Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Getting my ducks in a row?

For some strange reason a pair of Mallard Ducks have moved into my front yard.   My house is about two blocks from a small neighbourhood lake and it seems this couple of ducks likes to hang out away from the crowd.

They fly away when people walk past on the sidewalk but return later.  I put seeds in the bird feeder but have not noticed the ducks under it. Sparrows, finches, chickadees, blackbirds, woodpeckers, magpies, crows, and pigeons all help themselves to the seeds.

Mallard duck couple in my front yard.

Here is a video filmed through my front window!  

It will be interesting to see if the happy quacky couple hang around all summer!

~ Feather ~

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Milkweed and Monarchs

I am sure you have heard that the monarch butterflies need some help. They need milkweed plants. You can read it at 

Today my milkweed seed kit from Monarch Watch arrived 

Milkweed in seeds from Monarch Watch
Three varieties should hopefully mean success. There is Common Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed aka Rose Milkweed, and Butterfly Milkweed.  Other varieties are shown here:  Milkweed Index
These perennial  seeds do best if they are cold-stratified for 6 weeks before planting. There are so many different suggested ways of ensuring the seeds germinate. After some  online research  I have decided to "plant" my seeds in between moist paper towels and keep them in the fridge until I can plant them outdoors 
Swamp Milkweed Seeds
So far so good!

Common Milkweed Seeds on moist paper towel

Butterfly Milkweed Seeds

I folded the damp paper towels up with the seeds inside and put them in plastic sandwich bags and then into the fridge.  I will check on the every week. This is supposed to mimic a winter environment.  Maybe I should put them into the freezer!  When 
Ready to go into the fridge for 6 weeks

And until the plants and then hopefully the butterflies arrive I will have to be content with the flying pig!  I will keep you updated over the summer!

Flying Pig
Butterfly Blessings
~ Feather ~

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

#Belowtheline I am going below the line!

This week I have been thinking about fitness and health, exercise and weight loss, and bang! something shiny caught my eye....

I just signed up to participate in the Below The Line Poverty Project.   The details are here:
The challenge is to survive spending $1.75 or less daily, for food and drink for 5 days,  Apr 27th to May 1.  Good thing I like oatmeal.
What better way to pay attention to what I eat, and bring awareness to world poverty, and raise money for charity too?    I have signed up to support Tin Roof Global,  which provides and protects water at home and abroad. In Canada they  provide much needed water solutions to First Nations communities and deliver water stewardship workshops to youth in Canadian schools. Abroad they provide critical water systems to rural Ugandan schools.

The information kit gives some help in preparing to eat/drink on $8.75   for 5 days:
Live Below the Line Shopping Guide
This guide will help you build an LBL shopping list of food to get you through the week and stay on budget. Prices will vary slightly around the country and you can comparison shop to get the best price in your area. Check out websites that compile local flyers for deals in your town or city. Don’t forget to include protiens like eggs, nuts or lentils. They’ll help keep you feeling full!
Choose one or two carbohydrate options, this will be a mainstay for lunches and dinners. You can also mix and match, ie: buy half the amount of pasta and half the amount of rice.
3 lbs potatoes – $0.60 (10lb bags are often just $2.00 – divide by 5, $0.40 per person!)
1 box of pasta or rice noodles - $1.70
Rice – 1 lb (Makes about five ½ cup servings) - $1.00
Porridge or eggs are a good option if you are taking the challenge solo. If you’ve got a team to share with, items like bread and peanut butter are great for spliting
Rolled Oats – 250g makes 5 porridge portions – $1.30
Toast – 1 loaf has about 20 slices, great for sharing – $2.75 ($0.92 per person if split 3 ways)
Peanut butter – $3.00 for a small jar ($1.00 per person split 3 ways)
12 Eggs – $3.42 ($1.71 if you share)
Yogurt tub - 750 g - $1.79
Side Dishes and Sauces:
1lb dried beans or lentils- Chickpeas, romano, kidney - $1.80 excellent for sharing or buy less in bulk)
Frozen vegetables – $1.50 (frozen is good option to make your budget go further!)
1 can pasta sauce - $1.50 (canned sauce tends to be cheaper!)
Choose a snack to tide you over through the day. You can also make  homemade hummus if you buy chickpeas.
1 lb apples (approx. 8 large) – $0.99
3 lb bag of carrots (great for sharing!) - $1.29 ($0.43 per lb per person)
Crackers – 1 box - $1.87
Pita bread - $1.85
Salt/Pepper/other seasoning - $0.10 each for a week supply
I would love to hear what you think about this,  and what advice you can give me.  Even better would be if you accept the challenge too!

