Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 To Do List

I have been contemplating the long list of items in my sewing room that are waiting to be started/finished. Somehow with the holidays not much has gotten done in there except new fabric acquisitions added to already overflowing piles. So, in the interest of clearing some space, I must! finish some of these projects. But first, let me show you my new toy.

This is my Brother Disney Embroidery Machine. It was given to me by a friend that I quilt with, who received it from her sister, who received it in error from her husband and then couldn't return it. So, along with other sewing/quilting projects this year, I will add embroidered projects for gifts. I am really starting to amass quite a few machines and gadgets to work with - so awesome that most of them were given to me. I have such wonderful friends.

So, here is the start of a list to tackle in 2011, though not necessarily in this order.

Culottes for Brianna

Frock Coat for Ben

Shirt for Barret

Birthday Present for Colton

Nightgown from Godeys

Kay Fig Wrapper

New Blue silk Bonnet

Aqua dress for summer

Forest Green Shirt

Wool Paletot

Finish last Petticoat

Purple Corduroy Jacket

"Follow the Drinking Gourd" Quilt

4 Patch CW quilt kit

30's quilt (in pieces)

I am sure that there are others that are waiting there for me, but those are the ones that are screaming the loudest. Perhaps I need to get down to my sewing room now and get started.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

19th Century Me

I don't have long to post this morning as we are on our way to church. However, I promised that I would get these up and I couldn't finish them last night. I was asked to do a fashion show for my quilting group on Thursday so I was able to wear my newly finished and trimmed dress, as well as my new petticoat and drawers. I will post pictures of those a little later when I have the buttons and buttonholes finished. The dress is complete with white collar and cuffs which were a necessity as those were what was taken off and washed. I was also able to find some silk ribbon to trim the sleeve jockeys and tie at my neck. The belt is black ribbon through a reproduction buckle, strictly a fashion statement and not functional. Many dresses were accessorized with belts during the time to emphasize a lady's waist. With a functional cotton dress such as mine they would have only been in black or brown. The other colors would have been used with a very fine cotton, such as a sheer, silks, or wools. I absolutely love this dress and even wore it to our church Christmas party in the evening - even cooking and serving in it. It is completely comfortable, corset and everything, and once I got used to the width of the hoop in the kitchen, I had no trouble at all.
My hair is done in the correct style as well. A Y part towards the back, sides twisted, and the back put up in a chignon at the neck. No, it isn't all my hair, the bun is made from a false switch, braided and then attached. This was only my second attempt at doing my hair this way so I'm quite please with how it turned out.

Monday, November 29, 2010

1910 Singer Attachments




I thought I would show you all pictures of the attachments that came with my 1910 Singer. It was quite interesting to see the difference in what were considered standard attachments one hundred years ago and what comes with a machine today. Photo one is a "tucker", photo two is a "ruffler", and photo three is a "binder" for putting binding on a dress etc. It also came with a quilting foot, a hemming foot, and of course just a standard sewing foot. With my modern Bernina, I have a buttonhole foot, a zipper foot, a blind hem foot, and your standard sewing foot. Each foot is reflective of the methods of construction for the time as well as the styles of the day. One hundred years ago women's and children's clothing included multiple types of trims, ruffles, tucks, and other embellishments that would have been a must. However, a zig-zag stich still wasn't possible so buttonholes were worked by hand, and zippers wouldn't see popularity for another thirty-seven years. Today's sewers would be lost without an automatic buttonhole feature, not to mention the ability to sew on a button with their machines, and zippers have become an indespensable closure in the majority of garments. We can credit Elias Howe for both the invention of the sewing machine as well as the zipper in 1851, but the closure idea was a little before its time. B.F. Goodrich was responsible for giving us the name zipper for use on galoshes, but it still didn't become a popular closure until the 1930's when it was marketed for use on children's garments and men's trousers. Such a different world from the automated one we live in now, simply reflected in the common women's tools of the day. I'm anticipating being able to use these "new" attachments, taking a step back in time.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Century's Worth...

I sat down at my treadle this afternoon to work a little on new petticoats. Somewhere along the line, my needle tension went really wonky. I absolutely love my treadle, mostly because of the beautiful crisp stitches that it produces, but this was terrible! All of the thread was pulling through to the back and then knotting up. Nothing I did with the tension knob (small knob on the front of the machine - second picture) seemed to help. Then I started fiddling. The first thing I did was to completely remove the tension knob - didn't know that it would come off, but it did. Behind the knob I found little bits of fluff. Now, if any of you are sewers you understand the importance of occasionally cleaning and oiling your machine. Since I had started working on the machine, instead of sewing, I figured I might as well give it a good cleaning and oiling since I never had. I removed the side plate (second photo) and couldn't believe the inside. The dust and grime was incredible. I don't think that this machine has ever been cleaned, there was literally that much lint. While working on the sewing machine, I also removed any chrome parts that I could and cleaned and shined them. The beautiful thing about a treadle machine is the ease in machine repair. I am not mechanically inclined so I was a little fearful of taking this apart, but everything went back together again and is now working correctly again.
I've rambled on long enough for this afternoon, stay tuned for more info on my treadle as well as my mostly finished drawers.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Commisioned Baby Quilt

