Category Archives: Crafting

Holiday’s End

Our weekend with family ended tonight after all of us sharing our second turkey leftovers for lunch and dinner for 9 at a restaurant in Roanoke.  Eldest son and his family are headed home to get a fire going in their woodstove before the bitter cold of the night and to allow son to get some projects graded for his students before their classes this week.  They have two more weeks of the semester prior to exams.

We had a great time having 2 of our children and their kids here for the weekend, the kids enjoying cousin time.  We put a big dent in the 20+ pound turkey and ate all of the left over sides, a whole quart of my homemade icicle pickles, a pint of mixed olives, a dozen huge rolls, and a couple of pies.

Yesterday while the house was quiet, yes it happens even with 6 adults and 3 kids, I made 4 batches of soap for the next Holiday Market.  I have never successfully made more than two batches in a day with no batch failure.  I have 40 bars of soap curing, 10 each of Citrus Soother, Jasmine, Cedarwood/Sandalwood, and Goat Milk/Honey.

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I failed to purchase lavender essential oil when I went in to get the avocado and castor oils for the second two batches of soap, so I will need another trip in town tomorrow, so that I can get essential oils for lotion bars.  I still need to get a few boxes stained for Men’s Grooming boxes for the shop for holidays.  If you visit the shop between now and Monday night, you can receive a 10% discount on knitwear and yarn by entering the code SB/CM10%.

Tomorrow will be grocery day and Monday I will finally plant garlic before the midweek much needed rain.

Now that Thanksgiving is behind me, I need to start thinking about gifts for the kids and grands for Christmas.

Midweek

The week is moving on, public schools closing at the end of the day today for Thanksgiving.  Today was granddaughter’s preschool celebration of her Thanksgiving Day birthday.  Tomorrow they have a Thanksgiving feast of vegetable stew that each child contributed a vegetable and all helped prepare, but today was her day.  Last evening, I made 3 dozen mini muffins, lemon and lemon blueberry, her request for their treat.  This morning, I put together little party bags with a top, a couple of glow sticks, and one of those compressed wash cloths that bloom when they are put in water.  She is going to see Moana, the new Disney movie after Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday and I found some of the wash cloths with those characters on them.

At school, beginning a half hour before the end of their day, they have a special celebration for the birthday child.  First, all of the children help color a banner earlier for the birthday child that is hung above the birthday table and is sent home after.  The birthday girl got to sit at this table and select a songs, one for each year for the class to sing.  Then candles are lit and blown out.

Party1

One of their rituals is for a wooden sun to be placed in the middle of the floor, the child handed a small wooden globe and the teacher explaining that for each year the earth goes around the sun one time.  The child then walks the globe around the sun the appropriate number of times while the rest of the class sits in a circle around her.

Party2

 

After the trips around the sun, the birthday child walks around the group, either calling their name or gently tapping them to join the train in the middle of the floor.  The birthday child chooses whether to be the engine or the caboose, and granddaughter chose to be the engine.  They have a little song that puts the kids in the cars, they are given a ticket and then they choo choo away.

The train

After all of the rituals, they get their treat and party bag if there is one and everyone goes home.

Last night, while I was babysitting with grandson with a migraine, I stitched the love tag to go in the Christmas stocking for our newest granddaughter.  Today, after the school party, I cut and sewed the lining and hand stitched it into the stocking and sewed in the tag.

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This is the first time I have been playful with the lining.  Generally, I use a white pillow case to cut, but this fabric was too cute to pass up.

While the machine was out, I mended a pair of work pants for eldest son.  He and his family will arrive tonight or tomorrow, depending on when he was able to leave work today.  He will try again to hunt a bit, we will put the cull chickens in the freezer, and we will celebrate Thanksgiving together with the huge turkey we picked up from the farm yesterday.

Tonight, I will cook the two sugar pumpkins for making pies for Thanksgiving and later for Christmas dinners.

