Tour de Fleece 2013


(and once again, please ignore the condition of the room and the yarn fluff all over the floor and wheel…this was taken before the hooks were replaced)

This is Antonio, my Canadian Production Wheel.  The CPW, as they are known, were the workhorses of the Canadian textile industry for nearly 100 years.  These wheels were made for one thing and one thing only:  to quickly and efficiently spin large quantities of wool into a fine single suitable for weaving woolen fabric — a needed item in the long, dark, and cold Canadian winters.  Of course, one can knit with the yarn produced as well, but the chief purpose was for weaving.  My particular wheel was made by Frederic Bordua, son of Francois Bordua, and father of Theodore Bordua — a family of wheel makers that spanned almost 100 years and was based in and near St. Hyacinth, Quebec province.  He dates from somewhere between 1890 and 1918, a fact I can surmise from the turnings on the legs and spokes — wood was in short supply leading up to and during the First World War, and nothing went to waste; my wheel’s legs are not altogether round, because some of the pieces were not quite big enough to rout to a round condition.  In my opinion this only adds to  his charm.

I got him around the first of June, but it took quite a bit of work to refurbish/refinish/repair him and make him functional.  He sat in a barn somewhere, for many years; I know this by the condition of the treadle and table.   The original shellac finish was completely missing on the lower legs and treadle bars; the shellac was extremely alligatored on the table and uprights (the bars that hold the wheel), and the wheel itself appeared black as did the maidens from years of oil allowed to sit and decay into the surface of the wood.  I had to strip, as much as I could, down to the bare wood.  This took a couple weeks and a half gallon of denatured alcohol as well as a quart of paint thinner.  Then the applications of Danish oil began — a process that also took days.  It soaked in as fast as I applied it in the first days, and after about a week’s worth of multiple daily applications if finally slowed down.  I knew I was done when the final coat took an entire day to stop being sticky and set up.  The color change was pretty dramatic as well — The wheel, as you can see, is a reddish color as are the maidens and the rest of the wheel is a reddish blonde color.  I am very happy with the outcome.

Then, once the refinishing was complete, it was on to the restoration of the working condition.  That also took several days and the help of my husband, who crafted a bushing for the crank arm side as the original, made of lead, was literally worn down to a sliver and the wood was also being worn away.  Then he sacrificed a collector’s edition metal guitar pick in the service of a shim for one of the uprights — a true sacrifice for my musical spouse.  It however works beautifully, and I smile every time I see the glint of the metal pick holding it in place.

Then, the bobbin and whorl had problems; after asking other CPW owners what to do, I took the assembly off and cleaned the shaft of the flyer and lubricated it with white lithium grease, cleaned the grooves of the bobbin and whorl with denatured alcohol and then sanded them, and put it all back together.  It worked, the take up was good, but the single I was spinning kept breaking.  This was because the hooks had spun so much yarn over the years that they were nearly worn completely through; the yarn was getting shredded by the hooks as it slid past them onto the bobbin!  Off the assembly came again, out came the old hooks, and in went decorative hooks from the big box store.  Many people feel this is heresy and a bad restoration job, and from an  authenticity point I agree, but my purpose in owning this wheel is production spinning, not absolute authenticity to the period.  They work, they are what I had that was useable, and they will stay until it is time to replace them as well — hopefully not in my lifetime, but possibly in my grand daughters’.

This wheel, now that it is back to working as designed, is simply breathtaking.  I am truly in awe of the makers.  I don’t think they would be surprised that these wheels are so loved and admired all these years later (though they might think we’re crazy for choosing to spin when we can buy yarn), nor do I think they would be surprised to find their machines still working as designed nearly a century later — they made them to last, after all.

Because I spin on antiques, they tend to have their own character and therefore get names.  This wheel is named Antonio.  My husband named him when he spun the wheel around and watched it turn…and turn…and turn…for a very long time.  He said “You should name him Antonio…Antonio Banderas because he is so smooth.”  in a very convincing Spanish accent and artificially deep voice.  So my Canadian wheel has a Spanish name that suits him very well.  And like his namesake is out of my league, he is too much wheel for me and I once again have a learning curve to keep up with this Maserati of the spinning world.

