this week in Colonial costume working with children, demonstrating the fiber arts and teaching drop spindling.  Working with kids like this rejuvenates me.

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Today, since it stayed dry yesterday and since tomorrow we will resume deck destruction, to take down the rest of the framework, I tackled cleanup.  One task that I had promised eldest son that I would get done, was to move the scaffolding that we were not using for the deck back into storage.  When we built the house, instead of renting scaffolding, we purchased it, knowing that it would be used repeatedly with staining the logs and other jobs.  On occasion we have loaned some of it out to friend.  Most of it was stacked against the house at various points and had been there for a year.  It is now back in the back of the huge garage until needed again.

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More the rotting deck wood was burned off in the burn barrel while I was working outside.

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There will be another burn tomorrow, I am sure.  To finish the jobs that I said I would get done this week was to stain the logs that were stained during construction then hidden behind the deck.  They got a coat of diluted stain today and will probably get another coat, less diluted tomorrow.  After tomorrow, we get another round of rain, so I will have to hope for a dry couple of days to get a third coat on before the new deck goes up.

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This is the last day lily bloom of the season and for some reason, it is lopsided.  This one is called Sear’s Tower and gets quite tall.

Last night while we sat on the front porch in the cool evening, a tiny ruby throated hummingbird visited the feeder.  That is the first one I have seen that really had the vivid red throat.  This morning, another little hummer decided the feeder was all his/hers, came for a drink and then sat on the crook neck to guard the feeder, not letting any of the others near it.  It guarded for about 10-15 minutes, feeding then guarding, finally flew off.  The photo isn’t great, taken from inside the house through the screen and enlarged, but you get the idea.

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The header photo and the teaching photo were taken at the Wilderness Road Regional Museum camp and used from their site.

Busy Colonial Day – 7/25/18

My volunteerism at my formerly beloved Smithfield Plantation has ended due to some changes that they have made.  Though the Board won’t say why, they released the Director who was “Miss Smithfield,” heart, soul, and all the toil and effort that went with her position.  This disheartened me, but she asked me to continue there out of her love for history and the facility.  I tried.  I really did, but the heart was gone and after a very discouraging attempt early this week, I submitted a letter of resignation like most of the other volunteers had already done.

Fortunately, she has moved on to another historic facility, the Wilderness Road Regional Museum in a community called Newbern farther from my house, but still easily doable.  This week, she is running a Patriot’s Camp and has 15-20 kids each day portraying local figures from the Revolutionary War, and learning about the period in fun ways, different creative activities and outlets each day.  She reached out to many of her volunteers and artisans to help with the camp and today, another spinner friend and I got our turn.  The youngest was 5, the oldest 13, with an average age around 8 or 9.  Some time was spent with the entire group talking about how fiber fit into the history, some time with fiber prep from shearing, cleaning the fleece, spinning, and weaving.  After snack and energy release play battles, the group reconvened in two parts, with my friend teaching thigh spinning and Lucet braiding while I took the other group for learning to drop spindle.  Later we switched groups.  She had made Lucets for each child and had balls of yarn.  I had made drop spindles and weighed out a half ounce of fiber per child and after they had their lessons, they went home with their own fiber tools.

Jim gets a kick out of me coming home from an event like this as I get so animated about the opportunity.  The kids were full of energy and so smart, it fills me with energy too and I so love sharing my skills with them.  Each group had a couple of helpers and one of my helpers got so into it that he asked if he could have a spindle and fiber too.

When camp was over around noon, the skies opened up and poured rain on us as we were packing up our wheels, spindles, looms, and Lucets and hurrying to load our cars under an umbrella brigade.

Several of the volunteers, dashed from camp back to Blacksburg, where a peaceful vigil was held for the director, where the Smithfield Board was supposed to enter the building for a meeting.  Though we had very good news coverage, the Board must have heard as they entered on the other side of the facility through the hotel and avoided us.  Many photographs were take, some interviews for print media, and some for the local TV new.  I was still in costume and several other volunteers were also in costume and part of my interview appeared on the evening news.  Though we don’t have local channels on our TV, a friend said I looked very professional and the costume made the interview.  The many volunteers that have left Smithfield would love for the director to be reinstated and we would return, but in the meantime, we have followed her to her new venue and will continue to support local history.

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Photo credit to WDBJ7 news.  I am 4th from the left.

 

Wonder Woman is worn out – 7/11/18

A lot can get done in two uninterrupted days.  Today was another very physical day, got my 10,000 steps just working here.  There aren’t any cool pictures from today though.

