Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Winter skies

We had a frost last night.   It's almost the middle of November and it's the first real frost this year.  When I went to let the chickens out, it was raining leaves and the ground was a sea of yellow, orange and red.   With the blue sky, it was a perfect autumn day.   Yesterday however, the skies were restless, with churning clouds in every shade of grey. 

When I went out to help my man switch out the tires on the cute little car, as it really does need snow tires, I had to run back in and grab my camera.  The light was interesting to say the least.   Since my job was to label the bags for the tires, so we knew where they were on the car when they came off, I had lots of time to wander about, up and down the road, playing with camera settings.

 The beans have been off for weeks, but the corn is still in the fields.   When a stray beam of sunlight hits the drying stalks, it lights up like gold.   Sometime in the next few weeks, if the weather is cooperative, the corn will soon be gone too.  The autumn colours will then be much more subdued and wintery.  I suppose that is appropriately seasonal, but it's been such an awesome autumn that I'm loath for it to end.

The hay growing so lush and green against the backdrop of the corn is an interesting contrast.   There is winter wheat starting to sprout around here as well, but this was a hay field this year and hasn't been plowed under since, so hay it is.   I keep thinking that it would be a good place for a few sheep to graze, but since the farmer raises beef cattle, that isn't likely to happen.

 That green does bring about hope for a far distant spring . First though, we have to muddle through dismally short days, grey wintery skies and winds blowing snow across the landscape, into boot tops when slogging out to the barn . 

I love the colours of the weathered wood on this fence.   It blends in beautifully with the landscape, but yet has purpose as it keeps the neighbour's  horses safely in their fields.   And somehow, NEIGHbour's and horses side by side, seems like it should be a pun, but it's not.. sigh.. just one of those days I guess.


Monday, 6 November 2017

Bits and pieces of finishing up

 It has been a busy and odd few weeks.   It has been odd that we've had to get back into the routine of lugging in armloads of wood and loading up the woodstove.   I'm pretty lucky as my menfolk do most of the lugging.   I usually clean out the ashes properly during the day though.   We've had some sort of evil virus run through the family, which was not so much fun.  I managed to avoid it mainly, for which I was thankful.
I spun up the rest of the grey BFL and got it plied.  It's a nice yarn although not quite as soft as some BFL that I've spun.   There is 225 g of plied yarn in total, so at least enough to do something with.   

I've been washing up the two toned Shetland fleece.   I almost tossed it a while back, because it had been sitting around and I'm getting a bit lazy and cranky, preferring to spin commercially prepped fibre when possible.  However, I just couldn't do it.  So I'm washing it up and will probably drum card it into batts for spinning, to blend that lovely colour nicely.

 Dion is one of our feral rescues.   I took him to the vet for a check up before we let him in the house.   The vet said he had an eye infection, so we dutifully gave him eye drops - that was a wild activity.   It took 2 of us, at stupid early because it never occurred to us to move the time to later in the afternoon.   Hubby held the poor boy down, while I dripped in the drops which weren't drops nor were they ointment.  Not enough pressure on the tube and the gunk wouldn't come out.  Too much pressure though, and the gunk spurted everywhere!  They helped a little bit, but his eyes were still weepy.  The vet said it looked like he had Entropion or turned in eye lids, which apparently isn't horribly common.  So they checked when he was getting his dangly bits removed and then cut slits in his eye lids, removing a bit of tissue and stitching them back together.    Poor baby looked scary for almost 2 weeks after the surgery.   His cone is off now and his eyes look better, although the stitches in one eye were loose at the check up and that eye is still a bit drippy.   We've got 2 weeks with a true ointment for that eye, to see if it is a real issue or if it is just inflamation.  I hope he doesn't need that eye redone, as  all this kitty stuff has already blown our budget way out of whack!   He has gotten to love his cuddles and patting sessions though this whole ordeal and is such a sweet, gentle kitty.  I can't imagine him not being a part of our family.

