Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice!  We should be bundled up this time of year in Virginia, or, at least be wearing a coat.  Instead, it is nice enough outdoors to be wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals.

What a fine day to do a bit of dyeing! I have so much fiber, but I decided that I was going to dye various odds and ends of white wool roving that was in my stash to use for blending. I also wanted to dye up all of the silk hankies that I have.

The shades of blue is Coopworth wool.
The other colors are are on unspecified breeds of wool although
I suspect that the pink/green/yellow is Merino.

This was my first time dyeing silk hankies and it was so much fun!
This is almost 5 ounces of silk.
What a gift to be able to be outdoors this time of year!  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Box of Switches

When I was growing up, my mom & dad always told me that if I didn't behave, Santa would bring me a bag of coal or a box of switches for Christmas. I was no stranger to a switch nor what it was used for since I had a bad tendency to backtalk.

For some unknown reason, even knowing what a switch was, I always pictured finding a box of light switches in my stocking on Christmas morning.  I was always horrified to think that I might get a box full of these!

Strange, I know.

What did your parents tell you that you would get for Christmas if you were bad?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hoop Snakes

When I was growing up, we always watched out for snakes.  The thought process in our family was that the only good snake was a dead snake!  The only poisonous snakes in that part of Virginia are rattlesnakes and copperheads, although the only snake that we ever saw was either a garter snake or a black snake.  

My grandpa always told me that the snake that I had to worry about the most was the dreaded hoop snake. He said that it looks just like a black snake, until it gets mad at you. Then it will bite its own tail, form a hoop and roll after you!  He said that they only way you could escape from the rolling hoop snake was to run up a hill!

Did you ever have an encounter with a hoop snake?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Handspun & Handpainted Yarns for Sale!

I have just listed a bunch of handpainted & handspun yarns on my Spinn Lady Facebook page.  
Also, I have listed my handpainted millspun yarns.  
Please visit the page to find that perfect gift for the knitter or crocheter in your life!

Handspun & Dyed Yarns

Handspun & Dyed Yarns

Handpainted Millspun Yarns

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm Still Here!

I just realized that I have not written anything on this blog in over a month and getting close to two months! I am embarrassed and disappointed in myself. Now to start making excuses:

1. I am taking an online course on Coursera called "Plagues, Witches, and Wars: The Worlds of Historical Fiction."  If you haven't checked out the courses available on this site, do it!  They offer some fabulous classes and best of all . . . they are FREE! As long as you pass the class, you do get a certificate of completion. The one that I am taking involves lectures, TONS of reading, quizzes, and a paper. So far, I am absolutely loving it, but it is taking up quite a bit of time.

2. I have two craft shows coming up where I will be selling my handspun yarn, so I have been busy doing a LOT of spinning.

3.  I have been furiously knitting on a shawl made from my handspun, so that I will have it to wear at the upcoming shows.

4.  I have been learning to crochet!

5. I have dyed a bunch of my handspun yarns for the aforementioned craft shows.

6.  I have been washing two fleeces getting them ready to send to the carding mill to be processed into roving.  I finally got them in the mail about a week ago. 

7. I have been having a few health issues that have sidelined me also, but hopefully, those are going to continue improving.

8.  I have several ideas for some upcoming blog posts, but they are going to be difficult ones for me to write about from an emotional standpoint.  However, I really do want to share them.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival 2013

I wanted to arrive at the festival before it actually opened so that I could get a good parking spot and be ready to pounce on the fleece sale!  Last year, I arrived early, looked at the fleeces and decided to walk around and come back to the fleece sale.  Right.  Well, I came back about an hour later and all of the fleeces that I loved were GONE.

So, I left home around 6:20 AM.  I was already passing by Raphine, Virginia on I-81 when the sun started putting on a show above the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The sun arrives!

I love driving through the Shenandoah Valley because it is such a beautiful area.  I was almost looking forward to the scenery as much as I was the fiber festival.  Well.  Almost!  Unfortunately, just south of Harrisonburg, I stopped as a rest area and when I pulled out, the FOG DESCENDED!  I'm not talking about just a little fog, I'm talking pea soup fog where about the only thing that you can see is the lane lines just in front of your car.  Forget about seeing any scenery!  I'm not really fond of driving on I-81 at any time, but in thick fog is a particular nightmare.  The traffic doesn't slow down below 70 for such a minor thing as being so foggy you can't see anything.  Pfft!  Slowing down is for sissies.  Thank goodness about the time that I got to Woodstock, the fog was lifting.  A good 40 miles in thick fog and fast traffic is not fun.

I arrived in Berryville about 9:20 AM and there were already quite a few cars there.  I went ahead and entered and headed straight for the building with the fleece sale!  There were a few people looking at the fleeces, but it was quite easy to examine the offerings.  I had decided that I really needed a black alpaca fleece.  I have it in my head that it is probably going to be the warp for a weaving project that I have in mind.  There were about five true black alpaca fleeces.  After debating back and forth between two, I finally decided on this one:

It really is black, but my camera wants to make it look gray!
Huacaya Alpaca Fleece
1.4 lbs True black, medium hand, nice staple length.

