Saturday, January 14, 2012

Critters around us keeping busy at Long Ridge Farm, NH

When arriving at new places after having put your chair, your bag, your glue stick in place on the table set up for you it is time to look around.
The setting for the colour theory workshop was the lambing barn for Nancy's ewes. It had rafters and a metal roof, a very clean gravel floor and with a wall only half way up on the south side of the barn lots of air and light coming in.

And there was something else. Mr. and Mrs Robin had found the most special place to nest - a spot with a view, protected from wind and rain and .... sun - well the direct rays only, for the heat under the rafters would have been just as intense if not higher than the rest of the room during the warmest times of the day.
The babies were fairly new still. About midway through their life in the nest anyways.
The babies, or almost fledglings I suppose we could call them, could not go anywhere. Their daily movements consisted of up and down head bobbing and loud calling when really supper, lunch, or snack should have been presented to them at least three minutes ago. According to their internal clocks that is!
Mr. and Mrs. Robin on the other hand were constantly on the go. Finding worms, bugs of any kind, balancing all the tidbits in their beaks and ..... then they encountered an enormous dilemma.
There were 11 women in the barn, most with bent heads - some mumbling to themselves,  others conversing with their table partners and some being quiet except for hands moving back and forth over the tables fishing in piles of colour for the right speck to place here or there on the chart at hand with the aid of their glue stick . 

There was also one person standing, slightly stooped over a table or walking around quietly, our teacher Michelle Wipplinger. The Robins family had clearly not anticipated this kind of neighbourhood when they decided to set up shop just a few weeks earlier. It was distressing for them and for at least some of us glue stick and scissor wielding humans. Fortunately we did agree to take a morning break and an afternoon break outside the barn, allowing for a snack time for the youngsters and when we ate lunch it was under a beautiful big tree in the yard, far away. This way they could have almost complete privacy for about 20 minutes before we all or at least some of us rushed back to continue climbing our learning curve.
The babies survived and by the end of their five days they were big enough to sit and push and fight each other halfway out of the nest - the following week they were able to take their first flying lessons and then.... were off into the world, hunting, eating, singing, flying.
Around the barn and up along the studio and the house there were beautiful flowerbeds. And... flowerbeds can be awesomely busy places to behold too.

Th Bumblebees were especially industrious, humming and flitting all over. Makes me wonder how much nectar a flower at its peak can serve up in a day or a week, for the little busy bodies were numerous and as I said earlier, very industrious.

Then there were the ladies, the ladies who greeted us in the driveway in the morning and who loudly declared to the world that they had produced yet another natural wonder.
They were walking about freely, having a good leisurely life, nothing too strenuous, other than the daily wonder deposit.
I have a soft spot for hens, their way of doing life, their quirkiness, movements and ways to share and inform their friends and followers of what is going on in their little corner of the world.
A green bee, I have read elsewhere what kind of bee this is, but I have forgotten - one cannot retain everything I guess.

It was exciting to observe natures way of presenting us with complementary, primary and secondary colours - they are everywhere if one stops for a second or two to observe or investigate. Either 'action' will work depending on one's energy level at that moment in time.
Not only colours, but light and shadow, grey and black and white, neutrals - and creepy sensations.

This little guy really was very small, less than 5mm however, my micro button on the camera works wonderfully and so this gives me a change again, for a face to face on the screen and not in a real life eye to eye situation. Phew!

And last but not least this little ...... beetle, or fly or whatever it is, shining so beautifully red or orange amongst all the neutrals of the driveway.

It was irresistible I had to bend down and and push the trigger, well, the button - quickly before the little beauty scurried away on its own special and very private business.

And so all around us, everywhere I turned there were experiences setting off the new found knowledge from the lambing barn - whether it was about colour or neutrals, light or shadow, all of it came together so nicely.

 Making a person thankful once again for having had the opportunity to participate and experience this spot and point in time.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Colour Theory - hours of focus and crossed eyes =-)

