First attempt at wood carving

I just couldn’t wait to try out the new carving knives! I ended up using only two of them, though.

After looking at the bits and pieces in the basement, I chose a small piece of lilac to practice on.

It is resting on the leather breastplate my husband made for me.

I was not about to use the carving blades on that bark, though…

I used my K-Bar instead. The wood was surprisingly green, for something that was cleaned up from storm damage some 8 months ago!

I didn’t think to get a picture of the safety glove. There is a pair of them, and they can be worn on either hand. It fit remarkably well, considering I have big, wide man-hands.

Hhhmmm… that may be why it fit well… πŸ˜€

It was also very comfortable to wear. I thought it might be really coarse and scratchy, but not at all. It felt like a normal glove.

These are the two carving knives I used. I can’t remember what either of them are called right now.

I started by practicing push and pull cuts to flatten a piece at each end…

…though only one end showed the colours inside; the stick was slightly thicker at the other end.

Then I practiced different methods of making V cuts.

Detail work is going to need a lot more practice. πŸ˜‰

After that, I worked on the spiral around the piece, using that to practice different ways of cutting and switching up between the two blades.

I’m rather happy with how it turned out, considering I’ve never carved before. The lilac would was nice to carve with. The blades themselves…

I can see myself wanting to pick up higher quality ones in the future, if I find myself carving more often. While not the cheapest set I saw, it was hardly the highest end, either. I found myself sharpening them almost from the start. The edge held fairly well after I did, so it seems they didn’t arrive as sharp as they could have. Still, they did the job quite well for the learning process it is.

Next time, I’ll find something different to use that curved blade on. πŸ˜€

Altogether, I’m glad I picked this up!

The Re-Farmer

Recommended: XiaoXi’s Culinary Idyll

Welcome to my β€œRecommended” series of posts. These will be weekly – for now – posts about resources and sites I have found over the past while that I found so excellent, I want to share them with you, my dear readers. πŸ™‚ Whether or not I continue to post these, and how often they are posted, will depend on feedback. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have a favorite resource of your own, do share, and I will review them for possible future posts.

I hope you find these recommendations as useful and enjoyable as I have!

My very first Recommended post was for the YouTube channel Liziqi. I love the video format that makes it accessible to all, including those who don’t understand any Chinese language. Since discovering this channel, I’ve found a couple others that I now follow that are similar, yet very different. This is one of them. XiaoXi’s Culinary Idyll, which focuses on both cooking and hand crafts.

I didn’t know that, when I stumbled on the first video I saw: How to make delicious braised chicken out of stone.

Out of stone? That certainly piqued my curiosity when it showed up in my feed, recommended by YouTube.

As I started watching the video, I was perplexed. Where is the chicken? What is he going to do with that rock he dragged out of a riverbed?

By the time I got to the cooking part of the video, I was completely hooked.

How do you braise a chicken out of stone?

First, find a rock and carve it into an exquisite cooking pot.

This is a very new channel, less than a year old at the time of this writing. So it didn’t take long for me to go through all of the videos.

The first videos started off with a very different feel. At first, it was straight up cooking videos.

Other videos featured a lot more people and activities.

Then the crafting portion came into the picture – with a sense of humor!

Are you having trouble making traditional noodles by hand? That’s okay – use a machine!

First, cut down a tree…

As I worked my way through the videos, from oldest to newest, I got the sense that the makers of these were kind of feeling their way around on the focus. Where the Liziqi videos started out with just her, filming herself until she could finally hire a couple of people to do the recording for her, these videos appear to have been made with a professional film team from the start.

I’m okay with that.

The format they seem to be settling on is basically just the one guy who first makes a thing, then somehow uses that thing to prepare a food. Both of which are gorgeous.

Then you get to watch him eat. πŸ˜€

I readily admit, every time I see the guy working in his shop, I suffer from an extreme bout of tool envy.

You’ll see him doing everything from forging a frying pan (one of the few videos where he cooks food, but you don’t see it being eaten at the end), to weaving various useful objects (I will never look at a bamboo steamer the same way again!), to making things with wood and resin and…


While there is a lot of focus on traditional crafts, there is definitely a modern, even high tech, side to some of these videos.

While these are hardly “how to” videos, they are still quite inspiring – whether you’re looking for ideas on things to make, or ideas for cooking traditional Chinese food!

Or going fishing with a woven, waterproof hat you just made.

Even if you have no interest making the things or cooking the food, the videos themselves are beautiful to watch, and seeing his exquisite attention to detail is a pleasure in itself.

I highly recommend working your way through all of the videos.

You might not want to do it while hungry, though. πŸ˜‰

More Lilac Wood, in progress

Our windy day continues! While we have a few millimeters of rain predicted for this evening, as I type this, I am hearing thunder rolling, and just saw a flash of lightning out my window!

Here’s hoping we don’t loose power while I’m working on this post! πŸ˜€

I have continued working on the section of lilac wood I’d experimented on earlier. I decided to try using the cutting tool on my Dremel to make the job go faster – if the Dremel was quiet enough not to disturb Beep Beep and her babies too much.

It was quiet enough, but… there were other issues.

