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I was able to complete the second corner section of my blackwork snail trail yesterday.  The “story” these corners tell is of waiting with varying degrees of patience.

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The other two corner spaces will mirror these across the diagonal.  As I see the picture I’m thinking the brown corner is a little too dark for the rest of the piece.  I’m hoping it will balance better when the opposite corner is put in.

Making my way through these last corners of stitching is much like the waiting we’re doing to get into our house and get to work.  Both require a great deal of patience, which I don’t always have.   

I’m anxious to complete this piece by the end of the month for the challenge, but it does require quite a lot of patience to keep at it.  Normally a piece like this would take more than a month to complete and other projects could be worked on around it.  I have worked a tiny bit on some other things, but this one really requires most of my attention to stay on schedule.

We went for a walk yesterday along the Lower Appomatox River Canal.  It was really much too warm for a long walk, but we did manage part of it.  Mishka kept wanting to stop and rest in the shade. 

We walked to where we think the canal system starts on the river.  It is no longer in operation, and we climbed up on the lock mechanism where I got some interesting pictures.

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This is part of the dam at the beginning of the canal.  We think this is where the water was raised and lowered to move barges along the canal.

We walked the tow path where barges would have been towed along by horses or maybe oxen.

I’m not sure what they used here.

 

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It was fascinating to study the gearing mechanism that was used on the locks.

 

These are actually quite large.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This gear is two to three feet across.

 

 

I think old things like this make cool pictures that can provide inspiration for work in fiber and textile.  I especially like the texture.

Can’t you see something pleated in mixed media from this?

 

Not sure what I’ll do with these, if anything, but they’ll go in my design source file. 

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Last night I completed another section on the snail trail:

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I really like this pattern (on the left) that is another from the selection of blackwork fill-in patterns I’ve been using.  Now I’ll be filling in the other two sections to mirror these.  I’ll need to complete one section a day to finish this piece by the end of the month.

Yesterday we walked the Dutch Gap Conservation Area Trail at the site of the 1611 settlement of Henricus.  There’s an historical interpretation center there, but it’s closed on Mondays so we didn’t visit that part of the park.  We were there mainly to walk and enjoy the outdoors anyway.

This park is along a portion of the James River where two loops of the river were bypassed by a canal dug by Union troops during the Civil War.

There are hiking and biking trails as well as a water trail that can be traveled by canoe or kayak.  

Here are some pictures I took:

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All along the walk we were surrounded by butterflies and dragonflies.  We were serenaded by birds all around.  The dragonflies were in a myriad of colors:  blue, bright green, black and white, red-orange, glistening gold.

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The park is a wildfowl refuge and includes a heron rookery.  We saw several great blue herons and egrets.  There are also many kinds of warblers in the park.  Although we didn’t see any we definitely heard them. 

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Mishka, who can keep up with us on mountain bikes in New Mexico, wilted in the Virginia heat and humidity over the 4.5 mile walk.  She wanted to slow down and rest in the shade whenever she could.

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Near the end of the walk we spotted this amazing sculptural tree trunk.  There are leaves and branches at the very top, forest canopy height.  The trunk looks large enough to make comfortable seating for one or two. 

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Although the weather was quite warm and humid, it was a great walk with some beautiful sites. It would be fun to return and do the water trail and visit the historical site.  

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Traveling along the snail trail I’ve moved into the next round of sections with a pomegranate blackwork pattern from

Fill-in Patterns from Sixteenth Century Blackwork Embroideries.

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If you squint your eyes you can see the swirl, especially in the darker colors.

My goal of making a post each day on this piece is sometimes hard to meet, but is a really good way of staying “on track,” especially as the sections get larger and more complex. 

I continue to like this piece more as I go along.  I’m planning to make it into a pillow top inset into some sage green linen, if I can find it. 

Today we’re going to walk the trail at the Dutch Gap Conservation Area which is considered by the Audobon Society to be one of the top birding sites in Virginia.  ‘Hope we see some birds, although we don’t have our guide book with us, so we won’t be able to do much identification.  There’s a heron rookery there, so maybe we’ll see some of those majestic birds.   

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One more round is completed on the snail trail.

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Yesterday we did some driving around the area.  We were on some back roads south of Petersburg and found this water area.  We weren’t able to find the name of it–don’t know if it is swamp, pond, or river–but we were amazed at the thousands of blossoming pink and white water lilies.

I took some pictures across the water and a few close ups of the water flowers near the road.  I wish I could have gotten across the water to see this mass of flowers close up.

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We also drove a short distance into North Carolina and had lunch at a lovely tea room called Timeless Tea in Roanoke Rapids.  It’s a really neat place divided into separate tea rooms, including a princess tea room especially for little girls and a tea for two room.  We’ll definitely be going back there.

We also found the Roanoke Canal Trail along the Roanoke River.  There’s a very nice museum that details the lock system that used to be used to move goods up and down the river.  We didn’t have time to explore the museum and trail yesterday, but will as soon as we can.  It’s an eight mile long trail than can be walked or cycled.  Roanoke Rapids is about twenty minutes from Emporia.   