I have the rest of a lb of white merino that I'd purchased for one of the later levels of my Master Spinner homework.   I'm spinning it up in a quest to get rid of some of the partial bags of fibre left.    It dawned on me that I might want to blend this with some alpaca or even camel that I have sitting around as well, so I stopped after 1 bobbin full.  I'd bought myself 2 oz of camel down as a treat after I sent my Master Spinner in depth study off - so maybe this is a good time to blend and spin it up.

Way too much real life stuff happening, which is getting in the way of the fun stuff though.   I'm still practicing the banjo though.   It's a daily time out for me, which I've come to rely on .

Monday, 23 October 2017

Small projects, shawl and pumpkiny stuff

This morning, there was a barn fire on the next block, up the road.   All morning and half the afternoon, fire trucks and emergency vehicles have been streaming by, sirens and lights going.    The news says it was a straw barn, and no animals or people were hurt, so that is a good thing.    My chooks were hunkered down on the back deck most of the day and I don't blame them.  The noise and lights were quite unusual for around here.   They are already a bit unsettled as I moved 3 new rescue chooks into a pen in the barn last night.    They are quite well socialized, being the Westfield demo chooks.  They don't really have the means to keep the girls over the winter, so one volunteer or another gives them a home in the fall.

 I've been making tiny knitting needles by the dozen.   They aren't difficult, but you need to get them just the right size for the intended purpose, which is ornaments.

I've been making tons of tiny skeins of yarn as well.  A bit is handspun, but mostly it is leftover bits of sock yarn.
I've also been knitting tiny swatches on size 0 or 1 needles and transferring the partially finished swatch onto the tiny home made needles.   Hopefully soon I'll have some of the ornaments assembled.  

My son bought a dremel tool this summer, and tried it out with carving this pumpkin.  He told me it was a simple design, meaning no shading or anything.    It doesn't look simple to me!   There is a huge pumpkin sitting in my hallway, waiting for his attention.  He doesn't think that this pumpkin will last with our weather being what it's been... mild or even warm.   

It was an amazing weekend and I wish I'd taken photos of all the baking I did at Westfield, in the Misener house yesterday.  It was Pumpkin Sunday, a pumpkin themed day and of course along with the pumpkin games and decor, all of us cooks, cooked pumpkin themed goodies.    It was so busy though that I didn't have time to cook everything I'd hoped to make, nor did I have drag out a camera to take photos of the goodies.  The photo montage up on the Westfield FB page shows what we were baking and what a great day it was, both for fun and weatherwise.

I finished the Godey's Ladies Book shawl a couple of weeks ago.  It took 2 days to cut and tie the fringe on.  It probably could have been done in 1 day,  but who wants to sit still cutting and tieing for that long.   It took almost a whole skein of yarn to make the fringe!  It's long and covers my back and hips, which is what I'd wanted.  I'd wanted it to be more of a wrap than a shawl.   I'm not sure how to photograph the whole thing, so here it is folded up.  It is warm and cozy.   The only thing is that the cats like it and I'm finding one or the other asleep on it, all the time.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Weaving rugs, spinning and a bit of cattiness

The Bluefaced Leicester is plied and skeined.  There are 2 skeins of it and some sliver left to spin.   The plying went super quickly.  I was listening to some Bela Fleck and those singles just flew out from my fingers.   Seriously though, if you've never heard of Bela Fleck, check him out on YouTube.  The guy is amazing!  Sometimes a bit weird I'll give you, but none the less amazing.

I had this white sheet with roses on it.   It was making a lovely rug.   Then I realized that I was running out of weft.  It turns out my double sheet was a twin sized sheet.   I worked the rest of the yardage out and I was definitely short.  My rug would have been lucky to be square and definitely not the rectangle mat I was aiming for.   I wished I'd had some green to add to it, but only could find red or beige with large black figures.  The beige wouldn't have worked at all, a way icky combo but the red didn't look awful.  The white became stripes and I finished the rug off quickly, thankfully unweaving went really fast.

This is the finished rug.  It looks pretty good finished and the red is a deeper tone of the pink used, so it fits together.

