Fosty Morning Walk – Part 1

Avalus went on a walk one frosty morning and he was kind enough to take his camera and make some beautiful pictures. So let’s begin with some moody shots of colorful fall landscapes.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Sunflower Residence – Butterflies Finale

This is the last post of this series this year. I was saving up something special – Aglais io, the peacock butterfly. These butterflies are so ridiculously beautiful that some of the pictures look fake.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Oy! Geroffmylawnyadamnkids!

My father’s knees are not what they used to be and he also has unstable blood pressure. So he needs a walking stick for support. He has a nice pair of aluminum sticks for nordic walking which he uses when he goes to town, but those are not entirely practical for when he goes into the garden and needs to, for example, carry a tool or a bucket in one free hand. Or hang the stick on the fence when he fills the bird feeder.

Thus I have decided to make him an old-fashioned walking cane to shake at clouds and kids stealing apples etcetera. It was a fun little project for a few days with me gathering walnuts in between its steps.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I have started with approx 25 mm thick and just under 150 cm long hazel branch fully dried offer the last few years in the attic. I have shaved off most of the bark with a drawknife and then I have straightened all those small bends it had using the same method that served me well when making my walnut collectors.

Then came some more work with a drawknife and a plane, until I had a straight-ish and round-ish stick approx 20 mm in thickness.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I have cobbled together a template for the bend and after boiling the end of the stick in water for circa 15 minutes, I have put it in and bend it about half the way.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Old trizact grinding belts are soft and pliable, whilst being very strong. so I have used one as a backing to prevent raising splinters. Unfortunately, I did do a mistake in subsequent bends so I have raised splinters eventually that has led to a loss of circa 2-3 mm of wood on the outer curve, but hey, I have never bent wood this much before, so I was still learning, despite having some prior knowledge and experience.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

With a succession of several heats where I have been bending the stick more and more, I have gotten to a stage when it was fully wrapped around the template. Then I have put it aside to dry for a few days.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

When the wood was completely dry, I took it off the template, sanded the whole thing to 320 grit (although definitively not as thoroughly as I would a knife handle) and I scorched the wood with a propane torch. Scorching serves several purposes – it makes the surface of the wood a bit harder, it gives the wood nice dark color and it makes the surface more resistant to rot.

I have also added a piece of steel pipe to the bottom of the stick to give it a better purchase on the soft garden ground, to prevent the wood from splitting, mushrooming, and abrasion.

After that, I have spent several weeks applying several layers of linseed oil by wiping it on-off every two to three days until the surface was sealed but not too shiny.

The last step, finished yesterday, was to add paracord wrap around the handle. It bulks the skinny handle a bit, compensating for the loss of material during incompetent bending. It has a lanyard loop so my father does not need to drop it whenever he needs both hands for short time. And the bright color makes it easy to spot when – not whether – he forgest it somewhere in the hedge or near the garden patch.

I have positioned the lanyard near the straight bend to force my father to use the stick with the hook end protruding between the thumb and index finger and the supporting stick being aligned with the ulna. There are many people who use these walking sticks the other way around, but in my opinion that puts more strain on the wrist and is actually less safe. I do not have scientific data on this, so I might be ronk. But this stick is ever so slightly bendy and when I test it, it seems to be more rigid this way than the other way around.


And what I have learned? First that I can do this. Second that I should make the template in such a way that the bend is drop-shaped, not semi-circle-shaped because the wood springs a bit back after taking it off the template. If I ever need to do this again, I shall do better. I can make snazzy walking sticks now is what I am trying to say.



Whoomf! Fire When You Do Not Want It.

I did not expect this to happen, which is probably why it did happen. I was cutting wood for handles and stand and one piece started giving me some grief. Either the saw is a bit dull or that particular piece of birch was exceptionally hard (birch is amongst the hardest woods, contrary to what many books say). It smoked a bit, but not much. So I paused the work, tried a different cut when suddenly there was a lot of smoke. Like, a lot lot. In seconds, the workshop was full of it.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Luckily I tend not to lose my head in emergency situations. I noticed the smoke going from the vacuum collecting dust. I have immediately unplugged it and the saw from electricity and I dragged the vac outside. The paper dust filter inside was on fire and it was impossible to put out because it was windy. I have barely managed to take it off and leave it to burn safely on the concrete pavement. The wooden dust was smoldering a bit but I have managed to scoop it out and toss it in the oven where it could burn safely.

