ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
Upper Tier
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
So the planning phase, we're talking gardens here, we'll start at the top of the yard. Here we are looking down from the alley at the very top tier of my hugel terrace. There is a severely cut back walnut tree that spoils the soil. There are many things that will tolerate walnuts, such as black raspberries, currants and gooseberries. I have a goumi mitigating the effects of Juglone (the chemical that walnuts produce), as well as being a nitrogen fixer. There is a small pear tree to the left and an Asian Pear to the right inside the cage. A very small cherry is struggling in the actual garden bed. It is surrounded by garlic. In various places are black raspberries, which we groom, although, they really don't spread here. The virginia creeper and wild grapevine are also kept in check. A large hemlock overhangs the sawdust path from the neighbor's yard (left distance) and our own mulberry is the the clump of trees defining the edge of the bed in the background.

From the top

This section gets good sun spring and fall and is shaded during summer when the mulberry tree grows leaves. It tends to be on the dry side. The mulberry has been cut back, leaving half the bed with a lot more sun. The bed is the middle portion of the picture. According to the Empiress of Dirt, brassias, alliums, and curcurbits should do well with this lighting. Some of the cabbage family does not do well with the walnut. At the moment, the closest portion of the bed has one black raspberry, the tiny cherry tree, garlic, and arugula. Last year peas and tomatoes were mariginal in there. Not much grew, even weeds had a hard time. The coffee grounds were decomposing. I think the closest half of the bed will get leeks and onions, swiss chard, spinach, and mizuna. Maybe beets, parsnips, and kohlrabi as well. I'll keep the arugula as it really likes it there. If I can get good king henry or the Alexanders to grow, this may be a potential spot. At the moment, I'll use strawberries as ground cover. Eventually, maybe gooseberries. They would make a thorny fence to keep the deer away. I still haven't found the species of gooseberry we had when I was a kid. It was a white or yellow berry, not pink like the recent trend.

New Strawberry Location

On my wishlist is a row cover for this bed, leek, beet, kohlrabi and mizuna seed. Definitely some organic onion sets. We have determined that there can never be enough onions. I have some potato onions to replant but I think regular onions would be good too. I want to take Justin Rhodes' approach. You eat everyday, therefore you should plant something everyday. Eliot Coleman wrote The Four Seasons Garden as well as The Winter Garden. He has some lovely methods he's developed and sells through Johnny's Seed. I have my eye on hoops and row covers for season extension. I will be headed to the seed library in town to see what if anything they might have. In return, I have parsnip and carrot seed. I need to check my seed stash as well. I know the critters ate all my beet seed last year. I will have to try starting some indoors.

Looking up

With all the wood, I am tempted to drill holes and add mushroom plugs. Most of the logs used are Siberian elm or mulberry. Winecaps would be nice or oyster mushrooms. At a much later date, I'd like an arbor over the path for grapevine. Dreams. . .
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
The teal scarf came off the loom. A new lichen colored one got warped during the Winter Classic. It went onto the loom. I'm not sure I like it. Compositionally, it could use more contrast. Tomorrow if the sun comes out, I'll look at it objectively. I pulled yarn and weighed it for a pink Valentines' scarf. I will warp that next. More work got done on the black flatcap while watching Sherlock Holmes.

Next on the loom

Garden work got done today despite the rain. It was still warm. Mulch was added to the muddy areas of the yard ie pathways. The deer are eating the first elderberry but not the second one. I have no idea why. I put a small cage around it. Both have German hardneck garlic planted around them. The stones help hold the water from running off down the hill into the neighbor's yard. The ancient AC unit needs to be pulled. Besides being rusted solid, it doesn't work and it counts against me for property taxes. Those will be hiked next year. The county knows fracking won't last and is planning for it. Back to the AC, the controls were added later and have a thin wire that the weed wacker stripped. Currently the breaker for it is off. Wonder how much that will cost to get it yanked. I called the power company's rebate program. To get $50, I'd have to spend thousands on a new system. Guess I'll pass. I haven't used it in over fifteen years.


The neighbor's fence is falling down. It was old when we moved here 25 years ago. I figure on planting bushes to replace it. Currants would be nice. I'm leaving stepping stones for the mailman. Because of the horrible hills, we made him a path through the garden so he can cut across the lawn. I wonder what the neighbor thinks. Does she even know its her fence? Does she know how crooked it is with regard to the property line? She doesn't engage with her yard at all, except to mow it. More imponderables.

