Now, where did I leave that?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rising from the Mire

  One can only wallow so long, so a quick update: Sunday I did indeed resume spinning, practicing singles. So I may not travel at the rate of the rest of my sheep-to-sweater classmates...the philosophers say it's the journey, not the destination. My sister tells me it's time to stop expecting perfection from myself, so I'll just take my time and enjoy the process.
  We have a new chicken plan in the works. It involves fewer chickens, a smaller coop located much closer to the house with access to electricity (and it'll have outside nestbox access for us); we'll make a runway of sorts to let them have their ample former stomping and foraging grounds up top, and will avoid flighty chickens so they stay within the fencing and away from gardens--ours AND our neighbors'. Millie and a couple of the others wandered over the other day from their now-home across the road, and I was so delighted to see her that I'm looking forward to making it work this time.
  Seed and plant catalogs are arriving. I'm a relentless garden dreamer who does love those sundrenched tomatoes...already tasting fresh gazpacho and crisp green beans and sharp arugula!
  Thank you to the encouraging commentors....good to have company 'out there'!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Remedial Spinning

  Let me say right up front that the self-indulgent whine that follows is the product of a mixture of prednisone-induced moodiness (unresolved severe allergy that is awaiting diagnosis), the end of three long, discouraging weeks at work, and sadness because my younger son is semi-moving to Boston temporarily. Minus that sludge-in-the-soul combo, I might be laughing at myself after today's class, not despairing of ever being a capable woolly person.
  Today was plying and finishing class. Plying is when you take multiple single yarns that you've spun, and spin them together to create yarn you can make stuff with. Sounds easy enough. Hah! There are twists and turns and treadle speeds and ratios...and a sad mess. Today I was the remedial student. It was embarrassing. There I was surrounded by creative people...there was the womon who infused wool with the color of late summer sunshine--using marigolds no less, the guy who had no questions but great--and clearly achievable--plans for the roving he was smoothly and flawlessly spinning, and another womon quietly sitting in a corner plying three singles together to create a fine, lovely yarn of wool and angora; when she talked about the sweater she'd make from it, I knew I'd be seeing that sweater, and lusting after it! But my wheel and I produced a tangled mess, that even my absolutely untrained eyes knew didn't vaguely resemble something usable.

  I never expected to sit down at the wheel and 'get it' all at once. But to be so infatuated with wool, to love the feel and energy of it, to want to linger long and have a meaningful relationship with it, only to still be knitting squares and spinning slubby singles that bceome painfully plied pairings is discouraging. All that mess up there, and here's the little segment that is what it should have been:

  Do you ever feel like you came into your own life too late? I didn't meet Linda until I was 43. Didn't meet wool until I was 48. Didn't figure out that a homespun life with critters (besides cats) and gardens might be what my soul longed for. And now that I know all this, sometimes it just seems too late for all of it. Not too late in years; I'm only 50 1/2. No...too late to learn new tricks. Too late to be a student all over again, to face failure and be the remedial student, that 'one' who needs all the extra help. Too late to get up and feed chickens before going to work. Too late to relish digging and sweating on a hot summer day even for the profound joy of biting into the sweet flesh of a sunbathed tomato. That's how I'm feeling today. Tomorrow I'll sit at the wheel and spin my singles and count the treadling in an effort to create something consistent and worth plying. Tomorrow I'll read Backyard Poultry and talk with Linda about how we'll address all those things that made me quit on chickens (like Winter housing and fencing) so we can try again and be successful. Tomorrow--or some snowy day (if we EVER get one this Winter)--we'll pull out the seed catalogs and garden bed drawings, and plan again. But today, I'm just tired and discouraged. Today I feel like the little match girl peering in the windows at the wondrous creations of people who speak the language of wool, and feeling like I'm never gonna get there. Deep sigh.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Magic Happens!

One of the things I love about spinning is the sheer magic of it. One starts with this:

A little gentle tugging and pulling, and you go from soft balls of fluff and end up with a long filmy cobweb. That cobweb gets spun into yarn!

 Claudia is beyond knowledgeable, and is both funny and endlessly patient. Never mind that I took this same class with her a year and a half or or so ago; this time it REALLY clicked. After awhile the rhythm felt natural, I had no trouble keeping the wheel spinning clockwise, and my roving didn't break at all in the final 45 minutes of class. She described spinning as being perfect for those who need to be in control; while I can't say as I feel 'in control' with it just yet (and shudder at those words because everyone said a standard transmission would be great for me because I'm a control freak, but in fact, I found it more demanding and in control of me than a two-year old and hated that car!), I did have moments of feeling in sync, as if the wheel, the wool and my will all had the same destination in mind. Heady stuff.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sunday Spinning

