Tag Archives: maple syrup

The luck of the person-sewn mitt

I’m really lucky.  I know this.  I feel grateful for it.  I work really hard, and I do my best at most things, and I try to be good and kind and fair (but sometimes I fail), so I deserve some of the things I have.  But I am also lucky.  I am lucky enough to have a fantastic job, and a lovely partner, and an amazing dog, and a farm and a pair of beautiful person-made (I was going to say hand-made, but she used a machine, so I don’t know if that’s appropriate.  I’m not a quilter.  We’ve been over this before.  Anyways, they were made by a person, and I know her name, and she doesn’t live super ridiculously far away, even if she lives in Alaska) from vintage fabric oven mitts.Pretty mitts.  I know – who cares about the job and farm and dog and partner if you can have beautiful oven mitts.  And I don’t really know how I got them.  I saw them on facebook, and then found out they were made by this woman who’s coming to my little island to teach a quilting class, and then I asked her for some, but then she told me that she was doing a trade with my amazing neighbour… who then proceeded to give them to me.  See?  Lucky.Really pretty mitts.

A friend of mine came over for dinner the other night and said that she’d made 2 resolutions for the year.  1 was to fix everything.  I don’t know why one would need a second resolution if the first was to fix everything, but one may need more than a year.  I’ve tried to keep my resolutions more simple (and achievable, but I’m not pooping on anyone’s parades).

1) 15 minutes of cleaning per day.  Putting away laundry and dishes and general tidying doesn’t count.  Washing the stairs, clearing out old boxes and scrubbing (half) of the tub count.  So far I’ve done it every day.  If I last another 30 days or so I’ll have reached the whole house.  Maybe.  I’m trying.

2) I want to knit a marathon.  I don’t need to buy a marathon of yarn (although the thought of it kind of makes me want to try, but then I start to feel dirty and consumer-y and I don’t like it, but I like the pretty yarn, so we’ll see).  Some super inspiring ladies I know ran a marathon last year, but I don’t like running and it doesn’t feel good on my knee, and I like to knit, so I’m going to knit a marathon instead.  So far I’ve knit about 300 yards.  Only about 45 825 yards to go.  Uh oh.  Maybe this goal isn’t so realistic.  Drat.  Well, I’m going to try?

I had to go to work today.  I like going to work.  I don’t like waking up at 6 am when it’s dark out.  I also don’t like going to work when there are exciting things happening at home, like the tapping of the maple trees.  If only there were more daylight hours in the day… although today there was almost 12 minutes more daylight than there was on the solstice, so that’s nice.  I wish I had enjoyed those 12 minutes a little more…

Each of these 4 L jugs full of maple water will make approximately 80 mL of syrup.

Each of these 4 L jugs full of maple water will make approximately 80 mL of syrup.

Sometimes it drips.  Sometimes it drools?
Sometimes it drips. Sometimes it drools?

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Perfect Christmas break

Happy New Years, Merry Christmas, and what a lovely, lovely holiday.  Jer, Mia and I spent almost a week in Tofino with my mom and stepdad over Christmas.  It was the absolute perfect vacation.  I find it difficult to sit and read or knit for more than half an hour or so at a time when I’m home as there are always a million things to do – chop some wood, stack some wood, plant some bulbs, braid some garlic, do some dishes, ask Jeremy to do some dishes, sweep, mop, dust, sweep, mark student work, weed, plant, harvest and on and on and on.  But Tofino’s not like that.  Sure, there are things to do.  Like walk on the beach with my dog.  And eat food.  And put dishes into the DISHWASHER (Jer’s my dishwasher, but he doesn’t like it when I put dishes in him).  And snuggle my dog.  And read, and knit, and do crossword puzzles, and knit, and knit.  I got to knit and read for hours at a time and I didn’t feel guilty about it.  Ever.  Vacations should always be about having time to read and knit and not feel guilty.  That should be their purpose.

