Tag Archives: Spinning

Olio-4/7/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

This week has drifted by in a dizzy dream.  It brought two Doctor’s visits,  First to the G.P. as fairly constant headache and periodic bouts of dizziness that began after our accident have continued to plague me.  This visit they confirmed that I indeed suffered a concussion in the accident and have Post Concussive Syndrome.  As I already had an eye appointment scheduled for Friday, they gave me a prescription to help with the headache and dizziness, but it just makes me want to sleep and dizziness and hypotension are side effects, so how is it supposed to help with dizziness if it causes dizziness.  BPPV therapy may be in order down the road.

The eye Doctor visit showed enough change in my prescription in a year to warrant new glasses, some increased cataract in my left eye which could be concussion caused or just time related, but not enough to do anything about it, but I failed the eye to brain testing, so more testing and possible therapy as well.  I’m pretty much over it.  Tomorrow is 2 months since we were hit.

As being on the computer, reading, and bending down all trigger the dizziness, I have not been on the computer much and really want to get the garden ready, but have to pick “good” days and limit my bending.

Spinning and knitting don’t seem to bother me, perhaps because the current knitting project is garter stitch and Old Shale Lace which is almost as mindless, so I don’t have to constantly look at it.

The shawl is a half Shetland Hap, but is being knit with the yarns I have spun for Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em.

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For my spinning, I have been washing, then combing and spinning a little Jacob raw fleece.  The skein I have worked on this week is the darker colors pulled out and spun separately.

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Last weekend, one of my reenactor friends that works with leather made scabbards to protect my baskets and self from the sharp tines of my wool combs when I am carrying them to events.

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This week, some of the soap from the many batches was packaged and delivered to two of the local museums for sale there.

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About midweek, one of the Olive Egger pullets began to lay, in 4 days we have gotten 3 tiny pullet eggs.  The photo shows one compared to a brown egg from the Farmers’ Market.

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The week has been mild, with some rain on Friday and more due this evening and tomorrow, but last night was nice enough to grill out and eat on the new deck.  A pleasure that I missed while the deck was down.  Ranger and I spend a part of most days sitting in the sun back there.  Soon it will be summer and too hot to sit there and we will move to the shaded front porch, but for now it is delightful.

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Life goes on here in the mountains. For the time being, posting on the computer will be infrequent, but we are improving.

History Day – March 20, 2019

Today was a history day.  A local elementary school brought their 5th graders to Wilderness Road Regional Museum for a field trip.

When I first started doing living history, I had no costume and didn’t want to spend a fortune on one.  At the time I was spinning a castle style wheel and spun in my stocking feet, so shoes were not an issue.  I bought a petticoat and shift from Etsy, later a kerchief, mob cap, and bodice also from Etsy and I was okay with the look as was the venue where I did most of my events.  I had gotten a bed gown from Ebay, but it really didn’t fit well and is heavy, so not good in hot weather, so I rarely wore it.  Then I joined a local Rev War militia group and my costume needed tweeking.  My petticoat was a checkered pattern cotton with a gathered waist (wrong print, fabric, and style), the shift really isn’t quite the right style, the kerchief is the wrong fabric, and the bodice is a no-no.  To work on upgrading, I purchased a couple yards of navy linen and made the pleated petticoat, it really feels better than the yards of gathered cotton.  Another half yard of natural colored linen was hand hemmed into a proper kerchief.  The bedgown was dragged out, adjusted a bit (plus I’ve lost some weight), so it was wearable.  A new handmade shift is on order from a sutler, but you can’t see it under my gown and kerchief so I went with the old one today.  The other items that needed upgrade are shoes which were ordered, but not available for 60-90 days, so my Berkeley style slipper shoes with rubber soles will have to do for now; and glasses.  My glasses are the wrong shape and size and my prescription won’t work in the small round shape that is period correct.  I can function without them if I don’t have to drive, operate machinery, or read, so I will just go without.  Somewhere along the way at an event, I purchased the flat shallow straw hat that is period correct and adorned it with a handwoven tape.

