Krokgragd Finished

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Craft

141118 Krokbragd (2)To date this project took me the longest to complete.  I started it the first week in August and took it off of the loom last week.  It’s stunning and the photographs do not do it justice, you have to feel it.  Wool, there’s nothing quite like it.

Initially I did twisted fringe for a finish and HATED it.  So I took it all out and got out my Weaver’s Companion – almost on the last page they had directions for a woven edge and I knew this was it.  Very easy to do and it’s clean.  I thought the geometry of the piece called for a clean edge and it also tightened everything up at the beginning and end.

141118 Krokbragd (3)

As I probably have posted this color combination came as somewhat of a surprise.  I was using yarn that I had.  When I got to the center I found two other colors in the weave studio I thought would work and kept weaving on.

I love that moment when you cut your warp threads at the end of a project and release the breast beam – the project rolls off and you get your first look at the project as a whole.  I was so please with this.

141118 Krokbragd (1)

It’s finished dimension is 24″x 36″.  From every angle it looks wonderful.  I have to tell you that I don’t think this will be spending any time on the floor.  I’ll keep moving it around until it finds its home.  This is one project that won’t be given away.

 

For the Record

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Family / Photography

003 j.semanie©josephs

There are times you do things that are uncomfortable for the sake of family and history.  For my entire life I was always the photographer.  I took the photographs because I always hated the way I looked in them.  If I took the photograph I would never have to be in it – for me a win win.

A little over a month ago I decided that I needed to have a family portrait taken – for many, many reasons.  I think everyone needs to do this, if for no other reason than a record for future generations.  I have uncovered photographs in my attic clean up of my great grandparents weddings, or them with their siblings and mother.  Photographs taken around 1900 – over 100 years ago – that give me a little glimpse of their lives.  For me a gift.  Having this portrait done was my gift to grandchildren and great-grandchildren yet to be born.  A little piece of my life.

There was a lot involved with this whole plan on my part.  First and foremost was the photographer.  I messaged an old friend with the request.  His work is something that I have admired for a long time and he was one of the very few I trusted with photographing me. (It’s all about me you understand, I knew everyone else would look great).  I’ve known Joe since the early 80’s, there is no one I would trust more with this photograph.

It was also important to me to have Scott be photographed with us.  Although he is a new-found member of our family he is one that has been fully embraced.  It was also important to me as part of the record that he be involved.  My only regret about it is I have to tell people who he is – over and over.  In years to come he will just be my son and my daughters’ brother.  He is one of us, he just came late to the party.

The appointed hour came and we met Joe of Josephs at the appointed hour at Forest Park in Springfield, MA.  We have a history of photographs in this park and it seemed the perfect setting to me (even though Joe thought Fort Pelham Farm was where it should be – another time maybe). We had a great time.  Joe was entertaining and comfortable in his work.  He also did an amazing job and it was everything I hoped it would be.

I looked at 176 proofs today.  What I was struck with is how old I am.  In my head I will always be around 27 but in the photographs I am an older woman.  I know it’s me but I’m shocked in a way at how old I really am.  Having my adult children around me just brought it home.  They all have lives quite separate from mine.  I see little glimpses of them as children but my days of parenting children are sadly over and have been for quite some time.  It’s all a little bittersweet.  The record has been made, we all look like we still love one another.  I know at this point that the likelihood of this happening again is pretty much nonexistent.  That’s okay.

I can take these photographs and enjoy them for the moment that they captured.  A beautiful fall afternoon, warm with a slight breeze, spent laughing with the people I care about the most.  Maybe 100 years from now someone will find a few photographs in the attic and glean a little about the people in this little family group.  I hope it just shows them how happy we were on this afternoon and that we care about one another.

 

 

First Snow

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Craft

141114 First Snow

I woke up this morning to the first snow of the season.  I thought once the sun came up it would go but it’s mid afternoon and it’s still on the ground.

The fact that it snowed was somehow a signal to me to finish up a few projects in need of just a couple of hours of my time.  My rug is a row of twisted fringe away from lying on the floor.  Skeins of yarn were wound in anticipation of a new warp.  Drafts were reviewed with the planning for Christmas in full swing.

Twisting fringe gives you a lot of time for meditation and today I was thinking about what allows a person to do seemingly mundane, repetitive tasks that build into the finer crafts that I have been playing with lately.  I used to tell my husband that there was absolutely no way to bore me as long as I had something to do with my hands.  I think it comes from seeing multiple generations of my family always busy with their hands.  From knitting and quilting to mechanics and wood working everyone was always doing something.  I’m fortunate that they also thought it was important to pass on the knowledge and interest in one way or another.

My interest in the things I learned when I was younger has grown as I age.  When I was cleaning out the attic I came across the first piece of crewel embroidery I made with my grandmother. I think I was 8 or 9 years old.  She bought some little kit and showed me the stitches.  I would work them while she did some sort of handwork of her own I’m sure.  If she wasn’t there my mother would show me what I needed to know.  I learned many, many things from those women.  I think the most important is the work of your hands can be a form of meditation.

