This was the weekend of the February fiber retreat at Hawk’s Nest. I went as a participant and as a vendor with soaps, salves, lotion bars, yarn, antler buttons, hand dyed Merino top, knitted, and woven wearables. This retreat is held at the lodge of a state park in West Virginia, about 2 hours from home if I don’t stop on the way. It is a meeting of friends, lots of spinning and knitting time, socialization as we craft together, dine together, and have social hour before dinner.
I took several of the fibers for Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em and worked on producing yarn from part of the 10 ounces of Tunis and spun some Rambouillet Dorset wool just for a change and I think it will be plyed with the orange when it is all spun.
I haven’t spun enough of the Tunis to report it yet, nor have I finished all of the Rambouliett Dorset and need to spin the orange. I don’t know what that 8 ounces of yarn will become when done, perhaps a woven shawl.
My only purchase was a Jacob pelt to pad my chair or warm my feet. Such a soft lovely little pelt from Hearts of the Meadow Farm.
It was a rainy drive home, but the car is unloaded, though not all put away. Most of the accounting has been performed. Once I am ready to spin some tonight, I will work on flicking, carding, and spinning this box of washed Florida Cracker locks. When it and the Tunis are done, breeds 11 and 12 will be reported to SE2SE.
I had a delightful weekend in a nice room with a bed just for me, all the amenities I could desire, but it will be nice to be home in my own bed tonight.
The mouse will work her rear off and eat the things that aren’t usually served here.
My morning began early as Jim and eldest grandson took off for a history tour of eastern Virginia. Though grandson has spent all but a few weeks of his life in Virginia, it has been mostly here in the mountains or in the northern part of the state. The eastern part of the state is ripe with history with Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as a Busch Gardens, so off they went. Today was to be the history tour with granddad narrating and tomorrow a fun day at Busch Gardens. I stayed home with the farm to deal with the critters, the garden, and work on the flower bed that has been evolving over the past couple of years down the east side of the garage and around the back on the south side.
After seeing them off, I donned long pants, long sleeves, boots, and sprayed myself generously with Deep Woods Off, and headed out with a metal sieve to pick berries, the blackberries are just beginning to ripen and the wineberries are ripe and the canes heavy. Enough of a mixture of them were gathered to make a batch of wild berry jam tonight.
The first pick of the day
Once they were rinsed, crushed, and sealed in a container until this evening, I took off to a friend’s farm with some daylily divisions to trade with one she was dividing. I won, not only did I get daylilies, but I came home with kale and zucchini, plus some coreopsis divisions and Columbine seed. Tomorrow, I am taking her a division of another daylily that I had and she did not.
A trip to Lowes and a trunk full of bagged mulch set me up to finish what I started yesterday and continue the flower bed another 15 feet across the back of the garage. The new daylily starts were planted in two spots, the coreopsis divided with some in the ground and some in the last barrel that had not been planted this spring and the Columbine seed along with some poppy seed joined it in the barrel.
The entire bed from the front of the garage, down the east side, and continuing across the south side were mulched down with dark brown hardwood mulch.
The beast overseeing my efforts.
The upside down flower pots are chicken deterents, but a better solution must be found or all of the newly spread mulch will be in the grass and there will be dustbaths in the beds.
When I met Jim more than 4 decades ago, I was a vegetarian and he is a Texan, meat and potatoes preferred. He likes some vegetables, tolerates other, and refuses some. In deference to his tastes and so I am not preparing two different meals, I eat a little meat and limit the vegetables to the ones he likes and occasionally one he will tolerate. Kale and summer squash are in his tolerate occasionally list, so with him away tonight, the gifted kale and zucchini were cooked along with an ear of corn and I am feasting to my delight on vegetables.
And I have left overs for tomorrow night as well.
It is wild berry jam making time. The header shot are bees busy at work on the two volunteer sunflowers. Not a single one that I planted came up. I think this fall, I will just throw a handful of sunflower seed around the perimeter of the garden and let the volunteers happen in the spring.
Life continues to spiral away, hopefully to slow a bit now that the grands are back in school as of this morning.
