Tag Archives: building

Olio – January 5, 2019

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

Wow, that is the first time I have had to write 2019!  The days whiz by and suddenly it is the next year.  As a child, the years went by so slowly, and now they fly by before I have adjusted to it being a new one.

For the first time in what seems forever, we have sunshine.  The morning began bleak, rainy, and very windy.  We braved mixed winter precipitation to go to town and get breakfast and see what vendors came out for the winter Farmers’ Market.  The January to April markets are informal, the vendors being allowed to park their trucks and vans in parking spaces that are closed off and occupied by other vendors during the high season markets.  The morning goal was some pork, eggs, and breads and all were obtained before heading to the grocer for the non local needs.

The chicks are 9 weeks old tomorrow, so we have at least 14 or 15 more weeks before we will start seeing eggs from them.  Their adult plumage is developing and though not a heritage flock, they will be pretty and there will be a variety of egg colors from green, dark brown, medium brown, and light tan.  They have figured out the big girl feeder and the big girl water dispenser and are not afraid of the pop door to the outside anymore.  The first day they stayed inside, the next day most were escorted out by me and that night 5 of them were found huddled in an empty feed bucket under the coop.  Now, all of them can find their way out and back inside at night, though they wait until it is nearly dead dark to go in.

The Christmas week brought much family time.  We had an Italian style meal on Christmas eve with daughter’s family at her home, awoke to the empty house on Christmas day.  We celebrated quietly, having Huevos Rancheros and sausages for hubby and exchanging our gifts.  Christmas Day, daughter’s family came here for a mid afternoon turkey and ham dinner.  The next day, eldest son and eldest grandson came to celebrate and work on the deck.

Wanting to expand my fiber tools, I had asked for a 5 foot tri-loom and easel which I gladly received.


Once I figured out how to assemble it, You Tube was visited to watch weavers using one.  There are several methods.  The first one I tried was called continuous loop weaving. You never cut your yarn weaving across and up and down by weaving the strand with a hook.


The first triangle is a generous shawl  made with two skeins of my hand spun yarn, a very smooth Corriedale and a very textured blend of Merino, Tencel, and Mohair locks plyed with Wooly Nylon, a stretchy thin thread.  It was challenging as the textured yarn wanted to grab the other yarn and itself.  Once it was off the loom, I decided to make one to wear when I am doing the living history events on cool days.   It is being done with cut strand method and weaves on the diagonal.


While trying to get it done for an event tomorrow, I was also trying to get a pair of fingerless mitts finished as well as I will be selling knitted and woven goods at Old Christmas at Wilderness Road Regional Museum and demonstrating spinning tomorrow.


They were finished except for weaving in the ends while being passenger to breakfast, Farmers’ Market, and the grocery.  There are less than 20 rows to go on the shawl, so hopefully it will be woven though not washed and blocked for tomorrow.  It is my hand spun Coopworth from Hearts of the Meadow Farm.

I must admit, that weaving up my hand spun uses it much more quickly than knitting up the same amount of yarn.

As for the week after Christmas, eldest son and grand worked together to put the Trex surface boards on the deck.


We are excited to be able to safely go out the French Doors of the dining room and not have a one story fall.  The deck surface and stairs are done.  The surface is maintenance free.  Unfortunately, the rails did not arrive in time for installation then, but they have now arrived and are due to be delivered this week.  When he has time, eldest will return and put up the railings, balusters, and post caps.  When the pressure treated posts have dried, they will be painted to match the railing and will be the only part of the deck that will require maintenance of repainting periodically.

While we were sorting tools, putting away cords, he and I tackled phase one of a major garage cleaning and reorganization, labeling boxes that contain power tools, making a pile of tile and metal fittings, Trex scraps, and other items to keep.  Most of that was moved to the barn today.  More will be moved another day and once the deck is done, the garage sorted out the rest of the way, a barn organization is in order.  It has become a repository of building materials, building equipment, and miscellaneous other stuff.  Some of it needs to go home with it’s owner, some can be sold or given away, some just needs to be straightened up so we can find it when a job needs it.  Some of the tile that was moved can be used to replace the water damaged bamboo floor in front of the walkout basement door.  That is another task for another time.

