Tag Archives: Spinning

It’s Back!

It has snowed all day.  Nothing is sticking, it is mountain snow showers, but the high was at 7 a.m. and it was below freezing then.  The wind has howled all day long.  This weather system according to NOAA is the system that spawned the major snowstorm up the east coast of the US.  And yesterday it was in the upper 60’s.

My new parka has been most welcome today, as this was school and preschool days, a book reserved at the library arrived and needed to be collected, parts to fix the kitchen faucet came in, a special order from the grocer also arrived, plus it was Spinning Group day and one of my fellow en-actors at Smithfield House Plantation was coming to give me a lesson on how to warp the backstrap loom that was acquired a few months ago.  The spinning group was large and boisterous, having a lot of fun while D and I sat on the floor and got the loom set up and got me started with weaving on it.

Because of the arthritis from old shoulder and wrist injuries, drop spindle spinning, my portable spinning has had to be curtailed.  There is another type of portable spinning that involved a spindle that is supported in a bowl or dish in your lap or on a low table and my interest in learning this has been piqued.  One style was purchased online, then a different style was found on the fiber social network, and in inquiring about purchasing it, found out the gal selling lives just a few minutes from eldest son.  We already have a weekend trip to see them scheduled for this weekend, so I will get to meet this other spinner who is also homesteading a small acreage and pick up the spindle directly from her.  What a fun coincidence.

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The bottom one is the one we will pick up Saturday.

Olio – February 3, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

If Phil had come out today instead of yesterday, he would not have seen his shadow.  It is thick and gray.  It looks like it could snow, but there is none in the forecast.  Even the weekend storm threat has dissipated, so there should be no missed school next week.  It is cold, each day this week has been colder by 10 or more degrees than the day before.  It was near the upper 60’s on Tuesday and it won’t reach freezing today with a low in the shivering teens.  We have had wind this week too, though today is calm.  One day, the wind took out our power for nearly 7 hours before they found the tree on the line and did some major pruning about a mile down the road.

With the lengthening daylight hours, the hens are picking up egg production.  Yesterday there were 5 eggs out of the 7 hens.

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It amuses me to see the variation on the size and color of the eggs from the Buffys.  The top two right and the bottom left are all Buff Orpington eggs.  The top left is the Americauna and the bottom right is the Americauna/Buff Orpington cross.  The seller of the Buff Orpington pullets that were to increase the flock must not really be interested in selling as they have not gotten back with me though they have email and phone number to arrange the sale and pick up.  Hopefully the girls will  be prolific this year and provide us with enough chicks to replenish the predator loss and still give us enough for the freezer.

The Fibonacci Infinity scarf is still growing.

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There is a 13 row white repeat to go, then pick up the blue with the white and finally the blue with the merlot.  It is already as long as my legs and very heavy due to it being a tube.  It will definitely be a warm scarf.  The silk cowl at the top is growing, it is about 70% done, only getting attention when I am the car passenger instead of the driver.

The Leicester Longwood, a bit finer than the yarn for the scarf is on the wheel.  Hopefully, it will make a knitted fabric that is more sweater friendly after a swatch or two trying different needles.  This week, my Spanish Peacock drop spindle went to a new home as it caused too much strain and pain in my shoulders.  The proceeds from that sale bought a new supported spindle and bowl.  That is a learning process and some of the soft California Red roving is being used to learn. This still allows for portable spinning with less strain on the shoulders and elbows.

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This is definitely a learning curve.  The spindle spins nicely, but my drafting of the fiber is still very inconsistent and trying to avoid the park and draft technique makes it more of a challenge.

Still loving life on our farm.

 

Flexibility

The best made plans sometimes go astray.  We had planned a week long trip to Colorado in early February to stay with cousins and ski.  Bought the airfare in October, reserved ski rentals, then a medical issue arose and the trip had to be cancelled.  The cancellation of the ski rentals was easy.  The airfare, not so much.  We had paid extra for the insurance that assured us that in case of a medical issue, the airfare would be refunded, after all, we are senior citizens. NOT! It can be refunded if the medical issue precludes travel at all, certified by the doctor, not just if the reason for the trip has been forbidden by the doctor.  We now have airfare for 2 that must be used before a year from the date of the original ticket purchase.

Okay, so we start looking for other options.  One option requires us to have current passports.  Ours are expired.  We were going off to get our photos retaken in a few days, the paperwork was all filled out, and the entire senior staff of the State Department walked out.  Guess that will delay things there for a while.

