Tag Archives: Teaching

5-12-2017 Olio

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Spring in the mountains brings 80ºf days with or without rain, followed by dull, gloomy 53º days with rain like today.  By the time the garden is dry enough to be worked, the unfilled beds will need major weeding.  This morning, another package of the heritage peas were purchased.  They are going to soak overnight in a bowl of water and be planted in all the empty spaces tomorrow with hopes that we will indeed have peas this year.  Perhaps a tunnel of plastic poultry net will be suspended over the top and sides in case it is critters getting them.

Before the threatened storms last night, I realized that the ten year old peonies finally decided to bloom this year.  The two open blooms were cut and brought inside in case we really got the threatened hail (we didn’t).


One benefit of the cool wet weather is that the planters of herbs on deck are thriving.


Some of these will go in the ground as a permanent herb garden if the bed ever gets prepared.  There are two more of the barrels with sage, flat leaf parsley, basil, and cilantro started from seed on another part of the deck.  I sure haven’t had to water this spring. The Iris blooms are beautiful.  Two of the ones added from our neighbor last year began to bloom this year, the third one, a reddish color didn’t come up.  I’m sure another start of it can be obtained once his are blooming and we can see which one to dig.  Most of mine and the daylilies  will need to be divided this summer.  Perhaps the divisions can be used to naturalize the driveway bank along with some more Forsythia rootings.

Yesterday was a delightful day.  Smithfield Plantation House had 3 classes of 4th graders scheduled for tour and I was asked to come spin if available.  As my location is in the summer kitchen/slave cottage, the opportunity to be part of the tour excited me.  With one of my antique wheels there, carders to demonstrate fiber prep, several different heritage wools to show off and pulling from the never dying teaching skills, the classes got a lesson in where the food came from, how it was prepared, where the fiber came from and how it was used.



With a class at a time, sitting on the floor around me, engaged groups of 10 year olds were questioned, shown equipment, handled wool and yarn, saw two types of spinning wheels, the Appalachian Rocker Loom, old style shears, and a 150+ year old spinning wheel in use, and the iron pots and storage crockery of an 18th century summer kitchen.  A teacher may retire, but the desire to teach stays on.

A busy summer is approaching with fiber retreats for me, HOG rally for Jim, a music weekend for both of us, and ending with a cruise in the fall.  In the mean time, garden  work is scheduled if it will ever dry out.

The coop got cleaned out between storms, but straw hasn’t been purchased to put clean bedding down, and with the rain, the chicks are still crowding on the perches in Huck’s coop each night.  The double fence idea is still lurking if the weather will break to allow a better assessment of the situation.

The painful knee has behaved for the past couple of days.  Hopefully to stay calm and allow the hike with son’s family in mid June.

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.

Teaching 1


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.


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.


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.