Sunday, November 13, 2011

Much More Comfortable

I have come to realize that I often put off working on a project on my 8 harness Harrisville loom because it just isn't comfortable to work at. The bench that I got with it is just too high and my back and legs get sore too quickly. On my other big loom, my 4 harness Oregon Trails, I have a rocking seat Harrisville bench. I love it. I can weave for hours at that loom with very little discomfort even at my age. So I finally bit the bullet and broke down and bought a rocking bench for the Harrisville. It makes all the difference. I've been working on the scarves below and there just isn't any of the old backache from that loom. Yay!! You can set the seat on these benches so that it tilts slightly and rocks back and forth as you move your body. So you aren't sitting in the same position for hours. And it doesn't cut off the circulation at the back of your legs because of the tilt. Having good tools is not a luxury but a real necessity.
So, now that I am comfortable this is what I'm working on for the Thanksgiving Crafts Fair in Friday Harbor. These cotton scarves are supposed to pleat when you wash them. The twill pattern in the colored sltripes and the black strips go in opposite directions. I gather that is why they pleat. We will see and I will report. I found the technique in an old Weavers magazine.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Next Step for the Dahlias

This year the leaves from our big maple tree have come down nice and slowly. There hasn't been a lot of wind to blow them all into the marsh behind the tree. So it seemed like a good idea to get them raked up before the wind start to blow (and it is blowing out there right now) and get the dahlias mulched for the winter.
I don't dig my dahlias because I don't have a really reliable place to store them without having the tubers freeze. Covering them with a heavy mulch has worked just fine for years. And it was fun to rake up all the leaves and then dump them on the dahlias.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Last Dahlias

I know this pictures is kind of blurry but there aren't any more dahlias in the patch so this is it for the year. I picked these just before the first really hard frost killed the plants. We've been enjoying them inside for several days now. I leave the tubers in the ground covered by a heavy mulch of hay, leaves, grass clippings, sawdust, whatever I can find and it works most years. If it doesn't I get to indulge myself in selecting new ones. There are so many gorgeous ones out there and I never get to grow them all.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I love having nuts in winter. Joel's Mom, Millie, has several filbert trees and a big English walnut. Today we went down and helped her shake the trees and gather the nuts. We'll sit by the fire and shuck them and then spread them on racks to dry. One of our favorite things to eat is roasted filberts in salad. We crack a few nuts and then put them on a pie pan in the oven until they are slightly toasted. Yumm. And don't ask about oven temperatures or time, with a wood range I just "cook until done".

I am about to make my annual fruitcakes. Needed the nuts to do that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I'm working madly to get ready for the Christmas sales. My stock is always depleted by this time of year and I need to fill the holes. Potholders are one of my standbys. I make them out of leftover bits of cotton flannel fabric from rug making. They work up quickly and are good sellers. I'm using a point twill pattern this time that making a sort of starburst. I'm quite happy with the result.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

No Frost on These Pumpkins

WE are in a very low area and it feeling rather chilly out there this evening. If we don't get some cloud cover and/or a breeze tonight we could get our first frost. After all, it is almost October. But that means doing things like bringing in the pumpkins which are in a very low area

and spreading row covers over the tender crops like beans, basil, squash, and peppers that we hope to get through a few more days of ripening.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I am so happy to be back to weaving. I hardly get a chance to touch a loom during the summer. I'm working on some cotton chenille fabric and as soon as I get this piece finished I have 3 different placemat warps to weave up.
This time of year this is what I see out the studio window as I work at the big loom. It's so beautifully green.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Drying Time

Every year we dedicate one of our 3 hoophouses as a drying shed. Here we spread out the onions, garlic, dry bean plants and any seed crops. This year Joel is growing seed from purple sprouting broccoli and Purple Cape broccoli.
A new dry bean for us this year is white cannellinis. Last year we had trouble getting these to germinate in the cold wet soil so we saved the seed from the few that did survive hoping to breed some cold soil resistance into them. It was cold and wet this year again and we got a good crop so maybe it is working. The best reason for saving your own seed is that you end up breeding strains that work really well in your garden, in your microclimate.

