Monday, 7 August 2017

Oh so quiet!

Day one of our felting course. Although the day was bright
the wind meant we had to keep the door shut until the
wool was wetted 
Our farm has a certain quietness about it today. We were visited briefly by some friends collecting a key who stayed for a short cup of tea, but apart from that, no one else has been around. It has made quite a difference to this past week when we have had quite a few visitors and a felting course going on. In fact even Ian hasn't been around as he was turning and cutting hay at a neighbour's property.
Preparing a salad from our garden produce. Most of the food
was bought in from the local hotel and bakeries but we
decided to add a bit to it from our own land

Felting the mittens to fit
On Tuesday our young helper was back and we practiced making felt so that she knew what to do on the Friday when she joined us on the felting course. She got the idea pretty quickly, which was good and it meant she was more confident on the day. It was still a bit intimidating though with a whole group of adults when she was only 11 but she did make a nice pair of mittens for her mum.
Trying on one of Galina's creations

Even suits Ian. It is what every alpaca
farmer should be wearing don't you
On the Wednesday I went to pick up our felting tutor Galina with her friend from Riga bus station. Galina was travelling from Poland but her friend was coming from Belarus. At least this year I didn't make Galina carry her luggage across town and got a place to park near the station. I learnt where to park for that during the last felting course but this time I managed to navigate out of Riga much better. Not skills I particularly enjoy employing but at least they are useful skills.
Galina's friend making my hat

One of our participants and her children. Her daughter also
got to make a fabulous hat and scarf. Her son was not
particularly interested but still did a little felting at one stage.
What is nice about our location is the view from the
greenhouse when we get the chance to open the doors
One of the nice things this year is our American friends have been around to help clean and wash bedding between visitors, which left me free just to get on and prepare for the course and do whatever farm work needed doing. It is getting to the stage where I don't look too closely because of the weeds starting to get a hold. At least it isn't as bad as it could be, I have known it much worse. One of the jobs I tackled was to cut back the foliage of the potatoes as blight had got a hold while I was away. I haven't dug up the potatoes yet and that can wait until September but at least the spores should not be washing down into the soil as much.
My friend from Tartu, who I stay with when I travel up there
for university. She didn't want to do the felting but decided
to come for some time away and brought her spinning wheel.
She plied some yarn for my scarf that Galina and her friend
made for me

My scarf in the making. A joint effort
That took me all day near enough, as did cutting the leaves off the tomatoes today. I wanted the greenhouse to look nice and green during the felting course so I hadn't cut back the leaves and consequently we had a tomato jungle. I knew though that blight will eventually make its way into the greenhouse and at this time of the year and I would rather the tomato plants concentrate on ripening tomatoes than fighting blight. It has been such a cool year that so far we have had about four ripe tomatoes. Hopefully this next week they will get a spurt on and ripen, some are at least starting now.
In the process

This had a blue dye added. Aren't the daises amazing though?
On the Thursday, Galina, her friend and I had a wonderful day experimenting with eco-printing. Galina is really generous with her knowledge and we often spend some time experimenting. She gathered various leaves and flowers from around our land and used those to make imprints by steaming them with t-shirts and a pair of trousers. I was amazed with the daisies that left an intense yellow imprint of the flower on the t-shirt. We also found that our wild geranium leaves make a very dark imprint and darker than Galina was expecting, it was her turn to be amazed.