After dinner last night, 6 half pints of wild berry jam were made and canned.  A couple of hands full of beans were picked and made into two more pints of dilly beans and canned.  The shelves are filling, such a nice sight.  What’s not to love about the beautiful jars of jams, pickles, beans, and grains when you walk into the kitchen.  It is so earthy and soothing with the wooden bowls above and the pottery below.

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Today started with errands and the delivery of the other daylily division, then home and into work clothes.  More hand weeding was done around the pumpkin vines and the blueberry bushes, then the  Stihl weed monster was started and the edges of the garden, the two empty chicken runs, and areas that really need to be covered to kill the weeds in the unused area of the garden were mowed down.  I came in dripping wet and worn out about mid afternoon.

The garage door needed some repair and I had been putting it off because it required drilling two new holes through metal and into the wood to remount two screws that had stripped out, but I even tackled that.  Our evening visitor didn’t seem bothered by my drilling and putting the door up and down.

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A cool shower to refresh, I decided to treat myself to some time at the Mingle at the Market 2 at the Wednesday Farmer’s Market.  I was hoping for some pickling cucumbers, but not tonight.  They had live music, Virginia made beer and wine, and the Till and Grill food truck there, so I enjoyed my dinner sitting on a bench listening to the band.  That was topped off with locally made ice cream, also from the Farmer’s Market and home to put up my feet.

Until it got too dark to sit outside and knit, I worked on the shawlette I am knitting with the gradient yarn that I spun.

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I know I posted a photo of the bees in the sunflowers, but as I was weed wacking today, I got close enough to see that they are native bees, lots of them.  See the header picture.

Tomorrow I am going to plant beans and lettuce and rest, I promise.  The guys will be home late tonight and they will likely be too tired to do much.

OK, I’m fickle or picky, maybe both- 5/14/2018

Over the years since I started knitting again in earnest and spinning, I have bought and sold much equipment trying to find the perfect fit for my pleasure.  Everyone eventually finds the equipment that pleases them the most and everyone’s favorite is equally disliked by others, or just indifferent to it.  It would be great if everything could be tried out for a while first, but like with cars, furniture, appliances, etc. sales are the goal.  With spinning, in some areas, you can find a local store or fiber fest that may have several manufacturers and models of wheels, but trying one for a few minutes in a store doesn’t really give you the knowledge you need to fall in love or dislike with it.

I have learned that I don’t like metal knitting needles and crochet hooks.  Most of the metal needles react with my skin chemistry and produce a mild odor that I find unpleasant.  Carbon fiber and wood suit me better.  I only use circular knitting needles and whether they have fixed tips or are interchangeable, the flexibility of the cable is important.  I have tried many brands and have settled on Lykke and Karbonz as my favorites.

With spindles, I have tried wood top whorl, bottom whorl, Turkish, Russian support, and Daelgan (Scottish) style again from many craftsmen.  Some I liked okay, the Turkish I have kept for the longest, though it is usually just used for plying.  Since I started spinning and went to my first fiber festival, I have desired to own a drop spindle crafted by Tom Golding.  A few weeks ago, I ordered one off of Etsy, a large spindle with the whorl looking like a flock of sheep faces with a bright bronze ring.

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I liked that it spun for a long time, but found it a tad too heavy for my use and sold it quickly for what it cost.  But I wanted a Golding and went directly to his website and ordered one that is a bit smaller and lighter.  It came today.

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The slightly smaller whorl, solid top, and lighter weight appeal to me more and allow me to spin the finer yarn that I like to spin on spindles, plus it came with some delightfully playful fiber to sample. My two spindles are here to stay, the rest have found new homes.

In the decade that I have been spinning, I used only spindles at first, then met a group of spinners and fell into the rabbit hole of spinning wheels.  Like needles and drop spindles, they have pluses and minuses.  My first wheel was a wonky old wheel that had been repaired by a friend who learned to spin on it and sold it to me to learn on.  It was a decent little wheel, but the bobbins were very small and the wheel itself slightly warped.   It went on to a friend to learn on and I bought a travel wheel, actually a large wheel that folded somewhat and fit in a huge backpack.  I liked that wheel for it’s appearance, it fit in well when re-enacting,  but there were some things I wasn’t really thrilled with and it was loaned to the friend who bought the wonky wheel which came back to me when she bought the folding wheel.  I used it long enough to find a used wheel I liked and it was probably one of my favorites, but it didn’t fit in when I was at the historic house and I didn’t want too many wheels, but I bought a 200+ year old wheel to take there and tried to make it a functional wheel.  I got it working with the help of a spinning wheel restorer, but it was hard on my knees and hips and I sold it, sold the non historic wheel, and sold the wonky wheel to a local teen that wanted to learn, and bought another that required me to assemble and finish it.  That wheel goes with me to historic events, but has very small bobbins.  Somewhere along the way, Jim bought me an old Great or Walking Wheel.  That one stays at home because of it size and is still being made totally functional.

