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Grass Fed Lamb

  

 

Meduseld Grass-fed Lambs

Meduseld Grass-fed Lambs

  We are accepting reservations for six grass-fed lambs that will be available this fall.  The lambs were born in March or April of this year and will be ready for butchering late fall.   These sheep were just recently weaned.  They have never been grained.  They receive Thorvine Kelp as a nutritional supplement. 

Meduseld does not butcher or sell the processed meat.  We sell the sheep and will deliver it to Gore’s Custom Butcher in Stephen’s City, VA, which is conveniently located off Interstate 81.  Meduseld’s charge is $100.00 for the sheep, and Gores charges $75.00 to process it (pricing as of June 2013).  You will be able to pick up your lamb directly from Gores.

The lambs are crosses of the Romneys, Dorset Down, or Jacobs.  The weight of each lamb will be approximately 100 pounds.  Typically, approximately 50 percent of that is lost during butchering.  

If you google prices for grass-fed lamb, you will find that this is a bargain. 

The sheep are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Please email meduseld@live.com to reserve your lamb!  We require a $25.00 deposit to hold the reservation.

Judi Dewitt – Master Lace Maker

On Saturday I had the privilege of meeting with Judi Dewitt, Master Bobbin Lace maker.  I was able to meet her and her husband, Clyde Dewitt, at the Fort Edwards Foundation  where both are board members.  I met Judi five years ago at the Fort Edwards Family Frontier Day, and was impressed with her skill and the enthusiasm she conveys in demonstrating this rare skill.  Judi has received recognition from Tamarack, located in Beckley, West Virginia.  I interviewed her about lace making over lunch.

Judi making a lace ornament for Tamarack

Judi making a lace ornament for Tamarack

Culver – What inspired you to learn bobbin lace making?

Dewitt – I was at an Irish Fair at Wolf Trap in Virginia and saw a woman making lace which was beautiful.  I thought I could teach myself how to make lace, but life got in the way.  I still had children at home, and I was working, so there was not much time for my hobbies.  Fast forward five or so years.  I was living in Remington, Virginia and in a local flyer was an advertisement for a woman teaching bobbin lace in Remington.  I was dating my husband and we both signed up for classes.

Culver – How long did it take for you to learn bobbin lace?

Dewitt – This is a difficult question!  I was in a class of six students including my husband.  We met every Monday night for 1 1/2 hours.  We started by learning how to make the “stitches” which are made by crossing or twisting threads.  There are three “stitches” – the half stitch, whole stitch and whole stitch twist.  The braiding (plaiting) stitch is made by doing the whole stitch over and over again.  We learned how to start and end a piece.  The best project to learn on is a bookmark.  We made many of these.  Then we moved on to more complex designs.  We took lessons for about six years.  Then we moved to West Virginia.

Culver – How long have you been demonstrating your art at Fort Edwards?

Dewitt – It has been about five years.  We did our first demonstrations at the craft co-op at the Barn in Lost River, WV and have demonstrated in several places.

Culver – How was lace produced in Colonial America?

Dewitt – The way I make lace is the same way the colonial women made it – with a pillow of straw, pins, and bobbins.  Lace was being made during “our” time frame at Fort Edwards, so my husband and I can demonstrate lace making the way lace was made in the 1700’s.  Our equipment is all modern design but the techniques are the same.  We have a pillow made with a high density foam and covered with a cloth to protect it.  In the old days, the pillow was stuffed tightly with straw.  The firmness holds the pins in place.  We use brass pins because they do not rust.  My bobbins are made of wood and spangled with beads for weight and to keep them from rolling.

Culver – Why is the bobbin lace you make called “Torchon?”

Dewitt – Different laces are made with different angles.  For example, Torchon lace is made with 90 degree angles.  Flanders lace is worked on a grid with 45 degree angles, and Bucks Point uses a 60 degree grid.

Culver – How long does it take to make lace?

Dewitt –  On average, it takes about an hour to make an inch of lace, sometimes more if the pattern is complicated.  The lace Christmas ornaments that I am making for Tamarack are about four inches and they take several hours, usually about five hours.  More time is needed when the pattern is complex.

Culver – Do you have any of your lace on your cloths?