Our third stop was The Woolery in Mufreesboro, NC.  It’s known as one of the best sources in the country for spinning and weaving materials and tools.  Sadly, I forgot to check the hours.  They are only open a few Saturdays and this was not one of them.  Another place to return to.  I did peek in the windows and saw lots of great things.   

That also means I didn’t get the needles to start my shawl.  I’ll be checking out the Yarn Lounge in Richmond this afternoon.

‘Went out for my first bicycle ride in VA since our return, this morning and was amazed how much easier it was.  Elevation really does make a difference. 

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It’s now officially summer and one more section is completed on the snail trail blackwork block for my June TIF project.  It will take some diligent stitching to finish this piece by the end of the month as I move into the larger sections and use more complicated patterns.  

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Today is the official start date for the Seasons of Lace, Summer 2008, knit-along that I’m participating in on one of my Ravelry groups. 

I’m using this yarn, a 50% merino wool, 50% silk lace weight yarn from Wooly Wonka Fibers in the Quaking Aspen colorway (or Aspen Grove as it’s apparently now called).

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The pattern is Aspen Grove Shawl designed by Miriam L. Felton. 

In this knit-along the participants can choose whatever they want to knit, but I’m actually knitting this shawl along with at least one other person.  There are some really amazing things that people are going to be working on.  Many of us are posting on the blog linked above so other people can see.  

I have to pick up a circular needle with sharp points for lace knitting and wind up the yarn into a ball and I’ll be ready to start. 

I have been happily anticipating this start, even though I haven’t yet completed my Branching Out scarf.  It’s almost done, though.

Yesterday we went hiking in Pocahontas State Park and Forest.  This was the first time we’ve been there, and it looks like it has a great potential for hiking and biking.  I forgot to take my camera, so no pics.         

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Early Wildflowers

I was surprised once again to find a number of early wildflowers on our walk along the Rito de la Olla yesterday.  I thought that at this elevation wildflowers would not be out until much later in the year, but there are a few hardy ones that start blossoming early.

I’ve used my Audubon wildflower guide to try to identify the ones we saw yesterday.

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I’m pretty sure this is spreading fleabane.  This flower apparently grows in a variety of colors, but we only saw these white ones–lots of them.  What’s distinctive about these daisy-like flowers is that the petals do not overlap, even though that’s hard to tell in the photo.  The flowers are less than an inch in diameter.

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I’m stumped on this one.  I saw only one small example of this wildflower and can’t tell from the pictures and descriptions in my book whether it’s Rough Menodora or Yellow Cryptantha, or neither.  I’m leaning toward the latter because of the leaves, but the blossoms look more like the former.  I’ll have to take the book with me next time and hope to find some more.

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We saw only one example of this one, as well, and it looked as though the blossoms were finished or wilted.  ‘Can’t tell what they look like opened up.  Again, I’m not sure of the identification.  It could be a Southwestern Thorn Apple, but I’m not sure of the leaves or flower.  The guide says the flowers are “generally withered by early morning” which these surely were. 

If the identification is correct, this is a member of the nightshade family and its extracts are highly narcotic, even lethal.  Extracts from this family once were important in religious ceremonies of southwest Indians. 

This is another one I’ll have to try to get a second look at.

I didn’t have much time for creative work yesterday as I spent a few hours writing some professional papers I needed to complete.  But I have made good progress on my Monkey socks and should be able to show them soon. 

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Here’s a small project I started last night for fun.  I’ll tell what it is when I’m finished.  The color of the yarn reminds me of the bells of Ireland plant.

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We just got back from a nice hike along the lower mile of the South Boundary Trail.  It’s one of the first trails you come to driving east from Taos into Carson National Forest on Hwy 64.  It’s actually a very long trail, something over 21 miles, that winds up into the forest, but short hikes along it are very popular.  The trailhead is less than 10 minutes from our house.

It was unusually hazy today, but I snapped a few photos along the way:

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A pinon pine perched atop a rock outcropping.

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Branches against the sky of another pinon that likely succumbed to the terrible bark beetle infestation that has been decimating the pinons in this forest.

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Some early spring wildflowers.

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Looking out to the northwest across the south side of Taos.

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Looking east up the river valley.  The light green “S” is composed of newly leafing cottonwoods along the river.

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Up the trail.  It’s actually harder going down than up because of negotiating the frequent rocks.

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Along the river.

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New leaves over the water.

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River crossing at the trailhead.

It was so windy on Saturday that I wasn’t able to take my new sports socks out for a spin, but I was able to get out on my bike for a nine mile ride yesterday while John was on his first 60-miler from Questa past the Colorado border.  ‘Sounds like a lot, but he is in training for a 150 mile/3 day bike ride he’ll be participating in the Shenandoah Valley the day after we return to VA in June.  Better him than me, I say!   

My socks worked out great, by the way. 

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