Tag Archives: weaving

First six months without sheep; preparing to move north

When we had sheep, they kept the fences clear. Now the birds enjoy the shelter.

When we had sheep, they kept the fences clear. Now the birds enjoy the shelter.

June, 2014 to Jan., 2015

Long walk in the woods, 1 1/2 mi.

Long walk in the woods, 1 1/2 mi.

This morning I captured a chipping sparrow away from Boots and Liam, and released it to the suet block. It shook itself and flew off, thank goodness. The two rescued stray cats run between my legs, or walk under Emily, the Pyr’s stomach, and move out the door with her. If I haven’t succeeded in re-homing them before we move, they may die on RI Rt. 1, which runs right in front of our home there.

Those who keep carnivores as pets need to be prepared to deal with carcasses of helpless small creatures pets consider their rightful prey. Last week it was a possum in the garage, probably after dog food—the 20-pound bags were tossed all around but not spilled…The dogs got the poor thing. Liam the cat had slipped out at midnight when I took the dogs out for their last walk, so I left the garage door ajar. Fortunately the possum didn’t come through the doggie door into the house! Life seems so complicated sometimes. Was the possum dead, or playing possum? I waited an hour to pick it up, then left it in the hole uncovered the rest of the day, dogs inside, to be sure it wasn’t going to just walk away, which I have seen them do. Not this time. A couple days before that I opened the back door to feed the birds and found remains of a squirrel on the rug, and a mouse a couple days later.

Woke this am. to find a raccoon “treed” in the firethorn on the back deck. Two dogs in the yard provides high risk for the night visitors… Maeve, our Aussie, has killed two raccoons this past summer, and is the best-rabies-immunized dog in the neighborhood. When I called for help, hoping NC Wildlife would come and trap the raccoons and take them somewhere, the employee advised me to take in the bird seed at night to discourage their coming here, and after two weeks, that did work. They don’t move raccoons, since they might be incubating rabies. I, of all people, should know that. I did a Masters’ paper on wildlife rabies, costs to NC when it got here, and oral rabies vaccine for wild things to control rabies exposures to pets and people. Nights are quieter in the house, too, since Emily barks with great volume and enthusiasm at possums or raccoons on the deck in the night. She’s shut in, but we have doors with windows to the floor, and she keeps watch. It’s her job, in her mind, to protect us from wild things who invade her territory. She’s done a great job of it over the years, also. We’ve never had coyotes in our pasture, killing our lambs or sheep, as many of my friends have suffered. Large farms require multiple Great Pyrenees or similar guardian dogs, to keep predators out.

Jan., 2015
A New Year, and still recovering from the surgical repair of damage done in the accident last April. I guess healing always takes longer than they lead you to expect.

We’ll move to RI in the summer, so we’re going through cupboards and closets, as well as boxes in the garage, to see what we’ve stashed, and wondering why we kept these things! I’m donating a great many things to friends who will use them, or organizations who will—for example wallpaper rolls from houses dating back 45 years—perfectly fine to use on a loom to keep the threads from tangling. I’m keeping a little of each to remember, and I’ll use it in weaving in the future, also. Common Thread in Sanford is a weaving workshop with many women volunteering to spend some mornings at donated looms, making rugs, tote bags, dish towels, table runners, place mats, etc., for sale both in the shop and at craft shows far and wide. Proceeds go to womens’ support organizations, such as Interact. They also compete in the Lee County Fair, have a wall full of prize ribbons, and the prize money also goes back into the organization. My box of old wallpaper will go there, since each loom requires a roll of wallpaper, and it wears out eventually, of course.

I’m spinning up great amounts of wool that is not from my best fleeces, just to condense the amount of bulk somewhat. Yarn takes much less space than wool. I’ve started an afghan for us to keep this time, which will have sheep and Australian Shepherd dogs (in their own fur) knitted in with the design. I’m still hoping to find a Great Pyrenees dog pattern to knit in, but so far, no luck. There is no hurry with this project. If we were not moving, I’d be aiming to have it ready to compete in the Carolina FiberFest in early April, but we’ll probably be very busy then, as moving time will be getting near, so I don’t plan to enter anything this year. I will be there to watch the sheep dog herding demonstration, and sit and spin with my friends in the Twisted Threads Fiber Arts Guild circle, however.

The pasture seems so empty and still, the fences covered with stilt grass, sheltering birds over winter. Emily, the Pyr, goes out to the back pasture every day on patrol, as she always has, keeping an eye on what predators may be threatening her acres. We miss the sheep, but our arthritic joints do not. Each year it got harder to clear gutters so water could run away from the barn, to trim hooves, move hay and grain down the hill to the barn, and keep things down there relatively tidy. It was great exercise, and that we do miss. Walking the dogs a mile up the road has to do now as a substitute, and the dogs enjoy it as much as we do. Emily used to live in the pasture only, unless the sheep were up grazing in the yard, when she came, also. Now she can explore the neighborhood, on a leash of course, but she loves reading the signs night critters have left along the road and on the woods trails we walk with them. We’re wondering where in RI we’ll find the same opportunity to walk with the dogs in the woods—we’ll have time later to look, but it will be much colder in winter there.