Yesterday, I volunteered to help out at the historic house during their Holiday celebration the first weekend in December.  There were many jobs available and I let the director decide how to utilize me, I will be spinning in one of the rooms in the house and acting as one of the interpreters.  The theme this year is products that they produced and so their will be honey made food treats, hops, and fiber.  This is their last event of the season and I have enjoyed being a volunteer there a few times this year and look forward to the opportunity to do more next year.  I am debating whether I can get a huge undyed shawl knitted from some of my already spun fiber to cover my shoulders during the holiday celebration.  It would be a nice addition to my costume.

 

One Down, One to Go

This Holiday Market morn dawned mild and calm.  I was very hopeful.   The car was loaded last night and I knew that I couldn’t pull in until after 8 a.m.   The market is an L shaped open sided shelter with a larger L shaped parking lot that is open during the week with metered parking, but is restricted for vendor’s stalls during the Saturday morning markets.  The regular vendors that are under the shelter must be able to pull their trucks and cars in to unload before the vendors in the parking lot can follow and pull through to unload, then all vehicles are relocated to a lot across the street that is faculty parking for the University during the week, but open unmetered parking on the weekends.  I arrived, spoke with the market manager to locate my spot, pulled in beside my neighboring vendor’s car and unloaded.  The market vendors, both regular and those of us that only do the Holiday market’s all work together to get pop up canopies erected, heavy items shifted and ready to sell when the 9 o’clock bell rings.  I had Lance with a huge tent selling glazed clay coasters and plaques on one side and Bethany and her husband selling hand thrown pottery on the other.  We got Lance’s tent and my tent erected, Bethany chose not to put one up with the wind threat.  My tables were set up, my product displayed, it looked like a perfect day.  The bell rang and business commenced along with the impending cold front.  First we got a light rain and I was glad I had decided to put up the tent as soap, yarn, knit goods, and rain don’t mix well. Then as the rain passed, the wind arrived.  One tent blew totally off of the food vendor’s stall and was caught just before going through a plate glass window.  Displays were being tossed and some blown down.  I didn’t fear too much for my tent as it had three 45-50 pound buckets of rocks and 20 pounds of leg weights holding it down.  One by one, vendors were walking their tents out from around their stalls and collapsing them before more blew down.  Eventually I began to fear for Bethany’s pottery and we collapsed mine as well as I watched a similar pop up tent break in the wind, using my heavy buckets to hold Lance’s huge tent in place until the end of market.

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You can see the wind blowing the table covers  and this was fairly early in the day while my tent was still up.

My shawl rack and my A frame hat and mitt rack would not stay on the table even tied down as the afternoon wore on, so I eventually just put the items on a table.  It was a good day of sales for soap and beard oil, a couple of hats, but no yarn or mitts sold.  The slouch hats were popular, I will try to get a couple more knitted before the December market.

Once everything was packed up and reloaded in my car, I drove home in snow showers. We had a 15ºf temperature drop and a 25 mph wind increase during the 5 hours and we continue to have snow showers, the first of the season.

I took advantage of being at the Farmers’ Market to get rolls for Thanksgiving, Daikon radishes to make Kimchee, the last bag of market salad for the season, some eggs since my hens are still molting and not laying, and a bunch of collards to enjoy with steak and potatoes tonight.  Monday, we drive to Wethertop Farm to pick up our fresh turkey.

I still have not thawed out, but it was a good day.  Now I need to make a few batches of soap, some lotion bars, knit some hats and start preparing for the December event.

Ready or Not

The first Holiday Market is Saturday.  Today is sunny, calm, and 70ºf, a perfect day to be outside.  I took a walk and because of Saturday’s forecast, drove by the lot where I will be set up.  I was hoping that I would be able to slip a strap or polycord under or through the car stop wedge that will be the back of my stall, but they look like they are firmly adhered to the brick pavers.  Last year, the market manager said he was trying to get the town to install tie down rings in the pavers, but that has not been done.