Winter bed building


2 Jan 2017 01:57 am
ursulas_alcove: Pink petal hat (Peeking flower faery)
With the help of many patrons, we managed to meet the January 1st bills. For all of you who placed orders, thank you! Because etsy takes an extra day to receive funds, some bill paying finagling will happen tomorrow. Custom orders are finished. Shipping resumes on Tuesday as the post office is closed on Monday. Inventory is still going on. Every bin and scrap of yarn must be weighed. Several things are missing outright. I suspect I will have to go on a search mission as my handspun red/blue/gold was stolen by pixies. New scarves have been laid out and planned. Many new items are being added to UrsulasYarn.etsy.com each day. The goal is to get the certified organic wool photographed, editted, and listed. https://instagram.com/p/BOvsVSfhVDs/ This effort has been hampered by weather. Currently its in the 40s and raining. More bills are coming up. The next goal is to make enough for the insurance and the car payment. Toilet paper would also be nice.

Currently on the loom, teal cotton/linen scarf. On the needles is a black flatcap. This is exciting because its so hard to come by black in the brand I use. Updating 10/2 cotton for the website this week. Hoping to get yarn on order for Arisia. The van got licensed. Hoping to raise enough money to get the necessary repairs for it.

On the domestic front, leftover cranberries were made into bread. Cleaning happens randomly as the mood takes me. Pancakes with cranberry curd and sloppy joes graced the table this week. The orders received over the last week allowed us to restock oatmeal. So yay! There is now homemade granola. We caught up on dishes today. I also did some hand laundry, wool sweaters. Theoretically, the new job will have a schedule shortly, followed by training. I'm guessing three to four weeks before I see any pay from a gig. No one runs ad campaigns right after Christmas. The most I can hope for from this new agency is about $400 to $600 a month. Certainly not enough to live on. It does offer freedom with regard to scheduling so that I can chase off to do art shows and SCA events.

Gardening continues throughout the winter because its been mild. I dug a small swale yesterday and got covered in mud. Sheet mulching along the side of the house happens with holiday cardboard boxes and cardboard found while cleaning. Coffee grounds go on top followed by sawdust. The east side of the house is a pain to mow so I am just mulching it. Bushes are too close to the property line for me to get a mower through. This way I don't have to. Eventually hoping for black current bushes, aronia, and gooseberries to become the new fence between my house and the neighbor's. One should have dreams.

It's another late night! Here's to the future. May we learn from our mistakes.

The garden on Spruce


18 Dec 2016 11:15 pm
ursulas_alcove: Woodcut from Robin Hood (Spock's Raised Eyebrow)
Today's light level was so low, we gave up trying to see anything. So no pictures. Yarn got wound and etsy updated. And then we rearranged the house. This usually happens around the holidays. So much cleaning! The sewing machine swapped places with an ancient desk in the attic. Lots of stuff was discovered in the process. Shelves and drawers emptied. Books collected for Rickert and Beagle, our local used bookstore. Vacuuming. Dusting. Heaving furniture up and down two stories. The new design is so that my hubby can have an office on the first floor instead of in the basement. The air is better. His electronics won't be right by his bed which is a plus. Then electronics and a chair were hauled out of the basement. I really dislike moving that chair! He now has an office in the sun amongst the plants with good air. Yay!

I have three pieces of equipment for business all set up next to each other, more streamlined! I still have my work cut out for me. Inventory is still ongoing. Fleece is everywhere and must be corralled. Three tubs and half of the etsy store have been inventoried. More stuff came in today from the garage. Now I just need a cutting table in my studio and better lighting. I have plans for next year. We will see if I can get my act together into more of a regular schedule. I am trying to simplify my life to be more efficient time-wise.

I also added an Instagram account. Because of the hashtags, hopefully that will let people find me. I need to improve as a business or else find a spot in the homeless community. Push has come to shove. This isn't a hobby business. If I can't pay my bills, then I lose it all. So I am highly motivated to improve. The drama of the presidential election deeply affected attendance at all fall shows. Sales were so far down, I almost didn't have gas money to get home from one show. Ouch! I am looking forward to seeing 2016 in my rearview mirror.