The eclipse provided a great science lesson last Monday, with eclipse viewing glasses thanks to eldest son and the grands’ other grandma, reflections caught through the broken clouds in a planter saucer of water.
Daughter having to take a day off so we could do more appointments.
More canning, lots of Jalapeños. Tomatoes being frozen to peel and process this week after more jars are acquired.
Pullets figuring out the egg deal and thus many to deliver to folks who appreciate their efforts as much as we do.
Relearning an old skill, Tunisian Crochet. Another way to use some of the yarn I spin, but I am so slow with it still.
And a couple days of R & R away for me, friends and fiber, to my favorite fiber retreat, The Knotty Ladies (though there are a couple of guys that are there too). It is an opportunity to vend my shop as well and yarn, stitch markers, soaps, and salves sold, though none of the knit wear, but then again, everyone in the room knits, spins, crochets, weaves, felts, or some combination of those arts. A generous skein of sport weight Hebridean was spun and 12 ounces of the softest Merino/Alpaca blend of fiber purchased and one skein of it spun. There may be a sweater in my near future.
The hardest worker and the most dedicated slacker need an occasional play day. One of my friends, the owner/operator of Sunrise Valley Farm is the source of the Leicester Longwool fiber that I love to spin. This is the time of year where her ewes have recently lambed and she had invited me to come to their farm and see the babies. After dropping grand daughter at preschool this morning, I ventured out to a part of the adjacent county that I had never visited before to their beautiful farm, a mixture of animal pastures for their 3 alpacas, the flock of sheep, a flock of myotonic goats with babies, turkeys, guardian dogs, chickens, and a sole noisy Guinea hen and wooded hillsides. After a bit of time talking about some new ideas for their Farmers Market stall that will open on Saturday, we ventured out to the barn to see the one little bottle baby.
This wee little gal’s mom accepted her ram lamb brother, but not her and being a bottle baby is very used to being petted and rubbed. She was too big to hide in a pocket to bring home, but I did enjoy having some baby time. Some of the other lambs would come near, but didn’t really want to be touched as we walked in their pasture.
The young goats bounded around with the adults and were closely guarded by 3 of their guardian dogs. We only watched them from a distance. The turkey flock milled around, Tom strutted his stuff trying to impress his ladies.
It was an enjoyable morning, followed with some conversation over a cup of tea, then time to return home to an abbreviated afternoon duties as Jim had done the preschool pick up run and early afternoon supervision and as he was headed to his monthy Harley club meeting, took the grands to Taekwondo. This left me with a late afternoon and evening at home alone. A bit of perennial bed weeding, a harvest of more asparagus and egg collection were all the chores managed outside. Some reorganization of my spinning corner was accomplished and some prep of the Cabin Crafted stock in preparation to vend at the spinning retreat the end of the month.
It is nice and restorative to have a day off occasionally, a chance to visit friends, and get some baby animal time.
Tomorrow is supposed to be a pleasant day as far as weather, perhaps the bean bed, sweet potato bed, and three sister’s garden will get turned and weeded in preparation for additional planting. I forgot to check to see if the potatoes were up yet, but I did see evidence that we will have peas this year. The bunnies don’t seem to bother the peas, but after losing all of my beans to them last year, that bed will be netted this year and the three sisters garden will likely have a low plastic poultry fence around it so the Anasazi beans can get tall enough to climb the corn before the rabbits get them too.
The electric wire needs to be run around the top of the fence to deter the deer. With only a 4 foot fence, they can hop right in and feast and they too will take out the beans.
The extended forecast looks like we are going to have an early frost free date this year. My garden has never been started quite this early before.
Today was the annual spin-in at the home of Joanne and Otto and business for Strauch Equipment Company. This event is an all afternoon potluck lunch and social time. Our weekly spinning group, plus friends from spinning retreats, and friends who are other local spinners that can not come to an afternoon weekday spinning session are invited and drive as much as 3 hours to participate.