Speaking of which, I bought over 5000 yards of yarn today to knit with.  That’s a lot of knitting.  I dreamed about knitting last night.  This break is also about finishing projects, especially ones that have been sitting for months.  2 pairs of socks and 2 sweaters.  Awesome.

Vacations should also be about friends.  We had 5 come and spend New Years with us.  We had a fire and roasted marshmallows and a certain 5 year old became covered in sticky goo.  He had it in his (long curly) hair.  I thought Mia had rubbed up against a sappy tree.  But really, she’d just rubbed against a sticky boy.

Vacations should also be about getting some things done.  We rearranged some furniture, tapped our maple trees, and did some firewood for next year.  Tomorrow is the beginning of the weekend, and I’m ready.  Perfect Christmas break.

Update on speed, but not really

So I’m going to tell you all about my quilting class and what I’m learning from it again, and how that relates to the rest of my life.

I don’t hate to sew.  I hate My quilt block!  Each star point is about 11 inches long...the mess that sewing creates in my life.  I hate the setup, and I REALLY hate the take-down.  I’m not very good at either, and I don’t have the patience for it.  It’s the same reason I will never (probably not EVER) have a clean house.  I don’t care enough.  I would rather sit and knit (or sew) than sweep under my couch, or dust my shelves.  There will just be more dust It's orange and pink and I love ittomorrow.  My sewing machine does not have a home.  That is a lie.  It does have a home.  In it’s case, in a cupboard.  When it is not there, it is sitting on the kitchen table, where it would probably sit for a month because I am too lazy (and by lazy, I mean busy knitting) to put it away.  I am even worse with the iron.  I do not own an ironing board.  My iron came from the Free Store (an institution on many of the Gulf Islands – just like a thrift store, except everything is free).  I don’t really trust it.  So I hate setting up my sewing machine, hate setting up my iron even more, and hate putting them away most of all.  I don’t need to set anything up to hand quilt.  Nothing at all.  My new handspun handknit hatMaybe I’ll have to iron every once in a while, but I’m hoping to get away from that, if I can… or maybe just convince my neighbour to do it for me.  Although I’ve been told it’s not called “ironing”, but “pressing”… both sound like work to me.  I like the sewing part.

I feel like a bit of an imposter right now.  I’ve always thought that I hated to sew, kind of like the way I hated cats.  Now I’m the one that’s asking Jer if we can get a new kitten, because Ozdick, I think, has found a new forever home and may never ever come back.  Boo.

I’m going to finish knitting Jer’s socks this week, but this is supposed to be a farm blog and maybe ya’ll want to know some farmy news.

We finished collecting maple sap today – the trees haven’t been running for a little while, so we took out the spigots and are boiling down the last of our sap.  So far we’ve made about 8 litres, and we’ve got at least another 4 or 5, so we’re The wrath of Ponyboy when one of his ladies is "attacked"hoping to sell some syrup this year.  We’re starting to see evidence of some of the bulbs we planted shortly after my birthday and promptly forgot about – tulips and alliums and daffodils.  The daffodils look like they’re getting ready to bloom, and the nettles are starting to grow like stink everywhere we look!  We’re hard at work digging post holes around the house to put in a fenceClipped chicken's wing so I can grow flowers, and today we clipped our chicken’s wings so they stop flying over our fence and eating all of our garlic, but Jer got pecked by Ponyboy in the kerfuffle.  Whew!  Update on speed!

Happy family day ya’ll!

A Slow Manifesto

I had my first (ever) quilting class tonight.  I signed up for this class because I don’t really like to sew and thought that maybe if someone taught me I may like it… and I do.  I like to sew by hand because I have control and am able to do what I want the way that I want and it’s slow.  I like to be slow.  I like to live slow, I like to think slow, I like to act slow.

