Thursday, January 26, 2012

Making Progress

Winter has been avoiding us so far, and this is great news for the firewood supply, and even for the collection of solar energy. The solar pump runs every time the sun is out, and now with the lengthening days the sun is UP more, which may mean even more solar gain. I am knocking on wood as I write this, of course, because there's weather coming - tomorrow sounds like a right mess, with snow, sleet, freezing rain and then rain at the end.  When the weather office says "snow at times heavy" it's a sign to batten down the hatches. To say nothing of storing up some water in case of power outages.
    It's all been great for creative time, however. I finished the POW vest, and it should arrive in Toronto tomorrow. I've fallen hard for the Yarn Harlot's "Cloisonee" mittens, and have made two pairs so far, one for Emily, also winging its way to TO, and one for Katie, whose birthday is next week. I am just finishing a hat to match, and I lined the brim with some lovely Belfast Mini Mills yarn in what I believe may be alpaca and angora. Katie likes her fibres soft, and that's what this is!
I'm trying out a pair of Cloisonee in Briggs & Little yarns, but it looks like they will be rather big and a bit scratchy too. They look gorgeous, though. Black and three bright colours.

I've been working with the blankets from MacAuslands to make some cushion covers. I discovered that my blanket stitch leaves a bit to be desired. Quite sloppy! I must practice. 
    In gardening news, I've been reading Anna Pavord, a great book called "The Curious Gardener", which is a month-by month guide to doing all sorts of things in the garden, as well as a selection of her gardening essays from her columns in the Independent. There are great stories of visits to gardens, including (curiously) two which appear in Monty Don's Around the World in 80 Gardens, which I have just finished watching. (I must say that I truly enjoyed the episode on the gardens of China the most, and his visit to the Yellow Mountains was a revelation. But the last two episodes, particularly the last one in Indochina, where Don was so disappointed that there were no gardens such as he likes or was searching for, was odd; and a rather inconclusive note with which to end the series) I shall keep my eye out for other books by Pavord. She is a great writer. As we don't live in England, a lot of her advice isn't seasonally appropriate for here, but it's very interesting, and welcome. I've planted seeds - cat grass! and some of Veseys Microgreens. They are already up and I must think of a use for some of them today. Speaking of Veseys, their Bulbs catalogure arrived this week, and I fell for the $50 off offer and ordered three hydrangeas and three bush cherries. I must look up the latter - developed in Saskatchewan,  so hardy and productive, but I want to know how to prune them. Can they be cordoned?

Also on the creativity front, I have been doing a bit of mosaic work as well - we bought a 24-inch round arborite-topped table at the Habitat for Humanity Re-store, for $10, and I have made a glass-marble design for the top of it. I started by painting the brown arborite white, so the dark wouldn't show through and spoil the colours of the glass, and then drew out the design on paper. Then I laid out the glass marbles on it. I used sticky-back shelf paper to pick up the design, and then plopped it down on the table, which I had spread with tile adhesive.
It wasn't as simple as all that, as some of the marbles shifted, but it was easily set to rights, and I think it was much easier than working marble - by - marble in the wet adhesive. It took a morning to lay out the marbles on the paper, but I think you'd have to do that anyway, and being able to pick them up with the shelf paper was like magic.  I bought dark grout to make the marbles seem stained-glass like, but I haven't decided what to do with the sides of the table yet - I like it as is, but I don't think the white paint over the arborite will stand up to the weather - the table is meant for the deck. I think I'll have to do the sides as well, and I must do that before I can grout. (It was so much fun that I had another look around the Re-store for more tables. None so far.)

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