Back to weaving or the shawl won’t be done.  I hope you had a great holiday season and have faced the new year with hope and strength.

Cha-cha-changes – 4/17/18

Change is in the wind and boy oh boy has there been some of that recently.  Unfortunately, it has taken out the power several times for anywhere from a few minutes to 9 hours and the start and failure have taken a toll on our appliances.  The 11 year old appliances are not as sturdy as they were new and the microwave with stove vent failed.  It has been ordered and will be installed soon.  The most used burner on the stove top failed once and elder son shifted the back small one forward then replaced the back one when the one we ordered came in.  The front one has failed again (it is actually an original as we moved it) and another replacement has been ordered.  The big scary one though is the refrigerator.  Each time the power goes out for more than a blink, it doesn’t come back on.  At first it was just a few minutes, then a couple hours, now it is staying out for more than half a day.  The contents get shuttled to the old basement fridge and I even called for repair once, but it came back on before they could come and unlike a car, it can’t be diagnosed if it is working.

But that is not where this post is going.  The Cabin Crafted Soap and Yarn shop has been seriously short on product since the Holiday Markets in November and December, followed by a vending weekend at a Spinning Retreat and no real effort had been made to alleviate that situation.  Spring and summer give me plenty of opportunities to spin at Historic Smithfield Plantation but vending opportunities are few.  Spinning as a demonstrator at our Community Open House has been scheduled in May, but that is not a vending opportunity, though sometimes a skein or two of yarn is purchased.  A couple of days ago, a young intern from Smithfield who is a local high school student reached out to me to participate in her high school’s Heritage Day event in May as a historical demonstrator and I am allowed to also vend without paying a booth fee by participating.  It is a month off and it take soap a month to cure, so the cool windy days have keep me out of the garden and inside making preparation.

First on my agenda was to finally build the display stand for knitwear, for which the materials were purchased more than a month ago and they have been on the garage floor.



It was measured, cut, and assembled on Sunday and today, it got the first coat of polystain.


It is going to need to be sanded down with steel wool or superfine sand paper as the dowel cross pieces roughened with the stain and a second coat applied, maybe tomorrow.

Next up to resupply soap and all 4 soap molds were put to use with 4 different soaps made to cure for the month.  That is 36 bars of soap.

IMG_20180417_152038  IMG_20180417_152050

Lavender; Cedarwood/White Thyme/Rosemary; Citrus all vegan soaps and Goat Milk/Oatmeal/Honey.  They will be unmolded and cut to cure tomorrow.  When son made me the wooden molds, daughter in law asked if I wanted silicone liners and I said no but wish I hadn’t as folding the parchment or butcher paper to line them is a challenge for me.  Today I ordered a very thin silicone baking mat and I am going to cut it to line the sides and seal the pieces with a tube of silicone caulk to make unmolding them easier.

My other project is one that has niggled me for a while.  The shop name is Cabin Crafted Soap and Yarn, the logo is an ink drawing of the main part of our log home drawn by our very talented daughter in law.  The display sign is natural wood slats with black wood letters.  All of this suggesting rustic, but my table covers have been a green paisley Indian cotton bedspread that was cut and hemmed and my display boxes are wooden shadow boxes that were painted on the outside with a pale mint green color and that wasn’t in keeping with the theme, especially if I am vending in costume as a demonstrator.  With our local JoAnn’s store having a major moving clearance sale, I decided to purchase enough unbleached duck cloth to make two table covers and some acrylic paint in “Melted Chocolate” color to paint the shadow boxes.


The feel is more natural and more rustic with the wooden sign, pecan stained wood display, and reed baskets trimmed with dark leather (probably pleather) for the yarn,  if follows the theme better.

