Friday, April 1, 2016

All done!

Zick-Zack is finished, and I was able to wear it at least once this season. It remains to be seen whether weather will give me another opportunity before next fall. Yet, I was very happy to wear it to rehearsal this Wednesday and need I say, it's my favorite at the moment. Visually exciting, a riot of color, what more could one want?

(Excuse the photo quality... trying to be my own model... :))

Crafting my floors

The kitchen and 1st floor bathroom tile that I inherited wasn't really my cup of tea. It was nice enough, but the color was somewhat drab--although I have to say it hides dirt well! :) I looked into the cost of laying down a new lino floor when I first got here and it was prohibitive (and a lot more than I expected!). I cannot make it a top priority, ditto new cabinets and counter, although I admit to being quite fond of the current cabinets. They are solid and functional and they've been here a while, I like that. No hurry to replace them. The counter top? Well, yes, it would be nice to have something new. This one is showing some age. Still, it's bright and not unreasonably worn. But... a renovation/remodel is not in the works. Not for some time.

A make-over, on the other hand... well that's what's occupied much of my time these past few weeks. It began when I decided to lighten up the cabinets from their darker palette. I chose 2 different whites and it makes a world of difference. The kitchen now appears much brighter and lighter than before.

Working on the cabinets put me in a mood for makeovers and I started to browse the WWW for ideas. I went in direct search of info on painting over tiles--there's a lot out there. I pretty much knew I wanted to do checkerboard in large squares (larger than the 12" tiles in the house) and I wanted natural colors. I chose a tan that is similar to terracotta and a red that is similar to brick. Sherwin-Williams low VOC, latex floor paint, a gallon of each was more than enough. Today I put the final 2 coats (3 in all) of clear polyurethane over the paint job and it looks nice. I used "Vermont Natural Coatings", a water-based clear satin finish with lower than average VOC. It's a very nice product.

For the bathroom floor, which was done in the same tiles as the kitchen, I chose 2 tones of bluish grey and some gold stencil paint. Tomorrow I will put the final coat of clear finish over that.

I found a very pretty farmhouse-looking table and ladder-back chairs this afternoon at a local repurpose shop and they will replace my current kitchen table. I'll have to let the floors cure for another week, but by this time next week, my kitchen should be looking well spruced up! :)

This is what the original tiles looked like: (clicken to enlargen, of course)

This is what the new "tiles" look like, with a view of the new paint job on the cabinets:

Here's a better view of some of the cabinets (and I put knobs on them, they didn't have any before):

And this is my new bathroom floor:

In all these pictures, the clear poly finish was not yet applied.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Zick-Zack progress

Almost there! I think another 8" or so will do it. This is being knit on size 3 needles so it takes a while. Must say I've been enjoying it thoroughly, such an easy pattern not requiring tremendous amounts of focus. And tons of color--my favorite! I think the results are pretty spectacular. I've utilized more than the 2 colorways called for by the pattern, going with 4 or 5 different variations. I love the variety.

Monday, March 21, 2016

1878 and all that ...

I wanted to hold this post until I re-made a video of my new sewing machine, but since I'm not getting around to that task, I'll post the original, very short video I made.

What is this new Machine, you ask? It's a Wheeler & Wilson sewing machine #8 from 1878. I got it for a steal after waiting several months--all the while watching it's asking price fall from high to "low enough". I'm quite surprised it wasn't snatched up earlier; I've seen these disappear the same day they are posted. I drove about an hour to pick it up. It didn't make a stitch at first so one-by-one, I checked the most obvious trouble spots.

I discovered so much lint build up in the feed dogs, and it had packed in so tightly as to have practically become felt. I cleaned that all out then noticed that the dogs moved up and down but not forward to back. For that, I had to check underneath and found some mechanisms gunked up with hardened grease which was preventing free motion. Eventually, they freed themselves and now work quite fine. In the video, I had not yet quite got them working at max, so the stitches are quite small in the video. All other parts appeared to be working as they should.

Still, it would not make a stitch. Thinking perhaps the tensions were wrong, I played around with both the top and bottom tension regulators--to no avail. I checked my threading. Luckily, the machine came with 2 copies of the manual, so I conferred within to make sure I'd threaded it correctly. Indeed, I had. A few words, however, eventually dawned on me. The manual mentioned the 'grooved' needle. Hm. I wonder if this needle has a groove in it? No, it did not. Wonder of wonders, there were a scattering of old needles in the bottom of one drawer of the cabinet and I found one with said groove. That did it! After I replaced the machine's needle with the grooved one, it worked! I was pretty happy about then.

Here is a picture of the machine and cabinet the afternoon I brought them home. You'll notice that all the moving parts are visible--nothing is hidden. Perhaps you'll also notice that the head is quite small compared to later machines. It's such a beautiful and elegant piece of machinery.

Here's the little video I made which is too short, and before I had the presser foot working completely smoothly. But I hope you'll get the essense of it...