My spinning group meets on Thursdays.  Getting there was already a bit of a challenge for me because we pick up granddaughter at preschool at 12:15-12:30 window, she must be fed, and there is no way to get home and back to town again in time which means taking two cars to town, but one of the cars has been acting up of late.  Sometimes it just won’t start, not a grind, click, anything.  The dash lights come on, the radio works, the battery indicator is strong, it just won’t start, but not consistently and the dealer can’t duplicate it to repair so we have been hesitant to drive it much.  We were going to today anyway so I could go spin and socialize, but then we got a call that grandson had to be picked up at school and granddaughter is supposed to be napping.  Another plan foiled.

Instead, of socializing with the other spinners, I am sitting home spinning my Leicester Longwood and knitting a cowl from the silk that I spun a couple of weeks ago.  I just couldn’t put it in my shop, it called to me to make something luxurious just for me.

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Sometimes, we just have to be flexible.

Tools of the Trade

In addition to keeping the household of 4 adults, 2 children, 3 big dogs, 3 cats running, raising chickens for our  eggs and some meat, making soap, balms, salves, and beard products for my online shop and craft shows, I love fiber arts.  I sew, knit, crochet, and spin fiber into yarn for my own use and for sale in the shop and shows.

A couple of years ago, we were flying on a vacation, I took knitting with me to help occupy the time and keep me settled on the plane (I’m not a huge fan of flying).  The project that I took was  socks for one of the grandson’s for Christmas, Batman socks.  I had black and gold yarns and I wanted to put the Batman emblem on the cuff of each sock.  I rummaged through my bag and could not find a piece of graph paper though I usually carried a small graph paper notebook and ended up drawing a grid on the back of a receipt and graphing out the emblem.  Several days into the vacation, we were shopping in one of the native markets and I spotted a small woven fabric covered notebook cover with a graph paper pad in it.  It was inexpensive and I purchased one.  The pad got used up over time and I discovered that it was a non standard size and unavailable in the USA or on any online store I could scare up.  It was larger than the pocket Moleskine or Fieldnotes books, smaller than the medium Moleskine variety and it had to be side bound with staples, not a spiral.  The cover sat idle and empty, but I liked it.  Recently, it occurred to me that I could use the woven part of the cover and repurpose it with some added fabric to make it fit a standard size. My very talented and crafty sister in law was called on with several questions, many ideas, and finally, bravely, I cut the notebook cover in half, removed the binding, made a new liner, spine, and binding that enlarged it enough to handle a standard notebook.

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This required setting up the sewing machine and pulling out the sewing box. They are in the dormer in our bedroom where I have a handmade walnut table, pottery lamp, and shelving to store my yarn and fabric.

Compared to many of my friends in the fiber arts, I am a lightweight. Most of them have multiple wheels, looms, sewing machines. I do have two wheels or I will once the antique one has all of its parts back. But the rest of my equipment will fit into a tote bag.

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The Louët has a built in Lazy Kate for plying, but I don’t like it, so I use the one my son made me for Christmas.

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A swift and two different sized Niddy Noddys for winding yarn into skeins from a bobbin.

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And two different sized Lucets for making cord.

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An assortment of various drop spindles for portable spinning.

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Hand carders for combing unprocessed clean wool.

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A backstrap loom, that I need an instructor to teach me to set it up for weaving.

With one set of interchangeable knitting needles, one set of double pointed knitting needles in various sizes, a few fixed circular knitting needles, and several crochet hooks, I have all I need for spinning, sewing, knitting or crocheting.

It will all fit nicely in a beautiful hand made tote from a friend.

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Though I don’t carry it all with me, I could.

 

 

Olio

← First off.  As I am taking a long vacation from Facebook, I will not be posting the blog there,  so if  you want to keep up, I encourage you to subscribe from the link on the left.  I can not see who you are, only a number of subscribers as I can not see who you are on Facebook, unless you comment.  I enjoy seeing comments and try to respond to them on the blog.  You can use an anonymous tag line to comment. 

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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Now that the silk is spun, plyed, and ready to knit, I have returned to spinning Priscilla. She is a Leicester Longwool sheep that belongs to a friend, owner of Sunrise Valley Farm, raised locally.  I stumbled upon her delightful wool at our Farmers Market one Saturday morning.  I purchased a small bag of 8 ounces of the roving and fell in love. At the time I didn’t know it came from Priscilla, but after I bought the second 8 ounces, I was told and I asked for more.  I have spun many ounces, dyed some with Annatto seed and with Country Classics wool dye.