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Filed under Aging, Birds, cats, community, Compromises, dogs, dogs and cats, Family, Friendship, gardening, Grief, Healing, Health, Homespun yarn, sheep, spinning, Weather, wildlife

Winter surprises, frozen dyed wool, and kitty entertainment

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I’m working on a curtain for our new home, and needed some bright green yarn. I went looking through my dye pot-stash with various colors of dye, late last evening. After I’d plied the mohair I intended to dye it spring green. But I had none 😦  I measured enough of the color green I did have into the hot water, dipped in the Bombyx silk I’ll use to wrap some of the yellow yarn as the green begins, but the color appeared to be too dark for my design. Plan B: I picked up about 1/4 lb. of white Shetland from Vanity Fair’s shearing last spring, put that in the dye pot, added some vinegar and let it simmer, almost, for about a half-hour. Since it was 11 p.m., so I just turned off the heat and the vent fan, left the pot covered, and this morning, continued the process, rinsing out the soapy, dirty water, since I washed the fleece in the same operation, and put cream rinse in the last rinse, when the water was clear. Then, on auto-pilot, I took the wet wool outside and spread it out flat on an old window screen where it could dry, where the sun will hit it pretty soon. As I rinsed my equipment and cleaned up the sink, I found a little more green wool, so brought it out to dry with the rest. When it touched the screen it immediately froze to it!! I forgot–it’s 20 degrees out there! This is one of the delightful winter days when it is brisk and snappy. Note the ice on the screen where the wool had been before I picked up the end and rolled it up. Maybe it will dry faster open to the air in a large donut… It’s wet, so even in the wind it won’t blow away. My pretty green wool is a big ice cube! The ice is still on the deck from our freezing rain of two nights ago, the birdbath has to be tipped over and the ice knocked free to put water in it again at least twice a day. The pansies have shriveled up to little dark-green humps, the lovely kale which I should have harvested at Christmas, is in about the same shape. The onions are visible, but only about two inches is peeking up straight–the rest of the leaves are flat on the garden dirt, partly covered by autumn leaves. Spring onion omelets will just have to wait. However, in NC, when it gets warmer again, in a week or two, the crocuses will bloom as will the pansies, and my garden will come back to life.

Time to shift gears–that wool won’t be available to spin for some time, and I’m still searching for the right dye color.

The next task today is to warp my loom to start a throw rug in the log cabin pattern. I haven’t done this pattern before, but a good friend, also a weaver, assures me it’s not difficult. I looked it up in two of my books last evening, and it looks possible. I turned on the little robo-vacuum to pick up the fluff from the spinning I’d been doing the past two days, preparing the mohair to dye. In the meantime, the robot-vacuum buzzed around tidying, while I pulled out the card table, loom, shuttles, and other necessary bits of equipment to warp my rigid heddle loom. While I was setting up my work space, Boots, our charming two year-old rescued stray cat, was entertaining himself chasing the robo-vac around, cuffing at it, leaping in the air when it came to his toes, crawling under the cedar chest to see what the machine was finding under there that he might have missed. I appreciate the little machine picking up some of the fuzzies for me while I do other things, but it had not occurred to me what a very entertaining bit of hardware it would be for my cats!

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Filed under Birds, cats, Dutch loom, Dying wool, gardening, Homespun yarn, knitting, sheep, spinning, Weather, Weaving

Spinning workshop preparation; Nova Scotia tartan off the loom

May 14, 2013

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If you were on my list for taking a spinning workshop this weekend, this is the email I’d be sending to you. It occurred to me, that you might want to be included in the communication about our activities on a spinning weekend coming up. It is a pleasure to share this art with others,  and the weekend of spinning is fun for each of us.

<I’m thinking ahead to the weekend and getting things ready for you.  A few items…

If you have any spinning or fiber prep. equipment, by all means bring them: spinning wheel, drop spindle, or whatever. That includes fiber you may have saved from brushing your fluffy dog or cat, or roving from anywhere.

If you have any special food preferences, let us know, so we can be ready. Dirk enjoys baking challenges–such as a gluten-free weekend, which we’ve needed to do a couple times. He’s learned a couple new recipes just for that eventuality.

If there is any particular goal you have for the weekend, let me know Sat. at breakfast, so I can plan to cover that with you.

If you want to take a field trip to a farm where there’s roving available, and many lambs, let me know. Lynn Michaels’ farm is only about 5 min. away, and if she knows we’re coming, she’ll be glad to have us. Another neat farm to visit is Elaina Kenyon’s in Efland, which is an hour away…  I’ve done this once on a workshop weekend, but it does clip a couple hr. from Sat. afternoon. She has around 50 angora rabbits, Angora goats and kids, and Shetland sheep and lambs–really neat place to visit. She has roving from all those animals, also, of course.

