Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy 45

With every spare dollar going into house repair and remodeling, I had very low expectations for my birthday this year. But Kurt blew me away with a birthday present I've wanted for quite some time.

He found a Singer treadle sewing machine a couple of months ago and had been keeping it at work until now. I literally couldn't believe my eyes when he called me into the family room to see "something."

I'm so excited and am really hoping we can restore it so that it can be used again. My dear friend Caroline has restored these before and has promised to help. Actually, it is funny because as soon as I saw the sewing machine I told Kurt I needed to talk to Caroline.

In its day, this Singer had to be something else. Under the wear and age, you can still see its beauty. Beautiful and intricate design work once graced the metal portions of the sewing machine and it is all metal - no plastic parts here! I just love this machine. I love just looking at it.

The table has a place where you can apparently store the sewing machine. It even has a small drawer in it.

I've been looking for the serial number so Caroline can help me figure out the manufacturing date. But I can't find it.

It has a bobbin winder in the front and an gold emblem behind it. No serial number though.

The lower right part of the machine has the Singer name wrought into it, but still no serial number.

Unfortunately, while looking for the serial number, I discovered broken pieces of metal.

I really hope these broken pieces can be fixed. I so love my "new" sewing machine.

As a side note, I saw a beautiful sunset the other evening.

I had a hard time getting a good picture because I didn't have time to set up a tri-pod. I would love to have some yarn in the brilliant peachy pink color of the sky that night. Or perhaps some fabric to use with my sewing machine.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Plodding Forward

The rhythm of life moves slow and steady as winter slowly releases its hold on the South. One at a time I empty boxes and move the empty ones to the front porch until they can once again be moved into the burn pit. Meals are cooked, kefir and kombucha cultures bubble on the counters and the kids have settled into their new school semester. I painted the living room, hallway and dining room, mostly. Many rooms still need paint. I've managed to squeeze a bit more knitting into my routine. Cold weather demands knitting from me as much as it demands hot chocolate or coffee or tea from others. And it has been very cold here lately. In fact, the pool froze over a number of times during the last couple of weeks.

The growing cover of ice continually amazed our southern family. We rarely see ice forming on large bodies of water where we live and our pool is rather large. One day, the pool remained icy all day.

At sunset we found a good cover of ice on the pool. Unbelievable. We never did get snow, but we sure got cold.

Oh, Strider started using his doghouse. It only took one cold day with rain for him to change his view of dog houses. He has used it regularly since.

I finished the beret I agreed to knit in exchange for hay.

It turned out nice though I found out later Ms. Kitty wanted one she could pull down over her ears. This one may not be quite that large.

I may try to make her a larger one later. In the meantime, I hope this one will work for her. It fit her head fine and looked lovely on her. She looks lovely in hats and I think she liked having a wool/silk beret anyway. They have already delivered one roll of hay and have promised a second one soon. Since we have meat chickens and turkeys on order, we really will need the hay. We typically spend a great deal of money on hay in the spring and it will be nice not to have to do so this year.

I managed to add another inch to Asa's sweater and will be casting the sleeves onto my needles soon. And I finally finished my Riverrun socks.

I am so glad to be done with these socks. I love the colors in the yarn, but I really didn't care for the pattern. I started these socks before we moved and had little time since to work on them. I am so glad they are finished.

I've already started my next pair of socks, randomly selected for the Christian Artisans Stash Sock Club. They are going to be Monkey socks knit from Creatively Dyed Yarn, Luxury in the Salsa colorway.

Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to start spinning my fiber for the Queen Susan Shawl. I'm still unpacking spinning stuff and am just not there yet. I can't wait to convert my unpacking time into fiber time. I hate unpacking.

I received another fabulous gift from Caroline.

I love bags and boxes and neat little things that hold stuff. I've never found a good container for my stitch holders. Caroline said she was sending a sample of our target yarn for the Queen Susan and she did, in this fabulous box. She also sent some of her homemade stitch markets and a neat pair of folding scissors.

Caroline has long been an inspiration for me and she is also a sweet and generous friend.

The kids had a slumber party of sorts last week.

Our neighbor had an early morning doctor's appointment so we took the kids for the night and following day. The group had a blast.

They played karaoke on the Game Cube and danced to the music.

They played computer games, ate popcorn, watched movies and played more karaoke.

My kids never wanted it to end. The neighbors are supposed to be coming again this week and my kids are very excited. I'm very grateful we have a nice family living next door.

Kurt celebrated another birthday Friday.

We celebrated with a tribute to Kurt's sweet tooth. We made him his favorite German Chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting (yuck), ice cream, cinnamon and pecan rolls with cream cheese frosting for breakfast and Gabrielle made him pralines. The kids have been on a perpetual sugar high for 3 days now.

Kurt also took Gregory hunting for his birthday and had great fellowship with some really nice men from church.

As winter finally releases its stranglehold on our normally mild temperatures, I realize I need to get serious if I am to plant a garden this year. I don't have a space yet claimed for my garden and it is already time for planting cool weather crops. The weather forecast predicts too much rain for much soil work now, but I'm hoping to explore some of the local feed stores and nurseries for seed potatoes this week. I'd hoped to have been unpacked before the busy Spring season, but I still have a bit to go. Apparently Spring starts earlier in Foley than it did in Brewton.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Extraordinary Cold and Hangover Projects

Unusually cold weather forced its way down from the North a couple of weeks ago and took up residence here in the South that is south of the Deep South. We have seen crazy cold temperatures, lows in the low 20's and highs in the 30's kind of crazy. The weather forecast people say it might even snow tonight.