I do not know how this could happen, I have been using this setup for about a decade by now with zero problems. Either the saw was so dull that the friction started the fire – birch is much more flammable than other woods – or a metal splinter or something somehow got in the cut and it struck a spark. Visually, the blade does not seem dull and I cannot find any damage on any of the teeth, so I am baffled.

Tomorrow I have to go and purchase a new vacuum for my shop. This one could be repaired, but it would take a really long time. I will probably not bother. But it can be easily converted now into a dedicated blower, so I shall probably do that.

I had to take a few hours rest, I was in a bit of a shock afterward.

Eye Yam on Insta Gram

It is not as if somebody complained, but I do not wish to constantly “knife up the joint” at FtB anyway, so I have finally, reluctantly, made an Instagram account to share pictures of knifemaking and knives. If nobody minds, I will still post longer written articles about knives and knife-making here, but only for bigger or more special projects, whereas on Instagram will be snippets and pictures and off-the-cuff thoughts. Probably mostly about knives. There may be some garden pictures in due time too.

There won’t be any sexy photos of my beautiful body in lingerie or insights into my lavish lifestyle with expensive gadgets, that I can promise for sure.

If you are interested, here is a link – click -.

Reproductive Injustice: Adding insult to injury

CN: Descriptions of periods, medical procedures, etc. But hey, if half the world can deal with this, the other half should at least know about it.

I have heavy periods. And I really mean heavy. Like the bottom is falling out. An average period is 60 ml of liquid. My mens cup holds 48 ml and I can fill that three times in an hour when it’s a bad one. Add the cramps, the migraine and the iron deficiency that goes with it and I was fed up. This is clearly an issue that affects my life and my health, so I decided that something needs to be done and that the something is an IUD. IUDs have a great success rate at reducing periods, up to not having any at all (my ob gyn mentioned this as a side effect: “But then you may not hay any periods” as if I knew any cis woman who was happy having hers). Sounds like a medical solution to a medical problem, right?

Nope, nope, nope. As a side effect, the IUD also works as contraception and we can’t have the sluts having sex without at least paying heavy money for it. That would be absurd. Because people afab need to suffer for the very fact that they have a certain biology and they are not allowed to offset the suffering by having fun sexy times. As a society we’d rather have them suffer even without fun sexy times or when they’re using a different method of birth control before we help women and others with uteri to not suffer*.

So I had to pay private for my IUD. With insertion it was 350€ and from what I know this is even cheap compared to the USA. I’m not poor, I could pay, but a poor woman can’t. This would be 75% of what a person on welfare gets a month, and the fact that with any luck this will last me five years doesn’t change that. I’m still angry about it.

So to recap, I have a medical problem, there’s a highly effective therapy, but because I get birth control as a side effect, it’s not covered by health insurance. Fuck the patriarchy.

*And if you get m,ore offended by my wording than the fact that this is happening, kindly fuck off.

Women Educators on YouTube – Architect – Belinda Carr

This Hempwood product sounds interesting. I actually think that with a bit of tinkering and upscaling of the production, it could become cheap enough to be a viable material for large-scale construction. Definitely, it could replace for example wooden OSB plates for walling. And since the fibers run lengthwise, it could also definitively be used for making load-bearing beams.

Completely independently of this – this spring I was actually really thinking about growing Hemp in my garden for fuel, but although it is legal to grow technical hemp on a patch of land up to 100 sqm, the costs of seeds are prohibitive and there is a risk of cross-pollination with someone’s illegally grown weed so producing my own seeds for future poses risks of accidentally creating hybrids whose THC levels are above the legal limit. It is not worth the potential hassle of discussions with the police. My only hope there is that hemp gets finally legalized for personal use. Until then, I will try and grow hazels, poplars, and willows on my unused land to try and reduce my personal carbon footprint.

