And so it goes! Going, going and gone. The last moments of my last vacation are upon me. It has been a good week, quite productive, and if I must do my Puritanical inventory, I did get a lot accomplished. Not as much as was on my list, but it was good.
It’s funny, but in the last year or so, looking down the barrel of retirement, I have tried to set myself up for all the things that I want to do. Spinning, knitting, weaving, felting, sewing. Guernsey goats and lots of cheese and milk. I have found one of my dream looms (the Bergman), and gotten involved in my dream goat breed, the Golden Guernseys.
As far as the sewing goes, I have been planning on doing quite a bit of sewing with Maine Fiberarts, as well as with other friends who are good with fabric and machines. But I have a 1951 Singer in a cabinet that is heavy as all get-out. And so I have been searching very off-handedly for a Singer Featherweight for the last 6 months or so. Unbelievably, I found one on Craig’s List this past week (and it was not priced out of my reach). My husband and I were able to meet with the very nice lady who was selling it. We met at Barnes and Noble in Augusta yesterday morning. What a great little machine! I am looking forward to many happy hours with her.
Went out to get some hay this morning. We get some local hay but we also get some of the Canadian compressed bales, which are enormously heavy, but it’s a good bang for the buck, usually. I was driving the 1997 Ford F-350 diesel pickup today and halfway up I noticed that the brake pedal was going awfully low. But, I don’t drive The Beast very often, so I said nothing until all the brake warning lights came onto the dash. My husband said we were probably low of brake fluid, and he would get some and put it in on the way. Luckily, before the ton of hay went onto the truck, he realized we had a broken brake line in the back (as he was pouring in the brake fluid it was pouring out just as fast. Grr.) So moving on to plan #2, we just got a few bales, and turned around to limp home slowly. Thank goodness John drove! I would have been more than nervous, to say the least. Big sigh. Disaster averted, and another project for John. I know what he will be doing this week!
On a more pleasant note, I have been working on a very big fiber project since last summer. If you follow my Instagram feed, you may have seen several photos of my quilt-in-progress. Until last summer, I had not done any quilting for the better part of 30 years. Before my youngest was born I always had a quilt or knitting or weaving project on the go. I don’t know if it was the pins and needles that kind of stopped me with a toddler in tow, or if life just got in the way. (Most likely it was a space issue; the 4 of us lived in a small ranch in NJ and my loom took up a good chunk of the living room, and the spinning wheels had another corner. And then there were the toys and the books… Not much surface left for doing quilts!)
In the past few years I have been following a number of quilting blogs, and have been searching around to find a pattern for our bed quilt. I frequently have small sewing projects going, so I always have a stash of fabric, and that has been growing pretty consistently over the last couple of years. I finally began playing with a pattern I purchased from CluckCluckSew‘s lovely blog, something called “Juice Boxes,” and began matching up some fabrics that I am particularly fond of. I don’t feel that I had much summer last year for many reasons, but the little I did have on my own, I used to cut and sew about 220 quilt blocks. I have never pieced a quilt on a machine before, so this was a new process for me, and one that I am enjoying. (I also listened to about 10 audiobooks while I worked away on this lovely pattern. My favorite thing!)
Now the time has come to get those blocks sewn together and it’s proving a challenge! A queen-sized quilt is enormous, and a little cumbersome. But I am happy with the way it looks so far, although the blocks are not all lining up perfectly. It’s a very happy quilt, however, with lots of my favorite oranges, greens and yellows. I am beginning to suspect that it might not be quite as large as I would like, but we shall see. It’s keeping me out of trouble for the time being, at any rate :*)
Not blogging has felt terrible, but the end of the summer and the beginning of the school year were overwhelming. Our coastal summers are usually humid and hot in July, and warm days/cool nights in August with almost no humidity. This summer was a true bummer. Hot and humid all the way through August and into September. Oy! My asthma was not happy, and I did not get many things accomplished that I had on my list.
I found it difficult to rebound after my mother in law’s death, even after our wonderful time in Vinalhaven. Work consumed me. I ended up prepping for the new shape of my school library day job (taking over the running of 5 more school libraries, adding it to the two I already supervise), and I am ashamed to say that I let it suck the life out of me. Then halfway through August I took a bad fall and concussed myself, which led to at least 2 weeks of total shut-down. And there we have the summer that wasn’t!
