Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.27

It's time for Friday's Hunt again, and the last Friday's Hunt for 2016.  It has been a fun meme!  I think Teresa at Eden Hills plans on starting it again for 2017, and I'll probably join since it helps keep me blogging.  When work is busy, I can't blog as often but I do try for once a week at least! This week, we have the opportunity to choose our letter of the alphabet.  As usual, we have week's favourite, and also celebrate, as our prompts.

Starts with R
R is the starting letter of a lot of good words!  Rest!  Relax!  Read!  Recuperate!  Rejuvenate! Revel!  I tried to spend time doing these things over the holidays, taking time to also reflect on the past year. For me, relaxing usually comes in the form of doing something creative with my hands, and this past week was no exception.  I did some spinning of some blue-faced Leicester fibre in lovely muted jewel tones.

I also starting making myself a new hat.  This is the Baa-ble Hat, depicting (of course) some sheep on a snowy day.  I think it's a really cute pattern and I'm making good progress on it.  I decided to do the sheep themselves in some angora blend yarn, which is giving them a lovely fluffy texture.
So, before we rush into the new year, I hope all of you take a little time for yourselves to relax and rejuvenate.

Week's Favourite
I think my favourite thing that happened in the past week was seeing the look on my mother's face when she opened the sweater that I had knitted for her as a Christmas gift.  I don't have a picture of that moment.  My mom had bought a sweater kit from Fleece Artist in 2010 but had not quite had the time to get to it, and she had never knit on circular needles before, so it was a bit overwhelming for her.  She had taken the kit out to show me this fall, and wondered if I could help her do it.  I took the kit home with me to "study the pattern" and "wind the skeins of yarn into centre-pull balls" for her (well, those were the excuses I used!). Instead, I actually knitted it as a gift.  It was the first sweater I ever made, but it came out quite well, I think.  My mother was just so stunned to see it sitting there in the box as she opened it - she had absolutely no idea.  I can't show you the look on her face, but I can show you the sweater.  It is knit in Fleece Artist blue-faced Leicester aran wool along with alpaca bouclé yarn that is mixed into the body and also makes the collar and sleeve cuffs.  It is the Trina Jacket, from Fleece Artist, if anybody wants to look up the pattern!

The body is in garter stitch and the sleeves are in stockinette.  It is a fairly easy sweater and only involves some provisional cast-ons for picking up later to do the sleeves.  Otherwise, it's all just knit and purl (and counting).  I think I might make one for myself!

Marc and I celebrated our holiday with visits to my parents, to his father and stepmom, and we will be visiting Marc's mom sometime soon.  We're also hoping to see his brother's family soon but we haven't got a date for that yet.  Our time with my parents was lovely, as always.  We are a quiet family and Christmas is also quiet - which is just how I like it!  We spend time doing jigsaw puzzles and collaborating on a large crossword puzzle that is annually published by the Globe and Mail newspaper here in Canada.  Here's a picture of it - it's a full-size newspaper spread and the clues are on the front and back of another separate page.  It still needs to be finished since we didn't have time to get to it all.

In our family, we have wonderful meals together and just enjoy time to chat and relax. I've had experiences in the past with other families where Christmas is extremely busy and loud and there are so many people in the house, with the noise of TV and/or music and/or children and/or pets all at the same time, and all these conversations going made me want to go and hide somewhere! I am definitely a quiet celebrator!  Maybe it would be different if I had grown up in a large family, but for me, Christmas is for quiet relaxation and reflection!  We wish you a wonderful new year ahead...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.26

Well, here it is, the final Friday's Hunt post for this round of the alphabet.  I am really pleased to have made it through the entire round, and I had a lot of fun doing my posts.  I'm looking forward to the next round!

Our host, Eden Hills, has given us these prompts for this week:  Starts with Z, Week's Favourite, and Holiday.

Starts with Z
This letter can be tricky, but I'm sharing a picture from a special guest blog photographer - my Dad! The first photograph for the letter Z is from the Metro Toronto Zoo.  It's a picture my Dad took in the late 1970s when we lived in Scarborough, Ontario.  Visiting the zoo was a favourite event for me in those days, and these adorable fennec foxes were always a treat to see!  This picture has a lovely composition, with the matching ear positions of the two front foxes, and the inquisitive little face of the one in the back.