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The yellow gold and the lavender are some of what I dyed and the white is the natural roving.  Initially, my plan was to knit a Fair Isle pull over sweater to wear on a ski trip to Colorado this winter.  Those plans have had to be aborted and the yoke of the sweater was so heavy that the yarn was pulled out, rewound, and is now being worked into a Fibonacci Infinity Scarf instead.  You see the beginning of it in the photo above and more of it below.

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I am working the third sequence at this point and will switch to lavender and natural at the end of this sequence.  I am much more likely to wear the scarf than a very heavy sweater.

That said, I have enough of Priscilla to still knit a sweater for me, but I will use a different pattern and larger needles to make the fabric lighter and more drapey.

I have hopes that this spring, once the lambs are born, that I may have the opportunity to drive to the farm and see the lambs and perhaps finally meet Priscilla.  I was invited last year and never made it over.

Night before last, another friend, a country neighbor that is the lead blacksmith at the Smithfield Plantation House where I sometime get to spin, came over with his wife and he was able to straighten the metal crank part of my antique spinning wheel so that the vertical part of the footman no longer walks off when I treadle it.

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It still requires a leather washer, but each repair gets the wheel closer to being a working wheel.  The parts that I had to ship to Bobbin Boy have been repaired and are in the mail back to me.  I had hoped that they would have arrived today, but not yet. The split in the upright that hold the wheel has been glued and if that doesn’t hold, I will try some lashing near the point where the shaft of the wheel hub rests.  The last resort will be to ship that off to Bobbin Boy to have a new piece manufactured by them.

Today is another day of mud and gloom.  The prognosticators indicate that it may partially clear off this afternoon, but expect heavy rain on Sunday and Monday.  The chicken pen is a muddy mess, the coop not much better.  I think a bale of straw is needed in the coop instead of the pine chips I had to use last time I cleaned it, and a heavy layer of spoiled hay around the outside of the coop to try to tame the mud and muck.  To walk into the pen is taking your life in your hands right now as it is sloped, slick, and soft enough to suck your boots clean off.  Most of the spoiled hay that was put down after the snow has been scratched into the mud.

No more mice have been caught in the car fortunately, but with the wet warm weather, they are trying to get into the house now.  The utility room trap has been busy of late. This morning, after dropping granddaughter off at preschool, I stopped to get the oil changed in my old lady.  I’m really trying to keep her going over 200,000 miles and we are getting close to that.  She will be a dozen years old in a couple of months.  The mini lube place that I took her always try to sell you more services and when the guy brought the cabin filter in for me to see, it was truly fowled between the dusty road and driveway (when we aren’t in monsoon season) and the contributions from the mouse that I caught earlier in the week in the car.  They did vacuum the cab and remove the last remnants of the little mouse’s nest that I had removed prior to setting the trap.

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The young Buffy roo is testing his voice. I don’t name the hens, but I do name the king of the coop.  He is replaced each year or so as his spurs get long and dangerous and he gets more aggressive.  There is always a new cockerel out of the hatchlings that can be put in with the girls after breeding season, and the old tough guy goes to the stew pot at son’s house.  We have had B’rooster, Cogburn, and a couple others.  This guy is Mr. Croak.  Maybe his voice will mature, but now he sounds like an adolescent male whose voice cracks.  He is about 7 months old, beginning to show spurs, has a nice plume of a tail and a funny voice.

Sometimes We Need Luxury

Over the weekend, I began spinning a part of my Tailfeathers subscription from last year from Unplanned Peacock.  It was a generous 100 grams (actually more like 125 grams) of pure silk top.  The gorgeous colorway was called Sequoia, greens, a little yellow, some white.  I took my time spinning it, I wanted a thin, even, well balanced yarn.

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I started by dividing the top in half, hoping to get fairly equal bobbins of singles to ply.

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Once it was all spun, I was concerned that it wasn’t going to ply onto only one bobbin, but I spent the afternoon plying.  It was a soft as butter as it spun, a delight to handle.

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It was a full bobbin, very full and this is a truer representation of the color.  It is very even, fingering to baby weight and so soft.

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I ended up with 335 yards of delightful yarn.  It doesn’t have a plan, maybe it will go in the shop, maybe knit into a small shawl or cowl.  This was the second time I have spun silk, the first time was totally on one of my drop spindles.  Another lovely skein of yarn.

 

For the Love of Other Fiber Artists

Each day in the fiber arts brings new challenges.  Some of these challenges I can tackle on my own. Some I can toss out to local friends and be rewarded with answers. Sometimes, the challenge requires me to cast the net farther out into the world for advice and solutions.

My knitting guru moved back to Ohio, but she taught many of us in this area tricks we didn’t know and introduced me to many others in this area that are in the know.  My knitting needs are always met, if I can’t work it out on my own.

