Weaving Wednesday – Krokbragd

140819 Krokbragd

I started weaving camp last week.  This is a short course for the month of August on a technique of my choice (although it was really with the help of my instructor Pam that the decision was made).  We decided to do a rug technique since it is something new to me.  This will be a 24″x 36″mat done in  Krokbragd, a Norwegian rug weaving techniques known for its color and design.

I don’t know what my problem was the past week but getting this project warped has been an exercise in frustration.  It’s 4 doubled epi, so it should have been quick.  Between threading mistakes and a heck of a time sleying the reed (missed all kinds of threads, did it over TWICE) it took me about 8 hours to get to the point of throwing a shuttle.  8 hours – to wind and warp – there must be something wrong with my brain that doesn’t allow projects to happen in August.

Finally, towards the end of class yesterday I began to weave.  I’m using Harrisville Shetland yard so it doesn’t work up as fast as it would with a thicker yarn but oh, is it beautiful.  I chose Shetland because of the colors that were available to me (and I had a lot of it).  I have to say I’m very excited about the possibilities in color and pattern for this.

Another woman in my class woven a runner over the summer and brought it in last week for me to photograph.  It is stunning.

WP_20140814_13_22_17_Pro

She started out with a couple of muted tones and then took off with color.  It’s so much fun to look at and so exciting to think this is something I can do that isn’t terribly complicated.

I love it when I’m learning a new structure.  The drive home from class is always filled with thoughts of how to use this new-found technique.  I’m thinking of color combinations and patterns the whole way.  I can’t wait to get back into the studio with a serious block of time devoted to weaving.  Let the magic begin.

The Body Can Take Only So Much

140818 Patio Garden

Ever feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew?  That’s what I’m feeling today.  The photo above is of the stone patio on the southeast side of the house.  There is (was) a perennial garden that ran around the edge of it that has been there since the beginning of time, I swear.  It had irises, phlox, peonies, various herbs and enough daffodils to populate the sides of every road in town.

I have been thinking about digging up this garden for a few years now but every summer it has been just too hot to do it.  With all the other gardens I’ve dug so far this summer I figured I would tackle one last one.  The decision was made earlier in the year when only a few of the irises blossomed.  They were too crowded.  The daffodils were insane every year for decades but this year there weren’t quite many blossoms as I’m used to seeing and I took that as a sign as well.

Today was the perfect weather to spend outdoors doing anything.  Blue sky, breeze, cool.  I started digging at 8:30 and finished around 3:30.  Well, I stopped because I couldn’t dig anymore, my body wouldn’t let me.  I dug and divided oregano, three huge clumps of iris, three huge garden phlox, a sedum, a patch of chives about three feet in diameter, a small peony and hundreds of bulbs.  I must confess I divided the first phlox and planted six good size plants in the front garden but the other two I dug up went out to the compost heap except for a small piece that I gave to a neighbor.  Other things were moved to other gardens but the rest of it is in buckets waiting to go back into the ground.

I have a very large bucket full of bulbs, it weighs over 50 pounds and the digging is a little over half done.  Those daffodils started out as a forced pot of six in 1978 – a gift sent to my sister during a hospitalization.  My mother planted them in the spring and for the last 36 years they have been expanding exponentially.

The interesting thing about this garden is how it has gotten higher up on the wall as the years have gone by.  The lawn has gotten higher and the garden seems to have gone along for the ride.  In digging this side out I have been able to expose more of the wall of the patio.  I think this is due to mulching the grass where it’s cut over so many years.  It creeps up on you and always comes as a surprise to me when I start digging.

The plan is to finish digging the rest of it in the next day or two and plant everything that’s staying by the end of the week.  Fortunately most of the heavy digging is almost done, I have about a third of the garden to go but I have to tell you, the way my body feels right now getting back out there tomorrow morning is making me wish for rain.

Preserving

canada-waste-not.jpg.644x0_q100_crop-smart

Even though the garden is nowhere near what it should be right now I have spent the majority of the day putting up what has been taken out of it.  I had a large basket of tomatoes ripen on the counter that I wanted taken care of before the fruit flies were out of control.  I picked more to ripen this morning but have a feeling piccalilli is in my future (not that I mind, I haven’t made it in a few years).