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This morning, all decked out with spindle wheel, baskets of breed samples and ID cards, fiber, wool combs and cards, lucets, box loom, and knitting I set up at the museum in the outdoor kitchen.  Also outside of the museum were a militia reenacter with his kit, making mini balls over his fire and firing off his muskets, and a blacksmith.  The 4 groups of kids saw a film in the museum, walked over to the old jail, spent time with each of the demonstration stations.  The kids were awesome and though the outdoor kitchen was chilly, there were breaks where I could sit in the sun and warm my fingers.

The more I do this, the more I learn from using different equipment to the history and the better I become at drawing in the audience with questions and discussion, not a lecture.  The fiber arts are fascinating, the area is ripe with history, and the audience, especially kids are awed when they realize that household linens and goods, as well as clothing were hand spun and hand woven prior to the advent of the spinning and weaving mills, and really how recently in history that was.

What an exciting and delightful experience this has become.

Olio – 3/9/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Last weekend was the twice a year Fiber Retreat that I attend each February/March.  The group was a bit smaller this time, but the company was fun, the food was good (they finally got a restaurant manager that knows what she is doing), and it was a pretty good vending event.

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I came home with a Jacob pelt to sit on, especially when I am on a hard chair at Living history events or retreats.

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Additionally, I came home with a gift of 5 raw fleeces, two are Jacobs, one of my new favorites from Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em.  Some of the fleeces are going to be shared with a friend that raises Mohair goats, but at least one Jacob is going to be processed by me when I finish spinning my 15 breeds.

Prior to leaving, a new found social media friend and I were talking and she makes felted hats among other things.  Several years ago, I walked away at SAFF from a felted hat that I adored and have regretted it since.  Friend says she can make me one.  Some back and forth over style and color and since I wanted to use one of my woven tapes for the hat band, a price was set and this arrived shortly  after my return.

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What fun to wear.  Such a great purchase.

The week has been spent continuing to recover from our auto accident.  We each had another visit with our physician and each had another orthopedic manipulation done to try to loosen up the tight soreness from the whiplash and another discussion about how long the brain fog, headaches, and dizziness when I bend down will last from the concussion.  It is such a hassle to deal with the discomfort and all the insurance issues when we were not at fault.  The car is in the shop and is supposed to be ready by Monday afternoon more than a month after the accident.

The week has also been spent doing some spinning, finishing two more breeds for the challenge and spinning up a “black” Rambouilett Dorset few ounces and an orange Coopworth few ounces that I had planned to ply together, but didn’t like the way the sample looked knitted, so they were plyed on themselves.  The other two spun were Tunis, originally from Tunisia, and Black Welsh Mountain originally from Wales.  The Black Welsh Mountain is on the threatened list and the Tunis is on the watch list from the Livestock Conservancy.

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Currently I am spinning Hog Island, origin Britian and US and Florida Cracker, origin Spain, both on the critical list.  My last breed to make 15 is going to be Cotswold and it is on it’s way to me via mail.

Yesterday we awoke to it snowing and though the roads never really got bad, we had a few inches.  Some of the daylilies had broken ground and their tender tips got burned.  They will recover with spring thinking about making it’s way to the mountains.  The Autumn Joy didn’t seem to mind the snow.

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For the past couple of months, the kitchen sink drain has been sluggish.  I have tried all of the “natural” cures, baking soda and vinegar; washing soda and boiling water to no avail.  Last night while cleaning up from dinner, it didn’t drain and sat with a couple of inches of water in it all night.  This morning, I poured a cup or so of vinegar into the standing water and we went out to breakfast and the Farmers’ Market.  On the way home, a stop at the hardware store and a 15′ drain snake was purchased.

