Summer Dew Point

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Maple is not White

Today I am looking out the window, watching the leaves fall. This part of Minnesota is right on schedule this year with the Equinox. Autumn comes and the leaves start falling. Our ash tree is always the first to go, and this year she is almost empty already. Next the box elders, with yellow leaves and brown seeds. With a good wind, coming this afternoon, they will be empty too. Our American elms, mulberries and buckthorn are the last to go. I haven’t been down to the black willows to see how they are fairing. It’s too depressing. In a horrible wind storm last month, we lost the biggest and probably oldest of our black willows. We knew it was just a matter of time, but it is still hard to see something that tall and stately fall. Fortunately we had taken some branches this spring and have gotten 5 sapling black willows from him. So he will live on in our grove. It probably seems strange to some of you that we give personalities to our trees. But they are living things and when you spend as much time with them as we do; you start to think of them as family.

I want to share some promised photos with a blog friend. You might remember me talking about the Shetland fleece I got from Little Red Oak Farm. When perusing the Shetland blogs this spring, I ran across Gail’s. And feel head over heels in love with her little ewe Maple. I was lucky enough to get Maple’s fleece and have finally had time to work on it. And I promised Gail photos. So all you non-spinners please bear with me.

Looking at a photo of Maple, you would think the fleece was grayish brown. Nope. Cleaned up, Hubby said, “Oh, it’s just white.” But there is white and then there is white.
Not all White is White
White is not always white.
All you out there that spend hours going over paint chips know that there is no such thing as “just white”. There’s bisque, buff, cream, ecru, mushroom, oatmeal, biscuit, beige, lait, milk toast….and the list goes on forever. So I will try to describe this in my own way.
On the Combs
On the combs.
The combed wool has a sheen or luster to it that I have not ever seen on other wool. Is this a trait of Shetland or is it just Maple?
Nested and ready to spin.
The color is a warm, soft oatmeal (Yes, Renee, I can hear you laughing from here. But that’s just the way I’d write it up). And the waste that I have taken off the combs to be carded later is more of a mottled mushroom.
Ready to card
To be carded later.
I am more than pleased with this fleece. I am excited. I can’t wait to spin it up and knit something. So Gail, please, please, can I reserve Maples fleece for next year?

Then quickly, here’s a photo of the BFL, re-dyed and plied with the natural color.
I have to tell you, I am not impressed with this wool. I have heard such good things about BFL, but this yarn, to me, is course and stiff. Now, I bought the roving off line a couple of years ago, and have no idea of the origin. So is it 100% or is it blended? I don’t know. Next year I will get a fleece from a breeder that stands behind their wool, and try it one more time. But now I have to try to figure out something to do with this yarn. Any ideas?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Life's Lesson #..??

How many life lessons have I had? Oh, who knows.... Too many to count and some I don't want to share. But I will share this one with all the Majacraft spinners out there. I had wondered why I couldn’t find a lot of info on dyeing the spun yarn directly on the bobbins. Now I know. The beautiful rust colored bobbins that I showed you yesterday have been put on a niddy noddy. Majacraft Dyeing Lesson #1: The yarn does not dry very well on the bobbins. Majacraft Dyeing Lesson #2: The color does not, I repeat, does NOT go all the way through the yarn. So it is only dyed on the surface. Now this could be cool, if that’s what you wanted. But I wanted rust yarn to ply with gray. Not rusty gray yuck...

Ugly Yarn
What a disappointment.

And finally, Majacraft Dyeing Lesson #3: Have enough dye powder to re-dye, or better yet, just dye when the fiber is in a skein, as roving, or as locks. Perhaps Majacraft should take that off of their list of features. It doesn’t work. But I have nothing bad to say about the spinning of my Belle. I still love this spinning wheel.

On a better note: Hubby was watching the hummers and saw a little female trying desperately to get nectar from his silk flower art. So he quickly set up a new feeder, getting buzzed all the time and now she has her own. And she guards it diligently.

Silk Flower Hummer
Are we spoiling them? Of course.