T-shirt from the eco printing day. This is just a t-shirt which
had been soaking in an iron mordant and then steamed
Making the scarf on day three
Ian got on with turning hay and other jobs around the place, while I got the greenhouse ready as well as joining in with the experimenting. At one point though I got a text to say someone had tried to call me. It turned out to be our friends from Estonia who were travelling down for the course and had hit a rock and got an oil leak. Fortunately Ian was not too far away and I managed to attract his attention to tell him about our friends' predicament. After finishing off the field he was turning he went with our American friend to see what he could do, which unfortunately was not a lot. He ended up towing her to the garage we go to in the next village, since we know they do some good work - unlike the more local places. Anyway all's well that ends well and she got her car repaired and returned the following day with Ian and our friend going to fetch it while she made felted mittens.
Trying out the hat. It was a bit tight at first and so even though
it was damp I had to wear it for a bout half an hour to stretch it

Eeee the youth of today! Always on their phones! We were
actually sharing details so that we could access a specially
created private Facebook page for our group to share photos
of the event. Amazing we can do such things whilst stood
on a field in the middle of nowhere
One of the lovely things about the course is that everyone who came fitted right in and it was like felting with friends, whether we knew them before or not. One of the ladies was a hairdresser that made felt hats and I got to know her in June when we were introduced by the neighbouring porcelain factory owner on our felting course. The hairdresser came for all three days and brought jam and home made bread on the first day. I encouraged her to bring along her hats to show people and I bought a poppy hat that she had made to go with my bag that Galina and I made last year. On the last day the hairdresser brought a bottle decorated with decoupage poppies and filled with strawberry syrup for my poppy collection.
Scarf in the process

Washing out the soapy scarf
The hairdresser brought her friend on the first day to join the course, and her son and another friend drove her to the farm on the second and third day and so she asked if they could see the alpacas. She needed to get the bus home though so one of our friend's decided to take her and a few of us decided to go with her to see the porcelain factory studio next door to her hairdressing salon. Some bought mugs and someone bought the other poppy hat that the hairdresser had made. We not make huge profits but we sure seem to put money into the local economy, so that's a plus point.
Throwing water away in the forest so it doesn't contaminate
the pond with soap

A group photo on the last day with the felted hats, scarves
and mittens
During the felting course on the last day we had some visitors to the farm, so while I was still helping with the course, Ian was doing his second tour of the day. The first one was for one of the ladies on the course who came for the first time and her husband. They had travelled quite far to join us but are talking about coming again and bringing their daughter. The second group of visitors consisted of someone who had come with her husband, daughter and grandchildren a few days before. This time it was with another grandchild and her son and his wife. The son and his wife were very keen on the alpacas and are seriously considering getting some of their own. Unfortunately we are not at the stage of selling any, as we still need to enlarge our own herd. Still we would be able to help in other ways and it will be nice for more people to have alpacas in Latvia.
We all felt like this at times as it does get rather warm in the
greenhouse. It is great when it is cloudy and the light is good,
but when the wind blows from the North and the sun is out that
is not a good combination. It almost feels at times like it waits
until we could do without the sun and it then shines. However,
as soon as the wool is wet we can at least go outside and work

Making the hat
It was sad to see Galina and her friend go, but at least she got a lift into Riga from the lady and her husband who had travelled from a distance to join us on the last day, so that worked really well. Galina's friend doesn't really speak English and so it was hard to tell her how much I liked my hat and mittens she had made, so I made her a certificate to say thank you with pictures on to remind her of her time on the farm. I had the printer with us out on the land because one of our friends on the course also wanted to adopt an alpaca and I needed to print a certificate out for her too.
Brushing the fur on the felted shawl

Yes the cats were around as usual
We sold some of our fleece as well to some of the felters from the course. One took half a kilo of Brencis' fleece, which doesn't sound much but it was a quarter of the total and we had to use a basket to put it in to weigh it. We now only have about 160g of his fleece left from this year. I think we will spin it up and make some lacey scarves like the one that Galina made for me.


  1. What a busy but fun time you've had. I love the results of your eco printing on the t-shirts.

    1. It was great fun to do and something I would like to do again for a course next year. We have plenty of material to do the printing with :)

  2. It's nice to see you being able to enjoy good weather there. :)

    1. It is nice to have an improvement in the weather, but what we don't have is an improvement in the weather forecasting. We might have needed the rain overnight for the garden but not for the hay bales in the field. :D


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