I'm all set for tomorrow's spinning class, the first in the year-long Sheep-to-Sweater series at Countrywool!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Unexpected Gifts

  Each January my job requires that for two weeks I leave for work before dawn, and return long after darkness enfolds the day in her arms. It's a rough schedule, and wears thin mighty quickly. But this morning as I walked to the car, the sharp waning crescent moon hung low in the barely blushing sky. I could just make out the pink-gray, snow-misty mountains, and a handful of fuzzy stars were still sprinkled across the sky. A few wormless early birds were streaking silhouettes, recognizeable only by size and shape.
  The river was pale and cold as I crossed the bridge, punctuated by those frozen puffs of steam that defy gravity, hanging above the smoke stacks as if velcroed in place. But the magic that made me smile as I wearily trudged into the building was the glitter. It was as if stars had fallen into the grass overnight. The hard frost sparkled in the parking lot lights, silver against the frozen white blades of grass. If I hadn't had to be at work so early today, I'd have missed the hidden, quiet beauty of this dawn. Didn't make me happy to be at work, but profoundly grateful for the secret grace of the morning.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Saturday Morning

Thought I'd share my morning with you. First, I needed to pick up a little more yarn for Patrick's fledgling blanket, so headed off to
Needed a niddy noddy for the upcoming sheep-to-sweater class, so picked that up as well, and availed myself of Claudia's help in fixing the mistake it turns out I hadn't made. Thanks, Claudia!!

Then it was off to Acres Coop's Winter Market:

I see Curried-Carrot Parsnip Soup in the immediate future, along with roasted brussels sprouts.
One of my favorite vendors wasn't there, so the last stop was Lick.

Cheese and more cheese! I was restrained and just picked up one wedge of Hudson Red and some fresh mozzarella (for tonight's pasta with roasted garlic and mushrooms dinner).

Still have lots of chores, but my reward when it's done?
Wishing all of you a lovely Saturday, as well!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


  We live in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. It's January 12th. Know how much snow we've had? 4 1/2". Four of 'em in October. Nearing the end of a long tough week at work, made worse by a rip-roarin' stomach thing that left me feeling gutted by a backhoe, and dreaming of the weekend. We may not see snow but we're going to finally get some fresh, cold, crispy air (sounds like lettuce). I see spicy tea with honey, hot chocolate, blankets, and knitting by the fire. I'm making one of my sons a blanket (which will end up stashed away as a Christmas present, which will make me feel tremendously virtuous and ahead of the game in November!). Tried this thing over and over using circular needles and it just wasn't working for me. Then I got an idea from one of my favorite knitting resources to do it in squares and then 'sew' it all together with yarn. It's a checkerboard stitch, done in solid color squares (well, okay, square-ISH; measurements were off so it's actually going to be rectangles) of varying hues of blue, and will be sewn with cream-colored yarn.
  After the abundance of Christmas, when Linda and my sister had similar thoughts and each gifted me with roving in a dozen shades, I was faced with a dilemma. Between roving (alot) and yarn (a relatively small stash, but still), and assorted supplies for knitting and felting, the cedar chest simply couldn't keep up. It was already covered with four ugly totes, and still wool was tumbling about, begging to be used as Lola toys. A chance drive-by had alerted us to a barrister bookcase available at a very reasonable price and so:

Voila! Colorful, cozy, accessible wool--and I was able to bring my woolly books out of hiding! On top I put a wooden toolbox I'd bought for Linda years ago that hasn't been used because it was too impractical. It's perfect for storing everything from knitting and felting supplies to business cards. I even made myself a list of what's in what drawer, which is fantastically organized as long as I don't forget what drawer I put the list in (psst! it's in the top drawer; remind me if I forget, please).
I smile every time I walk into the livingroom and see all those colors begging to be touched and played with, glowing in the firelight.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just Kidding....

I was serious, and I did mean it when I ended my blog. But the thing is, I miss it. I miss that sense of journaling, of recording what's happening in my world. So maybe it isn't the next great American novel. Maybe it isn't life-changing and mind-altering. It's still my work and it was a pleasure. So I need to write it for the pleasure of writing it. If I'm blessed with 'followers', I'll be grateful for each and every one. And if I'm not so blessed, well, fewer people are following my notebook scribblings...and I don't question their validity! Well, yeah, I do, but not because I'm the only one who sees 'em. Those discussions are between my Muse and my hypercritical self.
So I'm back to the blogging world. I have stuff to write about! I'm going to be taking a year-long sheep-to-sweater class and am captivated by Claudia of CountryWool describing it as a spiritual process. We're having serious chicken discussions again. I'm back on Weight Watchers and this time using a treadmill to make the goal of a healthy me a reality. It's gonna be a good year, so this Would-Be Mountain Womon is back!