Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weaving Willow Baskets

This past Thursday, I went to that gathering of women in the old credit union building to work on crafty projects. Our plan was to focus on rugs, which we successfully did for about 30 minutes, until one of the women walked in with buckets and buckets of cut willow.
The week before last, we had noticed a beautiful willow woven basket that one of the women had made by hand. We were thrilled to our toes to find someone with the knowledge to make such a basket and she agreed to teach us sometime. This was just perfect, as I have been planning for years to learn how to make baskets and even have a website in my bookmarks that has sat for years, waiting for me to get going on learning! So imagine how excited I was when she brought in all those willows!
The first step was to learn how to take the spite out of the willows. This sounds a little punitive. It kinda is. You basically have to gently bend the willows so that they are more pliable. This sounds easier than it is. The first stick I picked up didn't go so well. Bend, bend, bend, SNAP! My face went red and everyone looked while I nervously giggled. I tried again. Bend, bend, bend, bend, SNAP! Well that stick must be too brittle. So picked up another one. Bend, bend, bend, SNAP! By now the jokes were flying about my ability to make baskets. I felt like Alex on Edwardian Farm when he was making the coracle (right around the 2:45 mark) (ps. Edwardian Farm and Victorian Farm are the best shows ever made and if you haven't already done so, you must watch them! You can find them on youtube. You won't be sorry!).
Anyways, back to the basket. I persevered. And I managed to make it to the next step and crafted the rim successfully. She taught us the next steps and generously gave us loads of willow to take home and work on. So I have been diligently working on my basket and these pictures are how far I've come. I've run out of willows now, so I'll have to go cut down some more. It is so much fun to weave baskets and there is something so thrilling about making such a useful item. Boos also enjoys the basket weaving process.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Just a Quick Post

I just thought I would introduce you to this lovely yearling named Glee. Today was her first race and her team came in first place. Yay Glee! She got to be lead dog with an old veteran, Oggy. Glee is cross-eyed and cross-eared and has to wear a hat when she races to keep her big ears from flapping together over her head which causes them to get raw. I got to snuggle with Glee before her big race and she is such a little sweetheart! These pictures of her make me laugh so hard.

Dogsled Races Day 2!

Day 2! So far, I've watched one race come in and another take off. I'll be going back in a little bit to watch some more, but we came home for an hour or so to warm up! It's a cold one out there! Only -8c, but there is a frigid wind.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dogsled Races!

The dogs are getting harnessed up!

They're off!

What a frigid, blustery day! The temperature isn't too low (-5c/+20f), but the wind is just whipping around and the snow is blowing! I packed my expanding pregnant body into long-johns and sweaters and zipped up my now tight fitting jacket over everything and headed down to the end of my street to the lake to witness the start of the stage race event.
And how exciting! You can't imagine the noise as 70 sled dogs eagerly wait their turn to be harnessed to the sled. They can hardly contain themselves and it takes a great deal of strength to hold them back until the start of the race. Once they are finally allowed to go, they zip by so fast and the noise, sled, dogs, and musher disappear into the horizon of the lake. They'll do 60 miles today, with the fastest ones making it back in about 3 hours, and continue the other two stages on Saturday and Sunday. The kids from the elementary school all showed up to cheer on their principal who is taking part in the stage race.
Tomorrow, we'll get to see some sprints!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wow! So amazing!

A wonderful reader, Diloylo, made me this beautiful baby quilt and little sock monkey! Made them! Wow! Thank you so so so much! Baby Nutbrown will be so happy to have these wonderful homemade items. Aren't those colours so cheery? Just lovely :)

Caledonia Classic Dogsled Races

(Look at the husky dogs pulling the sled. You don't often see this breed here for dogsledding. This picture came from the race website.)

I am very excited for the dogsled races this weekend! I missed seeing them last year, so it will be the first time for me this year! Check out the pictures from last year here. And this is the website for the race. Apparently people some from all over North America to race here. How exciting!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

DIY: Mirror Frame

Time for a mirror makeover! The mirror in question came from our old house in Kamloops. When we were moving, my husband packed it up not realizing it wasn't ours. But by the time we figured that out, it was too late and we were in the Fort. Oops. At least it is a super cheap mirror and was breaking.
In Kamloops, I had replaced this mirror with the twig mirror I made because I thought this one was ugly. And it is, a little, or it was. A cheap plastic frame glued on to cardboard. Nothing really special. It sat tucked away for years. So, I decided to give it a funky look by wrapping fabric scraps around the frame and hot gluing them in place. Easy peasy. It took about an hour. And now it proudly hangs in baby Nutbrown's room, its ugly, neglected past now forgotten.

