Tag Archives: children

Teaching Old Arts

To my joy, I am being given more and more opportunities to demonstrate and teach the old fiber arts.  Today it was with a camp run by our Local Community Arts (LoCo Arts) organization to a group of kids.  They have 7 children enrolled this year and each day they are tackling a different theme.  Yesterday they did plants and as part of the day, they made an herbal salve.  Today part of the theme was fiber.  A friend in our spinning group and I volunteered to work with the children teaching about fibers, how they were prepared and used to make household fabric and clothing.  With only 2 hours to work with them, we were somewhat limited, but it was fun.  My rusty teaching skills were drawn upon, my friend also having been a teacher, and both of us being grandma’s of small children.

The children were able to handle many different animal fibers and flax.  Each child was given a light drop spindle that I had made for them, along with bumps of fiber dyed by my friend and natural colored fiber provided by me.  They were shown various types of drop spindles from my whorl less Dealgan brae, top and bottom whorl, and Turkish spindles and how they worked.  They took apart a length of string to see how each ply twists in one direction, then the several held together twist in the opposite direction to hold them together and provide strength.  They were taught to use their new drop spindles.

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In addition to learning to spin with a drop spindle, we gave each child the opportunity to spin a couple of yards of a single on our wheels.

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They then walked away from us holding the end of their single, we cut the other end while holding it and gave it to the child, letting go of the middle so it self plyed.  Their piece of yarn was then strung with a large wooden bead and tied into a necklace for them to keep.

Two rigid heddle looms belonging to my friend were set up by her and she gave them a demonstration on how to use them and the children were given the chance to weave a few rows on the loom to see how the yarn that they could spin could be used to make a fabric.

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The children and their two teaching camp counselors seemed to appreciate the lessons learned and the gifts of fiber tools and fiber to continue to practice with at home.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the kids, they were wonderful.

Next I get to demonstrate spinning at the historic Smithfield Plantation House on the University campus on July 4 at their Independence Day celebration.  It is only for a few hours, but I will also be selling yarn, bar soap, and lotion bars if it isn’t too hot that day.

I love the opportunities that I have had this summer to demonstrate and teach some of the ancient crafts that I have grown to love.

Olio – June 17, 2015

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

I haven’t done an Olio post in a while and the past week has been fitting of one today.

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The remaining two littles aren’t so little anymore, but are still small enough to get through the welded wire fence and often spend more time outside of the enclosure than in it, avoiding the teenagers who don’t mess with them too much and the hens who are always trying to put them in their place.  Momma is much less protective of them now, even though they are no longer isolated in the chicken tractor at night after the predator attack last week that killed their 4 siblings.  The littles go into the big coop at night and tuck one under each wing of Momma.

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The hen that abandoned her nest last weekend and then tried to steal the eggs back after I moved them was given her eggs back and she has been sitting ever since.  She is the one in the middle nest above.  The one on the left should start hatching tomorrow or Friday with the one on the right a day or two later and the one in the middle by Monday.

Daughter and I took measurements of the floor of the chicken tractor this afternoon and in a bit, Mountaingdad and I will be going out to do a garbage run and will buy a roll of chicken wire and 2 or 3 2X4’s so that I can put a doubled wire floor in the chicken tractor tomorrow in anticipation.  I have 3 nesting boxes prepared to put inside as soon as the floor is in place and the three hens and their chicks will be moved as soon as hatching begins.

The garden is growing weeds faster than I can keep up with them.  After having another squamous cell carcinoma removed last week, I don’t want to work out in the sun for too long. As it has been unseasonably hot I am not comfortable working for long in long sleeves and long pants.  I quit using sunscreen after I read too many articles that indicate that most of them are carcinogenic.

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The annual spring haying began Monday afternoon and they worked well into the dark by headlights after the monster tractor’s mower failed and they had to resort to a sickle bar on a smaller tractor.  Yesterday afternoon they returned to get back to mowing and raking to work only a few minutes until it began to pour rain for about half an hour.

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Again they are at it this afternoon, hoping to get up what has been mowed and mow and bale the remainder.  Tomorrow and Friday are the best days this week for not getting rained on, but I guess they are hoping to avoid the thunderstorms today.

In the heat, I have stayed indoors much more than usual, reading Appalachian Daughter and now Yellow Crocus, knitting on my sweater when the house is cool enough to hold it in my lap.

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The body is nearly done, just requiring a couple more inches and the ribbing, then I must decide what sleeve length to make.  That will depend on how much yarn is left after the body.  You can tell that it spends more time balled up in my knitting bag than in my lap by the wrinkles that will have to be blocked out later.

In the past few days, in order to free up some bobbins to resume spinning my Coopsworth from Hawk’s Nest retreat, I finally plyed the 4 bobbins that were full, creating another 421 yards of yarn to add to the 200 that were previously plyed, washed and dried.