1.4 pounds
Dark Star Alpacas
Berryville, Virginia

Then, I started looking at sheep fleeces. I always lose my way when looking at all of the gorgeous wool fleeces!  So many breeds and so much to think about!  I finally decided on this one gorgeous soft gray fleece that had been covered.  Not ONE speck of vegetable matter!

Romney/Corriedale Cross
The sheep's name is "Truffle"
Dell Acres Farm, LLC

Nice, lovely, long locks.  Very soft, no VM.
4 pounds, 12 ounces
I'm in LOVE!
Beautiful color as is or over dyed for a gorgeous heathered yarn!

Then, I stopped at one of my favorite fiber vendors,  River's Edge Fiber Arts.  After drooling over some of the most gorgeous blends and beautiful vibrant colors, I decided that I just had to have this:

"Petosky Stone"
River's Edge Fiber Arts
50% Natural "Brown" Bluefaced Leicester and
50% Seacell fiber from Seaweed (the honey colors in the blend)
I wish that you could sink your fingers into this delightful blend!

Okay.  Time for a trip to the car. Well, maybe I will just walk through this building on my way out since I know that another of my favorite vendors is located inside!  Wild Hare Fiber Studio

A couple of weeks ago, Melissa, the owner of Wild Hare posted some photos of a new fiber blend that she is selling and I immediately fell in love with it and KNEW that I must have some!  It was available in 6 different colors and I was having a horrible time trying to make up my mind, but this is what I ended up with:

Wild Hare Fiber Studio
60% wool/40% flax
Blue and silvery white
8 ounces total

Wild Hare Fiber Studio
60% wool/40% flax
Okay.  So I was too lazy to take this one out of the bag,
but aren't the colors GORGEOUS?!
The colors make me think of fall.
4 ounces

Okay.  Unloaded at the car!  Back inside to go to the FIVE other areas where there were vendors and also to check out the animals.

"Buttercup" was such a sweetheart!
She didn't want me to
stop petting and loving on her!

Some other purchases that I made:

Greenstone Farms
75% mohair/ 25% Merino
This fiber blend is SO incredibly soft!
Natural colors
1 pound
I wish that I had gotten another pound!

Gurdy Run Mill
I bought a pound of this gorgeous blend at the festival last year.
I decided that I wanted another pound!
"Arctic Waters"
60% wool/25% alapaa/15% silk

I FINALLY bought a combo diz/wpi gauge,
a really cool camel bone shawl pin
and just some really cool buttons!

I just HAD to have these sticker!
 Of course, there were other great highlights of this event:  The yummy pulled pork barbeque sandwichs, the fabulous Dutch Oven Cobblers fresh baked by the Boy Scouts, and meeting so many wonderful fiber folks!

If you are into fiber, this is a great festival!  For more information about the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, click HERE.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Plant I.D.

 Do you recognize this plant? 

I have seen it growing alongside the 
Blue Ridge Parkway between Roanoke and Floyd, Virginia.

It is also growing on the bank behind my home in Roanoke along the edge of the woods. 

I'm thinking that it might be in the same family as Madder (Rubia tinctorum) which immediately makes me wonder if this would be a good dye plant! 

UPDATE:  Well.  I still don't know if it would be a good dye plant or not, but I have been told that this is Sericea lespedeza.  
It is considered to be a noxious weed in many states.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Photos of the Week

While driving around this weekend, I happen to go by a vacant lot that was covered in blooming teasel and there were HUNDREDS of butterflies!  I rushed home, grabbed my camera, and hurried back to take some photos of these beautiful creatures.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


When I was growing up, we had cornbread almost every night for supper and it was one of the first things that I learned to cook. Grandma Burnette had a stool in her kitchen that had two steps on the front of it and I would stand on that so that I could reach the counter to stir the cornbread after she put all of the ingredients into the bowl. As I got a bit older, she taught me to mix the ingredients myself.

One of our favorite ways to eat the cornbread was in milk & cornbread. My parents and grandparents would just crumble the bread into the milk and eat it with a spoon. I never really like it much like that, so I would dig the inside of the cornbread out, eat that, and then dip the crust into the milk.  I LOVED that!!!

Our favorite brand of cornmeal.
Produced at a mill in North Carolina.

When I went to elementary school, one of the lunches that we would be served consisted of pinto beans (nowhere near as good as what we fixed at home), stewed tomatoes (nasty no matter where they are cooked), and cornbread.  The cornbread at school was just gross. It was made of yellow cornmeal and had a hint of sweetness to it. (Cornbread isn't supposed to be yellow or sweet!)  I hated it! When they served that particular lunch at school, I was so sad because I would not eat any of it. Back then, the lunch menu was not posted in advance, so it was always a surprise! In fact, it was this lunch that finally convinced me that I just needed to pack a lunch each day, which I continued to do through high school.

My family always used this flour!
Produced at the same mill in North Carolina
as the cornmeal.