Now that I'm older, I still adore animals, but I have mixed feelings about zoos.  The Metro Toronto Zoo is one of the ones that, in my opinion, does a really good job of providing proper enclosures for animals.  There are a lot of really awful zoos in the world these days, where animals are neglected and in very small enclosures with poor care.  I am strongly opposed to any kind of zoo that cannot properly care for and house the animals, and I'm not a big fan of "petting zoos" either, because those animals are often very stressed by all the handling and are subject to tremendous pressure on their immune systems from the constant moving around and the handling by hundreds of people every day. I believe that some well-run zoos provide a very valuable role in educating the public about animals and also do excellent work helping with the breeding and renewal of endangered species.  Biologists and other animal scientists have an excellent opportunity in zoos to study and learn more about animals, their habitats, their needs, and their illnesses.  It can help us to help them, and I believe that is ultimately a benefit to the animals and the human race as well.

Week's Favourite
It was a busy week, so I didn't take a lot of pictures this week.  My favourite of those that I did take is this one of a black-capped chickadee taking off from its perch on my bird feeder.  Wheeeee!

It's been very busy for work and with a variety of projects around here, so I didn't do any holiday decorating.  The one thing I did was get out one of my favourite holiday decor items, which is this metal reindeer.  It is supposed to have little round candles in its antler "cups" but I can't find any the right size at the moment.  One of these days!  Wishing everybody a happy holiday!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.25

Here I am, doing a Friday's Hunt on Saturday again.  Friday was a very busy day, and I was helping at Marc's workplace with their inventory counts, so it wasn't a good opportunity for blogging!  None the less, I don't want to miss the penultimate hunt, so here is the week's effort!

Our prompts from Eden Hills this week are Starts with Y, Week's Favourite, and Festive.

Starts with Y
I was going to do "yarn" for Y, but today I took some pictures outside, and I had another opportunity for this letter.  I took pictures of our yew shrubs in front of the house.  They are large shrubs that are weighed down by considerable snow at the moment, and because it was a cloudy morning, you can't really see the deep green in this view.

Yews are evergreens and they produce little red berries, although not very many of them.  We have 3 of these shrubs, but I only found berries on 2 of them.  I think the yew berries also look quite festive, in a natural way, so I am using this picture for both Y and festive!

Week's Favourite
My week's favourite is this picture of Lucky Nickel.  We have had 2 brutally cold days and nights, with wind chills down to -36 Celsius (-33 Fahrenheit) and I was really worried about both Lucky Nickel and the two sheep, since my barn didn't get built this fall.  The winds were gusting to over 70 kph (over 45 mph).  However, they have all been really well and haven't seemed to suffer any ill effects.  They have the hoop house made from an arched cattle panel with tarps over it, so at least that protected them from the wind.  Still, I am glad that the temperature is headed back to "normal" levels of cold today.

I really haven't had time to do anything festive in the house this year.  I've been very busy with work projects and other things, so I haven't put up a tree at home, especially since I helped with my parents' tree, so that was my festive effort!  However, as I mentioned above, I went outside and thought that it would be nice to take some natural festive pictures, since so much of what is considered "festive" is so commercialized these days.  The yew berry above was a lovely festive shot, I though.  Here are a few more shots that had a festive air to them.

This bird feeder has a snow hat, which looks quite festive, and the sun coming through the branches in the background (it made a very brief appearance) gave a bit of a festive glow.

This was a view through the woods while the sun was trying to come out.  Again, the woods with the snow and the glow seem festive to me.

Looking back at our house through the woods seemed to be a festive scene as well.  The smoke from the wood stove chimney gives a cozy feeling, and the snow blanket on the roof is a bit like something from a children's story book or a Christmas card.  I'm glad I have a warm and cozy house, even if it isn't very festive on the inside!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Tree Ornaments

It was great to spend time with my parents, decorating their Christmas tree.  Our family tree has many ornaments on it, a large majority of which are handmade.  Some also come from trips that have been taken to various places, with the ornament having been purchased as a memory of that trip.  It is wonderful to get the ornaments out each year and remember their stories.  I thought I would share some of the ornaments (especially sheep themed ones!) for a post to share with the All Seasons meme hosted by Jesh in California.  Lots of pictures here, so sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy!

Here's a little cross-stitched ornament I made many years ago as part of a set of 4 farm-themed stockings.  There's a sheep, a chicken, a bird feeder, and a pig.  They're cute little ornaments that fit our mostly-handmade theme.  You can see a handmade straw ornament from Europe in this picture to the lower left.

Here's a little alpaca ornament that I love - so fluffy!  I crocheted the star on the right, and my mom needle-felted the owl on the left.  We do love fibre arts!

Here's another little woolly sheep with a scarf to keep her warm.

This sheep is one of a set of 3 ceramic ornaments - a sheep, a cow and a pig.  They are quite heavy so this one needs to go on a sturdy branch.  To the right, you'll see a wee nativity scene that is a very old wooden ornament, and in the background there's a wooden bird that I bought on a visit to Prague.

