Monday, March 30, 2009

Cherry Blossom Knitting


It was actually the cherry blossoms blooming that reminded me of the color of that spray dyed yarn, and made me hunt it up and start knitting on it..they way so one thing leads to another, when you are not knitting with a plan, but just “comfort knitting”

I started another spindolyn bean bag pouch, out of the cherry blossom colored yarn. It is a spiral hexagon, but to really match the cherry blossoms, it should have been a pentagon spiral..but as usual, I just picked up needles and started knitting and didn’t think it through first.


I am up the sides now, and it is a little poochy for a pouchy, yes, I should have made it a pentagon…next time.

But I love cherry blossom time, never-the-less.

Here is a picture a week back, before the tree was in full bloom, in the background you can see one of the hills that flank the holler, and my shop, before Saturdays storm blew the storm door clean off of it (silly pun, but kinda too bad, because a storm door is the only kinda door it had)


And of course, I had to try and get a lamb with cherry blossom picture, to go with the mule with cherry blossom and goat with cherry blossom….




Cherry blossoms last a full 2 weeks, the honey bees working them over while you work to get your taters and onions and sugar snap peas in the ground, if you are late with them.

Then the bees leave and they drift to the ground in showers of delicate petals, clinging to tools and wheelbarrows and car windows and by then, bright green baby tree leaves will be everywhere and then it will be really, truly, spring. But right now, the bees are still buzzing, and last night was pretty good frost.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An ungreen thing

It was an impulse buy, from a discount rack, at a discount craft store. I normally don’t succumb to impulse buys, because the thread I dangle from will not support them and groceries in the same week.

But, I was in the big city (Nashville) which is a rare thing, waiting in the parking lot of a musical instrument store for the boys to make their cable purchase (modern musicianship requires an amazing variety of cables) and there was this Hobby Lobby next door. Coming home from the big city without even a tiny souvenir seems a bit too spartan, but normally it is something like a box of stevia for sweetening, or something for the garden from Lowes that I can’t get locally.

I wandered through the entire store and as usual couldn’t find anything that I couldn’t live without, till I saw the “spray on” dye. Yep, it is in a spray can like paint, and you spray it on t-shirts and tote bags and such. How ungreen and wasteful is this? You can mix up dye and sponge it on the surface with the same results without the waste of the metal and manufacturing of the can…with a mixture of much guilt and much glee I brought it home.

It is intended for cotton, of course, but I threw down an old skein of worsted weight handspun romney lamb two ply onto a piece of newspaper and sprayed one side of it and one side of a matching sample square of knitting.

I let it dry a few days (got sidetracked on to something else) and then washed them both vigorously, fully expecting the dye to wash out, but it did not. Then I unraveled the knitting and compared it to the skein, the color repeats where about what you would expect, the knitted piece was short repeats of pink and white, the skein was long repeats. But the surprise was, it was nice! Soft hand, pretty, color (cranberry, I think it was) Could it be obtained in another way? sure, was this insanely quick and easy? sure. Kinda like the difference between a home cooked meal and going through the drive through. Not something you would normally confess or encourage, but it was interesting.


I balled them both up and took this photo to document the color, then set them aside, till now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

hops and hemp (and fiber, too)

Hey Beadnik! your hops guess was a good one, because that was going to be my next “guess this photo”


Here it is, coming up self seeded in the pots by my outdoor shower.

Now, I have always read that hops are difficult to get started, but that has not been my experience. These came from the Whitewater River in South Eastern Indiana. Hops grows wild all over the river banks there. Introduced by the early German settlers, I would imagine. This would be the rampant, wild type, not the fancy, highly sought after beer making varietal types. When I lived in Metamora, I had a large (and exclusively) container grown garden, having no yard to speak of. I had hops in a pot growing up the porch railing. When I brought some of the potted perennials back down to Tennessee with me, the hops seeds, prolific and hidden in the dirt, came along too.

Each year I train them up the posts of the outdoor shower and collect, dry and jar some of the hops (female flower cones, called strobiles) for tea for when you can’t sleep. I emphasize the training part, cause these rampant, weedy vines are very scratchy, and they can cut you, cut you bad, if they nod over onto your naked body while you are showering.

