Saturday, November 21, 2009

Winter Marketing

Growing vegetables for a winter Farmers Market definitely has its moments. Digging parsnips in the pouring rain,
washing the mud off beets, running into the house and warming our fingers frequently by the stove.

Traveling to market by boat this time of year has its own challenges as well. We have missed only one winter market because of weather, but we've been out in some bumpy seas, and discovered that radar doesn't work all that well in the snow, but yesterday took the cake. It's been stormy and windy and rainy for weeks, but while we harvested yesterday the sun even came out for a brief moment and the wind was just slightly breezy. When we left the dock we could see dark clouds to the west over Vancouver Island but figured we'd get to Friday Harbor before they'd get to us. We were about 3/4 of the way there when it started to get really, really dark. It was late in the day but this darkness was coming from those clouds. You could still see light sky to the east but it quickly became black velvety dark where we were. And it started to pour with a bit of hail mixed in. Then big orange flashes of lightning appeared in the west beyond San Juan Island. We headed toward the shore as quick as our slow 6 knot boat could go on the theory that the land was a lot higher than we were and would draw any lightning (don't tell me that's not true). At this time the ferry came around a point behind us and into the channel to our left. The all lit up ferry is amazing in the dark at any time but at this point it looked like an apparition. The lightning kept getting closer, one strike hitting the water out beyond the ferry. As we got into the harbor itself, still creeping as close to shore as we dared, two huge blasts of lightning with no delay before the thunder cracked right overhead. It was so amazing and eerie that it was hard to actually be afraid. Tense, yes, wishing we could get a little more speed out of our boat, yes. But just the most amazing, beautiful, spooky experience I think I've ever had. When we got to the dock about 10 minutes later, the rain had stopped, the sky was clearing and a tiny moon and early stars could be seen in the west.

Our customers were very, very glad to have us there today and bought almost every vegetable we had brought. And we had a great story to tell.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More scarves

I finished scarf number two on my new warp. I decided when weaving it that I would use only the finer, 20/2 yarn to get stripes. This would look different, but would also let me really practice placing those threads evenly without having to stop for the heavier yarn block. My rhythm definitely improved and toward the end of the scarf I could hardly see any unevenness. Yay!!

When it was washed the yarns all came together nicely without any puckering and I only lost 1/2" in width. So there are two more on this warp left to weave.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grey November Days

We have been besieged with wind and rain and typical grey November days. But when I go for my more or less daily walk the roadway still glows with color. There is always the greens of salal and evergreen, but the edges of the roads are strewn with rust colored needles and golden leaves. Most of the maples have lost their leaves but the willows are later to turn and their little tiny yellow leaves create a misty look in the woods.

I like to take a walk in the afternoon down to the beach and back, a little less than 2 miles to be outside and get the kinks out of my body. I am a pretty active sort but a lot of what I do involves hunching over a loom, or my knitting, or a weedy bed of vegetables and at the end of the day I find a good brisk walk reviving.

Today the water was grey. The wind was on the other side of the island so the waves weren't impressive on this beach but if you click on this picture to enlarge it you can see them coming around the end of Sandy Point. Out there it was rough. Not a day to go anywhere by boat.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Learning Curve

I just finished the first scarf on this warp of thick and thin checks. I've used two different weights of organic, naturally colored cotton yarn, a 6/2 yarn for the thick yarn and 20/2 for the thin yarn. This gives a gauzy effect to the squares.

However, for someone who weaves mainly rugs or other things that require hard beating to pack the weft in tightly, this project has quite a learning curve for me. The weft yarns have to be carefully placed in order to square the blocks and the fine yarn is particularly fussy about spacing. I find my neck getting a crick and my shoulders aching after a very short while of trying to get it right. I decided not to get too persnickety about about squarness at the beginning knowing that once I get the rhythm of the beating it will start to work out. If I get too obsessed about it and keep stopping to take it out it will just slow the process of getting the rhythm established. Weaving (or knitting or weeding) efficiently is to a great extent a matter or relaxing and getting into rhythm. Then things will start to look even. By the time I got to the end of the 72" first scarf I was beginning to get it. I think these are going to be pretty.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Know Your Farmer

I've just come home from spending several days in Seattle babysitting my youngest granddaughters, Iris and Charlotte. Here's Charlotte getting her first taste of delicata squash grown by Grandpa Joel. We took down lots of beets, carrots and winter squash that mom is going to turn into baby food.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Drying Peppers

Every winter we dry a bunch of Paprika Supreme peppers. These are a sweet paprika pepper with thin walls that therefore dry easily. We bring in any pepper that is showing any color and they turn a beautiful red in the house. They have no heat, just a good pepper taste. We hang the rack up above the wood stove. When they are dry we crumble them up in scrambled eggs, spaghetti sauces, stews, etc. They are great to have in the winter when there are no more fresh peppers in the garden.