Edit: my PC glitched out and the article was initially published with nonsensical title.

Plush of the Month: Meet Archie O’Pteryx (and some personal updates)

Here we go again. The next pattern has already arrived and I finally finished my feathered dino baby. So no, I’m not dead, I’m just very bogged down. One part is work, where we’re now “catching up” on many things that didn’t happen during the school closings. And many things are happening. so many kids who need help, so few resources. I rarely leave school at the time that I should, and of course the work that would then normally be done at home like grading and preparing classes doesn’t do itself.

On top of that I’m still dealing with the fall out from Uli’s death. Not just the emotional part, but also dealing with many of her belongings. I have hauled off stationary, I’m in contact with charities, of course her sister (legally I have nothing to do with all of this), an asshole landlord, sorting through tons of clothing and trying to find people who will take it (and you still don’t see a difference, but I cannot personally carry all of it to the appropriate places). Yeah, you can rightly ask why I’m doing this, but to me it’s important that her life not be discarded, wasted, and it’s also a way to say goodbye and find closure.

Aaaaand, if that’s not enough, I’ve been having a ton of health troubles as well as regular check ups and cancer screenings. at least my teeth are done for the moment.

But I still got my baby done. It’s such wonderful self-care, it offers instant validation and provides me with a snuggly friend every month. As usually, the pattern was amazing, but like the deer on the complicated side. I’m afraid poor Archie will remain a single kid (though he’s already been claimed by Casey the Deer as her little brother).

©Giliell, all rights reserved

As you can see, Archie is tall, and such a tall plush brings its own challenges, mostly when it comes to stability. You cannot stuff such a narrow neck to the extent that it will hold the large head, so Archie’s got a heavy (1 mm thick) wire running from his head to his tail as a “spine”. The same problem happens with the wings: they’re large, they’re heavy. I tried the same wire as for the spine, but it was too heavy and the wings would just flop down. I used some thinner wire, and while the effect was better, it still didn’t work. In order to get them to stay up I needed to attach them to the head, but I didn’t want to stitch them to the frills. This would be fine If Archie was an collector’s item, but I make friends and therefore I didn’t want to risk tearing anything apart accidentally.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The solution was extra strong crafting magnets in the wings and the frills at the side of the head. This way they come apart easily when being pulled without any damage to sweet Archie. If you look at the feet, I hate everything about them. Not the result, but everything about making them. The claws had to be sown individually and then sown into the seams of the feet and there was a lot of cussing involved. Nevermore!

©Giliell, all rights reserved

One thing I love about NazFX’s patterns (and the fact that I have an embroidery machine) is that the faces are so expressive. This little fellow basically spells “good natured mischief” with that look, as well as “please cuddle baby”.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

An Evening Stroll and a Bit of History

I had to take a day off of work because I have (again) sprained my fingers when working on my current project. So I decided that not working one-two days is better than pushing through the pain and risk even longer and worse effects.

If I get the project to work, I will make a post about it, but so far it is only frustration and failures. So I have also decided to go for a walk whilst I think about things and how to solve the problems that I have encountered. I did not take my camera with me, but I snapped a few pictures with my phone and here they are.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This year’s wet and cold summer was very good for one thing – grass. The meadows surrounding our town have been mown for third time. This time they did not dry hay, for that the weather is not sufficiently warm and dry anymore, even on a sunny day. So they have wrapped the still-wet grass in these huge plastic-covered bales where it will ferment a bit before being fed to livestock in the winter. This has become quite popular in last years and some years they do not harvest dry hay at all. This year they did, two harvests of hay and one of this fermented plastic-wrapped thingy.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I live in a very windy area, which has downsides. The wide-spread meadows surrounding my house sitting near the top of a hill mean that in winter, my house is fully exposed to frequent western winds, which significantly affects my heating bill. One upside is that this area is suitable for windmills, so there are several on the opposite side of the town. Here you can see one of those windmills, standing still because there was no wind today evening. It is quite far away. In fact, the whole town is between me and that windmill, only you cannot see it because 90% of the town is in a valley, with a few dozen houses scattered around it in meadows.