The hope for the strap or cord is because Saturday is forecast to be a high of mid 50’s, 20% chance of rain, and 25 mph gusts of wind.  I have to erect a 10 X 10 foot popup canopy and I don’t want to spend all 5 hours worrying about it taking flight, taking out my display, or another vendor’s stall.  I have a few empty 5 gallon buckets and dozens of rock piles on the farm, so I think I will load up a few buckets with 50 pounds or so each of rocks and tie the canopy down to them.  If the wind can take out 3 of those along with the 25 pounds of leg weights, I am in trouble.

Of my last soap making, one of my popular scents did not set up properly.  The bars are usable but not pretty, so that batch will be retained for family use.  I will have to make another batch of that scent for the December market and see what others sell to determine which other bars to make.

My crates are packed.  I spent the afternoon making sure that I have the little clip on chalkboard tags for each scent of soap, each scent of lotion bar, and each salve.  I still have 3 skeins of yarn to label and pack, decide whether I want 2 or 3 tables and if I go with 3, then I need to decide what to use for my 3rd table cover.  I bought an Indian cotton throw in the fall, cut and hemmed it to make two table covers, but I don’t have a third table cloth that will go with the color or pattern.   I’m sure I will figure it out by Saturday morning.

If it is windy as forecast, my A frame stand for hats and mitts will likely blow over.  The T shaped one with clips for shawls can be anchored to the table edge with a C clamp.  Maybe I should add a base across the back of the A frame so it too can be clamped down.

I will dress in lots of layers that can be peeled off if it warms up during the day.  Fortunately a new and favored local coffee shop has opened in one of the fixed stores right at the market, so I can at least keep a cup of hot coffee or tea nearby to warm my hands.

 

 

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This was last year.  The display is changed and simplified now.  You will have to wait to see how it sets up this year.  If you can’t come in person, stop by the shop https://squareup.com/store/cabin-crafted.  You can make your purchases there and I will deliver them to you if you are local or mail them to you if not local.

 

Home again

In the past 10 days, Jim and I drove west to east across the state to meet our newest grand daughter, and I have driven from the southwest part of the state, north and slightly east to spend 5 days helping out at eldest son’s house and then home late yesterday.  The drive north on Monday was stressful as I had to drive Jim’s Xterra with a 22 foot extension ladder strapped to the roof.  The ladder or the straps holding it vibrated and rumbled loudly if my speed was greater than 40 mph and as the entire route is interstate and a 55 mph highway, except for 8 miles on our end and 8 miles on their end, I arrived stressed with a headache until I could chill out for a while.  Yesterday, I helped pick up a clothes dryer in the back of the Xterra and then began my trip home.  The trek back yesterday afternoon was quieter and a pleasant drive until late afternoon when I was headed west with the sun in my eyes.

Because of the solo time with them off at work and grandson at school all day, I got a lot of spinning done and most of the yoke of my sweater done.

aubergine

 

This is 400 of the 600 yards of sport weight yarn that was spun.  The last bit is still being plyed and wound.  The Wool was a 6+ ounce of Corriedale with Kid Mohair ball that I bought when at Roan Mountain in the fall.  When I got to Hawk’s Nest a month later, I pulled it out to spin and realized that it was slightly felted, perhaps to over dyeing and was disappointed.  I had bought 4 ounces of similar colored Merino at Hawk’s Nest and a friend suggested that I card them together which I did when I arrived home.  I was still not having much luck spinning it and set it aside.  After I got my new Louet wheel, I pulled it out again, and it spun like a dream, very smooth and even.  The Louet bobbins are so large that getting generous skeins is possible.  I had 375 yards plyed on one bobbin but decided to put it in 200+yard skeins.  The last will be finished tonight all 3 skeins washed and once dry, labelled.  I am pleased with the outcome.

