Friday, December 27, 2013

Last One for the Year

It may be an indication of how busy I have been when I look to see my last post and it was the first day of November!  My, my, how time does fly.  November was filled with a lot of fiber doings.  Gloria and I did a craft fair in Rutland at the Grace Congregational Church.  It was only the second year the church had put on a craft fair with outside vendors, so it was a privilege to be there.

Glo spinning at our little booth

It was pretty successful from our point of view.  I had done four rugs for it and we sold three, which I thought was great.  I also sold a shawl and a hat.
Then I had to get crackin' and weave another rug as we had a fair in Orwell the first part of December.  I didn't sell any rugs that day, but I did sell my beautiful white shawl.  And a few other things.  Which is always nice.

My lovely alpaca and angora shawl
Of course we had to have Thanksgiving in there, somewhere!  It was a good day so all the travelers could make it over.

Eating and talking
We had our annual Thanksgiving puppet play.  I am pretty sure it was our last one as the puppeteer is going to be a young lady next year and will probably find such amusements beneath her!

Getting help for the Pilgrims
There was a flurry of baking, making and wrapping, interrupted by a few days of hospital trips while my Mom was laid up.  Thankfully she was on the mend and home in time for Christmas,  although she and my Dad elected to stay put that day.  We had to have our wild and happy gift exchange and Roast Beast without them.  Sadly, I have no photos that convey the sweet madness of the day.  Just tame ones of folks opening presents, or eating and talking.  You will just have to imagine the scene.

Now the days are getting longer, the sun stronger, the air colder!  The few woven scarves that I have yet to sell have been at a local gift store here in town.  The owner thought that she would try them for a few weeks.  That went well, with the result that she would like me to keep them there for the next few months.  So now I have to get busy spinning and weave a few more!  I am excited.  The ones left are all in fall colors which means I need to get the dye pot out for some blues, greens, pinks, purples?  
Oh ya.    

Friday, November 1, 2013


It is wild, mild and wet today.  Not the hard frosts of the last few days, but 59 degrees with wind and rain.  It doesn't seem very November-like.  Jeff says tomorrow night it is supposed to be 15 degrees.  That's Vermont for you!

Windy day
It is coming out of the south/southeast, so my weather vane tells me.  

Facing into the wind
I found this on Etsy from Swen and gave it to Jeff for Christmas last year.  I think it is quite nice.
The chickens are taking advantage of the lull in the rain to get out and about.  When it starts pouring again they head to the barn.

Braving the wind to get a drink 

Heading back to the barn

As you can see, their feathers are almost all back in.  I love how nice and shiny the new ones are.

I finished another rug.  These are the alpaca core wrapped wefts.  I really like this all black one.

Alpaca rug

It is so incredibly soft.  I can just imagine how it would feel under my feet, getting out of bed on a cold Vermont morning.  I hope someone else feels that way!
Now on to more spinning so I can get my next project up on the loom.  And making butternut bisque for lunch as I have a lovely fat squash neck to use.

What is left after oven roasting the rest 
November!  It goes so quickly that I hope I use it wisely.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lovely Fall

The days are passing by in a lovely parade of good weather.  There are flowers still blooming, even some unexpected ones like this clematis.

A late fall blossom

The chickens are all going through various stages of molt.  Cleo was the first to start back in September. For a while I was finding a veritable drift of white feathers under the roost each morning.  She now has almost all her feathers back in, as does Roxie.

 Mama and Roxie

As you can see,  Mama is really in the thick of it now.

Having a bad feather day!

Isn't she funny looking?  Miss Buffington is just as silly appearing.

Miss Buffington and Cleo

It won't be long and the hens will all be full of clean, shiny new feathers.  Just in time for the cold weather.  They are having a grand old time running all over the yard, scratching in the leaves and eating the apples that are on the ground.
I finished my white shawl and got into the shop.  I am very happy with it.

The white shawl
We also took another quick day trip to Maine.  It was a ton of fun as we picked up my currently unemployed sister along the way.  We hiked the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge even though it is closed because of the government shut down.  Then we walked on the beach.  It was glorious.

Jeff and Katy walk MacTavish

Hope you are enjoying your fall, too.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Wings of September

Time flies when you are having fun!  Here is the end of September and I have not written a word yet.  Well, maybe now it is fall I will be able to get back to a routine.
It turned out to be a cool and cloudy day, not the sunny skies and 70 degrees we were promised.  That was all right for me as it gave me a chance to do inside things.
Like get my loom dressed and started on my beautiful bridal shawl.