Which brings me to the title of this blog post:  the Tour de Fleece.  This is a really fun event that is deliberately set up to coincide with the Tour de France every year.  The premise is that you spin every day the Tour rides and ideally you watch the Tour de France on TV while you spin for the Tour de Fleece.  Then, on the mountain days you take up a special challenge for yourself — whatever you consider a challenge.  You rest on the rest days, and there are prizes awarded by the various Tour de Fleece teams.  I am on four teams this year:  Team Yarnspinners Tales, Team Paradise Fibers, Team Sasquatch, and Team Russian Underpants.  This last team is a group of spinners who spin on antiques; the name derives from the horrid fad in the 70’s of turning functioning wheels into floor lamps with frilly shades that happen to look like, as one person described it, “Russian Underpants.”  And thus a team was born.

I have a challenge and a project already picked out.  My challenge for this year’s Tour is to learn to spin flax.  I ordered 8 ounces from Paradise Fibers, a family owned small business that has absolutely amazing customer service.  I ordered enough to allow for much swearing and breaking of single and I hope to end up with enough usable fiber in the end to weave a couple of linen towels for our kitchen.  My project for this year is to get the fiber I have prepped spun into lace weight yarn in order to make my future daughter in law a shrug to wear with her wedding dress.  She knows I’m making it, she knows I’m spinning the fiber, and she picked out the pattern.  So hopefully she will love it and not be disappointed!

That’s what I’ve been doing for the last month.  Well, that and working, and studying, and starting clinicals.  Viva la Tours — both of them!  And Viva la CPW!

What I’ve been working on in my newly found spare time

Shetland wool, Faroese design

Hand spun Shetland wool, cream and natural brown colors.  Dyed with natural dyes, from top to bottom:  Holly hock, onion skins, annatto, chrysanthemum, henna, holly hock.  And I’m telling ya, I did not see that seafoam green coming from a holly hock dye pot that was burgundy colored!

It’s 84 inches wingspan, 25 inches deep, knitted neck down.  I used pretty much every single yard of each color which is why I chose neck down.  The lace patterns are not centered because I didn’t know how much space each section of color would take up due to the increases and increasing stitch counts every two rows.

I’m just not a very good weaver I guess — I hate sewing.  So I still have a pile of weaving to hem!  Gotta get to it today, because I have to take my stuff to the gallery by Wednesday.  Nothing like a deadline to motivate me…days like this make me wish my grandmother were still alive.  She was a professional seamstress for most of her adult life, and made much of our clothes when we were growing up, including our bathing suits (anybody remember Stretch and Sew patterns?).  She could have finished all this stuff in no time and done probably a much better job than I will do.  Certainly she would have done it with less swearing!

I have had three job offers in the past week, pending background checks and reference checks, of course.  But for the job I really want I’m still waiting on the second interview.  I will accept one, and probably two of these offers, so that I have income while I wait for my preferred job.  I hope I do get an offer from them.

That’s about it.


Wow, this is novel.

After tomorrow, I will be unemployed.  I should perhaps be afraid, but I’m actually relieved.

I will have time to:

clean my house, THOROUGHLY, and

warp up my loom with projects that have been clinking around in my head for well over a year and no time to actually DO, and

spin up all the fleece and roving that has been collecting moths for the last more-than-year,

and put together kits of patterns/hand spun hand dyed yarn to sell, and

get my garden started with seeds inside and the cold frame outside, and

get a few more chickens to sell eggs or for meat,

and maybe I’ll get a job tending bar.

Much less stressful than what I have been doing, for sure.

Like I said, I should be terrified, but I’m feeling pretty good.

It’s Hobson’s Choice. Nosalgia for an economic model whose time has passed, whose time has come again.