I canned what few green beans I have harvested this year.  The yellows should be coming in mid-week.  They’re a month behind – mind you I had to plant them 3 times this year due to cold weather.  You can’t always go by the calendar when it comes to gardening.

I also dug some potatoes and it would appear that this will be one of my best years ever for those.

With the spoils of the garden waiting on the counter I decided to make a five mile meal.  Shepherd’s Pie made with fresh dug potatoes, newly pulled onions, fresh corn, newly cured garlic and beef grown in Heath by our good friend Russell. Now I know Shepherd’s Pie is sometimes considered a lowly meal but is a favorite of some of my family members and making it with ingredients this fresh takes it to heights never achieved with corn coming out of a can.  It’s five miles to the corn stand, hence the name.

I also made backyard sauce and canned that as well.  Everything grown here – even the herbs.  Heaven.

There’s something about the feeling you get knowing you have grown everything you are eating.  There’s a sense of pride and a feeling of security that grows a little each year.  I can also send food home with family and friends and know they’ll eat and enjoy not only something good, healthy and local but also made with love.

 

 

 

 

Where Did Summer Go?

140813 Rainbow LomoI woke up this morning, before daylight, to the sound of rain on the roof.  My first thought was  “Are you kidding me?!?” I went back to a restless sleep and finally got up to a rather cold house.  When I looked at the thermometer it was 48 degrees.

I picked up a brochure for the Heath Fair last weekend at the local farm and garden center and the woman at the check out said, “Yup, next weekend, marks the end of summer”.

To me this has been the summer that wasn’t.  We had a handful of days in the 80’s, very few days in the 90’s.  All of the fans have been taken out of the windows so I can close them at night against most of the cold air. The window in my bedroom will stay open until November – in part to keep the fresh air coming in but also so I can hear the owls and other critters at night.  The garden has been so so.  I look back at records of past years and realize that everything is 2 weeks or so behind except for the garlic.  It will be a miracle if I get beans at all – they love the sun and heat.

This past Wednesday was a complete washout (and the only day I really had to work in the gardens).  It was warmer but pouring and brought in the cooler weather.  There was a rainbow to mark the end of the day and the rain.  It also showed me where my pot of gold resides. There is such beauty here. Every day gives another opportunity to see it and share.

Today the chicken fence goes up and they will venture outdoors for the first time in their lives.  Although I have so much to do with the summer ending I will move my lawn chair to a good vantage point with camera in hand and watch the chicks take in the fresh air and sunshine.  What better way to spend part of a late summer day.

 

Regroup

140812 Back Forty Rain

Today is the kind of day weatherwise where time is spent (at least initially) regrouping.  We have been fortunate to have had a lot of rain over the course of the summer and most of it happened at night.  The gardens and even the potted plants needed little attention as far as moisture is concerned which left that much more time to pursue the heavy gardening that I wanted to get done.

Well, we are almost to the middle of August and there is sooo much more to do in the next week or so.  That is what is in the back of my mind but also this little voice is saying, regroup.  Tackle those indoor projects that can be done in less than an hour.  You know the ones – clean the refrigerator, wash a floor, scrub the stove.  No matter how much I don’t like these jobs they have to get done and no one else is going to do them – sigh.  Where are those elves when you need them?

This rainy, indoor day is also a blessing.  I need to get my things prepped and ready for the Heath Fair.  They need to be dropped off tomorrow night and there is still some finishing that needs to be done.  Three things are going in this year, weaving and a photograph.  The weaving needs to be pressed, the photograph framed (I printed it last night).  I’m not as confident in my blue ribbon prospects this year but it’s always fun to see your stuff on display.

Photographs are something I never, ever enter into anything.  I think they are so close to my heart that I don’t want to know that they aren’t as good as I think they are.  I guess I’m thin-skinned when it comes to opinions of how I see.  Be brave, take a step, just do it, what’s it really going to hurt?  So in it will go.

My weeks have suddenly filled with a weaving camp that I’m taking until the end of August.  Tuesday and Thursday mornings will be filled with rug weaving, a new skill. This is great for my brain because I’m a morning person, not so good for the other projects I wanted to get done by fall, choices will need to be made.

Now back to my lists. Maybe, just maybe that refrigerator will get cleaned out today . . . but there’s a warp on the board that is calling my name.