Last December, when my cousin and I were in Norfolk, Virginia, alternately sitting with my failing Dad and walking the huge hospital campus while other family member’s visited, she introduced me to her Fitbit.  I decided that it might provide me with the motivation to renew a fitness routine, so I asked Jim for one for Christmas.  He purchased me one of the current models and for the past 11 months, it has been a great motivator.  In the past couple of weeks, I have noticed that the face was beginning to separate from the band and I mentioned it to my daughter in law as she also has one.  She told me to contact them and that they would send me a new one.  That day, I found their online contact form, took a photo of the damage and sent them a message.  This company, even on a Sunday, was quick to respond with a thanks for the photo and inquiry with a few questions for me.  When I responded that it had been a Christmas gift, purchased just a few days before Christmas and where I resided, they promptly responded with an acknowledgement that it would be replaced and they wanted my preferred size and color.  It turns out, my model is discontinued and the only ones they had were not the color I wanted and much too large so instead they sent me a newer model in the color and size desired and it arrived in less than a week.  This is a company that stands behind their products and were quick to correct the defect at no cost to me.  I now have a sleek new model that fits in the color of my choice.  This one does a lot more than my old one.  They deserve kuddos.

My cold continues to abate, however, I am still coughing, I guess that will continue for a week or so.

It got cold last night.  Our outdoor thermometer registered a low of 25ºf last night.  The farm was thickly coated with frost, the hardy marigolds succumbed to the cold, the two hanging geraniums on the front porch as well.  The herb pots that remained outdoors will be dumped of the remaining soil and on a warm day, washed out and turned against the house side of the deck to overwinter.  The remaining rosemary will be tucked in a sunny protected corner to see if it will survive, if not, there is a cutting rooted in the house to start a new one next year.  There is a variety that will overwinter in the ground here if protected, but I don’t think either of the varieties that I had potted will.  On one of the mild days this week, I will plant the garlic in one of the new garden boxes.  It will be mulched.  Two more boxes will be added this months and there is more cardboard to put between them and plenty of spoiled hay to mulch the aisles.  Winter is coming on.  Early darkness, spinning and knitting evenings with a cup of hot tea at hand.

Hope you had a good weekend.

Still loving life on our farm.

Fading of Autumn

This week has been spent away from home, helping out at eldest son’s house.  He works very long days at a university an hour and a half to two hours away depending on traffic.  Daughter in law is working even father away this week on an art installation of a piece in a commercial building that was commissioned by an artist with whom she works.  I have grandson duty, getting him off to school, supervising homework, guitar practice, evening shower, preparing him breakfast and dinner and seeing him off to bed. His Dad hasn’t seen him since Monday, his Mom since Sunday as she is not even trying to commute this week.  This makes for long solitary days in their rural home, lots of time for spinning, knitting, and a little reading, though the book I brought puts me right to sleep, definitely not one to recommend.

Being on the edge of the Shenandoah Park, I had hoped for some woods walks while here, however, the very first night I awoke feeling like I had been hit by a truck with head congestion and body aches.  Grandson was home from school all day Tuesday due to the election, I dragged my achy body to the grocery for some decongestants and a few groceries, fed him lunch out and came back to rest while he played outdoors with the two kids across the road.  Wednesday was cool and rainy and I didn’t want to be out in it, so I stayed in and continued to rest.  Yesterday I was beginning to feel better and it was a beautiful day, but exertion caused me to cough, so again I mostly stayed in and today is chilly and gray, though I have yet to build a fire in the wood stove.  Tonight is predicted to drop below freezing which will put an end to the plants on the deck.

My garden is long gone for the season, they moved in during the summer and did not have time to put in a garden, but there is a tomato on the deck.

maters mums

It is likely the tomato and mum will both be burned off by morning with another below freezing night predicted Saturday.

As I sit in the living room on the computer or spinning and knitting, I see the nearly barren ridge across the road.  A few evergreens and a few leaves, the color gone for this autumn.