I watched an excellent documentary from the 80’s on The Shakers the other night.  Contained within it was a quote from a Shaker made shortly after the Civil War, when mass produced cloth became so common it was cheap.  Too cheap in fact.  He lamented that it’s cheaper to buy cloth than to make it.  But it’s cheaper to weave it than buy it because of the quality of the hand made so exceeds the quality of the mass produced.  Thus, garments and items made from the cheaper cloth must be replaced sooner and mended more than those made from hand woven cloth.  He went on to say basically, that it’s a predicament for which there are no good solutions.

140-something years later and this is still a true statement.  A hand woven dish towel will last 20 years easily; the dish towels bought from Costco, even though of ‘higher quality’ than the dollar store versions, will last no more than 5 at best.  But you can buy at least four dollar store towels for less than even one hand woven one.

For clothing, the difference is even more striking.  There is an additional problem though, at least in industrialized parts of the world; even the majority of hand weavers are afraid to cut their cloth because they do not know how to make cloth that is meant for clothing.  Daryl Lancaster is one of the few American weavers – Laura Frye is another (Canadian) – who has kept that knowledge alive and is passing it on to other hand weavers.  Cloth that drapes well isn’t necessarily cloth that will make a garment that will last more than a few washings.  Our body-conscious culture prefers lycra to fitted linen; it requires a good understanding of cloth manufacture from an engineering standpoint to make hand woven cloth that can be used for quality garment construction and still both look attractive and be durable.  The word ‘sleazy’ referred originally to sheer cloth or cloth made poorly; somewhere along the line it became a word used to mean cheap/tacky/vulgar/low class/whore.  It can mean any of those meanings, or all of them depending on context.

I try not to romanticize the past; our ancestors mostly lived hard, short lives and  I have already exceeded my probable life expectancy compared to 100 years ago.  I would not have even survived to bear children were it not for antibiotics.  I do think, though, that in many ways living standards for the average person, as compared to the wealthy, have declined since the Middle Ages.  It seems to me that while a serf might have been effectively a slave, it was also the case that the lord was perfectly aware that their wealth derived from the work of the serfs on the land they all shared.  Not shared in the sense that the serf owned it, but that they were entitled to live on it, they were entitled to work it, and their time was basically their own once the work for the lords was done.  Work that didn’t require hours of time every single day but rather sporadically and in bursts as the seasons dictated.  The lords did not have access to much better medicine or treatments than the serfs; they didn’t live much longer lives, and they didn’t live (too much) in a way that was drastically better than the serfs.  The plague took as many of the gentry and nobility, percentage wise, as it did the serfs, just as an example.

The Industrial Revolution finished the decline that began more than 200 years previously.  It destroyed sustainable peasantry, their leisure time, their self determination (within limits, of course), and concentrated wealth in the hands of a few who DID live drastically differently and better than their peasants.  This is the time in history when money became essential to life for all classes. Which, of course, puts the poor at a serious disadvantage and effectively makes them slaves to the wealthy in a far more dehumanizing way than serfdom ever did.

I think perhaps this is why Jane Austen’s novels are so beloved by so many knitters and crafters in America.  They romanticize the time without realizing how very destructive that time was to their ancestors, those who were lucky (or unlucky) enough to survive the final destruction of an entire way of life.  They see the leisure of Jane’s characters as indicative of a time gone by without stopping to think that, for the vast majority of us, we would NOT have been the ones with the leisure time, we would have been the ones working 7 days a week as a servant, going without adequate sleep for the entirety of our lives.  Or we would have been factory workers, working 7 days a week in a dark workhouse, straining to see by candlelight, being always hungry.  The grace and beauty of that time period belonged only to the wealthy.

In the Middle Ages, even noble-born women were expected to spin, to weave, to sew and embroider, and to mend, as well as manage their households and act in the name of their husband.  They did not — could not — leave those tasks to their servants.  It was expected that all people in a household, nobility included, would contribute to the production of household goods.  Just as a late example:  Queen Katherine, Henry VIII’s first wife, continued to make his shirts for him until Anne Boleyn demanded he stop accepting them.