And here’s a couple of photo’s of Hubby’s new obsession. Searching the grove for varieties of fungus. And he has found some beauties.

Orange and Yellow Mushroom
No, the photo is not upside down. This tiny mushroom is hanging from the log.

Dessert Plate Mushrooms
These are the size of dessert plates.

We have no idea what any of these are. But that doesn’t stop us enjoying their beauty. I wish you could come and explore the grove with us.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another Week Gone

It’s been a good week. I’ve been too busy to write, but we have gotten so much done. And we actually had some time to relax yesterday.

The garden is almost done. I got the last of the tomatoes made into salsa and some more cucumbers pickled. Today I am going to make elderberry jelly, Hubby’s favorite minty plum jelly and raspberry jam. I have frozen lots of elderberries for friend Nancy to make wine with in the hopes that she’ll share (my wine room is still not ready to use). And I made a quart of raspberry coulis and froze; we’ll have a taste of summer for the winter. I think that’s all the canning I have done. With the days so busy, it’s hard to keep track of what you’ve done and when.

Then Hubby and I worked on the gazebo. The “rocks” were already in and we finished the edges with rocks from our grove. So we spent some enjoyable time searching out just the right ones and hauling them back up the hill to the yard. And while I am writing this I am waiting for him to come back from town with the sandkrete to mortar the rocks in. We should be able to use it in a couple of days. The first thing I want to do is light the little stove and some candles, and sit out there watching our hummingbirds finishing up for the day.

Gazebo floor.
The floor is done.

And speaking of the little guys, we were invaded this weekend. It must be migration time. We have been very busy trying to put up enough feeders to satisfy all the little ruby-throated wonders. But of course we don’t have anywhere near enough feeders. Now, I have seen lots of photos of one feeder with “hundreds” of birds eating. But at our house the rule is One Bird for One Feeder. I don’t know why ours are so greedy, but they are constantly trying to keep others away from THEIR feeder. And if you have two feeders placed close together, one poor hummingbird will try to defend them both. So yesterday was full of hummingbirds darting everywhere, chasing each other and dive-bombing us. They come right in your face, beating those tiny wings and chirping at you. It’s a good thing I can’t understand Hummer talk; I’m sure it wasn’t very polite.

Hummers on the clothes line.
They got so tired; they rested on the clothes line.

Humming bird
Can you see the second one coming in for a fight?

This weekend was Stitches, and I spent almost all day spinning. I got some of my black Icelandic plied and ready for the vest I am going to TRY to knit. Then I got another bobbin of the BFL done. I only have about 5 ounces of the original pound left to spin. But I ran out of bobbins on Belle. So yesterday I threw 2 of the bobbins in the dye pot along with some brown Finn locks. And I am very pleased with the color; pure Rust from Cushing’s acid dye. I plan on blending the Finn locks while combing, and plying the BFL with some of the natural gray. And now, finally, I will have time to wash, comb and spin “Maple”, the beautiful Shetland fleece I got from Gail at Little Red Oak Farm. After that will be the Targhee ram fleece from Cousin Mark in South Dakota. Then the fleeces will be done for the year. Gail, since things are slowing down, maybe it’s time to do a road trip to meet your “kids” and possibly pick out fleeces for next year. What do you think?

Black Icelandic for vest.

Black Icelandic.

Brown Finn dyed rust.
Brown Finn dyed rust.

Bluefaced Leicester dyed rust.

Bluefaced Leicester spun on Belle and dyed rust.

And lastly, we are so excited here. Our oldest granddaughter is coming for a visit from Michigan. Son John will drop her off on his way west for hunting and she’ll be with us for about 6 days. We are really looking forward to seeing them both, and to have her stay with us. She is taking a break before starting college next semester. And to top it off, she wants to try her hand at spinning. Does life get any better?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Photos for Another Candy

This will be a real quick blog today. Candy D from Country Life and All the Fixings is going to learn rug hooking. She has asked to see some of mine. So here are some finished and some work in progress.
Rug Hooking
The Yellow Lady Slipper, 10” x 16”, is being done in a #3 strip.