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Though I have done other plumbing repairs including removing a toilet, clearing it and reinstalling it with a new wax ring when our youngest (now in his 30s) tried to flush a Burger King Capital Critter unsuccessfully), installing a new garbage disposal in a house about 30 years ago, clearing P traps and tub drains, this was my first experience with the snake, fortunately not requiring any real contortions due to continued soreness.  There is now one in the house for future use and I feel more confident in its use.

Old Dog, New Tricks – 3/4/2019

The saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  I am trying to prove that adage incorrect.

One of the breeds that I ordered for Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em was raw Florida Cracker.  Not having much success in the past with raw fiber, I was determined and watched several YouTube videos, talked with some more experienced folks and tackled the job.  Four washings, several rinses, a good drying, and I had a box full of locks with lots of tips that were tightly and stiffly bound together.

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I don’t own combs or a drum carder, just hand cards and a blending board with an extra flicker brush.

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Last night, I tackled the box and started producing rolags.  Now mind you, I am no expert with the hand carders, I “use” them when doing demonstrations for living history as a spinner, usually only having roving on hand and pretending to prepare the wool into rolags from which I then spin.

My first card full left me with hard tips still in the rolag, FAIL.  Then I started opening the tips with the flicker, turning the lock around to loosen the cut end and filling the carder.  I was producing rolags, not very pretty, but usable.

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The fiber releasing quite a bit of grit as I card it, but is spinning into a nice even relatively fine singles.  The finished yarn is going to need not just a soak after finishing, but a good wash.

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I think my next fiber preparation equipment is going to be combs.

Lesson learned is that you can teach an old dog new tricks, but more practice is needed.  I have a raw Jacob fleece awaiting my new skills.

Fiber and Fun – 3/3/2019

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em – 2/7/2019

I am a spinner, both drop spindle and on one of my 4 wheels that range from ancient to less than a year old.  I started spinning about a decade ago only on drop spindles and using easy to spin, clean, dyed wool and silk.  My knowledge of wool was that it came from sheep, little did I know how many different breeds of sheep there were and how different the properties of their wool varied.  Along the way, I did get introduced to Alpaca and helped with a couple of shearings, being rewarded with some of the fiber to spin.  Alpaca lacks the lanolin of sheep wool and is easier to clean and can be spun directly from the dirty locks and then washed as yarn.  But I prefer wool and have had my preference for the breeds that I spun.

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A couple of years ago, there was a new vendor at the weekly Farmer’s Market and she had yarn and roving as part of her goods.  The wool was a breed I had not spun, in fact, had never heard of and I made a new friend and learned about the breed that was on the Livestock Conservation list, Leicester Longwool.  I enjoyed spinning the wool I bought from her sheep being raised locally.  I have been to their farm, visited with their critters last spring when there were lambs bouncing around and one little beauty being bottle fed as she had been rejected by her mom.

This friend asked me this past late summer if I had any interest in participating in a project that the Livestock Conservancy was putting together that would allow using fiber from threatened sheep breeds.  This was perfect timing as there was so much contention with the anti wool ads that were being publicized. I said yes and she said she would share the information when it was getting going.  She did, the idea that you purchase a minimum of 4 ounces of wool or yarn, spin, knit, crochet, needle felt, or otherwise produce something with the wool.  When the wool is purchased, you get a sticker, and that sticker goes into a passport book that you get for registering as a fiber artist with the program.  The program is scheduled for three years and to earn a prize, you have to use at least 5 of the 22 Conservation Priority breeds.  I fell in hard and immediately ordered several wools I had never spun and finished the first 3 before I could even officially register to get my passport.

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The first three I spun were Jacob, Navajo Churro, and Shetland.  Shetland is the only one I had previously handled.  I enjoyed all three of these, really falling in love with Jacob.  As I started the fourth, Karakul, they opened the registration and I quickly sent my $15 to get the passport, a lapel pin, and more information which I am anxiously awaiting the arrival.

Last night I finished the Karakul, an ancient Asian breed that as lambs have a decent fleece, it is a primitive breed with a double coat and as they age, the coat often gets fairly coarse.  It is the wool of Persian rugs.  The Karakul 4 ounces was interesting to spin, feeling much like spinning flax or a horse’s tail, but the whole purpose of this is to experience the different breeds and to support them as they are all in need of conservation.