Here is the mirror frame after I pulled the mirror out.
The finished mirror in the baby room. Note the shelf I made on the wall out of old fence boards.
Another view. The baby's room is in progress.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Just a Quick Post

I just thought I would quickly share the little sweater that I made for baby Nutbrown. It was a super fast knit! I started last night and finished today. I love those natural colours and the wooden buttons look perfect (my thoughtful Mother-in-Law picked up a bunch of wooden buttons at the thrift store for me!).
We are getting the baby's room ready and all the painting is done now. I am getting a dresser to fix up in Prince George next week, so I will have to post a before and after picture of that too!
Also, have I mentioned lately how much I love this community? Last night a whole lot of ladies (and one or two men) got together in the old credit union building (which they have generously allowed us to use their space) to learn about rug making. I was in my element with a bunch of ladies who love crafting as much as I do! We get to use the credit union space to get together on Thursdays and work on projects together. This month we are focusing on rug making, and then perhaps basket weaving next? Yay! I had a hard time sleeping last night because I had so much fun and am so excited for next Thursday!

Monday, February 13, 2012

DIY: Light Fixture

You know those glass, dish-like light fixtures that are pretty standard in this part of the world? You know the ones that collect lots of bugs and dust? Well one of those was in the baby's room and I decided to get something different.

At first, I wanted to find a big paper ball lantern to hang over the light and make it into a hot air balloon. I still really like that idea, but I struck out all over the place trying to find the materials. So, instead I bought 2, 12" brass rings from the dollar store. I cut a rectangle out of eyelet fabric that I had around, and hot glued a ring to each end of the rectangle. I glued up the seam, hung up the lamp shade, and voila! Nice and easy, DIY light fixture that looks so much prettier than dead bugs and dust.
Next to paint that room!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hula Hoop Loom

So the other day I was searching for some DIY rug projects. I wanted to make some rugs to put on the ugly linoleum floor in the room that will be the baby's room. I found this project (it has a great picture tutorial) and decided to give it a whirl. Instead of using old t-shirts to weave with, I used fabric scraps, as I have lots of those and not many old shirts! I did pick up a couple old shirts from the Re-Use Shed at the dump to use as the warp.
To start with, I cut 11, 1 inch strips from a t-shirt and stretched them over the hula hoop, spacing them evenly. I then started weaving in my fabric scraps. It goes deceivingly fast at first, but the big mat ended up taking hours and hours to do. The second mat probably only took a couple hours. I think it took so long because my fabric scraps weren't as thick, so I needed a lot more of them! I finished off the weaving by cutting the loops and tying them around the weft. To make the smaller mat, I used my smaller hula hoop as a loom, although you could use a big one and not weave as far.
I love the way they look. I'm hoping to do a couple more smaller mats and join them all together in a funky way!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Knitting! Hoot the Owl Toque Pattern

My newborn nephew models the hat!

This is a new pattern that I developed for my 2-and-a-half-year old nephew, and liked it so much I made it for my newborn nephew and my 7 month niece! This pattern includes both knitting and crochet, although you could easily forgo the crochet part and make the eyes and beak out of felt instead. Make sure you measure your child's head circumference and choose the size that fits closest. I do not have a child at home to measure the sizes by, and every child has a very different sized head. Use the gauge to determine if you need to add or subtract a few stitches to make the hat fit your child better.

Yarn: I used a chunky weight yarn in brown tweed for the main part of the hat (unfortunately it is a thrift store find, so I don't know the name or amount, but each size hat uses less than an average sized skein). I also used a small amount of chunky weight yarn in black, white, and orange for the eyes and beak.

Needles and hooks: The main body of the hat is knit using 5mm double pointed needles or circular needles. The crocheted eyes and beak use 5mm (H/8) hook.

Gauge: 3st = 1inch in stockinette stitch

Sizes: Small [newborn to 5 months, roughly 15 inch head circumference], (Medium [6 months to a year, 16-17inches], Large [a year to 2 years, 17-19 inches]). The sizes will be written in the pattern as follows: S(M, L).

ch: chain
dec: decrease (for crochet)
dpns: double pointed needles
k: knit
k2tog: Knit two stitches together
p: purl
sc: single crochet
ssk: slip, slip, knit (individually slip 2 stitches knitwise and knit them together)
st: stitch

With 5mm dpns or circular needles, cast on 40st(50, 58) in brown yarn and join in the round, being careful not to twist work.
Row1: knit 1, purl 1 around. Continue in k1 x p1 ribbing pattern until work measures 1"(1.5", 1.5")
Next row: Knit all stitches in the round until work measures 5.5"(5.75", 6.25") from beginning. Bind off.
Sew a straight seam along the top of the hat on the right side (a slip stitch crochet seam gives a nice firm seam that will help the "ears" stand up). See the diagram at the bottom.

Ear Flaps:
Rejoin the brown yarn roughly 0.5" from the side edge of the front of the hat.
Row 1: Using 5mm needles, pick up and knit 10 stitches.
Row 2 and all even rows: purl all stitches
Row 3: knit all stitches
Row 5: k1, k2tog, k4, ssk, k1
Row 7:k1, k2tog, k2, ssk, k1
Row 9: k1, k2tog, ssk, k1
Row 10: purl all stitches, bind off.

