Tag Archives: snow

The Oddity of February in Massachusetts

If ever there was an example that you never know what life will bring look at our yard today:

Feb 22 2016February 22, 2016     South Easton MA

Then look just a year ago:

Feb 19  2015

February 19, 2015 South Easton MA

Then the daffodils were a joke. Today I have iris and daffodils coming up:

bulbs and iris Feb 2016

Iris and daffodils Feb 2016

Even fresh herbs from the garden for supper:

Feb 16 2016 chives

Chives Feb.22, 2016

Winter may not be done with us yet but it is always curious.

Smitten with Northern Norway

I just returned home from a visit to northern Norway. A college friend and I visited my college roommate who lives in Tromso which is 200 miles above the Arctic circle. We were celebrating 40 years of friendship. How can it be that long??

I now think that northern Norway is the most spectacularly beautiful place that I have ever seen. I have seen many many sights that I found beautiful but none that combine water and mountains so dramatically and for a distance that seemed infinite. Everywhere were mountains going down to the water. Everywhere. We were as far away as four hours north of Tromso and still the mountains and water- fjords- went on and on and on.  I never expected so much wild beauty. So easy to imagine trolls especially in the dark winter.

NorwayIMG_1526

norway (1)

I never knew what time it was. We were in a time zone 6 hours ahead of our own and there was sun 24 hours a day. Before I went I thought that would mean that brightness would make it hard to go to sleep. There are curtains that keep it out but that wasn’t an issue. Instead it was that we never got cues about the time from darkening skies.  People could be out and about as if it was still afternoon when it was 11 at night. How would I ever stop gardening or doing fiber things when natural light would continue on and on if I lived there? It is hard enough to stop here when it gets dark.

midnight

Midnight Tromso Norway July 2015

The flip side is that they have no sunlight for several weeks in the winter. I would not do well with that. But after this trip I think it would be fun to visit then for just a few days to see how it looks. Dark of course but how it looks with the lights on in Tromso. Mysterious and beautiful I am sure.

We did a lot of walking and of course my knitting went along.knitting on Someray (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Met some interesting characters.

troll guy Norway

Ate more waffles than I ever had before in a week and still always looked forward to the next coffee and waffle break wherever we went. It was always there. The waffles were always the same size and heart shaped. Toppings were fruit and sour cream. Never maple syrup!

waffles at Mt. Tide

Spent time on a beach because after all it was July! But this time with a twist- happily IMG_1523wearing my handspun hand dyed hand knit…winter headband.

snow in Norway

Snow high up in Tromso Norway July 2015

 

Found some snow high up on a mountain. Maybe because it had been all of three months since the last melted from our yard. Of course I had to make a little snowball.

More next time on spinning, weaving and flowers.

 

Someray Island

Onward to Spring

Here are some random thoughts and updates as I move towards spring.

I gasped quietly when I saw in my  yard on April 1st:

crocus April 1 (1)

First Crocuses!

The snow is receding like a glacier and this gives perspective on my excitement at the sight:

crocus April 1 (2)

Crocuses by snow

On Saturday spinning friends gathered at my house and as promised some big scary dangerous equipment came also.  The picker is used to open fiber up for spinning and is the first step to getting rid of any short fibers and vegetation. Short fibers can be the result of what are called second cuts when shearing. The path of the shearing blades is not always exact and they may have to go over an area again- like when a lawn is mowed and a small length remains on the side of the path-that results in some short fibers in the fleece. A few second cuts and some vegetation are not a problem and come out with processing.  If I am choosing fleeces and there are a lot of short cuts and a lot of vegetation I pass it by since a lot of time would be needed to get them out and wouldn’t be worth it.

I love the sign that comes with the picker.  I feel so important because of it.  Like I operate heavy construction machinery.

picker front

Wool picker warning

Here is why it works so well, why we wear protective gloves and why I would never have it anywhere no matter how well guarded in a house with children. What a great feature it would make in a murder mystery.

picker with fiber

Picker with fiber

I have some beautiful Cotswold fiber I dyed green in it here. Truth be told I seemed to have felted it a bit so opened it up with the mighty picker jaws that I swing back and forth. Now I will hand comb it to get out any end felted fibers that came off and will be able to use it good as new. Cotswold is a rare breed with long lustrous curly locks. Its shine, or sheen, remains when spun. Some day I will talk more about that breed since it is so beautiful.

