Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Lots of Colours

I've got a new acquisition which I love. Seems one night at knitting, one of the coffee-shop regulars, Mike, mentioned he'd seen something at the second-hand store next door that some of the knitters might like. So Teresa went to check it out the next day, and decided it would be perfect for me, wrapped it up in shiny paper, and delivered it as a gift!

And she was right, it is perfect. It's a dye sampler, inscribed on the back as being from New Mexico. I recognize the plants used as southwest US, and the language as Native American, probably either Hopi or Navajo, since I know both groups have lovely textile traditions, and I think both from that quadrant. And I love the concept of using the little tapestry loom to show off the colors. In any case, I am now extremely curious to know how they got that gorgeous green from the red onion (my efforts have been more yellow-green, if anything), and whether some of these other plants can grow here... I know Johanne has a book on the Southwest dyes I will have to consult, but since she loves the dyes and tapestry weaving as well, I shall have to keep an eye on my sampler!

Not that I have any shortage of colours about. Packing up and labelling  has begun; it's only a few days now to the OVWSG Ex and Sale. Friday at 4 is door-opening, and I'm hoping it doesn't rain. The suitcases are on loan, and I don't want them to get wet or dirty. But they make a great dual-purpose carrying and display tool for the yarn.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Fiber Factor

Just to let you know, first off - we found the mouse that escaped. He was hiding behind the flour bin. One of the cats drew our attention by staring at that corner, and we saw the mouse, managed to capture him in a sour-cream container and let it out in the field. He may still be running, or he may be telling tales to all his mates at the mouse pub; we don't know, but it's a happy ending for all (except for the cat, who didn't get to eat the mouse).

Anyway, my holiday is over. Back in the city, back to school. It was a gorgeous, fiber-y week, though. Got a lot done. Two classes (spinning and dyeing) at the ranch, with enthusiastic students. And a lot of prep for the OVWSG show, which is now only 2 weeks away.

 Who says prep is work, though? It was gorgeous weather, warm enough to pick fleece or spin on the front porch, and admire the scenery.

Never any shortage of helpers for making sure my wool didn't escape, either.

Got several skeins of wool spun, and did two days of dyeing, got some lovely colors out of it (not that purple and pink stuff, but the rest is this week's work).

I did a bit of knitting also - finished the yellow and teal mitts and started the brown and white ones, and did a pair of booties in-between, except I haven't taken pics of those yet.

That is brown on the mittens, even if it's so dark it looks black. I dyed that last week with the new crop of black walnuts, and they are definitely strong. (My fingernails will be attesting to that until they grow out, probably. It looks like I've had a French manicure but in black instead of white).

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Nuts, Bugs, and Other Wildlife

It's fall in the country. And in the fall, a dyer's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of...nuts.

No, not that kind.

This kind.

What with a few windy days, the butternuts and black walnuts have been falling en masse, and I'm happy that coincided with my vacation week at the farm. We've got two wheelbarrow-fuls of butternuts picked up, and I spent one morning picking up four large pots of black walnuts and hulling them. The hulls are spread out on screens to dry, and the nuts are dumped in a pile for the squirrels, since I don't consider the flavor worth the effort of cracking them.

A fifth pot got picked up and hulled today (part of what fell since the last haul), and resulted in three skeins of yarn in a colour like dark chocolate.

Hanging out in the field where I was cracking walnuts, I found a little brown frog, and Mom found a few praying mantises. Don't usually see them, but they seem to like her new hosta patch.

Harvest time here also means the apples are ripening - domestic and semi-wild. There are some random trees on the lane with fruit that taste like russet apples, some with big yellow fruit behind the house that may be the remnants of an old orchard, and little, glossy crimson crabapples that make a nice jelly.

And the squash! Pro tip, dudes. Plant your squash in the compost pile. There was an accidental one coming up there this spring, so Mom left went wild and was super-healthy, took over a chunk of the field, and produced 33 squash.

Beside the harvest, there's been lots of wildlife excitement. It's tick season, so we've been checking the dog and cats daily. Record so far is Abby, who brought home three at a time. She was also behind a little fracas this morning. She brought a mouse home (which was still alive), and let herself into the house. She wanted to play with it before eating it, I guess, but the dog thought maybe it was for him, scared Abby, and the mouse ran away and hid. The dog tried to get at it (we're not sure whether a wet spot there was dog drool, or the mouse wetting himself in fear), but it escaped and is presumably at large in the house. Maybe he'll join the ones I heard in the walls last night!