The spinning group members are all far better spinners than I and I am never wanting for help in that area either.  They each have their own styles and their own equipment preferences.  This group is further expanded through the 3 retreats that I attend each year.  It was one of those retreats that I learned to card fiber, thus allowing me to start blending my own colors and fibers.  One of the members of this group is also a spinning wheel dealer and can get the equipment for us, or help us with minor repairs.

One of the challenges that I have had to cast out into the world is help with the antique Amable Paradis spinning wheel that I purchased just before Christmas.  As I have mentioned in prior posts, it arrived Christmas eve and eldest son was here.  He and I tackled trying to put it back together based on the photo that was on Ebay as it came shipped in pieces.  We figured it out, but there were some problems.  The legs were loose, solved by using the waxed hemp and the video from Bobbin Boy.  The chips in the whorl and bobbin that would affect it’s ability to spin.  That is also being handled by Bobbin Boy and a second bobbin being made so I will be able to spin two bobbins and then ply them on my Louet.  Once the wheel was put together and stable, I realized that the footman, the peddle assembly that makes the wheel turn, hit the ground and prevented the wheel from continuing to turn.  This assembly is in two pieces, the horizontal part that the foot treadles on that pivots on two metal pins inserted into the front two legs, and the vertical rod that attached to the treadle by leather and to the wheel on a forged metal piece with a pin.

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The leather that held the vertical rod to the treadle was huge loose loop.  The leather was pretty dried out, but with some effort, I was able to work the knot free breaking off one end that was very dry and retying it as tightly as the two pieces of wood could be together.  This improved, but did not cure the problem.  It looked to me, that I needed about an inch or inch and a half more clearance for the mechanism to work properly.  I toyed with various ideas on how to raise the legs of the wheel that much without doing any damage or permanent change to the wheel and finally today, tossed the problem out to two forums on Ravelry, an international online social network of other fiber lovers.  I quickly got several responses to just cut off as much of the bottom of the rod as needed, redrill the hole, retie the leather and voila, it worked.  But . . .  Isn’t there always a but?  This lead to me realize another problem with this wheel, but one that I felt that I could manage a solution for myself.  When I treadled and the wheel turned as it was supposed to, the top of the rod would fall off of the pin in the forged metal part.

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This piece had a warp in it that causes the pin on which the rod rides to point slightly upward at the top and slightly downward at the bottom of its rotation.  Being forged, it isn’t going to bend, so a solution was needed to keep the rod in place.  The rod has a piece of leather tacked to the back side that may have taken care of this problem at some point, but the wear has caused the hole in the leather to become too large to hold on to the pin.  I have a thick leather belt that was a bit too long for me, so I cut the end off, drilled a hole a bit smaller than the pin and forced it on as a leather washer.  Problem solved for now.

Next up, the wheel is going to get a good cleaning and some lubrication and await the return of the parts from Bobbin Boy.  Each challenge gets me closer to thinking that I made a good purchase to use for spinning at the 17th century home or just for my own use here when I want something different.  I still need to get a handle on tying on the double drive belt and learning to spin with a double drive wheel.  Always something new to learn.

When Days Go Wrong then Right

My day was supposed to be a day when I got to sleep in (that means past 6:30 a.m.) as daughter was going to deal with the kiddos this morning and we were going to meet her to pick up granddaughter after the 5 year old wellness visit and daughter would go on to work.  At 7ish, Jim said, I don’t hear any movement downstairs, followed by daughter running for the bowl yelling up as she went to ask me to take over morning duties.  She either has food poisoning or a stomach virus.  I am sorry she is not feeling well today, but hopeful that it isn’t a stomach virus or we will all end up with it.  I took over the duties, got the kids up, dressed, fed, and delivered.  To add to the confusion, Jim had a PT appointment on the wall calendar, it was not on my electronic calendar, and he thought it was tomorrow, so he was up right with me to call the PT office to check on the date, the time we had.  That appointment was today which meant that he had to leave with me to deliver kids.  The wellness appointment had to be rescheduled as daughter wanted to be there for that.

Once she got to work today, she was going to have to teach a class and since work was totally out of the question for her today, she had to find someone else to teach the class and sent us two towns over with her materials for the class between dropping granddaughter at preschool and Jim to PT.

By then I was going full steam.  By the end of PT, it is nearly time to pick up granddaughter again and feed her lunch, which we did out to stay away from the house for daughter to rest and maybe us to stay away from the bug.

Once home, I worked on some silk I have been spinning.