Dewitt – The only place I have any lace on my reenactor clothes is on my historically correct cap that I wear at Fort Edwards.  I would love to make flounces to go on dresses and jackets.

Culver – Have you ever considered writing a book teaching the basic skills to make lace?

Dewitt – No, this is something to think about. 

Culver – What is your background in the arts?

Dewitt – I have been an artist ever since I can remember.  I have drawn with pencil, pen and ink, I paint in oils and watercolors and am a published illustrator.  I am a knitter, crocheter, love to sew and quilt.  Since moving to West Virginia I have learned to rug hook.  I design and hook my own rugs.  My next big adventure is to dye my own wool.  I also love doing cross stitch.  For opening day at Fort Edwards next year I am going to design a cross-stitch pattern and teach the children the techniques of this embroidery.

Culver – You must be busy!  With all these skills of yours, why do you continue to make lace?

Dewitt – There are so many pretty designs to make.  I have several books filled with beautiful edgings for pillow cases, towels and clothing.  I have three grown sons and one day they asked me why I don’t just buy lace…I told them I make it because I enjoy it.  I work with simple thread, brass pins, bobbins, a pillow and a design and make something truly beautiful.  I am part of a group that is keeping an ancient craft alive.    I never run out of ideas or things to do.  I just get tired and need a nap so that I can continue making pretty things.

Judi in the historic garden at Fort Edwards, Capon Bridge, WV

Judi in the historic garden at Fort Edwards, Capon Bridge, WV

Judi will be teaching a bobbin lace making workshop at Fort Edwards on September 28, 2013.  She also provides private instruction, and prefers teaching only one student at a time so that the student will have her undivided attention.  I can personally attest that Judi is a superior teacher with a true love of the skill and the ability to convey it to others.  Judi’s ornaments can be purchased at Tamarack, and she also accepts commissions.  She can be contacted by emailing her at jadewitt@hughes.net.

Edit to add:  Emily Estrad shows amazing examples of bobbin lace in her fibretown podcast http://www.fibretown.blogspot.com/2013/07/episode-23-bobbin-lace-mind-blown.html Make sure you watch it to see the bobbin lace fan, clutch, necklace and amazing shawl, while must have miles of silk thread in it!

 

Meals at Meduseld – Moor Park Apricot Tart

 

Moor Park Apricot

Moor Park Apricot

“It was only the spring twelvemonth before Mr. Norris’s death that we put in the apricot against the stable wall, which is now grown such a noble tree, and getting to such perfection, sir,” addressing herself then to Dr. Grant.

“The tree thrives well, beyond a doubt, madam,” replied Dr. Grant. “The soil is good and I never pass it without regretting that the fruit should be so little worth the trouble of gathering.”

“Sir, it is a Moor Park, we bought it as a Moor Park, and it cost us–that is, it was a present from Sir Thomas, but I saw the bill–and I know it cost seven shillings, and was charged as a Moor Park.”

“You were imposed on, ma’am,” replied Dr. Grant: “these potatoes have as much the flavour of a Moor Park apricot as the fruit from that tree. It is an insipid fruit at the best, but a good apricot is eatable, which none from my garden are.”

As a great fan of Jane Austen, I have been determined to grow a Moor Park apricot tree.   The first tree was planted about thirteen years ago, but suffered a collision with a trailer, and is still struggling to get past that challenge.  I planted another pair of Moor Parks in front of our cottage/office and one succumbed to insect damage at its base.  But small victories do sometimes  occur and mine was to feast yesterday on my very own juicy Moor Park Apricot.

I have to disagree with Dr. Grant.  It is sweet and honeyish with just a hint of tartness.   And for this tree’s first crop it produced enough to make an apricot tart.  Here is how we did it.

Tart crust

2 packages of cream cheese

1 cup butter

2 1/2 cups pastry flour

1/4 confectioners sugar

Combine all ingredients into dough and roll or press into a large tart pan or two medium.  I made a large tart and had enough left for 8 little tart shells.

 

Glaze

10 oz jelly, preferably apricot or peach.  I used Crofters Blood orange jelly because it’s what I had and its tastes wonderful.

8 oz water.

Combine both in thick bottomed pan until a nice rolling boil.  Turn off heat and reserve.

 

Assembly

Wash apricots and cut each into quarters.  Arrange decoratively in your tart shell.  Spoon the glaze over the apricots pieces. 

