Category Archives: Crafting

When Days Go Wrong then Right

My day was supposed to be a day when I got to sleep in (that means past 6:30 a.m.) as daughter was going to deal with the kiddos this morning and we were going to meet her to pick up granddaughter after the 5 year old wellness visit and daughter would go on to work.  At 7ish, Jim said, I don’t hear any movement downstairs, followed by daughter running for the bowl yelling up as she went to ask me to take over morning duties.  She either has food poisoning or a stomach virus.  I am sorry she is not feeling well today, but hopeful that it isn’t a stomach virus or we will all end up with it.  I took over the duties, got the kids up, dressed, fed, and delivered.  To add to the confusion, Jim had a PT appointment on the wall calendar, it was not on my electronic calendar, and he thought it was tomorrow, so he was up right with me to call the PT office to check on the date, the time we had.  That appointment was today which meant that he had to leave with me to deliver kids.  The wellness appointment had to be rescheduled as daughter wanted to be there for that.

Once she got to work today, she was going to have to teach a class and since work was totally out of the question for her today, she had to find someone else to teach the class and sent us two towns over with her materials for the class between dropping granddaughter at preschool and Jim to PT.

By then I was going full steam.  By the end of PT, it is nearly time to pick up granddaughter again and feed her lunch, which we did out to stay away from the house for daughter to rest and maybe us to stay away from the bug.

Once home, I worked on some silk I have been spinning.

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And continued to knit on the Fibonacci Infinity Scarf, now into the third color set and more than 20″ long.

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I read a chapter or two on No Man’s Land, David Baldacci before it is due back at the library.  Granddaughter was having her quiet time and Jim took some quiet time too.

When I went to pick up grandson at the bus stop, I picked up our mail and was pleased to find the 6th color for my scarf (peeking out from under the scarf) in the box along with the spool of waxed hemp from the bagpipe supply to tighten the fittings on my new/antique spinning wheel.

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The Mother of All, the two uprights that hold the flyer and bobbin were mailed off early in the week to Bobbin Boy for repair and refurbishing.  They directed me to a video on their Facebook page that showed me how to use the waxed hemp to tighten the joints where the legs insert into the table and where the uprights that hold the wheel also insert into the table.  All of these parts were loose which would prevent me from spinning on her once the repaired parts are returned.

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In making these repairs, I discovered a split in one of the uprights which disheartened me, but my choice was to either get a bit of good wood glue down in the split or have Bobbin Boy turn me a new piece.  I elected to try the wood glue first.  It is setting up now, so the wheel is sitting apart until tomorrow.  The legs no longer wobble, the footman stays in place, the uprights are tight in their fittings and I am hopeful that this wheel is going to be a gem.

So after a hectic start, the day ended up a crafty success.

Dinner has been prepped, eaten, and cleaned up and I am going to spend the rest of the evening, enjoying more crafting.

Accepting Failure

The Fair Isle sweater project would get picked up, half a row or a row stitched and then dropped back into the basket.  Each time I picked it up, I commented on how heavy just the yoke was and since we have had to cancel our ski trip and probably take that activity off our agenda in the future, I saw no time when wearing the sweater would happen.  The physical weight of the sweater was unbelievable.  If I lived in the Yukon, maybe it would have been appropriate.  Yesterday, I began to rip out the yoke, rewinding the hand spun yarn and trying to think of a project to use this beautiful yarn.  The natural and two of the colors are my hand spun and the two colors, hand dyed.  The remaining color from the sweater is beautiful hand dyed yarn from a friend, and I had another skein of her yarn in another color.  I found a pattern that intrigued me`Infinitely Fibonacci, a tube shaped loop scarf.  It requires 6 colors though and I only have 5.  I have a couple of skeins of my hand spun Leicester Longwool that I could dye, and my friend has several colors that might coordinate with my other colors.

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I decided that this would be the project to work on and when done, use the 6 colors to do a Fibonacci hat and mitts to match.  I started with Cari’s beautiful two skeins to do the first 11 sets of color stripes.  By the time I get the first 4 colors used, I will have obtained the 6th color.

