October 30, 2011

Colours of Late Autumn in the Garden

I'd been outside doing some yard work when I realized that it's been a while since I've taken a photo tour of the garden.  We've had a couple of nights with hard frost and some very cool days.  Still there were a few hardy plants with bursts of colour.

I've not yet identified this plant.  It's a rather leggy, climbing vine, with small, uninspiring flowers.  During one dinner eaten outside, a small breeze kept one long branch reaching out toward my son as if it wanted to say hi.   This time of year though, the yellow berries are beautiful.  I don't remember other years having such a brilliant show.

The purple Zebra Mallow starts growing mid summer and once it starts to bloom, it doesn't stop.  I've had common Mallows growing and they are an invasive weed.  While this one self seeds, it isn't quite as overwhelming as Common Mallow.   Since it blooms well into the fall, regardless of  the first frosts, I leave it growing.   It is such a nice show of colour when almost nothing else is blooming.

This is the Rudbekia Goldsturm I planted this summer.   I looked in every garden centre to find some, but it turns out they are out of fashion.  There were Rudbekia of all sorts of other varieties, but only the one garden centre had the variety I was looking for.   While it isn't an off the wall brilliantly coloured hybrid, it's one of my favourite garden plants.   Once established, it blooms long and hard through the late summer and fall.   I hadn't expected this one to bloom this year.  It's pretty late to start and the blooms are struggling.   I am hoping it is established enough to survive the winter.  It's near the deck and will be heavily covered in snow fairly early in the season, I'm sure.

This is the last rose I could find in the garden.   The previous owner planted a number of these miniature roses.   I like roses, mainly the larger ones.. and in pink.. no surprise there.  One does have to admire the strength and vigour of such a beautiful flower, to keep blooming well in to the fall.

Mainly the yard and gardens are full of these.   With the first heavy frost, it started raining down leaves.   The Birches, Pears, Maples and other trees are almost barren now.   The bush lot across the road had a bit of colour yesterday, but today is just shades of browns.  We've gathered most of our leaves to use as compost in the gardens.   It's an easy way to dispose of them and with the addition of green matter earlier in the fall and first few cuts of the spring and the compression of the snow, they break down quickly.   Enjoy the splashes of colour while you can, 'cause before we know it, we'll be blanketed in white.

October 25, 2011


What a week it was!   Last week I had to do the shopping and final prep for the Crown Tourney feast on Saturday.   I baked on Sunday and Wednesday.  I shopped on Thursday, which took trips to two grocery stores and a trip into a nearby city to pick up items stored in a friends freezer and a whole slew of crockpots, roasting pans etc.  Friday I cooked all day.. bread, meringue cookies and 9 pies.  Saturday there were 5 of us in the kitchen and we produced a good meal, with some cool plating effects... and I forgot my camera, sigh.  A friend sent me this rather fuzzy photo of the sausage cattails.  I was happy they worked out so well.

In my spare time, I've done a bit of spinning.   Generic domestic grey sheep sliver.  Pretty enough unspun, but gorgeous when spun up.  It is fairly easy to spin as well.   I'm not sure what I am gong to do with it, so I'm spinning and plying it in a suitable weight for weaving or knitting.    

It's going to be suitable for woven scarves, shawls or knitted hats and mitts.  There is only a pound of sliver, so while I'd contemplated leaving the singles for weaving, there wouldn't be enough of it for a useful amount of yardage.  Plied there won't be enough for a useful sweater either, not that I've actually knit a sweater in a very long time.    Next time I order, I'll make sure I get enough  for a larger project because I'm so happy with the quality.

I had the sewing machine going as well.  I made this cute little project bag with some leftover fabric.   It has a nice big pocket inside.  It still needs a drawstring cord though.  I've nothing suitable on hand.   Crappy lighting and no way to show the size without more work than I'm willing to do right now.   It's big enough to hold several skeins of yarn, needles and a pattern, or other small to medium size project.  While I love the size and shape, I'll likely make this a gift bag as it's not quite my favourite fall in love with fabric.

October 14, 2011

Filling in the spare time...

The past few days have been busy...

On the treadle sewing machine -  7 tablecloths, pieced and hemmed.   The fabric came from  long, narrow tablecloths.   The owner gave them to me to change over to sizes correct for the tables at our Canton's next SCA event.   There was enough of the blue for 6 and I'm turning the brown into another 2, each slightly larger tablecloths.  Because they are rectangular, they'll work for both round and rectangular tables and 8 should be plenty for any contingency.

100 grams of Clun Forest rovings, spun semi-woolen.  I put them on the rug to photograph them and the cat decided he had to investigate.   He then took a nap on the skeins!

 I've almost finished the wide purple stripey socks.   I've had enough of ribbed socks for a while and will do a different pattern for the next pair.   I still need to graft the toe together.   I'm not fond of that process, although it doesn't take long.  It's fussy to do neatly.   I'm happy these are done.   They've been the least enjoyable socks I've made.  Not only did I not enjoy the colourway, but the yarn wasn't my favourite to work with.    Interestingly, the large purple stripe managed to fall in almost the same spot by totally accident.   I had a partial skein left from the first sock, so use it to start the second sock, rather than switching to a new ball.   Despite the second ball being wound opposite to the first, so the stripe order was reversed, and randomly starting the new ball in the middle of the 2nd sock, the purple stripe in almost the exact same place on the foot, off only by a row or two.  Bizarre....  At least the socks are comfortable, if that's any consolation for having ugly socks! I do love the blues and greens though.. so it's not all bad.