I was asked by a friend of a friend to make a baby quilt for her one month old nephew. This is the first quilt that I have been commisioned to make and it has been a little bit of a nerve wracking experience. First of all, quilting fabric is expensive here in the Vancouver area, is she ready for the cost of the fabric? Second, she left me with the choice of pattern etc., will it be what she hoped? I was assured by my friend that the cost would be ok and that what ever I chose would be fine as well. So I went ahead and it really cam out quite cute. I also had to make up an invoice for the bill. That was a first as well. (The ladies that I sew for at church are ok with me just giving them a total. Oh well.) So, here's the quilt. The poem on the label on the back says:

It's Your Quilt
It's OK if you sit on your quilt.
It's OK if your bottle gets spilt,
If you swallow some air and you burp, don't despair;
It's OK if you spit on your quilt.

There are scraps old and new on your quilt,
Put together for you on your quilt.
If your gums feel numb cause your teeth haven't come,
It's OK if you chew on your quilt.

We expect you to lie on your quilt.
If you're hurt, you may cry on your quilt.
On a cold rainy night, don't you fret, you're all right,
You'll be snug, warm and dry on your quilt.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Still Alive and Busy

Whew, I feel like we've just been through a whirlwind. Somehow I figured that when fall came we would slow down a little. How disillusioned can one be? I think that everything is slowly coming back together again, just in time for winter weather. Our roof was just redone yesterday and boy am I glad that's over! I had wonderful plans for the things I would get accomplished this week with Jonathan away. HA!!! Sophie was so traumatized over the noise that she wouldn't leave me alone. I wanted to get the lining finished for my brother's frock coat, Sophie insisted on sitting on my feet. Kind of hard to use the treadle with a dog on your feet. Everything's quiet today and I've been able to spen a good amount of time in my sewing room. I'm lining up the projects for the winter. Winter weather is great for getting sewing projects started and finished. Here's to getting lots accomplished in the next few months. I'll post pictures of some projects as soon as I can get them posted.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Drawers

After reading several posts in the Sewing Academy about mid-nineteenth century underpinnings, I realized just how "off" mine are/were and determined to work to correct them. I determined to start with new drawers. Using the free pattern and instructions from Elizabeth Stewart Clark I began to draft my own. I took extensive measurements, and using pattern paper drew out the pattern.

They are "split" drawers, meaning they are two legs attached with a waistband. Each leg has three tucks with embroidery between each. I will add a fine tatted edging to the end of each leg as well.

Eventually I will finish another chemise (this makes three - they make great nightgowns), shorten one petticoat, and change the waistbands to add buttons and buttonholes. I am also considering making another corset with correct steel bones. In the meantime, I need to finish Ben's frock coat. Of course these are all done on my 1910 treadle. Sew much fun :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Slatted Sunbonnet

I've finished my 1860's slatted sunbonnet. This isn't what most people think of when they hear the term "sunbonnet". However, the modern idea of a sunbonnet, think Laura Ingalls and Holly Hobby, was actually a Twentieth century garment. Those from the 1860's were much more utilitarian, serving a very definite purpose. These were frequently made of a lighter color cotton as it would be cooler in the sun, the wide brim provides a tremendous amount of shading from the sun, and the long "Bavolet" (the skirt of the bonnet) kept sun off of the neck as well as protected the shoulders and upper back of the dress from being faded by the sun.

This was quite an easy project and took less than a yard of fabric that I had in my stash. Is is two rectangles of fabric, sewn together with chanels stitched into the brim for cardboard slats. A tie in the back provides shaping that would fit around the hairstyles of the day, and utility ties keep it on. The slats are/were removeable for laundering. I had read that they feel a little like you're wearing a mailbox, and that's definitely the case. You have to turn your head to see what is around you, but definitely great for shade.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Corny News

I love this time of the year in BC. Fresh, local produce is pouring in from all over the province, especially corn. We got 30 ears of corn this week to put up for the winter, 3/$1, and there's still more to come. I bought a new gadget from Pampered Chef a while back called a Corn Kerneler. It's a specialized gadget to take the kernels off the cobb. It is super easy to use and fun too. I'm just a little bit of a gadget freak in the kitchen.

