Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Precious Bane

I just finished reading this book and I loved it. It is a special book. It was written in 1924 taking place in rural Shropshire, England about 100 years earlier. The author's descriptions of the rural landscape of the early19th century and of the plants and animals therein are so beautiful It also has a good plot, believable characters and is generally a good read. But it is more than that. It may speak to me especially as the author and her husband were themselves market gardeners and one of the characters is a weaver (it was originally recommended to me by a weaver on one of my weaving lists). Prue Sarn, the main character, says about sowing their wheat crop "swinging out our arms with a great giving movement, as if we were feeding the world." It just struck a chord at this time of year as we, too, begin our planting.

It's hard to find. I couldn't get it through ILL but found a copy through ABE books.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I love amaryllises and my oldest daughter gave me this one for Christmas. It just started to open today.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I started the next batch of rag rugs this afternoon in flannel fabric in rust and navy and cream colors. It was looking quite nice when Joel came in to see how the new rugs were looking and discovered a threading error. I had woven about 6 inches before he pointed out my mistake. So I had to take out about 6 inches of rags and 3 inches of hem and rethread one thread about 2 inches in from the right hand side. Sigh. That was enough for today. I knew I wanted to get it all unwoven and rethreaded so that tomorrow morning I can start all over again. I did not want to have to face the repairs then. I'm not particularly good in the morning.

People often tell me that I must be a very patient person to knit and weave but the truth is that I am not at all patient by nature. Rather it is that weaving and knitting teach me to be far more patient than my nature decrees.

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Rugs and New Lambs

As you can see from the new header, I finally got the rainbow rugs finished, off the loom, hemmed and tagged. I love these colors. Before I can make another batch like these I need more blue green and red purple colored sheets. So I will be checking the thrift store regularly. It takes 9 different colors to make these and it always takes me a while to find all 9 of them. I may make some 6 colored ones using just primary and secondary colors as I do have enough fabric to do that.
And then about noon today we found first one of our ewes with 2 new ewe lambs, one black and one white,
and shortly thereafter, another ewe with two ram lambs, one black and one white. We only have one adult white sheep right now, all the rest are colored. So a couple of white lambs will be appreciated for rug making. There are a couple more ewes due to lamb any time so we are spending a lot of time checking the corners of the fields and woods to make sure all is well with moms and babies.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Season Opening

We're off again for the gardening year. Joel planted the first two flats of lettuce in the greenhouse a couple of days ago. There are 30 different varieties in those two flats.
A couple of days later I started the first flat of flowers. These are delphiniums which require a cold period to germinate. This flat will go outside into an uncovered cold frame to let the frosty nights give the seeds their chilling. After about three weeks I'll bring them into the greenhouse so they can germinate.

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Cider Apple Orchard

I know this doesn't look like much but this is our new cider apple nursery. As in hard cider. During my first trip to England in 1992 I developed a taste for hard cider which is extremely hard to find in this country and when you do it is often too sweet for my taste. An exception is Westcott Bay Cider on San Juan Island who makes cider like I could get on tap in most pubs in England. So after a bit of research into making the stuff and learning that basically what you need are cider apples whose fruit have the necessary bitter and sharp tastes that make cider, cider, we decided that we needed to plant some of those trees. Every year our oldest daughter gives us trees for our birthdays. and this year she had us sent 4 cider apple trees from Cloud Mountain Farm and Nursery. She usually sends us two trees but I think she maybe is hoping we'll start making cider for the family faster is we start with 4. We have a lot of good sweet eating apples to form the basic brew for cider making and in a few years we'll have apples from these trees to add to that. the four varieties that we platned are Kingston Black. Yarlington Mill, Dabinette and Karmijn de Sonneville.

Joel spent days and days clearing this site of rose brush, blackberries and other forms of brush. The black plastic around the trees is to keep all of that from resprouting. We'll leave it on for two or three years and that should do the job. The picture also indicates the problems of agricultural plastics. Note the bunch of remay in a tree deposited there by a wind storm. It is really hard to find places to recycle agricultural plastics as they are always dirty. So they end up in a land fill. For someone who refuses to buy bottled water because of the plastic garbage it creates, this is a problem. I only console myself that it beats Roundup.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Rainbow Rugs

Part of the year coming full circle involves making another set of rainbow rugs. I love the colors and these sell really well. The only problem with making them is being patient while I wait to find all nine colors in old sheets from the thrift store. I had all except the red purple until a couple of weeks ago. When I found that last color I knew it was time to get another rainbow warp on the loom. Chas came to help.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spring Snow

It really is the light that tells the birds and plants that spring is about here. My snowdrops and crocuses and early anemones are in bloom, the Filbert tree has lovely catkins on it and everywhere I look there are more and more birds every day, here at my feeder and out on the water. They are on the move to where ever they will nest and breed. I heard a high up flock of geese heading north the other day. The chickens have started to lay again which is stimulated by increasing daylight. Nevertheless in spite of that it snowed hard for several hours today. It finally turned to rain and all disappeared but for a few hours the herb garden look so pretty
In the middle of the snowstorm I looked out at the feeder and saw twice as many red-winged blackbirds as we've had for the last month or so. There are at least a dozen here now, they must have arrived today in the middle of the snow. All males, the females aren't here yet. They usually arrive a month or so after the first males.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I like to follow the old Celtic calendar where spring starts on what we here call Groundhog's Day and in England is Candelmas. It is halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It makes a lot of sense to me for the seasons to begin between the solstices and the equinoxes because that way the longest day of the year is actually in the middle of summer and the shortest in the middle of winter: Mid summer and Midwinter. And it is about now that the light starts to noticeably change. The angle of the sun is higher, the days noticeably longer. The birds know this, as do the snowdrops and early aconites, violets, and anemones and the pussywillows. Very soon now we will start the first flats of lettuce in the greenhouse. Joel has been out spading up the beds for the earliest platings. Our soil is heavy and wet and trying to use any kind of machine early in the season creates nothing but mud. It is possible to spade up soil far to wet to rototill.

Inside I've been winding skeins of Chelsea Silk yarn into balls to knit into hats for the upcoming season. I love this yarn. It is 65% silk and 35 % yarn. It's been discontinued for years but I still pick up bits and pieces on places like ebay. One of these days the supply will dry up and I will either retire from hat making or find another favorite yarn.

I spent the first three days of the week subbing for one of the English teachers at the Friday Harbor High School. I had three really nice groups of kids so I really enjoyed the days.