Tag Archives: camp

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.

 

Kitchen Alchemy and Camp – July 25, 2017

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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.

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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.

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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.