Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wheat weaving

Years ago I went with a neighbour for a one evening course in what was called wheat weaving. We made a few small braids using wheat straw. I found it very interesting and wanted to know more. The instructor that evening had only one small book and could not tell me much. I did find the address for the Women's Institute of England in the back of the book. I wrote a letter explaining my interest and a few weeks later I received a reply from Janet, who has been my friend ever since. I have visited her in England and she has been to Ontario to see me. We even went to the North American Wheat Weaver's Convention in Illinois together.From her I learned more about the craft of making "Corn Dollies" as it is called in England. I also got to know Daniel, who made corn dollies for a living not far from us in St. Jacobs. You use mostly wheat, the straw as well as the heads. It is in the heads that we can see a difference. There is bearded wheat ( has long hairs) Black bearded wheat with ever longer hairs, white looking straw and red looking straw. And then there is barley and oatsLaurence used to have test plots with the varieties, that I would beg of the different companies. I loved to make a large variety of designs. I would sell them at the different craft sales and that was the part I did not like. You cannot use the straw till it has been in water from 1/2 to 11/2 hour. That makes it plyable and from there you can braid and twist it. At that time I still did most of the milking and my hands and arms used to give me trouble. Because the straw had to be wet, you could not stop too long. I found that with applique I could just do a little and stop. Slowly the applique became more important and finally I stopped with the wheat. I have only a few pieces left. I had forgotten all about these dolls. One year I planned to make a nativity scene, but after these 4 dolls I gave up. They are about 12 inches tall. The idea was to make the rest the following year. And promptly it was forgotten. When a friend asked me about them I took them out of the box and I will display them this year. In the back of the yard we have a fair sized gazebo. We don't use it, since we have a large deck at the back of the house and during the summer we do not take the time to sit out much. But I figured that it might be an excellent place to put my orchids for the summer.By the middle of June I took them all out there and they were told to either do well or they would end up in the compost pile. Almost all listened very well . By the time I took them in, after a few light frost, most of them had buds. This is the first one blooming and it looks like there will be more before Christmas.
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