All white shawl
 I call it my bridal shawl as it is all white.  The warp is pure alpaca, the weft is alpaca, angora and a bit of shimmer--my favorite "unicorn hair".  The pattern is a straight 2/2 twill so that the softness of the weft comes through.   I am going for simple, soft and lovely.

Loosely woven to take advantage of the fulling when done.

I wish I could capture the sparkle.  You will have to imagine it.
I couldn't spend all day at the loom  It is time for window washing, storms to come down, cleaning to be done,  so I did a little of that.  Just a little, but here is evidence.

Poor Cinderella, works so hard!
I can't stand being inside all day, even when it is a nasty, damp day outside.  I picked some flowers that are still blooming.  One never knows when the really killer frost will decide to come by.

Last of the flowers?

 Did you notice that I don't travel in a straight trajectory?    I jump around like this all the time.  Must be symptomatic of something!  Hopefully something positive.
As it is that kind of a day,  the tomatoes finally got roasted.  The poor tomato patch was very sad this year and there were never enough to put up in my usual way, let alone make my "ketchup".  I decided to roast the few I have and freeze them.  I understand this is a tasty way to preserve them.  It sure was easier than putting them up in a canner!

Laying in olive oil with slices of garlic and a sprinkle of salt

They have to roast for a long time.  Since I don't want to have the oven on all that time for just the tomatoes,  supper decreed itself to be a pot roast.  We haven't had one in a long time.

Yummy carrots, onions, potatoes and meat
Now that supper is taken care of (except that I'll make some muffins to go with it closer to time) I am going to sit down and figure out how to make a thumbless mitten for Jeff's hand.  The smashed thumb is very sensitive to the cold and he wants a mitten that he can slip on, keeping his thumb folded into his palm for warmth.  It should be double thickness, and maybe I can put a layer of fleece in between.  Could it be worked from the top down to the wrist, then keep going with another wrist, working a lining that I could twist fleece around the stitches, then when I push the finished result up into the mitten proper, the fleece would be in between?  Well, I will find out!  It will keep me busy on a road trip to NH tomorrow as I don't have to drive.  Yay!
Enjoy the season.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Taking a Minute

I am going to take one minute and give a photo essay on how I have been spending my summer.

First came the Fourth of July with a parade.  Jeff, as Citizen of the Year, had to ride at the head of the line up.  He was offered a shiny red convertible to be driven in--how could he say no?

Kevin at the wheel

I told stories and sang songs as half of Taradiddle to kids in five different libraries across the state.

Singing about a fox on a chilly night

Then I attended the ceremony of my niece's First Profession of Vows to the Sisters of Life.

Sister Gianna Maria

The next excitement was a German Feast, courtesy of our wonderful Solomon cousins.

A family gathering with a German flair

After that it was a wedding for niece Jean and her man Will.

The entire Solomon clan

Sometime in there I finished my green shawl.

My happy green shawl

I also spent three days on vacation with my sister in law.

Evening falls on Long Pond

Now I am home.  It's been a great summer!

Saturday, June 29, 2013


It is one of those summers where the weather is struggling with itself.  If it isn't raining, then we are having hot sun which, in years past, we didn't get until July.  Usually.  The plus side of a rainy day is that I can be inside weaving and not feel the least bit guilty!
Lately, the room I use for my weaving has begun to feel very claustrophobic to me.  It got me started pinning dream studios to a board in Pinterest, that is how badly I have been feeling about my creative space.  Slowly it has dawned on me that this room could be a better studio if I took out everything in it that was not fiber related, and just put back the things that I use, whether they be tools, books or just things that make me happy to look at them.  In other words, don't pine for something that you don't have, instead, work with what you've got only look at it from a different perspective.  
It only took a few hours, a vacuum and some dusting cloths to make an enormous difference.  The futon was the biggest obstacle as it is critical for extra sleeping space.  I finally got it shifted out of the corner where it has been for years and years and put it against a different wall.  All the things that were not fiber related have been sorted through and assigned to their respective places.  I ended up with only one small bag of trash and another small pile for the thrift shop.  The resulting room makes me Very Happy.

Well lit and more spacious weaving area

It might work out well to have the bookcase nearer to hand when I need to reference something as I work.
Having the bookcase nearby
Also a vast improvement is the view from the loom.  It was very disheartening before with tons of clutter.  Not conducive at all to happy thoughts!  In case you were wondering, the room itself is only 9' x 13'.
Much more inspiring outlook
I put all the pieces I could find that I have woven along the back of the futon for inspiration.
The piece on the loom is my long awaited green shawl.
Shades of green
It was while dressing the loom with this warp that I got totally frustrated with the lack of space.  It was definitely worth the time spent to clean and re-arrange.   Now I can wind my bobbins and get to work!  This has been threaded up in M's and O's.  Can't wait to start on it.  Will not let the knowledge that the bedroom I use for fiber storage is now a mess and needs sorting out to discourage me one bit! 

