Well, the traveler has settled back in. Gladly. While I was away, Rick got the rest of the nursery covered, despite the challenging weather . Our firewood is all in, and since being home, we are now running two of the three woodstoves we use to heat the house. Quite toasty. The gas cook stove gets a lot less use during this time of year, most everything gets warmed or prepared using one of the woodstoves. The wood cook stove has a fine oven for baking bread or pizza. A pot of soup and the tea kettle sits on top, almost always, ready and waiting. We believe in getting everything we can out of all that firewood…..we’ll let it heat the house and our bellies. So, here it is December and we’re pretty well tucked in for winter. Oh, there will be all the winter chores ahead of us…..shoveling, hauling firewood into the house, shoveling, tending the animals, and more shoveling. But we do love winter, and find that there can be a nice balance between the physical needs of winter and some down time. Rick’s downtime is often spent sourcing new plant varieties for the upcoming season. Plants are never far from his mind, and he truly enjoys the research he finds time for during these colder months. I am happy to really have time for fiber related projects. We still have about eight fleeces to sort through and a lot more yarn to dye. There are many felting projects on the table, and of course….everyday knitting. And, oh yes, Christmas is right around the corner, so a lot of baking and gift making. Love that. My wish is that winter takes its time…..no reason to hurry towards spring. We always get there soon enough. Right now, we’re happy to spend some months enjoying a bit of dormancy.
We are nearing the end of our lambing schedule, awaiting our last few ewes to deliver. So far, we have had 9 lambs…… 6 ewes and 3 rams, all easy births and all healthy. After a long winter and tending to our original flock, it is a delight to go out and be greeted by a bunch of springy lambs frolicking about. It amazes us that within a couple of days from being born, they are racing back and forth, jumping into the air, and chasing each other around. Wallace ( remember him?) looks around now with a dazed expression and instead of a ” Did I do that ? ” it’s more like a ” what have I done ? “. We love watching them all.
Indoors, these are some examples of the felting projects I have been working on. The slippers are made by a process called wet felting. I spent some time this winter working on a slipper pattern that I was happy with and then carded my wool into batts for felting. The process involves using hot soapy water , layering the wool batts, and then a lot of shaping by hand. Wool typically felts by being subjected to three things: temperture change, alkaline, and agitation. Many of us have experienced this when putting a wool sweater into the washing machine. Usually what comes out, if the sweater is 100% wool, is a smaller, tighter, woven version of what was put in. Well, that’s basically felting.
The slippers I have been working on are all hand felted and dyed using some of the fleeces that best lend themselves to this process. Felt is a great fabric….warm and sturdy and tends to shed water due to the wool fibers being so densely shrunken and tightened. This resulting in a material that is perfect for keeping feet warm during our Maine winters. Maybe next winter I’ll felt a yurt.