Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Year Of The Horse - Part One

While every year as long as I can remember has been "the year of the horse", this year I have something really neat in the works to celebrate some of the horses who have made those years so special. 

I've had several really nice horses.  Horses that taught me so very, very much.  Horses that opened doors for me and took me places I never dreamed I'd go.  I have very little left but memories.  I didn't even own a camera back then.  What I wouldn't give for at least some pictures of pretty Aria as a young mare.


I remember quickly cutting these locks from Handy's tail as the backhoe lumbered up the driveway that awful morning last year, but I don't remember specifically cutting the different colors.  Maybe I did.  I don't remember cutting that chunk of mane either, but there it is.  And that's all we're going to say about that. 

Several years ago I found a big piece of Handy's tail out in the Pond Field.  He was never out there and even if he had been, there was nothing out there that would have snagged his tail and cut it like a knife.  I think he must have caught it on a fence nail and a bird picked it up and tried to carry it away to build a nest.  I saved it.

Tim gave me a gift for Christmas that including a flat piece of hitched tail hair would be icing on the cake.  I don't know anyone who hitches and didn't want to risk sending Handy's hair off to a stranger, so I decided to see if it could be woven.  I did a tiny sample using some of Hickory's tail and felt encouraged enough to give it a try.  I used that tangled bird nest hair...just in case.


Because there was no way I was ever going to be able to separate out each individual hair, I decided to cut it into manageable lengths and work from there.  At first I pulled out random groups of 15 hairs and let the colors fall wherever they ended up.  As I worked further, I decided to try and manipulate it into a pattern. 


I used a simple straight twill threading and the stair stepped picks look remarkably similar to hitched hair.  The strong linen warp I used was slick, so I added a little beeswax to each strand to help it all grab better (not sure if that's going to help or not, but figured it couldn't hurt).  I threw in some sections of wool to hold, too, because everything's better with wool ;-). 

The white wool is Punkin and the red/brown is some Keebler dyed with walnuts.  Wait!  That's actually Buddy :-D.  See, blogging really does help you remember...or at least reminds you when you forget ;-).  When I looked for the walnut post to link, there it was - it's Buddy :-). 


And as I was weaving I glanced out the window and saw a snow heart in one of my favorite trees.


Here's a hint for Part Two - coming soon!


And here's a great thing to do with scrap horse hair (and yarn, thread, wool, dog hair...).  Maybe there will be a bird out there this spring who'll be saying "Remember when grandma talked about that big chunk of horse hair that was so big she couldn't carry it home?"

Spring will be here before we know it and I'm going to be looking forward to riding!


21 comments:

schoonoverfarm said...

I am in love with that weaving!

Far Side of Fifty said...

ahh I am looking forward to seeing the end product:)

Fiona said...

How beautiful, both the weaving and the written word. One thing to ease the loss of any good horse is the memories and the places you think of when you follow the hoof prints of those memories! Now you will be able to follow the switch of a tail in fly season in your beautiful weavings!

MarmePurl said...

This is going to be quite the treasure. Handy and Punkin all in one. I think I just lost a moment of breath.
I never 'met' Aria, but have a hunch that horse would have been a favorite of mine.

Miha Giustina said...

I do not know why but my first thought, when setting my eyes on this post, was how it looked, in a way, very different from your other posts....

I guess it is mainly the color and the texture of the pictures. I love the tobacco tones and there is something really earthy about the texture of the horse hair combined with the more gentle sheepie wool.

The leather samples in the last picture seem to tie it all together. Cannot wait to see what the final creation will end up being! Love it already­čÉ┤!

Shelley said...

I'm awestruck. how did you know how to do that?

Henny Penny said...

I would love to weave. The woven horse hair is beautiful. Far Side sent me a link to your blog as we have, just yesterday, purchased a Great White Pyrenee puppy. I enjoyed seeing and reading about Hank. Thank you!

Pam said...

Sara Dunham, you have made me cry. And I'm not even a horse person. And what the heck is hitched tail hair? Whatever it is, you have created something incredibly beautiful.

Alice said...

What a tender post. You've shown a creative way to harness you tender memories into a beautiful treasure tied with heartstrings.

Marcy Doane said...

Absolutely beautiful and creative. It is so evident how much you care about the four-legged beings that pass in and out of your life. Very inspirational.

Susan Mckee-Nugent said...

The colours are extraordinary. I am such a 'whossssssssss', you impress me with being able to 'keep' Aria with you. Special lady.

LannieK said...

Oh, Sara ~ how beautiful, in so many ways. Full of love and inspiration. Can't wait to see the finished weaving :-). Yes, I saw the heart on Twitter, wondered what you were doing...

Margaret said...

I can't wait for riding season either, but it's still snowing here. Horses are hard to forget aren't they.

majorasue said...

My horse days are behind me. I have promised myself that if I lose 50 pounds I will reconsider (I've lost 20, so it's not a lost cause). I have one braided bracelet that I made from one special horses tail that I still wear occasionally (I've had it for over 40 years!)

The weaving looks lovely. Can't wait to see the finished leather!

Christine said...

That is so cool! I love the look you are getting with the hair. So whatchya gonna make?

Michelle said...

I love how you are weaving with the horse hair.

farmlady said...


An inspired post that brought tears to my eyes.
What a beautiful idea... weaving the horse's hair into something beautiful. What a lovely way to show your love for these animals.

I need orange said...

What a cool idea! I love all the textures and colors!

A lovely way to remember a good, good boy.

Shirley said...

What a great idea! I would love to know how to hitch; I might have to google it. Good idea to weave the horses and sheep together, it really represents you. Looking forward to the finished product!

Sheepmom said...

What a great way to keep your horses with you rather than hair coiled up in a drawer somewhere. Excellent, creative idea. Be careful - you're going to start a trend and people are going to be asking you to weave their horses' hair too. You could even just make a bracelet out of one of those woven stripes.

small farm girl said...

Love it!!!!

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