Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nanette's last stop

I am in the Bordeaux region. It is absoulutely stunning country. It is the region I feel most at home in since arriving. Having said that, there have been welcoming villages, inns and people all along the trip. But Bordeaux is to behold! Mile after mile of farmland where it is planting time for many crops. Beautiful stone homes and chateaus dot the hillsides. The population is sparse to the amount of land with small villages that accomodate the residents rather than travelers. It is peaceful and agricultural.

The past two days we have all been learning about Woad (Isatis Tinctoria), the European blue. Woad is a plant, native to Europe and belongs to the family of cabbage, broccolli and rape seed.

It has been my first time dyeing with woad and I must say the blue shades we obtained are spectacular.

We are being wined and dined by Kate Hill at her lovely farm on a river.

There are chickens pecking about with a big handsome rooster.Baby chicks are hatching as well as ducks. Recently Kate aquuired two ewes, about 6 months old now.

For the final fling....who am I learning how to dye Woad with? And what breed of sheep does Kate Hill own?

Previous winners welcome....and thank you for traveling along with me! Back to the states tomorrow. Au revoir!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where's Nanette now?

It's been a non-stop trip so far. Our group of seven are veteran travelers, shoppers and full of the desire to learn and try new things!

We spent three full days in Saigon and traveled to Lauris each day to study in the atelier of Michel Garcia, natural dye expert and former president of the Association Couleur Garance, the French natural dye organization. The course was entitled Printing on Fabric with Natural Coulors From Plants. It was absolutely great to work with Michel. He taught us how to achieve a range of colours from one plant material by adjusting the mordant variable on cloth. It was an intensive but we also enjoyed lunch together each day at Michel's favorite eateries. And the French enjoy food and wine! Wine was included as part of every meal where we ate. That is not always the case but Lauris served with style.

Then we travelled by private transfer to a new auberge a bit further south with our wonderful tour guide Marlene. She knows Provence like the back of her hand and as we had some time after we left Michel until our next destination she drove us to Rousillion so we could see the ochre quarry and also do a bit of shopping. We also toured the ochre museum to see how ochres were mined and created. Rousillion is a beautiful village sitting atop a hill. It has narrow streets, beautiful vistas and small shops dotted everywhere.

We have spent the last three days in another area sightseeing both known and less known attractions.

Where's Nanette?

Atop a rocky outcrop crowned with a castle ruins. The Mistral winds are blowing and it was extremely difficult to navigate the rugged terrain with a constant wind speed in excess of 40mph and gusts up to 70mph. What was discovered there which would be of interest to a natural dyer?

One only have one chance to win during this series. When I return from France I will get in touch with the winners about mailing your token from France!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Where's Nanette?

Bonjour! I arrived in Paris early Tuesday morning and after a bit of confusion found the gent that would drive me from the airport to the train where I would go to meet up with the rest of my group. However the traffic was a complete logjam and it took far longer than expected. He was very kind and took me into the station which is quite large and got me to the ticket line as I had to cancel and buy a new ticket. Within time I had a new ticket on the marvelous TGV. We departed at 11:15 and I took a seat in the upper level. The TGV quietly travels though the French countryside at about 180mph, I believe! I had lunch in the cafe and listened to music, napped and with a few hours was at my next spot. Here I was supposed to join everyone but they had a glitch also and so I took a cab about 45 minutes to where they were having lunch.

Where's Nanette?

An absolutely beautiful village in the south of France. Within the village was a quarry known for ochre production up until the 1940's. It still serves as a museum and educational center for the history of ochres at this quarry.

Internet communications are a bit of a challenge so bear with me as I travel this incredible journey.

The first person (not privy to my whereabouts) to guess my correct whereabouts will receive a small gift from my travels! Good luck!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Bonne nuit ~ Au revoir

For the bonne nuit part...I am home from the NH Sheep and Wool Festival and as always it was just a great show. The weather was challenging with driving rains on Saturday, leaky roofs and an overall damp feeling. Today it was dry but a gray sky loomed with a cold wind. However that is the best conditions for us fiber folk who love wool! It may sound like a broken record but I love seeing you all....just the comraderie, hugs, smiles and happy faces work for me! Is this a pair of happy faces or what?