Hat pictures and scarves should resume soon. The green scarf is done and a teal one gets started tomorrow. As they say in Borogravia, tomorrow is a big fish! G'night.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
I've been a busy beaver with daily production goals. First step of the day is getting new product photos. As I inventory, items that ought to be online get their picture taken. It must be done outside and that gets dicey as the weather worsens. I've added shuttles and fleece this week as well as some of my handspun. You can visit those at https://www.UrsulasYarn.etsy.com Later in the evening, I scan one Folkwear patterrn per day on to the https://www.UrsulasAlcove.etsy.com site. Monkeying with photoshop and writing verbage takes a bit of time.

rigid heddle

During daylight I am trying to finish off the above very old project on the 24" rigid heddle. According to Flickr, it's been on the loom seven years. In February this year I started to revitalize it with a new weft, below. It helps but the mohair is so grabby and mis-threading is frustrating to pick out. I totally get why Sarah's daughter calls her weaving business Inch-by-Inch. With such low level lighting, very little gets done. I only have natural light to work with in that room. It cuts me down to between 11 and 1 to work on it except that's when I also have to wait on my husband. He's an invalid right now. I have him getting his own breakfast but lunch is not something he can manage. Timing is everything.

Giving new life to an old warp

Then I pull together the day's orders (if there are any) and head down to the post office. Usually happens between 3:30 and 4:00. By the time I get home, I allow myself to sit and enter the tracking numbers, weave a little on the small loom, and then bundle up again and head out to get coffee grounds at Starbucks. When I get back, the coffee bricks needs to be broken up by hand and added to the compost pile or new raised bed before they freeze. Now it's after six and very dark. Dinner and dishes happen next. Then more projects as the evening progresses. We listen to hockey and knit or weave. Later, I do my write ups, snap the day's hat picture, and inventory, pulling the next days items to photograph. There never seems to be enough time.

This just finished:
lavender dreams

This just started:
Next on the Loom

New custom hat order just had a down-payment paid so yarn is on order. Looking forward to new colors in my yarn box. I've never made a hat for a professional centaur before. Portland is truly an amazing place.
ursulas_alcove: Robin of the hood woodcut (Rock On!)
Day 1 -30 days of hats

Day 5 of hats

Day 2 of 30 Days of Hats

This is how you wear a hat

Day 3 of 30 Hats

Day 4 The Chico

A Melon for your melon

Hats are for sale. Custom work available.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
So everyone was recommending Eliot Coleman's books on gardening in all four seasons. I can see myself doing just that. Not this year, but maybe next year. He lives in Maine and knows cold weather. The last book I read, Miraculous Abundance recommended him. Justin Rhodes does too. Eliot has developed some unique gardening methods. Johnny's Seeds carries tools he designed. So I picked up a couple of his books. There are cold season crops I could be growing right now. For those of you who know me, this will sound strange but I need more leeks and brassicas in my life. There are many other crops as well. Fresh greens are not to be turned down this time of year.


My soil needs to be improved a bit more first. A couple of cold frames wouldn't hurt either. Hoops for the garden would also be good. I wonder if old curtain rods could be bent into shape? Then I'd only need plastic sheeting. We do have a few micro-climates here and there. I didn't plan them but they are here. The Japanese maple does not lose its leaves until the first week of December. Plants growing underneath it are protected from frost. The sun has a longer angle and reaches through to some spots in the afternoon, warming the ground. Coffee grounds and mulch start decomposing and heating things up as well. This is why I currently have three strawberries ripening on the windowsill.


So I snagged the neighbor's leaves for the compost. Here's a great video on composting. https://youtu.be/n9OhxKlrWwc
We have a hot compost pile with coffee grounds and sawdust. I put shredded junk mail underneath it all. Save your kitchen scraps for the Wormies. One thing I did learn about my worms is that coffee grounds heat up their bin too hot. The worms try to get far away from the heat. So save the grounds for the compost. Nothing worse than finding runaway worms. My first bin is full of castings or black gold. I have the worms mostly in the second bin now but there are baby worms still in the first bin. It's been three months since we got them. Eventually they'll migrate.


Back to my winter scheme, I have a greenhouse design in mind. The polycarbonate will run about $100 so it cannot be built until I have an income again, but I can dream. I found some folks giving away 2 year old laying chickens. Wow. Not setup for that right now but will definetely watch Craigslist -free section with interest from now on. While I was at FaerieCon, I got tons of advise on raising chickens. Who knew that Faeries raised chickens? At the moment, I have not found an organic feed mill nor could I afford food. I figure the folks with the ad probably had a coop I could have used. Meanwhile, I keep watching Construction Junction for scrap wood. I can usually get boards for 50¢. Once the new micro-brewery opens, it may be possible to get mash for the chickens there. It won't be organic but it will be taking stuff out of the waste stream.