We still hope to be able to pick up some fresh blueberries and possibly some peaches as well. I am planning a trip next weekend to the Apple Barn, then it's time for applesauce. I hope we'll be able to pull in some tomatoes from the garden before the weather starts getting too cold. They've only just started to turn so we'll see.
Oh, and I forgot about the Sockeye salmon last week. Jonathan got a "heads up" from a guy in our church that the First Nations wer going to have a fresh load available for sale. Jonathan went out there and picked up twelve fish for us and a few other people as well. We spent two hours cleaning and vacuum packing the fish and then freezing ours for use this fall and winter. The news is excellent for the Sockeye fisheries this year, a record three million fish are expected to return to spawn. Numbers this large haven't been see since 1912. After four years of a closed season on Sockey, the public fishing season will be open this year.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I made a batch of Switchel this afternoon to see if Jonathan would like it. I have read about it, also sometimes called Swizzle, in several historical novels, but never thought to find out about it. After reading another living historian's blog (thank you Miss Macrae) and seeing the receipt I decided to try it. Such a strange mixture of ingredients, but all good for you on a hot day, and could be likened to the historic replacement for Gatorade. Here is the Wikipedia description of Switchel:

"Switchel, also Switzle, swizzle, ginger-water, haymaker's punch, or switchy is a dring made of water mixed with vinegar and often seasoned with ginger. Honey, sugar, brown sugar, or maple syrup were sometimes used to sweeten the drink instead of molasses. In Vermont, oatmeal and lemon juice were sometimes added to the beverage. Switchel originated in the Caribbean, and had become a popular drink in the American Colonies in the late 1600's. By the 1800's, it had become a traditional drink to serve to thirsty farmers at hay harvest time, hence the nickname 'haymakers punch'." Laura Ingalls Wilder refers to a similar beverage made by Ma to serve to Pa during haying. Switchel, because of the ginger won't make you ill if you drink too much too quickly on a hot day.

1/4 c minced ginger
(boil in a little water and then strain)
1/2 c honey
1/4 c molasses
3/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
Mix together and then combine with 1 gal. of cold water.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

In Memoriam...

John Cox, 1861 Huttonsville, VA
Joel Line Cox, 21 Regt Illinois Infantry
Jesse Cox, 89 Indiana Infantry
Joseph Cox, 1 Tennessee Cavalry
We visited Hovander Farm in Ferndale, WA today for a Civil War re-enactment. Following the battle, a Cross Brigade was formed to honor soldiers that had fought and those that had died during the civil war. Above are listed those from my family that served both for the North and South during the Civil War.
This was a tremendous event, though quite wet. My new dress was perfect and I was nice and comfortable through it all. The advantage of 7 layers is that when it rains, it takes quite a while for the bottom most to become wet. My shawl served me well, and I'm really glad now that I made it. Jonathan has become a target for the 15 Alabama's recruiting department. He's considering joining up even though we wouldn't be able to attend all the events. My treadle sewing machine could see quite a bit more use in the coming year. At the park there were quite a few historic buildings - this is Hovander House. It wasn't open when we were there, but is open for tours through the week. Perhaps we will be able to go back and take a tour at some point.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I'm not sure how you measure progress, but this week I began to seriously question my assessment. Granted, I am no computer whiz, but I generally do alright at basic operations; I managed to thread and successfully use my serger; my sewing machine is computerized; and I can competently drive an automobile, why am I having trouble with a treadle sewing machine? It's parts are quite simple by comparison, yet I feel woefully inept. After four visits to the Singer shop ( yes, Singer does still manufacture, sell, and service treadle machines) I managed to wind a bobbin, thread the machine, and sew a straight seam. Victory! Maybe this is why someone finally developed the electric motor! There is a definite trick to sewing on a treadle machine. It all sounds so straightforward until theory becomes practice. Think walking and chewing gum, or patting your head and rubbing your stomach. Think you're good?, you try it! You'll really begin to question what you thought were your abilities. Here is the proof that I have been humbled - 2 hours to sew 6 seams. Now, before you question my sanity too, it really was fun in an intriguing, challenging, historic way. This was amazing technology for Mr. Singer in the 1850's. For hundreds of years women/men had made garments with their hands, a needle, and thread. Now they had a machine to help. My machine was manufactured in 1910 in Clydebank, Scotland. Even then, a sewing machine was still a wonder and very valuable appliance to a few housewives though it was growing in popularity and affordability. Here is the proof of my attempts at sewing on the treadle. Not too shabby, and my plaids match pretty well. Progress?Definitely! Atleast to me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Dress - Yippee!

