Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Three Hours of Peace and Fleece

This is the title of the hand spun and woven shawl pictured here. A group of women from CT (Anne, Myra, Fran, Peg & Sonya) were part of the Fleece to Shawl Competition at The NY State Sheep and Wool Festival also known as Rhinebeck. This shawl came in 3rd place! Anne, Fran, Peg and Sonya were the spinners, Myra was the weaver. Myra had contacted me initially as she was in charge of dyeing the raw fleece, a Border Leceister, with indigo, which would be the weft for the shawl. Myra hadn't dyed with indigo before and so I put together the dye and assists she would need for the project and through a couple of emails and telephone calls she had great success the first time through. Dyeing with indigo is truly magical as you see the fiber change color right before your eyes! It's one of the most freestyle dyeing excursions you'll ever have. The other picture shows the raw fleece dyed with indigo, prior to the competition. A stunning finished product; congratulations Indigo Gals!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dyeing with Black Walnuts

Here I am cracking black walnuts this weekend. A tedious job to be sure but great when conversing with a friend or watching the news! The top picture shows the color that can be obtained from dyeing with Black Walnut. My cousin gave me loads of them; enough to dye at least 30 pounds of fiber! So now I will let the nuts dry, crack off the hulls and store them for future use. Here is my recipe for dyeing protein fibers (wool & silk) with black walnut hulls. I mordant with alum sulfate first to better accept the dye to the fiber, although many say mordanting first when dyeing with Black Walnut is not necessary.

Use fresh or dry hulls from Black Walnut trees. They fall to the ground in early fall. The hull is bright green with a spongy, dark inner area when fresh, and dark brown when dried. With a knife, split the hull away from the inner nut. I let the hulls dry out first. Use 100% dried hulls to the weight of fiber, i.e. 1 pound of fiber, 1# of walnut hulls. Simmer the dried hulls with water (3:1 ratio; 3 gals water to 1# walnut hulls) until the dye liquor is dark, maybe an hour or so at 200%. Strain off the dye liquor, and throw out the hulls and residue. Add the fiber to the dyebath, rotating the goods continually for the first 30 minutes, bringing temperature up from 100 to 200 degrees. Maintain 200 degrees for another 45-60 minutes. Let fibers cool in the bath and remove to rinse. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Georgia's grace

Georgia wants to offer you a grace or two for your Thanksgiving Day dinner!

Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank You for this place in which we dwell,
For the love that unites us,
For the peace accorded us this day.
For the hope with which we expect tomorrow;
For the health, the work, the food
And the bright skies
that make our lives delightful.

Or a Scottish grace:

Scones and pancakes roun' the table,
Eat as much as ye are able,
Eat! Leave nothing!
Hallelujah! Amen

Enjoy the feast

and may your blessings

be plentiful!

Friday, November 17, 2006


This is a view from the barn this morning; layers of life from where I stand to the edge of the field...it's been a miserable wet spell again, in fact the weatherman said we are 60% above normal precipitation for the period from September 1st to date with 16+ inches of rain, the normal being around 9". But the winter berry is stunning in the gray drab of November. This time of year could appear bleak except what is colorful really stands out; the bluejays, the waxy leaves of the rhododendron, even the sky's reflection in the brook.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


A school board member up north was retiring after having served his district for nearly forty years. A young reporter interviewed him for an article. "In forty years," she said, " you must have seen a lot of changes in the way the schools are run."
"Yup" he said, "and I was against every one of them."
an excerpt from Could Have Been Worse by Rebecca Rule

Keep a sense of humor this election day!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Belly up to the bar, babes

Loved this view yesterday of the flock eating the morning feed. Lots of butts and happy hoofers!