4 cats are a lot of cats!  I've finally gotten a morning feeding routine.  We've had to change up a few things as we can't demand feed anymore or Dion who has gained 3 lbs in short order, just keeps eating.   He is so happy to have food, he just scarfs it down like he may never be fed again.   I've had to leave a bowl of the cheaper food that they don't like as much out, just so that he always has food but only put the good stuff out at regular feeding times.   The first time I did this, he dug through the cheaper food, looking for tidbits of the good stuff.    What a mess, with those little nuggets flying around as he was mining for treasures in this tiny little bowl... lol.
Phil looking regal, sweet and calm, hiding his inner crazy cat!

Phil spends his mornings flying around the house, bouncing off furniture and playing with everything from plastic bottles to his tail.  I've had to hide all my pony tail elastics for fear he'll swallow one.   He spent over an hour yesterday playing with a plastic bottle top  - big enough for him not to eat, but light enough for him to bat  around the house.   He has a lot of crazy cat in him.   Then he settles down for a nap and is so sweet, with his little sighs and mews.
 Our old cat isn't quite so happy and accepting yet.   Last night he chased Phil off my lap and then chased Dion, who was sleeping quietly on a chair.  It happened to be the chair I normally use.   We figured the old guy was just making sure that they both knew he had claimed me first.   It was kind of amusing, except for the hissing and swatting which took place on my lap.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Shawl Progress

I've been knitting away at the Godey's Ladies Book Shawl (Nov 1864 issue).  The border calls for 2 colours, contrasting to the main colour.   I've seen the whole shawl elegantly done in just 2 colours, but the original was described s the main part being violet and black varigated, with a gold and black border.   I wasn't sure I had enough blue to do the border and the fringe, which is tied on after the shawl is finished.   I have 600 g of the blue, 400 of which were used for the main body.   I had 250 g of the brown and I had 300 g of the white tweed that I could dye up for the third colour and 200 g of a grey marl, which I'd tried first and it was pretty wishy washy and unattractive.   I saw a photo using the deep blue, brown and gold, which was spectactular, so I chose that as a colour scheme.   To say the least, it is indeed a bold choice.  The gold was dyed with weak acid dyes, using warm yellow, black and a little bit of magenta.

Instructions state to use a safety pin to mark increase row 

I used 4 skeins for the blue.  It wasn't as long as I'd done the math for, but draping it on myself showed it was going to be long enough.   The border is 4 rows colour A, 6 rows colour B, 4 rows colour A, 6 rows colour B, 10 rows colour A, 6 rows colour B, 4 rows colour A, 6 rows colour B, 4 rows colour A.   I almost stopped halfway through the border.  

Not only was it plenty big enough, but each 2 rows increase the total stitches by 4.   It is taking me about 1/2 hour to knit one row.   I'm quite ready to cast off.    However, by the time I'd finished the centre section of the border, I realized that I was now on the count down, so I kept going.   I have 14 rows left to knit.

The gold and brown border is  bright and hardly subtle.  I think it is a good choice for the time period and  it is well within the colour suggestions of the original pattern.

This baby is going to be warm.   It already weighs close to 600 g.  I'll need to use part of the second skein of both gold and brown for the rest of the border.  There are 2 skeins of the blue left, which will be used for the fringe.   I don't know how much I'll need for that.

When I start getting a bit overwhelmed with the knitting, I choose to knit 4 or 5 stitches.   Then another 4 or 5 and so on.   Usually it's just 4 stitches, and by doing that, in no time, I've completed a row.  I've only had to resort to that trick a couple of times though.

I am already thinking about my next project, which will likely be a) smaller and b) incorporate a stitch pattern other than garter stitch.  The only thing good about that much garter stitch, is that I don't have to look at it very often while I'm knitting, so I can talk, read, entertain the cat etc..