This peculiar layout of a town is not a result of deliberate planning, it is an accident of history. The town was a fairly big industrial center in its peak time pre-WW2, with over 15.000 inhabitants. A lot of the land that is pastures/meadows today was inhabited in those times (although it was still a bit scattered, essentially town surrounded by homesteads, each with a garden and a few patches of field). But after WW2 the original German inhabitants were deported and the communist regime had no interest to really resettle an area this close to the German border, so only a few thousand people came in, from other parts of former Czechoslovakia. Including my family which originates from the Giant Mountains.

In the cadaster maps, there are still patches of land that are marked as “building plot” or “pathway plot” that are a part of a continuous meadow today. In fact, my garden consists of two garden plots and a pathway that does not exist for over fifty years now. Because after not repopulating the area, the communist regime had most of the empty buildings demolished and the gardens and pathways were usually plowed into the fields whenever possible. In some areas, there remains a testament to these former pathways, like three huge sycamores behind my house, which are all that remain from an alleyway. Thus my house, originally one in a reasonably long street became one of two stranded in the middle of a meadow, completely exposed to west winds. My father tells me that even the path leading to our house was almost plowed over, he intervened with the tractor driver and had to talk some common sense into him so he leaves at least one path to each of the still inhabited houses.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

My attempts at snapping a shot of kestrel hovering above the grass bales were unsuccessful, who would have thought that tiny camera lens with no zoom won’t be suitable for bird watching. But I did snap a picture of an airplane leaving behind it the poisonous track of mind-controlling chemicals, a chemtrail!!11!. Ever since I was a kid I have been somewhat fascinated by these. I do, in fact, remember asking my father what they are as a kid on an evening similar to this one. He gave me a reasonably good explanation given that there was no internet back then and that he has no higher education.

I Got Nuts

Last year I made a tool to pick up walnuts, but I had no opportunity to really use it. Just when the tree was in full bloom, late frost came and destroyed everything. Well, at least the tree got some rest and it is not like we are wanting walnuts – we still did not eat all we had.

And this year’s humid and cold-ish summer seemed to agree with the tree mightily. You can try and count the nuts in this picture but it would not be easy for they are difficult to spot and there are many, many, many.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

And this picture was taken after we already have several kilos of shelled and peeled fresh walnuts in the freezer, several kilos drying in their shells for long-term storage, and giving several hundred grams of low-quality ones to birds in the feeder each day. Which I suspect that a squirrel takest, for I doubt tits make them disappear this quickly.

So these last few days I go twice a day with the ladle and pick the nuts. The first that fall still have some green stuff on them (as seen in the picture) and are usually of lower quality.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The tool works like a charm. No aching back and legs, no effort. I can easily scoop any nuts that fall in the nettle patch, or in the raspberries, or on the tarpaulin covering pool at the end of the sewage cleaning facility. After I pick them, my father cleans them, and in the evening when watching TV he and my mother crack and sort and peel them.

Yesterday most of these mixed-quality nuts were already down and what is falling now are mostly those where the husk cracks on the tree so the nut falls first and the husk eventually follows, so no additional cleaning is necessary. From experience, these are usually of a higher quality and when dried and stored properly, they last for years in their shells. However, I am a bit at a loss as to what to do with them. I no longer have colleagues to whom I could try and sell the excess, and it seems I will have more than enough to satisfy the whole family’s needs for years. Like I said, we still haven’t eaten all we had from two years ago.

I wish potatoes grew this way.

Midsummer Afternoon – Part 4 – Drought and Wetland

Guest post by Ice Swimmer.

These pictures are from the wetland in Harakka. The summer has been dry and the wetland wasn’t as wet as I had seen it before. Still, it looked quite lush.

© Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.