Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Summer of Oh-Oh Nine

What can be said about the summer of Oh-Oh Nine? Enough rain to make Vancouver jealous, and little time to get out and work on projects.

It rained:

And then the sun came out:

And we could count the nice sunsets on one hand:

The observant among you will note that our farmer across the road didn't even have time to finish mowing the hay on his field in one fell swoop before more rain came.

The rain hindered us in more ways that one.

(Even Cooper looks despondent).

Between rain showers, we worked on the slate patio that is still not done. We just ordered the last tiles we need to complete the job. It's not that we calculated badly, it's that we had about 30 tiles that were either split or almost unusable due to their poor quality. The good news is the company is replacing them free of charge, and the bonus is that we get to keep the old tiles because it would cost too much to return them. We can still make use of some of them as stepping stones, or in between garden beds (but don't even get me going on that...).

Our cedars really liked the wetness, but our strawberries not so much. Most of them rotted away before they even ripened. The ones that ripened tasted of water. It was not a stellar year.

All this rain made it hard to even take out the tractor and mow the grass. Heavy tractors and clay soils don't mix very well. I think Eric managed to get the job done maybe 4 times over the course of the summer. Our property looks like it needs a good weed-whacking, stat!

We added someone to our menagerie. Meet Plumette:

That's Plume-ette, not Plum-ette, because her tail is like a plume. Yup, she's missing a chunk out of her ear. She's super affectionate and was abandoned, until she met us, that is. We obviously have SUCKER printed on our foreheads, both Eric and I. And yes, cats sit on tables at our house. It's not encouraged, but it's also not completely frowned upon either, as evidenced above. Plumette was very pregnant when the above photo was taken, but her full story is for another post. That and many kitten photos...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Victoria is Up and Knitting

Cleaning Miss Victoria was a long haul. Somehow my planets never lined up properly, because there never seemed to be enough time to sit down and clean her well enough and put her back together again. Vicky's innards sat on a cookie sheet on the kitchen counter for much longer than was necessary.

I tackled the cylinders first, removing broken off jammed needles:

When that was done, I took the machine apart completely. This is how she looked before:
And when I took everything apart, a few things stumped me:

Her tension cams are really worn down. I couldn't decide if I wanted to take the Dremel to them or not.

Observe during cleaning:

The up-throw cams (there are two: a left and a right) were probably never cleaned in the life of the machine. The wear is a good sign, it means she was worked, and worked hard, but I still had to wonder if I should gently grind down this wear.

This is the felt that formed at the bottom of the cams I am holding above:

And yet another shot:

Miss Vicky was a crusty old gal, and she really put me through the paces. I worked on each piece until I was satisfied. Soaking this machine was not enough; I really had to take each piece one at a time and sand with 600 grit wet-sandpaper and WD-40 until each piece was clean:

I used an old kitchen paring knife and gently scraped the hardened grease off. No amount of soaking helped loosen the dirt which literally flaked off when I scraped it with the knife.

But once Victoria was put back together again, we had success:

I had her together and a tube knit in about 15 minutes! We have lift off!

I simply let the worn-down cams be; if they need grinding down, there is always later for that. For now, she's back together and the opportunity to take her apart again will no doubt present itself.

Now I just hope to find the time to move beyond tubes. I am keeping my fingers crossed that once our renovations upstairs are finished, I will get the chance to actually make a pair of matching socks. If not, there is always the Circular Sock Machine Society of America's annual meeting which will be held in Laconia, NH in 2010. What's another few months in the general scheme of things?
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