Thursday, January 15, 2015

Weave in the Winter, Weed in the Summer

 Part of the cycle of my life here on the farm is the switching from summer work on the farm to winter work in the studio.  I weave in the winter, I weed in the summer.  So this time of year I am gearing up to make almost all of the product that I will have to sell at the Market this summer.  I work in the studio daily through about the middle of April and then keep the looms warped up so that I can periodically take a break and weave a few more inches.

I currently have 4 looms, 2 table looms and 2 floor looms.  I try to keep at least 3 of them warped all the time as I like to switch around between projects.  Each one is different and if I start to loose steam or get bored with one I can switch to another one and keep going.  I get a lot more done that way.

The picture above is one of the table looms where I am now working on the novelty yarn scarves.  I have several more warped up and ready to when this one is finished. I will tie the new warp onto the end of this one to save time and yarn.
 I am putting a warp to make crackle scarves on the 8 harness loom.  This pattern on the cover of the book above has been one that I've wanted to weave ever since I got the book years ago.  It's a complicated pattern and I want to take my time with it so it's a good one to start this time of year when I don't feel as much time pressure as I will by the end of March.
To keep track of the threading I've got a bookmark held against the threading chart so I don't loose my place.  Slow and steady is the way not to get lost in something like this.  I do love working on complicated patterns.

My big loom was warped up for more rag rugs.  I got about 5 inches woven a couple of days ago when one of the metal bars that connect the treadles to the harnesses snapped from metal fatigue.  I've had this loom for over 12 years and it was used when I got it so it has gotten lots and lots of use.  Joel has been my hero and rescuer and has spent the last 2 days taking it all apart and taking the rivets out of the metal bars and replacing them all.  Not going to wait until another one snaps.  It has been a major project but she should be good to go for another 20 years.

Of course, I had to unweave and unthread everything so the loom could be taken apart.  But the warp is still would on the warp beam so tomorrow I start rethreading the whole thing.  I hope to be back in the weaving in a coupe of days.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Winter Garden

 I found the first snowdrops today.  After a week of cold weather with the ground frozen solid the temperatures have now risen into the high 40's and things are thinking spring has come.  A lot of things are probably in for a bit of a shock to come.  But the snowdrops can take such weather vagaries.  They'll keep on blooming through snow and sleet and, well, you know.

Also, the hazelnuts catkins are coming out.  These are the first trees to bloom.  They are wind pollinated so don't have to wake for any bugs to wake up in the spring.

Meanwhile there is still plenty of food in the garden.  Brussels sprouts are one of our all time favorite vegetables and these little guys will feed us for another month or so.  One of my daughters called them "Fairy Cabbages" and thus they remain to our family.

Admittedly the winter cabbages look rather sad after having been frozen for a number of days but these guys will surprise you.  Cut them and peel off the damaged outer leaves and inside are delicious, sweet, juicy cabbages. 

The chard is starting to grow again after the freeze.  All the outer leaves froze but new ones are already poking through.
There are still boxes of squash and bags of onions behind the bed and apples, beets, carrots and potatoes stored in the greenhouse.  There is an amazing plenty of food on this farm.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

A new year is beginning again.  On the farm the years have a rhythm, a sameness that you can count on.  The seasons follow one after another in a dependable way and the chores are determined by that cycle.  Now the land is mostly asleep, frozen hard this week by an outbreak of cold air from the interior of Canada.  But the winter jasmine is blooming, and the hellebores are poking their flowers up.  They let us know that another cycle is in full swing and soon it will be spring again.  Already I can sense that the days are longer.  Every minute counts.

