Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rhinebeck reflections

The NY Sheep and Wool Festival was a great event last weekend. It was my first year vending at this event and I was delighted to be able to attend. My friend, Maryann, came along to help with every aspect of the weekend and she was a Godsend. It is a big job to set up and tear down the booth, not to mention being on your feet for 12 hours +/-. We didn't leave the fairgrounds until 7PM Sunday night and I was grateful for her conversation on that very long ride back to NH (long only because it was dark and we were a wee bit tired!).

Friday night we got together for dinner with Tom and Diane Golding at a great restaurant right across from the fairground, The Double O Grill. It was nice to unwind with friends after the day of driving and setting up our booths plus the food was excellent!

After a very busy day Saturday, Maryann and I enjoyed evening reservations at the annual Wild Fibers event that Linda Cortright hosts. We gathered in an enclosed tent on the fairgrounds for yummy food, red wine, gifts of wonderful alpaca blend socks from Red Maple Sportswear plus samples of Unicorn Fiber Wash, Scour and Rinse products Linda gave a spirited talk with slides of her trip to Central Asia this year. A nice gathering among fellow fiber lovers.

The weather all weekend was spectacular after a rainy Friday night of setting up. A cold front set the stage for low humidity and lots of sunshine. The Duchess County Fairgrounds are beautiful and clean, right down to the bathrooms, which had the friendliest, and most entertaining attendants I have ever encountered!

My only huge disappointment was one of the 3 fleeces I submitted to the judging/sale at Rhinebeck disappeared sometime Saturday. I checked them all in Saturday AM early but by Sunday AM the people who manage the paperwork had no record of the sale and the fleece was missing. Seven pounds of the most beautiful gray CVM, gone. My only hope is that the sales slip got misfiled and they'll find it as they tally the slips in the next few weeks. If not then the fleece was stolen. I have accepted that inevitabilty with a sour taste. I have decided our fleeces will no longer be submitted to the shows. I will sell them at my booths at various festivals or through my reserve list. No more ribbons needed. I cannot allow that kind of loss more than once. It is hard work managing fleeces throughout the year to present for sale. Enough said.

I enjoyed all who came to our booth to learn about Earthues natural dyes for the first time and to see familiar faces of those who already enjoy natural dyeing and want more! Thank you all for a great weekend and I look forward to seeing you next Spring, if not sooner.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wanda's Crabapple Jelly Recipe

Success!!! Here is Wanda's recipe. Good luck and it sounds like there may be another of Wanda's favorites coming along soon, just in time for the holidays....

First, I don't use pectin, so this recipe will use sugar & boil time. Also, you should know that my apples are the size of chick peas. If yours are bigger, halve or quarter them. Also I don't do the hot water boil after jarring.

Take whatever amount of ripe but tart fruit you have. Wash & stem them. Put them in a non reactive pan & add water just to cover. Bring them to a boil & then simmer until they are tender. Stir gently to prevent scorching, but try not to crush the fruit too much as this will make the jelly cloudy.

When all the fruit is soft, place them in batches in a wet jelly bag & allow to drain completely.

Again, in a non reactive pan measure your juice. If using tart apples you will be using 1 cup of sugar for every cup of juice.

Bring the juice to a boil & reduce to a simmer. When your candy thermometer gets to 220 deg. begin timing your boil. When the juice comes to a boil, add your sugar a cup at a time. Taste the juice a couple of times to check for sweetness. (Beware when tasting! The juice is HOT! ) See how clear & beautiful the juice gets?

You may need to cook at a high simmer for between 10-30 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent scorching. A cold
spoon dipped in the mixture should form a couple of glops on the edge when the liquid is tipped out.

While this is cooking sterilize your jars & lids. The jars should be warm when filled because the jelly is still 220 deg. Fill to within 1/8" of the top of each jar. With a wet cloth or paper towel wipe the rim of each jar (they won't seal properly if there is jelly on the rim. Place your lids on the jars add the rings & tighten them. Not too tight because any air trapped inside needs to escape. After a bit tighten the rings completely & wait for the pings to start as the jars seal themselves.

If you have jelly left that won't fit in a jar or fill a jar, put it in a pretty dish & eat it!


