Another Day Of Seeds And Wool

Picture 827Out in the greenhouse this morning, sowing seeds and dyeing wool. It’s about 70 degrees in the greenhouse and many of the seeded flats are sprouting. Yeah! Outdoors it’s overcast and a bit raw, I think I saw a few snowflakes wafting down from the sky, but I’m ignoring that. Nursery customers are beginning to call to find out when the nursery will be opening ( May 9th!),inquiring about specific plant varieties, and other such matters. The gas stove I often use for dyeing wool is in one corner of the greenhouse, and this makes it very convenient to be simmering a dye pot while I also sow seeds. The last of the 2014 fleeces ( six left, I think) have been kept in the greenhouse over the winter. One by one I take them over to the washing station, give them several soaks, pick them over, and then start the dyeing process. Often I’ll wash the fleeces in thirds, it’s much easier to get a smaller batch of wool really clean this way. During the first week of April we’ll be shearing the entire flock. I’d like to think I can get those few fleeces from last year washed and dyed before the new ones start piling up. We’ll see! This lingering winter has allowed a little more time for finishing up with these kinds of projects. It’s chilly outdoors, the tea kettle is staying hot on the woodstove, it’s a good day for greenhouse warmth, sorting through seed packs, and dyeing wool!Picture 818Picture 822

13 comments on “Another Day Of Seeds And Wool

    • Hi Judy,
      So True, always a bit magical when seeds crack open and new growth breaks through the soil. It is amazing to me( still) that these tiny beginnings grow to be big, healthy, robust plants bearing fruit that we will harvest from and provide a bounty that will help to sustain us. Life force…..always an awe!
      Yes, I pick over the fleeces to remove any vegetable matter, wash them ( this can often take 3-4 trips to the wash tub), then dyeing. After this I card the wool into batts ( a way of preparing wool for spinning) and then I spin them into yarn. Truth be told, there is often some lengthy periods between steps, in other words…..fiber piles up in all stages of the process…unwashed wool, washed wool, wool ready for spinning, wool waiting to be dyed. I think I could insulate an entire house with all this wool! Have you started any seeds this spring? Fairly warm today, we’re turning the corner slowly but surely from winter to spring!

      • I love your ‘stages.’ If I lived closer, I’d offer to help. This is the very first year in forever that I haven’t started seeds. The winter has been so long and so cold I just decided to not drag all the equipment out and buy plants from a local organic greenhouse. I’m still hoping to make it up to meet you but it is a haul from here. 🙂

        • I hope you do come Judy, would love to meet you and have really enjoyed our ‘chats’ through our blogs. I think it is great that you have a good source for buying seedlings and so helpful to that farmer/nursery who is growing them. I think part of this life of gardening/growing/ farming has so much to do with community. Buying your seedlings from a nearby grower….supporting community! So great. Have a lovely day Judy, and thank as always for your words and thoughts!

  1. The photos of your fleece look like an abstract painting! Maybe I need another cup of coffee but I see hints of a face, a wizard, rabbit. Fascinating colors and textures. The more I look the more I see. Here in Michigan it’s still pretty cold with some sleet and flurries yesterday. But forecast is for some warm up 50’s maybe. Take your vitamins, after the winter past, us city folk will descend like crazy! I find myself cruising by the farm and garden stores waiting for the OPEN sign.

    • Hi Sue,
      I think you are right , wool takes the dye, absorbs it, and really does seem to then express landscapes and images. It’s about my favorite part of the process. We are gearing up for opening day at the nursery, sharing our lives with visitors, and tending to all the seasons tasks that spring and summer will bring. I look forward to all of these things and welcome them when they do arrive, but am coveting these last quiet days of pre-spring, while the pace is still gentle. Thank you for your kind words and very good advice about the vitamins….must remember these! Happy days to you!

  2. My trays of seed pots are busily sprouting up all kinds of goodies just like yours! This is the most magical time of year to see what looks like something dead burst forth with new life!!
    Your process of turning sheared fleeces into gorgeous yarns is really fascinating and I would love to see a step by step photo essay of it!

    • Hi Amy,
      Most definitely a fun time of year, we always wonder what will appear after the long winter darkness and dormancy. Rick was hoping to talk with you directly about some plant inquiries. Is there a good way to reach you, an email? Didn’t see one on your blog. I’ll try and post something about the entire process of dealing with fleeces, with pictures. Good idea! Happy spring, Amy!

  3. Love love love those colors. Will you card these together for use for variegated or self striping yarn? Sure doesn’t look much like Spring today but this is New England and the bad weather gives us something harmless to complain about :+).
    Enjoy the last of your quiet time. Looking forward to getting out to meet you and shake your hand or a big hug when you open.

    • Hi Molly,
      I love those colors as well, not sure how I will spin this up. Often my process with just about everything leans on the whimsical side (in other words, hardly ever a plan!). Sure hope you will come to the nursery, would love to meet you….a big hug, yes! Did you have any luck with the Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter book? You can borrow mine if you don’t find it available. A snow squall today….payed no attention to this, have my sights on spring and that is that! Thanks always for the kind words, denise

    • Hi Marian,
      Thank you! Always hurts to hear that the temps have dropped and new plant growth is damaged. Seems unfair that after spending so much time dormant, waiting for the right time to emerge, only to have a cold snap come along and zap tender shoots or leaves. . Still quite a bit of snow on the ground here……but everyday we are a little closer to the growing season.

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