May 15, 2014


Let's be honest. I've gotten a bit behind with my blogging.  Oh, I have intended to write a post every day of these last months, don't get me wrong.  It's just that this pesky thing called Life that has kept me prisoner on a roller coaster of drama and I just haven't been able to get off. Seriously. It's not that anyone has gone to prison, or died, or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. It's just been the daily grind of kids and their lives--there's an amazing amount of drama in the 4th and 11th grades, come to find out--and life changes and family relocations and unexpectedly time-consuming events, and much of the events of these days have been so personal and emotionally taxing that I won't discuss it here.

But, the garden is mostly in--where the heck did all those weeds come from!?--and the hole for the pool has been dug so there will be swimming in a few days, and it's only 7 school days to summer vacation. Things are getting back on track, finally.

And now I I have things to share.

This is Lottie,

the extremely patient sales lady at The Fibre Works in Oxford, England.  There is also, apparently, a shop in the Cotswold market town of Chipping Norton (England) by the same name.

who helped my husband and me pick out skeins of Jamieson & Smith shetland jumper weight by colorway #.

You wouldn't think that's any big deal except I was here in my studio looking at the yarn online and Honey was in the shop in Oxford and we were making our selections via a lengthy text messaging session and he was in a rush to make a train. Honey was in England on business and I was at home, tending to family business. It was a stressful 30 minutes, and Lottie was just plain heroic on the yarn front!  I hope to meet her in person in the coming weeks with a little jaunt to England, myself, and maybe get a chance to visit both shops. It would be wonderful if the Postal Service could get their act together with my passport by the end of next week, but I seriously doubt that it will happen.  I am told that there will be a Fibre Festival event on May 24th in Chipping Norton and wouldn't it be fun to attend! 

There's also the Saxony flax spinning wheel that I won at a local auction for $90. If you follow me on FB (cedar hill farm company), then you've already seen this treasure. It has all of the original parts, except for the footman, and clearly only a few repairs have ever been made to it. For example, some of the original wooden pegs holding the treadle pedal together were replaced with handmade black-smithed nails. After much research, I've narrowed it's original time period down to some time between 1810 and 1840.  That makes it valuable, and old, and I wish it could talk, but it doesn't really matter to me, as I love this wheel so much for spinning alpaca lace that I have no plans to sell it.

I'm actually working with Galloway Woodworks in Texas (click on the name to go to their Etsy shop) to duplicate the one original bobbin so that I can get serious about using this wheel. It's a trial and error process by long distance, but they're doing a great job. The original bobbin maker used molten lead to balance it, which is very cool but also very difficult to duplicate in this modern era, so they are trying to duplicate it using their very talented lathe skills.

Let's not forget about the Alabama Festival of Fiber Arts in Montgomery at the end of April! Here are a few snaps of the market place.  I made some new friends and acquaintances, hung out with some old friends, and I sold some drool-worthy yarn, I taught some Magic Loop how-to classes to some very stalwart ladies (it was about 95 degrees F. in a poorly circulated room). We were hot and sticky, but determined.

My mom came to the show to help out while I taught classes, which is always great, and she picked up a new hobby: weaving. The fabulous Denise Prince of HanDen Studios convinced her to give it a try, so she bought a 15" Cricket Loom, and she's hooked!

This is also where I picked up the 2 English Angora rabbits that I thought I was buying from a breeder but was apparently rescuing from a lunatic who should be locked up tight in a coffin-sized cell.

This is Oscar (top pic) and Elmo.  Elmo, despite my best efforts, has since died, apparently having been malnourished for too long to come back from it. The appearance is deceiving because of the fur, but his little body was really just skin and bones and he was terrified of human contact. Oscar, who we discovered is actually a Scarlett after a 1.5 weeks of trying to remove a baseball-sized mat of fur from around her genitals, is hanging in there. She is recovering from the worst ear mite infection I think any animal caretaker has ever seen, a yeast infection, a deformation of her tail vertebrae (caused by the perpetual matting of her under-belly), extreme malnutrition, and semi-paralyzed hind legs due to having, apparently, been confined to a cage no bigger than the rabbit, herself, for most of her life.  I hope there's a special place in Hell for people like this one. And I hope she reads this because after abusing these animals and cheating me out of a good bit of money, she literally disappeared like any good villain does. Scarlet is, however, in much better condition now and is getting very spoiled, very quickly!

As for my other animals ... We lost a few baby chicks as one always does, but I'm still going into the summer +18 new chickens.  The lavender Orpingtons are my favorite!

This brings me to 25 yard birds, so after the pool goes in we'll be building a mobile chicken coop so they can graze and fertilize my pasture at the same time. And we are rich in dwarf rabbits, too.  Apparently, I have a female rabbit that gets pregnant by divine conception so we're housing 8 new additions to the rabbit clan this year.  If anyone wants a pet rabbit ...

The garden (round 1) is finally in.  I put in almost 300 plants just yesterday morning.  I already had the okra, a few different types of beans, peas, hot peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, rhubarb, onions, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and potatoes in.

Yesterday, I put in 75 tomato plants.  That's about 70 more than I have ever planted in my life, but my neighbor, one of a looooong line of farmers, said to me "Girl, you ain't growin' tomatuhs if you ain't put you at least 70 in the ground!"  (I LOVE listening to the vernacular of my neighbors! Pretty soon, it will rub off and NO ONE will believe that I was ever an English teacher for a minute, let alone 15 years!) I'm hoping to actually end up with a few tomatoes this year.

(The mud track in the foreground is from putting in the new water line from the well so that I can fill in for Mother Nature when she forgets about us this summer.)

There are 2 things that I am especially good at doing in the garden: growing Bermuda and killing tomatoes. Something new this year, besides the fact that I've planted 3 and 4 times the number of everything I planted last year, is purple carrots.  I'm totally excited about growing purple carrots. I'm even more excited about the fact that last night we got a little rain.  We were promised a flood and got a sprinkle 2 weeks ago and that's the last rain we've seen since, so hallelujah!

And that's all I have for today.  Pictures of projects and new yarn will be forthcoming in my next few posts.  Now go knit something!

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