Well, I am still waiting for abundance. This year's garden total was only 112 pounds of food, not counting herbs. I'll let you know if abundance ever happens.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (drop spindle girl)
I awoke way too early. Additional items got wound and put up onto the website. A mountain of dishes greeted me. That took a while. Much cooking was done yesterday. Lunch was light. So light and unmemorable that when my stomach started growling at 4:30, I had to think hard to remember, it was a grilled cheese with homade tomato jam. It was missing sprouts so I had to start some for later this week.

Spinning a Shawl

I sat down to spin and couldn't stop. So addicting, reassuring, calming, I finished my second ball of this. I measured it to figure out my yield for the tri-loom; .206 lbs yields 106 yards. Probably need four balls for a shawl, definitely an Aran weight. Geoff Lawton kept me company on Youtube followed by Justin Rhodes. I spun a long time and then plied on the drop spindle. I have a large number of projects lined up for a show in February. I don't have nearly enough stuff to sell. Therefore I have a production schedule.

Kumi kumi reverting to parent

Yesterday we pulled together a tentative show schedule for 2017. I'm happy with it and hope it works out. Meanwhile, yesterday's cooking went into the crockpot for beef barley stew. Then on to cooking up the pumpkin. My chocolate chip bag ripped in half. Before I ate the whole thing, they had to go into something. Pumpkin bread! I have fond memories of some full moon harvest festival in Madison or else Black Earth. I complemented a lady on her bread. She took my name and address and sent me the recipe. I have treasured it for thirty years.

Pumpkin Bread

Bake at 350°F until a toothpick comes out clean and the loaf pulls away from the edges of the pan. Our oven is missing a coil and the thermostat has seen better days so your results may vary. Guessing somewhere between 40 minutes and an hour? Depends on the pan you use.

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

This is the last week before winter temps set in. Last Friday was the killing overnight cold, upper twenties. Eggplants and nasturiums are all gone now. Sunflower dead. The yarrow and swiss chard are still happy as are the strawberry plants. Prepping new areas for spring. Geoff Lawton says you cannot possibly take enough "before" pictures. I didn't take any but hope to get some work-in-progress shots soon.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
Every so slowly it seems, the Folkwear patterns are getting listed onto the etsy site. This week I added the Schoolmistress pattern, circa 1907, the Traveling Suit from 1915 and the Saroulles (Turkish/Indian/Afrikan pants). These are all available at UrsulasAlcove.etsy.com. Here's a link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/491186213/traveling-suit-folkwear-508?ref=ss_listing

Also on that website are some tablecloths from the 1950s. This is part of an attic destash. Yes, the tablecloths are used but you can't get fabric like that anymore. They are great for that extra card table at Thanksgiving. https://www.etsy.com/listing/486343561/vintage-1950s-square-fruit-tablecloth?ref=related-1

On the yarn front, I am also adding my one-of-a-kind, hand dyed with natural dyes, soft, superwash wool to the website at UrsulasYarn.etsy.com. Photos are dependent on weather so additions are slower than I would like. The bright sun makes for lousy pictures. And it will be clear and dry all week.

oregano 2016

Other things I'm working on are getting backstock from the traveling tubs onto the website. I have no more shows until March. So please stop back often and take a look at what I have to offer. Remember to shop at smaller artisanal shops this holiday season. It makes a big difference. We enjoy being able to pay our bills.

At the end of November, I will be accepting new custom hat commissions. I am finishing up some viking hats. Then I will be available to start on any style hat or cap for folks wanting their very own bespoke piece to go with their garb (or even mundane wear!) If interested, drop me an email. Servers went down on the business account so I'm asking you contact me at lmlisting at yahoo.

This style is called the Tarboosh:
Custom Hats

Viking Style
Viking Hats

The Chico style
Chico Hat

The ever popular 1400s peasant
Today's Hattitude

And the flatcap
Elizabethan flatcap
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
Some hats and stockings may still be available. Drop me an email if interested.

The many faces at FaerieCon

The many faces at FaerieCon

The many faces at FaerieCon

Maenads be tearin' it up!    #maenad #bachanal #nymph #mythology #greekmythology #costuming #FaerieCon #faeriecon2016 #faerieconeast #faeriefestival #renfaire #renaissancefestival

The Chamberlain surveys FaerieCon, decides not to destroy us, yay.    #BEST #SQUEE #skeksis #costuming #cosplay #thedarkcrystal #henson #froud #puppetry #FaerieCon #faeriecon2016 #faerieconeast #faeriefestival #faelife #renfaire #renaissancefestival #equa

Hats for woodland sprites, only at #FaerieCon! The vendor hall is open today from 1-7pm, come play!   #StrangeHoursAtelier #curiousmillinery #hats #felt #wool #leaf #oak #greenman #faerieconeast #faeriecon2016 #faeriefestival #renfaire #renaissancefestiva
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
I watched the presentors for the Mother Earth News Food Summit today. There were some good discussions, some books I definitely need to read over the winter, and other topics I will be looking forward to over the next couple of days. Let me back track a bit.