I have a closet full of hand knit sweaters and maybe someday I will knit one of my hand spun that will both fit me and not weigh as much as a small child when complete.

When a project doesn’t work out, the yarn can still be enjoyed in another project.  Thus is the beauty of knitting.

Olio – 12/23/16

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

Very early this morning in the wee dark hours, eldest son and his family arrived for Christmas.  Yesterday was spent cleaning up as much dust and animal hair as possible with the vacuum and a lightly dampened mop to try and reduce the allergen level of the house.  The process was taken down to the basement as well, where there are no rugs, granddaughter helping by collecting various tiny lego pieces, parts of her “kitchen” and other random toys that were not put away.  The bed in the bedroom down there was made with fresh sheets, as was the futon in the sitting area for grandson.  The last of the gifts were wrapped and sorted to be put under the tree.

After fixing sausage gravy and biscuits this morning, we visited until Jim had finished his PT and daughter has finished teaching her class and we all met for lunch out and split up in the various cars for errands.  Jim taking grandson for a haircut, daughter bringing granddaughter home to finish their laundry and to pack and load the car to await son-in-law to arrive home for them to begin their drive to Florida where they will spend Christmas with his parents, pick up the grandson who has been with his bio Dad for the week, and then on to have a Christmas vacation for the kids.  Son and I made a few stops for items on his list.

When we arrived home, a footstool box pieced and taped together with enough foam sheeting to wrap the house and holding my new antique spinning wheel was sitting on the table.  This excited me and I carefully opened the box and found all of the disassembled pieces inside.  We pulled up a photo and began reassembling it to make sure it is all there.

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It is all there, with a few flaws that may have to be addressed, such as two of the whorls missing a chunk out of them, but I think I can still use them.  An arm of the flyer has been broken and reglued in the past.  The legs had been removed for shipping and need to be reglued for stability.  The parts are pegged together and the leather that holds the flyer on the mother of all is dry and too wide in one place, covering the orifice hole, so it hasn’t been used in a long time.  I suspect it has been mostly decorative.  It is a double drive wheel and the only twine that I had to test it with isn’t beefy enough to do the job and frayed very quickly.  The bobbin is so tiny, but the wheel is gorgeous.  It was made by a Canadian from St. Andre, a wheel with screw tensioning.  Paradis was born in the early 1800’s.

Daughter’s family is on the road.  Son’s family shared a pot roast dinner with us and now they are off to a movie with Jim.  I elected to have some quiet time at home with a cup of tea and bake the pies for our Christmas dinner.

We traditionally have our Christmas dinner on the eve with turkey, country ham, and all the trimmings.  Tomorrow, we will avoid the last minute madness, just enjoying each other’s company, sharing a festive meal in the evening and do our gift opening after a big Christmas breakfast on Sunday, before they leave for daughter-in-law’s parent’s home to have Christmas with them as well.

Our house will be very quiet after they leave for more than a week, just Jim, me and all the animals.

Have a very Merry Christmas to all of you who check in on us through my blog.

Spinning and History

A couple of weeks ago, I was given the privilege to be the spinning interpreter at the local 18th century plantation house on the Virginia Tech Campus.  As summer was passing, I sold my Kromski Sonata, the folding castle style wheel that I had used the first time I was there and though a contemporary wheel, it at least looked the part.  It was replaced with the Ashford Traditional on which I had learned, a Saxony wheel that also looked the part and was used the second time I was re-enacting.  It was a nice starter wheel, though the wheel itself wobbled a bit when it spun.  It has tiny little bobbins and therefore made small skeins of yarn.  With the proceeds from selling the Kromski, I bought a used Louët, a very contemporary castle style wheel.  The Ashford was first loaned to a teen wanting to learn to spin, then sold to her, leaving me with the contemporary wheel while sitting in the old home spinning earlier this month.  I had been looking on the internet for an old (period) still functional wheel for some time and in the past couple of days, I found two.  I emailed out to the first seller to be told that the wheel pictured was not the wheel for sale, but representative of wheels he had sold in the past and he was too busy with the Christmas rush to send me any photos or descriptions of what he currently had available until after Christmas.  He also could not tell me if he had a working wheel.  Scratch that seller off my list.