Our cornbread just had four ingredients plus water:

1.  About 1/2 bowlful of Tenda-Bake WHITE Cornmeal  (Yellow cornmeal is only suitable for animal food .  . . or that was the belief in my family and I have since learned that, in general, white cornmeal is traditionally a Southern thing while yellow cornmeal is a Northern thing.)
2.  A couple heaping tablespoons of Southern Biscuit Self-Rising Flour
3.  A splash of whole milk
4.  Enough water to make it the right texture

While mixing these ingredients together, there would be a cast iron frying pan in the oven with a couple pieces of streaky meat frying. If we happened to be out of streaky meat, we would use a spoonful of bacon grease. We had one particular frying pan that was used for nothing but cornbread. Once the cornbread was mixed up, we would take the pan out of the oven, remove the streaky meat, leaving the grease in the pan. Then we would tilt the pan this way and that to make sure that the grease coated the inside of the pan well and then poured the remaining hot grease into the batter, stirring it in really quickly. Then, we poured the batter into the frying pan and baked it until done at around 450F. 

Once the cornbread was done, we would turn it out on a plate and break off pieces to eat or to make milk & cornbread. We NEVER cut cornbread, because that would bring bad luck!  We always just broke off a piece with our hands.

Now, I am wanting some cornbread!

Oh yeah, and some of that streaky meat with the hard and chewy rind!

 Copyright 2013--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Weather Lore

The Kelley School
Blue Ridge Parkway
MP 149

A great nut year is a great bastard year
It is said that when there is a bumper crop of walnuts in a given year,
 that the following year will have a larger number of bastards.
So, just to be safe, if you see lots of walnuts hanging in a tree,
you might want to lock up your daughters!

When April blows his horn, 'tis good for hay and corn
(horn = thunder)

A wet May brings a good load of hay
(Plenty of sun in June)

If leaves wither on their branches in late autumn, 
instead of beginning to fall in October as normal,
an extra cold winter is due.

A large number of foggy days in October indicates a hard winter

A cold November signifies a mild winter

Black-eyed Susans
Rudbeckia hirta

A green Christmas (like a warm May) means a fat churchyard
This seems to be based on fact.

Dew in the night, the day will be bright
(If you ever get up on a summer morning and the lawn is dry, it is an ominous sign!)

A hot May makes a fat churchyard
(It does seem that a warm May makes extra work for florists, undertakers and crematorium attendants.)

 Copyright 2013--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tour de Fleece Days 14 - 16

The only thing that I spun on this day was the alpaca yarn in the upper right hand corner.
I would have spun more, but I had to attend a huge fiber sale!
A local fiber artist is moving and Greenberry House in Meadows of Dan, Virginia is
having a big sale this weekend and next weekend to sell lots of items.
I purchased quite a bit of fiber and a few small pieces of equipment.
Here are my purchases:
a Lincoln sheep fleece, a Cotswold sheep fleece, Turkish Spindle, Flick Carder, apron,
a weaving book, a small drop spindle, thrown silk waste, silk roving,
cochineal dyed Angora, silk hankies, a recycled blue jean cotton/flax roving,
mohair top,  recycled denim.white & brown cotton roving,
cream colored cotton roving, more silk roving, gold Tussah silk, blue silk noil,
merino/silk/cashmere roving, superfine Merino top, a cone of turquoise yarn,
Icelandic wool roving,  brown/cream/black roving, 8 oz white wool roving,
10 oz white Lincoln wool locks, a handmade wool basket,  and a couple of bags of
assorted wools which includes some beautiful long Lincoln wool locks dyed green. 

This was my first project using my new blending board!
The dyed roving used in this project is what I dyed last weekend. 
While in Meadows of Dan on Saturday for the huge fiber sale, I had to stop in at Poor Farmer's Market and get one of their Hungry Hillbilly Subs!  They are SO YUMMY!

The new Meadows of Dan Elementary School is under construction and it is looking fabulous so far.  I can't wait to see what it looks like when it is completed.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Weather Lore

I have heard that using seaweed as a barometer is very effective and that people used to bring home a piece of seaweed and hang it on their porches.  If fine weather is predicted, the seaweed will be dry and crumbly.  If wet weather is coming, then it will expand and feel damp since it will absorb moisture from the air.

If trees show the lighter underside of their leaves, wet weather is a sure thing. (This is caused by the increasing moisture in the air which softens the leave stalks, causing them to turn over.)

If your cat gets extremely frisky, then expect high winds.

Dogs tend to get agitated before the arrival of a thunderstorm.  Of course, their keen ears hear it long before our pitiful human hearing detects the booming thunder.

If you see all of the cows in a field lying down and chewing their cud, rain is on the way.

A cat washing behind its ears is a sure sign of rain to come.

When the day is going to be hot and dry, spiders spin longer and larger webs.  If rain is coming, the webs are short and small or the spiders disappear altogether.

If a cock goes crowing to bed, he will surely wake with a watery head.  (If a rooster crows at night, there will be rain by the next morning.)

 Copyright 2013--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean