Monday, February 27, 2012

More Snow Photos from February 20, 2012

Outside the Vinton Branch Library

Vinton War Memorial Fountain
Vinton, VA

My front yard

My front yard

Fallon Park, Roanoke, VA
Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Virginia Names and the Way We Pronounce Them

View from Rocky Knob
Photo by Kimberly Burnette-Dean

I have always found it so interesting when folks who are not from this area of Virginia "mispronounce" certain words.  For instance, most folks would pronounce "Buena Vista" the way that you would say it in Spanish.  Of course, if you live in this area, you say "Bue-na Vis-ta."  "Staunton" is pronounced "Stant-un." "Wytheville" is pronounced "With-ville." I recently heard "Raleigh" pronounced "Rally" by two of my co-workers.  I have always heard it pronounced "Ra-lee." Of course, there are many others.

What are some that you have heard of?

The following is taken from: Word Book of Virginia Folk Speech by Bennett Wood Green, 1899.

SPELT                                                CALLED

Botetourt                                              Bot' etot
Fontaine                                               Foun' tain, Fon' tin
Gloucester                                           Glaw' ster
Goode                                                 Gude
Gravely                                                Grav' elly
Lawrence                                             Lar' ance
Maury                                                   Mur' ry
Patrick                                                  Part' rick
Napier                                                  Nap' per
Sclater                                                 Slaugh' ter, Slater
Sinclair                                                 Sink' ler
Taliaferro                                              Tol' iver
Urquhart                                               Urk' art
Woodward                                            Wood' ard
Wyatt                                                    Wait
Yates                                                    Yeates
Yeardley                                               Yard' ly       

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mystery Item Answer

The answer to yesterday's mystery item is:  
A "Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle" or a "Hooey Stick."  

When I was growing up, we always called it a "gee haw whimmy diddle."
"Gee" means to turn right and "Haw" to the left when driving a team of oxen or horses.
 I got my first horse, when I was in the second grade, so Grandpa immediately taught me to always say "gee" or "haw" in addition to a light tug on the reins when I wanted to turn my horse.  (A fun side note: When we bought my horse, "Black Beauty," it was a two for one deal because she was pregnant!)

To see how you play with this toy, watch this excellent video on youtube uploaded by dj51florida

Amaze & mystify your friends with the miraculous, direction-switching, Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle!

Thanks to Becky, Leslie, Debbie, Anonymous, & Jeff for posting your guesses.  You were ALL right!  :D

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mystery Item

What is it? 
Leave your best guess in the comment section below.  
The answer will be posted tomorrow.

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winter Wonderland

The Morning of February 20, 2012

The Roanoke Valley is SUCH a beautiful place.  
I feel very fortunate to live here! 
(Be sure to click on the photos to see a larger version!)

"Roanoke Valley"  Photo by Doris Gamelin-Broker
The buildings are in downtown Roanoke.

"Roanoke Valley"  Photo by Doris Gamelin-Broker
See the mountain right in the middle of the valley?
I live just to the left of it. 

"My Yard"  Photo by Kimberly

"Sad Pines"  Photo by Kimberly

"Off to Work"  Photo by Kimberly

"Sunrise Snow"  Photo by Kimberly

"Thrasher Memorial Church"  Photo by Kimberly

"Nature's Baubles"  Photo by Kimberly

A special "THANK YOU" to Doris Gamelin-Broker for allowing me to use her two gorgeous photos of the Roanoke Valley.

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Not exactly like my trusty Western Flyer Sled, but close!

Ah, Snow!  I have always loved to watch those beautifully formed flakes falling from the sky. Whenever I see snow, it always reminds me of spending the night at my grandmother's house, all cozy in a feather bed under the weight of many quilts.  My bedroom was upstairs and there were double windows looking out over the front yard and a big maple tree.  During the night, the temperature had really dropped, so it was freezing in the bedroom since there was no heat upstairs.  I slowly came awake when I heard the "chunk" sound of Grandpa putting wood into the old tin heater.  There was such a blend of aromas in the air.  The tang of kerosene, which Grandpa used to get the fire going.  The smell of wood smoke.  The smell of Grandpa's percolating coffee which was probably strong enough to fuel a transatlantic flight.  And bacon.  Glorious bacon sizzlin' away in the pan.  By then, my nose was plenty awake!  My eyes were next and what a beautiful awakening!  The maple tree was sagging under all of the weight of the heavy, wet snow! And, the snow was still coming down!

I hopped out of bed and rain downstairs, still wearing my nightgown, to stand in the circle of warmth by the wood stove.  I immediately started pestering Grandpa to go get my Western Flyer sled out of the grainery building. Since it has been stored all summer long, there were a couple of maintenance issues that would need to be taken care of.  Grandpa would first lightly sand the runners to remove any rust that might have accumulated.  Then, he would go get his trusty bar of Gulf Petroleum Wax to wax the sled runners.  By this time, I was bundled up like the little brother in "The Christmas Story," ready for sledding adventures.  My neighbors, Ricky & Shirley, were headed out with their sleds too.

