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Posts Tagged ‘Wool’

What a joy, to sit outdoors and spin in the September sunshine!  Just as wonderful as spinning by our (electric) fireplace, on a bitter cold winter day.  It’s a joy to spin, anywhere at anytime!

Our gardens made it through the drought, and are still blessing us with roses (blooming for the third time around this summer), foxgloves, hydrangeas, black-eyed Susans, echinacea, hostas, dahlias, and those ubiquitous and gorgeous ever-blooming snapdragons.  I spin to the ambience of a fresh and colorful garden—replete with the blended fragrance of herbs which thrived in the hot, dry summer:  lavender, mint, lemon thyme, sweet basil, oregano, sage, chives, and garlic chives.

I spin to the chirping of birds and the scuttling of chipmunks—one of whom pauses to watch me sometimes.  (That must be the little fellow who let me stroke his silky back a few weeks ago.)

I spin!  Now I have the most amazing source of dyed roving, ready to spin:  Psalm 23 Farm, near Kiel, Wisconsin.  The farm belongs to a family from England.  One of the daughters, Laura, is in charge of the sheep and wool—and this young lady is an absolute artist at dying and blending colors.  With Laura’s (pictured above) combination of Shetland wool and mohair (hair from Angora goats) I’m currently spinning the most incredibly beautiful yarn I’ve ever made in all of my thirty-two years of hand spinning on my trusty wheels.

As I spin, people walk by on our condo community sidewalk—or on the park path just up and over the berm.  Occasionally someone will pause and wonder what I am doing.  One woman walked by yesterday, turned around to take a second glance, and smiled.  She said, “My mother used to do that!”

More often, though, the walkers pass by in their “ingrown toenail world” created by cell phones, a Blackberry®, or whatever.  I hear the pedestrians talking, and I see them texting. 

Others jog past me, buffeting their bodies—with their hands cupped in front of them, exactly the way groundhogs wear their paws.  These hardy individuals look sweaty and miserable.  I have never seen a jogger who looked happy, and I always wonder:  do they hear the birds, and observe the awesome cloud formations in the sky?  Do they even notice the subtle seasonal changes?  Do they realize we are now in that poignant, bittersweet month of September—experiencing the dying gasp of summer? 

Normally the talkers, texters, and joggers fail to notice a contented old woman sitting on her doorstep—a living anachronism.  But I’m not sitting and spinning in order to “be noticed”.  I’m sitting and spinning in celebration of an abundant, hands-on life.  The yarn is growing on my bobbins, and turning into a sweater on my knitting needles.  What a joy!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

NOTE:  Years ago, when Joe and I toured the back roads of Scotland, I expected to see spinning wheels everywhere.  Indeed there were sheep everywhere, but the absence of spinners was a shock to me! 

Then we stopped near Perth, to visit the factory which produced the spinning wheels I was selling in my home fiber arts business.  The owner of the factory treated us to tea and biscuits (cookies in our language). 

Over the refreshments, I asked him if there were any spinners left in Scotland.  He explained that, although traditional fiber artists were still spinning in touristy places like the Orkney and Shetland Islands, for the main part women in Scotland were too close to memories of abject poverty.   Most of the spinning wheels produced in his factory were sold to America and Australia.

For centuries, the fiber arts filled a need for survival rather than a penchant for pleasure.   A sobering thought!  How blessed we are in America to have the freedom, leisure time, and prosperity to live a hands-on life by choice!

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I’ve always celebrated vintage, old, torn, tattered, rusted, and falling apart in home furnishings.  To me, the timeworn look represents high end elegance due to that priceless mystique of memories and stories.  In the case of inherited treasures, we sentimentalists frequently think of the people who formerly enjoyed the object in hand.  And when we decorate with stuff culled from a rummage sale, antique shop, or curbside, we fondly remember the occasion of the outing:  whom we were with that day, what the weather was like, and where we had lunch. 

The timeworn look involves putting stuff in a manner that no one else ever will be able to achieve.  Those of use who love to rummage and decorate our homes will always have different and unique material with which to work.  Many found and inherited treasures go into our definition of home elegance. 