My last Gulf Coast fiber from my sheep of the month March  is Fernando. Here is the picture I posted of him as unprocessed washed locks.

Fernando

Fernando

Here he is after going twice through the picker:

Fernando picked

Fernando picked

He weighs 22 ounces. Not sure what I will do with him but he’ll be ready when I am.

So, you know you are an out of control spinner when you were on an escalator yesterday at Logan airport and you see on the floor below tiles that create different Massachusetts scenes such as a runner in the Boston Marathon and you are delighted to see a spinner at an old walking spinning wheel pictured so you stop when you get to it and realize it is a fisherman at the wheel of an old sailing ship. Which you love too but not the same. Darn it.

Funny Spinning Fact

It is a scientific fact that every spinner who has a significant other be he or she called husband, boy friend, girl friend, partner has gone through an initial time when this person has tried to get the spinner to limit their fiber stashes, and failed. Supposedly reasonable comments such as “don’t you have enough” “what will you do with it” “where will you put it” are silently  ignored and after a time they give up. It is bigger than they are. But here is a funny story about old time spinners in Iceland that I read in Bette Hochburg’s book Spin Span Spun. It says that after the men finished their work they would card wool for the women and someone would tell stories and lead the group in singing.  I am sitting here enjoying the image of our partners engaging in that together. Especially singing. But I know they won’t go that far!

Last but not least:

Update on discarding fiber paper clutter:

I have been working my way through paper files that I have on fiber and fiber related information. I am happy to announce that I am done and since I like to weigh things I can say I have discarded and recycled 19 pounds of paper and files. Nineteen. Now my home files and my fiber files fit in one file cabinet drawer. Hurray! Can you get rid of some too??  It isn’t mandatory to weigh it, just dig in, do 5 a day like I did!

Happy April and the start of sheep and wool festival season in New England. Saturday April 26th is the Connecticul Sheep, Wool and Fiber Festival  in Vernon Connecticut.  http://www.ctsheep.org/sheep_and_wool_festival

Let the games begin!

 

 

The Smallest of Encouragements

I am a firm believer in appreciating and enjoying even the smallest positive things in life for many reasons, not the least of which is that they are always present if we look for them. Life has ups and it has downs and enjoying the small things is a big help in the challenging times. And fun in the up times!

I found enjoyment and encouragement in two small Spring signs in the past two days when I least expected them. On Monday I noticed that some ground against the back of our house was bare and that spring bulbs are taking advantage and coming up! Here they are and if they are difficult to see since they are short now, my next picture of the snow pile next to them will explain why I didn’t get closer to take the picture. I guess I could lie on top of the snow pile to get one but I am not that avid a photographer! I have made the first one large so the bulbs can be spotted. The next two won’t be because they might scare you if too large.

spring bulbs March 2015

Spring Bulbs in March

snowbank March 2015

Snowbank March 2015

The snow isn’t as deep everywhere as this because it has been piled here. It is all working on melting now.

The ability of living things to survive in weather extremes in nature has always fascinated me. I remember seeing 3 deer a few years ago and thinking they looked young- then realized they were probably just thin because it was near the end of winter. On the deer front, in October I was in the yard when a buck walked into it. I stood watching him from maybe 150′ away and he watched me. When he started to paw the ground like a bull I decided it might be time to quietly go inside! The other day my husband heard the chickens making a ruckus and looked out to see what was wrong. He saw a deer in the yard. Apparently they were angry at the intrusion. The deer didn’t seem to care.