The Volunteers

140808 Mulch pile pumpkin (1)

I have a large mulch pile where I throw a lot of stuff over the course of the seasons.  I usually turn it over a number of times throughout the year with the tractor.  This year there were recognizable plants growing in the spring so I just left it.

There are now potatoes in blossom and the biggest squash plant I have ever grown.  I think it is actually a long pie pumpkin.  There were blossoms in profusion (and still are) earlier in the summer but no fruit.  Yesterday I took a closer look and there it was.  Looks like a giant zucchini but will ripen off of the vine to a wonderful, orange, thick skinned pumpkin.  An excellent keeper and awesome pie pumpkin.

Every year there are volunteers in my garden. This year there were potato plants which I expect since I don’t always get all of the potatoes when I dig them.  There are also a couple of tomatoes and sunflowers. It always amazes me that something grows, I till the plot multiple times before it’s planted each year.

It’s the mulch pile stuff that always fascinates me.  Things that are rotten and intentionally cast off grow and bloom into something more spectacular than is ever grown in the garden.  Maybe next year I’ll just toss my seeds over the bank and hope for the best, it certainly is working this year.

140808 Mulch pile pumpkin (2)

A Burning Question

140807 Hummingbird Feeder

This is driving me a little crazy. The little yellow things on the ground normally cover the nectar holes on this hummingbird feeder.  I have three feeders around my yard.  Every day something has pulled these things off and they are lying on the ground as shown.  The feeder is about 3 feet off of the ground.  Any ideas what might be doing this?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Garden Bounty

140805 Iris

My vegetable garden has been somewhat of a disappointment this year.  The tomatoes have blight, the cucumbers are slow, everything is 2 to 3 weeks behind because of the cool temperatures and copious amounts of rain we have had.  The things that are doing great are my perennials.

The cooler temperatures have allowed me to begin a long, long overdue garden rehab project.  Yes, new gardens are going in but one of the reasons for the new gardens is that there are so many things that need division in the old gardens.  I have to say that it has taken me by surprise.  One iris, planted about 5 years ago, yielded a garden full of new ones.

I’m never one to complain about free plants mind you but this is a little concerning to me when I look at what I have to divide.  I dug up three plants yesterday, an iris, a balloon flower and a Stella di Oro lily.  The iris yielded about 30 usable rhizomes, the balloon flower maybe three separate plants and the lily went from one larger clump to six good size plants.

The distressing part for me is the fact that I haven’t even begun to dig up the garden that needs to be redone.  I’m not one to throw plants over the bank but foresee that happening.  How many haphazard gardens are there from plants being pitched when the gardens are redone? (You gardeners out there know what I’m talking about).  I have two of those right here.  Daffodils come up all over the place now where they were thrown purposefully or accidentally over the years. Hostas, myrtle, daylilies, even Jack in the Pulpits.  I prefer to refer to those haphazard messes as reserves for the day when I need them.

Yesterday I gave away half of the iris to a friend that was here in the morning.  I didn’t give him a choice – I told him he could pitch them over his bank, I would never know.

This is how friendship gardens happen. Someone is dividing up their plants in order to have them be healthier and bloom better, they are overwhelmed with the number of unexpected plants they end up with, they force them onto their friends and family.  That gives me a whole new perspective on a couple of the gardens that I always thought of as “friendship” gardens.  Maybe all those special plants are really things that were being cast off and rescued by my mother, similar to things that have happened to me recently.

Regardless of how the plants have ended up in my garden I love most of them.  Even if some were cast off from another’s garden renovation I look upon them fondly.  Some of them have been here since 1968 when we moved here and my mother began gardening in earnest.  To identify certain specimens with certain people in an aspect that I love.

So as the garden renovation continues I will be giving away a lot of things and hope that some years from now someone will say,  “Oh I got that from Joanne in 2014 during the big dig”.  For that reason I’m careful what I give away and make sure it is weed free.  The last thing I want is someone cursing me out for some invasive species that I introduced to their garden.  Although at this point irises are feeling a little invasive.

140805 Stellas

Hand Made

Lomogram_2014-06-13_10-21-44-AM

Yesterday the weather wasn’t conducive to gardening, or much of anything outdoors.  Although there was plenty to do in the house (like vacuuming) I decided to finish up the project on the loom.