a very small pad of colour chips, to become our focus and best friends over the next 5 days.
So in my life there is Linda M. She is a fellow tapestry weaver, weaver, fibre enthusiast and focused person. Every now and again she comes up with excellent ideas. Like about a year ago when she emailed me one tired afternoon and said, hm, I am thinking of going to this workshop "Michelle Wipplinger, Long Ridge Farm, NH", what do you think, would you like to come, does it sound interesting?
Ha, the thing is, when I hear enticing invitations like this, then ..... my heart jumps and I scurry to the confuser to find out more about the course, the teacher and the whole scenario.
One of our exercise books, pages and pages to fill out, I used a whole glue stick in 3 days and had to ask to borrow one from Linda, who had been smarter about the size and number of sticks she had brought than me.
And thus it was that it was late January or perhaps early February and we were already planning for all the fun we could find along the road from Nova Scotia to New Hampshire.
There is a goodly amount of fun to be had, just so you know it. Yarn stores, woolen mills, both the ones that are open and the ones that are closed for 1 hour exactly when we come through, but...... never the less we saw the little wool tufts floating about outside the entrance way.
And then we focused for days on end. Blessed be the Ott-Lights we had been asked to bring. I didn't know why, really, but once we were in the room (the birthing barn for the pregnant ewes in the spring) it became abundantly clear why this had been such a magnificent investment.  No other light source would have been able to keep us on track, finding just the right hue on a small colour chip, to be able to analyze what it was that made this particular piece of fabric so vibrant and enticing to look at.
It was tiring and it was fun and hard to understand right then how much we would appreciate our hard earned new knowledge later on.
Another page, the book opened up at the hotel room at night after 8 hours of hard staring. We did rest our eyes for about 45 mins every night, sitting by the little desk in the hotel room, eating our microwaved supper on paper plates, staring directly into....... a textured very neutral very white wall. It made us laugh - all that colour all day and then.... this wall of 'nothing', which wasn't really nothing, there was the texture and the patterns there-in to contemplate instead. It is risky business to allow ones brain to rest for too long you see.
A piece of fabric from a child's jacket, a piece which Michelle had picked up on a trip to China - she had done a lot of traveling over the years, lucky for us!
All these beautiful colours blending and soothing each other to make a perfectly fabulous piece of cloth, which your eyes could rest on for hours and find new topics to think about.
And the fabric from another jacket at another table, they had been gathering a few more articles of interest and I couldn't resist the photo opportunity. I love Orange!
Then there was the blessed heat of this part of the world, New Hampshire. It was HOT and we had a fan which ran most of the time. Saving energy was not the top priority at those hot moments, although we did try to sit as still as possible to do our work. One can sit very still and drip - that was another lesson of this trip.
Playing in the paint tray, Linda was having fun and I was 'spying' on her with the camera. I am not sure if these are cup cakes, or buckets of mud for dyeing yarn or .... just that, dobs of paint and a playful hand with the paintbrush, making use of the enamel surface of the tray and the way in which it received the wetness of the water colour paints.
And finally, one of my exercises on the last day, how to make colours pop or fall into the back ground paper. It was fun, and I couldn't resist the little gizmo which allowed me to cut out maple leaves, nice and uniform in whatever colour paper I chose.
There was so much more to this workshop. It was magnificent, the inspirations, the colour discoveries - the joy and the opportunity to play all day, for although it was hard work it was essentially play - we chose to go there, and ......
It was splendid.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spinning at the Loop

The sun is shining today as is my spirit.  I have a date at The Loop on Barrington Street in Halifax for Sunday March 18th to teach hand spindling again. It is always a lovely time, with up to 8 participants, goodly amounts of fibre and interesting new spindles for everyone.
 What it means for me right at this moment in time is, that sometime next week I will begin to choose pieces of wood and think about the spindles I want to go to the barn and turn on the lathe, so they will be ready for this event and also......
 I need to start washing fleeces soon, so they can be dyed and ready for the month of March. There are other workshops at the Loop, where dyed fibre is a necessity during that time, so I had better keep them well stocked for all sorts of texture and colour possibilities. 
I am glad that I get to do this class again and hope that anyone interested in this rather twisted topic, and of course who lives at a reasonable driving distance will come and join me for three devine hours of finding the yarn/thread in your own hands/life.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Adventures under the bathroom sink!

Cleaning is not my favorite occupation - I admit it - and then ..... when I don't clean for a while (I do start before the place starts to smell really badly) there can be surprises - battles of life and death which show them selves to the observant vacuum cleaner handler.
And on this day when I bend down to make sure that there were no dropped earrings in the cracks and corners before I turned on the little blue beast I got to ....stop everything and observe, just for a while.
The spider really wasn't all that big. However his long stripy Pippi Longstocking Legs were definitely an assert so he could get his supper/afternoon snack under control.
The beetle was still somewhat alive, I imagine that the spider had given him/her 'the kiss of death' before proceeding to get this delicious meal hung - as any good butcher would.
I do believe it took about 20 mins or so, perhaps 30 before the situation was completely under control. This was a very focused spider. A focused spider with excellent spinning warts. Exactly how his hoisting apparatus worked I am not sure, but he kept doing what he was doing with no hesitation and so ...... the drama continued.
There were protests of course, not of the kind that I could hear, but my eyes observed the twitching of limbs and efforts to run away on only the two front limbs.

Eventually the beetle became still, lulled into sleep, gone to the eternal beetle hunting grounds and the spider - kept busy securing his meal ticket - the size of which should secure warding off hunger for a few days.
And all the while I have been writing and looking at these photos I have had this tune in my head
"Won't you come into my corner - said the spider to the fly ......." and the rest of the words elude me but the tune is fabulous and makes me smile.
It is of course a slightly morbid subject, but in my daily observances of life, it happens all around us all the time.
This particular day I was lucky enough to have the batteries charged in the camera and it was an excellent excuse to ....... pack the vacuum cleaner back into its hiding place. It would have been really cruel to remove spider and newly caught dinner before a party could have been had.
I left them and they were gone, well the hard indigestible bits were still there, when next time I fell under the unfortunate spell making me want to waltz with the vacuum cleaner.