Here's a pear that I knitted for the tree (yes, there's a partridge, keep scrolling!) and next to it is a little felted hen sitting in a golden walnut shell nest.  My mom made a set of those cute hen ornaments!

Here's the partridge - but he's crocheted, not knitted.

This lovely woolly sheep is a Nova Scotian artist's ornament - such a neat design.  Behind it is a felt snowman couple that was made for me when I was a little child by my next door neighbor's grandmother.  She made several lovely ornaments for me then.  I think that was about 40 years ago.  There's also a star made from wood shavings under the sheep.

This is a silk hand-painted parrot ornament - very tropical!

Here's another sweet little hen on her walnut shell nest!  My mom does a great job on her needle-felted ornaments.

I don't recall where this ornament came from but it is so cute!  It's a little mouse and she's sitting inside a thimble, which you can't see in this picture.   Very detailed work, but so effective!

This is one of my mother's favourites - it's a little wooden tree with cut-out gingerbread men hanging on it.  We haven't seen any like this again - quite unusual.

 Yet another woolly felted sheep!

This little dog on a cushion is an ornament I made in my teens.  I made ornaments to sell one year, and this was one of the designs.  They sold really well!  We still have a couple of these on the tree.

Here's a traditional Christmas pudding that I crocheted.

Here's a sweet little felt mouse in a stocking, handmade and embroidered by my mom.  It's one of my favourite ornaments, too!

This owl was also made by my childhood friend's grandmother.  A simple but cute design!

My parents have a Welsh Terrier, Bella.  She's their third Welshie, and here's an ornament depicting a Welsh Terrier made out of felt.  You can also see a couple of ceramic mouse ornaments from an artist I like who has ornaments made of some of her paintings.

This pair of mice are also hand-made from felt by my mother, and she gave them very snazzy outfits for the holidays!

This mouse is another cute ornament, although I don't remember where it came from.  He's wearing a sweet little chef's hat and carrying a candy cane.

I hope you've enjoyed this little tree "tour" around some of my favourite ornaments, and maybe even have some ideas of some ornaments to make for yourself!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.24

Today is Saturday, but I was visiting my parents yesterday, so I wasn't able to get to the blog such, it's Friday's Hunt, a day late!  The prompts for this week are, Starts with X, Week's Favourite, and Lights.

Starts with X
This is a tricky letter, but I have a rather good solution for it!  This is my xylophone!

It is a very special xylophone, because it was made for me by my father.  I believe I was about 10 years old when he made it, although I could be wrong.  As you can see, it is made from two different woods.  The main body is pine (look at those lovely end joints!) and the keys are made from rosewood.  Each of the keys was carefully tuned by slowly carving wood out from the middle section on the underside of the key.  He had to test them frequently to be sure they were correctly tuned.

Then he made two sets of hammers for it - one set is solid wood and the set pictured is made from a long strip of tapered leather wrapped around the end of the dowel to make a softer-sounding hammer. When you run those hammers across the keys, it sounds like a babbling brook.  It is a really lovely instrument.  I played it for many years at home, and since then, other children have had the opportunity to play it when they visit my parents.  My Dad also made the table that the xylophone is sitting upon - he's a very talented woodworker!

Week's Favourite
I didn't take many pictures this week, so here's a favourite from a couple of weeks ago.  This is our adopted rabbit, Pippin, in one of his classic poses on the windowsill, where he likes to sit while I knit on the couch that backs onto this window.  He is very elegant bun!

I was able to help my parents decorate their (real) Christmas tree on my visit with them, which was a delight for me because I was able to look at all the ornaments that I know and love, some of which I made, and enjoy putting them up on the tree.  Most of the ornaments are handmade, or gifts, and some of them are from my parents' travels, or trips that I have been on.  Of course, the first stage of decorating the tree is adding the lights - which my Dad usually does with help from my Mom.  I had to be at a work reception in Halifax, so they worked on the lights while I was out.  Then we did the decorating when I was back, and we sat back to enjoy the fruits of our labour.  It really is a lovely tree, and the twinkling lights are perfect.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.23

Today is Friday, so it's time for Eden Hills' Friday's Hunt.  Today I am quite sad, because my dear goat Fezzik died last night.  He was a very special goat, and I am heartbroken at having lost him.  Today's post will be a bit subdued, I think, because I am not in a very jolly frame of mind at the moment.  Routine is good, though, when life throws a curve ball, so I'm still doing Friday's Hunt.

Today's subjects are:  Starts with W, Week's Favourite, and Machine.