Monday, 18 September 2017

Colours of the end of Summer

Fall Aster
Fall Crocus
The leafy show of colour increases each day
A huge red sun each evening, instead of a sunset.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Gooseberry Jam

This year I actually got to the gooseberries before the Orioles and the Red Winged Blackbirds ate them all.   I've had the gooseberry bush full of berries, just starting to ripen one day and the next morning, the bush has been stripped clean.  These are green gooseberries, from an ancient bush which probably needs to be replaced.   They are quite small and the the bush quite prickly.    I'd like to replace it with a modern hybrid with those big, fat, juicy berries!     However, I was able to pick 932 g of berries, just starting to ripen, with a few of them even deep red and quite ripe.

 I topped and tailed them, cleaning the blossom and stem ends from them, rinsed and tossed them in the freezer for future use.    This past Sunday at Westfield, I made gooseberry jam on the Happy Thoughts Range, wood cookstove in the Misener house.    I found an old advertisement for the Happy Thought Range model, similar to the one in the Misener house.   The stove in the Misener house is from 1890.   It has beautiful scroll work and details on it.   This model with the water reservoir sold for between $65 and $90, depending on what sort of details you wanted.  

Victorian Gooseberry jam recipes call for anywhere from 3/4 lb of sugar per lb of fruit to 1 1/2 lbs of sugar per lb of fruit.   I pre-measured 932 g of sugar and then in a separate bag, had another 415 g of sugar, in case it was needed.    The instructions say to cook the fruit with a little water for about 15 minutes.  Then add the sugar (stirring to dissolve it completely) and cook until when a few drops on a cold plate leave a trail when your finger runs through it.   

Since gooseberries, like currants, contain a lot of natural pectin, this was a fairly fast process.   I made sure the stove was loaded up with wood before I put the jam pot on.   The berries were added to the pot with 500 mls of water and cooked for about 15 minutes, coming to a boil.   They softened and were easily mashed, releasing the little black seeds and crushing most of the berries.   A few berries remained whole, which looks lovely in the jar.
The sugar was added, stirred well.  Adding the sugar not only increases volume but draws out liquid from the fruit, reducing the pulpy look to the jam.   The jam was brought back to a boil and after another 10 minutes or so, I did the cold plate test and it was almost ready.   The next check was 5 minutes later, and the jam was perfect. 

I let it cool for a few minutes because if you bottle the jam too hot, the fruit will rise to the top rather than be suspended.  From start to finish, it took about 45 minutes to have lovely, bottled jam.  

Results:   This is amazing jam.   It has a great texture and it is so very tasty.   It is slightly tart and very fruity.   It is also a very pretty jam.  I can imagine how lovely it would look if I had more fully ripe berries.

  I highly advise people to plant a gooseberry bush in their yard.  They require little care other than occasional feeding and pruning.   It's not like you can run out to the market and pick up a basket of gooseberries around here, so it's the only way to get your own supply.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Spinning, weaving, crafty stuff and never ending cat sagas.

Two for one photo here!   The second blue rug with the painted warp!  I've about 1/4 of the rag strips left to weave.   This rug is really pretty.   This area of the warp is greens, yellows and blues which show up nicely.   The next rug will be in a  part of the warp which is mainly reds and purples.   I am considering what colour weft would look best with that combination.   I wish I had some grey to use, but I don't have anything remotely grey in enough yardage to work.

The skein is the merino I've been spinning.    It turned out quite nicely.  I've gotten two skeins plied and need to decide if I'm going to finish spinning this merino or set it aside for now.   It's a lovely, soft, slightly springy yarn which would be nice for a shawl or scarves.

I'd been looking for a inexpensive wreath form and couldn't find anything locally for a reasonable price.  Finally, I grabbed some clippers and went to town on some of the many vines growing around here.   I started with some Bittersweet vines.  They aren't actually thorny, but they have these little sharp bits that look like leaf or berry nodes.   After cutting and trimming two vines, and then pulling several of those sharp bits from my skin, I decided that the abundant Virginia creeper might be a better option.  

