Friday, August 16, 2013

:: shelter building news ::

 Spring is definitely in the air in our nook, drifts of pale lemon yellow pine pollen are floating visibly through the much warmer air and leaving sulphuric stains and crusts on everything outside. 
And bees have been busily about their business in the very first plum blossoms. Precious.
 Pruning has all but finished - we have tried to keep to beneficial lunar gardening times for pruning - we are nearly done. Lots of long straight waterspouts here - could be useful...
 The warmth, the pruning and the new-found energy of Spring has propelled me to make a little more push toward completing the shelter house we began with Phoebe. 
While visiting the South Island in the middle of Winter, we went to the Otago Settler's Museum.  There we saw a 'Wattle + Daub' wall panel, rescued from an actual early settler's house and could clearly see how to re-create something similar to help clad our shelter house - adapting it to fit what we'd already created.  It is just like weaving, really, with sticks.
 These are my tools: a decent pair of secateurs and some mean-looking loppers.
They make nice, neat cut-off edges - a bit safer, too - because so many stick-ends could grab!
Inside has had some input, too.  Aaron, Phoebe and one of her cousins who was staying in the holidays borrowed a concrete mixer and the children made the concrete while Aaron did most of the spreading and levelling.
A little embellishment also enhanced the design - a border of marbles, glass gems and stones.
And Olive always watching on, chewing her bones...

Monday, August 12, 2013

:: experimental papermaking ::

 One of the things I really like about how we home educate is the amount of creative time that is available to Phoebe.

 It also leads to one of the things I sometimes don't like...

...unusual surprises that jump out and get me when opening her curtains in the morning - or should I say fall off the windowsill where they have been carefully perched and onto the floor...
...this time it was a lovely batch of ripped up paper and other assorted ingredients, quietly experimentally percolating on the windowsill and - a nice surprise - it was something dry AND solid - Phoebe's first PAPER! (HaHa - is what she then wrote :) )
Heartened by this paper success, Phoebe and I are researching further how to make more paper from our waste paper around the home - looks like she's ready to make her own mesh screen and deckle and commandeer our old blender!

:: spinning with wilma ::

Phoebe using her left hand to set the wheel in motion in the correct direction
 Last Thursday we were given a wonderful gift by a lady very generous with her time and knowledge - the gift of learning about fleece and making yarn or wool.  We were both brave enough to tackle the wooden spinning wheel and pitch our feet, hands and eyes against this seemingly complicated task!
carefully feeding in the soft, delicate fleece sliver
 As the wheel is spinning (powered by the foot on the pedal), one hand is helping spread the fibres and the other is making sure it is feeding in not too fast, not too slow...not an easy job for the beginner!

With her back to the warmth of the Winter sun pouring in the window, Phoebe mastered the art of gently teasing diaphanous fibres into a neatly twisted and strong yarn.  Foot up and down, up and down, both hands working together, eyes carefully overseeing.

And here is the result on the bobbin - some lovely natural wool - a single ply, which we could ply together with another strand and we would have our first yarn!
me encouragingly looking on, on the table Wilma had displayed her wool and associated tools to show us
Thank you Wilma - it was such a special time for us to begin learning with you - much appreciated :)