I was at SAFF over the weekend. I ran into a lady I had talked to before but at a much different location. She lives here in PA and is by training an environmental toxicologist. She is doing sustainable agriculture. She has a few acres and is interested in developing a learning center. Her other passion is fiber arts. She is looking at ways to integrate the two. We had a lovely chat. I am interested in natural dyes. Maybe things will work out, maybe not. I offered to teach. Only bad part is PA is a very large state. Her center is roughly an 8 hour drive from here, which coincidentally is the length of the drive to Asheville for the fiber show. She also teaches. We talked about cheese making which I'd like to learn. Maybe in June after her lambing season.

I got in at dawn today from the fiber show and then slept a good long time. I had orders to process and then had to prepare for Halloween. We picked up a carving pumpkin and dropped off my bucket at Starbucks for coffee grounds. We found pretzel packs and popcorn balls to give out tonight. The pumpkin got carved, lights setup outside, my fallen sunflowers and sunchokes got cut back. All were done just in time before the kids came out at 6 pm. There had to have been well over 120 kids. Numbers are up much higher than they were 20 years ago. We ran out of goodies 15 minutes early. I got so many complements on the garden, despite its sad neglected state. Many parents came up the steps to get a better look. The nasturtiums were in full glory. Borage and a second crop of sunflowers were making headway and a couple of tomatoes decided to flower again. Chronographia even found a small eggplant. I have yet to pull the pumpkin vines. Lots of people thought the kumi kumi's were adorable. I put them out as decoration for tonight but they will be food for my table soon.

So back to the Homegrown Food Summit or Homesteading or whatever, I like the idea of planting a flour corn. I enjoyed Hank Will's discussion. I want to know more about flour mills. We also want to grow chickpeas for hummus. Flour mills and processing, please? Seed saving was another lecture by Bill McDorman. So I looked up seed libraries. We have some! Carnegie Public Library in Lawrenceville started it. In 2014, the department of "making you sad" tried to shut down seed libraries. They did establish Rules which go against the principles discussed in the summit lecture. But the library was allowed to continue. It expanded to the Oakland library as well. You don't need a library card to participate. The idea is to swap and perpetuate seed that is adapted to your local climate and soil conditions. I have a lot of seed that I've bought over the years that just couldn't cope here. Our air pollution was so obvious coming home from our trip. Breathing did become more difficult after crossing the state line. Add to that our lousy coal ridden soil, it's a tough environment for seed all the way from Portland.

If I had a disposible income, I'd be working on a covered hoop garden for winter, fencing, and a greenhouse. As it is, I am limited to free coffee grounds, sawdust, worm castings, and urine to improve soil. I can't afford the aronia bush (Viking berries) I want or the madder plants. We are still watching for locust pods around the neighborhood to start a nitrogen fixing tree. Watering systems require pipe. And since my asphalt roof is leaching zinc, I won't catch runoff water until I can afford a metal one. I have a rather long wishlist. I guess I will start with a free energy audit from the gas company. Well, if you'd like to follow along with the free summit, you do have to sign up. The link is http://homesteadingsummit.com
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
I woke up thinking about dehydrators. I gutted a pumpkin the other day. The seed was too wet. At the time, it was over 80° outside. Then came days of rain. So needless to say, the seed did not dry well. I wanted to be able to plant it, not oven toast it. So maybe a food dehydrated was on my mind. Ours broke down a while ago. When I trolled Youtube for a video, I ran across an inspirational homestead. I had seen it before but got more out of it the second time around. It takes place in LA. https://youtu.be/lyteA1jYLno

And with one thing leading to another, I followed up looking for a website when the guy makes bread. The bucket says root simple. So here is their blog chocked full of bread recipes and lots of useful book titles. So I'm looking at making German Rye Bread today. I wish I had a brick oven. http://www.rootsimple.com/2012/12/how-to-bake-a-traditional-german-rye-bread/

This is actually the original video I was in search of on food dehydrators https://youtu.be/U-Gyr4dMbH0
I need to get at my wood working projects. Today is cold though. I don't have a shop, just a back porch. I have soda cans. Removing the bottoms is not as easy as he makes it out. I am going to try rubbing the cans on brick or concrete to remove the bottoms. Sanding them off makes your arms numb and takes forever. Other projects on the back porch include a bat house and a 6' shelving unit.