Indeed, it was much easier to work with.   I wound the vines into a circle and wired them together.   Lots of instructions on the interwebs suggest just winding the vines in and around themselves.  However most of the vines I was able to harvest were only 4 - 5 feet long, so wiring seemed to be more secure.   The vines are green and need to dry.   There is a risk of them warping somewhat as they dry.    I let the wreath dry a couple of days.  It started to warp just a bit, so I wired on the decorations.   I hung it inside for a few more days drying and then tossed it on the front door today.    It's maybe a little too early for autumnal decor, but Labour Day weekend has always felt like the end of summer to me.   I managed to accentuate the warp by loading too many silk leaves on the inside, instead of the outside, but still, for a crafty wreath which cost less than $10, I'm pretty happy with it.

My son built this cat tree for the boys.  Kevin loves being on the top, but he hasn't actually figured out how to get up there himself.   Phil climbs the scratching post and naps on the bottom two  platforms, so if I lift Kevin up to his perch, they are both happy.  The old cat who is about 13 years old, hasn't even sniffed it.  He's quite happy sleeping in a pile of wool blankets on the couch!

Phil's brother kitty, who we have been feeding and protecting on our porch, with a really nice kitty house, including a heated sleeping pad and heated water bowl is now in the garage.    I found the neighbour's grey cat attacking the poor guy and he was pushed up against the garden fence, with no way to escape.   The grey cat moved away a few feet when I tried to shoo him away, but wouldn't leave.   I scooped up the second ginger kitty and he's now stashed safely in the garage.     He is quite friendly, although not as people needy as Phil is.   He doesn't like to be picked up, cuddled, nor is he a lap kitty.  He does like to be petted though and loves to have people nearby to hang out with him.   I don't want another indoor cat.   I don't think we really have the space for another indoor kitty.  However, we really think these kitties were drop offs and were once someone's pets.   I can't honestly say that I'm happy to leave him out to be picked on by bully cats and eat by the coyotes or raccoons.  What to do?  What to do?

Saturday, 2 September 2017

1909 Carrot Cake

This recipe was a recent challenge on the Westfield Facebook page.  The recipe has been translated for modern usage as well, at about half size.   I used the modern recipe but just realized that the sugar was left at the full amount.  The cake was good, and was sweet enough that it didn't need an icing or sugar coating.  However, I was thinking that halving the sugar would probably make it more of a quick bread, rather than a cake - not necessarily a bad thing.   I will try this next time.

The modern recipe posted  calls for

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup grated carrot
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups flour
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup milk

I used vegan margarine instead of the butter.   I upped the spices a bit using a heaping tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg.    I used just under 2 cups of gluten free flour mixture, omitted the raisins (didn't have any on hand), substituted almond milk for the regular milk.  I also added 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum and 1 egg.

This cake was really delicious.   I've not been a huge fan of carrot cake, I think due to the heavily oil based modern cakes.     This cake was light and had a great texture.   It had a really good flavour as well.    It is definitely a keeper recipe.   The recipe is simple enough that there is a lot of room to play around with textures and flavours.  The sugar could be reduced a bit.   You could up the spices or leave them out completely as in the original recipe.   What about adding walnuts or almonds?  Yum!
I wonder if you could substitute zucchini for the carrots?  How about replacing 1/4 cup of flour with the same amount of cocoa for a chocolate carrot cake?

One of the things that I appreciated about this recipe is that it was really quick to make up.   The part that took the longest was grating a cup of carrots and that was no time at all.   I used standard quick bread/cake directions -  mixed the butter, sugar and egg.  Then added all the dry ingredients, carrot and milk.   I stirred it all together and poured it into a greased pan.    I used a loaf pan but an 8 or 9 inch pan would work too.    I baked it at 350° until it tested done.    I find that baked good without dairy products don't tend to brown as nicely, but the taste and texture are fine.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

A busy weekend and a full pantry

I'd planned to go to a local SCA demo called Middle Ages on the Green and life decided to intervene.   First, the menfolk decided to start shingling the garage.   I wasn't 100% comfortable about going off to play while they were slaving away on the roof and having to cook their own supper, but I thought I could toss something in the crock pot for them, or make sure I was home early enough to solve that problem.