Nope, the garlic isn't planted yet... it's been raining here the past few days.   Instead of doing yard work, I'm off to make cookies..

October 10, 2011

A Thanksgiving Hike

 Our weather this Thanksgiving weekend has been spectacular.   It was unseasonably warm and sunny.  We had our family dinner yesterday and ate it outside on the deck.  While we often eat outside in the summer, we've never, ever eaten Thanksgiving dinner outside before.   It was warm enough, even for an evening meal.

Knowing that there will be scant few days left like this,  we took advantage of the lovely weather by going for a hike at a nearby conservation area.  It's definitely autumn here.  Even with the weather this nice, you can tell by the leaves.  Some are changing colours and others have already fallen.  Even at midday, the sun is starting to be low enough in the sky to cast interesting shadows and lighting conditions.   The contrast between the light sparkling off the leaves and the dark of the start of the wooded areas was pretty stunning.

There was a small pond running into a stream which flowed along one side of the conservation area.   We got turned around a few times because there are a number of dead end trails.   One did lead to a lovely patch of Teasels, dried and prickly.   

The Milkweed was drying and opening up.   I love Milkweed in the fall.  As kids, we used to chase the little fluffy bits, catch them, make a wish and set them on their way again.  I don't think any of the wishes were even remembered at the time, but it was enjoyable and probably kept us out of trouble.

The trail map showed several different trails.  Not only were there a number of dead end trails, but most of the trails had few markings.   Good thing it was such a nice day and we didn't mind it at all.   The trails were fairly well groomed as well, so it was easy walking.

The trail we finally found ourselves on wandered by the stream.     The skies had whitened with high cloud cover.  Eventually we came to the little bridge.  The bridge was supposed to lead to a second trail, but we missed it and ended up winding our way back to the beginning of the trail, via another route.   We'll head back sometime to check out that second trail.

It was a lovely interlude and a gorgeous, holiday weekend.   With colder weather looming, one definitely has to take advantage of wonderful weather like this.   Just one more little thing to be thankful for this year.   Thanksgiving weekend is also the traditional time to plant the garlic.   Hopefully, I'll get to that tomorrow.

October 07, 2011


I inherited my grandmother's Singer 27 a few years ago.   Before that I'd sort of looked for a treadle sewing machine of my own and when I got my grandmother's, really put the search on the back burner.   3 or 4 years ago, I rescued a Singer 99 from a thrift store.  They hadn't been able to sell it, were thinking that it's only use would be to toss the sewing machine and use the cabinet for something.   I picked it up for $45, including a green case of feet and attachments.  I'd meant to restore it but it's a bit scary, taking apart a sewing machine, changing out the wiring and cleaning it up without ruining the gold decals, so I put it off.

My girlfriend gave me a super nice Singer 201 (a beautiful, wonderful machine..sigh) and it got me thinking about restoring my two other Singers.  However, a glance through Kijiji last week reminded me about my desire to have a treadle sewing machine that I was comfortable using.  I'd checked out the Singer 127 last week and really wanted either a vertical or drop in bobbin sewing machine.  My first choice would have been a Singer 66, with some sort of pretty decals, maybe a red eye.  However, what I found the other day thrilled me.  
Singer 15-30 treadle in a 3 drawer cabinet, circa 1919
There was a Singer 15-30 for sale.  The Memphis or Sphinx decals looked to be in decent condition.  You couldn't see the cabinet and it wasn't clear whether it still had a bobbin winder.  I called about it and the nice gentleman said his friend said it needed a bobbin thingy that went on the end and it would likely work.  I figured that meant the bobbin winder.. silly me..

I drove to look at it today and it followed me home.   It has a bobbin winder and it is only the bobbin and a treadle belt which it needs.  It's awfully pretty though.   It needs a good clean up.  The plated parts are pretty grungy and a bit pitted but the black metal sewing machine is in really good shape.  The back access plate screw doesn't want to move and I'm not sure if the bobbin winder is complete, though it moves and looks like it should work.

Singer 15-30 back
The 15-30 was in production from 1895 to the 1960's, in various forms.   This one is the first incarnation, with the first modern oscillating hook bobbin mechanism.  They still make sewing machines using that mechanism!

The cabinet needs a bit of veneer either re-glued or replaced, but it's not all that bad.

I asked if he knew any of the history of the machine.  Since he didn't know anything about how it worked, he obviously didn't use it.  It was his mother's sewing machine although he didn't know if she bought it or got it from someone else.

Why am I thrilled about this old gal?  She cost me $50.    I was so happy to find her, I didn't even try to haggle down the price.    Yes, she will require a bit of elbow grease but well, I've got a bit of that..

October 02, 2011

Puzzle Box

I was out looking at a vintage Singer sewing machine on Saturday.   It was a 127 with sphynx decals, which wasn't quite what I was after, but if it was in good condition I'd have taken.  However, the cabinet top needed all  new veneer due to a fish tank explosion, the decals were quite worn and the machine head had a fair bit of rust.  Despite the good price I didn't bring it home with me.  I'll wait for a 66 to turn up...

I did however, bring home this cool little gem.  I paid a fair price for it and it doesn't have all it's original pieces, but there are many extras with it.  I think it may have sparked an interest in vintage sewing machine accessories.  The box itself is wooden with a branded stamp proclaiming that it was patented in 1889.  It's lined with red velvet.   I'd not seen one in person before, but it's the accessories which would have been contemporary with my grandmother's Singer 27.      (The seller did say that they hadn't come with the 127, but she'd been given them after by someone else).

Now to figure out what the feet are for and get a machine that can use them up and running, so that I can test them out and learn how to use them.