I awoke this morning to the sound of my neighbor using a chainsaw. Then I remembered they don't have heat at their place though I suspect they installed their wood burning stove. We have heat, praise God, but only because we replaced the unit when we moved into this house. I just wish we had functional insulation. I don't know how the people up North manage every winter, though I suspect they are much more prepared for it.

When we first brought Strider home, we found an old, barely adequate dog house in some junk left behind by the former owners of our house. We put it out for Strider, but he would never use it. Kurt and I always felt bad about Strider not having adequate shelter so when the weather forecasts started mentioning hard freezes and snow, I knew something needed to be done. I couldn't wait for Kurt to have time off so Gregory and I decided we would build a dog house for Strider last Monday. We only had a couple warm hours to do it and had to use supplies scavenged from the various piles of junk strewn about our property. I've never built anything in my life.

In three and a half hours, Gregory and I built a very Red Neck doghouse for Strider.

Granted, most of the wood we used was in poor shape, but I thought we did an amazing job, all things considered. I don't know how to cut stuff to build something, but I've used a chainsaw before. So I cut things after they were in place. We sunk 5 posts and then I used the chainsaw to cut them down to size. Then we attached pieces of scavenged plywood and cut off some of the excess when we had to. The rest got left for wind breaks. I did use Kurt's circular saw for some of it. Gregory fretted the whole time because my methods were quite unconventional, but in the end, he agreed that we did a pretty good job. We installed a brick foundation of sorts and Strider even got a window.

The window came about due to the shape of the piece of plywood we found for the southern wall.

We finished the doghouse off with a floor of hay and our old, King size electric blanket. The house is warm and cozy and Strider refuses to go into it, even though it is plenty large enough for him. He likes to sit on the hill and stand guard over our property and I don't think he is comfortable being where he cannot see everything. At least he now has an option if it does snow tonight.

The hay we used for Strider's dog house and for the chicken coop came from our neighbor across the creek. We brought some goodies to them at Christmas and as we were talking, Gabrielle told her I knit Michael's sweater. That conversation moved to how much she, Miss Kitty, wanted a black beret. She offered to pay me to knit one, but I needed hay. They grow hay so we agreed to a barter. They delivered a roll of hay and I started knitting the beret.

Miss Kitty said we could have all the hay we wanted. I just need to hurry and finish her beret.

I also have another knitting project with a looming deadline. Longer ago than I like to remember, I started knitting my Mom a sweater. I don't have much left, but she plans to visit this Spring and I need to get done.

I've already finished the front and the back and am working on the sleeves. I pick this project up from time to time, but it requires thought and I just haven't had much time to concentrate lately, with all the moving work going on. I really do need to focus however. I need to finish this sweater before my Mom's visit.

I tend to keep a pair of socks on the needles no matter what else I am doing because socks are such easy to transport projects. I started a pair of socks before we moved and am still working on them.

I don't really care for the pattern and have modified it extensively. I love the colors in the yarn though.

Back in November I started a special sweater. I thought I could finish it pretty quickly since it is all knit and in the round. Within a relatively short period I knit it up to the underarms.

At that point I decided I needed more yarn. So I placed an order in mid November. The yarn FINALLY came a couple of days ago! Unfortunately the sweater has been on hold long enough that I need to figure out once again, what I am doing.

In the meantime, our Christian Artisans group decided last month we would do a Stash Sock Club this year. We've talked about it for a couple of years and decided we would finally go for it. To that end, we are making kits by matching stashed yarn and patterns that we will randomly select throughout the year to knit. It will be a great way to use resources we already have. I made up my kits last week.

I used some of my favorite yarn for my kits and can't wait to get started.

In addition to the Stash Sock Club, we've been talking about the Queen Susan Shawl. Several of us want to knit it so we thought it was something we could do together.

Caroline suggested we spin for the Queen Susan Shawl. Talk about a challenge! But I decided if Caroline wanted to spin for the shawl, I would too. She said she would send me a sample of the fiber she intended to use.

She ended up probably sending enough to do two shawls, depending on how the CVM wool combs out. I loved opening the box and seeing all the flattened fiber. It sprang to life almost instantly.

I couldn't believe the difference a couple of seconds of air made.

Caroline sent black alpaca fiber from her favorite alpaca, Got Milk. She also sent some CVM from her stash. I've never spun CVM before and am looking forward to the opportunity.

I think there is about a pound of each type of fiber. I'm not sure how much I will need to do 7,000 yards of 60 to 70 wpi double ply yarn. I'm also wondering how long it will take.

The fiber continually beckons. I wish I was done with all house stuff. Last weekend, Kurt took Gregory hunting. With fewer family members to feed, I decided to move the stove and grout the kitchen floor. I also grouted the master bathroom floor. Once Kurt reinstalls the trim, I will finish painting in those rooms. In the meantime, I got the paint for the dining room, living room and hallway. Cathy will be helping me get started with that painting on Saturday. I can't wait until everything is done and we are simply living in the house. In those days, I will be able to spin and knit more regularly.