The sun came out today so I ran around to take photos of the brave plants that are trying to bloom.
Roses and pots, trying to be cheerful

Hydrangia and roses
The sad happening was finding my rooster dead on the floor one night when I went to lock up the chicken coop.  It was very unexpected.  As it didn't seem to be that he was diseased I wasn't worried about the hens coming down with anything.  Since he has been gone the four girls have banded together and are laying more eggs then they ever have in their lives!  Even Cleo is laying and she hadn't  laid for a long time.  I don't think they miss him, good rooster though he was.  No point in saving out my eggs now--if Mama goes broody I will be in a fix as there won't be any fertile eggs for her.  Oh well!  Such is life.
R.I.P. Mr. Rooster

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What It Looks Like

We are really in a spell of rainy weather which I am sure most of us wish had happened in April.  It has not gotten as bad as other parts of the country that are currently experiencing major flooding, but many of the fields around here are beginning to get pretty soggy.  And so, this is what a very damp flower garden looks like.

Weeds grow well in the rain
And this is what the peonies and roses all look like:

Drooping and dropping
All the roses have issues with their foliage:

Distressed foliage
I have tried to keep up with spraying only it washes away so quickly that I don't think it has time to help.  
This is what rescued blossoms look like:

Peonies, lupine, dictamnus and baptisia
The rain has made it easier to work inside on things,  with the result that I have finally gotten my cotton warp off the loom.  This is what the tea towels look like:

Variations on a theme
I was very please with them.  Now I am excited to start my "green shawl".  I have got the greens, there is just a matter of wanting to be sure of enough yardage, so I have some lovely grey to ply and add to the mix.  

Yarn for shawl
Although, now that I look at it, I think I may have to dye that grey a green shade!!!  Hmmm,  I will consider it again after plying.  
Lastly, what a broody hen looks like, is not something that I have seen this spring!  However we continue to save out 5 eggs at a time, because I want to be ready when she is.  Last year was so badly done for her.  After that fiasco and a later one in August I  just hope she hasn't given up on mothering altogether.  And I am ready for more chicks, being as we lost two.  
That's all for now!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Well,  and what a time it has been!  First of all I want to relate that the little hen I called Baby, did indeed die the next morning.  It was to be expected, however, as Jeff would have been the one to perform the diagnostic necropsy and could not on account of his thumb, I had to bury her without knowing what exactly it was that she had growing in her all the year long.   It was very sad to have two chickens to bury in one week.  I hope that doesn't happen again!
Jeff is back to work.  He has all the stitches out and bandages off.  The steel pin is still in place, holding the bone while it heals, which caused him to have to figure out a new way to hold the comb, and when he did, he didn't look back.  Next week he will have X-rays to determine if the pin can be removed.  Before he had the stitches out we spent three days painting and wallpapering his barbershop---something he has wanted to do for ages but wouldn't take the time off to do it.  All I could think of was the joke about the one armed wallpaper hanger!  I did most of the ladder climbing.  Now it is done and looks lovely and clean.
The very day that the last strip of wallpaper was hung I left for New Hampshire for my sister Katy's house.  She and I then got up in the middle of the night to drive to the Manchester airport to fly to Wisconsin.  This was a trip I had longed to do since Jesse went to Madison, but Jeff is not interested in travel, even to see our son.  Once Katy agreed to accompany me, we made plans!  Madison is a most convient area for Jesse to live in, as our longtime passion has been Frank Lloyd Wright who lived in the area.  He figured prominitely in our travel arraignments.  We spent one entire day at Taliesin, in the pouring rain, happy as could be.
Taliesin in the pouring rain
Jesse also took us around Madison to see houses that Wright designed and built that are still in the private sector.  I think we have gotten our fill for the moment!  It was great.
The "Airplane" house
Most of our time was spent with Jesse and Lisha giving us tours of the area.  So much to see!  One thing we noticed was that they have these great Little Libraries all over the place.  We were so intrigued!  Take a book, leave a book.  Almost every neighborhood had one which was fortunate as Katy hadn't brought anything to read.  She found at least two which she left for Jesse to "return" for her.
One of the many 