The Dremel I have is not a particularly powerful one. Just a Walmart cheepie, really. Lilac is a surprisingly hard wood, and it was just too much for it!

I ended up stopping part way through my attempt to cut through the wood and finished with a hand saw.

You can see where the friction actually “burned” the wood as the blade ground to a halt!

So I did the rest using a carpenter’s saw, cutting the piece into slices. It took a while, but I eventually got into the rhythm of it, and things went fairly quickly. I cut slices off until I had exactly 3 1/2 inches left – the width of my miter box – to try something different.

It fit just right, and I was able to cut the piece into 4 lengthwise sections. Not as evenly as I would have liked, since it kept trying to roll on me, but that just adds to the interest!

Here are all the pieces I got out of the section of lilac wood.

I really like how the length wise cuts look.

Also… do you notice something about the pieces?

The next step was to take a wire brush to the edges to remove loose bits of bark and clean off any debris. As I worked, I kept noticing a soft spot in the middle of the slices. I finally stopped to take a closer look, and it turned out every round piece had it, as did the centre lengthwise cut.

I used a non-metal brush on them, and eventually decided to just poke at it with a very small screwdriver.

It was basically just wood dust and came right out.

So I cleaned out every disk. Some were small enough that I had to use a wire to clear them out, but every single disk now has a hole in the centre!

I was even able to use the wire to push through the centre cut piece, then use a brush to clean up the open section.

Oh! That was a quick little storm, and I noticed some crazy orange light outside. I just dashed out to see a gorgeous double rainbow!

Also, I got rained on. *shiver*

Now, where was I?

Oh, yes.

Tomorrow, I hope to be able to get back to these and start sanding them smooth and giving them a light coat of oil.

I’m still not sure what I’ll be doing with them, but they’re going to look very pretty when they’re done.

Since all of these had the holes in them, I double checked the first two I’d done, so see if they had that soft spot, too. They did. Barely big enough to use a sewing needle to clean them out. So those two pieces now have tiny holes through them, too. The colourful rings in one of them looks very much like an eye, and now the “pupil” has a tiny hole you can see though. It’s kinda like those “fairy stones” you find at the beach, with natural holes in them. πŸ™‚

I like it!

For the size if these, I’m thinking they might make nice pendants. The rings of colour are so dramatic, I feel doing anything more than sanding and oiling them is unnecessary. A possible exception would be to perhaps put a glass bead or something like that into the ones with the larger holes.

What do you think?

The Re-Farmer

Lilac wood

A storm last year damaged a lot of trees and bushes around the yard, including breaking off a large piece of a double lilac my mother planted in the little garden by the old kitchen. Noticing the beautiful pattern in the wood, I set the pieces aside for later.

Today was “later.” πŸ˜€

I brought one of the branches into the basement to work on it (I am really enjoying having this work space!!!) and started by cutting various sections off, then working on the thickest “trunk” part of it.

What striking colours!

The photo on the left is the base, where it had broken off in the storm, and I had cut off the split part. The one on the right is where I’d cut a pair of branches off.

That’s the end I decided to cut a couple of slices off.

With Beep Beep and the kittens nearby, I didn’t want to use any power tools, even though I now have a Dremel with steel cutting blades that would be perfect for the job. It’s way too loud.

Lilac wood, I am discovering, is a surprisingly hard wood! It may have been quieter, but it was a lot longer to do it by hand.

Since I’m just experimenting right now, I only cut two slices, then used a brush on the edges to take off any dirt or loose bits of bark.

Then I sanded them smooth. Here’s how they looked, after I finished with the finest grit of sandpaper I have.

Then I applied a light coat of mineral oil.

I am really happy with how these look! Those purple rings are really something.

The next question is, what do I make with them?

The Re-Farmer

A perfect fit

I made myself a hat today.

I’d made myself a ponytail hat last winter, but forgot it at the clinic during one of our doctor’s visits. No one turned it in to the lost and found. I finally got around to making a new one. πŸ™‚

I used two strands of medium weight yarn and a 6mm hook. The main body of the hat is just half-double (hdc; known as a half-treble in the UK) worked in a spiral. To figure out where to put the opening, I just kept putting it on my head until it was long enough to reach where I usually wear my braid, then did a chain 4, skip 4 stitches to make the opening.

Warm hats are, of course, a necessity for this time of year, but most hats irritate the heck out of me. If they’re long enough to cover my ears, they get into my eyes, and every time I move my head, the back of my hat gets pushed up. My ears get uncovered and the hat gets pushed into my eyes. My long hair, of course, also gets in the way of having it sit right on my head.

The joy of making my own hats, is that I can figure out how to work around that.

Along with the opening to pull my braid through (which then helps keep the hat in place), after a few more rounds, I switched from hdc in the back to dc (double crochet, or treble/triple crochet in the UK) on the sides, and sc (single crochet, or double crochet in the UK) across the front. The end result is a wavy edge with longer sides that snuggle warmly around my ears, while the slightly shorter back doesn’t get pushed up when I move my head around, and the even shorter front doesn’t get into my eyes, but it still long enough to keep my forehead warm.

I probably should have done this at the start of winter, rather than the end, but it’ll do the job just fine! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer