Back!

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Where did I go? To Romania and then to Ireland. Then, I’m afraid the work which was put on the back burner while I was dashing around visiting other countries became urgent and I am just now picking my head up and returning to blogging. Oh, where to start! My plan is to write a really long piece about my trip to Romania. It was so beyond my expectations and I learned so much about their history and became so enchanted with their farming practices. I am still processing all that I experienced, the interactions I had with farmers and craftsman, and the incredible beauty of the Romanian landscape. Those Carpathian mountains! The region of Transylvania! The old world architecture in the cities and the beautiful workmanship I witnessed in every little village! 20% of Romania’s agricultural area is considered subsistence farming. It is a country that still makes use of traditional and grassroots farming practices. Stunning, every bit was stunning. So, now with winter fast on our heels, I am hoping my days will allow some time to reflect and to write about my journey. Stay tuned will you? And, apologies for my sudden absence.
Here at home, the firewood is all in, the hay is put away in the loft, the freezers are full, and the nursery rows are tucked in for their winter slumber. Whew! A list of off season projects await our attention, some repairs around the house, a new outdoor summer kitchen (we built an outdoor wood fired bread oven!), and, of course, some crafting.
Thank you for checking in and continuing to read news and stories from Fernwood. I suppose there are just times we have to step away from the screen and give our cyper input a rest. Because the nursery and farm world at Fernwood so often involves physical engagement, I think switching my brain over to work on the computer can be challenging. I have had my rest, now back to it!
Stay tuned and it’s nice to be back! Happy fall, all!

There was Spinning And There Was Knitting

A week ago we had an open studio day where many showed up to practice their craft. What fun! It had rained the night before, a long generous rain which we desperately needed, but it cleared by mid-day to allow for the studio deck be a place for spinning, knitting, and drawing. I think there were at least 8 spinning wheels whirring, several knitters clicking away, and a new friend ( Hello, Boots!) working on her postcard-a-day drawings. Of course, there were snacks to keep us all well fed and hydrated!
It is often so hard for me to take a moment away from the gardens and the nursery to sit and spin wool or knit during the summer season. The studio takes a back burner during these precious growing months. Having an event like this allows for those wonderful opportunities to visit with friends and makers, share ideas and projects, and to be inspired by all the fabulous and creative talent that surrounds us here in Maine. I did not know that the little town of Jackson has a healthy band of spinners who are willing to pack up their wheels, their fiber and needles, to make their way over to Montville for an afternoon of spinning and knitting. Such a fun bunch! Two blogging friends came from miles away…loved spending time with you both, Sarah and Brenda!
So, now I know that I need to schedule another day of ‘spinning and making’! I’m thinking August. A day when the summer begs to sit on the porch with friends and share in the spirit of making.

Hand Work

One of the things I do to bring some balance to the very physical needs of our life here at Fernwood, is to knit. Well, first I spin, then I knit. This craft of being relatively still, allowing my mind to get lost in the making of stitches, and the methodical nature of needles twisting and clicking, is a gift onto the day. Slow. Restful. Restorative. I really like these words written by Naomi Nye, I’m impressed that she saw the humble craft of needle work worthy of a poem. The ending message, however, also made me feel grateful for the rural community I live in. Here, in the north east part of New England, knitting and crocheting….mending a patch in a flannel shirt, are a part of our language. Seeing someone take out their needles in public in order to make some gain on their knitting project, opens the door for conversation. “What are you working on?” “What kind of yarn are you using?” ” Oh, I love those colors!” , these are all things you might say when one handcrafter bumps into another. We can’t help ourselves, it’s a strong tie.
Yesterday, I spun some of the first angora collected from my friend Sally’s rabbit. I’ll be using that soft and silky yarn in the headband I’m knitting for a friend’s Christmas present. Oh, this wondeful art of sewing, knitting, and crocheting, …..spread the word!

Sewing, Knitting, Crocheting……

A small striped sleeve in her lap,
navy and white,
needles carefully whipping in yarn
from two sides.
She reminds me of the wide-angled women
filled with calm
I pretended I was related to
in crowds.


In the next seat
a yellow burst of wool
grows into a hat with a tassel.
She looks young to crochet.
I’m glad history isn’t totally lost.
Her silver hook dips gracefully.

And when’s the last time you saw
anyone sew a pocket onto a gray linen shirt
in public?
Her stitches must be invisible.
A bevelled thimble glitters in the light.

On Mother’s Day
three women who aren’t together
conduct delicate operations
in adjoining seats
between La Guardia and Dallas.
Miraculously, they never speak.
Three different kinds of needles,
three snippy scissors,
everybody else on the plane
snoozing with The Times.
When the flight attendant
offers free wine to celebrate,
you’d think they’d sit back,
chat a minute,
tell who they’re making it for,
trade patterns,
yes?

But a grave separateness
has invaded the world.
They sip with eyes shut
and never say
Amazing
or
Look at us
or
May your thread
never break.

Naomi Shihab Nye