I cannot resist a derelict screen.  Two are pictured above on our patio.  I find these for a few cents at garage sales, or waiting for the garbage truck by the side of the road.  They provide slow-lane ambience in an era of sterile aluminum or plastic window treatment with oppressively shiny surfaces. 

Another passion is derelict chairs, like the above patio rocker, decked out in a garage sale basket loaded with pine cones gleaned from beneath a nearby, generous tree.  Of chipped and scruffy chairs we have many—and they are frequently a curbside blessing, as well. 

I also love rust.  At the end of our patio lounge (where I read and watch clouds all summer) sits a cast iron stove—another rummage sale treasure.  The stove stays out in all seasons, getting rustier and more beautiful with each passing year.  A deer skull with antlers, found in our northern acres, tops the stove.  Visiting friends unearthed the skull while we were hiking on our land.  I thought they should take it home with them, but alas (happiness, for us!) a polished white deer skull and antlers simply “wouldn’t go” with their suburban home decor.

Also, in the above photo, you will see yet another screen, plus some of my vintage coffee pots and favorite rocks.

Indoors our favorite table decor includes fresh flowers, rocks, pinecones, nuts, and shells.  A mirror tray, originally intended for perfume bottles on a dressing table, accents this shell collection along with glassware reminiscent of the sea.  Glass bottles—old and new, clear or clouded by age and stress—are way up on our list of decorative favorites.

If you study the above picture closely, you will see a tear in the upholstery on one of our sofa cushions.  This tear is very precious to us.  Every day, our Dylan gets a doggie cookie after his morning walk.  If we forget to give him the cookie, you can be sure we are quickly and efficiently reminded of our error.  Immediately on receiving his cookie, Dylan goes from place to place—burying his treasure, then digging it up and moving it to another spot. 

The cookie may go to our bed, then to my knitting basket, then to beneath the drapes on the floor, or to our living room sofa—where Dylan sticks it behind a pillow or underneath a cushion, before removing the cookie to still another hiding place.  The scratchie mark denotes Dylan’s great effort, exerted in his primal instinct to bury and preserve his food.  Many days later, the cookie might be unburied and eaten.  Obviously we have doggie cookies hidden all over the place here, continually. 

Although cleanliness and the aesthetics of order are tremendously important to us, Joe and I do not care a hoot about “mint condition” furniture.  Since we love the marks of happy and robust living, we find the look of new furniture perfection to be sterile and sadly bereft of soul.*  The “Dylan scratch” is one of my very favorite decorative features.  If we ever feel a need to replace the sofa for comfort’s sake, that treasured cushion will still have a place of honor somewhere in our home—as Baby Dylan will always have prime time in our hearts!

A well-appointed home is one where family members relax, rejoice, and do those things they love best.  Fiber art is one of those things I love best.  Some condo owners would have used this counter and the space beneath it for a food bar with stools.  I’m fairly sure the designer had that in mind, but what did he (or she) know about living to the hilt?  Not much, in my book!

Our “snack bar” is home to knitting needles, photos, teapots, curing homemade soap, and plants.  The area beneath is part of my fiber arts studio, with my largest spinning wheel tucked in amongst baskets of fluffy unspun wool plus my handspun yarn—overhung by funky garments and more handspun yarn, just a few of the many products from over three decades of a fiber arts’ cottage industry.  Beyond the “snack bar” fiber studio is our kitchen.  But that’s another photo trip, for another day!  🙂

In closing, you will see my bedside stand pictured below.  Every evening, this aging stool holds a soy milk chai on ice which Joe mixes for me at bedtime.  (We get bulk mailings of chai powder—in spice, vanilla, and chocolate flavors—ordered online for just a smidge over 1/2 the price of the BIG TRAIN® brand in stores, with FREE DELIVERY!  Try to beat that!)

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

*I frequently find kindred spirited homes in English decorating magazines.  How refreshing to linger over pages of centuries-old dwellings, tastefully furnished with handsome, tattered upholstered sofas and chairs—replete with sleeping dogs!  The Brits featured in these magazine have their priorities straight!  Dogs should always take precedence over the condition of one’s living room sofa, or even one’s bed!

If you look carefully, you’ll see the cookie in Dylan’s mouth!  In this picture, taken two years ago, he hadn’t yet decided where to bury his treasure.  MLB

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