I won’t even look at the list that I had so optimistically created last spring. No reason to do that. The one thing that kept me going all summer was my quilt project. I have been planning a quilt for our queen-sized bed for many, many years (I used to quilt like a maniac back in the ’80s). My original plan was side-lined because I just feel like I have very different tastes now that we have lived in our open and extremely light timber frame house for almost 13 years. But once I stumbled upon a pattern that is fun and very logical, every day I tried to sew up a few squares, and as of a few weeks ago I have 216, 7″ squares. So that is my summer legacy: a bevy of audiobooks and my sewing machine upstairs. Awesome! It is the first time I have pieced quilt squares with a machine, and it was addicting. I love it!
And so it goes. November is upon us and as much as I dread the time change, I do welcome the quiet and the time for working on things inside the house. But until the cold and the snow really envelope us, we are rushing to get the goat paddocks up to snuff and set up for the winter.
It’s good to be back to the blog! I have missed it.
It is truly The Last Week of the summer break! Lots of things to do, and I have been without my car, my trusty Subaru Forester (bought in the fall of 2002, a 2003 model with 225,000 miles on it), as it had some serious electrical problems. I wasn’t sure that our mechanic would find the problem, but at least as of tonight he says that it’s ready for a little more life. That’s one relief for the moment!
I have been frantically trying to organize the things in the house that will make life easier for being organized after I go back to work. And the heat and humidity have returned, so I have not been sad to be doing many things in the house. One of the jobs that I have been putting off for at least a year (I know, pathetic!) is hemming two pair of lovely linen slacks. I have worn them a few times, but when I go up stairs I am in danger of tripping on them. So I finally got that going. I love hand sewing of almost all types, love quilting, love machine sewing… but I HATE hemming! Particularly pants. Grrr. I am glad that I did the black pair at midday. It was tough enough to see what I was doing then, I wouldn’t be able to it tonight! I have one more leg to do, and then I hope they all look ok. If they don’t, I will ignore it if possible. As long as there is no tripping going on :*)
Another thing that I have been able to get going on is making chevre again. I am not keeping all the milk we get from SnowPea, a lot of it is going to our piggies. But for two days a couple of times a week I am keeping the milk, so I can at least do a 2.5 gallon batch. Having only one goat in milk is kind of like a mini-vacation, but it has its challenges too. I guess I have not lost my chevre touch, the newest batch is delish! I marinated one of them in olive oil, garlic, red and black pepper, fresh rosemary, and a little parsley. It was better than good! Looking forward to an autumn of making chevre and socking it away in the freezer for the spring.
And here’s to hoping more than one goat gets bred this fall!
Most of us grew up in a household that had a button box or bag. We had a very large, old tin filled to overload proportions. When I was in first grade my grandfather, a tailor, taught me how to sew buttons onto fabric. He was recuperating from cataract surgeries at our house, and we used to sit in the sunroom and sew. I had all different kinds of fabric scraps, and after he taught me how to do a running stitch and hem the material, he taught me how to get buttons on. I happily sewed buttons onto fabric in all different designs, and then just as happily cut them off and did it all over again. I was a very bad asthmatic as a child and I was used to doing quiet activities, particularly in the spring, and in my memory it was spring (although I have no one to corroborate that!). My troll doll collection all got new clothing that was adorned with many buttons the year after that!
I have no idea where my mother’s button tin ended up. Suffice it to say, I don’t have it. Every once in awhile I pick up some buttons, and when I anticipate a knitting project that will need them, I begin looking. I must have been moaning about not having a button box one day to our friend Chris, and a few months later, she showed up with this really wonderful gift: an old glass milk bottle filled to the brim with buttons! I just love that bottle, and for many months have had it sitting on our coffee table as it is so colorful. I love looking at it. My husband also appreciates the milk bottle, coming from a dairying family as he does, and it’s nice that molded into the glass is the name “Drew’s Dairy Inc, Augusta, Maine.” We have collected old milk bottles for many years, and the ones that my husband loves best are the ones that have the name of the dairy molded right into the glass.
So as I was finishing up a knitting project yesterday during the bad weather, I tipped out the button bottle and had a lot of fun picking through the little jewels. I happily took a lot of time to choose the correct combination of buttons for my project. The project was finished up this morning, and unfortunately I cannot put a photo in here as it is a gift that will accompany me to our yearly spinner’s group Christmas/Solstice/New Year’s party tomorrow. I will post a photo after that. Maybe whoever gets the gift will let me photograph them in it :*)
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!