The second seller had a beautiful wheel that had come from a South Carolina estate and it had been in the same family throughout it’s history.  I emailed again and the response was that it spins straight, has all of it’s original parts, is not just a decoration and not a reproduction, plus the price was so incredibly low that it seemed too good to be true, plus, if I am dissatisfied, I can return it within two weeks for a full refund.

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Since my show was successful over the weekend, we decided that I should go ahead and make the purchase.  This morning, I ordered that wheel and now I anxiously await it’s arrival.  It has only 1 bobbin and that bobbin looks small, so this wheel will only be for re-enactment, the rest of the time, gracing our home.  If I truly fall in love with it, perhaps I will have a couple more bobbins made, sell the Louët and make the antique my all the time wheel.  I’m really not a collector of wheels, not keeping more than one in the house at a time.

Lucky Day

All week, I have been monitoring the weather for today.  This week has been so very cold, and today was to dawn with a very high chance of freezing rain or mixed wintry precipitation mix and a high mid afternoon only in the upper 30’s or low 40’s.  Yesterday, the forecast improved, though there was still a chance of freezing rain overnight.  Today was the second Holiday Market at the Blacksburg Farmers Market and I was prepared to set up my booth, clothed for a very cold, wet day and worrying that the foot traffic would be sparce.

When I awoke this morning, it was overcast, but the temperature was already 42ºf up here on the mountain.  I had packed the tables, weights, canopy tent, and my chair last night.  This morning, I loaded the huge plastic box of soaps, lotions, and salves, the smaller plastic totes of yarn and knitwear, bags, wraps, and all of the other items needed to set up my stall.  When I arrived at the market, it was a bit cooler and raining lightly, but like other markets, everyone chipped in and helped set up tents and tables.  I have been fortunate at all 4 Holiday Markets to have Beth and Chuck of Dashing Dogs Pottery as my neighbor and they are so helpful with my tent that I lack the strength to erect alone.

We had periods of light rain offset by sunshine during the 5 hour market, the temperature warming into the 50’s and great foot traffic.  Many folks were out looking for their weekly purchases from the market and much shopping for holiday gifts. It was a very successful day for the vendors and we were all grateful for the much improved weather situation.

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It is interesting to see how the items sold vary from different markets.  Today was knitwear, some yarn, and lots of beard oil and moustache wax.  Handcrafted bar soap was also popular today.

This was my last show for the season.  I will wait and see what develops for spring and summer.

Daughter and grandkids dropped by after having breakfast and I was able to send them home with some pasta, sausage, and salad to help with this week’s meals.

Now it is time to finish preparation for Christmas at our household.  There are still some gifts to wrap and a few very small items to purchase, Christmas dinner to plan and a grocery run.

SHOP NOW:  https://squareup.com/store/cabin-crafted/

 

Education for all

This has been a great weekend spent in the beautiful Smithfield Plantation House, an 18th century museum home in our region.  The restored, furnished home was decorated with period decorations for the Christmas season by one of the local garden clubs.  All of the decorations were for sale or through silent auction at the conclusion of this weekend.  The event was the Holiday Teas event, a conclusion to the touring season for the home.  The weekend relied heavily on the volunteers, as the decorations, the baked goods for the teas, servers, the interpretative tours, musicians, and craftsmen were all volunteer efforts.

This weekend, I was in the house spinning.  Because the drawing room was the location for the musicians, the lace maker, and hemp rope maker were in the downstairs bedroom and I set up in the dining room.  Being in one of the first rooms visited, I was able to listen to the historian talk about the local history, the house history, the Preston family, and the furnishings.

