Tag Archives: tools

Tools of the Trade

In addition to keeping the household of 4 adults, 2 children, 3 big dogs, 3 cats running, raising chickens for our  eggs and some meat, making soap, balms, salves, and beard products for my online shop and craft shows, I love fiber arts.  I sew, knit, crochet, and spin fiber into yarn for my own use and for sale in the shop and shows.

A couple of years ago, we were flying on a vacation, I took knitting with me to help occupy the time and keep me settled on the plane (I’m not a huge fan of flying).  The project that I took was  socks for one of the grandson’s for Christmas, Batman socks.  I had black and gold yarns and I wanted to put the Batman emblem on the cuff of each sock.  I rummaged through my bag and could not find a piece of graph paper though I usually carried a small graph paper notebook and ended up drawing a grid on the back of a receipt and graphing out the emblem.  Several days into the vacation, we were shopping in one of the native markets and I spotted a small woven fabric covered notebook cover with a graph paper pad in it.  It was inexpensive and I purchased one.  The pad got used up over time and I discovered that it was a non standard size and unavailable in the USA or on any online store I could scare up.  It was larger than the pocket Moleskine or Fieldnotes books, smaller than the medium Moleskine variety and it had to be side bound with staples, not a spiral.  The cover sat idle and empty, but I liked it.  Recently, it occurred to me that I could use the woven part of the cover and repurpose it with some added fabric to make it fit a standard size. My very talented and crafty sister in law was called on with several questions, many ideas, and finally, bravely, I cut the notebook cover in half, removed the binding, made a new liner, spine, and binding that enlarged it enough to handle a standard notebook.


This required setting up the sewing machine and pulling out the sewing box. They are in the dormer in our bedroom where I have a handmade walnut table, pottery lamp, and shelving to store my yarn and fabric.

Compared to many of my friends in the fiber arts, I am a lightweight. Most of them have multiple wheels, looms, sewing machines. I do have two wheels or I will once the antique one has all of its parts back. But the rest of my equipment will fit into a tote bag.



The Louët has a built in Lazy Kate for plying, but I don’t like it, so I use the one my son made me for Christmas.


A swift and two different sized Niddy Noddys for winding yarn into skeins from a bobbin.




And two different sized Lucets for making cord.


An assortment of various drop spindles for portable spinning.


Hand carders for combing unprocessed clean wool.


A backstrap loom, that I need an instructor to teach me to set it up for weaving.

With one set of interchangeable knitting needles, one set of double pointed knitting needles in various sizes, a few fixed circular knitting needles, and several crochet hooks, I have all I need for spinning, sewing, knitting or crocheting.

It will all fit nicely in a beautiful hand made tote from a friend.


Though I don’t carry it all with me, I could.



Spring cleaning has commenced

Yesterday, after my sleepless night and waking to hurricane force winds and blowing snow, we took the pups to doggie camp for 24 hours and drove 2 hours north east of here to meet some friends from Virginia Beach.  The goal was for the guys to test ride a motorcycle or two at Demo Days at a Harley Davidson dealer.  As we trekked, we drove out of the snow on our ridge and then about 45 minutes from our destination, drove into a blizzard with rapidly accumulating snow and wondering what on earth we were doing out in it.  At a rest stop, there were 4 inches wet snow on the ground.  When we reached our destination, there were flurries, but nothing on the ground but it was cold and wet.  It looked like the ride wouldn’t happen, but the roads dried off and indeed they left with a group of about a dozen riders on a 12 mile test run and came back in like popcicles.  After a delightful, late lunch with our friends, we each headed off in opposite directions to return to our homes.

This morning, we retrieved the pups and treated them to a car ride and their favorite hamburgers while we waited to see how warm it would really get today as they were predicting mid 60’s.  Once home, Jim took off on his motorcycle and I set about on spring cleaning, starting with the garage.  This winter, it has housed the motorcycle, the chicken tractor,  a lawn mower, the back deck furniture, the huge black animal water trough that held firewood until the chicks needed it as a larger brooder and the random tools, scrap wood, etc.  It was a disaster and there is no way to work on the workbench much less park a car inside.

I started by selling a couple of weeks ago, the Husky workbench that had been in our Virginia Beach house before our move to the mountains.  As eldest son had built in two very beefy workbenches at different heights, the other one was not only not needed, but added to the clutter as it became a place to set more things.


That is the only time since it moved to the mountains that it was empty.  Today I started on the lower built in as it had all the tools and boxes of items removed from the workbench I had sold.  Our garage is a log structure that has logs that match the house in appearance on the outside, but have a flat interior surface.  Son took advantage of that and added many hand made hangers, hefty shelves, and nails for tools that didn’t go on the workbench or have cases.  I added a few more nails, moved 4 wooden crates of scrap wood off the beefy shelf and started organizing.


The scrap wood is now on the floor pushed up against the wall where it can actually be reached for small projects or fire starter wood.  The boxed tools were put up on the shelf, labeled on the end so I can tell at a glance which DeWalt box is which and a plastic tub was placed up there with all of the loose sandpaper in it.  It a tool didn’t go into my tool kit, it got hung on the wall, stone masonry tools and painting tools were put in plastic totes and pushed under the workbench along with the compressor.  The longer scrap wood was neatly arranged up against a huge wooden platform that son built for his artist wife but doesn’t have room for at his present apartment, the dog cages were folded and placed hard up against the same wall.  The chicks who were making a mess of the basement in the wire dog cage were put in the huge animal trough with their food, water, a couple of perches and their heat lamp.  They can’t get out, the tub holds the heat well and they seem happier, I know I am.  Chicken feed was moved out from the space in front of the workbench and I can actually access a surface, my vice and my handtools.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another great day, so I plan to purchase a couple more rolls of fence and a few more fence posts and finish the chicken run as they can get out of the less secure part that I did not complete two weeks ago, try to install a gate and move the chicken tractor out of the garage for the cull birds, giving me enough space to try to clean up the taller workbench as well as organizing the garden tools that are hung on the side wall where the build in shelf unit and tall workbench are located.  I currently have all of my garden tools and all of eldest son’s.  I may separate them and put his in a big plastic garbage bin and put them in the back of the barn to store them and see if I can get some other unused items out of the garage.  It would be nice to be able to park at least one car in there with the motorcycle.

Somewhere during these efforts, I need to plant my peas in the garden.