 Then 50 lbs of tomatoes dropped into my lap on Friday.  I knew that my play day on Saturday was to be put on hold.   After running around doing errands in the morning, I spent the afternoon and part of the evening, canning.   That was blanching, chopping, heating, crushing, bottling and hot water processing all those tomatoes for hours and hours.   Thirty seven jars later, I considered that I didn't think I did quite so many tomatoes last year.    We'll be eating tomatoes all winter!

I also had some blue prune plums, the kind with the yellow flesh and dark purple skins.   I turned them into jam as they all ripened exactly at once.   I wish I had a photo of the before and after of this jam.  The before was this ugly yellow mush with dark flecks.   As it came to a boil though, the dark flecks of the peel, started to dissolve and the plum jam ended up a beautiful dark ruby red/purple colour.  Sooooo very pretty and incredibly tasty too.

I was at Westfield again today.  I was in the Misener house, which has an awesome wood cook stove.   I was going to make gooseberry jam but after all that canning, I was plumb tired of processing.  Instead, I dug up some carrots and beets from the Lockhart garden and tossed them in a pan with a piece of beef and some potatoes.  I brought them home for dinner so that the hardworking shingling menfolk had supper, but I still got to get out and play.   Those freshly dug carrots and beets were so delicious!  It was crazy busy today at the village though, with lots of interesting people out.  The day just flew by. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Kitty update, Victorian knitting project

Kevin and Phil made friends fairly quickly.   After about 3 days of ignoring one another, there was a day of sniffs and growls, then a day of sniffs.  That night they were playing, chasing each other around the house and general wildness.   After a day or two of hard playing, Kevin's cranky leg gets sore and he starts limping again, so he takes it easy for a day or two until he's good to go again.   If I'm not around to provide Phil with a lap to sleep on, the two of them sleep on my bed.

I made some pickles last week at Westfield, in the Misener house.   The beets and cucumbers from the Lockhart garden were ripe.   The beet recipe was strait out of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, I had to adapt the pickle recipes somewhat as I didn't have a crock to store them in.  I didn't run them through a hot water bath, so they are refrigerator pickles.

 I decided to do start another knitting project as I wanted a shawl or wrap to wear in the cooler weather at Westfield.   This pattern is in the November, 1864 issue of Godey's Ladies Book (vol. 69).  I downloaded a facsimile and was able to print out the pattern instructions.  Someone has very nicely put the instructions on Ravelry as well.  The article in the magazine says the original was made with a varigated violet and black centre and fringe with black and gold contrasting stripes.   It says solid colour yarns are cheaper than the varigated colours and natural colours are the least expensive.  You can use any weight of yarn for this and the article points out that if you use strong yarns, it is suitable for charity knitting.   This is an easy to knit, utility shawl, but it isn't mindful, careful knitting.  It's garter stitch, garter stitch and more garter stitch, with a few increases tossed in.

I was originally thinking that a cream or light grey shawl with brown and grey stripes would work nicely.   However this white tweedy yarn was on sale - super sale really, with a packet of 5 skeins for a bit less than the price of 2 skeins.   That really made the choice of colour a moot point.   However when I knit it up, the white had no life to it.   It is a cold, dull white and the black bits just looked unappealing.    So into the dye pot it went.   I decided on blue though, in an attempt to minimize the black bits.    I was going to use woad or Japanese Indigo, as I have lots ready to use in the garden, but I didn't have enough time in one stretch available.  Instead I used acid dyes and I'm pretty happy with the way the colour turned out.   I have a lovely grey marl for at least one of the stripes. I might still go with the brown for the other.    I only dyed 6 of the 10 skeins I'd purchased for this project, so I have 4 left to dye another colour, if I need one for the stripe.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Fox attacks and new kitty!

The other evening we found a pile of feathers and were missing a chook.   It was under the treed area, but I'd seen the eagle hanging out there in the early summer, so I thought it might be a hawk strike.  A little odd for under the trees though.   The next evening, my son yelled and ran outside.   Two red foxes had a chicken and were trying to run off with it.  This was the mess they left behind.  The chook was saved though she's missing most of her tail feathers and a few more besides.    The foxes tried twice more that evening and we managed to stop them all.  Finally I was able to round up the girls and get them into their coop.  I kept them there for 3 days in hopes of getting the foxes to move on.  So far it seems to have worked.   We thought we were down 2 chickens in all, but we heard one who was hiding in a hedgerow and she came home shortly after we called to her.