You are probably asking what this has to do with fiber. Well, hops and hemp are in the same family (Cannabaceae) and both are paper making candidates. Home scale paper making is is one of those arts that appeals to fiber people, but others get that little wrinkle in the middle of their forehead and have to wonder why…

Anyway, I am back on hemp and during research stumbled on this interesting page from the hemp museum on the chronology of paper making. I found the notes that “by the 1860’s America used more paper than france and england combined” really revealing as well as that in this time period 88% of the content of paper was still made from recycled rags. If you are like me and into chronologies, this is fascinating stuff…

Monday, March 16, 2009

buds and blooms

I was just about to post these three photos, all in one post…to give the extra hint to the extra credit question of “what is this spring bud”…

The first one posted with its hemp cowl,


the second one a week later, (notice I haven’t had time to knit the hemp yet)


and the last one, with its rain soaked flower buds..


But then Cyndy guessed it, without the the final photo hint! Yep, the common lilac.

Today, at 4.00 pm in the afternoon, the sun came out. First time in weeks and weeks. I stood awestruck like some alien on a newfound planet, stopped in my tracks by the colors that have been missing all winter. One minute of sunshine can bring a million colors out of a single gray, muddy and winter weary hillside. Sigh. I can make it through now.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

More spring photos..

First, I would like to comment on the comments of my previous post regarding hemp.

Cyndy, thank you so much for the pertinent information!

Cyndy commented:

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 would finally allow North Dakota, and the other states that have passed pro-hemp legislation or resolutions (Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia), considered pro-hemp legislation or resolutions (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin), or where farm groups have advocated for a return to industrial hemp farming (Ohio and Pennsylvania), to choose whether or not to let farmers grow industrial hemp.
You can write congress and tell them to support this Legislation.

Regarding the bud photo for bonus points;

Sue guessed hydrangea (good guess, as they are also opposite, but they are still in tight bud, and I had to go look at them after your guess to find them very serrated along the bud edges, but a more hempy color, btw, should have hung the ball of hemp on the hydrangea, I guess)

No, not hellebore either, more common than that… the quiz is still open…here is today’s photo of the same buds, 7 days later.


This has been the gloomiest, grayest, chilliest winter I can ever remember in Tennessee, so any little spring glimmer is welcome. And what could be more cheerful than a baby goat or two? I am happy to report that we breezed through kidding with no trouble. Lambing will be next month.

These little girls are from my dairy does, but their daddy is a meat goat, and they look more like him.



Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hemp and the color of money and spring

Most people already know the history of Hemp in the US. The story of hemp and paper, of US paper and oil company greed, how hemp could save the forest, etc. We forget these fights in the midst of other problems, but boy, it sure comes back when you go to buy a couple of balls of hemp knitting yarn for a particular project (knitted hemp sprout bag, pattern coming soon)

It is hard to find, and expensive and I would love to grow it myself here in my garden, to experiment with processing and spinning it from scratch. But legalization ain't gonna happen in my lifetime, I am afraid.

I think it is a lovely color, and the grass is just starting to green here now, but this hemp sport weight is about the color of the winter bleached grass and weed stalks.

Bonus points for the identification of the promising spring buds acting like a hat hook here in this photo. I write this as pellets of sleet hit the window and I work on spindolyns close by the fire. Not many more days like this, I am sure, as the spring beauties and toothwort are already blooming in the woods, under the thin layer of ice.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The dog ate my homework

I swear to you that when I typed that title for this blogpost that it came out "the god ate my homework"
I mix up phone numbers, too.
I mix up alot of things. But I am deliberate and slow with the spindolyns, and still I make mistakes.
Some might say I am just a total loser, but I prefer to think of it as a handicap in the "absent minded professor" sort of way.
What does that have to do with dogs? I have a new rescue puppy Polly (german shepherd x red heeler) and am babysitting my son's rescued Jack Russle terrier (ever so creatively named "jack")
The place I was going with this is....Polly deliberately and slowly and gently goes into the bedroom and brings out balls of yarn, which she knows she is not supposed to get. As she walks by me to her pillow, she gets a very guilty look on her face and drops the balls of yarn at my feet.
Boy! I wish I had time to use this yarn, but I must make spindles. But longing for knitting is a good antidote to lack of creative inspiration, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all....
She is a "fairy god puppy of yarn inspiration"

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