The chickens keep on going despite the cold too. Of course we have tried to create the best winter environment for them by only leaving a few spots for ventilation so they won’t be in a draft, and have taken several other measures. My criteria when choosing the breed was cold hardiness and being docile. They live up to it. They keep on cranking out 3 brown eggs a day without us adding heat or extra light to fool them as some do. They are very social with humans but not deer apparently. This is an old picture and they are bigger now. Buff Orpington hens can get to 7 pounds but I don’t know how much they weigh. They are very social with humans and one always scurries to the top of this ladder when anyone approaches the run and they make happy noises. They know treats are likely involved!

Lilac

Lilac

Just as animal behavior interests me I also find human behavior interesting. When we have visitors I enjoy seeing their reactions to the chickens. Some give a cursory glance and continue the discussion in progress, some watch them with interest, and others- the majority because I would be drawn to friendships with animal lovers- talk right back to them, sometimes in chicken language, and then ask to go in the hen house and feed and hold them, all of which is easily accommodated.

Today I am off to spin at the yarn shop, Auntie Zaza’s Fiber Works, where I teach spinning and fiber preparation, and now soap making in a joint workshop she and I have where I teach soap making and she has them make  facecloths. Later I am looking forward to a talk at the Sharon Historical Society about life in the 1600’s. Of course if the speaker doesn’t bring up spinning I will. He must be doing that. I am reminded of the fact that many of the words and expressions in our language today come from our history with sheep and wool. I think I will start mentioning one in every blog post. Spinster is a fun one. At least it is for people like me for whom spinning is a fun hobby, not a survival skill. Spinsters were unmarried woman usually beyond what was then considered marriageable age, who lived with family and spun a lot of wool for the family and to bring income. Of course we link it with the other out of date term,  an “old maid,” which sounds negative but it gets me to thinking- food and shelter would be provided for me if I just… spun all day?? Hmmmm.

Okay, my other sign of spring happened yesterday when I was leaving work. I heard a redwing blackbird in a nearby marsh. Very exciting for me every year but especially this one. They traditionally come back from wherever they go in the month of March and I hope that shows that they think spring is on its way. I think I saw an Osprey last week on the Cape and they too come back now but I can’t say for sure if that is what I saw.

I am also looking forward to having my spinning group here on Saturday. I am pondering what to serve for lunch but know it will be something that uses eggs. A lot of eggs.

 

 

 

Snow on Snow

Snow on snow describes our New England landscape right now. Christina Rossetti wrote a poem, In the Bleak Midwinter, in the mid 1800s which became a Christmas hymn. It has a haunting melody and often goes through my head these days.

But I don’t find winter to be bleak. It has such peacefulness to it and makes our homes cozy. My home was built in the 1830s and we also have a barn built then. Both built before she wrote her poem. They are sturdy and with proper care have withstood many winters. I look around my backyard and think about all the people who have lived here and seen these sights.barn with snowside of house in snow

The colors in our scenery are mostly white snow, green pine trees, gray tree trunks and blue sky. There is a lot of glitter too as the sun makes the snow sparkle. Having a dye day recently with friends helps to bring more colors into our lives. We gathered in a cozy kitchen, played around with color, ate black bean soup and chocolate, and as it does with women, our conversation at lunch skipped between laughter, teasing, reminiscing, sharing some sad/bittersweet personal situations, and talk of when we could get together again for more fiber activities,  and more laughter.samples of dyesDyed Fibers Feb 2015Kid Mohair (2)

And now, what to do with these beautiful fibers? No spinning plans right away. I will just enjoy looking at them and touching them. That kind of attitude, common among spinners, has resulted in my recent fiber organizing that revealed that I had 500 ounces of washed fiber ready to process and spin. Wow. That’s a lot. I have used up some of them since then but not much. I’d like to think that I will use this blog as a vehicle that will give me accountability to use more up and not buy anymore in 2015. Yep, we’ll see how that goes.

But I will give it the old college try and my next entry will include information about Bluefaced Leicester Sheep , the individual BFL sheep whose locks I have, and how I will use the 12 ounces I have. Each month I hope to do the same with other breeds. But for now I am off to pull out that fiber to enjoy its tiny curls and to think about how cute they are. That alone makes me happy and for a short while I will forget if we have snow on snow or spring flowers.