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Many of the fiber providers offer a breed card with information on the breed and how to spin it and some have offered small samples from a sheep of the same breed, but a different color than the one ordered.  I am using the card to hold a bit of unspun fiber, a bit of spun yarn, and either using the sample to make a mini skein or just winding off a few yards of the spun yarn to make a mini skein that I will be able to use when I do demonstrations or teach camps to show the different textures and natural colors of these Conservation Priority breeds.

My fifth breed, Romeldale CVM is currently being spun.  In my basket are Tunis, Clun Forest, Leicester Longwood (from my friend), Gulf Coast Native (which is raw and has to be washed and carded but also from a local farm), and on order is Lincoln.

My goal is to try to obtain and spin all 22 breeds within the three years.  The ones that aren’t so coarse that they must be felted or made into rugs, will be knitted into a blanket, probably a log cabin blanket for our log home.

Supporting this endeavor, the shepherds that raise these sheep, and helping to dispel the horrible inaccurate ads that shearing is wrong is such a delight.  Thank you shepherds for keeping my wheels and hands busy and helping the public see that fleece comes from a sheep, not a roll of plastic cloth.

Olio – January 26, 2019

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

This past week has been bitter and sweet.  A  Redtailed Hawk discovered my pullet pen and early in the week, killed and took one of my Mottled Javas.  The pullets are about 11 or 12 weeks old now and have some size on them, but not enough to fight off a hawk.  Because of the cold, I left them cooped up the next day and spent an afternoon building a bird net cage using the 4 foot high fence and 7 foot poles, rope, and zip ties to secure it.  Last night when I went out to close up the coop for the night, the hawk was inside the net and a second Java was dead.  In the hawk’s panic to escape me, it flew through the net and out, leaving the pullet.  I considered going out today and getting a 10′ by 10′ dog run that is 6′ high that I could put a tarp or wire top on, but they are hard to come by this time of year and weigh almost 300 lbs.  A friend with a stock trailer and truck offered to help bring it here if I could find one.  Instead, some of the unused garden fencing was cut to 8′ long panels and secured across the top of the existing fence with a garden pole in the middle to help support it.  The panels were overlapped by about 8 inches and zipped tied together every foot.  When the last panel nearest the coop was ready to secure, it was tied to the previous panel then folded up to give me enough room to get to the pop door.  An arch of fencing was stapled to the side of the coop and the front of the coop and secured to the fence on the side and the last panel.  That gives me room to get in and around the coop, but will require crawling under the low part if necessary.  My hands and feet are frozen, but hopefully, the littles are safe from the hawk now.

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It isn’t pretty, but hopefully it will keep them safe.

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They were glad to be released to the sun.  Maybe this spring, a proper, secure run can be built.

The sweet side of the week involves crafting.  There is a project called Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em to support the conservation of threatened breeds of sheep.  Fiber raisers and fiber artists are encouraged to participate.  This week, I have ordered and received 4 packages of roving from different breeders, 4 ounces each of Jacob, Navajo Churro, Shetland, and Romeldale CVM, and arranged to get 4 ounces of Leicester Longwool from a breeder friend who is participating.

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Two of the breeders have provided extras, like samples of other sheep or a pen with their farm info on it.

Fiber has to be spun, photographed and submitted, yarn must be knitted, crocheted, or needle felted, photographed and submitted. It is a three year project and once you have 5 breeds done, you can submit for a prize.  After I finish spinning mine, I plan to knit a log cabin blanket with my 15 breeds.

Though I started collecting my breeds, I had some other spinning projects to finish before I could begin.  I had a 2 ounce braid I was spinning on drop spindles that I wanted to finish.  It was plyed and produced 166 yards of fingering weight yarn that is a very soft wool and silk.  There was some Alpaca and Merino that needed to be finished and I got it done as well.