So bread then sanding? Covered in flour and then sawdust? But what about SAFF? Will I find time to play with dye? I leave on Thursday for Asheville. I have much to do. And it is now cold outside. 80 and then 40 is a cruel thing to do to an old lady. Brrrr! Bread first I think. I'll let it warm up a bit. Stay tuned.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
It is immensely more helpful to have charged your batteries BEFORE the power grid goes down. Sitting in the dark. Second outage today. Theoretically it will be fixed by 3 am. To the east, all lights are on. To the west, it's pitch black. G'night folks! There will not be a soft electrical hum tonight.

Oh deer!

15 Oct 2016 08:21 pm
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
I have been busy working odd jobs to make ends meet. I get up, shower, dress, setup the solar oven, pack my lunch and leave for six or so hours. It was so sunny this weekend. On Friday, I roasted organic honey butternut squash, which I carefully saved seeds from. My family keep an eye on the solar oven and kept it in the sun and at the correct angle. Today we had a glut of small juicy Czech tomatoes. I cut them up, tossed any excess seed into an area of the garden where we hope they will grow next year, and put the tray into the oven with some EVOO and a clove of garlic to cook in the brilliant sunshine. When I came home to put away the table and oven, there was a huge pile of deer doodoo right next to my clothes post. Right in broad daylight! Come on guys, just cuz I have no dog, doesn't mean you can hang out in my yard. Broad daylight, geez. That pile was not there when I left for work. They have no shame!
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
It is that time of year. Time to cover what's worthwhile in the garden, harvest what you can (green tomatoes), and give up on the rest. The carrots and Swiss chard got a cover. The Cherokee tomato got a cloche. The pumpkins and sunchokes have to fend for themselves. I am looking forward to the frost. Once the vines die back, I can harvest the sweet potatoes, regular late season potatoes, sunchokes, and pumpkins. We weighed all the produce this year. The yield was really low. The crops that did well were rhubarb, eggplant, sunflowers, and pumpkin. I need to run another soil test to see how the coffee grounds are impacting the garden. We did get an abundance of Brussel Sprout seed, carrot seed and parsnip seed. Unfortunately I do know know which type of carrot that the seed is from. We had Dragon, Caliopy and Danvers. Email me if you'd like some.

Harvest Bounty

I have been watching and learning from other folks on youtube. To stabilize my backyard terraces or hugel beds, I should grow brassicas in front of them. At the season's end, bend them over and bury the tops. The stalk becomes a post to hold up the logs. I really like that idea. I also learned that while the wood is still rather solid, vining crops like melons, cucumbers and squash work really well. The fellow who grew them was based in SanFransisco. They also know hills but his yard was flat.

Unknown seed

I picked up another book at the library, called Miraculous Abundance by Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer. It is a permaculture farm on one quarter acre. They have proven that working by hand can indeed produce as much as conventional chemical farming. Permaculture gives you the toolbox you need with polycultures to produce in large quantity. A movie was made of their journey, Demain, making its debut at COP21 in Paris. Their farm is called La Ferme du Bec Hellouin. I hope to learn even more. At the present time, it takes 10 to 12 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of food. This is not a sustainable situation. We need 10 earths to support the existing population. Since the population is expanding and the arable land mass is shrinking, we got us a serious problem. Food is going to have to come from city rooftops, backyard gardens, and small scale farmers. Predictions vary greatly as to when we will be in crisis. By 2050 though, push will definitely have come to shove. This is why so many are looking to colonize Mars by 2030. We definitely have a problem.

Kumi kumi reverting to parent

I was inspired by Eric Toensmeier who wrote Carbon Farming, http://carbonfarmingsolution.com/bio It gives hope for the future. Also, it looks like Geoff Lawton is back in Jordan with another go of Greening the Desert, the sequel. If you haven't seen the first one, you really should! Here's the link https://youtu.be/2xcZS7arcgk
There is an orgaanization focusing exclusively on climate change. They also had an article which gives hope, http://www.joboneforhumanity.org/ask_a_macarthur_genius_could_elusive_deep_sea_microbes_help_fight_climate_change We still need to curb our appetite for fossil fuels, but at least some people are working on a solution. It is so easy to focus on the negative. I prefer the positive and enjoy learning new techniques and hearing from people who make a difference.