The orange cat who was lurking about for the past couple of weeks turned out to be two tiny cats, obviously siblings.  One day, the cat on the right came up the the back door and started crying loudly, trying to get in.   He turned out to be quite friendly and he let me give him a quick once over.  He was super skinny.  You could clearly feel the vertebrae and his sides were hollow.   His coat was strawlike and very coarse.   Of course I fed him.  The next day, he came with his brother and I fed the two of them for a couple of weeks.   They started to look healthier or at least less starving.  The one on the right, who let me pet him started staying around here but the second cat, came and went.   Then the brother just disappeared, leaving his brother here, alone.  Our orange deck kitty would sit on our laps and purr and purr for as long as you'd let him.  He'd cry at the door when he wanted food, water or just for some company.  He'd sit on the windowsill all evening until it was too dark to see.   

Phil outside
One evening we were around the campfire and there was some animal making weird noises in the nearby bushes.  It was unsettling enough that we cut our campfire time short and moved inside.   Our orange deck kitty started crying at the door and them moved to any window he could find and cried at those too.   I guess you can see where this is going....   We scooped up the orange kitty and moved him into the garage for a couple of days, until I could get him to a vet.   He was happy  as anything in the garage, not panicking to get out and loved having people visit him.   We figured he was just about 5 or 6 months old, due to his size, but after a thorough check up, where he was vaccinated and declared not likely to be a risk to our own house kitties, he's moved inside.   The vet said he's just a tiny cat, about a year old, who has had a bit of a rough life.   He's going back in a couple of weeks to get those dangley bits removed.   

Phil is another kitty who likes to sleep on wool blankets
  Al named our little orange kitty Phil.  Phil seems to have adjusted quite nicely to being a house cat.  He's gained a bit of weight and his fur is getting soft and silky.

  We never did figure out what animal was making the odd noises but it was just before the fox attacks, but we'll never know for sure.   Phil's brother comes back once in a while but he is much more feral than our new baby.    I guess in all this was a lucky week.  Lucky in that so far we only seemed to have lost one chook in the fox attacks and lucky that a sweet, feral kitty chose us to save him.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Loons, rugs and mindless knitting

This rug has taken forever to weave off.   It is made from multiple wool yarns, plied together and wool fabric, cut into strips, in the Shaker rug tradition.   I'd cut half the fabric into strips, divided the strips into equal piles and set the second pile aside.   This was so that I'd know the half way mark and be able to end on the same pattern, so that the rug would be symmetrical.   However, I set the still whole piece of wool fabric aside and started questioning myself when I realized that I wouldn't have enough of the rag strips.   It took me a while to weigh options and decide on how to finish it.  I was almost halfway done when I found the remaining fabric, sigh.. I made some changes that are fine, but I'd have preferred my original design.  None the less, it is finally done.

I threaded the loom in a diamond twill pattern, knowing that I'd have several viable treadling options.  The Shaker style rug was done in a tabby weave.   This one, with a recycled duvet cover is the diamond twill.  The multi-coloured warp shows nicely on the nearly solid rags.

2 rugs down on the 11 1/2 yard warp.  I forgot to write down the length of the first rug, so I've only got a vague idea of what is left to weave off.  I'm thinking 3 more rugs at most.     I'm weaving hems for all these rugs.   It's easy to hem them up on the machine and  I think they are more durable than fringed rugs.
We were on a day trip to visit more of the Lake Erie towns.   This is the harbour in Port Rowan.  It's  a lovely little town, much bigger than we'd anticipated.     This loon was bobbing about in the lake, ignoring the fishermen and tourists enjoying the somewhat grey, breezy but very comfortable day.