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I had been very generously given a raw Dorset fleece by a friend and fellow Smithfield volunteer for me to work with.  I had never worked raw fleece before, so it was a learning opportunity for me too.

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I took a bag of the dirty raw fleece with me to demonstrate where the process starts.  A hemp fiber bag of locks that I had washed was also taken, the locks were hand carded as needed and made into rolags and spun.

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The room lit only by daylight through the two windows and with small electric candles for safety, I could only work until about 4:30 before it got too dark to see.  Many visitors there for the music or the teas stopped by to watch and listen to my discussion of the breeds, the fiber, and the process.  Today was cold and wet, but the visitors just kept coming.

We are so fortunate to have this home in our area and so many people who give of their time for the good of this venue.  I feel fortunate to have been given the chance to be a part of this educational and historical opportunity and look forward to help out during the private and school tours during the winter and again during the tour season beginning in April.

Olio-December 2, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The winter is setting in.  After much very dry weather with burn bans and hardly a sprinkle, we had two days of fairly continuous rain, much needed, but none the less uncomfortable to have to be out in taking grands to their bus stops or preschools, running errands, etc.  It wasn’t a warm spring type rain, it was cold, blustery, and wet.  It is the rain that helped the Amherst County and Tennessee fire fighting effort.  Living in a rural area with tree covered mountains around us, we fear fire when it is dry.  In 1902, the community that provides our zip code was virtually destroyed by a sweeping wildfire that consumed all but a small handful of now historic buildings and homes.

The rain helped relieve some of the tension that the very dry period had caused, though the heavy downpours gouged out gullies in our unpaved state road again and swept the leaves that had filled the ditches into mounds in the road and along the sides of the narrow road.  After the first day of heavy rain, I stopped and hand cleared the leaves from the ditch just above the culvert that runs under our driveway so that the rain could flow freely through and down to the run off creek.  Our driveway is pocked with run off gouges that will fill back in as we drive it.

The chickens never have started laying again since their molt, so I am getting 1 green egg from the Americauna that didn’t molt about every couple of days.  The Buff Orpingtons will generally lay some during the cold weather, but they have not resumed. They enjoy the sunshine when it is out and forage through the lower garden that is theirs for the winter at least.

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Every time I have planned to plant garlic in the past few weeks, I have been distracted from the task by other chores or the weather.  This morning, I got my bi monthly newsletter from the host of my garden planner and it indicated that it was not too late.  After picking granddaughter up from preschool, I bundled in my barn coat, muck boots, a knit hat and toughed the cold blustery day to get the job done finally.  I knew that if I did not do it now, that there would be no homegrown garlic next summer and fall.  A 4 foot square cedar box was planted with about 90 cloves of garlic to provide the heads for next year.  There were two kinds saved for planting, Redneck Riviera and German Red.  Next year, I think I will also locate and plant a soft neck variety too.

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The first box of the new garden plan is planted and mulched.  My purchase plan of two boxes a month has been put on hold until after Christmas, but there is a stack of cardboard in the garage to use as mulch base between the boxes once they are purchased.  I still have plenty of spoiled hay to use on top of the cardboard once it is in place around the boxes.  I probably should place a layer below the second box in the above picture before the weeds decide to move in.

Once back in and thawed, I resumed plying the 4 ounces of Alpaca and Merino that I have been spinning for the past couple of days.  I had about an ounce on one bobbin and needed to finish spinning and plying it so that I have the bobbins free for this weekend.  It ended up a beautiful 250 yard skein that will be so warm and cozy as a cowl or hat with the 70% alpaca content.

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I will be spinning in the historic Smithfield Plantation House during their Holiday event this weekend.  Their theme this year is based on products that they produced such as hemp, honey, and fiber.  I am taking some washed unprocessed Dorset wool and hand carders, as well as some already processed Dorset wool roving to spin during the event on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  This is the last of the events at the site until it reopens in the spring.  I have enjoyed my afternoons volunteering there this late summer and fall.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.