Now that I will have these beans to cook with I have to expand my bean cooking repertoire. I make great chili and taco beans but want to learn to make baked beans. I love my chili but I am sort of stuck in a rut.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blackberry Whiskey

I've made enough blackberry jam for the next couple of years but there are still beautiful lush blackberries out there. So I made up a batch of blackberry whiskey from fellow blogger The Weaver of Grass from Yorkshire, UK's recipe. It's 1# each of blackberries and sugar and a bottle of cheap whiskey. Let sit for 2 months shaking now and then and then strain out the berries. It's good to sip before a winter fire.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hot and Dry

Okay, I haven't lost my perspective. There is no drought and the temperature has not been 103. But ask my broccoli what it thinks. It hasn't rained for several weeks and the temperature has been in the high 70's and low 80's. A serious change from our earlier summer weather. So although the brassicas are not happy the pumpkins and squash are ripening up. Above are some Long Pie pumpkins. They look like hugh dark green zucchinis at this stage but they ripen up to bright orange and are the best tasting pie pumpkins we've ever grown.
Equally happy are the Cinderella, or Rouge vif d'Etamps pumpkins. They are huge this year.
And it is great weather for drying beans
and harvesting the wheat.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Brickworks at Last

Our Farmers market moved to its new site today at the Brickworks in downtown Friday Harbor. Many, many volunteers have been working on getting this place ready for use for over a year and it was so very exciting to actually hold a market there. Setting up such an event at a new place is always confusing so we got there really early this morning. Things went amazingly smoothly.
The customers found us and people appeared to be having a good time. The new place has a lovely feel to it. Our old place was arranged in a straight line with vendors on both sides. This is more of a circle and it had a friendly feel to it.

It's right in downtown Friday Harbor in easy walking distance of the port and just off the main street.
This is our new booth setup with our flowers, vegetables and some of my rugs. Sales were good. We had a great day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Last Day at Roche Harbor

Yesterday was my last day out at Roche Harbor for the season. Some of the artists will open their booths for a few more days in September, weather permitting, but I need to get back to the farm and the loom and start thinking about the winter markets.

We gave each other gifts, traded our art, Barb, the candy lady melted down the last of her Belgian milk chocolate and we poured it over ice cream and added the nut crumbs from the English toffee to make luscious sundaes. I always miss the other artists during the rest of the year. We have a great little community out there.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


It's 9:00 PM and this is my third batch of blackberry jam today. I won't have any time next week to deal with them and the blackberries are lovely right now. Usually they get ripe Fair week and I am scrambling to get a few batches of jam made and deal with the Fair. This year everything is late and so they didn't really start getting ripe until this week. They seem to have been happy with the extra rain and cool weather as they are big and lush and beautiful. Blackberry jam is one of our favorites. The bushes are really a noxious weed most of the time but I forgive them when the berries are ripe. Last year I also made a batch of blackberry whiskey from a recipe from The Weaver of Grass in Yorkshire. I'm going to do that again.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

County Fair

We rushed home this evening from the San Juan County Fair so we can harvest vegetables tomorrow for market. I've been having a great time there. Joel and I entered a bunch of flowers and vegetables and weavings.
I picked the last spray of my beautiful Altissimo rose and won a Best of Class with it. It was quite a sacrifice but so many people stopped by the Wool Shed where I was working in the sales booth to compliment me on it that it was worth the sacrifice.
I also helped set up a loom for the public to weave on and this young man spent a long time making a beautiful mat. Then he helped another young man learn to weave while I stood back and watched. It was a great day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Camping Adventures

With Siri home for a couple of weeks we took off Saturday night after market for a camping trip to the Canadian Gulf Islands. It turned out to be a ittle more exciting than we had planned on. We got to Patos Island, which is a US state park, fairly late in the day, watched a beautiful sunset and roasted hot dogs over a campfire in the dark. Siri and her friend, Raina laid out their sleeping bags under a nearby tree and Joel and I crawled into our old tent. In the middle of the night we all woke up to a heavy rain. We had brought along a couple of tarps so the girls laid one over their sleeping bags and Joel tossed one over the top of our tent. Nevertheless in the morning we were all WET. After a sort of damp breakfast we took off the a boat decorated with drying sleeping bags, pillows, socks, etc.

The weather for the rest of the trip was lovely. Sunny and warm. We spent the next night at Portland Island, a Provincial Park in the Gulf Islands.
But when we started home the boat engine started to overheat. We had picked up some seaweed in the intake for the cooling system. Joel spent 5 hours trying to get us up and running again and finally jerry rigged together an intake system out of a table leg, blue masking tape, a bunch of pieces of hose, a c-clamp and a tuna fish can which got us back across the border and home. More serious repairs will require taking the boat to the boat yard in Friday Harbor. The trip wasn't quite what we had planned but it will make for great story telling for ages.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Update on Ducks

Joel built the little ducks a ramp to get into the "pond" he made out of the bottom of a big plastic barrel. They love it. They trot up the ramp and jump into the water. Fang, the cat, thinks they're pretty interesting, too. That's why they are running around loose on the lawn. Eventually, when they are big enough they will be moved out to the real pond. For now we move them around every day in the duck tractor. They are delightful little creatures.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


We have 5 new additions to the family, little Khaki Campbell ducklings. They are currently residing in a new chicken tractor until they are big enough to go live out at the pond. Hopefully they will eat slugs which love the banks of the pond and migrate into the garden from there. And give us duck eggs.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Out at Roche Harbor