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Tomorrow, I will return to our farm, continue to winterize and plant the garlic for next growing season.  We had our first frost the night before I left and I pulled the remaining peppers and plants before I left home.  The cull chickens have another week to fatten, they will be killed and butchered on the 19th and I will be down to my laying flock for the winter.  We are still not getting but an egg or two each day due to molting and the pullets just not mature enough yet to lay.  Hopefully their production will pick up enough for holiday baking and having family in the house for the holidays.  If not, I will buy from a local farmer when I go to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey.  I raise a breed that lays in the winter, though not as prolifically as in summer.

I still have not adjusted to the end of Daylight Savings Time, maybe because of all the time on the road in the past week and the change in schedule here over home.  Maybe by next weekend, my first Holiday Market for the season.  I need to get my stuff organized and decide which displays I plan to take.  I am hoping for a mild, dry day.

I’ll check in again from home.  Have a good day.

 

On the Road Again

November is a whirlwind of activity.  It started off with the opportunity last weekend to drive across the state and meet our newest granddaughter, just 5 weeks old.  Her Mom and Dad are still in the first year of a rapidly expanding new business, so meeting their schedule and ours has been a challenge.  Friday was her big brother’s 10th birthday and we could not get there for that, but arrived after picking up the grands that live with us and delivering them to their parents where they work, just at quitting time as it was in route and allowed us to get on the road about 2 hours earlier than if we waited for them to get home.  It was a relatively easy drive for the first half, then just about dark, a huge accident happened on the interstate a mile or two ahead of us and we just sat in the dark unable to get off the interstate for about an hour and 20 minutes.  That put us at our hotel at midnight.  We did get a great full day with our son and his family on Saturday and I got lots of grandkids snuggles and plenty of baby love.

baby

She is a beautiful, good baby and very tolerant of being passed around, fortunately. Sunday we drove back across the state to resume duties with the grands at home and for me to leave Monday and drive north up the state, to spend the remainder of the week helping out with the eldest grandson, the 11 year old.

The car trip across the state allowed me to finish the Christmas Stocking.  I actually finished it early last week, but was very unhappy with the size, so I ripped it back to the end of the pattern chart and reknit the foot part closer to the chart and with a reduced heel and toe to make it a more reasonable size.  It needs to be steam blocked, lined and the personal tag stitched and sewn in.  I was also able to cast on the yoke of the Fair Isle sweater that I am knitting for myself from my handspun, hand dyed yarn.  The yoke is about 2/3 done and soon I will just be knitting in the main natural white yarn until I get to the bottom and want to add a bit of the color above the ribbing and at the sleeve cuffs.

sweater

Today being election day in the most horrific campaign I remember in my adult life, I am fortunately in a house with no television, with son and daughter in law at work, and since I voted absentee ballot weeks ago due to being 4 1/2 hours from my polling place, I can totally avoid the constant bombardment of the news media today.  The woodstove was lit this morning when the house was cold, and other than a quick trip to the grocery with grandson and a lunch out, I am staying in to knit and spin.  The outcome will be what it may and I can’t change it by watching.  I will find out the result when it is over.

spinning

 

Now back to my wheel, needles, or book with a cup of tea.  Try to have a peaceful day.

Learning Curve

My new wheel arrived yesterday and Kelly helped me put it together. My first attempt on it was frustrating as it kept pulling the fiber from my hands. It is a bobbin drive wheel instead of the flyer drive wheels I have used since I learned. Using the always available online reference, YouTube, I watched a video of tips for new spinners on this wheel and quickly realized what was amiss. My goal was to empty the bobbins for the Ashford and that meant spinning an equivalent amount on the Louet so I could ply. I was able to get a rhythm spin enough on the Louet to do the ply and plyed a 143 yard skein of Leister Longwood for my sweater. The remaining Longwood was plyed with some chocolate Alpaca to make a 66+ yard mini skein of marled fingering weight and the remaining chocolate Alpaca was wound onto my Turkish Spindle as the start of a cop that will later be plyed. The Ashford bobbins are empty.

