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Sunday, April 10, 2016

A week of many projects

 This early morning view from a few days ago seemed to set the color tone of this past week. One doesn't necessarily associate the warm colors of this sunrise with the early spring in the northlands, but to me it invokes the lengthening days and soon to be warming temperatures. I say "soon to be" as we keep alternating between warm spells when it seems "real spring" AKA planting time is upon us and cold spells when it is actually necessary to break the ice in the fowl water bowls during morning chores.

Spirit of the Black Bear custom sign
This has been a busy week of juggling many different projects. The custom hex that have been working on, Spirit of the Black Bear, right, finally has gone to its owner. While it does not look like a complex design, the interwoven elements with a colored background proved to be a bit more challenging that one might have expected. I think it turned out really nice, though, and am glad that Dutch Hex Sign could provide this design for my client in Virginia. 
Along with the variable weather that spring in Maine brings, we have also had several bouts of heavy rain, a bit of snow and some high winds. We have roof damage, so every time the high wind warnings go up, we worry. Thursday night the power went our during a wind and rain storm and did not come back on until I had left for my regular Friday day in town. I spent much of the evening Thursday night listening to the wind and rain and spinning more of the brown wool that you can see on the bobbin of my spinning wheel to the left. I took that shot of my hex sign decorated wheel with a bit of fake autumn leaf garland draped over it (hadn't got put away yet... I use the garland as decor on my wreath in the fall), sitting alongside the Black Bear hex, in process, early one morning. I love the way the light and the colors play!

Warping the Weaver's Friend rug loom
I have also begun warping my large rug loom, a "Weaver's Friend" model, from the 1930s I believe. It is very big and very heavy... and strong enough to easily support my weight so I sat on one of the side braces, inside the loom, to draw the warp threads through the heddles. For you non-weavers, the heddles (in this case, wire concoctions with an "eye" in the middle through which a warp string is threaded) are lined up on two harnesses which alternately go up and down, allowing the weaver to quickly "throw" a shuttle wound with yarn or in my case, push a strip of fabric through between alternating warp threads. Once you have a weft yarn (or strip since I will be making "rag rugs") all the way across, "beat" the weft in to place with the beater bar, so that it is cozied up to the previous weaving, and then you raise the alternate harness and repeat. The raising of the harnesses is usually done manually by pressing a treadle or operating a lever, but the Weaver's Friend has a gearing mechanism that automatically switches harnessed when you "beat" twice!

grafted tomato plants! They have mostly not died, yet!
The last photo is a picture of the tomato plants that I grafted in the class I took at Rural Living Day on April 2. The plants were supposed to be kept at 80 degrees and in the dark for a day, in low light conditions for another day to allow them to heal up before they went to work trying to photosynthesize. Plants, like animals, move water and nutrients around their bodies through a system of what we might as well call "veins" and apparently if they don't get a chance to heal up first, the work of photosynthesis will not go well as the channels are not available. Our house is not hot and I don't use bottom heat on any of my seedlings, so I set the babies, in their plastic "greenhouse" on a heating pad with several layers of newspaper on top to even out the heat a bit. The pad goes off after an hour, so I turned it on every time I went by and thought about it during the day. They had a large towel over them to block light, and because conditions for healing were not optimal, I allowed an extra day in the dark and several additional days in low light before preparing to move them to the grow rack and more illumination. Photo to the left shows them just before moving, with their transparent cover removed. One did not want to stay clipped together from the beginning (I think the clip we were given to use was too small; these plants, we were told, are actually a bit larger than the instructor usually likes for grafting. The one at the left does not so much appear to be wilting, when observed in person, but was just a bent scion that I grafted onto the root stock I am crossing fingers that they take! And this has given me confidence enough to try grafting woody plants next spring!