As usual, the food was wonderful, the company better. We sit out on their huge deck under the shade of canopy, roof, and trees and have a great time. The black walnut tree threw immature nuts at us, the rain sprinkled once and went away until we were all gone to our respective homes. The heat was turned up a bit more than we would have liked, but tolerable with a couple of large fans and the shade.
I see some of these folks nearly every week, others, only once or twice a year. It is always a terrific early summer afternoon.
The “Bird of Paradise” fiber I was spinning was finished this afternoon and plyed. I failed to take a photo until after it was washed, so the photo is darker than it’s true color, but so pretty that as soon as I brought it down stairs once skeined at home, daughter said “What are you going to do with that, it is gorgeous?” Being a tad playfully mean, I replied, “Wash it.” I know she wants it for a skinny scarf, so she will be given it once it is dry. It is only 165 yards of fingering, but it should make a skinny, loosely knit scarf. Now I need to teach her more than knit and purl.
Years ago, when I taught Biology on the high school level, I was often reminded that our society of city dwellers are so far removed from the production of our food, that most of my students had no idea that their food was grown by people, harvested and processed into the canned and frozen products on the grocery shelves. The idea that their meat had been a living animal and that someone had to raise, feed, and have it slaughtered and butchered to be put on the styrofoam trays, wrapped in plastic in the meat case was so foreign to them that they would argue with me over it. Truly a sad state of affairs.
Though they visited farms in Florida, I think it has been a good experience for my grand children to see that the chickens that I raise produce our eggs. That the chicken we put on the table was grown here on the farm, killed, cleaned and prepared here. The plants in the garden produce the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, squash, popcorn, peas and beans that they eat. They like helping out in the garden and pulling weeds to feed the chickens. To see the chicks hatch and know that they are being raised to produce the chicken and eggs we eat.
It is wonderful that there are cities that have started community gardens and schools that have gardens to teach children about food production and nutrition, but it needs to go farther. Watching chicks hatch in an incubator in a second grade classroom doesn’t really tell them from where their eggs and chicken come.
N and her mom went with me to an alpaca sheering and she sees me spinning yarn and knitting them hats, mittens, and sweaters from yarn, so she also has some realization that clothing doesn’t just come from a store.
Though I haven’t convinced them that homemade bread is better than factory produced balloon bread, they do love my corn bread, biscuits, scones, and made from scratch pancakes.
This has been a week of illness at our house. N was sick on Sunday, ok on Monday, sick again on Tuesday, ok on Wednesday and sick again yesterday. Today she seems ok again and started eating again last night. Daughter is in her first week of her new job and she has the stuffies, maybe from pollen that is increasing each day. One evening, I felt the virus that N had, but fortunately it was very short lived, only the one afternoon and evening, never like N.
Last night, two of my spinning friends came to our house to learn to make soap. In the frenzy of giving them the hands on experience, each making a batch with the other looking on and me on the sidelines coaching, I failed to take a single picture. They each left with a full mold of soap they made, one 3 pound batch of Lavender Rose and one of Bergamot Lemongrass and some palm oil to help them get started on their own. The only photo are the little muffin tins of overflow.
Both of these ladies are fiber artists, animal raisers, spinners, knitters and I was gifted with fiber to spin and knit in thanks, a great gift. What a great feeling to help others learn a skill and send them home with some of what they need to get started.
These two friends attend the spinning retreat that I attend, and one of them mentioned that she was selling her Strauch Petit Drum Carder to get a mechanized one. Once home, I talked with Jim about it and last night, she brought it to me as I decided to purchase it from her. I am excited. I will be able to blend fibers and fiber colors now. If I finally get brave enough to attempt to dye the fibers myself, I will increase my fun some more.
With Easter coming up this weekend, I was asked by K to hard cook some eggs for the kiddos to dye before Sunday.
Farm fresh eggs won’t peel if boiled, so I learned after starting to raise my own eggs, to steam them for 20 minutes. They cook perfectly, no green ring around the yolk and peel like a charm. This is the batch I did second, when the first batch had three cracked eggs in it and I knew not to let them dye them. I’m not a fan of the commercial dyes, but they are easiest and most child friendly, so they will dye the dozen eggs with their Mom and Dad tonight or tomorrow.
