Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Category: Arts, Crafts, and DIY (page 1 of 2)

My quilting-from-scraps project

In 2011, when I lived at the cottage on Sand Lake,  I started reading up on patchwork quilts and cutting up blocks of cloth to make a queen-sized quilt for my bed. Ever since, usually over the winter months, I put in a few hours here and there stitching it together. It’s made from honest-to-goodness scraps that my adorable pets made from non-reparable, almost-unforgivable holes in various sheets sets and a duvet cover.

As soon as I had the top layer stitched together and found a bottom piece to match, I ordered a wool batt from Cedarview Farms in southwestern Ontario. I’ve “bagged” it, though it won’t be a complete bag where all seams are sewn, like a duvet or sleeping bag; instead I might need to create borders on two sides. As my theme is a windmill, I’ll use the border called “Flying Geese.”

I’m getting ready to start quilting it. This is where the handy book The Quilting Bible, and a website called Quilting Made Easy, come in handy. In the sewing kit I inherited from my grandmother, I have a quilting wheel, which I can use to perforate the copies of the stitching patterns I will choose and use. Then, one rubs coloured chalk into the pattern to transfer it to the area for stitching.

Thanks to the help of the ladies in the Westmount Quilter’s Guild, I’ve tacked the quilt. I’ve partly quilted it too, along the seams, and as soon as that’s done, I will finally be able to quilt it by machine. I’m looking for a long-arm sewing machine, actually, because it’s going to be hard to feed a queen-sized quilt through any other kind.

I will show pictures when I’ve made more progress. It’s been six years since I started it. The going is very, very slow.

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with artist Françoise Bernardin to conceive and develop a new logo for Big City Little Homestead. What do you think? Feel free to send comments this way… (why? Because we haven’t developed any merchandise yet, so if something truly needs a tweak, we’d rather know now. Thanks!)

In case your browser doesn’t show the Featured Image for this post, here it is again:


Big City Little Homestead logo


DIY projects in the autumn

Thank you to the blog readers who have contacted me since my post about Ringo the rabbit going missing. Your messages have been read and appreciated even if I haven’t replied to them personally, yet, due to my inability to keep on top of my e-mail. And no, Ringo has not returned.

Now that we are in the dim days of late fall and winter, writing isn’t usually a problem in the evenings. I always saw summer as a time to work outdoors and in the light, and winter for working in place and taking time out to go socialize. From a historical perspective, this makes sense. Winter has always been the time for crafts, cultural activities, and socializing, whilst sequestered from the elements and a relative inability to do natural resources work.

Speaking of lumber and handy outside efforts, I built this bench about two weeks ago. First I finally decided to get rid of a bunch of deck boards that I’d had from last year’s and this year’s deck reduction; I used several planks to assemble this workbench that I’d been given the struts for. Luckily it stands comfortably over my 50+/- gallon storage box at the back of my garage so it is not in the way and it expands my storage/work area.

While the taker of my used lumber went over my boards, I measured the most suitable ones to cut and turn into the park bench. I had bought a triangle measure for the angle cuts, and dialed up the blade on my table saw to rip through them quickly. Then I screwed them all together with deck screws, and though the seat could be a wider plank than a 2×6 – such as the called-for 2×8 or even a 2×10 – it is a comfortable perch to sit with some food and a book and watch my rabbits graze the front yard. It also shows how sloped my yard actually is, as you can see a definite lean-to-the-right from a perfectly straight bench.



And there you have it for the garden for 2013. There only remains spreading the compost, getting more Swiss chard, protecting the roses, putting up the bird feeders, and more yard-time supervision of the rabbits until the snow flies. With my next blog post, I have to tell you about the rabbit who came into my life after poor Ringo went away. But you’ll have to wait a few days for that.

A new fence made of welded wire and cedar posts

At really long last, I finally have the new front fence. I could go digging through my photographs to show you its somewhat ugly predecessor, which I had built in a rush and with limited resources in 2010, but really, why mar your eyes when I can show you the beauty of the new fence taken in a pic taken by a non-photographer with the ever-ready iPhone? (It’s true: when I aim to please, I use an old Kodak EasyPix.) I could hook my blog with my new Instagram account. Actually, that’s a Brilliant idea.
As I wrote last year in one of my most popular posts on making Red Pepper Jelly, I did not have a post-pounder, an auger, or a sharp-shooter for digging the post holes and getting them into the ground. This is the kind of fence I wanted, minus the barbed wire, but when I found welded-wire fence at the hardware store, I just bought it to commit. I posted then that it would look something like this when done, except with nice round cedar fence posts from the country, rather than square city posts. And so I rented a post digger shovel and I got the help of one fine friend, Marc, who thought at first that round or square actually made a difference in ease of installation, until we got to work and saw it made no difference at all. We had six – saving the seventh gate-post for the future, when my bleeding hearts have died down – posts to install. Each took about 45 minutes to dig, or at least it felt that way. The sun was bright, and it was hot, and I played hair-metal music on the boom box (which was called a Ghetto Blaster in Mr. T’s day) and joked about wearing beer t-shirts just to fit the work image. Marc had had too much beer the night before, so we saved all cap-twisting for when the work was done. 
When we stretched the fence and it looked slacker than fences usually do, a wonderful man stopped by just to tell us that that was exactly the right thing to do. He said when this kind of fence is tight on a hot day, when the cold weather comes, it tenses right up, and this causes fences to heave over. Awesome. Practical information to thwart the cosmetic perfectionist. 
Here are the photos from the end of the day: 
From the top of the steps
From the corner facing in – with an experimental stick in the way along the top of the fence
From gate post,  crouching level
And a gratuitous shot of my back yard, simply because I’m proud of the formerly-sad irises that have taken so nicely to the patch under the cedars

Getting organized

In preparation for New Year’s, I followed the old Scottish tradition of cleaning out the house (next New Year’s for me: Hogmanay!). This did not follow my usual discardia formula of starting in a room and working clockwise through it, which I first found in The Procrastinator’s Handbook by Rita Emmett. Instead, it was more like this article I found helpful to reframe my habit of doing house work instead of going straight to my desk (visit the link, and Ctrl-F “cleaning a closet”). Also, I had guests coming, so the house needed to be orderly and clean. I didn’t want anything stagnant rolling me over into 2013.

One such issue in getting organized is known as the Endowment Effect. Having something in your possession makes it seem more valuable than if you did not have it but were faced with purchasing it. This is one thorny issue for a lot of people: if it is worth something, has a use, and/or would be wasteful to throw out, it becomes hard to just get rid of it.

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