Some things are the same and some things change.  I have decided after 12 years of knitting hats for sale, making a bit over 1200 hats in that time, that I am tired of making hats.  I still like them, I still enjoy knitting but I really don't want to crank out another 100 hats this year.  So one of the things I am doing is making up some scarves out of the baskets of novelty yarns that I collected over the years to decorate the felted hats.  I saw something similar to this on a Facebook weaving page and grabbed a handful of coordinating yarns and wound a warp.  I wasn't quite sure that the fuzzy mohair boucle yarn would work very well as a warp.  I was afraid that it would tangle and clog up the work, but to my amazement and pleasure it has given no problem.  I love the colors.  It is weaving up very nicely.  I'll post pictures when it's done.  I think I will make up a bunch of these and use up a bunch of that leftover yarn.  I do love to do stash reduction projects like this.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May Flowers

 April is always so full of promise but it is hard to be patient for things to really and truly start blooming.  Thank goodness for the bulbs like daffodils and tulips, but it is in May that the shrubs and perennials suddenly burst out with flowers.  Above is a lovely pale pink weigela that just started to bloom.
 And the peonies..... We wait literally for weeks as the buds swell just a little bit more each day for those gorgeous flowers to burst into bloom. 
 And then there are the irises. 
But it isn't just the garden flowers that are bursting into bloom.  The wild Rosa nutkana are starting to bloom and in the woods is this lovely hawthorn tree.  I'm not sure what variety it actually is.  It isn't quite like the English hawthorn that has seeded itself all over the place and is also in bloom.  It's more delicate and taller, but it also doesn't quite fit the description of native hawthorns that I've found.  It may well be a cross with an English hawthorn.  Whatever it is, it is so lovely in its woodland glade.

Monday, April 21, 2014

New Growth

 Little plants coming up everywhere.   Above are tomato seedlings getting ready to be put into the hoophouse for the  indoor tomato crop.
 Delphinium seedlings
 Gai Lon plants ready to go out in the garden. And summer squash just coming up.
Not much to eat in the garden quite yet but there is hope and promise in these little plants.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring has Sprung

 Spring has sprung.  it was actually 66 F the other day.  Took my sweater off, opened all the doors and aired out the house.  Hung laundry on the line outside.  Whoopee.
 And, of course, the spring work has begun.  Joel planted out 540 little lettuce plants.  They are under a cover of Remay to keep the golden crowned sparrows from eating them and to give them a bit of extra warmth as the nights are still cold.  That was about a week ago and they are 3 times that size now.  Yay!!  Can't wait for the first salad.  We do buy the occasional head of Romaine from the grocery store but are mainly eating purple sprouting broccoli and kale these days.  Good stuff but the first fresh lettuce from the garden is like an elixir.
 Daffodils and hellebores and the first tulips, grape hyacinths, early plum blossoms and forsythia are blooming.  The grass is green and even needed to be mowed yesterday.
 I'm cleaning marigold seeds that I saved from last year.  I never fail to be amazed by the bounty of nature.  All these seeds from a handful of seed pods.  If left to their own devices most would never get a chance to grow but would either be a gift to seeds eaters like birds or bugs, or be reabsorbed back into the soil by bacteria. 
All winter I have been weaving and knitting up a storm.  Now I have to get everything hemmed and fringed and ironed and finished and tagged.  The first Farmers Market is April 12.  We won't have a lot of vegetables yet but I will have lots of rugs and potholders and tea towels.

We're off on another year.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Last Breath of Winter (We Hope)

 Just about the time we are really thinking about spring, the seed orders are here and organized into boxes for planting, the snowdrops are about at the end of their bloom,
 and the daffodils are poking their heads up and their buds are swelling.......we get 8 inches of snow.  This isn't the first blast of winter this year.  We've had two episodes of the dry cold NE'r we get here as icy cold dry air streams down the Fraser Canyon in Canada from the Arctic and blasts us with high winds that freeze and dry everything out.  And a previous short term snowstorm, but so far we haven't had any really serious snow.  Until yesterday when it snowed all day and just kept snowing in spite of weather predictions that had it turning to rain in the afternoon.  Which it didn't do. By evening it was a winter wonderland of trees covered with snow, fields white and beautiful.  We went for a walk down to the beach in a virtual winter fairyland.
 Today it is clear and sunny and above freezing.  But it is going to take a while to melt all that snow.  One of the chickens has had enough of cold feet and flew up into a rose bush to get off the ground.
 Joel went out several times yesterday to dump the heavy wet snow off the hoophouse roofs to keep them from collapsing.
But....inside one of them we have planted peas and sweet peas.  It may not be toasty in there but it is warm enough for them.  It gives us hope of spring.