Happy, happy!

Last week I made some quick & easy, everyday reversible placemats. All the sewing except the top stitching was done on this Wheeler & Wilson---I did that on the 1940s White Rotary because I have very good control of that machine. I like these placemats for their simplicity, yet they have a charming warmth. And easy to construct of scraps--and easy-care to boot, simply throw them in the washer when needed.

Happy sewing!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The situation...

It looks, from the current vantage point, that this year may not see more than a post a month. I sincerely hope to muster at least one per thirty days. And who knows, maybe after this dry-ish spell I'll tap a flow once more. That would be my preference. Looking around at other personal blogs, I see I'm not alone in this experience, so there is that. I can guarantee a few posts this week: Progress is made on the zick-zack scarf and I'll have new pics to show about that; our spring concert is Sunday and I'll want to report on that; I have a new sewing machine and I can't wait to share that!; some quick and easy placemats and napkins in the works; spring is here?--to be discusssed.

Stay tuned. :)

In the meantime, a few pics from a recent walk...

Snow, pavement, and mud.

Old leaves, soil, melting snow. Renewal.

Upward corkscrew.

Halls Brook.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New projects, another walk, and orchestra ...

I have veered off the piecing/quilting path for a bit to spend some time with my old friends, the knitting needles.

Picked up a bit of yarn yesterday for a scarf called ZickZack; I found the pattern at the store. I'm using size 3 needles and therefore expect the project to take some time, but it's a relaxing knit, not requiring too much attention. But just enough attention and counting to keep an internal mantra going, which I suspect accounts for it's relaxing effect. The picture of a finished scarf is quite appealing indeed.

I've also started a new hat in stranded technique. More to come on that, next time.

The program for our orchestra's spring concert has been set. It will consist of 2 Haydn Symphonies. #99 and #104. Both very beautiful. Concert is in about 7 weeks.

I took a short walk earlier this afternoon. We enjoyed a bright, beautiful, crisp winter day here. My favorite. The brook is frozen over in most places and the ice makes interesting formations.

To come shortly: a new weaving project, and this evening I found my next knitting project! :)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Happy New Year!

Turning a new corner. Here's looking forward to a fine year--slightly less tumultuous than last is my wish! More often than not, 2015 felt like being hurled against the rocks at cliff's bottom, the unrelenting sea of life allowing little in the way of smooth sailing. But here we are, at the start of our trip around the sun once again. To everyone's health, happiness, peace, and comfort.

The past few weeks saw the finishing of the scarf which I knitted from the yarns I spun last summer. Actually, I finished it twice. I was so anxious to wear it, I allowed myself to cut it a bit short--and that, my friends, turned out to be a bit short sighted! Last night I undid the border at one end and removed an inch of i-cord edging so that I could add another 8" to the scarf. I just finished giving it a Eucalan soak and it's blocked out for it's second debut. I'm very fond of this scarf. Obviously, having spun the yarn myself makes it special, but also the design is my own. Nothing especially original, but still, I didn't use someone else's pattern.

I've made a few walks since 15 turned to 16. Most lovely walks. The surrounds here are so picturesque. I ventured a short ways down one of the "class VI" (unmaintained) side roads recently, because I knew that there must be a bridge spanning Halls Brook not too far along. I was right and it was beautiful there where the bridge spans, as other streams and brooks come flowing down into Halls Brook. This beautiful spot is only 10 minutes from my house on foot.

On my virgin venture down "Old Rumney Road"--another class VI path--a few weeks ago, to buy eggs from a neighbor, I discovered the foundation and memorial for the North Groton Church. It burned sometime in the 1940s. Back then, North Groton had a church and a general store! I think this coming summer I'll make an appointment to spend some hours at the Groton Historical Society which is housed in an old one-room schoolhouse down the street. I think it will be most fascinating to learn about this place's history.

It snowed again yesterday. Most beautiful. No where near the snowfalls we had last year and the year before, but I'm OK with that for this year.

I decided to make a Sunday drive up the notch this afternoon and the view did not disappoint.

I spent an hour in Lincoln looking at the skiers on Loon Mtn. while enjoying pizza, and then forayed into an antique shop where I found this old hooked rug. It has a pretty bad tear right in the center, plus another tear off to one side, but I think I can repair it. Being unsure I'd take it because of the tears, I decided to inquire about the price (it wasn't marked). The man behind the counter had to call his wife to find out asking price was $20. How could I refuse? I'm most certain it's hand hooked and I'm pretty sure I can mend the tears, and if I can't? I won't be out big bucks! I like the colors in it quite much.

I'm currently spinning some deep purple wool/mohair blend to end up in a new cap. There's also a new quilt top in the works but progressing a bit slowly since the holidays. Headway will probably pick up in the next week or so.

Here's Ciello--dear, sweet Ciello--helping me make pasta Friday evening. He was most interested in tasting! :)

I think it's going to be a good year.