The other day the skies opened up with once again, another torrential downpour, with lightning and thunder booming around us.  I was in the store filled with fabrics, yarn and craft supplies.  While I was there only for some thread and piping cord, a couple of skeins of cotton yarn jumped into my arms as I waited out the storm.  

I knew that with the day trips we'd be taking, that a mindless knitting project would come in handy while I was in the passenger seat.   I've been knitting dishcloths and I learned something interesting.   I can knit the first 3/4 of the dishcloth without any issues.  I hardly even have to look down while knitting, except for the decreases on the last half.   But, when I get half the decreases done, I need to stop because suddenly I'm looking down too much and I instantly get horribly car sick - as in pull over if I holler.   So I've been knitting 3/4 in the car and tucking it away until I get home to finish.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Two weeks crammed into one post!

 I've been making jam.   In the middle of July, I brought home  container of strawberries, my son brought some and so did hubby.  In the end there were 4 lbs of strawberries in the fridge.   After my son made cheesecake and we gorged on a bunch, I still had enough left to make a batch of jam. 

I'd looked at our market, but the vendor from Niagara with all the baskets of fruit, isn't there this year.   We were going to do a run down to the area to get apricots, but my sweetie found some locally.  I was thrilled to be able to make a batch of apricot jam.   I used pectin and was checking out recipes.  To my surprise, the recipe on the Canadian Certo packet insert is different than the U.S. recipe on their website.  Not just a little different either.  There was more fruit and a smaller fruit to sugar ratio for the same amount of pectin in the U.S. recipe.     Presuming the product is the same, I mean it's pectin, then that means the info about making sure you keep the fruit and sugar amounts exact isn't actually that important.  Obviously you need enough pectin for it to gel with the lesser cooking time and you need enough sugar to keep the beasties away, but there must be some flexibility.   I tried the U.S. recipe.  It's fruitier, not as sweet and way better than my previous apricot jam which was good to begin with.

There is also cherry jam - so yummy.   I found some frozen cherries in the back of the freezer.  I tossed them into the food processor a bit at a time and pulsed them until they were chopped up finely.   Jam is a great use for that bit of uneaten frozen fruit.  This batch is pretty and so tasty.   The bread is gluten free from the freezer section.  It's by Little Northern Bakery and it is really pretty decent for a gluten free bread.  So much so that the two little sections in the store freezer are often nearly empty or empty of the loaves.  It is so much better than the big name gluten free bread - really so much better.

We took a day trip on Saturday.  We went to Port Stanley but just kept on driving.  It was a little too touristy for us.  Just down the road though was Port Bruce.  We parked the car and took a trip over the sand dune to the lake.   I'd taken my shoes off and ouch, the heat off the sand was unbelievable.  The sand is  quite dark in colour.   It was absorbing the heat something fierce.   I had to put my shoes back on or walk in the water, which was a little too pebbly for my tender tootsies.   However, with a pair of water safe shoes, the beach would be great.   It wasn't crowded at all, despite it being a gazillion degrees out side - hmm, maybe 30° with a humidex of something more.   It was pretty and picturesque.  The water seemed clean and I'd definitely go there for a picnic and some beach play.   The town is tiny though.  I think it had only a cafe and an ice cream stand.  

We ended up in Port Burwell where we toured the HMCS Ojibwa, a retired diesel submarine.  Most of the inside of the submarine is controlled, so despite the fact that the technology is very old, we could look but no photos were allowed.  I'm standing at the back of the boat, looking toward the front.   It was an hour long tour, which was really interesting and well done.   The tour guide had the coolest Doc Marten boots on as well.

Today, at almost stupid early, the guys came from the eco metal recycling place in Hamilton to remove our oil tank.   They were here at about 7:30 am and were gone by 9 am, along with our old oil tank.   I hardly saw them, though there was a bit of grunting and gentle cussing when they had to haul it out of our basement.   At noon, the tree service dumped a chook playground in the driveway.  There were 4 of them sitting in various spots on or in the pile of logs only 10 minutes later.  

I've been hunting around for something called Gum Tragacanth - used in candy making.  So far I haven't found any locally or reasonably close.  This will take more research...