Starts with W
I knew that W was approaching, so a few weeks ago I took this picture of our weathervane, on a sunny day.  This weathervane is on the top of the outbuilding that will be Marc's motorcycle workshop.  I love the fact that it is a rooster, since I am so fond of chickens.  It makes a squeaking sound when it turns, so I always know when the wind is changing if I am outdoors.  If you look closely, you will also see the W for west in the picture!

Week's Favourite
My favourite picture this week was not taken this week.  It is a picture taken about five years ago, when my goat, Fezzik, was young.  I chose it because Fezzik died sometime last night, and I am so heartbroken at his passing.  He was my favourite goat, and he was gone too soon.  He was a wee runt of an angora goat that I bought on a bit of an impulse.  He could not stand up on his own when I bought him, and was tremendously weak and compromised due to numerous health issues.  It took about 3 months for him to be able to stand up on his own for any length of time.  He was always falling over when I first got him, and he could not stand up again when he fell.  I was so very honoured to have him for nearly 6 years.  He was a dear goat, and a daily reminder to me that even when the odds are stacked against you, you can still make it through.  I will miss him tremendously.

Here are a couple of machines that I hope to start using again very soon.  I am still working on organizing my crafting space, but my sewing machine and serger are set up on my work table, and I have some projects that need to be done soon.   I am excited because I asked my father to make me a thread spool shelf for Christmas and the project is well underway.  It will be great to have a space to store all my thread spools on the wall - it will be useful, but also colourful!

There are so many machines in our lives.  I thought about it as I was preparing this post.  Almost every room has a machine of some sort.  There is the washing machine and the dryer, the dishwasher, the oven, the stand mixer and food processor, the immersion blender, the toaster oven, the grandfather clocks (well, they are a machine of a sort!), the central vac system, the computers, the printers, the cars and motorcycles, the snowblower and roto-tiller, the list goes on!  We have so many machines to help us get things done in our daily lives.  I am grateful for the time that some machines save, so that I can spend more time doing things I truly enjoy.  I'm also grateful for the machines that help me do things I enjoy, like sewing, and even my spinning wheel, which is another machine - albeit a very old fashioned one.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday's Hunt v. 2.22

Friday rolls around every week, and here's my post for Eden Hills' Friday's Hunt.

This week's prompts are:  Starts with V, Week's Favourite, and Thankful.

Starts with V
Last week, you might remember that I shared a picture of a shrew that was gathering seed under my bird feeder.  This week, as if it knew that I needed a letter V picture, a vole showed up in the same place (at least, I'm fairly sure it's a vole, since it definitely isn't a shrew or a mouse).  I was so excited to actually see the vole and be able to photograph it through the window.  The pictures aren't great because they are through window glass, and also because the vole is very fast.  I tried to do some research on vole species that live here in New Brunswick and I think the only one it can be is the meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus).

I think he (or she) is just the cutest little critter!  I love that golden brown fur and those sweet little ears.

Voles do look somewhat similar to mice, but they have a more rounded nose.

You can also see that the tail is relatively short, at least compared to a mouse tail.

If anyone thinks it's not a vole - please let me know!  I'm not a vole expert - its just my best, semi-educated guess.

Week's Favourite
My favourite shot this week was something I haven't seen before - at least not quite like this.  We had our first snow on Thursday morning, and when I went outside to fill the bird feeders and look for picture opportunities, I saw this unusual sight.

It's a strand of spider web hanging from the gutter all the way down to the steps, and snowflakes had adhered along the entire length of the strand, making a glittering string of snowflakes in front of the door.

I have seen snowflakes on spider webs before, but never on a single long strand like this.

It was Thanksgiving in the USA this week.  In Canada, we have Thanksgiving in October.  This year, it was on October 10th.  Even though it isn't Thanksgiving time here, I often count my blessings, and think about the many things I have to be thankful for.  Among the many things I am thankful for every day (in no particular order) are:
  • my wonderful husband, Marc
  • my dear parents, who have always been there for me through thick and thin
  • my spinning and knitting friends, with whom I spend happy hours pursuing my hobbies and sharing their good company
  • friends in many parts of the world - some in places I have lived, some that I have never actually met, but all of whom are special to me and whose friendships I value dearly
  • the ability to work for myself doing something that I enjoy
  • the opportunities I have had in life for a good education, a multi-faceted career, and broad experience in travel, arts, culture and history
  • my furry and fleecy friends who make me smile every day
I'm especially thankful for the home where I now live and its beautiful surroundings.  I feel very lucky to have found this home and to be able to share it with Marc, and to have a yard where I can walk around and see the magic of nature each and every day.  Here are a few photos of the surroundings for which I am always thankful.