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The week was also used to dye some fiber for sale in my shop.

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And finally beginning to spin one of conservation breeds, starting with the Jacob.

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The past week has been very cold and the forecast is for potential record breaking cold this week and possibly another light snow.  I need day that is mild and dry to finish trimming some of the fence edges.

Winter is not the time to take care of the outdoor tasks, but  they need to be done.  I’d rather be indoors, cooking and baking bread like I got to do yesterday before realizing that my pullet run was not as secure as I had hoped.  Tomorrow, I am fixing dinner for family and will make more bread for them to enjoy with dinner and take home for the week.

Fiber Fun – Jan. 17, 2019

The past few days have been stay in and play with fluff days.  With one of the fiber retreats coming up in late February, I decided to dye some of the Merino that I acquired last summer after jointly sending two fleeces off  for processing.  Using my soap pots and food safe dye, I dyed three 4 oz braids.  Today they were dry and labelled.

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With them is a 205 yard skein of  Merino/Alpaca yarn that I spun that will go with 2 other 200+ yard skeins.  There are 3 more braids of Merino and one of Cormo to dye.  All of these will be for sale at the retreat.

Yesterday, two of my wheels, a bag and basket of fiber, tools, and drop spindles made by me were hauled over to Wilderness Road Regional Museum.  The museum is closed in the winter except for appointments, but three of the volunteers had been asking for spinning lessons and I went to provide some instruction.  They were each given a length of roving and a drop spindle and started on some basic drafting and spinning techniques after some wool sampling. They were then given the opportunity to work with one of the wheels, the walking wheel that I repaired there and my wheels.

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It was a fun time, spreading the knowledge.  After the lesson, another of the great wheels in the museum was repaired by me, so now two of the wheels there are functional.  A spindle has been ordered by me to repair the third walking wheel displayed there.  Having three functional great wheels there will mean I don’t have to haul mine over there for events.

Today, the ice from last weekend’s storm had mostly melted away, except for sheltered and shaded areas, like right in front of our garage, so we left to run errands and get groceries.  While we were out it started to snow again and the predicted trace was rapidly accumulating.

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We got home to this around 2:30 p.m. and by dark there were several inches on the ground and wintery mix to top it overnight.  We may awake tomorrow to a repeat of the weekend.  Sunday is supposed to start in the low 40’s and fall all day to 7ºf with a very cold Monday.

Recently, I signed up for a three year program called Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em, a project to promote threatened, endangered breeds of sheep.  Shepherds that raise those breeds join and sell fleece, processed fiber, or yarn and fiber artists spin, knit, crochet, felt, weave at least 4 ounces of as many of the breeds as they can obtain. I ordered 4 ounces of Jacob roving, a threatened breed from Hobbyknob Farm.  It arrived today and I spun the 1 ounce tri color part of it this evening.

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There is a 3 ounce bump of gray roving to spin.  The Tri color spun to 64 yards of delightful fingering weight yarn.  Once the gray is spun, both will be knit into Fingerless mitts and a hat.

Today, I ordered 4 ounces of Romeldale CVM, another threatened breed from Marushka Farm.  It is fun to explore spinning and knitting some breeds that I have not previously used and supporting the continuation of these breeds.

Tomorrow, if the weather conditions and roads permit, we will drive back to Wytheville and I will put leathers and a drive band on the Great Wheel at the Edith Bolling Wilson Museum and try to get it functional.

Olio – January 5, 2019

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

Wow, that is the first time I have had to write 2019!  The days whiz by and suddenly it is the next year.  As a child, the years went by so slowly, and now they fly by before I have adjusted to it being a new one.

For the first time in what seems forever, we have sunshine.  The morning began bleak, rainy, and very windy.  We braved mixed winter precipitation to go to town and get breakfast and see what vendors came out for the winter Farmers’ Market.  The January to April markets are informal, the vendors being allowed to park their trucks and vans in parking spaces that are closed off and occupied by other vendors during the high season markets.  The morning goal was some pork, eggs, and breads and all were obtained before heading to the grocer for the non local needs.

