Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oat Straw






On the ridge this week, Amish farmers cut oats and bound them with a horse drawn grain binder. They built the oat straw bundles into ricks of 6 bundles leaning into the center, with one fanned bundle on top for a hat. Though it was sunny and warm at noon, by supper an inch of rain fell. Inside the ricks, it was still dry. The ricks look like little huts, or a whole field of shaggy six legged animals.

Sometimes we weave oat straw with wool, or cotton yarn, to make table mats and runners. Oat straw is shiny and gold when it's woven. It looks especially pretty woven with red or white wool yarn, in a goose eye pattern, or rose path. It looks prettiest on a candlelit table in midwinter, which is still a long way off.

11 comments:

Joanne said...

Lovely photos! Oat straw, with which I mulch my garden each spring is breathtakingly beautiful...certainly I can see how it was once 'spun' into gold. Spreading the straw in the garden after just planting is one activity I deeply look forward to...I go back countless times just to look at the sun glint off the 'gold'. (By the way, how does one launder runners woven with some oat straw?)

jude said...

love these pictures. is the straw very stiff or pliable?

Ursula said...

I can't believe it is already that time of year there. They look like a Tove Jansen character.

Susan said...

Joanne, just like the fairy tales! Straw-into-gold. It is surprisingly glittery, and keeps that quality

Jude, the straw is stiff, but when damp it is flexible to weave in. When woven as a weft it extends out of the selvedge, and then gets trimmed to an inch. I saw straw weaves first in VAV magazine years ago, as a historic Swedish weave

Urs, in the field under the moon, they might look like goblin pets

Velma said...

i think of the pleasure of the labor of this work. sore muscles, suntanned skin, the prickles, the grateful bath at the end of the day. beautiful pictures.

Susan said...

Thanks, Velma. I don't know if the Amish look forward to that bath at the end of the day, certainly not hot running water

Velma said...

well, maybe a sponge bath, but not my beloved shower. they manage remarkably well, though.

Brittany Noel said...

This sounds like a magical thing to weave with. And they do look like shaggy beasts! I wonder where I can get some here...

pam said...

Gorgeous photos! Thank you for sharing the harvest images, Susan. I just loved them.

Weaving oat straw with wool yarns? Do you have photos of samples you would be willing to share. Sounds intriguing for a weaver in woll and in wheat!

Susan said...

Brittany, you can email me when you have a loom set up to try it. I usually have a bundle on hand here and will send you some (susan@avalanchelooms.com)

Pam, I'll look for some pictures of past straw weaves, so you have an idea of what it looks like

Brittany Noel said...

Thanks Susan! I definitely will.