I didn’t want to be left out of the natural dye method this year, so while their eggs were steaming, I did three with yellow onion skins, three in beets, and one each of my Americaunas’ eggs as one lays blue eggs and the other green.
Later I am going to do a few with red cabbage, both brown eggs and Americaunas to see what shades of blue I get. The beet dyed ones surprised me, instead of the pink I expected, it turned the brown eggs more yellow. I know that these won’t be peel-able for deviled eggs as they had to be boiled with the natural dyes to get their color, but for breakfast or egg salad, they will be fine. Since 4 of the 20 eggs cracked during cooking, I enjoyed a couple for my breakfast. The kids were fascinated with the natural dyed eggs, but it just wouldn’t be as much fun for them as once you put them on the stove to boil with their dye, they just cook. They will have their fun later.
I love the rich brown of the onion skin dyed eggs. Maybe I should start saving more of the skins and see what color it dyes yarn.
This afternoon, I returned from the Fiber Arts Network Hawk’s Nest Spinning Retreat. I was both a participant and a vendor this time, taking my soaps, lotion bars, and salves from my Etsy shop. This group are all spinners, knitters, crocheters, weavers, felters, fiber animal raisers, so no yarn or knit wear was taken. My roommate for the three nights is a good friend, think Lucy and Ethel, and we can laugh, giggle, and be a couple of lady friends away from their normal lives, so a good bit of talk about family, pets, responsibilities, cooking, gardening (both tasks we enjoy) and sometimes just having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and being still or silly. This time there were 40+ participants, both male and female, who spend 2 or 3 days enjoying each other’s company, having a nightly social hour, teaching and learning from friends. Many of us vend fiber, equipment, books, knit wear, yarn, and in my case, items from my shop.
New River Gorge bridge in the distance on a snowy day.
Part of the crowd, spinning &
A very, very talented Lisa, needle felting for a Dr. Seuss birthday display at her local library.
Her adorable menagerie that she made, with no patterns, this weekend to go with others at home and some she is still working on.
Me being coaxed, cajoled to get over my fear of new things and learning to card two different rovings into a beautiful top to spin for my daughter to knit herself a hat and another time to blend two rovings into a luscious deep purple top with gray and blue undertones to knit into a dressy top for me on a Strauch finest double wide motorized carder. The owner of the company, one of my friends and spinning group buddies, thank you Joanne for encouraging me on your beautiful equipment.
After a final lunch at Tamarack on our way home, we had an uneventful couple of hours on the road, arrived back to unload at friend’s house then I on to mine where inventory of sold goods and updating of the shop, unpacking, sorting the lovely fibers and bags that came back with me were done. A delicious dinner prepared by me was enjoyed, and now I am looking at the photos and sharing some of my good time with my blog friends and family.
This was a much needed and much enjoyed mini vacation and trip away from the routines of home, great time with friends, fellowship, food, a successful vending event, and rest. Thank you all who made this possible, holding down the fort at home, caring for my chicky flock, teaching me new skills, being good friends and family.
Today I took a break from Christmas and Holiday Market readiness and left the rest of the family at home to go have some social time with the spinning group to which I belong. It has been too long since I have attended and I was missing the socialization with this fabulous group of gals. Today was our Christmas Social, hosted in the most spectacular home. This spinner hosts us a couple times a year. Her home has the most fantastic views and we sit in a huge room with a high ceiling and large windows with more than 180 view. The gathering is holiday potluck with spreads, cheeses, crackers, sweets and goodies. Lots of conversation, some spinning, some knitting, and a Dirty Santa exchange. Having never gone before, I was the only one who didn’t have spinning fiber in my gift. I did take two skeins of Merino with Silk yarn, so I wasn’t totally out of the ballpark. There were some sweet gifts, some taken the 3 time limit before they settled to go home with the new owner. I ended up with the hostesses gift, an adorable painted tray of a sheep and phlox with the saying “Sheep in phlox” and 12 ounces of the prettiest white California Red fiber. She shared the farm name and their website, I will have to visit soon.
I can’t wait to start spinning this beautiful fiber and then figure out what to make with the yarn.
I hadn’t realized how much I missed the weekly gathering with these beautiful ladies and vowed to make attending on Thursdays again, a priority.
Tomorrow morning, I am going to have breakfast with another friend and this weekend, Mountaingdad and I are going to a holiday party for his Harley Owner’s Group. That will be all of the holiday partying we will be doing this year.
Tomorrow, I will return to prep and packing to ready the car for the early setup on Saturday at the Winter Holiday Market. The weather is forecast to to much warmer and calmer than the Fall Market was. I can’t argue with the forecast.
Thursday morning, I departed, leaving Mountaingdad home to care for dogs, chickens, and for part of the weekend, also Son #1 and Grandson #1, while I traveled two hours west with a spinner friend to Hawks Nest State Park for a 3 day spinning retreat. And a treat it was. In route the other 4 of the other spinners from our local group met us at Tamarack, a delightful juried craft market with a cafe run by The Greenbrier. We wandered and ogled the wood, glass, pottery, weaving, prints, and quilts then had our lunch in the cafe before making the last half hour trek to the park.
There we were treated to rooms, most that overlooked a long section of the New River Gorge.
We didn’t even unpack before we set up our wheels and started to spin, Shetland, Mohair, Cotswold, Dorset, Alpaca, Yak and Silk. Many vendors with more fiber to tempt this hungry group of fiber artists.
Spinners and weavers, tables of fluff, chatter and knitting, all lots of fun stuff.
At night we partied on goodies brought from home and pot luck shared with beverages of choice. To town we zipped for lunch at the Cathedral Cafe for homemade soup, salad and bread, then homemade Chai tea and carrot cake. Another evening to town for pizza, salad and beer or rootbeer.
Three days of new friends and old, food, fiber and fellowship. Each of us leaving with a goody bag of fiber samples, notebooks, pens, pencils, patterns and a door prize each of wonderful donated weavings, fiber, photo frames, salsa and chips, bags or other wonderful surprises.
In spite of the chattery good times, much yarn was made, much was woven or knit. I succeeded in over 400 yards of a mixed fiber skein.
And 100 grams of beautiful Merino that is awaiting the other 100 grams to be spun and plied that will become a gift scarf for some lucky person.
The Hot Mess was Merino purchased there as is the Merino that is only half done and the 8 ounce bag of Dorset Lamb fiber the Hot Mess is sitting on. I will enjoy more spinning reminders from the weekend and look forward to the next retreat in late winter of the one next fall. I will return.
Since the spin in last weekend and the completion of the Tunis/FinnXJacob yarn, I stalled on spinning for a few days. Last February, just before David took his stock of Green Dragon yarn and roving to Hawk’s Nest, he had the most luscious hanks of Random Colors-Merino for spinning. He sold every last one of the ones he had made but since they were so popular, he made more for his shop. A couple of weeks ago, I purchased one to try and it is so delightful to spin. The one I purchased has rather muted colors, maroon, teal, camel with shades of lighter colors that blend into a wonderful single. The Merino is so soft and the fiber is long enough to make the drafting smoother and consistent. The colors of the single are interesting on the bobbin and I can’t decide what to do with it to not dilute the beautiful colors. It could be Navajo plied, but that significantly reduces the yardage of finished yarn. I’m afraid that plying two bobbins of it together will muddy the finished yarn. Maybe I should ply it with a solid, fairly dark neutral. The hank of roving is 100 grams. My single is fine, so the yarn is going to be lightweight.
Spinner readers, any suggestions?
Tonight is knit night. Jim is taking his motorcycle over to the dealer to get his Tour Pack installed and I am a bit leery of taking my car as the other day it acted as though the starter motor may be failing. I guess if it does, I’m only a few hundred yards from the Honda dealer and Jim can come get me after knitting in his car once he gets home on his bike.
Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family