This is a 72″ runner with a linen warp and wool weft.  I made it for a friend of mine who has been one of my weaving cheerleaders since the beginning.  She has an older home and her love of blue and white traditional overshot drove the project.  I told her last year that I would make her something and that’s what lead me to the linen warp.  It was an experience.

These are my favorite projects, the ones I make for particular people.  It’s a different kind of effort.  As I said before it’s really the process not the project. Once it was off of the loom, fringed and wet finished I photographed it and then folded it and got it ready for presentation.   The gifting is my favorite part.

The end of last year I was weaving some beautiful twill towels with the intention of gifting one of them to one of my biggest cheerleaders.  The intent was Christmas as he wondered how he could get on my Christmas list.  Well, as usual, life got in the way and they weren’t ready by Christmas, or by January.  His health took a turn for the worse after the holidays and in my heart I knew this was the end.  It all but stopped my progress on that project.  It came to a screeching halt actually.  He passed away in March and with that I had to change my entire mindset on those towels.  I did finish them and gifted them to my oldest daughter – they were her colors.  In weaving the last of the warp though he was constantly on my mind.

I don’t know how to explain what happened when he died honestly.  The week after his death I was a total mess, trying to find meaning in what had transpired surrounding it.  After his memorial service I was at total peace.  Not just peace with his passing, peace with everything.  It was as though the moment he died he took all of my lifetime crap with him when he left.  I just had to be quiet enough to see it.  Now I always knew we had a connection and over the past year or two he was more than ready to lend an empathetic ear but this was unexpected.  There is no other explanation, the calm with my life came when he left.  Thank you.

The loss of a dear friend, in the middle of a project like that gives urgency to finishing things when they are made directly for someone.  I really want this to go to its intended home.  Although I have never seen her table I imagine it laying there and the pleasure it will give to its recipient.

Last year, after winning a blue ribbon on an overshot throw at the Eastern States Exposition, Paul wrote on my post about it.  “Hands made this. Hands were used by a person. A person made this. It holds and conveys the sense and feel of those hands and the spirit of that person. Yes, it is beautiful.”  There are people who intrinsically understand this about things that are hand-made.  Maybe it comes from making art of your own because I know many people who don’t get it.

I will continue to weave and create beautiful things and giving many of them away.  I think a little piece of my soul goes with them most of the time and I gift to those that can see it.

Lomogram_2014-07-31_03-28-54-PMThe bonus on most weaving projects is I always warp a little longer than required so I can play at the end.  The photo above is a small table runner I made in a variation of the pattern and that one stays on my table.

 

 

That Special Dog

140719 (31)

I opened my computer this morning not knowing what I would write about and looked at the photo above which is my current desktop pic.  Kids and dogs, kids and this dog.

I haven’t written much lately about Chester.  He doesn’t currently live in Rowe with me, rather than stay in the freedom of country life he would rather be at the shop with Bill.  Apparently there isn’t enough social interaction here.  He just really loves Bill and always wants to go everywhere with him so . . .  I pretend I’m okay with it.

Weekends are a different story.  He plays a lot.  Goes swimming at least once a day and when we do take out the boat he is very happy to go with us.  It’s all about the games.  There are tennis balls and frisbees on the boat and he knows it.  He will be playing fetch for hours, not just minutes.

We had company a couple of weekends ago that he loved more than anything. An eleven year old boy who seemed to be pretty committed to the game as well. Hours upon hours of fetch – on dry land and in the lake.

Watching these two you realize how great life can be, how great it should be.  They were so happy in each other’s company.

Chester seeks out children.  He loves them.  He is the most gentle animal and seems to be able to sense exactly what game will work with whatever age the child is.  If they are scared or nervous he gently helps them to warm up to him.  His goal in life is to make every kid want a dog.  I have had to tell more than one parent that not all dogs are like him, he’s special. He has been this way since he came to us.

I told a friend of mine whose business is training dogs that I have never had a dog quite like him.  He told me I had found my lifetime dog (he was still waiting for his).  He is right.  I’ve had a few dogs, there is a hierarchy in remembering them – from the best to the worst.  I loved them all but wow, Chester is it, there will never be another.

10457158_10202492129690105_8043429474343509256_n (1)