The chicks are 9 weeks old tomorrow, so we have at least 14 or 15 more weeks before we will start seeing eggs from them.  Their adult plumage is developing and though not a heritage flock, they will be pretty and there will be a variety of egg colors from green, dark brown, medium brown, and light tan.  They have figured out the big girl feeder and the big girl water dispenser and are not afraid of the pop door to the outside anymore.  The first day they stayed inside, the next day most were escorted out by me and that night 5 of them were found huddled in an empty feed bucket under the coop.  Now, all of them can find their way out and back inside at night, though they wait until it is nearly dead dark to go in.

The Christmas week brought much family time.  We had an Italian style meal on Christmas eve with daughter’s family at her home, awoke to the empty house on Christmas day.  We celebrated quietly, having Huevos Rancheros and sausages for hubby and exchanging our gifts.  Christmas Day, daughter’s family came here for a mid afternoon turkey and ham dinner.  The next day, eldest son and eldest grandson came to celebrate and work on the deck.

Wanting to expand my fiber tools, I had asked for a 5 foot tri-loom and easel which I gladly received.

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Once I figured out how to assemble it, You Tube was visited to watch weavers using one.  There are several methods.  The first one I tried was called continuous loop weaving. You never cut your yarn weaving across and up and down by weaving the strand with a hook.

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The first triangle is a generous shawl  made with two skeins of my hand spun yarn, a very smooth Corriedale and a very textured blend of Merino, Tencel, and Mohair locks plyed with Wooly Nylon, a stretchy thin thread.  It was challenging as the textured yarn wanted to grab the other yarn and itself.  Once it was off the loom, I decided to make one to wear when I am doing the living history events on cool days.   It is being done with cut strand method and weaves on the diagonal.

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While trying to get it done for an event tomorrow, I was also trying to get a pair of fingerless mitts finished as well as I will be selling knitted and woven goods at Old Christmas at Wilderness Road Regional Museum and demonstrating spinning tomorrow.

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They were finished except for weaving in the ends while being passenger to breakfast, Farmers’ Market, and the grocery.  There are less than 20 rows to go on the shawl, so hopefully it will be woven though not washed and blocked for tomorrow.  It is my hand spun Coopworth from Hearts of the Meadow Farm.

I must admit, that weaving up my hand spun uses it much more quickly than knitting up the same amount of yarn.

As for the week after Christmas, eldest son and grand worked together to put the Trex surface boards on the deck.

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We are excited to be able to safely go out the French Doors of the dining room and not have a one story fall.  The deck surface and stairs are done.  The surface is maintenance free.  Unfortunately, the rails did not arrive in time for installation then, but they have now arrived and are due to be delivered this week.  When he has time, eldest will return and put up the railings, balusters, and post caps.  When the pressure treated posts have dried, they will be painted to match the railing and will be the only part of the deck that will require maintenance of repainting periodically.

While we were sorting tools, putting away cords, he and I tackled phase one of a major garage cleaning and reorganization, labeling boxes that contain power tools, making a pile of tile and metal fittings, Trex scraps, and other items to keep.  Most of that was moved to the barn today.  More will be moved another day and once the deck is done, the garage sorted out the rest of the way, a barn organization is in order.  It has become a repository of building materials, building equipment, and miscellaneous other stuff.  Some of it needs to go home with it’s owner, some can be sold or given away, some just needs to be straightened up so we can find it when a job needs it.  Some of the tile that was moved can be used to replace the water damaged bamboo floor in front of the walkout basement door.  That is another task for another time.

Back to weaving or the shawl won’t be done.  I hope you had a great holiday season and have faced the new year with hope and strength.

