Sunday, September 18, 2011

Staycation Souvenirs!

All vacations require souvenirs, even if you don't go anywhere.

For our vacation, Bill got:

Fire brick.

5/8 inch rebar. This was a super fun souvenir because it only comes in 20 foot lengths, which is too long for our little truck. So, Bill had to cut three pieces with a hacksaw at the lumber/rebar yard. It was like going to a carnival and watching my man complete the feats of strength game...but instead of getting a dumb stuffed animal as a prize, I got rusty rebar!!!

Bill also got some scotch - which is sort of the his only instant payoff souvenir. The rebar and firebrick represent work for now, but will be awesome in a few weeks.

I got...

Two bags of stinky wool! We went to sunny Ohio for a fiber festival yesterday and I bought two fleeces. On the left is 7 pounds of Lincoln Longwool. It is such a lovely gray. Lincoln is typically used for outerwear, and isn't really considered next-to-skin soft. Everything I've read says this will be harsh when I spin it up (though some people make it into socks). Right now, it feels super soft though, so I'm excited to try and see what happens. Plus, the sheep it came from was named Sunshine. That sounds sounds happy and lovely, doesn't it?

I also have 3.5 pounds of Icelandic fleece. Bill is lobbying hard for our sheep to be Icelandics. I like that they are really hardy and seem low-maintenance. I'm not sure about their fleeces, though. I have a sweater from Iceland (which is presumably made with Icelandic wool) and it's pretty scratchy. Bill has a blanket from the same trip...which he named Scratchy.

I've heard that Icelandics in America are bred for their fleeces, though, while Icelanders focus more on meat and conformation. The fleece looks downright odd:

It's dual coated, which means it has two different types of fleece. The long stuff is called Tog and the fluffier short stuff on top is Thel. They can be separated and spun individually, or spun all together. This fleece came from a lamb named Pig.

Finally, our last souvenir is my favorite. Our first delivery of wood:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today on "Staycation..."

Bernie is helping Bill build the form for the hearth slab:

Sugar is fixin to eat her some chicken

And my first adult sized sweater is blocking:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gender Role Staycation!

It's More Exciting than the Great Dumpster Vacation of 2008! It involves sewing and masonry and puppy kisses! It's the 2011 Gender Role Staycation!!!!

Bill and I are off for a few days this week and working on various projects. I worked Monday because this week is Direct Support Professional Recognition Week (did you know??) and I've been working with a group of Indiana DSPs for the last year or so - helping them form a statewide organization supporting their profession. Monday was their annual conference and I couldn't miss it. Have you thanked a DSP this week?? They work hands-on every day with people with developmental disabilities and need an insane amount of knowledge, skill and commitment. They also get paid really crappy wages. Indiana is the most populous of 9 or so states that serve all people with disabilities in the community rather than in large state institutions. DSPs make sure everyone gets to participate in their community - go shopping, attend events, work meaningful jobs. They rock and I was glad to spend the first part of this week supporting their conference.

But I get to support the gender roles that can drive progressive women crazy. I'm spending a portion of this week sewing, while Bill is lugging rocks and wielding power tools.

Many of the windows in my house are naked and winter is coming. My goal is to make curtains for two rooms this week. However...curtain fabric is really, really thick and I don't have the right needles for my sewing machine. I know this because I keep breaking them. So, the curtain making will wait a few days.

This is fine with me because there is nothing you can do with a sewing machine that is more boring than sewing curtains. Even staring at an inoperable sewing machine is more exciting than making curtains.

Do not fear, however! I have sewing content to share. Inspired by the adorable blog New Dress A Day, I did some shopping at Goodwill and came home with this enormous shirt:

It's a "before" picture, so I have to look grumpy.

I love the fabric and the shape, but it's a bit big on me. Since it cost $2 I wasn't afraid to experiment. I laid this shirt on my bed inside-out and placed a shirt I liked the fit of on top of it. I pinned the places I wanted to take it in and tried it on. After sewing it up it looks like this:

I like it enough that I'll head back to Goodwill and find some more things to modify. Also, it apparently inspires me to act like a goof while wearing it (though goofiness may also be attributed to Bill being behind the camera).

When he's not taking photos of me this week, Bill is continuing the work on his oven. Here is a brief recap of what he's done so far:

He tilled up some dirt, patted it down and built a square and level form. Then he poured some pea gravel all over. This has something to do with drainage.

Then there is the plastic layer. We got the wrong plastic the first time. It wasn't enough microns. So, he got better stuff, laid it all out and made a support network of rebar and wire mesh.

Some of these words I am using may not actually be words. I'm hoping you know less about this than I do and don't notice...

Then the cement man came with the truck.

We screeded it all up.

And wrote stuff in it.

After letting the cement cure for a week, Bill started the cinder block base. He started on the left and his mortaring is nicer on the other side, after he had a little practice.

Then there was the cutting and mess making from the previous post. This involved a diamond blade and the late realization that "they" make cinder blocks that have the groves Bill spent hours making.

Then we ate donuts. Last November the donut shop in town had a fire and we were tragically without donuts for months. They reopened in August, but it was weeks before we could get in. The lines were hours long and you had to get up way too early to have a chance at a donut. Today we scored.

And now, fueled by sugar, Bill is doing this:

The cinder blocks will be filled with concrete and a form for the hearth slab will be built.

I don't really know what that means, but we can watch and learn together!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Projects in progress

I've been working on this little quilt for a hundred years. I started it just after we moved to Indiana, and last weekend I finished piecing the top.

I imagine it will sit for another hundred years before I quilt it and hang it on our bedroom wall.

Bill is working on a new project...Here is a hint:

It is our very own masonry oven! Here's the thing about being an NY girl in Indiana - all the pizza here is bad. Like, grade school cafeteria bad. They even cut it into squares. SQUARES!

When it's cold outside, Bill makes me pizza in a 500 degree oven in our kitchen (he also makes me all sorts of yummy bread). However, often I'd like pizza when it's not cold out. Sometimes even when it's 100 degrees with a million percent humdity. Turning on our oven in the summer is a bad, bad idea. So, Bill is making an outside oven.

He's following the plans laid out in the book The Bread Builders (you can see all the steps preformed by some other guy named Bill on this blog).

My Bill is still in the early stages. We had a concrete pad poured last week and a few days ago Bill started on the cinder block foundation. Today he is cutting things and making a general mess.

More updates to come!

I'll conclude with some spinning. It's much less dusty. Though, also less tasty. The last few ounces of my white fleece were dyed all sorts of pinks and purples:

And here are two tops I recently spun. I think they shall become socks ...

...and a hat.