Distributism is the technical term for the economic model that arises from re-localization.  And it is an economic model that allows for hand woven cloth, the economy of chickens, and of small farms, and community self sufficiency.  It does not require money as the only coin of exchange.  It is the model of the Middle Ages, the model of the Shakers and other religious communes of the 18th and 19th centuries, the model that was destroyed in favor of savage capitalism.  It is the model that values the economy of hand woven cloth, and the clothing and items made from it, over mass produced inferior cloth.  If we rely on money alone, hand woven items are something only the wealthy acquire and value.  If we rely on interconnectedness, on trading within and among communities for those things we don’t or can’t produce, it is the only affordable choice.

Anxiety and Stress and Pockets, oh my!

I knitted a vest similar to this for my middle son.  He tried it on in September, not knowing it was for him, and said it would be perfect if it had pockets.  *sigh*  I agree with this assessment, unfortunately, but didn’t even begin to think of it when I was knitting.

Elizabeth Zimmermann who in my opinion is the Mother of Modern Knitting, had this same dilemma.  So she created what she called the “afterthought pocket” in which you *GASP* snip a stitch in the center of where you want the pocket to go, unravel to the correct size and pick up the now live stitches top and bottom on knitting needles, and proceed to knit a pocket on the inside of the sweater.  I have to line the pocket with fabric as well, because the fabric isn’t firm enough to support actually putting anything other than one’s hands in the pockets.  The problems with this for me are:

1.  I didn’t knit it with wool.  I knitted it with a better quality acrylic/superwash wool blend (blech), so it could be thrown in the washer and dryer without hassle.  This means that, unlike with wool, it won’t full at all, and if I unravel and don’t weave the ends in extremely well, the first time it gets thrown in the washer it will come out with holes where it’s unravelled.  and

2.  I didn’t follow the pattern exactly, but I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on so I followed the stitch numbers on each side of the fronts, which are different.  So the measurements for the pockets are going to involve complicated calculations of gauge so each pocket is the same width.

I have terrible anxiety about snipping stitches in a non real wool yarn!    I practically never knit anything with anything other than either hand spun or good quality real natural fibers; this was a fluke – I had purchased the yarn for another project for a different family member but couldn’t bring myself to actually use it.  It turned out to be a good choice for this vest and I had to use it up anyway, so there we are.  My family members’ aversion to actual wool, because of their aversion to hand washing, is just puzzling.  Yes, it might take a little more care, but for a garment that will last as long as you want to keep wearing it, why wouldn’t you wash it once or twice a year?  For the ones that are local to me, I even told them to give it back when they want it washed so I know it gets done right.

The job is still on a learning curve.  But it’s fun.  And school is stressful but that’s me putting expectations on myself more so than the actual work — except for the weeks I am on call!  I have to be on call for a solid week at a time for this job, and that means I end up working full days every weekend in addition to the regular week…which means I get no home work done and have no time to recuperate from the week.  That’s supposed to be changing soon — I will still be on call but hopefully the load of regular weekly duties will be lightened a little as they just hired another person who will be doing much of the driving stuff.

Back to traditional stuff for a while


While there are months and months worth of posts I could make about the political state of America, ultimately the best use of my time is in keeping my home.  Above you see my newest purchase.  This is Claudette.  She’s a reproduction Appalachian style great wheel, 7/8 scale.  I bought her from a man who used to make and sell them out of St. Michael’s in Prescott during the 70’s.  This was his last one; he said if there were a demand he would begin making them for sale again so I gave his name and phone number out at my last guild meeting.

Claudette has a learning curve akin to that of learning to spin on a traditional double drive wheel like Miss Saxony did.  Meaning that, while children for hundreds of years *did* learn to spin on a wheel like this, it’s not the way I would teach a beginner now.  Too much frustration for someone modern who hasn’t had the joy of creating yarn already.  I did some research and discovered that, much like a fine stringed instrument, she needs rosin on her drive band to truly work well.  I haven’t done that yet but I have a goal of being able to spin decently on her by the time the May Fair on the Square is upon us.  I want to demo on her.