I have had this fabric for over a year now and finally decided what I would make out of it. It is perfect for a CW dress and I have just the pattern too. I found the Emily Wyant dress pattern (by Heidi Marsh) at James Country Mercantile and really liked the cut. It's just a little different than most of the work dresses I've seen and has a few neat details like Sleeve Jockeys - a decorative sleeve band at the top of the sleeve adjoining the shoulder seam. I decided to gather the bodice fabric and dart the lining as this was common during the era. I am also debating whether to either change the fabric for the sleeve jockeys or change the fabric for the sleeves. I am leaning toward the sleeves as this would make them a little more like undersleeves and possibly a bit cooler as well. There is a CW event in Ferndale, Washington next weekend that I will get to go to and it will be nice to have a new dress. A new chemise and a shortened over petticoat are in the works as well. I have hopes of getting a new bonnet made as well as a crocheted reticule - we'll see. As is my usual practice, I tend to bite off more than I can chew.

I cut out the lining to do a test fit a few days ago and had a lot of trouble. It's either the pattern or my physical shape, and as it's much more pleasant to blame the pattern, I will. The neckline was way to big and gaped on both sides of center front and in the back. The armscyes were way to small, but there was too much fabric there as well. After trying several things, all to no avail, I called Mom. (Why my fitting books didn't have the answer is still beyond me, but Mom is a fount of sewing wisdom.) She suggested making small darts in the correct places on the neckline to correct the fit there, and was cautious about suggesting I do the same for the armholes (I did it anyway Mom and it worked). Then I took the muslin lining apart and used those pieces to trace new ones and voil`a. Yesterday I cut into the actual fabric and basted the lining to the dress fabric for the interlining - so far so good - and today I hope to get upstairs to work on my treadle machine and actually get it put together.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Saturday was Worldwide Knit in Public Day, and the events continue through this week. I went out on Saturday afternoon to join a group of fellow knitters and spinners and do our thing. There were about 18 of us altogether, enjoying a beautiful BC afternoon. We found a spot in the shade, and attempted to share our craft with the public. Unfortunately there wasn't a whole lot of "public" around to share with, but we had fun anyway. I got to watch several spinners with there wheels up close. It is mesmerizing, and I want one! Spinning wheels and spinning have held an alure for me for quite a while now. Maybe it was watching Sleeping Beauty too much as a child, I don't know. It is definitely an art I would like to pursue. I was quite relieved to discover that the wheels are much smaller and more portable than those from days gone by - this means there would be room in my living room for a wheel! This just means twice as much as there is in knitting. First you get to pick your fiber, then you spin it, then you knit with it, and then you get to wear or use whatever it is you make. Hence the few dollars spent on fiber go a lot farther than those spent on spun yarn. Did I mention that is much cheaper to buy fiber (roving) than it is to buy prespun yarn? This is definitely a hobby worth pursuing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

19th Century Stockings

I have finally decided to start working on a pair of stockings for myself. This is the swatch to help me determine needle size and gauge (the number of stitches per inch). The yarns weights and needle sizes that were available in the 1860's are significantly different from what is available today. With much help from fellow Ravelers and the Civil War Needleworkers on Yahoo, I have compared the historic yarns and needles with the modern and am ready to go. The yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun fingering (a sock weight yarn spun in Nebraska), a wonderful lady on Ravelry generously sent me two skeins to get started. Needle size is 000, for those of you non knitters that's roughly the size of malnourished toothpicks. Black is also not the greatest color for tiny stitches - it's impossible to see in any but the best light. I seriously doubt I will do two of these stockings, and will turn to white cotton for the final garments. This is my test run to work through the sizing, shaping and pattern instructions. Let's just say that historic patterns aren't the best at relating instructions. Besides, how did anyone wear wool stockings - these things would be terribly itchy, augghhhh!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mom O's visit

My mother in law was here last week and we had a wonderful visit! This was her fist visit to Vancouver and so we took her to as many sights as possible. She brought a traveling companion with her, tucked away in her suitcase. Flat Stanley enjoyed Vancouver so much during the 2010 Olympics that he wanted to make a return trip to see some of the things he missed. So here is Mom O and Flat Stanley at the Totem Poles in Stanley Park. (Flat Stanley is under the misguided impression that Stanley Park was named for him.)
For those of you that have never met Flat Stanley, his given name is Stanley Lambchop, a little boy whom a bookshelf fell on many years ago and completely flattened him. Now he is able to be mailed all over the world and is a tremendous spokesperson for children's literacy and community awareness. If you would like to hear more of Stanley's story you can find several books written about him by author Jeff Brown in your local library.
We took Mom O through downtown Vancouver, to Stanley Park, to Burnaby Mountain Park, Golden Ears Provincial Park, Robert Burnaby Park, and to Abounding Grace Baptist Church. We were certainly blessed with beautiful weather for the week that she was here and made for some wonderful pictures and great memories.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"To Top It All Off...."