Doing the same small thing over and over allows your mind to work out the problems of the day (or week or month).  Almost all crafts allow you to do this.  There’s a learning curve to everything but there always comes point where the work becomes known and it’s only in the beginning stages that it requires concentration.

Every new craft that I have learned to do I have always worked to perfection over whatever time it takes to do so.  I will make one thing after another, honing my skill until I’ve worked it to death.  For a number of years I made teddy bears, not ordinary bears but beautiful, jointed stuffed animals.  The reason I did it?  I needed to perfect the embroidery of their noses.  Once I got to the point of knowing they could meet the expectations of even the harshest critic I taught others to make them.  It finally ran its course.  I know that if I decided someone needed a bear of their own I could make one with little effort and it would meet my exacting standards without the frustration of the first 10 or 20 bears that I originally made.  Also, in making that bear now, I would be able to meditate my way through the entire process, think about its recipient and put more of my good thoughts into the gift.

So it would appear to an outsider that I have craft ADD – and I do in some respect but it’s also a sick pursuit of perfection that drives what to others looks like a crazy, boring craft project.  I will work a skill a little at a time until I master it and continue to learn the possibilities within the craft.

That may be the appeal of weaving, I know there are so many aspects to it that it will take the rest of my life just to explore them all but there are little pieces of it that I can work until it’s perfected, then move on.

I think that’s the way life is, you have to break it down into little pieces, perfecting or finishing it one bit at a time.  Not everything allows meditation but with patience and practice it can all feed your soul.  For me it’s all about finding that sweet spot in everything I do.  Now the season has shifted once again and I bring out the things that have been waiting for months for my attention.  In a few more months all I’ll want to do is dig in the dirt but for now I’ll be doing those cold weather projects.

Bread and Jelly

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Cooking

141103 Bread and Jam

I finally broke open a jar of Elderberry Jelly yesterday.  When I had made it I thought I was going to be stuck with jars of Elderberry syrup. I put the jars into the cupboard with hopes that given a little time it would set up.  Turns out it’s perfect and delicious.

With cooler weather here and the wood stove going it’s also time to start making bread once again.  I had high hopes of making it all of the time but found that I was throwing away a lot of it during the summer because it would mold before it was half gone.  Another reason to love the cooler weather.

I also hear that eating Elderberry jelly or syrup daily helps ward off colds and flu.  I’m feeling some sniffles coming on.

 

Winding Into Winter

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Uncategorized

141026 Sunrise

The temperature was at freezing this morning.  I lit the stove using last nights coals and made my coffee.  The morning temperatures have been in the mid forties for the past few weeks but I start the stove every morning to take the chill off.  I love the cheeriness of that fire when I walk into the kitchen.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity as it always is when winter approaches.  Most of the wood is in, the fall cleaning is finished.  Things are moved around (like sleeping areas) to be the most comfortable for the winter.  We do not have heat on the second floor of the house so the electric blankets went onto the beds.

Everything left was dug out of the garden, a bumper crop of carrots this year both Danvers and Atomic Reds.  The Atomic Reds were one of this years experiments and I would plant them again.  I was disappointed that they don’t stay red when they are cooked much like those purple beans.

The month of October was also a time of connecting with friends, both old and new.  A very dear friend of mine stopped in to visit me while on a trip here from New Mexico.  I haven’t seen her since 1995 yet we picked up as though we’d seen each other a month ago.  It was wonderful reminder of how dear my old friends are.

Our 2nd Annual Harvest Party was a success other than the weather, but all that really did was keep us in the house.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon – eating great food with great friends and family.  This event is always an interesting mix of old and new acquaintances.  It’s always fun to rehash the day with newcomers who are trying to learn who the players in my life are.

Then there are the newest “friends”.  My cyber community has evolved into the most interesting ways in the past few months.  I have become acquainted with a few like-minded people who are working towards some self-sufficiency.  They are craftsmen, farmers, artists, renovators.  They have similar interests and through our frequent posts we get to know a little about each other.  This has offered me an opportunity to learn a lot about some of my interests.  They are generous in conversation, answering questions I might have about weaving, gardening or livestock.  The readers of this blog offer words of wisdom in situations I write about.  It’s a little  support system.

The changes in the past few months have been interesting and not always as expected.  Rowe is an isolated area and you have to work harder at being social.  I’m not always able to leave and the ability to converse over the web has in some respects kept me sane.  It keeps me connected with my kids, spouse and friends – old and new.

As we wind into winter, a time when serious arts and crafting come into full swing I’ll continue to share interesting tidbits of what is happening here and welcome the interaction of those who read it.  I’m looking forward to the down time.  Having the quiet and solitude always turns my mind towards creativity – I’m always thinking, planning.  There just is never the time during the warmer months for sitting at the loom or hooking a rug.  Winter will offer a respite from the yard work and gardening, it will allow me to recharge and dream about spring.  By the time it arrives I’ll be ready.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Animals / Chickens

141027 F0x (16)

As I sat and drank my afternoon cup of coffee I looked over the garden, down into the back forty and Mr. Fox was sitting in the center of the field.

My sister lost two more of her chickens last week so I’ve been paying closer attention.  My rooster just started to crow on Saturday and I told him the whole idea was to be quiet and not announce to the wild world around him that he was there.  He didn’t listen.