 

Moor Park Apricot Tart Ready for the Oven

Moor Park Apricot Tart Ready for the Oven

Bake in a 375 over until apricots have softened and the crust has developed a golden brown color, approximately 55 minutes.  this time varies greatly depending on the size tart you are baking.  The little tartlets bake in approximately 30 minutes, for example.

 

Meduseld's Moor Park Apricot Tartlets

Meduseld’s Moor Park Apricot Tartlets

I suspect even Dr. Grant would eat this.

 

 

Fort Edwards Family Day

Each year we go to the Fort Edwards Foundation Family Frontier Day in Capon Bridge, West Virginia.  Fort Edwards was an actual Fort manned by George Washington’s Virginia regiment.  I can’t say enough praise about the quality of this event.  This children always have fun while gleaning lots of information about this area’s and this nation’s past.  Here are just a few of the docents and presenters from the day.

Tape Maker - Making Woven tapes on Her Small Weaving Loom

Tape Maker – Making Woven tapes on Her Small Weaving Loom

The Tape Weaver explained the origins of the phrase “bureaucratic red tape.”  Colonial documents were sealed with a crimson red tape, and you could tell if the seal had been broken.  The red tape became associated with government business.

Lovely Ladies in Period Dress were in Attendance

Lovely Ladies in Period Dress were in Attendance

 

Docent Providing Instruction on Bayonets

Docent Providing Instruction on Bayonets

“Soldiers” in authentic reproduction garb dedicated hours of time to teaching participants about the history, weapons, clothing, and military strategy used in protecting the Fort.

 

Two Reenactors Pose in Front the Fort's Colonial Garden

Two Reenactors Pose in Front the Fort’s Colonial Garden

 

Spinning Lessons

Spinning Lessons

 

Seamstress at Work

Seamstress at Work

 

Kentucky Long Rifle Demonstration

Kentucky Long Rifle Demonstration

Colonial Furniture Making Instruction

Colonial Furniture Making Instruction

We hope to see you there next year!

Flower Fairy

As you know, I am inspired by Emily Estrada’s podcast FibreTown.  In a recent podcast, she showed an adorable knit tulip fairyshe made based on a whimsical and imaginative book by Susan B. Anderson, called Topsy Turvy Inside-Out Toys

topsy turvey

Emily’s work was adorable and I decided instantly to make one as a birthday present for our little Sprite.  Trouble is, I can’t knit like that, at least not in 3-D  shapes.  Rectangles and triangles are about my skill level in knitting, so I decided to see if I could crochet one of these little fairies.

I started foraging for yarn ends to use and found that I did not have the colors that were in my imagination.  I also wanted to make her with some sparkle and definition.  I settled on crochet lace thread and sequins.  Here she is, finished just in time for our own little fairy’s birthday.

crocheted fairy

 

I started at the crown of her head and worked single crochets down with gradual increases.  Her “nose” is two double crochets joined liked a popcorn stitch.

I liked Emily’s idea of adding wings.  I made these by modifying an Irish crochet lace pattern.  They have the Irish rose in the middle, and arches and picots that are so abundant in Irish lace. 

Irish crochet fairy wings

I attached over 300 pieces of “hair” hooking them like a rug through her crocheted “scalp.”  This will hold them tightly for a child’s use.

fairy hair

Since the theme of the book is Topsy Turvy, I also made this fairy to be flipped over, her dress becoming the petals of a flower.  I made the stem into a loop so that the fairy can be carried over a wrist.

fairy over

I recommend this book even if you crochet.  It is filled with creative ideas that can be converted from knitting to crochet.  And, these are excellent gifts and provide a terrific way to use up ends of yarn from other projects.  I am placing the book in Meduseld’s Amazon Store.

 

Bobbin Lace Making at Fort Edwards

Here is a rare opportunity to learn the almost obsolete skill of bobbin lace making!

bobbin lace

The Fort Edwards Foundation in Capon Bridge is offering a lace making workshop on September 28, 2013 with lace-making experts Judi and Clyde DeWitt.   Details about  the instructors  and photographs for the workshop can be found at the link provided.