Long Island Cheese Pumpkin

So I can't help notice all my neighbor's decorations. I pulled corn stalks out of the garden. They purchased corn stalks for decor. I have sheets covering plants from frost. They have sheets on bushes for ghostly decoration. I have squash and pumpkins on my porch curing for winter storage. The skins need to get thick to store long term. The neighbors bought pumpkins for decoration. Is Halloween just an echo of farming except in the city, forgetting its roots?
ursulas_alcove: My favorite doctor (c is for civilized)
(In Autumn). St. James Court started out rainy and cold. Setting up an EZ up on a slope is tricky but I remembered to check Construction Junction, our resale building supply store. I snagged two cement blocks for 75¢ each. What a difference! Our neighbors were jealous. Next year we need to use sand bags to keep the tent down. Staking is no longer an option because they laid in gas lines for old fashioned street lamps. Friday we arrived to find our tent roof had blown partially off, soaking all our chairs and table cloths. We finally got everything back together and composed ourselves about an hour after opening. Nothing quite like a disaster to start out a show.

With the weather bad, attendance was down as well as sales. Since Friday is usually our busiest day, our spirits were discouraged. Add to that empty bank accounts and all sales via credit cards. Our bank accounts would be full on Monday but no cash right now to buy dinner with. This was a problem I did not anticipate. We did bring a cash reserve with so dinner was had. It wasn't the best on the menu but The Exchange in New Albany offers great food at many different price levels. Our waiter was a delight and cheered us up. Food always changes your mood too. We booked a very resonable Air B'n'B nearby the show. The Victorian house was lovely. There were many extra personal touches. We setup a workshop on the huge dining room table. We made felt flower and leaf pins each evening. I hand carded and wet felted the material and then cut out the designs. Chronographia beaded and embroidered each pin. During the show, she stitched the pin backs on each one. With the weather, her arthritus prevented her from doing her normal needle felting on mushroom berets.

We met our sales goal for Saturday. Huzzah! We even had one cash sale, so yay, cash for dinner! The weather got better and Sunday was great. Sunny and warm. People came out and tried on hats. There are six or seven hatters throughout the fair. Because, you know, Derby hats. Yes, the Kentucky derby keeps hatters employed. Our neighbor at the show is also a hatter, different style, but great product. Our other neighbor, the jeweler, is from Atlanta. Her helper volunteers at Dragon Con. We like our peers! So what we learned is that to have a good show we need a great selection of hats. Fifty is bare minimum. Sizes can run to the large, 7 1/2 or better. And at least a quarter need to be suitable for men. And for some very strange reason, only blondes come to the show on Friday. So choose colors accordingly. Who knew? Sunday's crowd was much more diverse. We met interesting people and a few characters. The ladies who arrived after the show ended were still able to score hats and daisy pins to go with their bell bottoms and definitely were in the flower power groove. David, our volunteer host, did a splendid job organizing take-down. We all have to fit in a narrow alley to load out. It's so tight that our vehicle mirrors need to be folded in. We waited our turn and got out about the same time as last year. All-in-all, a good experience.

Driving home exhausted, we got as far as we could and slept at a rest area only 75 minutes from home. Then came laundry, and cleaning, yard work, unpacking, grocery shopping, etc. Having two big events in a row is a little hard on the body, but mostly I just wanted a shower and clean clothes. This week I also had to do training for some events that I am working at this weekend and next weekend. I will be at Dollar General on Saturday, handing out Downey coupons. It's in walking distance of my house. And also training for a Wellness event at Walmart. I haven't had time to work on my own business at all. I still need to catch up on accounting before quarterly sales tax is due this month. The house needs some work before winter too. Yikes! Time's running out.

Sleep. Then to tackle the ToDo list.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
Winter is coming.
The goose is getting fat.
Please to take a look at our fine, warm, winter hats.

If you haven't got a penny,
A ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
We take Master Card and Visa too!

I haven't fully unloaded yet, but must put away everything and reload the van. Thursday, Chronographia and I will be headed to St. James Court in Louisville for the art show. Look for us on Belgravia as Strange Hour Atelier. The show runs Friday through Sunday. We've been working hard and should have a great selection.

Booth shot for show apps
ursulas_alcove: Blakes 7 (scared)
It started out with sales being down more than normal. Each event so far has had some drop, some more than others. After discussions with several other vendors, the bottom line is that the media in an election year scares people to increase viewership. "The other side might win, OMG, the end of the world!" This is part of the 24/7 news cycle. It is killing my business because I didn't expect it. Scared people save their pennies. So far I have heard economic fears, "we could become another Greece, you need to stash cash at home" to "there's another derivative bubble and the big banks will fail". Then there is a very real heroin problem locally. Violence is up. Then there's the presidential race, the terrorist threat, North Korea, and a few other loose cannons in the world. Somehow, immigration is the least of our worries, but that doesn't matter to the media. No compassion there.