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I have over 600 yards spun and plied and have resumed spinning the remaining ounces. Once I know the total amount, I will determine what article to knit for me.  It seems only appropriate that I should finally knit a garment for me from my handspun yarn.  That was the reason for purchasing a full pound of the roving at the retreat.  The last two skeins are soaking and are about to be hung to dry.

Today marks the day that grandson left for 7 weeks with his biological father picked him up for his summer visitation.  It will be quiet and we will all miss him while he is away. His Mom, Daddy and little sister will especially be at odds for a while.

Olio – 2/12/15

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

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Bread day.  Grandson is being stretched each day to a healthier more natural diet.  Fast food is being reduced and the selection less Wendy’s and more Wicked Taco in choice. He has been pretty good about beverages, drinking milk, water, or lemonade if out but he has his quirks.  His favorite foods used to be spaghetti with sauce and cheese or “cheese sandwich all cooked up” (we know them as grilled cheese), but then for some reason, he decided he didn’t like cheese.  He loves pizza and lasagna, even our cheese and spinach stuffed ravoli, but insists he doesn’t like cheese.  The first time I made corn bread he refused to even try it.  Now he asks for it.  The first herb and onion bread I made for them, he went to his room and skipped dinner rather than even be at the table with it. His preferred bread is “balloon bread,” though he will eat commercial Honey Wheat.  In an effort to eliminate more colors and preservatives from his diet, I set out to make loaves of similar texture without the additives.  He also insists that his bread have the commercial shape.  This morning’s results may pass his test.  The Honey Wheat bread I made is light in texture and was allowed to rise well over the rim of the pan before baking.  We are going to make his lunch for tomorrow without saying anything and see how it goes.

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When they moved here and we purchased twin over double bunk beds for the room, he being the oldest got the top bunk.  To read or write in his journal at night, he had to climb back down to put the book or journal on the night table then climb back up to sleep.  A few days ago, his Mom hauled out her fabrics and snaps and we made him a pouch that holds his book, journal and a couple of pencils that snaps with straps over the side rail of his bed.  He was really excited when he came home from school and saw it.  To complete the idea, his Mom gave him a clip on book light that clips to the rail as well.

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In spite of Daughter’s Tom Boyishness growing up, granddaughter is a little girly girl and she does not like loud noise, though she can screech like a banshee herself when upset.  She also has had an unnatural fear reaction to the typical bugs found in a mountain house in the middle of a hay field, the occasional Lady Bug, Stink Bug, house fly or little spiders.  I don’t like spiders either, but I don’t run shrieking from the room if I see one. Little by little, we have been trying to help her overcome both.  When I find a Lady Bug alive, I will pick it up in her presence and she has let me put it on her shirt.  She will hold a dead one, but still not a live one.  She now points out stinkbugs, dead or alive instead of screaming and waits for her brother or an adult to remove it.  Flys and spiders are still a work in progress.  I managed to get to her “scoop up” a Lady Bug carcass and some dog hair with the mini vacuum that she had been terrified of.  You still have to warn her that you are turning it on, but she no longer runs crying from the room and she will use it herself now.

imageMy girls having some quiet time after dropping brother off at his very early school bus.  She wiggled and squirmed on and over her Mom then fell asleep with her head on Mom’s hip and covered in the blanket Mom had draped over her own legs.  They slept like that for about an hour.

Our spring like days fled overnight.  Our high of 32f (0c) occurred at 6 a.m. and we are falling to 8f (-13.33c) tonight.  It is snowing but not really expected to accumulate much and we are under another high wind warning and wind chill warning.  I’m betting that schools have at least a 2 hour delay tomorrow. The weekend nights are expected to be around 0f (-17.8c).  Monday was to be a school holiday, but is now scheduled to be a weather make up day and we are being threatened with several inches of snow on Monday and Tuesday, so it might yet be a school holiday and the make up day will have to be made up along with another day.

Son #1 and Grandson #1 are bringing my car home on Friday night and staying for the weekend before riding a bus back home.  It will be good to see them.  The weather will be in the teens so I don’t think we will get the compost bin disassembled and relocated this weekend.  Maybe he will help us build a “dress up” closet for Granddaughter’s dress up clothes.

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My current knitting project is a 320 stitch Moebius cowl.  The pattern is Gradient cowl and as I don’t have truly gradient yarn, but rather a cake that had 5 equal amounts of increasing darker yarns, I working from lighter to darker using one color, then alternating in the next darker color for a few rows, then using the darker color and so on.  I am on the third color now and will end up with a cowl about 38-40″ long by 5-6″ wide.  I think that there will be enough yarn left to make a hat, though probably not the one I want to make as I would like to knit Wurm on Ravelry using the gradient colors from light at the face edge and the darkest at the top.  The yarn is Green Dragon Yarns Sport weight in Teal.  As David has closed his shop and is no longer dying yarn, I want to use up every inch of it that I can and treasure it.