Fortunately for me, there was a gravel road that went by my grandparent's house.  When it snowed, there was never any traffic on it because it was almost never plowed.  And the hills!!! There were several perfect hills for sledding!  One was long and steep and at the bottom there was a sharp curve and another hill.  We would be flying by the time we got to that curve!! The level of danger was quite elevated because if you didn't steer the sled and lean into the curve just right, you would have a nasty encounter with a barbed wired fence around the cow field. We were all quite skilled at steering our sleds, so we rarely had any issues with barbed wire. You learn early on that it is better to roll off of the sled and get snow burn than get tangled up in the barbed wire!

After hours of sledding adventures, we would trek back to Grandma's and stand near the wood stove to thaw.  I remember my legs would be so cold that they were bright red and numb.  As soon as we were thawed and our clothes were dry, we headed back out for more sledding adventures.

When I sold my Grandparent's house several years ago, my trusty sled was still hanging in the grainery building, neglected and dust-covered. I took it out with the intention of packing it up and bringing it back to Roanoke with me because it held so many memories. I ended up not bringing it with me, but left it hanging on the wall on the enclosed back porch. I hope that the people that bought the house gave it a good home and maybe it will get to see more sledding adventures with them than it could have with a middle-aged woman living in the city.

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spinning Project of the Week

This week I spun more great fibers from Wild Hare 
purchased locally from Wooly Belle.

The wool top

The finished yarn

Ready to sell!

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mystery Item Answer

Yesterday's mystery item was:  A Buzz Saw Toy!

To see one of these toys in action, check out this YouTube video by TWooley2:    

When I was a child, Grandma would make these toys for me out of a large button and a string. Wow!  They would really spin and whiz!  Unfortunately the string would break rather easily.  Grandma would always let me play with them but with strict instructions to never hold it directly in front of my face. She did not want the button to hit me in the eye when the string broke . . . and it WAS going to break! Even now when I play with one of these toys, I always hold it angled away from my face.  Rather safe than sorry!

When you get the buzz saw going, it produces an angry buzzing sound. The harder and faster you pull the string the louder that delightful whirring buzz! Please be sure to heed the advice given in the video about not getting long hair tangled into the string!  Let's just say that I have had long hair most of my life and I have personal experience with this no-no!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mystery Item

Can you identify this item? 
Leave your best guess in the comment section below.  
The answer will be posted tomorrow. 

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Grade Valentine's Day

A fun Valentine for my knitter friends!

I can still remember the excitement building up for several days before my first grade Valentine's Day party. We would always tease each other about who would get a card from that special someone. Looking back, it is rather amusing because I can remember Mrs. Shelor telling us that we had to give each one of our classmates a Valentine, so I am not sure what was going through our heads about a "special" card from a "special" someone!

Mrs. Shelor explained to us that we needed to bring a box which would be placed along the window sill so that our classmates could put the Valentines inside. One of the fun things for me was getting to decorate the box. Grandma gave me a shoe box and helped me cut a slot in the top so that the cards could be dropped inside.  She also gave me some white tissue paper to cover the box.  (I am pretty certain that it was a Buster Brown shoe box!) Adding a decorative touch to the box involved cutting red, white, and pink hearts out of construction paper and lots of hearts drawn in crayon. Of course, what would a Valentine's heart be without an arrow drawn through it?

A couple of my classmate's mothers agreed to bring refreshments for the party. They brought punch, chips and CUPCAKES!  I had never seen a cupcake before and I was totally fascinated that I got to have a beautiful little cake with a piece of candy pressed into the icing all to myself! I was also totally taken by the paper cup in which the little cake was nestled. Magical!  I remember running home and telling grandma all about these magical little cakes. She laughed and showed me a cupcake pan that she had and told me that we could make them also. I was worried because we did not have any of those little paper cups for the cupcakes. Grandma explained that we did not have to use them to make the little cakes, but we could buy them at the store. Yay! This was also the first time that I can ever remember hearing the word "refreshments".  Ever since, any time that I hear that word, my brain automatically thinks "cupcake!"

After refreshments, we got to look at all of the cards inside our Valentine box. Of course, we loved the ones from our close girlfriends and squealed over the ones from the boys.  Each one of us received 25 Valentines in our box--24 from our classmates and one from our teacher, Mrs. Shelor. 

Another fun childhood memory that makes me smile!

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another Vintage Valentine

This Victorian cupid is so cute peeping from behind the tree! He is just waiting for someone to add their true love's name within the heart that he has carved.

Vintage card image courtesy of
My Valentine
The Name I've carved 
On this tree so fine,
Is carved as well
On this heart of mine.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vintage Valentine's Card

For the next few days, I will be posting some images of vintage Valentine's Day cards.
Perhaps there is someone you would like to share them with!

Vintage card image courtesy of

Friday, February 10, 2012

School Days

Kemp's Ford Schoolhouse ca. 1860

Pretend the year is 1850 and you are 10 years old. Here are some word problems for your arithmetic assignment.  Turn in your answers in the comment section below.  Punishment for not doing your assignment will be swift. Remember. spare the rod and spoil the child.