Weave in 9 long strands of yarn in the bound-off edge, braid them, and tie them off in a knot and trim ends to form a tassel.

Attach a second earflap in the same position on the opposite side of the hat (making sure that the knit side is on the right side of the hat), following the pattern in the same way. (The ear flaps should be closer together in the back than in the front of the hat). See the diagram at the bottom.

Weave in all ends of the hat.

Remember, if you don't know how to do crochet, you can always make the eyes and beak out of felt and sew them on.

Using a 5 mm crochet hook, ch 3 in black yarn and join in a circle using a slip stitch.
Row 1: Work 7 sc into the ring
Row 2: Switch to white yarn. Use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of each row. Work *one sc into the first sc, work 2 sc into the next sc*. Continue to work from * to * around the circle until you have completed a total of 3 rows in white. Fasten off, leaving a long tail to sew the eye onto the hat, weaving in the other ends.
Repeat to make the second eye.

Using a 5mm crochet hook and orange yarn, ch6
Row 1: Work 5 sc (starting in the second chain from hook)
Row 2:ch1, turn. Dec 1 stitch, sc in nect sc, dec 1 stitch.
Row 3: ch1, turn. Dec 1 stitch, sc in next sc.
Row 4: ch 1, turn. Dec 1. Fasten off, leaving a long tail to sew beak onto hat. Weave in the other end.

Position eyes and beak where you want them on the front of the hat and sew them on using a finishing needle, weaving in any extra ends. See the diagram below.

(Click on the image to make it larger)

I hope you enjoy it! If you notice any mistakes or if you have any suggestions, please please let me know!!!

That Frozen Lake

This weekend was the first time that I finally ventured out onto the frozen lake since I have moved here. I tend to forget about it. But the rest of the town doesn't! The lake is covered in snow mobiles and dog sledders, ice fishers and skiiers. It is quite the busy place! So Saturday, in the warm sunshine we walked out a little ways and I got to see my first dog sleds in action! Sunday we got even more adventurous and strapped on our cross country skis and went on a 14km adventure to the T-caves! We were trying to make it to the islands, but it proved to be too far for me. The snow is deep on the ice, but near the T-caves, the wind has blown off the snow and you can see the clear ice below. It looks to be several feet thick. We had to take off our skis and walk over this part to the shore.
By the time we made it back home, I was pretty pooped and now I have blisters on my feet, but it was all worth it. What a neat Winter playground!
We skied on well-worn dog sled tracks and snow mobile tracks.
The bare ice near the T-caves. You can hear a deep rumbling as the ice cracks due to expansion. It sends terror through your heart if you don't know what it is. Watch this youtube video I found that records the noise. It sounds pretty quiet in that video, but when it is right under you it sends shivers through your spine.
Can you see the "T" shape in the rock face? Those are the T-caves. Bonus points if you can spot the mark of Zorro.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Making it Through the Winter: A Livestock Update

Whew! It's February and now there are only a couple of months of Winter left! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
On the whole, it has been a very mild Winter, with the majority of days above freezing and very little snowfall (until last Saturday). However, 2 weeks ago, we had a deep freeze with temperatures dipping below -40c (-40f!) for nearly a week. It was a big adjustment for me and the chickens and rabbits. Last year the coldest it got was -30c, so this was slightly unexpected.
Those cold temperatures mean a lot of extra work with the animals. Even with heaters, the water for the chickens would freeze solid, so I was busy thawing and defrosting water for them. Also, eggs freeze and crack pretty quick in that weather, so I was always on the lookout. The heat lamps were turned on for both the bunnies and the chickens, although the chickens still preferred to spend time outside of the coop in the frigid sunshine. For that reason, Honeychile' has suffered some frostbite on her comb and will lose some of her points. I'm not sure there is much else we could have done about that! At night, the chickens made me contort my pregnant body into their run to catch them and throw them up into the coop at night. Something about the heat lamp at night made them avoid going to bed.
The bunnies just hunkered down in furry balls during the cold snap. I turned on a heat lamp for them, but they didn't seem to crowd under it. Their breath froze on their fur though, so I would use my hands to defrost the ice. The heated dog bowls that I got for the bunnies did a fantastic job and kept the water from freezing over, making my job easier.
I'm sure we all breathed easier when the temperature jumped right back up to above freezing. When it is -40, your boogers freeze, your eyelashes freeze together, and you can't take a deep breath without coughing. Not so pleasant. But I did have to walk into town one day because the car wouldn't start. Even a 15 minute walk feels like a life-or-death adventure. But all that is done with for now, and I am crossing my fingers that it will be the only really cold snap this Winter.
Gooseberry sitting on my lap in the warm sunshine, getting her tangles brushed out.
It is warm enough now to take off my mittens to do some of the chores.
Betty and Honeychile' enjoying the warmer weather. If you click on the picture, you can see the frostbite on Honeychile's comb.
They love a treat of scratch. It keeps them busy and happy.
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