The first thing I thought was I need to clean that .22 but I grabbed my camera instead.

Walking out to one of my gardens I sat on the bench facing the field and watched.  The sun was gloriously warm and Mr. Fox was just sitting, eyes shut, soaking it in.  After a few minutes he decided to try to catch himself a snack and this is one of the shots I took.

As I watched him through that long lens I thought about the idea of looking through the sight of a rifle and how I felt about that.  I understand the need and desire to protect your birds but he was so beautiful.  He appeared to be just enjoying a sunny fall day.  I’m not sure I could kill him just because he was in the back field.

I have to tell you though the gun will be cleaned and will be positioned at the ready for the day my birds begin to disappear.  It’s a fine line between an amazing wild animal and a chicken killing predator.

 

Fleeting Fall

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Outdoors

141010 Pear and AdirondackI hear on the news just now that people should take their fill of the leaves this weekend (a long one here), they are at their peak.  With all of the rain and wind the past few days the leaves here are on their way out.  There are still enough to photograph but not in the wide panoramas that other years have offered.

This has to be one of my favorite spots in autumn.  I love the color of the pears as well as the leaves.  That chair is the perfect spot to overlook a large swath of the property, especially the parts newly cleared.  The bonus is it faces west so you can sit there in the late afternoon and have the sun warm you, breathing in the smell of fall.  Little gifts.

 

Yikes!

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Uncategorized

141006 PossumWe were moving wood from our wood pile into the shed yesterday when I saw this.  Fortunately I was by myself at the time because I screamed good and loud.  It really caught me by surprise.  I must confess my initial thought was what creepy monster is this?!?  Actually I envisioned R.O.U.S. from the Princess Bride.

This poor, little opossum had found a nice, dry den in the center of the woodpile and apparently thought we couldn’t see it if it didn’t see us.  Initially I thought I would stop moving wood for the day but it wasn’t aggressive in any way and we really had to get the wood in. I carefully removed the wood from above it so the pile wouldn’t collapse onto it, then began to take the wood out around it.  It tried to move deeper into the pile but eventually decided to move on.

This morning I decided to see if having an opossum in your wood pile is unusual and found it was not.  The website Living with Wildlife was pretty informative and made me feel better about moving this poor critter along.

I think this is my favorite part about living in a rural area, there are always creatures to surprise me.

 

What’s for Dinner

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Uncategorized

141001 Lamb and Beans

My husband is part Lebanese and grew up with the food of his Middle Eastern relatives.  He has fond memories of his Sito (great-grandmother) making food for them on Sundays after church.  She didn’t speak a word of english but food is love and that message crossed the language barrier.

My mother-in-law taught me to make these dishes when we were married.  These tried and true “recipes” are served for holidays and special occasions.  It is the food of my children’s childhood and of their father’s.

Today is a cold, dismal day and I just happened to pick up some lamb for stew yesterday.  Loubieh b’Lahem is what’s on the menu – Lamb and Bean Stew.  This is how it was concocted today.

I browned about 2 pounds of lamb neck bones and stew meat in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  You want some bones in this to impart great flavor.  I chopped an onion and threw it in along with a can of stewed tomatoes and a pint jar of my canned tomatoes (yes, you have to use the stewed ones).  Salt and pepper were added along with a scant 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Cover and let simmer for about 3 hours or until the lamb is falling off of the bones.

At this point I always remove the meat from the bones and return it to the stew, made with love don’t you know.  Add about a pound or so of fresh or frozen green beans and cook until the beans are tender.

I made some rice pilaf to serve this over and it was amazing.  Probably because I haven’t made it in such a long time or possibly because it’s the perfect meal for a cold, wet day.

Weaving Wednesday – More Krokbragd

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Craft

140930 Krokbrogd

Today I hit the halfway point in my little weaving project.  A friend’s comment,”Simple to warp, forever to weave” was right on target with this one.

To make my life a little easier I numbered the three shuttles that I am using to correspond with the treadles I use while weaving. Krokbragd, done on three shafts, is threaded 3,2,1,2,3.  The tie ups are 1-2, 2-3, 1-3.  One pick really consists of throwing all three of the shuttles in sequence – you just treadle 1-2-3 over and over again.  This allows each of the warp threads to be covered by the weft.  It is very densely packed, requires a heavy beat and takes forever to do quite honestly.

I’m using Harrisville Shetland for the weft of this mat and have to go through the treadling sequence 32 times to make the 1 1/2 inches for each color sequence.  Next time I will use a heavier wool but this has woven up beautifully.  I thought I’d be crazy with boredom going from overshot to this but I have to tell you this whole process is fascinating and ripe with possibilities.  As usual I’m planning out the next project while weaving this one.

Handwoven magazine has a number of issues over the years with krokbragd projects.  This mat is one of them.  I like to have good instructions when I learn a new structure.  Usually by the time I’m finished with it I have enough of an understanding to begin to run with it.  Sampling always seems to come second with me.

A YouTube video called Talking Threads 17 Krokbragd explains the whole process really well for those of you who are really interested in this structure.  I found it really helpful.