So I get an email from a gardening leader that I follow. She says one in 80 Americans is now a prepper. Some may call that hitting mainstream. Her advise is something that hits a lot closer to home. Where you live is the most important thing for surviving a system collapse. If the grid goes down, nuclear reactors will overheat. How close you live to a nuclear power plant is very important. The east coast is especially dense in these plants.

Just out of curiosity, I looked it up. An old national map from 1998 shows three in our area. Afterall, Westinghouse built the dang things and they are based here. But I thought Beaver was decommissioned. It is right at the end of the Pgh Airport runways. If a plane misses, kaboom! Yes, not well thought out. So I looked it up. Turns out, one out of three was decommissioned. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaver_Valley_Nuclear_Generating_Station

And our cash strapped government gave permission to frack at the airport, see http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/12/business/energy-environment/frackers-trove-under-airport-in-pittsburgh.html?_r=0

We don't have an injection well anywhere near there at least. No earthquakes. Oh wait, there is a Class II injection well. It's location? South Beaver. Does this sound like a recipe for disaster? So you can now watch my blood pressure go up. We are about 35 to 45 miles away. There are still sirens along some of the roads around here. So of course my government is going to protect me. Here is what they have listed for evacuation http://www.pema.pa.gov/planningandpreparedness/Documents/Beaver%20Valley%20Power%20Station%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

It turns out that we are where the people in Beaver will evacuate to when things fall apart. Our county has two schools that will turn into decontamination centers and folks will stay at the county fairgrounds. Interesting. I would still feel a whole lot better if they shut Beaver down entirely. Those are very old reactors. They are still too close to the airport and fracking operations. I think a bugout bag is a good idea but where would I go that wouldn't be in worse shape? Well, there's nothing like fear to sell a product. Hmm. Now how can I apply that to yarn? Be afraid! Be very afraid! Buy yarn now! It could save your life! Why? I don't know, but it could save your life! Visit http://UrsulasYarn.etsy.com
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
Seems like there is never enough time. The website needs an overhaul. I need to code and write copy. I need to dye yarn while I still have plants to dye with. Then there's winding balls of yarn, reordering product, accounting, unloading the van, repacking displays, and on and on.


I did get a few things done this week. Starting with oregano, how to explain? I live on a steep hill. The front terrace keeps my yard from sliding into the street. Snow and weather detriorate the wood. I need to seal the wood against weather. I do not want to use nasty chemicals near my food plants. There was a recipe I saw for a natural seal using beeswax and oil, linseed or something. Can't find the recipe so I made up my own. I tried it out on my windows. Worked ok. Needed more oil. So back to the oregano.

oregano kettle

Oregano really likes my yard. All it took was one seed which I planted years ago. Eventually the oregano took over the grass. Adding to that an herbal class I took where we were sent home with garlic chives, well I don't mow grass, I mow pizza. Anything I have in that adbundance gets tried for natural dyes. The oregano was blocking my work on the terrace. It was time for a haircut. I've used oregano for many years now. It gives a nice colorfast dye.

Oregano dyebath

I recently redid the yard into a food forest. I gave oregano the nasty strip next to the driveway. It has its own country now where it can thrive for dyebaths only. The food stuff is under the lilac and the original plant is still in the garden. Rabbits built a warren in the oregano earlier this spring so I didn't harvested it. It stunk of bunny. The dyebath was a success. Today there could be lemon balm. Lemon balm country lives under the mulberry and the buckeye tree. It tried taking over the tarragon and had to be cut back. I did tarragon last week. It's color is not as strong and tends to fade a little over time. If I had infinite yarn and more time, I'd trim back the black raspberry canes and dye with those too. The yarn tends to be light gray when done, high tannin in that one.

I'm pleased with the oregano. I used Pennsic water. Yes, I know I'm weird. I refilled all my empty water bottles with Pennsic water to take home for dye experiments. Pennsic water has a high mineral content that gives some amazing colors when dyeing. Yes, it has iron in it but something else too. The colors really pop. I donated my yarn and some dyestuffs to the fiber tent last year. Fiadnata graciously gave me some samples afterwards. I was really struck by how different they were. I had mordanted them myself at home. The only difference was the water. Wow. So here we go, oregano:

oregano 2016

Back to work. The accounting won't do itself.
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