Thursday, October 18, 2007


I am just about ready for the Rhinebeck show in NY this weekend...the truck bed is already half full, the shed off my kitchen stuffed and the shed across the street has a small pile to pack. Dear Jack is in charge of packing it all in my truck on Friday AM. It is beyond my patience level to figure out how it will all fit! If I have forgotten anything, shame on me! If you need anything that Earthues has to offer; dyes, mordants, books, kits in various shapes and styles, beautiful sable and deerhide brushes for painting and much more I'll have it with me, plus lots of dye visuals and inspiration. An SUV and trailer with Tunis on the plate passed through Keene this afternoon headed west...I suspect on their way to Rhinebeck to show sheep. It promises to be good weather and always a good show. See you there, perhaps!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Self portrait of an artist

I was vending this past Saturday in Newtown, CT at the Newtown Hooked Rug show and during the morning hours Rita Buchanan stopped by to say hello and wanted to be remembered to Michele Wipplinger, Earthues owner. Many of you know Rita for her fiber arts teaching over the past few decades in every pocket of the country. She has retired from all of that and took to rug hooking of late. Rita mentioned she had entered a couple of rugs in the show. I took a break and as I walked into the display area I was taken aback instantly knowing one of the rugs had to be Rita's! Isn't is spectacular! It was hooked with yarn that Rita, of course, chose raw, carded, dyed and spun and then created the rug from a photo of herself. It is entitled "Watching birds fly south, a self portrait".

After the lecture and raffle later on, the announcement was made for the People's Choice Award and sure enough it was Rita's self portrait! As part of the award, next year's postcard for the show will feature the winning rug. Some artists just excel, even in retirement!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Weld, indigo, silk and my first shibori scarf

I had some fun dyeing this past weekend using weld on different substrates and shades of fiber. Weld is just the greatest dye to work with; read more about weld at

I also dyed and untied my first shibori piece, the ties are bound with one connecting thread giving many evenly spaced spots that will resist the dye. The top photo is a bit blurry, but you can see the ties and where I have undone, the white pointed tips starting to show. Once the piece is dyed and dried completely, the ties are carefully undone by pulling the fabric away from itself. The result is beautiful, I think. I dyed it initially with weld and then overdyed with indigofera tinctoria one quick 5 second dip.

Left to right in the picture: silk strips in weld only, dark gray wool in weld only, white silk dyed in weld and overdyed with indigo, and silk strips in weld with an indigo overdye.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wanda's jelly

Wanda, this is good crabapple jelly as seen in the top picture (not shown on my crumpet, cause I ate it too fast!) I toasted a crumpet, put some butter on it and then the jelly and oh my, yummy. Sidney must have heard my thoughts as he came into the kitchen and so I did the true test of good fruit as he is an apple man. Hey Wanda, he likes it!
If anyone wants to know how we made these jellies just write me and we'll share!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Must be jelly 'cause jam don't shake like that!

We have an abundant grapevine growing down by the big barn and I decided to see how they'd fare in jelly. I have never made jelly before, which sort of surprises me, now that I have! It's fun.

I read a few cookbooks and took the expert advice of my friend, Wanda, who has made jelly so often she could tell me by memory. Good advice, Wanda! I didn't crush the grapes in the initial simmer, although many of the recipes said to. The resulting jelly is dark purple and clear and the taste was fantastic prior to filling the jars. All the lids "popped" down after a half hour cooling and the jelly was firm in less that 4 hours!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Today's Gift

A man came by the farm this morning to pick up some hay elevator parts he'd bought from us. He had come from Strafford, NH and in talking I told him I knew a couple from his town. He asked how I knew them and I told him they'd been good friends with my brother, Jamie. Small state for sure and that we all knew the same people, not that unusual. But today marks a year since my brother died and as I stood there this morning talking with George and his friend Ray, leaning over the bed of his pickup as is the custom, I thought this is a gift. George liked Jamie a lot and told stories of things they'd done together. He spoke kind words and it was as is if his death hadn't happened for a brief moment. It was comforting.
Today is also my brother Kit's birthday.

The top picture is Jamie, me and Kit back in the 50's, the bottom, Jamie with his horses in the Deerfield, NH Old Home Day parade last summer.

I'll forever miss him.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It's all Sidney's fault

Sidney's the one that started this whole apple mania. On any given day our house is harboring at least 3 apples that Sid has brought in from his ramblings around the farm. A lab always has to carry something in their mouth and apples are currently easy and accessible. They are in the bedroom, kitchen and points in between. But Sid is loyal to get them out and eaten. He's like a squirrel with the nut stash!

This morning he managed to find some new apples that had fallen, ate 4 while I did the chores and then helped himself to the basket I filled for the sheep! As I came back to the barn Ashley waited, all alone, a true apple monger. So I tossed her a couple extra while the rest of the flock looked on from the barn area, wondering, had they missed the golden moment?