Just some baskets

Two weeks ago there was a large earthquake, 8.3, and a tsunami near where I live. Luckily my daughters and husband were at home when it happened and we all stood outside while the earth shook. One of the walls outside our house fell down, but we were fine, and thanks to Facebook I was able to immediately inform all of my friends and family that we were okay.
Within minutes our cell phones were receiving tsunami evacuation text messages, which continued throughout the night. The tsunami did more damage than the earthquake, destroying parts of the port city Coquimbo, and many of the small fishing and tourist beaches up and down the coast. My daughter is studying at one of the University in Coquimbo and so classes was cancelled for a week to allow students time to recover and help with clean up. 

Parents are scared to send their kids to school and everyone is nervous with all the aftershocks we have been having. Like the one that woke us up last night rattling everything in the house. So I am trying to stay calm, (earthquakes don’t scare me that much, not like strong winds, I was very scared of tornados when I was little), but the constant moving is hard.

Experimenting with yarn and my hand spun has given me something to focus on. I have been making small woven baskets. I am really enjoying this. Like handspinning, it feels like an old craft, a connection to a long ago past.

We also have a new family pet. After a year with no cats, (we went from having ten wild farm cats to zero in less than two years), a very friendly stray arrived at our house. She is a real sweety, and my daughters love her. We have just got her fixed, and she is going to be an indoor cat, (farm life is just too dangerous for cats).


Lets just call this my 100th post

I wanted to write something great and moving for my 100th post, but the more I think about what I should write, the further away I find the post. This happens a lot with me. Constantly thinking, my mind going over every thing so that I get nothing done. However, today I will share.

This morning I looked out of my window, through the mist, and watched the new lambs as they jumped and played, and it made me think of all the beauty around me.


Like yesterday for instance. My family and I went up the Elqui Valley to Vicuña where we had a terrible lunch, (not new for us), but a nice walk around. We visited Emporio Oveja Negra, which sells products from some of the Creatif participants as well as the owner’s beautiful wool creations. We then visited Galeria Elqui, part of Elqui Total. This is a pretty gallery set in a horse ranch, with textile, ceramic, sculptures and painted art.

I came home feeling inspired and belonging to the artistic/artesian community, – and it feels great!

I have been preparing for the next Observatorio Cultural, but in a relaxed way, enjoying the process. I have more ideas, (have to start thinking of spring) and using more of my handspun.

At the moment I am working on a diagonal weave on my large nail loom.


I am not sure if it is slower than traditional looms, but there is no warp loss, which is good when I am using my handspun.Image

The handspun is a mix of wool from the south, alpaca, and wool from my sheep.


I have also been sewing with my youngest daughter and knitting a scarf for my oldest.


I bought some grey fleece fabric for school clothes, and we made this octopus with some of the leftover.


This is really simple and great for kids! Here is the link on how to make this no-sew octopus.

There have also been some changes on the farm. Sadly, last weekend we sold the last of our cows. As long as I have lived on my Dad’s farm we have always had cows. But my Dad wants to focus on smaller animals that don’t need as much physical strength to control, (when things go wrong it helps). I am sure this has been harder for my Dad, but he is looking forward to a simpler farm.

And I am looking forward to my next 100 posts!


Wooly Christmas knits…in the sun

Our summer has finally started, great for drying laundry, not so great for people who burn easily, like me.  With the summer comes the end of the school year.  One of my daughters finishes this Friday, the other finishes next Friday.

The kids celebrate the end of the year with field trips, parties, and maybe even a camping weekend.  The mothers also get to celebrate by cleaning and painting the classroom, and sanding and varnishing the children’s tables, so everything is ready for next year.  (Not all mothers in Chile do this, just the small rural schools).

As well as many school activities, I finally made an appointment with an optician and bought some new prescription glasses.  It is great having new glasses, but there is something in my left eye that needs a trip to Santiago to see a specialist.  I will write more in my next post after seeing the specialist, but it has meant I have been a bit distracted.

I wanted to make Christmas gifts again this year, but it is not going to happen.  The one present I am working on is for my husband. I can never keep anything from him,(he can read me like a book, and I wouldn’t have it any other way), so it is not really a problem if he sees his partial present.


The wool was spun locally and is not very soft, but the natural dye is lovely, walnut leaves.  Because it is one ply, I think when the wool has been washed it will open and soften.


While I was taking the picture Darwin came to have a look.  With those eyes he doesn’t miss a thing!

