Tag Archives: cats

Thank you Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”      Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last Saturday we went to Concord MA to celebrate Father’s Day. Steve chose the location so he could see a baseball exhibit at the Concord Museum. The museum is very attractive and provides a great deal of historic information.  I will however never forget this plaque- be sure to read the very last sentences.

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Now that is a strike for which I would work hard!

We had lunch at the Main Street Cafe which offered some refreshingly creative sandwiches and the best lemonade I have ever had. Then delicious coffee and a cupcake at Haute Coffee in an old building with lots of character. My kind of coffee place!

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Side view of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s home in Concord MA

 

 

After coffee we went to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s home.

 

 

 

 

I have read a lot about the Transcendentalists as an offshoot of reading biographies of Louisa May Alcott. We visited her house also in Concord several years ago. Before going to Concord this time I looked up some of Emerson’s quotes because I was in need of some philosophical boosting up after last week’s shooting event. These horrible occurrences no longer surprise me but always sadden me. We seem to live in a world where violence against innocents is happening all the time. How do caring people responsibly keep in touch with country and world events without being taken over by the sadness of them?

Unfortunately my ponderings haven’t provided me with the perfect answer to this question. Because there is no perfect answer.  I would love to hear ideas others have found.

The main thing that I try to do to cope is to  look for various strategies for coping and realize that strategies have to be shuffled around to keep them fresh and meaningful. The quote above by Emerson is helpful to me right now. To me it speaks of inner resilience which has always been important since the beginning of time and is needed even more so today. It calls for us to be responsible for our outlooks and for our responses to world events. But just as importantly in my mind is that is contains the encouragement that we CAN figure out ways to cope.

As always some of my favorite ways to get a break from outside events and gain perspective are through the teachings of the natural world, living creatures and of course…fiber.

1) Stick close to your pals.

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Daisy-Dandy and Marigold sharing a nesting box despite there being an empty one available.

2) Spend a lot of time thinking about your beloved creative projects and look at them from all angles. IMG_1311

 

 

3) Never forget that there always have been, and always will be,  many more caring people in this world than there are hate filled ones.
Focus your thoughts on them. Don’t forget the ones that always make you laugh!
Sesame Place

Using What You Have Part 2: New Skills Day, Spiders and Waylon Jennings

A little while back I wrote about the appeal that the phrase “Use what you have and you will never be without” holds for me. I  applied it again recently when I was feeling guilt about the fiber tools/patterns/techniques  that I have rarely and sometimes never used. I usually get them for two reasons: 1) they are new and interesting and get that adrenaline flow going about how much fun they would be  2) I tell myself that with the new tool I will surely use up lots of my pounds and pounds of fiber sitting in the attic in plastic bins….

Okay, that worked well when I bought a lucet over two years ago. A cute, inexpensive, beautifully made wooden tool that has been around since the Middle Ages which you can use, among other things, to make braids. My supposedly rational thought: I can use it to braid lots of my roving and make seat pads which I have always wanted. I put it on a shelf where I could admire it… and never touched it again.

So the other day I decided I would take a couple hours and have a learn new skills afternoon. I first went for the lucet and watched a youtube video. When I learned to spin back in those Middle Ages there was no youtube and few books on spinning. Much harder to learn things then. I do appreciate the internet for that. Here are my results.

Lucet

Lucet and braids

That was fun. I can make lots of braids and sew them together for seat mats and virtuously use a lot of fiber.

Then I looked under something on my table and found an article that I had gotten from somewhere and even put in a plastic sleeve (I love office supplies, I feel so organized and efficient, I enjoy wandering around Staples even if I don’t get anything) and then forgotten of course.  There was instruction on how to crochet circular or square mats from roving- which meant no sewing braids together. That sounded good. Easier to complete and could use up pencil roving I bought and never used for spinning because I found the quality was not as good as I had hoped and it fell apart more easily than I expected when spinning.

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Crocheting chair mat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much better for ktichen chair mat- but how will I use the lucet now? It is back on its shelf and still looks beautiful.

Next skill to learn: chain plying. I had done some in the past and found my yarn was pretty twisty, and several months ago been shown another technique. I watched the video I made of my friend doing it -got to love that technology once again and believe me, I am not a big electronics fan but I guess as with anything else that helps my fiber, I like it for that! I practiced and created two skeins that were a bit twisty but became balanced when soaked in warm soapy water.

two chain plyed skeins

Chain plyed skeins

I  hung the yellow one on that spoon like thing I dug up when putting in herbs behind the barn. I still don’t know what was used for but now it is a proven yarn dryer thing.

chain ply fall colors

 

 

I will still give a prize to anyone who can

definitively tell me what it is.