Rug Hooking
This it the top to my rug hooking tool box. Done with #3 strips. 2.5” x 9”. That is gold thread embroidered for accents.

Rug Hooking
My first project, still not done. A big rug of primrose, 28” x 35”. Don’t start too large, Candy. Done with hand torn ¼” and #8 strips.

Rug Hooking
A Scottish Thistle. It will someday be a pillow. 19” x 21”. Hooking with #5 strips.

Rug Hooking
A Is For Apple. A kit done in a class, 7” x 10”. My first finished project. Done with #8 strips.

Still Night at Murphy's Landing
You have probably already seen this. My best piece yet, a gift to Sister Connie. Still Night at Murphy’s Landing, 18” x 24”. Hooked with #3 and #5 strips.

There you go Candy. I really hope you like “Hooking” as much as I do. Have fun and let us see your projects when they are done.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Harvest Season

Yesterday was the first of September. That was a huge surprise to me. Time has again passed by at an incredible speed. This time of year is busy for so many people. Garden harvesting, canning and freezing the produce, and getting ready for winter are all very time consuming. Then you have state fairs, county fairs, and fiber fairs. So much to do.

So why is fall my favorite season. And did I say harvest was my favorite time? What was I thinking? But it really is, even with so much going on.

Sister Connie and I had a successful weekend at the Butterfield’s 43rd Annual Steam and Gas Engine Show. The threshing bee has hundreds of antique tractors displayed and paraded; antique cars and trucks; antique steam and gas engines; a pioneer town; displays and demonstrators; and of course good food. We were demonstrators this year, a first for me. Connie showed spinning on our Great, Great Grandmother’s wheel, weaving and knitting.
Learning to Spin
Connie showing a lady how to spin.

And I had a wonderful time, showing rug hooking and combing wool. And talking and talking and talking. (Thanks Renee, for making me get up in front of the public and talk. I can do it now with no fear.) I could not believe all the people we saw, talked to and helped with some of the crafts.
Engine House #1
Our tables in the Engine House #1.

Then I have been canning and freezing all of our garden produce. Some of you may remember last year when I finally threw up my hands and said “NO MORE TOMOTOTES”. Well, we planted fewer plants this year and got as many or more tomatoes. So I came up with a salsa recipe that we love and have been canning that. Then Daughter Brook said she wanted to learn canning and wonder of wonders; she wants my marinara sauce and tomato sauce. So she gets to have it all: learning to can both using the rest of our tomatoes.

And I decided that I wanted to learn to make dill pickles. I had found a hand written recipe in a 1880s Peoples Home Recipe book that I was working on this spring in Rapid City. So I copied it, threw some cucumber seeds in the ground and waited impatiently to make pickles. Well, our cucumbers have hundreds of blooms, but I have only picked a few. They are not setting on. So I got some from other people and tried the recipe. Oh, that old recipe is good.

And finally, Hubby and I have been working on our gazebo floor. For those of you that don’t know; we took an old corn crib and moved it to our yard. We have been using it for a gazebo for about a year. But I wanted a floor in it. And when a friend redid his patio, we got the used cement “rocks”. This weekend was spent laying the floor. We just have to finish the edges with rock and grout. Then it will be an even better area to just sit and relax.
Almost finished.

Oh, I have to tell you…..we found another “treasure” in our grove. Hubby had been tripping over a curved piece of metal and finally decided it might be part of a metal wheel. So we dug it out. Most of it was buried 6-12 inches below the surface. We were so exited. It is a 54 inch iron wheel, probably from a buggy or a hay rake. We cleaned it up and painted it. Yes, it was originally red.
Gate Post
Our new addition.
IH rake wheel
Possibly an old International Harvester rake wheel.

And finally, I have decided to name my new wheel Belle. She is a beauty. And she is making short work of the BFL that I’ve had for about 2 years. I’m just about ready to dye two bobbins. I’ll let you know how that goes.