A Month on the Farm – 12/20/2018

Tomorrow marks the first official day of winter and the shortest day of the year here on the farm, though the meteorologic winter began weeks ago.  I’m ready for the days to lengthen.  Being much a creature of natural light cycles, I awake each day around 5 or 5:15 a.m., but don’t want to get up and disturb the household until the sky starts to lighten in the east.  By sundown and full on dark, I am ready to snuggle in for the night, trying to stay up and awake with night owl hubby at least until 10 or 10:30 p.m., often to fall asleep in my chair before drifting off to bed.

The month has been a whirlwind with 5 craft markets in 5 weeks that require loading and unloading the set up and product from the car.

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This Saturday is the last one for the year with no more until spring.

The month also has included 3 Christmas celebrations, two in costume at Wilderness Road Regional Museum for their music, Christmas treats, and evening lighted tours as I spun on a beautiful old Walking Wheel that with a tiny bit of TLC by me, now works.

Wilderness Road spinning

I love this photo with the shadow of the wheel on the wall.  This one is credited to April the organizer of the events.  There will be one more on Old Christmas that I will also attend in costume.  The third celebration was with the spinning group to which I belong.  I have not been a very good participant of late with everything else going on, but made a point of joining them for that as many folks that don’t get to come regularly come for this event and I enjoy seeing my friends.  I hope to get back to the weekly spin days after the holidays.

The month provided another challenge as I bought a dozen winter chicks about 4 1/2 weeks ago.  They were fortunately already 2 weeks old and beginning to feather out.  The “brooder” I use is a huge 110 gallon flexible plastic stock tank with a heat table for warmth.  Not a fan of having the birds in the house, the stock tank is in the garage on a carpet covered platform about 4 inches off the ground.  It was cold when we brought them home and ended up adding a 250W red heat lamp and covering half of the top with a mylar sheet to help retain the heat.  This was functioning okay until we were threatened with and received more than a foot of snow.  Wet snow this time of year often results in loss of power, so the brooder was dragged around the back of the house and into the walk out finished basement where there is a wood stove, before the snow began.  The stove was kept going until we were sure the power was not going out, about 3 days.

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The snow was beautiful and before it was totally gone, the brooder was loaded onto a sled and dragged back to the garage.  By Monday, the littles were 6 weeks old, fully feathered and too big for the stock tank, so the thoroughly cleaned coop was layered with about a foot of straw and they were moved to tough it out without the benefit of supplemental heat.  We have had several very cold nights and all is well in the coop.  The basement then received a deep cleaning to remove the dust from having the chicks indoors for a week.

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I am working on teaching them to use the adult no waste feeder and no waste waterer, while providing the hanging feeder as well.  They are beginning to get their adult colorations.  By mid week next week they should know that food and water are in the coop and that is where to return when hungry and at night and they will be let out into the run.  I fear they are still small enough to get through the holes in the fence though and I don’t like to panic them by trying to catch them but until they will follow me back to the run for treats, they can’t free range.

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This view if you have followed the blog for long, often appears.  The end of that ridge in the distance drops to a gap to the New River.  That view is one of my favorites from the farm and it was just over 13 years ago that we saw this property for the first time in early December.  By January, it was ours to plan and build on.  If you can love a property in the bleak of winter, you can really love it anytime.

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The deck progressed in the past month as well, with a Thanksgiving weekend being spent by son and daughter in law preparing it for the decking, rails, and balusters.  Those materials are to be delivered tomorrow and by the first of the year, hopefully, we will be able to safely step out of the French doors of the dining room onto a solid surface, not a one story drop.  It is deceptive as the stairs come down on a flat created and held in place by a gorgeous stone retaining wall.  The deck itself is one story up from the grade below.

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With the prep for Christmas, the various events, cooking for family for Thanksgiving and preparing to cook for Christmas, little knitting or spinning have been done except for two pair of wool socks for a tiny farmer, the toddler son of one of the regular vendors at the market.  They have been knit this week after she asked last Saturday.  I hope they fit the little guy and can be passed down to his baby brother in another couple of years.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas or other seasonal holiday of this time of year and a Happy New Year.