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And continued to knit on the Fibonacci Infinity Scarf, now into the third color set and more than 20″ long.

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I read a chapter or two on No Man’s Land, David Baldacci before it is due back at the library.  Granddaughter was having her quiet time and Jim took some quiet time too.

When I went to pick up grandson at the bus stop, I picked up our mail and was pleased to find the 6th color for my scarf (peeking out from under the scarf) in the box along with the spool of waxed hemp from the bagpipe supply to tighten the fittings on my new/antique spinning wheel.

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The Mother of All, the two uprights that hold the flyer and bobbin were mailed off early in the week to Bobbin Boy for repair and refurbishing.  They directed me to a video on their Facebook page that showed me how to use the waxed hemp to tighten the joints where the legs insert into the table and where the uprights that hold the wheel also insert into the table.  All of these parts were loose which would prevent me from spinning on her once the repaired parts are returned.

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In making these repairs, I discovered a split in one of the uprights which disheartened me, but my choice was to either get a bit of good wood glue down in the split or have Bobbin Boy turn me a new piece.  I elected to try the wood glue first.  It is setting up now, so the wheel is sitting apart until tomorrow.  The legs no longer wobble, the footman stays in place, the uprights are tight in their fittings and I am hopeful that this wheel is going to be a gem.

So after a hectic start, the day ended up a crafty success.

Dinner has been prepped, eaten, and cleaned up and I am going to spend the rest of the evening, enjoying more crafting.

Accepting Failure

The Fair Isle sweater project would get picked up, half a row or a row stitched and then dropped back into the basket.  Each time I picked it up, I commented on how heavy just the yoke was and since we have had to cancel our ski trip and probably take that activity off our agenda in the future, I saw no time when wearing the sweater would happen.  The physical weight of the sweater was unbelievable.  If I lived in the Yukon, maybe it would have been appropriate.  Yesterday, I began to rip out the yoke, rewinding the hand spun yarn and trying to think of a project to use this beautiful yarn.  The natural and two of the colors are my hand spun and the two colors, hand dyed.  The remaining color from the sweater is beautiful hand dyed yarn from a friend, and I had another skein of her yarn in another color.  I found a pattern that intrigued me`Infinitely Fibonacci, a tube shaped loop scarf.  It requires 6 colors though and I only have 5.  I have a couple of skeins of my hand spun Leicester Longwool that I could dye, and my friend has several colors that might coordinate with my other colors.

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I decided that this would be the project to work on and when done, use the 6 colors to do a Fibonacci hat and mitts to match.  I started with Cari’s beautiful two skeins to do the first 11 sets of color stripes.  By the time I get the first 4 colors used, I will have obtained the 6th color.

I have a closet full of hand knit sweaters and maybe someday I will knit one of my hand spun that will both fit me and not weigh as much as a small child when complete.

When a project doesn’t work out, the yarn can still be enjoyed in another project.  Thus is the beauty of knitting.

Education for all

This has been a great weekend spent in the beautiful Smithfield Plantation House, an 18th century museum home in our region.  The restored, furnished home was decorated with period decorations for the Christmas season by one of the local garden clubs.  All of the decorations were for sale or through silent auction at the conclusion of this weekend.  The event was the Holiday Teas event, a conclusion to the touring season for the home.  The weekend relied heavily on the volunteers, as the decorations, the baked goods for the teas, servers, the interpretative tours, musicians, and craftsmen were all volunteer efforts.

This weekend, I was in the house spinning.  Because the drawing room was the location for the musicians, the lace maker, and hemp rope maker were in the downstairs bedroom and I set up in the dining room.  Being in one of the first rooms visited, I was able to listen to the historian talk about the local history, the house history, the Preston family, and the furnishings.

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I had been very generously given a raw Dorset fleece by a friend and fellow Smithfield volunteer for me to work with.  I had never worked raw fleece before, so it was a learning opportunity for me too.

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I took a bag of the dirty raw fleece with me to demonstrate where the process starts.  A hemp fiber bag of locks that I had washed was also taken, the locks were hand carded as needed and made into rolags and spun.

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The room lit only by daylight through the two windows and with small electric candles for safety, I could only work until about 4:30 before it got too dark to see.  Many visitors there for the music or the teas stopped by to watch and listen to my discussion of the breeds, the fiber, and the process.  Today was cold and wet, but the visitors just kept coming.

We are so fortunate to have this home in our area and so many people who give of their time for the good of this venue.  I feel fortunate to have been given the chance to be a part of this educational and historical opportunity and look forward to help out during the private and school tours during the winter and again during the tour season beginning in April.