Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heirlooms, Ancestors And My Connection To The Past

I have always been an "old fashioned" girl in the sense that I've always felt a connection to the past, a simpler way and a drive to do things by hand.  It comes to me, I'm sure, right through my DNA...my Grandmothers and all of those before them, were of the generation were one needed to preserve food to be able to eat out of season, their generations were also before the mass-produced-I-want-it-now-disposable times that we live in now.  That meant that every scrap of cloth left over from making something new or good bits from cutting up something old were thrown in the scrap basket and reused to make all kinds of things.  My Mother told me about my Grandmother's cleaver way of cutting out the backs of my Grandfather's shirts to use for making embroidered doilies and what-nots, because the backs never got worn and holey like the elbows...that's my Gran!  My Father told me a story also about my other Grandmother's abilities, she once received a hand me down coat from a cousin who was a large man, she measured and planned and cut and sewed and made TWO coats out of it for her younger boys!

When I read about my family history, or listen to stories told by my parents of their lives and pasts, what I really read and hear is why I am the way I am and it all comes together and makes sense.  In the most recent past on both sides of my family (and I'm sure this can be said for many families) I've discovered, fishing, farming, singing, sewing, knitting, shoe making, snow shoe making, fine wood working, sail making and of course all of the domestic chores.  It's a shame to disconnect from our domestic and cultural histories, to loose the knowledge that everyone once had, to become culturally amnesic.  It was only 1 or 2 generations ago that everyone knew a little about everything instead of modern times where few of us know much more than about any one thing.

I'd like to share with you a beautiful modern family heirloom that I recently became the custodian of.  About 15 years ago, my Father, being a hobby woodworker (it's in his DNA, because his career was actually in the medical field) decided to make a spinning wheel...from scratch...for my sister who had learned to spin in a textile class years ago in High School.  The ratio of drive band to bobbin was a bit to close to each other so the yarn spun like crazy but had trouble being picked up by the bobbin.  I knew, I just instinctively knew that I could get this beautiful piece of art not only whirling but actually working.  So one morning, just recently, I put time aside and dedicated it heart and sole to my beautiful wheel.  We had had the idea of filling the grove on the bobbin to change the ratio and it had worked but still wasn't quite right.  So I filled it to capacity leaving just enough of a grove for the drive band not to fall out and I oiled every nook and cranny of the wheel which I don't believe had been done.

Check out what I managed to get on the bobbin within a half an hour:

Now check out the wheel itself:

It's a thing of beauty, a true work of art.  It's beautiful and functional and is a real family heirloom.  I will treasure it and care for it until it's time to pass it to the next family member.  Well done Dad.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Excitement In The Air!

The air around me is all abuzz with excitement over a little project I've been working on.  I'll just give you a little hint to whet your knitterly appetites..........

My we little e-booklet that I've been working on will be available in early October 2012 on Ravelry and here on my website.  I'm very happy with the work I'm doing and although the patterns aren't complicated, I'm still pretty proud that I've managed to do this.

2 Hats, 1 Pair of Fingerless Mitts and 1 Pair of Socks....yup, that's what's coming!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mes Chaussettes

As a knitter there are a few basic necessities I like to have for myself, the most important being hand knit, wool socks.  I checked out my sock drawer recently and much to my horror, found a pile of old, holey, worn things that resembled nice hand made socks that I used to have.  I guess it's much like the cobbler's kids and the state of their shoes:)  I guess it's time to sit down and get to work making a few pairs to add to the pile!

I won a beautiful skein of yarn a few years ago at a spinning retreat that I immediately put away to save for a pair of socks to make for myself.  I know there is a good amount of wool content in this yarn and their may be a little mohair also (I neglected to ask), it's very soft and silky and feels good on the hands and I'm pretty sure it was hand spun.  Very, very beautifully hand spun I might add.

Since I only have the one skein, I decided to make an abbreviated version of my regular ribbed socks, meaning that they are more of an ankle sock than a full size.  I made them a little snugger too by going down a needle size and adding a few stitches with the hopes that this will make them a little tougher giving them a longer life.

The colour is darker and more gingery than showing in this picture, which makes me love them even more...the colour couldn't be more me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Simple pleasures can be found all around us, we just have to take the time to look.

Gifts from a lovingly tended garden, thank you Mother Earth.

Gifts from faithful customers, thank you A and M.

I take such pleasure in enjoying what nature (and my neighbours) has to share.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What I Did On My Summer Vacation....

Woooooowaaaaa.....are you enjoying this freakin' heat!!!!!!!

So, Mr. Homesteader and I not only like to live the simpler life at home, we vacation and enjoy our off time in much the same manner.  Our love of old, useful stuff extends to our camper too!  We are vintage, fiberglass camper enthusiasts, so much so that we just bought vintage fiberglass camper number 5 (and sold number 4).  This time we have a 17 foot Boler made here in Canada in 1978, not as old as our previous 13 foot Trillium (also Canadian made) from 1973 but still full of vintage charm.  Part of our love of these quirky, old, moulded, fiberglass beauties is the restoration.  Not that I love cleaning and scrubbing moldy, neglected campers but to see them brought back to life is very satisfying not to mention more environmentally friendly than ordering up a new one made to specs, right off of the line.  They are also very lightweight making them easy to tow, using less gas to get from A to B.

This is the before picture of Big Boler's exterior....

...I don't have an "after" shot yet because we just started fixing it up.

I do have a before and after shot of the dinette cushions though, I spent the last 2 days reupholstering them and I think they look great.

Dinette cushions before...

Dinette cushions after...

Mr. spent the weekend cleaning the interior and he has plans to make permanent bunks at the back of the camper.  I'll show you the before and after of that next spring:)  We'll also be installing a new vinyl floor and tidying up the appliances (they all work fine, they just don't look so great any more).  Curtains to follow as well, they will match the new cushion upholstery.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


A short while ago Mr. and I joined a bunch of camping friends in St. Martin's, New Brunswick.  Neither of us had been there before and we were both enchanted by the beauty and charm of this wee little village.  Set along the Bay of Fundy (famous for the worlds highest tides) you will find not 1, but 2 covered bridges, several little art galleries and craft shops and a few stores that have everything you want for a fun weekend.

I took this picture of one covered bridge while standing at the mouth of the other.  Unbeknownst to me, this is the only place in Canada where you can take a picture of two covered bridges at once!

The folks at Century Farm Campground were wonderful and I would recommend this spot to anyone who would like a nice East Coast getaway.