Yarn

 

I have packed up 4 or 5 small packets of different types of fiber for the young lady to try as she learns to spin.  I have an appointment with her to deliver the loaner, the fiber, and provide some initial instruction.

To thread the leader through the orifice on a spinning wheel, you need a hook or a threader.  The young lady that I will be teaching, taught herself how to knit, so I have made three threaders with matching stitch markers for her to choose from as a gift.

Markers

 

I love encouraging new fiber artists.  I hope she learns to love the skills as much as I do. Now back to finishing the Christmas Stocking.  The chart was finally done and it was joined in the round.  Now I need to do the heel, foot, and toe.

 

Garden Day 2

As forecast, it is a beautiful day and after a quick pop down to the Farmers’ Market for some salad, greens, onions, carrots, sausages, and bread, I returned to the garden to make progress.

Garden1

The box around the asparagus bed was made, the two new boxes assembled and the not level garden was dug out to put the two boxes on the same grade and leveled.  Doing so required some digging out, but that gave me good compost soil to start filling the boxes.  The one on the left will be planted with garlic in a couple more weeks.

A long tape measure carried out with me to work with spacing to give me about 2 1/2 feet between the rows of boxes and 2 feet between the boxes themselves.

garden2

 

 

To the left of the boxes there are two comfrey plants and behind them the huge and growing compost pile.  After the boxes were placed with cardboard around the outside, spoiled hay has been tossed down over the cardboard.  It is a start.  The peppers are to the right of the boxes assembled today and are still growing.  A third box can not be put in place until the peppers are pulled. The next row will be below the ones in place and will require more dirt moving to step them down a level.  It is pretty exciting to be getting this project under way.  I quit for the day due to fatigue and because my new spinning wheel arrived today.

Wheel

 

Spinning on her is going to be a learning curve, but I’m up for it.  The Ashford will be going to the young lady that I will be teaching to spin sometime this week and she will use it as long as she needs to to get comfortable with the process.

It is coming

Though our days are still mild, with some low 70’s in the 10 day forecast, it is getting cold at night.  We had our first frost warning last night and though the basil on the deck and the peppers still in the garden didn’t look burned this morning, there was a frost coating on the windshield when I left to drive grandson to the bus stop.  Tonight is supposed to be colder.

Not wanting to lose the mature or nearly mature peppers that are still growing, I took a pail to the garden and harvested all of the red Thai peppers, the anchos and jalapeños that had any size on them.  There are still peppers growing if it doesn’t freeze tonight.

Peppers

While I had my hands in hot stuff, I took the jar of Tabasco pepper puree that has been fermenting on the counter for the past 6 weeks and made a jar of Tabasco type sauce.  It is considerably hotter than commercial Tabasco, but wow, it is good.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the bottle with a orifice reducer top that I had washed and saved.  The anchos that had been drying in the basket over the counter were strung to finish drying.  The red Thai peppers spread in a tray to dry.

drying

 

The season has to end sometime, but I was hoping for a few more jars of jalapeños to pickle, a few more anchos to dry for enchilada sauce.  If we get through tonight, there is no more threat for 10 more days of growing season.  Our average first frost date is in early October, so we have been given at least a couple of extra weeks this year.

More tomato vines were pulled, but I still haven’t prepared a bed to plant garlic.

Yesterday’s soap making hasn’t hardened enough to unmold and cut.  They can sit in the molds for a while, I’m not making any more until after the first Holiday Market in mid November.

Yesterday’s knitting on the Christmas Stocking got me about halfway through the chart.  Another day and it should be done and the rest is just knitting a huge sock.

stocking

If you read yesterday’s Olio post and are not a knitter, one of the challenges of knitting from a chart is that you work right to left and bottom to top.  That is why the photograph of the chart is upside down.