They came down the isle by my booth and I just couldn't resist this baby face, or the Mom! 5 months old and just so happy she was, as was her mom on Mother's Day today.

There were a couple of difficult moments in my building...Josie and Tom had to close yesterday as she was rushed to the hospital with a medical problem and then Lars Garrison's wife, Gail, suffered a heart attack late yesterday and her prognosis is unclear. I spoke with Lars this morning and he was more than concerned for her recovery. Please say a prayer for them all, they are mainstays in the New England fiber community.

As for the Au revoir part....I depart for France tomorrow for a 2 week journey with Earthues and friends working with two French natural dyers along with days of sights relevant to the natural dye world. Very exciting and a once in a lifetime trip!

Because I enjoy your company on my blog and would wish you could take this same trip with me I am doing the best next option....

I will be posting blog entries here and there entitled "Where's Nanette?" I will show a photo and a clue as to where I am. It will be your job to determine where I am in France. The first correct entry posted on the blog post will win a token gift from the area in France I am located.

This is for the fun of will take a few days for me to get settled and of course the internet connection challenge exists. If all else fails I will still post the game on my return. The geography challenge exists! Good luck and be well!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Catch up

Recapping the past 10 days.....

First, the Ct Sheep and Wool Festival last weekend was a great show as always. We had beautiful weather, not too hot but lots of sun. As I drove home Saturday night I reflected on the day and was happy. It is an incredible amount of work but always the reward is meeting fiber lovers and dear friends, some who I only see a handful of days each year. As always it was great to visit with Kris, Bev, Manise and to meet so many new people as well. There is nothing quite like doing what you love and be able to share it with others.

On the farm front it's calmed down a bit. I settled on the names for the lambs, finally. It takes time to get to know them! So here's Griffin. His name was an instant yes.

He's so cool. He loves everyone and I can scratch his chest and within a few minutes he just lays down and schmoozes. Of course I will have to wether him as I have been way to sweet on him and if he remained an intact ram, I'd have a mess on my hands. But he was slated for a wether from the get go!

And this is Magnolia, Maggie for short, hanging under her mom, Della. Smart little ewe, it was actually sprinkling rain and she knew how to get undercover!

And this is Austin with his mom, Bea! Thank you Sam for the great suggestion. He is such an Austin type. I am not spoiling him as he will be sold and should someone want to keep him for a ram he will be perfect. Strong bodied and handsome.

And then there is Lily. I originally chose Phoenix but she has grown into a Lily. Lily is a town in Georgia so I was delighted to crown her with the name! Here she was at 4 days old, weighing about 7 pounds, right in the swing of bottle feedings.

And a week later she gained 5 pounds and is thrifty as can be! You can see how her belly has rounded out. She is one lovely little ewe, Della loves her just fine and cares for and protects her so it is a blessing all we have to do is provide the food.

It is taking a small toll on our sleep as we get the last bottle to her at 11PM and the first at 5AM, not to mention not being able to leave the farm for more than 4 hours at a time, but that will ease up as she grows and turns to more grain and green grass.

We moved Bianca, the hen, into the barn with the lambing group as we have a new flock of chicks now.

We made her a roost and she actually loves her post. She made a nest in the hay bales and each morning by 8AM she has laid her egg and is off and running for the day. She comes and goes as she pleases. Come night fall we make sure she is in the barn and tucked in with the flock. It was a long winter for her as the lone hen here and I trust in time she'll be happy to have some new hen friends. I have to say, Bianca is unique. She walks with us around the farm and joins us as we work on projects. She is so personable and cool.

The chicks are in the hen house and will learn to come and go from there once they are old enough. Here they are the first day while we got them adjusted. I put a small plate in their box and they all fit on it! A week later they are already showing wing feathers and flitting around their domain.

At the studio color is continually being poured on fibers and I have a great group of four-legged friends to help me! Kalie guards the door on the roadside while Sidney and Luna man the dyepots. Right....

Today we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary with Faith and Derek here at the farm. A wonderful start to a new year together.

The NH Sheep and Wool Festival is coming up this weekend and I am wrapping up the preparations this week and look forward to being part of this great New England festival! Hope to see you there!