After several months of working and waiting, I finally got my arbor finished this weekend! I love it, I can already imagine what it will be like with the roses and clematis scrambling over it.
It took three of us and two ladders to wrestle the cross pieces up and into place. I held one end while Jonathan nailed the other and Larry steadied the ladders. I think we even got it pretty level too. I am just amazed at how the garden has progressed in the past year. It is close to being finished, as close as a garden can ever come; mine will always be a work in progress and always changing. The birds seem to love the changes, the plants, the water and the food. We've had a pair of White Crowned Sparrows, a Golden Crowned Sparrow, Bushtits, Chickadees, and I've seen the Rufous Hummingbirds more often than ever before. The female was even picking aphids off one of my climbing roses. We still need, dirt, dirt, and more dirt to fill in the remainder of the beds. May long weekend is the frost free date for our area and the point when so many of our seedlings can be put outside for the year and they need a place to go. Jonathan has a spot ready for the broccoli where it can be covered with some floating row cover to keep out the moths and their caterpillars, the tomatoes are being hardened off, and the pumpkins and watermelon are about ready to go outside. Now to get to some weeding!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday, April 28

No pictures today as I can't seem to get my act together to get them posted. The garage sale that's planned for Friday and Saturday is growing to massive proportions. Where did we get all this stuff? More importantly why did we buy/keep all this stuff, let alone move it to Canada. Jonathan and I worked most of the evening on getting stuff organized and priced, and there's still more to do today (this will be the third day of organizing etc.). I have a couple of piles in the basement that need to be brought up and then we need to tackle the clothing. I can't decide if I am glad that I won't be here this weekend for the sale. I am attending a ladies retreat hosted by Urban Community Baptist Church on Friday and Saturday. Our sale had been planned for last weekend, however the weather put the kabosh on those plans. Jonathan and Larry decided they could handle the sale this weekend instead. I feel bad that they will have to do all the work themselves when the garage sale was my idea in the first place, however, I'm sure that my stress level will be lower by not trying to organize it with two men. ( We can't load the car together, I don't think we could set up a garage sale together either.) I'm sure they'll be fine, and maybe when I come back everything will be gone.

I will get around to posting some pictures of my drop spindling here in a couple of weeks. I realized that I don't have any place to "drop" it as my living room is full of garage sale stuff. I thought about posting pictures of the living room, but I don't really want to remember the state that it's in right now. After the sale this weekend, I have some serious household matters to deal with before my Mother-in-law visits in a week. I am certainly feeling the crunch. This will be the first of three family visits all planned before the end of June. I am really starting to get excited, though I keep dreaming that I forgot to pick someone up at the airport.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Time For Every Season....

It is that season and the reenactment bug has bitten again. (Courtesy of my esteemed brother Corporal Goat.) I have the fabric for a new dress and am just waiting for the pattern to arrive so that I can start. I am anticipating being able to attend atleast one event this year. There is a "battle" taking place in Ferndale, WA which is just across the line. Actually, it is closer than the town where we buy our groceries. I am thinking that perhaps a couple of new bonnets and a hair net might be in order, a lady always enjoys a new bonnet. A sheer dress is also being planned for, but will most likely take a while before I can actually finish it. Cpl Goat has asked for a new frock coat as well and that will be part of my summer sewing.
Best wishes to y'all and I'm off to a quilting bee.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stormy Weather....

It's been far to wet to be outside with the camera, though there are a lot of things happening in my own bit of earth. Yesterday was the strangest and most stormy day we've had in a really long time. Monday started off with heavy rain and gusty winds, but before noon, it looked as if the skies were going to clear and Jonathan made another attempt to get Sophie outside. I heard him calling me and went to see what he needed, and discovered that my garden umbrella was thrown into the garden and my swing was upside down! I could hardly believe that the wind was that strong, however no plants were damaged for which I'm really thankful. Actually, nothing in the yard seems any the worse for wear after the storms. Through the afternoon though, the weather reapeated the same pattern of clouding up, pouring rain, and then clearing off. Oh, I can't forget the thunder! Sophie doesn't like thunder on a good day, so I am thankfull that we don't get much, but yesterday! Oh, My! The claps of thunder were so loud and so sudden I was ready to jump out of my skin, added to the fact that a few minutes before the sky looked like it would clear off.

I've been emailing my brother and the reenacting bug has bitten once again. I think this year there is actually a possibility of getting to a couple of events. There are two that are being held this side of Bellingham, Washington so it's a pretty short drive and no overnight stays. Thinking about my wardrobe though, I need to put some time in on the sewing machine. I have fabric,
period correct this time, to make a new day dress. It has been sitting on my shelf for atleast a year and it's time to cut into it. Just waiting for the pattern to arrive. I need to shorten a petticoat for my smaller hoops and finish my new chemise as well. Plenty to keep me busy during these stormy days. Oh, can't forget the quilting and knitting as well.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Yes, we do get snow here in Vancouver, though not usually in March. I think we were getting too complacent at not having any this year. We will pay the price later though in lots of bugs. March's weather has been quite unsettled and very stormy with high winds "wuthering" around the eaves. (I just learned that word from reading The Secret Garden again. The wind wuthering on the moor is also how Wuthering Heights got its name.) This week is much more pleasant to be out of doors as the sun is shining and things are popping out of the ground everywhere I look. I do wish the wind would stop though. The re-planting of the garden is coming along and I think I've removed most of the plants from their temporary pots and placed them into the ground. I've also been able to divide several plants and bulbs, and I've found several new plants that have sprouted from seeds. It's great (sometimes) when plants spread themselves, though there are quite a few that I wish I'd never planted. I'm still pulling up Lamb's Ears seedlings everywhere and Foxgloves I will never be able to get rid of. Ok, maybe it's great that Columbine seeds itself, most of the others need to mind their manners and stay put!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"A Tesseract is like a wrinkle, A Wrinkle in Time..."