I am ordering a custom spinning wheel; I finally paid more than the 50% down payment just this morning.  Carson Cooper is the maker.  Unfortunately he has not updated his website with a photo of the wheel I am ordering; it is called the Eirny and will have an accelerator on it that enables it to spin at ratios up to 50:1.  Now for those of you who don’t know what a ratio is, it is the number of times the bobbin/flyer mechanism spins per one revolution of the drive wheel.  On the great wheel above, the ratio is 40:1 but being a spindle wheel, it limits the type of yarn that can be spun.  Miss Saxony has a ratio of approximately 7:1 because she was originally designed as a flax wheel.  Flax, from which linen is made, is a very long fiber – 18 or more inches, very strong, and doesn’t need much twist to hold it together.  Wool, or especially cotton, require LOTS of twist to hold them together.  Wool not nearly so much as cotton due to the crimp inherent in most wools and the scales like human hair has.  When I spun cotton on Miss Saxony, I was treadling like a hamster on a wheel to hold it together!  It worked, but it would be nice to be able to spin it without working quite so hard.

The main reason I am buying this custom wheel though has to do more with preparedness for what the future may offer.  Quite simply, after having done the research, I want a wheel that will stand up to the test of time, and I want to support craftsmen/women who are keeping these crafts alive.  Gods know we’ll need them in the future.  This wheel truly incorporates the best of modern technology – brass bearings to reduce friction in the bobbins, and all the high speed turning areas – with traditional technology – hand turned wood, drive band made of traditional cotton cord.  It’s going to hold up to the rigors of production spinning because it’s made by a spinner who is also a collector of antique wheels and knows what a spinner needs and wants in a wheel.  It’s made with attention to detail, individually, by a craftsman who is fully aware that his wheels will be an heirloom to be handed down.  That is what I thought I was getting when I bought my Mach 1 and is exactly what I did not get.  It is ironic that I had to buy a spinning wheel nearly 150 years old to actually get a true production wheel, and to truly appreciate the technology.


We are getting a trailer load of manure delivered next week; we have to mend ALL of the fencing thanks to the javelina.  We can’t plant anything until we fix all the holes.  Mr. Tin Foil said we need a crossbow and I am thinking that might be a very, very good idea – the ultimate silent killer of javelina!  Roast game for dinner, anyone?  After all, they are an invasive species.

We decided we are not going to devote much space to tomatoes this year.  Two years in a row, thanks to our weird (although probably new normal) weather we have lost 50 tomato plants to a late frost and had to start over.  Because the new plants never had a chance to get established before the weather became brutally hot, they never really produced enough to make them worthwhile.  Since I have been getting tomatoes in bulk from the coop anyway that will be our plan for this year rather than try to grow our own.  We still plan to have a couple of roma plants, and the requisite cherry tomatoes in buckets as we do every year.

We are going to devote more space to beans, peas, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant, peppers, and lots of herbs and spices.  We eat a lot of Indian food as well as Middle Eastern food and latitude/climate wise, we can grow much of our own spices.  I don’t know how productive we’ll actually be, but it will be fun to experiment.  Plus, I would like to grow herbs to tincture, to put into soaps and lotions, and to dry.  Oh, and to dye with.  I’m being honest but I can just hear the groans from Mr. Tin Foil when he reads that last sentence!

We are also going to redo the garden beds again this year; last year we were spending upwards of an hour and a half a day to water the front and back.  We are redoing the beds to incorporate drip irrigation into at least some of the beds.  It just makes more sense, plus it’s water smart, and we will be able to expand into other areas that require hand watering with a significantly smaller time commitment.  Mulch will hopefully play a much larger role this year as well.