I just spent the last two days, Monday and Tuesday, running my booth out at Roche Harbor for the first time this season. I have two partners, Pat McDole who does watercolors and jewelery and new this year, Beatrice Childress of Laughing Bird Beads, who does incredible bead woven jewelry.
Pat had set the booth up the last couple of weekends and I love the way she's mixed our things.
I also brought a bucket of sweet william and stocks. It tried to rain on us but it was mostly just a bit of drizzle now and then and not unpleasant. Now I'm home catching my breath. I'll be out there 2 or 3 days a week through Labor Day weekend.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


This warm weather after all that rain this last spring has created the nicest roses I've had in years. Above is small pink flowered Bonica.
And the oldest known rose still in commerce, Rosa gallica officianalis, dates back to the Roman empire. These flowers just glow.
Probably my most favorite rose of all is Abraham Darby, a huge English rose of impeccable shape, color and scent. It makes a huge bush. I love it.
This year the honeysuckle and Gloire de Dijon rose are blooming at the same time. They are about the same color and the combination is lovely.
And the big bush of wild multiflora roses is in full bloom and full of little bumble bees. It scents the yard and fills it with a constant buzz. I love it when the roses are all in bloom. I give myself rose tours of the yard every day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's warm, it's sunny, my camera is working again. In the hoophouse the tomato plants are bigger every day and even have little tiny green fruits on them.
The beds of lettuce are beautiful.
And I'm growing watercress this year. A friend grew it last year and I was determined to try. I will have some for market this weekend. Life is good.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Herding Snakes

I haven't been posting recently I know. Too busy trying to catch up now that the weather has dried up and warmed up. but also, my camera has died. I want to put pictures of what we're up to and can't. I hope this doesn't mean buying a new camera but it well might. I hate being without one.

In the garden we got the corn planted finally and the tomato and pepper plants are going out tonight or tomorrow. Squash is planted through holes in black plastic in an area that has become infested with Canadian thistle. The black plastic works in two ways: it heats up the soil for the squash and kills the thistles at the same time. We get several years out of a sheet of the stuff as we get heavy duty type and so move it around. When we picked it up today to move there were lots of garter snakes under it. They love black plastic so it actually does triple duty by providing shelter for the snakes that eat slugs and other bugs. Anyway, the snakes were all slithering around frantically as we moved the plastic so I found myself herding snakes back under it when it was laid out. Several got up on the plastic and then just couldn't get anywhere. They were flailing around but without legs couldn't get a purchase on the plastic. These I gently picked up by their tails and showed them how to get underneath. So I spent a delightful time this afternoon herding snakes.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Apple Trees

It's finally gotten a bit warm and it hasn't rained for several days. The apples trees are all in bloom and the native polllinators are happily out and about. The trees are buzzing when you walk under them. I don't really know what all the bugs are but there are some kind of little bumblebees. I haven't seen any actual honey bees so far. There are a couple of hives on the island but they must have enough to eat closer to home.

The tree above is an Enterprise apple. This has become about our favorite apple. It is crisp and juicy and keeps on the porch until March in good condition. What else can we ask for in an apple.

A bit later than the domestic apples are the native crabapples, Malus fusca, nartive only to the area west of the Cascade Mountains. They are all over the farm. When fully mature they have a lovely round shape and in the fall are covered with tiny little yellow apples that the birds like.

The place came with an orchard planted about the time the house was built, about 100 years ago, but they are slowly dying out. We've been planting new apple and other fruit trees around the place for the upcoming generations.

Monday, May 16, 2011


It started raining again just as we got everything loaded into the truck from the boat on our way home Saturday. And then it rained all Sunday. Really rained. the ditches in the garden are full of water again.
And so in desperation we planted a bed of green beans in the hoophouse as there is simply no ground dry enough for something like beans which require a dry, warm soil.

This afternoon the sun came out finally but now this evening it is getting cold. Phooey on the weather.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I went for a walk in the rain this afternoon. This spring is so wet and cold and miserable in a lot of ways. We can't get into the lower part of the garden as the soil is just too wet. But everything everywhere is just so GREEN. The grass and bushes in the woods, the trees, are all loving all this moisture. The woods are so lush. Makes me feel a lot less crabby about the weather.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I'm not usually a petunia person. Much more into cut flowers or vegetables. But when I saw this one at the grocery store I had to have it. So Joel bought me 3 plants for Mothers' Day. It's called Pinstripe and is a dark velvety black with fuschia colored stripes An amazing flower.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Primrose Path

This is one of my favorite place in the garden in the spring. The path used to go over to the neighbors about half a mile away, when their daughter and our youngest daughter were school kids. Now it basically peters out at the well just beyond this photo. Once, long ago, I raised and showed primroses and I still love them.