They took us to the Botanical Gardens which were absolutely gorgeous, even though only one week before they were under snow!  But a few 80 degree days were enough to make lots of things burst out in massive blooming fits.  One of the many wonderous things they have is a Thai garden with a golden pavillion in it.  So beautiful and unexpected!  It was a gift from Thailand to the University of Wisconsin as the largest population of Thai students in the U.S. attends school here.
Gold leaf coated Thai Pavillion
They also have a huge conservatory which was full of tropical plants and even some free flying birds.  I liked the orchid wall the best.  Actually, the whole thing was pretty amazing!
Lisha, Jesse and I in the tropical gardens
It was a wonderful visit to see where Jesse and Lisha live.  I can see why they love it so--Madision is full of things to do, places to eat and great pubs with delicious beer!  
We arrived home to find that everything had burst into bloom and greenery while we were away.  Happy May, it is such a fantastic time of year.  It never gets tiring.  Jeff started saving out eggs from the hens (only two are laying) and putting them on the counter, so that if Mama gets broody again we will have some of our own to put under her.  Now every day I save out the fresh ones, then refrigerate the  ones that are 3 days old.  It is a sure bet they are fertilized as the poor rooster is down to only three receptive ladies!
On to gardening, washing fleeces, weaving tea towels and enjoying beautiful May.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What A Week!

For most of us this week was full of sadness as we watched the events in Boston and Texas unfold.  These did, indeed, impact us here in Vermont and our hearts go out to all those who were touched in any way by these things.
Our week started on Monday by visiting our neighbor to offer our condolences on the sudden death of his wife, Nancy.  She was only a few weeks older than myself and had suffered a massive stroke on the Friday before as she was driving to an errand in Rutland.  Their daughter and ours had been in drama together throughout high school, with Nancy and I sewing, altering and manufacturing many of the costumes they used.  Her untimely death is a tragic loss to her family and her community.  She will be greatly missed.
Later on that afternoon, Jeff caught his thumb in his wood splitter.  This was a shocking thing as he has been splitting wood for years and years and has always been so very careful, as his hands are his livelihood.  I rushed him to the Emergency Room (about 25 miles away) as he held his thumb together in a clean rag with some ice.  At the ER he was wrapped up in a more professional manner and made comfortable while we waited for a let up in the more pressing emergencies which seemed to be flooding in.  The attending doctor felt he would need the services of the reconstructive surgeon who was able to come within a fairly short time.  The good news was that the damage is above the joint, and the tendon wasn't hurt.  The bad news was bone breakage and general mashing of the end.  He ended up giving Jeff a pin in the tip of the thumb to hold the bone together while it heals.  He taped a lightweight brace to his wrist which goes over his thumb to protect it, and a sling to keep the thumb elevated above his heart.  Jeff must keep it warm, dry and protected for several weeks while the bone regrows and the outside heals.  If he obeys these orders, he probably will not lose the end of his thumb. However, being self employed means that there is no sick pay or other compensation for being out of work.  So that preys on his mind, although we certainly are not going to starve in four weeks.   Harder still will be finding things to keep him occupied while he is not barbering!
Jeff giving me the thumbs up
It was while we were at the ER we heard about Boston and decided that, bad as it was for us, losing the tip of his thumb was nothing compared to the losses from the bombs.
Wednesday night when I went to lock up my chickens,  I counted them per usual and came up one short.  Not Good!  It turned out to be my sweet little Goldie, found down in the ditch by the road.  It appears that she was hit and had her neck broken.  This is the first chicken in all the time I've been raising them to get hit.  I was very sad as she greeted me every morning, would let me pick her up and had been giving me an egg a day. And look at all the things I did for her little bare body! Poor little Goldikins.  At least she died quickly.  
I fear that by morning Baby will be deceased.  She has been in a decline for at least a week, walking slower and slower and spending much time just hunched in a sheltered place in the sun.  But this afternoon the rest of the flock have turned on her.  When they did this to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she died within 24 hours.  It is if they know death is near, I guess.  Which won't surprise me as Baby has had something wrong with her for almost a year now.  It didn't stop her from life, just slowed her down.  Until today, when, if I am correct, it finally has Done Her In.
Saturday was the best day.  This was the day that Kevin and Becca's family, Annie and Adam and Terri and Sharon all came up to help finish splitting the wood.  They not only got it all split but took several loads up to the woodshed and stacked it.  We had a lot of fun, worked really hard, ate a good meal, and made Jeff stop fretting about getting those things done.  There is still a lot to get up to the shed, but that can be done over the summer.  What a fantastic family we have!
Splitting by hand and with the log splitter

Ready to eat!
So ends a tumultuous week.  Full of good things and sad things, family, friends and strangers.  We are thankful for our many blessings.