I feel a little like I have touched the past. Last night at Knit Night, one of the gals taught me the basics of spinning on a drop spindle. I started spinning with a bunch of flax roving (the pile of unspun fibers) and slowly created a small,very lumpy ball of yarn. Those of you that know me well have heard me wish to learn how to spin, well, I am hooked now. The drop spindle (not to be confused with the car part of the same name) is one of the most ancient forms of spinning fibers into yarn. I wonder if the Israelites used this method to spin the goat's hair (possibly cashmir goats) into yarn to create the hangings for the tabernacle? It certainly is quite portable. This definitely deserves more practice, and I have a source now for learning to spin on an actual spinning wheel. (Very cool!) The shawl above is my "Carol's Clever Little Shawl" that I just recently finished in a 'knit-a-long' with a Victorian group. It will definitely get a lot of use, and is perfect for reading in bed on those cool nights.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"A Field of Golden Daffodils..."

As we here in Vancouver brace for a "cold" snap this week, I thought I'd share a picture of my daffodils. These are "Ice King" and I think they are my absolute favorite of all the daffodil varieties. I just love the colors (there is a slight peach tone to the center as well) and the double centers. There has been lots of activity in the garden for a while now, but this week things will be put on hold for a few days as it is supposed to be cold and cloudy with a chance of flurries. (Will March go out like a lion?) This break will give me a chance to get into my sewing room and possible get a few things done in there. I'm sure it won't be long until I can get back outside into my garden.
The snow drops have pretty much finished blooming and the crocuses are finishing now. The lilac is just about ready to leaf out and several of the clematis have buds that are sure to open when the weather warms again. My roses were pruned last week as well. This was really hard to do this year as most of them had really begun to leaf out. But, as Brian Minter says, 'spare the shears and spoil the plant'. So, I pruned with abandon and will have to wait for new leaves to come. The roses will be much happier this way, I know. I got the official notice yesterday that Select Roses opens for the season this next weekend. Somehow this always seems like the start of spring to me. I am sure I will make a number of trips there before they close in July - even if it's just for a picnic lunch and a chance to watch the hummingbirds.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Vancouver Tour

Your roving reporter here sharing some scenes from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic games. Our Thursday trip into Vancouver for the men's US/Norway hockey game started early in the morning, though not quite as early as the figure skating. I atleast rose with the sun instead of before it. Caffeine was still necessary, and I felt quite bleary eyed on sky train heading downtown.
We made it downtown with plenty of time to spare as there were none of the anticipated line-ups for sky train. After locating a McDonald's for breakfast, we couldn't find a Tim's, we decided that we could kill some time wandering through Chinatown. (The gates for the game wouldn't open for another hour.) We saw several small Chinese shops open for the day, and Jonathan decided we needed a picture of the narrowest building in the world. This is the Sam Kee building on the west edge of Chinatown not far from the Sun Yat Sen gardens. When it was originally built, it was the width of the grey paint you see in the picture. Extra space was created by adding on bow front windows. The building was later modified and made wider and is now one of the historical landmarks of Vancouver.

When the hockey game was finished, we decided that we would take advantage of being downtown and check out some of the Olympic sites. Unfortunately, this inexperienced tourist didn't look things up on the internet before we went and so missed some cool things. We did find Irish house (follow the loud music) as well as USA house. Irish house got kind of a bad name with its neighbors as they had loud parties into the wee sma's of the night.

USA house, which was across the street, was quite disappointing as they didn't allow people into anything other than the store. (What sticks in the mud.) All the other countries, including Canada, used this as a tourist information gimick and provided lots of neat things like free food. Irish house even provided the Stout - hence the loud parties. But USA house just wanted you to come in and spend your money.

This lovely lady was one of our fabulous Vancouver volunteers. She sat on this replica lifeguard chair and gave directions through her loud speaker. I wish I had a picture of the crowds as I have never seen anything like it. The only thing I could compare them to would be downtown New York City. It was wall to wall people. We did make it down to see the torch, and the picture at the start of the blog was taken through the chain link fence. (The fence was later modified so that pictures could be taken more easily.) Here is a picture of the rings, I am going to say they are golden here, but I really couldn't prove that very easily. The barge that they rested on was out in Coal Harbor and one of Vancouver's many sulfer mills is in the background.