I plan to do some guerilla gardening in my next door neighbor’s yard; he is dead now but he left large, well-tended beds as well as mature grape vines and an apricot tree.  I plan to fertilize the grapes and the tree with the manure we get, and to water the tree at least weekly.  I am hoping to get a harvest from the tree this year.  I may also plant corn in his beds as he used to do, though I don’t plan to water every day like he did.  We’ll see how our garden goes first.

I sold one of my looms to a friend; I just didn’t enjoy weaving on it very much.  It opened up space and hopefully it will give many hours of enjoyment to my friend.  I still have my home made monster that says she was made for me (or at least someone with the same name as me).  She is in need of a little rehab but is still usable for the time being. I have a couple of projects in my head that need to actually get warped up — time is running out for Fair items!

School is going well, grade wise.  Interaction wise once again I realize that my background is vastly different than most of the people in my class, thanks to the fire and EMS career, and that I have a much more cynical and realistic outlook than they.  I also am reminded that I am becoming a nurse practitioner for vastly different reasons than they are, mine having a lot more to do with making sure my neighbors have access to medical care for as far into the future as I can work, and focusing on preventative and herbal treatments that are affordable for all.

I have been trying to stay off the internet except for a limited time each day.  I find that I avoid doing what needs to be done by spending far too much time on political, apocalyptic, doomer, prepper, and other forums at the cost of my serenity and productivity.  I just can’t get that involved if I want to maintain my GPA and my sanity.  I also am finding I sleep much better if I limit my time – even watching netflix seems to affect my sleep quality.  I’m not sure why that is but I do notice the difference.  Something about the computer waves is affecting me, I just don’t know what, and life is better and more productive if I limit my time in front of it.

I need to finish plying the yarn I made for my oldest son’s Cobblestone sweater.  I made a lighter weight yarn than the original pattern called for, but that’s because he tends to keep the heat jacked up rather than putting on a sweater.  I’m hoping it will make it wearable for him if it’s lighter.  And yes, I know that it’s March and I was supposed to have this done by last Christmas!  Maybe a combined Christmas/birthday present will happen.

That’s all.  I hope your gardens grow well, your spinning wheels spin true, and you are ready for the next step on the journey!



The real wealth of our nation

Gene Logsden at The Contrary Farmer is a brilliant man, a farmer who is one in the real sense of the word, and who is a thoughtful writer and I believe a poet at heart.  He has a new post up regarding ‘self made’ farmers, or Yeomen as he calls them.  I read his new post nodding to myself the whole while, but it was some of the responses to his post that inspired this one.

The day capitalism, as it is now understood, entered the farming community is the day real farming died.  Agribusiness is what now exists for the most part.  Farming involves being at boot level – and sometimes eye level – with TRUE wealth – the land.  Agribusiness involves large air conditioned vehicles, airplanes, computer programs, subsidies, and debt.

What Chiara eludes to is tenant farming, which was a viable method of farming and small holding in Europe for many hundreds of years, and found its demise beginning as far back as the 1500’s when Henry VIII decided that a cash crop, wool, was more important to his personal wealth and power than his subjects.  Of course, there was also that little bit about ‘needing’ a son and lusting after the Church’s wealth.  This lust of course was fueled by the sudden influx of gold and silver to the Spanish via the New World; the resulting wealth unbalanced the power structure of Europe.  The Spanish had driven the Muslims out of Spain a mere 100 years before, and had managed to decimate their country in the process.  They willfully destroyed a productive agricultural and cultural system that was called, with good reason, the Jewel of the World.  Of course, the destroying the agriculture destroyed the nation and it was necessary for the rulers to find another means of bankrolling the country, and FAST.  Their last ditch effort was the expeditions by Columbus  in the late 1400’s to find a trade route to the East that didn’t involve Muslim hands.  Instead of trade routes, he found a society ripe for pillaging.  And pillage they did.

These factors interacted together to destroy a system that had been mutually beneficial for both land holders and land users across Europe and indeed the entire of the Muslim empire.  The end result of loving gold more than people reverberates down the centuries and affects each one of us directly today.