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I have to interrupt this train of thought because  a friend, sort of a spinning sister, just dropped in. IMG_0908

Spinners and weavers have an affinity for spiders since they also spin and weave.

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Good-bye spider??

Uh oh. Someone else just found you too.

Now I have totally  lost my focus because my husband is rooting around for food- it is way past supper time-and put on Waylon Jennings and my legs won’t stop moving to the beat so I will stop for now. “Did old Hank really do it this way?” 🙂

 

Bringing Out Old Friends

We’ve had a few moves in the past few years and some of our things stayed behind. Everything is with us now. My Ashford Joy wheel and my fiber processing tools were at my side every step of the way.

 

joy wheel and tools

Ashford Joy spinning wheel and fiber processing tools

As was my spinning partner. Is she trying to correct my technique?

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Friends don’t let friends spin alone. Apparently.

Now I am renewing my acquaintance with my first wheel, a Country Craftsman. The Joy is much easier to transport when spinning with friends and I was having some trouble with the drive band falling off the Craftsman as I spun so it hasn’t done much for a number of years except look pretty and sometimes be a prop when I took  pictures of my yarn and knitted items.

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My first spinning wheel

There is a funny story connected with the Craftsman. Years ago one of my son’s girl friends told me she had a dream that he had a party at our place and that some friends were making the wheel spin. She went over and made them stop and told them that was the most important thing in this house! She sure had my number! (Besides of course the living and breathing things and the pictures of my children as babies and toddlers.)

But today I decided to try it again and if I had problems that would be hard to fix I would, well, do something else so it wouldn’t take up space in this small house. My test was to see if I could spin ten minutes without a problem and it spun like a breeze. Maybe it healed during its long rest.

There are many differences between the Joy and the Craftsman besides ease of transport. Although I didn’t know any of this when I bought each I now know that the Craftsman can spin faster because of its construction. When I was taught to spin years ago I was taught to create different yarns by how I used my hands and feet rather some of the more technical methods that people with technical minds, and I am not in that category for sure, can now apply to get yarns with certain attributes. So I have studied the technical ideas just to understand them simply because I want to know everything about spinning even if I don’t use it. I do pay attention to ratio but that is for another time. The rest, for example twist angle of the yarn-I won’t explain it because my eyes are glazing over even as I only type it much less try to use it- is knowledge but doesn’t enter in to the ways I use to create the yarns I want. Different strokes for different folks.

Now I look forward to doing more “production” spinning-getting more yarn more quickly- on the Craftsman as it has larger bobbins and can spin faster and thus make yarn faster. I don’t usually think much about speed since I am usually too busy enjoying the leisurely process but I may try out speed for fun. When I am alone and not distracted by other talk around me. I will mean business! 🙂

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Mrs. Mc’s wool winder

 

I have a few other truly antique wooden friends I have been using right along. Several years ago while on PEI I bought a smaller old wool winder that I use all the time for the purpose for which it was made. I love the big old nails, and in one spot I can faintly see the penciled name  Mrs. Mary Mc (I can’t read the rest of her name) which makes it even more fun to use. It is very rustic and may have been made by Mr. Mc…I also have a large clock wheel wool winder given to me years ago by a friend which now is mostly another nice prop for my yarns and project bags.

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Everything has multi purposes.

 

toy wheel with rolag

Toy spinning wheel with rolag

Of course I also have this wheel:

 

 

 

 

rigid heddle loom

Rigid heddle loom

 

New friends too.

 

 

 

Human friends and family, pet friends, perennial flower friends, spinning wheel friends- they all bring warmth to our lives and we can never have too many. Except maybe too many pets at one time!

Treasuring Abundance

Today is one of those rare and wonderful days when I can shut the door to the outside world for several hours, appreciate the abundance in my life and, naturally, spend a lot of time working with my fiber.

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my little sweetheart

I can’t possibly take time to make the bed because the cat is sleeping on it.

Mother Nature is on my side and it is raining so I don’t have to water.

I have good books to read.books reading

And I have an abundance of alpaca that I have dyed to work with all day long.

alpaca dyed and natural

Thanks to alpacas named Wilmington and Lenox.

