Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Spring has Sprung!

The sugar maples are tapped (only 6 taps in all) and I have been getting about a third of a gallon of sap per day from each. I think since the trees are deep in the woods they don't get the chance to warm up very much each day, hence the low output. But it has been in the 4o's every day this week -- yesterday when it was so nice I escaped my office and walked around one of the ponds to be sure the trail would be clear enough for my homeschool programs today. I saw five deer walking out on the ice and also found a vernal pool that I hadn't known about before. The crocuses are popping up by the deck here at home (see Laura's pictures), the birds are singing, it smells like spring and the driveway is a muddy mess! IT'S WONDERFUL! (I staunchly refuse to allow a certain storm, supposedly arriving tonight and threatening 2-4 inches of That White Stuff, to ruin my happy spring mood).

Twilly & Abbey are recovering nicely from their surgeries last week and are delighted to learn that the world isn't always going to be winter. Abbey caught (and killed) her first mouse the other day and was so proud of her clever little self that she paraded and flipped it around the house for a long time until Mommy took it away less it end up decomposing under the couch and stinking up the livingroom. Two days later Clever Abbey found her mouse-cicle outside in the snowbank/garden where I had tossed it and brought it back in. When it later surfaced in Laura's room, she added it to the compost heap. Mouse has not been heard from since.

Dana at work is just back from Paris -- her family went to visit her oldest daughter who is studying abroad there! She was so sweet to bring me four balls of super-soft heathery-mauve fingering wool yarn, which I found in a bag on my desk this afternoon. She sure knows how to pick the souveniers! I can't wait to hear about her adventurous trip -- I had 2 groups of homeschoolers for sugar maple programs today and was decidedly not in the office between 9 and 4:30 and didn't get to say more than "hi-bye!"

Even though the Kimono shawl is almost done...only one more ball of yarn to go, I can't bear to stop working on the Flower Basket shawl to finish it. The FBS is made with some of that KnitPicks sockweight merino that I dyed a few weeks ago. Laura convinced me that the colorway isn't as horrible as I thought (greens, purples and dark pinks). I really liked it in skein form, but when I unwound it (as is usually the case for me with multicolored yarn in skein form) I didn't like it as much. But now it's growing on me again, I think. The first try on this shawl was with the Alpaca Cloud (also from Knitpicks), but I quickly abandoned that idea...has anyone else found Alpaca Cloud to be extremely slippery and hard to work with or is it just me?

The Avocado Disaster yarn has been overdyed with indigo and does not stink anymore. Liz received her Majacraft bobbins and rock tripe lichen (Umbilicaria mammulata) for dyeing. The lichen came from a huge series of granite rock outcroppings at my mom's house -- it is by no means rare there, so fewer qualms about harvesting since lichens are so slow growing. To prepare the dyebath, lichens dried, crushed and soaked in household ammonia for 4-6 weeks. Then the solids are strained out and yarn is simmered in the liquid, which can be diluted somewhat with water. The dyebath will produce reddish brown to magenta to lavendery purple. Check out Karen Casselman's book Lichen Dyes to learn more about it.

Oh, and finally, this isn't anything new, but AARRGGHH!!! at all things Bush Administration (I'm listening to NPR and getting a bit worked up, as I inevitably do when I hear the sound of Georgie's voice. Please excuse me.)


Blogger Liz said...

Do you store the sap somewhere until you have enough to evaporate? I'm thinking it's tricky to boil down 2 gallons each day.

Our driveway is a terrible mess, too, I'm just glad it's not that long. BUT, I'm glad to be in mud season, rather than in the icy grips of winter.

Glad to hear that Abbey caught her first mousie (how old is she?). Harley hasn't figured it out yet, and she needs to if she's going to be a scrappy barn cat.

Your FBS looks great, although the pic is a little dark. Can't wait to see it finished. And, nice yarn from's very cool to have traveling friends.

AARRRGH from me too. I had to stop listening to Democracy Now because I would get so worked up. I'm not saying ignorance is bliss, but it is a bit more peaceful.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Teri S. said...

For whatever reason, I get very annoyed when Mr. Bush speaks. Is it the timbre of his voice, or perhaps his way of speaking English, or the way he doesn't really say anything? Several people who work with me have the same reaction.

I'm not sorry to say there is no mud season here in Virginia. Even though some daffodils are blooming (on the south side of the house only), it's still too cold. We didn't get nearly enough snow this winter, and my feeling is that if it isn't going to snow, it may as well be spring. Of course, I would probably change my mind if I lived in New England or Canada.

The shawl is beautiful...the colors look comforting and peaceful.

10:27 AM  

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