If you’re available, this Thurs. is our 3rd Thurs. guild meeting in Raleigh at the Thompson Crafts Center on the NCSU campus. If you’d like info. about this meeting, you can either go to Yahoo Groups and join “Twisted Threads Fiber Arts Guild” and check the recent emails, or ask me, and I’ll gladly send you the summary Jane sent out–a talk about spinning wheels and their challenges, and how to tinker with and fix them. She’s asked people to bring their wheels, so you may get to try several if you ask nicely 🙂  It’s a “bonding thing,” people and their wheels. Everyone likes their certain one(s) for whatever reason, but it just comes down to personal preference. People are usually fine with letting you spin on their wheel for a few minutes. Later in the year we’ll have our “round robin,” where there will be at least a dozen wheels, and everyone goes around, 5 min. for each wheel–that’s fun!

I’ll look forward to meeting you on Sat. morning at 8:30 for breakfast. We finish up about 4 p.m. both days. I’ll have the dye pot on while we eat breakfast, so we’ll be ready for the dying demo early, then get to spinning more challenging fibers Sunday, and hopefully you’ll rotate to different wheels to try them on Sunday.

If you have any questions, let me know, and until then, enjoy this lovely weather,>

By the way, I finished the table runner in the Nova Scotia tartan that I started on a rainy night last week. Here’s a picture of it, not yet blocked, but fresh off the loom. I need the space for spinning wheels this weekend, so wanted to complete this project. Each time I look at the tartan, it reminds me of lovely vacations on Cape Breton Highlands, Cheticamp, Mabou, Badeck on the Bras d’Or Lake, Antigonish… ah, summer!

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Filed under community, Dutch loom, Friendship, Homespun yarn, Netherlands, Nova Scotia tartan, sheep, spinning, spinning workshops, Weaving

Weaving outdoors on antique Dutch loom

May 8, 2013

I had no idea I’d let this blog lapse for so long! This is due to receiving my mother-in-law’s mother’s loom, a rigid-heddle style from the Netherlands, which her mother had woven scarves on during WW II to help support the family during Hitler’s occupation of Holland. I won’t go into all that. You can read up on the “War Resistor’s Museum” in Amsterdam, and get an accurate picture of what their lives were like during those years of hunger and fear.

The loom occupies my mind. I’ve searched for pictures and instructions on how to use this loom from European search sites, and found nearly nothing. I found one picture that vaguely resembled my loom, but no instructions, no helpful You-Tube videos, to my sorrow. My friend, Louise, who learned to spin in a workshop here last winter, helped me get it set up and warped, and has given me further suggestions and web links along the way. She also suggested I begin to attend the Triangle Weavers in Chapel Hill, which is an inspiring group of  talented weavers.

This evening I decided I was going to follow through on something I’ve wanted to try since I first received the loom: use my own home-spun yarn to warp the loom and make a Nova Scotia tartan table runner for myself. I knew it would take up considerable space to warp the loom, so decided to put the card table outside (thanks, Dirk, for moving the table for me) and used the railing on the deck ramp as my warping peg. That worked out well for two hours, until my back was breaking, and the mosquitoes had come out, and weren’t responding to the Permanone. I came in to turn on water to make tea, picked up my camera, and as I opened the door to return to the deck I heard raindrops falling! I grabbed the big yellow raincoat we use to splash down to the barn to feed the sheep in nasty weather, and draped the card table and loom with it, moving the table right against the railing, covering that, too. I came back in, poured the tea, and heard thunder! Went out again with my beach umbrella furled, bungee-corded it to the railing, tipped it for maximum coverage, and ran back in.

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I had no idea weaving called for such fortitude. Spinning is so relaxing–just lean back and wool flows to the bobbin with little effort. Weaving is another story. I played Nova Scotia jigs and reels of Natalie & Buddy MacMaster and Kendra MacGillivray as I warped the loom, walking back and forth, back and forth, taking a few dance steps from long-ago classes in Irish folk dancing. I pulled out long lengths of yarn to reach around the “warp peg” and back, and got tangled in the rose bush, which is heavily leaved out and budding now. Yarn got hooked in the buckle of my Birkinstock, dog ran by a few times, cats stayed inside the house, simplifying things greatly. Cardinals, wrens, woodpeckers, nuthatches came for their evening meal, while I walked back and forth. As I trimmed the knots to an even length, I tossed the ends into the rose bush for the birds to weave nests with. When it got dark, the birds disappeared. And an hour later, I gave up, too.

I’ll attach pictures of this evening’s adventure, and another picture of a small project I completed recently. I am using a great deal of my handspun yarn, and old sock yarn, also, as I find patterns I can make on this old loom, a treasure, indeed.

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Filed under Birds, cats, dogs and cats, Dutch loom, Family, Gaelic music, Homespun yarn, Netherlands, spinning workshops, Weather, Weaving