And if you are reading this in December and it is snowing on my blog, which it definitely isn’t doing here, sorry, but I wanted some snow this Christmas!

When farm life isn’t so pretty

Some days are full of jumping lambs and kittens, but not all days.

When you raise animals you have to accept that death will always be present.  Sometimes by choice, (when you want to eat a lovely rooster soup), sometimes because of old age or sickness, and sometimes for more violent reasons.  And sometimes nature only does half, and as farmers we have to finish the job, (of course when I say we, I mean the man we pay to help care for the animals, lets call him R).  Male animals in particular are good at breaking bones, ripping skin, or drowning there chosen target.

This morning while we were getting the girls ready for school I heard cats fighting.  When I looked out the window a large orange cat was shaking are little Darwin like a rag doll.  I chased him off, but Darwin had also run off and the trail of blood only led me so far.  Darwin came back 15 mins later and he seems to have a cut under his chin, but otherwise okay.

After dropping my youngest off at school I checked on my dad’s new puppies.  His dog was on the “pill”, but still got pregnant and had 10 puppies two weeks ago.  They are all fat little things, but one of them was half the size of the others, and of course this is the one my daughters thought was the cutest.  When I looked in this morning I saw that this one had died in the night.

And if that wasn’t enough, when I got home R came up to my house with a piglet.  Always bad news when an animal is brought to the house.  This past weekend I was bottle feeding a piglet because it was weak and cold.  (He went back to his mom but died later in the week.)

But back to today’s sick piglet.  Very fat, too fat and R showed me how the little piglet had been born with no anus.  (I know how horrible! didn’t know it was possible!)  R thought maybe we could “make” him an anus, (argggg! Sorry, you really don’t want to picture that!)  I checked on the internet and it is not recommended.  It is also possible with a blind anus that the intestines are not formed.  So I decided we (he) should put it out of it’s misery.

And it is only 10am.

However this is a hundred times better than what I was doing at this time last year, sitting with my youngest in the hospital the day after her operation for peritonitis.

My oldest cries when animals die on the farm, my youngest is more practical, “we have lots, it’s okay” she says.  It is sad when animals die, but you have to have perspective of the things that are really important.  also in my experience, I have found that when an animal dies on the farm another animal is born, usually in the same week.  Life and death are balanced.


Nothing flashy, just busy

I know, everyone wants to know… how were the rest of the birthdays…more headaches, sweet sixteen tantrums, presents finished on time?

Well, no, no and no.  No migraines, but my youngest had a fever and nightmares with a cold for my husband’s birthday, and we took my oldest out for lunch for her sweet sixteen and it was really, spectacularly bad! (we were trying a new restaurant and her pasta tasted like canned spaghetti)

I haven’t finished her fingerless mitts yet either, but I did manage to turn

this hand spun yarn

into these fingerless mitts.

Darwin showing how comfy the mitts are

Darwin’s sister Florence, (camera shy)

I made these with two squares woven on the continuous square loom. With another two squares I also made a neck warmer.


Neck warmer and mitts

Sweet sixteen

I have also been spinning for a display at my youngest daughter’s school. The school hosted the Third Ecological Reunion of Rural Schools.

I showed my wool dyed in solar ovens as well as promoting the weaving class that I am teaching.  At the moment there are about 15 mothers participating.  I am pleased how popular the classes are and the interest and creativity being developed in the different things we are making with the “squares”.

solar dyed wool and yarn

Solar dyed wool spun then plied with grey wool

The children are always interested in seeing how yarn is made, and a couple had a go with my drop spindle.  So even though I caught my daughter’s cold, and have been snuffling and sneezing, I think June is finishing fine.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Faces

Here are some faces from the farm.

Sara the goat

When we bought our angora (not pure) goats, Sara was only a day old and sat on my lap for the drive back to the farm.  Her mother died soon after, and so Sara became the orphan kid who played chase and tag with my daughter.  Sara will be 10 years old this October, and still greets everyone with a friendly nudge.

Basketful of cats

We have had a lot of cats here on the farm, over 10 in 10 years.  It is a hard life for cats, even though it doesn’t look like it in the picture.

We have had our cats poisoned, (neighbours put poison out for rats or dogs they don’t like).  We have had them disappear or killed by dogs.  And we even had one die of old age.  They are farm cats, live outside, keep the rats in check.  Some are part wild, but most are friendly, taken in when they are left starving on our doorstep. One has a broken tail and a scratchy meow after a cold almost killed her, but she is loud and gently.