This is your roving reporter signing of from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Watch for flying.....PUCKS?

On Thursday February 18 we went to the USA/Norway hockey game. This was my first hockey game here in Canada and boy was I in for some culture shock. I had always heard that hockey is the number one religion here in Canada, but I guess I had my doubts. I was wrong, it is definitely an obsession. A little Olympic hockey explanation for those of you that are still a little vague about the teams. The Olympic hockey teams are made up of NHL (National Hockey League) players, not amatuers. These players may play on an NHL team that is quite a distance from home. The Sedin twins are a perfect example; they play for the Vancouver Canucks during the NHL season even though they are from Sweden. Ryan Kessler is another Canuck that is from the US. Here is a picture of his Dad and brother-in-law, they sat 3 rows infront of us. (Very cool)
During the Olympics there is an official break from the NHL season, much too long in my book anyway, and all the players that have been drafted for their country's team make their way home, or to the Olympic site. So, in the audience here in Vancouver there were some die-hard US fans:

As well as some Canadian fans, many of whom were really Canucks and just wanted to watch favorite players; and then of course the Norwegians. This little guy sat right in front of us and you could tell through the game that he was quite tired - maybe some jet lag. He was also quite disappointed when Norway lost. I did feel bad for him too.

I don't think I have ever been in an environment where the enthusiasm was so electric. It was incredible, and I had a fantastic time. I can only imagine what the stadium was like during the gold medal men's hockey game. I know what I saw on tv, and believe me it's much more extreme in the building. I honestly expected to hear an explosion from downtown when Canada won the gold. (Yes, I was cheering for them. I have to live here after all, and referencing my previous comment about religion/obsession, and the economy would have taken a nose dive had they lost.)
One of the things that I found most amusing about the whole game was the anouncement that was repeated several times over the PA system. "Ladies and gentlemen, please use caution as pucks may leave the ice at any moment." Now, I know what they were referring to, pucks do get knocked out of the rink quite frequently and people have been injured by flying pucks. However, the way it was said almost had me watching for spontaneously flying pucks. I do think, during this game you were more likely to get hit by the guy next to you wildly waving his flag.

Friday, February 26, 2010

First Olympic Event Monday, February 15

We left home about 6:30 to catch the sky train to Pacific Coliseum to watch a figure skating training session for both men and pairs. We knew we would miss the first "flight" (group of figure skaters), but I wasn't about to get up at 5:00 to be there when the doors opened. As it was, I was a little bleary eyed for quite a while. My first official "transfer" from sky train to a bus was completed with no trouble - being able to follow the crowds helped considerably. When we were dropped off at the bus station we had quite a walk to get to the actual entrance, I would guess it was a mile or more. They routed everyone in a very strange way to allow room for line ups and security check points, but boy was it a pain. After we made it into the building, we found our seats and scrunched in. (There was absolutely no leg room and we were looking at a four hour event.) Thankfully there weren't very many people at the venue yet.

We arrived in the middle of the second flight that contained Vaughn Chipeur and Evgeni Plushenko. Skating later in the morning in flight five were Johnny Wier and Patrick Chan; Jeremy Abbott and Evan Lysacek skated in flight six. I was able to get four different autographs: Stephan Lindeman from Germany, Zoltan Kelemen from Romania, Vaughn Chipeur from Canada, and Jeremy Abbott from USA. (The first picture is of Evan the second of Vaughn Chipeur.)

If pressed, I would have to admit to enjoying the men better than the pairs. I was a little miffed with the pairs skaters as the top five didn't bother to "train" that morning. So, all we saw were those that placed fairly low. Atleast with the men, everyone skated even if we didn't get to see their whole routine.

We made it home with no hassels. Actually, the bus we got on, after eating lunch, was completely empty and we had a great conversation with the bus driver. It was great to get home and then to watch the pairs on t.v. that evening. So much fun, I'm so glad we got the tickets.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Last Post Planted

Weeeelll, the last post for the arbor and my clothesline post both went in on Tuesday. What a relief to have both of them done and no more concrete to haul. By the time I was done on Tuesday evening my back was really sore. I had digged the hole too large for the last post and then didn't have enough concrete, so I left Jonathan supporting the post while I ran around the corner to the hardware store for another bag. It is still about 2 1/2 ft too tall, but Jonathan will saw of the top with the Sawzall for me sometime in the next couple of weeks. Atleast I can now get to transplanting my rosebushes before it gets too warm and they really start growing.
I can worry about the top, cross pieces later. I have to buy a new joiner thingy for my clothesline as the plastic one that had been holding the ends together has pretty much disintegrated due to exposure to the elements. When I get the ends joined then I can get it all hung.