International Days and Borrowed Ideas

For the past few days, Daughter and I have been visiting other countries through our culinary skills.  We were bored with the same menu repeatedly and decided to venture out, making wholesome, home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients.  On Thursday, we visited Germany, preparing Sausage and Potatoes with Rosemary.

On Friday, we took a trip to Mexico, making handmade tortillas and using them to make Mexican style soft tacos, with shredded pork or taco ground beef served with fresh cilantro and chopped onion, sided with a salad and guacamole.

Saturday we traveled to Asia, preparing a pork stir fry with lots of fresh vegetables including some of the ginger I grew this past summer and served it over rice.

Today we stayed in Asia and made Red curry with Chicken, vegetables and rice.  Tomorrow we will make Ricotto and Mozarella and fresh pasta dough to make homemade Ravioli with spinach and cheese filling, served with some of the pasta sauce I canned last summer and a salad of fennel bulb and carrot.  After tomorrow, we will have to decide where next to visit.

As for borrowed ideas, we have had an eight year old who in spite of a home library of books, a bookshelf of games, a garage of outdoor toys and two beautiful days, Legos and many other indoor toys, has repeatedly announced, “I’m bored.”  Daughter saw a great idea on Pinterest, a “The Bored Jar,” a jar with tokens each with a chore or suggestion such as “Read for 30 minutes” and we decided that we would implement it.

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Instead of a glass jar that could easily be broken, we bought a small galvanized bucket with a chalkboard label on the side.  With a paint pen, the label was completed and we bought a bag of 25 wooden disks on which I have been adding the suggestions/chores. Once we have disks all completed, we will fill him in and each time he states “I’m bored,” he will have to draw a disk from the bucket and spend however much time the disk requires or the task takes.  This should teach him some responsibility for entertaining himself and perhaps get a few chores accomplished without constant reminders.

The Great Chill

Our Virginia born daughter who has lived the last dozen or so years in Florida and her Florida born children arrived as an Arctic blast hit our region. The first two days they were here, we saw highs of around freezing and lows 10 or so degree lower. They are cold, to the bone cold and the next two days are colder. We awoke to 20°f (-6.67°c) and that is today’s high.

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We have a wind chill advisory for the next day or so. It is snowing, mountain snow showers. The kids want snow to play in, but not this event.

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When I took food and water to the chooks, the wind cut through me. I filled the PVC feeder that hangs inside the coop and realized that even the water in the coop was frozen solid. The waterer was brought in to thaw and a pan of water put in the coop. I opened the pop door, they ran out into the yard, turned and back into the coop, where they will likely stay today.
Other than trips to the coop to check for eggs and thaw water, we are going to hunker down indoors with a fire going, games to play, knitting, planning and reading.

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My knitting  is an Ouroboros Moebius from Margaret Radcliffe, a local knitting designer and author, a friend knit out of Green Dragon Gradient sport weight in Teal which I will treasure as this other local friend is no longer dyeing yarns. Son#1 and family gave me the Organic Seed Grower for Christmas and my two favorite seed catalogs arrived during the busy holidays and I haven’t had time to even look at them.
The day will be fueled by a pot of stew or vegetable beef soup and maybe a pan of bread.

Potions or Kitchen Magic

When our eldest son, RT was about the age his son is now, 8 years old, he would make potions.  Fortunately, even 30 years ago, I was conscious of what was in our house and had very few scary products.  He would generally start with a good dash of Dr. Bonner’s Liquid soap and add various kitchen powders, toothpaste or whatever he could sneak out.  Twice, he and his neighbor buddy made a potion that involved some hot peppers pilfered from my garden and for a few hours, we had two miserable boys.  Note, I said, twice as they didn’t learn the first time.

I had nearly forgotten about those times, when one afternoon, late in our house construction, found me on the new back deck with a makeshift table, a hot plate and a huge pot, making gallons of petroleum free floor wax for the newly installed hardwood and pine floors.  He saunters out and smugly looked at me and said, “Look who is making potions now!”  We both had a good laugh over that.

Today was potion day again, making two batches of lotion bars, laundry soap, and dishwasher powder.  I like to know what goes into my products that I use, be able to pronounce all of the ingredients and know that they are safe.

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Making them myself, satisfies my requirements and is so much less expensive than the products in the store.

We are still good on handcrafted soap, so that doesn’t need to be done again soon, except I have a friend who wants to learn, so we may make a batch anyway.

Life is good on our mountain farm.