Monday, October 21, 2013

spruce trees and purple mittens

These October days dawn clear and cold, with bouts of chilly rain that keep us close to the wood stove. I've promised my children that they will each have a pair of mitts made from hand spun yarn before the snow flies, and Violet requested a purple pair. After spinning some single-ply from a batt I had on hand, I plied the singles to create a lovely two-ply perfect for the project I had in mind. 

Paired with some alpaca yarn I bought a few years ago at a market, this hand spun wool satisfies the eye in this traditional Spruce Tree stitch pattern. I've adapted a pattern from this book to fit the weight of my yarn and have neglected my housework once again to sit with my back to the wood stove, watching the rows of spruce trees grow. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the arrivals

They waited, and waited, and waited for the sight of a truck pulling a trailer to come up the road. When it did, they let out a collective whoop and high-tailed it up the lane way to greet the new arrivals.

For Violet and Willie, it was love at first sight. Jude was drawn to Oliver. At one point, Jude seemed overcome with emotion and whispered earnestly, Thank you so much for getting us ponies! I reminded him to say it to Grandma Sue when she arrived later with a delivery of hay (sown and harvested by Grandpa), as it was her idea and gift for them.

They stayed in the barnyard with their new friends until darkness and the cool night air forced them to say their good nights. 

Violet went to bed with my promise that I'd wake her extra early so that she could do the chores before school.

I wish I could explain how I felt about it all. Hearing the satisfying munch of horses eating hay, the resonant clop of their hooves on our old barn floor, and the ancient sound of their whinnies as they greeted us in the pouring rain of early dawn satisfied the longing of decades. When I was in my twenties, I got a tattoo of three intertwined horses as a promise to myself that I would never let go of the dream of one day owning horses. 

Of course, the kids were late for the bus once I'd called them in and reminded them to wash their hands. At the end of the day, back packs were dropped by the fence, and before I could issue words of caution, they were out leading their ponies as if they'd been born with lead lines in their hands.

I had some quiet moments in the barn by myself today, shoveling manure and cleaning out their hooves. My hands had that delicious horsey smell and I just had to get Oliver out for a walk down to the mailbox. I started to jog in my rubber boots and he picked up his pace to stay beside me. Imagine me running down the lane way like a younger woman, the wind on my face and the sure, steady sound of hoofbeats beside me!

I am happy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

a little bit of silly

In the midst of knitting mittens for my children, I paused to knit up a little bit of silly.

Using Anna Hrachovec's Teeny Tiny Mochimochi book as a guide, I spent a couple of hours with teeny tiny needles, fine sock yarn, and lots of giggling to craft these teeny tiny magical folk.

Then I posed them on a miniature pumpkin and created an ocean scene with some hand knit socks and giggled some more.

One of my sisters wanted to know why I'd knit something so small and silly. Then she saw the mermaid and has now requested a few for her Solstice tree. 

There are few people who can resist the allure of teeny tiny things!

(Ahem, and that explains why, this afternoon, we'll be welcoming a miniature horse into our barnyard).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Empty Barn Seeks Pony

In the five years since we moved to our farm, this barn has sat empty. The yard in front of its doors has grown thick with burdock, nightshade, and elm saplings. It offers refuge from the wind on winter nights when our cats won't be called inside, but has mostly sat empty.

Over the weekend we worked to remove every last burr, cleared the hillocks of grass from the doors so that they would open easily, and talked about how to facilitate the deep-snow trips we'll make to it during the winter with buckets of water. 

Today our ponies are arriving. Velvet noses, braids in manes, the sweet huff of warm, grassy breath, and the sounds of hooves and whinnies in a barn...all a dream come true. The thought of  kids trotting up the lane way on strong backs and whispering secrets to equine friends who will never betray their confidence calls Alison Lester's book, My Farm to mind. 

These ponies will be the first mammals (besides the cats) that we will welcome to our farm. I know they won't be the last. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

a woman who spins

Sunlight, wood, wool, human hands.

Few things are as beautiful as these. 

My borrowed wheel has been oiled and fine-tuned, I have two giant bags of "practice fiber", and I find that as I approach forty, I am also equipped with a patience and perspective Imay have lacked at twenty, to enjoy the process of learning this skill. Add to that two friends who are happy to bring their wheels into the busy whirl of my country kitchen, and I'd say I'm all set.

After lots of play and practice on the drop spindle, I find my hands adopting the rhythms of spinning, communicating with one another and the wool in a way I can only describe as ancient; it is almost as if my hands remember this and only needed an opportunity to try it again. With the generous support and advice of a teacher who came along at just the right time, I'm taking the first steps towards becoming who I've always dreamed:

A woman who spins.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

jelly jar embellishments

When we purchased our farm, we were thrilled to find mature Concord grape vines over an arbour near the pond. Some years we get to the grapes before the birds do. This was one of those years. 

I picked enough grapes to get 20 cups of juice, and turned some of it into jelly. The rest has gone into the freezer to become "jello" or more jelly over the winter.

This year I decided to embellish my jars with some sweet, micro-mini buttons that have been hanging out in my sewing basket, sewn on to wool felt. They're pretty irresistible, to be honest. I love fine work like this, and am so pleased with the results that I'll be making some "labels" for my apple jelly as well (using bigger red buttons, of course).

Please pop by Frontier Dreams to see what others are crafting this week!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

if I were...

Joining in with Julie, Lisa, and Amanda today!

if i were a month i’d be May.

if i were a day i’d be Sunday.

if i were a time of day i’d be dawn.

if i were a font i’d be Comic Sans.

if i were a sea animal i’d be an urchin.

if i were a direction i’d be north.

if i were a piece of furniture i’d be a sleigh bed.

if i were a liquid i’d be kukui nut oil.

if i were a gemstone i’d be a tourmaline.

if i were a tree i’d be a tamarack.

if i were a tool i’d be a drop spindle.

if i were a flower i’d be a wild rose.

if i were an element of weather i’d be wind.

if i were a musical instrument i’d be a harp.

if i were a color i’d be amethyst.

if i were an emotion i’d be wonder.

if i were a fruit i’d be a peach.

if i were a sound i’d be a purr.

if i were an element i’d be air.

if i were a car i’d be a horse-drawn sleigh .

if i were a food i’d be bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and oil.

if i were a place i’d be a natural habitat.

if i were material i’d cotton.

if i were a taste i’d be sweet and salty.

if i were a scent i’d be tea rose.

if i were a body part i’d be hands.

if i were a song i’d be Tightrope by Janelle Monae.

if i were a bird i’d be a chickadee.

if i were a gift i’d be handmade.

if i were a city i’d be Paris.

if i were a door i’d be a barn door.

if i were a pair of shoes i’d be rubber boots.

if i were a poem i’d be Portrait By a Neighbour by Edna St. Vincent Millay.