Most of that last sentence is a lie, in case you don’t know me.  I am not slow.  I do very few things slowly.  I am not patient.  I once told a friend that patience is for chumps.  Or other people.  I didn’t say that second part at the time, but I’m amending my statement now.  I knit quickly.  I knit because I’m not patient, and not slow.  I read quickly, type quickly, do math quickly (I just got this great magazine all about teaching Math to Middle Aged Students and it’s FANTASTIC – I LOVE teaching Math), and speak quickly.  My brain works quickly.  It doesn’t stop working and I often need to tell myself out loud to shut up because I’m taking up too much space because I say whatever my brain is thinking, even when it’s not appropriate.

But there’s something about slow processes that I love.  I love lace knitting.  Maybe I knit each stitch more quickly than many people, but it still takes me an hour to get across a complicated row of 358 stitches, and so a shawl may take me 40 hours, but I LOVE it.  I love knitting socks.  Socks on tiny little needles that take 20 hours to knit, and most people will never see… but you know, when you’re wearing them, that your feet are wrapped in hand-stitched lime green wool, and doesn’t even the thought bring a smile?  It does to me.  I love slow roasted meals.  I love home-made maple syrup (45L of sap = 1 L of syrup… it takes us over a day of evaporating to make 1L… that’s slow).  I love meals where we’ve grown everything on our plate.  That’s slow!  I love hand-stitching.  Machines are fast and I make mistakes with them and then I get frustrated.  I like making every stitch by hand.  It’s slow, but soothing.  Machines are stressful.  A needle and thread is not stressful.  Take my word for it.

I know I need to post more pictures.  I will do that when I don’t want to sew things together.  Maybe I’ll even put up a picture of things I’ve sewed together.  Slowly.

Aside

I am not an event planner, which is not to say that I am incapable of event planning, but rather that I have (correction: had) never planned an event.  I have always respected those that regularly plan events – there’s … Continue reading

Happy dances

Happy quilt!I have a happy dance.  A friend once told me that it looks like I’m marching in the spot.  Not like a soldier march, but like a happy floozy march I think.  I did my happy dance today.  My neighbour even spotted it as a happy dance and called me out on it.  I just kept dancing.

Goat-milking coat!See, I finished my neighbour’s sweater this week.  It’s not actually really a sweater, but a coat.  A goat-milking coat.  A farm coat.  I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  Her husband called it druid-like, and she just might be a druid in training.  I made her a sweater, and she made us a quilt.  I did a lot of happy dances while I was making her goat-milking coat, thinking about friendly neighbours and the economy of trades, but nothing like the one I did today when I saw our quilt.

Jer's current fave squareMy current favourite square

Syrup evaporatingJer started tapping our maple trees this week.  We’re evaporating with electricity this year – the fire last year was SO much work, with the wood and the constant supervision and such.  I’ll miss the smoky taste in our syrup, but it makes a lot of sense.  We still have about 1 L of syrup left from last year, so there may be lots of french toast in our near future.

One of our other neighbours gave me a four-harness table loom a couple of weeks ago, and it’s almost exactly like my other table loom, but about 6 inches DSC_0857wider, which means I have way more options in what I want to make.  That said, I do NOT need 2 4-harness table looms, so I’m going to give away my other loom, and in order to give it away, I need to finish the weaving that’s been on it for over a year, but that was stuck in a stupid spot.  I spent about an hour last weekend un-stupidifying it, and I’m LOVING the product now.

Tomorrow I get to spend a day training with Free the Children,Our first almost ripe lemon! an NGO that works in empowering youth to create change.  They put on WE day, and because I teach leadership at our school I get to take part in the training tomorrow.  I’m super excited.  Then on Friday, my leadership group is putting on a school-wide talent show to fund raise for Habitat for Humanity.  Busy week, but it’s an exciting time at school.

Jer’s just about ready to order his first seeds of the year – he’s been pulling stumps out of the garden all week!  Spring feels like it’s on the way, and we’re ready!Our kitchen is fully painted, finally!