Even in the ‘golden days’ of tenant farming, there was no unbridled capitalism as we know it.  Guilds had exclusive rights that were procured via royal decree to produce goods and services; their products were protected by law and they were diligent in making sure guild members had the skills and knowledge required to produce quality goods.  They did this in order to maintain that exclusive right.

It is also worth mentioning that barter was the basic way of conducting business – A sheep herder would receive back so much spun yarn in trade for his wool; the spun yarn could be traded for fabric or goods from yet another merchant; those goods in turn could be used to pay rents or taxes to the landlord.  The poor acquired permission to ‘wool gather’ in the fields of the sheep and helped with household chores in return.  Money was not, for most of society, the means of trade.  Everyone understood that the land was the source of their sustenance and was the source of wealth.  Until the ‘discovery’ of the New World, that is.  The resulting flood of precious metals into the Old World shifted the focus of the entire culture away from maintaining the land to lusting after money.  Without the overarching need to protect the lands as the source of wealth, societies began to over-harvest trees for ship building for further transfers from the New to the Old worlds, which resulted in the decimation of the forests and the loss of the native wildlife.  This in return meant that the average subject was pushed off the land into the cities, increasing the poor populations which encouraged disease to spread.  It also meant that inventions were sought to replace what the tenant farmers and guilds had originally provided:   the food, goods, and services necessary to the running of a society.  It is sobering to think that the seeds of our industrial society, our current views of wealth and capitalism, were sown in the 1400’s.

It is the primacy of money over wealth that has been the downfall of our worldwide system.  Capitalism, in its strictest sense, simply doesn’t work.  One cannot value money over land, livestock, and people without destroying the true wealth –which is the land, livestock, and people.  Only when society at large realizes this, and concurrently realizes that wealth requires work, will the disaster we face begin to be mitigated.  I do not hold out much hope for that though.  Not as long as there are TV’s everywhere.

Thinking two seasons ahead


Originally uploaded by susancoyotesfan

Like our ancestors, it is time to start thinking about being warm this winter. Since hand made items take time, it means that if I want to have gifts for holiday giving and warm things for myself, now is the time to start making them.

I spun this yarn earlier this summer; I dyed 775 feet of it with cake dye; it turned out a heathered color that ranges from a deep sky blue to a royal purple. The rest I left the natural color.

While I’ve taken projects from dirty fleece to finished object, this is the first of many projects that I plan to take from dirty fleece to woven object. Like most of my ‘firsts’ this scarf has issues – but it is my first attempt at weaving with my hand spun and I’m happy to report that my yarn is more than strong enough for the stresses of weaving.

In keeping with thinking two seasons ahead, the fall garden will be planted later this week. We’ll grow broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, as well as chard. I’ll try cabbage again, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope for it.

I’ll be placing an order with Johnny’s Seeds for some greenhouse plastic and the clips to hold it to PVC pipe; I think I can manage a cold frame that won’t blow away this winter. I’ll also be hedging my bets with my free sliding glass doors, using those over a couple of our beds and getting hay bales as necessary to keep the glass high enough to allow the plants growing room.

I have to go back to work soon; I am not sure how I feel about that. In the mean time, I’ve been busy preserving the bounty of summer. If it were from our own garden I’d be happier, but from the farmer’s coop is good too. So far I’ve made 100 pounds of tomatoes into sauce with 25 pounds blanched and waiting in the freezer to be made into paste. Today I roasted 30 pounds of green chiles and put them into our freezer. Mr. TF was aghast at the sheer poundage until I reminded him that last year we got 15 lbs from the store and it wasn’t enough.

I’ve been drying herbs like rosemary, oregano, thyme, and marjoram; I need to get out into the garden and pick basil to make into pesto for the winter.  I wish I could live a little more like our ancestors; I would love to exhaust myself all summer long with projects and preserving, knowing that this winter I will have a well deserved rest time.  Modern life makes that impossible though.