Thursday, January 19, 2006

Charleston Trip, Part 2

Middleton Place
Middleton Place

On Monday we left Charleston, a bit reluctantly, and visited Middleton Place, a plantation with formal gardens not very far away from the city. I was most interested in the gardens, but the house was very handsome. Even in January a formal garden is lovely.

Beautiful Formal Gardens
Formal Gardens, Middleton Place

Stately live oaks tower over elegant designs and long narrow paths that lead to secretive nooks with interesting statues and plantings. This was a rice plantation, something I had never seen or considered, and it was interesting to see the expanse of the flooded fields below the garden and get hints of the work involved to grow and process rice. We walked through the gardens and by the house, and then visited the stable block, where there were volunteers and interpreters demonstrating the necessary work to keep a large plantation going in the late 1700s and 1800s. The volunteers were knowledgeable and friendly, and we enjoyed talking with them and learning a lot about the work done.

Display at Middleton Place
Hand Spun Yarns, Dyed with Natural Dyes

We saw one small room, packed with antique spinning wheels and looms. Of course this was the one picture that didn't come out with the cheap camera. One wheel was very much like my great-grandmother's. Both in looks and performance, as the volunteer spinner and weaver informed us when she came back from her break. Fiber person gravitates to fiber person, and we had a lovely visit as she told us about the early days of spinning and weaving on the plantation. And then we discovered that she had once lived near my home, so it was lots of fun to talk about her time here. She informed us of how hot it is in the Low Country during the summer; we had already had suspicions! There were sheep on the plantation; we didn't have time to go search for them.

In the next area a pleasant lady informed us about soap and candlemaking, and showed us a primitive but very effective method of grinding corn. The young man that worked with her was crocheting a lovely ripple baby blanket for his sister, who was expecting a baby any minute. Funny that I ran into two crocheters this trip, and no knitters. Maybe crochet is making a comeback!

A potter who was doing lovely work, a blacksmith and a cooper, who was very interesting and had a wonderful lathe that worked with a large wheel like a wool wheel, also told us about their crafts. There were large horses in the paddocks and chickens in a pen. I took lots of pictures and hope to get them up in the next couple of days at Flickr. Since I forgot my digital, I'm having to scan them all!

Simplicity Scarf
Simplicity Scarf

As I said, I managed to get quite a bit of work done while we were gone, and finished up the second scarf last night. The Simplicity Scarf is from my favorite Brooks Farm yarn, and I love the way the colors pool in this pattern. Looks like flames to me. I made a fringe for this one, although I don't like making fringe. But I put the fringe on loops of single crochet; not so many knots and I like the effect.

Shells and Stones Scarf
Shells and Stones Scarf

This little scarf was a bit of a nuisance to make; I started over three times before I figured out a pattern that I was happy with. The Jacob wool in the center is heavier than the angora on the edges. This is all handspun, in natural colors.

Shells and Stones Scarf

I originally planned two rows for the shells, but they just didn't look right, so I scrounged around and found enough handspun angora for a third row. That seemed to finish it off better. This scarf is soft, soft, soft. The Jacob looks a bit brown in the photos; it is more gray, but not an exact match for the angora.

Nice to be home again. It's cold this morning but the wind has stopped blowing. The dogs have been outside for a long time and seem quite content to wander around in the yard and lay in the sun. Yesterday the water bottles were frozen in the morning; it's hovering below freezing so they may be icy again. Today I have to work at the antique shop, doing paperwork, and maybe head over to my aunt's for a much-delayed computer session. Good to be back into our routines!

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