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And a month or so ago, I tried and fell in love with a tiny little wheel that fits in a large canvas tote, has huge bobbins, and is probably the favorite wheel I have owned.

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I am done.  I have my perfect spindles, needles, hooks, and more wheels than I need, but one that fits the historic spinning venues, one that looks awesome in our log home that is fun to play with, and one that travels well and that I just love.  Plus enough fluff and yarn to keep me busy for quite a while.

It is time to be satisfied with the knitting and spinning toys, uh tools that I own and spin and knit on.  IMG_20180420_124357

Away, back, away, and back again 3/2/2018

Finally settled back home from a couple of weeks of flurried activity, first with our cruise and as soon as the laundry was done and the dust settled, I was off to the winter version of the spinning retreat. We enjoyed a couple of weeks of very nice weather, enjoying the western Caribbean toward the end of their rainy season, so not too hot and only a few random showers. There were two nights of heavier rain, but it occurred after we had settled for the night. For the most part the seas were calm, though I tend to motion sickness and had one bad evening when I had failed to take Bonine in the morning, did a water excursion and back on the ship just as we were about to leave port. The ship store sold motion sick bands and a couple of Bonine and I was okay after a few hours. We had a great time on a much needed vacation.  And we returned to spring like weather at home.

The spinning retreat is an event that I look forward to, rejoining friends that I see infrequently, laughing, eating, spinning and knitting. The motel at Hawk’s Nest State Park lacks a restaurant at this time, but Tudor’s Biscuit World is just down the road and Pies and Pints Pizza is only a short drive away, so many of us go out for breakfast and lunch. Dinner started as happy hour and morphed over the years to a grand pot luck. This year the pot luck was so immense that one night we had 5 or 6 crockpot dishes, plus salads, crackers, cheese, dips, and desserts. Though I had not asked prior to the event to vend as I was unsure having been away, I took some soaps, salves, yarn, and knitwear and because there were few vendors, I did get to set up and was able to sell enough to pay for the weekend which is my goal.

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This retreat did take a negative twist though as I awoke each day with a few more itchy spots, unsure if I was reacting to their detergent or if I was being bitten. Sunday morning, I was pretty sure that they were bites, notified the office as I left, washed my bag and clothing in hot water as soon as I arrived home. By Monday, it was apparent, that I had had a bed bug encounter, something I have feared in hotels, but not expected there. I have always been over reactive to insect bites and have broad itchy bands surrounding the rows of bites, characteristic of bed bugs. Now a week out, I am still on antihistamines, anti itch creams, and trying not to scratch. I am hoping that I did not bring them home with me. My spinning, knitting, and vending items remained in the tiled conference room for the weekend, but traveled home in the back of my car with my suitcase, though in a plastic box crate and in trays strapped to the top of the crate.

The week remained delightfully spring like until last night. We have howling wind and woke to snow flurries. The upcoming forecast is more seasonal. We lost our power briefly last night and again this afternoon for a couple of hours. Fires have been lit in the wood stove and fireplace in case of another failure. It is supposed to go down into the twenties tonight and we want the house to stay warm.

I am continuing to knit on the new shawl that is a design on the fly that I will probably never write down.  The yarns are lovely though.  It is a mitered shawl of a Freia Ombre Shawl ball and a craveyarn Santa Fe solid.

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I am nearly to a point where I need to make sure I have a multiple of the number of stitches needed for the fancier lace that will be the bottom lace band.

Also on the needles are Log Cabin squares for a gift blanket in the works.

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The warmer weather and longer days have the hens producing generously again.  My egg buying friends were all grateful today when I was able to bring them the quantities they desire.  Each day gathering 8 to a dozen from the 16 hens.  I’m still unsure whether the two with the pale combs are laying, so I may be getting them from just 14 hens.

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The power has been restored and flickered off and back on again, so I should get our dinner going in case it goes out again.  Until next time.