Saturday, March 9, 2013

Maple Syrup, Shawl Pins, and Spindle Whorls

For the past few weeks, Rick and I have been maple sugaring. To be honest, 99% of the work has been done by Rick. From tapping the trees, to collecting the sap, to sitting outside for hours boiling the sap down to make maple syrup. We only have 6 taps and a small firepit in the yard, so the process has been slow, but the maple syrup we've been getting has been sooooooo delicious. My job has been to keep Rick fed and in hot coffee, then to help with the final boil down stage, filtering, and canning, which is done in the house. You can read more about Rick's adventures in maple sugaring on both mine and his blogs.

With all the "homesteading" chores we've been doing, not to mention trying to learn to play the baritone banjo ukulele that Rick gave me as a Valentine's present, all my etsy/fiber-related work was put on hold. Woodburning on the whorls I make for Rick's Navajo spindles slowed down to a trickle, and all the wire I cut for shawl pins sits lying about on my work table. I managed to get a few whorls done last weekend and all of one shawl pin the other day. I do have four more whorls very close to being done, though. I was just outside photographing that new shawl pin in order to list it, so decided to photograph the whorls in progress, too. I really enjoy twisting and bending wire to make all sorts of cool shapes for the shawl pins, but I think I have the most fun woodburning the designs on my gourds and the whorls. As soon as I catch up a bit on the whorls, I plan to make some gourd birdhouses.

I was inspired by daughter Erica's East of the Sea shawl, part of her Fiddle Knits Design's A Hobbit's Journey collection, to start twisting the shawl pins into what might be thought of as elvish. Figuring how to loop and swirl evenly, matching left to right, has been fun, although I do also have a pile of pins gone wrong; where I looped and swirled and then said, "now what?" having no idea how to finish them. They sit here still, waiting for a final inspiration. But as I twist each pin I think back on all the elves I've read about over the years, from Lord of the Rings to Eragon to Shannara, and try to envision what might adorn one of their shawls or cloaks. Rick thought the newest pin, featured above, had the look of a vine, growing up reaching for the sun.

Whorls waiting to be colored
Meanwhile, the snow outside is melting, the air is warm and gentle, the sky a beautiful bright blue, and the day is still full of possibilities. Back to listing my newest pin and finish coloring the whorls. And maybe after that I can get to those birdhouses before the birds begin looking for new Spring homes to raise their families in. I just went to a meeting for the farmer's market, which will start up again in May. Amazing how fast time goes. Soon the whole family will be trekking up every Sunday morning to man our tables for a new season. The sound of Rick hammering copper will start up again and Annalee will once again take over the kitchen with her soap making. So much to do!!