The very young clerk who assisted me was told the plan was to make covers for two 24″ X 48″ tables.  We discussed the fact that the width of the fabric was only 42″ so I decided to double it and just seam up the middle. so that it hung down over the table.  I left her to cut while I went to pick up the paint and foam brushes and returned to pick up my fabric and pay out to leave.  Upon getting home to work on it, I realized that she not only did not calculate enough  fabric to hang off the ends if I cut it to give me front and back drop, she didn’t even give me seam allowance to hem the ends and still cover the 48″ length.  I decided that the backs of the tables didn’t really need drop as I generally store my crates under the table from the back and used the extra to allow side drop.  I guess I should have done my own calculations.  She said she was getting off shortly to go to her afternoon classes at the Community College.  I hope she isn’t majoring in math or fashion.


Welcome to the Larry, Moe, and Curly School of Construction

Son #1 and Grandson #1 arrived around 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning and immediately fell in bed having gotten a little sleep on the bus.  Morning was met with bacon, blueberry muffins, scrambled eggs, and coffee before we tackled the coop construction.  He realized  quickly that my guestimate of the reclaimed lumber was way off and some of the boards, not sound enough for construction as I had not unstacked the pile to do measurements.


We spread the lumber out to reassess it and his plan was immediately ditched and we retired to the table to come up with an alternate design that we could do with the materials on hand.  Our alternate plan is a 13′ square foot print, A-frame construction.  We measured the spot, not level, but nothing on our 30 acres is level, marked the 4 corner posts and he took off to the edges of the hay field to cut down a couple of cedar trees to use for the corner posts.  I stayed at the site and started digging the post holes.  As I have said before, I could get rich selling rocks and cedar trees and found my share of rocks digging the holes.  Rocks that were the size of a deck of cards to one that was bowling ball size.  The posts were placed and measurements made again and we realized the holes were too far apart.  Pause for lunch and re-digging.  Once we were finished, Daughter and family with Grandson #1 in tow returned from going to the local Aquatic Center where the kids had some pool time and she kicked in muscles to help us.

We mounted the two horizontal side joist boards and realized we had put them on the wrong sides.  They were moved, the threshold board cut and I realized that we had erred again.  Screws backed off, board moved, threshold shortened and the bottom 4 boards were in place.  This sounds easy enough, but remember, I said nothing on this farm is level, thus the south end is higher off the ground than north end to make it level.  This was the story of our day, do/undo/move/re-level/redo.


Three sets of rafters were screwed in place and the tractor kept it from listing until we got to the nailers on Sunday. The peak is 6 feet off the ground in the front, so I will have no difficulty entering to clean it out.

We have laughed about our missteps in our construction.  Sunday started early for Son #1 and me, joined later by daughter and SIL.  Son and I got the nailers in place, then all of us dragged metal roofing down from behind the barn where it has been stored for years.  The circular saw was refitted with an old blade on backwards and roof cutting commenced.  It took all four of us, the tractor used very unsafely as a work platform and an 8 foot ladder on unlevel ground, but we got the 10 panels of roofing in place.





Though I didn’t get a final photo last night after 7 p.m., we got the back on it except for the hardware cloth vent at the top, the front is framed and the door made and hung, though still lacking the hardware cloth on it.  The triangles to the right and left of the door are still uncovered, but will have metal roofing material in place eventually and the triangular gaps from the horizontal joists to the ground will also have metal siding installed with the white underside exposed to close some of the interior gaps.  Until the rest of the siding can be done, I will install hardware cloth in appropriate places and used garden fencing outside of plastic poultry net to close in those spaces as we will soon have about 25 chicks that will need housing for about 20 weeks.  The inside of this palace, named the Hobbit House by son is 144 square feet, so we have plenty of space for meat chicks.  I will have to do some re-fencing to have a significant run at the new coop and when he returns later in the summer we will finish the work on the new coop as well as restructuring the chicken tractor into a brooding coop, by mounting it on cedar posts, leveling it, and installing metal roofing extended down over the existing hardware cloth lower sides.

I started off with a few laying hens and now I feel like a chicken farmer, but as the new coop was reclaimed and leftover materials, we only had to buy screws and hinges, so it was cheap to build.

About noon, he decided to deliberately miss his bus with my blessing so we could get as far as we got.  He, Grandson #1, and I set out in my car for Northern Virginia to get them home for school and work today.  I spent the night and set out for home upon them leaving this morning, arriving home about an hour ago.  A very long, but very productive weekend.