My water feature is finished too and working marvelously. I think I fixed all the leaks (famous last words I'm sure) and have all the rocks where I want them. I'm waiting for Sophie to go crawling through it and dislodge the whole thing.

It was quite the ordeal getting it put together, and wasn't supposed to be that difficult. After I had it all set up and was doing a test run, I realised that the water flow I was getting just wasn't enough to make much noise. Unfortunately, I learned this Saturday afternoon about 4:30 pm and the landscape store closed at 4. I had to wait until Monday. Monday morning I exchanged my 150 GPH pump for a 260 GPH pump and asked the guy if I would need to change the water supply hose. His words were, "no, there are several adaptors in the box for that". Ha!!!! I got back home, took the water feature partially apart to reinstall the new pump and discovered that the hose did not fit any of the adaptors. Rather than go back to the landscape store, I visited the pet store around the corner for aquarium tubing. After some very slow customer service, I had my hose and returned home. Then I had to completely dismantle the entire water feature and the supply line runs beneath the stream. So, a couple of hours later and help from Jonathan's artistic eye it was finished. (Finding a way to plug it in is a whole nother story.)

I love it and it really adds quite a nice touch to the yard. What do you think?

Torch Relay, Coquitlam

What a day this was. We left home in the dark and the rain, both of us were half asleep. By the time we reached the Cameron Rec center to meet up with Pastor Turner and Anchor Baptist Church the rain had lessened somewhat. We were still dropped off at Mackin Park in the rain, though in a very good location for distributing New Testaments and for watching the torch. Shortly after we got settled into our location and had gone through a couple of boxes of New Testaments the rain stopped completely and it stayed relatively dry the rest of the morning.

I have no idea how many people were at the park and along the roadside Thursday morning, but we did hand out nearly 1500 New Testaments. The sidewalks were jammed and people were even wandering into the streets, and that was outside the park. There were several area schools represented, and lots of moms with young children. It was great to see such community support. Coca-Cola had a huge presence there as well because they are one of the prime sponsors, they handed out pennants and bottles of coke to the spectators along the torch route.

I think the relay did its job for every one, including me. The hype for the Olympics was definitely at a fever pitch in time for the opening ceremonies Friday evening. What a great two weeks this is going to be.

Friday, February 5, 2010

T - Minus 7 and counting.....

Today we made the journey from Burnaby to Vancouver via Sky Train, to pick up our tickets to the figure skating training session. I finally feel like these Olympics are a little more than road closures, security measures, and protests. This was the first time we had been downtown since Olympic set-up really got going, and wow! I must say I'm very impressed with everything I saw. People in the street even stopped to ask if we were lost - was it really that obvious? I guess Vancouver can really be a friendly city.

We got off the train at Granville station, and for those of you that don't know Vancouver, that is underground. We were both completely turned around and had no idea where we were when we surfaced, nor which way to go. Our faces must have betrayed our confusion. Soon though, with our trusty Olympic visitor's guide in hand (I hate feeling like a tourist in a city I have lived in for 5 1/2 years), we were on our way. We stopped every few feet to take pictures of all the cool Olympic "stuff" on display. Did you know that they can "wrap" buildings with pictures and other images? Here's an example:

I can certainly empathize with the country mouse when he visited his citified cousin. We finally managed to get to the main box office and pick up our tickets with no more mishaps. Atleast for a while.

Lunch time came and we wanted to return to the Tim's (Tim Horton's for you un-Canadians) we had seen in the sky train station. We headed back and found Tim's and had lunch - great Chili, btw., then proceded to buy our return tickets to head home. As we were approaching the platform, we were stopped by a security guard and asked to show our tickets. While holding a can of Diet Pepsi, an extra large steeped tea (triple-triple), and a Boston Cream Donut (very long story) I managed to procure the tickets to show the guard. With grave demeanor he informed us that we had purchase the "wrong" tickets. I had unwittingly purchased senior citizen tickets and we now had to go back to the fare machines and re-purchase our tickets. Through much shuffling about we got the new ones and headed back down to the train. Once again, ready to board, we came to the realization that the train we were getting ready to board wouldn't take us back home, but to Richmond and the airport. We had to go find the very nice security guard and ask him how to get home. We were told that we were at the completely wrong station and had to go back upstairs, outside, cross two streets, and descend more flights of stairs and then we would get to the right train. Sure enough, his directions were true and we found the train and headed for home. Who knew that there were two Tim's that looked identical in two different stations both under shopping malls? I wonder how many Olympic tourists are going to get lost? I live here for pity's sake.

And just think....I get to do this all over again in a little over a week. Only it's a completely different station. There is a reason I don't go into the city.