I have alpaca yarn and batts I have made which I can admire.

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Alpaca batt for spinning from dyed and naturally colored alpaca

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yet to be washed white alpaca

alpaca batt

Alpaca batt for spinning from dyed and natural alpaca fiber.

I can revel in the thought that even with this much alpaca I still have a lot more to wash,  dye and enjoy in the future.

 

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Alpaca to dye or leave white.

My chickens have even brought me lunch for today and longer.

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Thanks Lilac, Marigold and Daisy!

Tomorrow I will face the outside world again. Today I will let myself get absorbed in

Alpacas For Sale – Pet and Fiber Boys

Beautiful alpaca!

Here is hoping that during the next week everyone can have a few hours to enjoy the  abundance in their lives and emerge refreshed! I would love to hear about what is abundant and enjoyable in your lives.

 

“In Heaven There is No Dirt”

That title sure is different from the one I wrote last week! It is a quote from Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the utopian community of the Shakers. The Shakers were supposed to create heaven on earth and so were advised to be meticulous housekeepers because for some reason she felt there was no dirt in heaven. I have been thinking about the Shakers because a few days ago we were “hawking our wares” as a mutual friend said at the Fiber Loft (thefiberloft.com) in the town of Harvard MA.

This town is not to be confused with Harvard University. Harvard MA is a beautiful little New England town that is picture perfect. I remember one winter day years ago being there and kids were sledding down the hill from the white Congregational Church. It almost looked as though Hollywood had designed a set to look like New England. We are selling our handspun yarns and our hand dyed spinning fibers there and were lucky to go on a perfect spring morning.  Harvard is also historically known for its Shaker settlements in the 1800s into the 1900s and is the site of the first one in MA. All the buildings are now privately owned but it is fun to drive through the area and look at the Shaker architecture still preserved. I like to think about them going about their business creating beautiful furniture, and selling seeds.

The expression also sticks in my head because I have been cleaning everything here, or so it feels.  First, several hours were spent on the annual spring cleaning of the chicken coop. All the bedding was removed and the walls and floor and everything else scrubbed. All my pets have always been fascinated with whatever I am doing. Maybe I am sort of their tv. The hens watched with interest but no alarm until the shop vac was brought in and then they understandably freaked out. They calmed down after it stopped. Here they seem to be saying “Why did you make our cozy coop look like a jail cell?”

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Everybody look in different directions until we find our bedding!

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Phew- that’s better. But everything is better with treats anyway!

 

 

 

 

 

Next day I took on the attic. Spent hours organizing and getting rid of things, lots of things. People who have old houses may recognize this sight:

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Hundreds of chances for tetanus.

The eaves slope and are full of old old nails. There is a wide berth in the middle of the attic where I can stand upright. There are no nails in the ceiling and I never come in contact with the nails in the eaves but it is imposing. However there is one vaccination spinners keep up with and that is the tetanus one. We work with sharp pointy metal things a lot so it is best to be prepared!

Our little scaredy cat even confidently participated with the attic clean up. Last night after I went to sleep Steve said she came up to him with a mouse in her mouth! Maybe I dislodged it from the attic. She then did the let go and catch again game with the poor thing but after awhile got distracted and lost it. Since this morning when I opened my eyes she wasn’t next to my head on the bed staring intently at me to be sure she gets her breakfast, I suspect she found it and wasn’t hungry. I may yet find pieces of it as I used to with another cat in another home. Yuck.

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If I can’t get out of this house at least mice come to me.

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Wool blanket drying on future chicken tractor.

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Glorious alpaca drying.

 

I’ve been washing wool and alpaca. Wool fleece for spinning and snuggly wool blankets that we won’t need again for a long time. There is room for them now in the attic! Steve is building a chicken tractor for our pampered hens so they can be moved around the yard and eat bugs and grass but not get eaten by our ever present predators. Right now it is a good blanket dryer.

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Lovely colors and scents

And of course doing a lot of gardening. May is one of my favorite months because so many bulbs, bushes and trees are blooming.

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So bright.

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The hummingbirds have already found this one and it is only beginning to bloom.

I can’t say that I agree with Mother Ann that there is no dirt in heaven. How would I garden? And see all my pets again? It wouldn’t be heaven for me without gardens and animals. I do like to clean things up and get them fresh again- but there is still a lot of dirt in my world and I hope there always is.