Bobbin lace can be traced back to Elizabethan England and beyond.  The ruffs or collars of opulent lace that are synonymous with the period were all made with wooden bobbins wound with thread and crossed into stitches creating intricate patterns.  These pieces of lace are time-consuming to make and were very expensive. 

elizabeth

I was privileged to be able to study Torchon bobbin lace making with Judy for almost a year.  She taught me enough skills to eventually try this complicated lace pattern, which is actually a combination of simple “stitches.”

bobbinlace closeup

 

The bobbins come in various shapes and sizes and are usually “spangled” which means beaded.  The rings of beads keep the bobbins from rolling around and getting tangled on the lace making surface, which is usually a “pillow” a large round surface that will hold the pins in place.   Here is a close-up of spangled bobbins.

bobbins spangled

If you live locally,  please look into this  workshop and the others that will be offered by the Fort Edwards Foundation, helping to keep history and these skills alive.   I hope to have Judi DeWitt as a guest on this blog in the future for information on how to get started making bobbin lace for those who are not in the area. 

July 8, 2013 update:  Please go Emily Estrada’s podcast http://www.fibretown.blogspot.com/2013/07/episode-23-bobbin-lace-mind-blown.html to see some amazing examples of bobbin lace!

 

NOAA Confirms Cold Temps

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released their map of spring temperatures, confirming that for the majority of the geographical area of the contiguous U.S., this was one of the coldest springs since they started recording temperatures. 

 

 

col weather map

Having read reports on how some of the weather statistics are now gathered, it is possible that this map does not reflect how cold it actually was.  For example, just a few decades ago, they were not gathering temperatures from the tarmacs of major airports, which are known to have increased temperatures due to the absorption of heat by massive runways and dark paved areas.    This map also begs the question; what is “near normal?” 

For further details, you can read the report at NOAA and at  weather.com.

Passing the CLEP

Yesterday, June 4, I took our just-turned 13-year-old to Shenandoah University to take a College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test for U.S. History I.  I am thrilled to share with you all that Gavin passed the test and now has three college credit hours!  Congratulations to Gavin who worked and studied very hard for the test!

Gavin Passes US History I CLEP

The CLEP tests are administered by the College Board, the same organization that administers the college SATs and PSATs.  CLEP scores are excepted for college credit in thousands of colleges and universities in the United States.

Gavin is very interested in history, and regularly studies about great military battles.  Studying for this test required delving far more into the details of events in this country from colonization through reconstruction. 

Special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Ed and Charlotte (RIP) Mauer who provided the funds for Gavin to take the test, as well as providing encouragement.

Meduseld Working Conditions

In light of the growing trend for fuller disclosure by retailers and suppliers for more information about the source of their products, the New York Times has written an article describing the clothing and textile manufacturers’ efforts to reveal  more information on how their textiles are grown and manufactured. 

As a result, we here at Meduseld decided that consumers may be interested in the working conditions of our wool producers.  In the following pictures, we will provide a brief tour of the “factory” including their living conditions, work environment, and “fair trade” compensation. 

 Meduseld’s wool producers have two different structures for protection from the elements as well as shade in the heat of the summer.   The larger building was brilliantly created to have a split level plan, which allows for air to circulate to the upper levels and provides very tall ceilings in the stalls.  This design keeps contact with flies at a minimum, and since heat rises, the wool producers enjoy the cool earth floor in the summer.   This is when sheep need protection the most.  In the winter their wool and lanolin ensure comfy warmth.  In the summer, the shorn sheep could hardly otherwise escape the heat.

 crew

Their work environment includes several pastures that they are rotated through.They enjoy diverse grasses and forbes and some of the pastures afford tree cover and shrubs to exfoliate.  They particularly like the “mountain olives,” which they devour like candy.   This is good news, since the Mountain Olive, also called “Autumn Olive” is an invasive species from Asia that is destroying pastures throughout Virginia and West Virginia.  It was intitally recommended by several government agencies for reclaiming land, but now we know better. 

mountain olive

 

It has been difficult to estimate the actual time that they get off for breaks and meals, since most of their day is actually spent eating.   Not limited by 15 minute intervals for breaks, they pretty much plop (is that a word?) down where ever is convenient to process their cud.  Is that technically work or pleasure?  Hard to decide.

 crew taking break

Conditions include full board and meals, full health coverage, and free haircuts every spring.  They don’t even have to pick up after themselves.  Not bad.