To be honest, I didn't even think I could live for one day on $7.75, let alone 5 days.  It is going to be tough. Just thinking about going to knit night and not ordering a  fancy tea or coffee?   Absolutely no fast food will be allowed.

I used to be good at living on a budget, but haven't even tried to do so for years.  This is going to be a very good exercise.  As you can probably imagine, I am flipping back and forth between excitement for the challenge, and dread for being hungry!  What have I done?

Food for thought
~ Feather ~

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Weaving fun on a Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom

How about some weaving, just for fun?     I am so fortunate to have this loom, given to me by a friend who decided it just wasn't her thing anymore.    Well, not one to let an opportunity for some new crafting material go to waste,  I dove right in.     The first thing I did was take an online weaving class at Craftsy.  The first project was a scrap yarn scarf - perfect when you have lots of left over yarn!

Scrap fingering weight sock yarn scarf - WIP

Now I know what warping a loom means, and what weft is. I can warp and weft with the best of them,  and, for some reason, saying  warp and weft always makes me smile. It is some kind of secret cheer yourself up code. Try it!  Say  'warp and weft' quickly 5 times over. I am sure you are smiling now.

Off the loom but not soaked yet - WIP

My second project, also from the Craftsy lessons was two soft cotton dish towels.  I have been using them ever since they came off the loom,  and bought enough cotton to make many more. (see how quick the stash builds up?) As I wash them they shrink a bit, and get more absorbent. Maybe they will eventually shrink into tiny doll sized towels, but in the meantime, I like them!

Cotton dish towels

Erin asked if I could make a Burberry Scarf, and, as you know,  not one to back down from a challenge, I answered in the affirmative.  Then I checked online to see what a Burberry Scarf looked like, and ordered some yarn. 

This is my interpretation of the classic British scarf. You can see the weaving colour pattern is much more complicated that the first scarf, but a challenge is always good. I am learning lots, especially how to make stripes!

Warped up and ready to go!
Plaid means lots of colour changes, and lots of ends to weave in. However, weaving in ends is much easier on a loom than it is on knitting needles!

I am happy there is a stand for this table loom. First I sat on a dining room wooden chair, and like Goldilocks thought it was much to hard. Then I tried positioning myself on the edge of the couch, and like Goldilocks thought it was much to soft.  But, by then, the scarf was finished! The search for the best perch will continue with then next project.

Fauxberry scarf - WIP
I think it turned out well,  although not like an authentic Burberry Scarf.  I used fingering weight yarn and a 15 inch loom. I can only imagine what kind of looms are in a woolen mill. That is something I have to see in person someday! (added to the bucket list)

Woven fabric is so much different than knit fabric.  We all KNOW this, and that is the fundamental difference between jeans and yoga pants. It is just amazing to actually compare hand woven to hand knit fabric and be amazed at how un-stretchy weaving is.

Fauxberry scarf completed

I have quite a bit of this same yarn left over,  so it is quite likely there will be other "black tan red and white" scarves in the near future. The fun part is each will be different, and possible even free form. I guess we will have to wait and see how it develops.

Creative Spring Blessings!
~ Feather ~