(I had a dream the other night that in the future, folks would have a MACHINE that would calculate their arithmetic for them. To not use one's own brain for this assignment would be shame.)

1. The Pyramids of Egypt were built 337 years before the founding of Carthage; Carthage was founded 49 years before the destruction of Troy; Troy was destroyed 431 years before Rome was founded; Carthage was destroyed 607 years after the founding of Rome, and 146 before the Christian era.  How many years before Christ were the pyramids built?

2. A certain farmer raised 188 bushels of barley, twice as many bushels of wheat, 320 bushels of corn, and 100 of rye, how many bushels of grain did he raise in the whole?

3. If an orchard contains forty rows of trees, and each row has 10 trees, how many trees are in the orchard, and if each tree produces on an average 9 bushels of apples, how many bushels of apples will the farmer have? and if he sells those apples at 40 cents per bushel, how much will it amount to?

4. If a boy be capable of earning 50 cents per day, and idles six days, what will be his loss?

5. How many legs, horns, eyes, and tails, have 100 cows, 18 of which are muleys?

(The above arithmetic problems are taken from actual 19th century schoolbooks.)

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spinning Projects of the Week

I purchased this beautiful wool top from Wooly Belle this past weekend.

Wool Top from Wild Hare Fiber Studio

So far, I have spun it into this nice single ply yarn.

Single ply yarn

Two ply

Ready to sell!

I have also been working on this yarn:

Fiber from Crosspatch Creations

Finished 2-ply yarn

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm a Knitster!!

While looking around online the other day, I ran across a digitized version of the following book:
A Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, Obsolete Phrases, Proverbs, and Ancient Customs, from the Fourteenth Century, Vol. 2. by James Orchard Halliwell, Esq, F.R.S., London: John Russell Smith. 1868.

WOW!  14th Century!

If you get the chance, be sure to check this book out. There are so many fun words that I would love to bring into the 21st century!  But what really caught my eye were the terms related to fiber arts.

knet--Knit; tied.
Knettar--A string or cord.
Knit--(1) To knit one up, to reprove him.  To knit up a matter, to finish it. To knit up a man, to confine him.  (2) Joined; bound; agreed. (3) To unite; to hang together. Also, to set, as fruit blossoms.
Knitster--A female who knits.
Knitting Pins--Knitting-needles.

Blue Ridge Parkway--Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm
 the spinning wheel that I learned to spin on

Spinnel--A spindle.
Spinner--A spider.
Spinning-Turn--A spinning-wheel.
Sponene--Spun; woven.

Blue Ridge Parkway--Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm
The first fabric that I ever wove from wool that I spun

Web--A weaver.
Webster--A weaver.

I am proud to call myself a knitster and a webster who also uses a spinning-turn!

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Grandma's Batter Bread

When I was growing up, my family cooked just about everything from scratch. The majority of the food that we ate came from our little family farm. A big breakfast, a big dinner, and then a lighter supper, usually consisting of leftovers from dinner, was the general order of things. A typical dinner or supper always consisted of a meat, potatoes, 2-3 other vegetables, and bread. Always bread. Usually cornbread, but occasionally we would have batter bread.

I used to pester my Mama & Grandma to let me help them cook.  My mom worked a full time job and usually a part time job too, so when it came to cooking, she just wanted to get the food to cooking as quickly as possible so that she could sit down and rest.  Grandma had a bit more time to let a little girl "help" which generally meant a big mess to clean up!  Grandma taught me how to read a recipe, but more importantly, mama and grandma both taught me how to cook from scratch, by simply throwing together whatever we had available to create something tasty.  Learning how different ingredients work together makes cooking without recipes so much easier. 

Thanks Mama & Grandma!

How did you learn to cook?

Grandma & Grandpa Burnette
Grandma's Batter Bread

1/2 cup shortening
3 cups self-rising flour

Work the flour into the shortening until crumbly. Continue stirring and adding milk until it has the consistency of cake batter.  Pour into a pre-heated Dutch oven if baking in a fireplace or in a cast iron frying pan if using a modern oven and bake at 375F.  Bake until a broom straw inserted into the center comes out clean.

A sweet bread can also be made using the above recipe. Add sugar to taste. You may also add raisins, bananas, apples, nuts or other fruits.

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mystery Item Answer

The answer to yesterday's mystery item is:  
A children's toy called a "Jacob's Ladder!"  
Quite a few of you knew the correct answer!

This folk toy is made from blocks of wood held together by ribbons. It was supposedly one of the only toys that frontier children were allowed to play with on Sundays because they could sit and play with it quietly. The name of the toy refers to Jacob's Ladder in the Bible (Genesis 28:12).  This toy was mentioned in an 1889 article of Scientific America.

The following video shows how to play with a Jacob's Ladder:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mystery Item

Can you identify this mystery item?  
Do you know what it is used for?  
Leave your guess in the comment section below.
The answer will be posted Monday morning.