Category Archives: Living history

And the Christmas season starts, Barbara

One hat…four sentiments


When I was thinking about doing this hat, I texted both of my kids and said “do you think f… xmas would be too much on a hat”. Within 15 seconds, Heather had responded with “nothing is too much…go big or go home” and Jacob had responded with “can I have the hat?”. His dad took him the hat on the weekend and was supposed to take a photo for this post. He, of course, forgot. I just asked Jake if he had the hat on him and could he send a selfie for the post. This is what I got:

my baby boy....thanks for the selfie....now where is your hat?

my baby boy….thanks for the selfie….now where is your hat?

For the knitters: This is a reversible hat which uses two stitches, Houndstooth Check, pg 90 and Shadow Check, pg 103. I put positive Christmas phrases on one side and much less positive phrases when you turn it inside out. Barbara Walker illustrated both sides of the shadow check together in the book. It is a lovely, bulky but not stiff stitch that works really well for a reversible hat. I cast on 100 stitches with a long tail cast on (n.b.110 may have been better), and did one row of purl before switching to knit for the lettering. I worked my way through the Bah! Humbug and F… Xmas side, putting Houndstooth Check in between the sets of lettering. I did one row of plain knit in red when I was finished. I then picked up a set of stitches from the cast on edge and worked my way up the nicer sentiments. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the how the Houndstooth looked, so I just did a checkerboard instead on the second side. I put a knit row in red above this side too before I joined the two sides together. This avoids having the white purl bumps on one side. I continued up the hat in the shadow check. I used 5 points of decrease. I decreased 10 stitches around (slip one, k2tog, psso 5 times around) on every 6 row repeat until I only had 10 stitches left, then did k2tog around and finished off.

Heather came to visit …

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I was at the tenant farm yesterday. Heather has been waiting patiently for strawberry-rhubarb pie, and this was the first week that they were available in the garden together. The rhubarb is getting to the end and the strawberries are just beginning. I brought some shortening from home so my little vegan could eat the pie.
She is back together with Edward and even though it was his day off, he decided to come and see her in costume, so I had them both for afternoon tea. Normally at work she is dressed in train overalls. Her dad came racing back afterwards because she had left her nose ring on the table. She had taken it out to be in costume and I guess she had carried it in her hand down to tea and put it beside her teacup. Luckily I hadn’t wiped the table yet.

Village life… babies

gillianknits.comMany of the animals are reproducing.. this colt was born a couple of weeks ago.  His name will start with a C.  The foals are named like hurricanes…one letter at a time and this year is a C year.  We have Canadian horses at the village, a breed that recently celebrated 350 years.  They are hard working and efficient animals. They pull the carryalls as well as all the working wagons at the village.gillianknits.com

This little guy is resting up…he will be creating havoc in a few weeks.  They have just started letting the piglets out during visiting hours.  They are always a huge hit with the young visitors.  When my kids were little, it was the highlight of their day to visit the farm and play with the piglets.  They will be allowed free range until they range too far afield and start destroying things… then they will have to stay in the pig pen.  Last year’s piglets tore up the flower beds at Chrysler Hall the day before they were banished.gillianknits.com

This is Princess Charlotte (UCV edition).  She was born just after her royal namesake.  Some Brownies watched her birth and were told they could name her if they could come up with an appropriate name.

Today I saw a mother swallow sitting on her second brood nest in the woolen mill…

..and this little girl is being raffled off in the staffroom to raise money for the staff association.gillianknits.com

Village life….special visitors

Last weekend was spring planting weekend at the village, we had 10 extra teams of horses to help prepare and plant the fields.  Some were retired employees, some international ploughing match entrants.  We are having the ploughing match really near here this fall and the teams are getting in practice.  Luckily Alan came down to the village so he could take some pictures for me as he doesn’t wear a costume.

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My favourite visiting horse team was the Wensink twin’s Belgians.

Beautiful Belgians

Beautiful Belgians

I was working in the Louck’s kitchen last Saturday with Barb.  Her 5 year old granddaughter, Hadley, got into costume and spent the day with us.  For obvious reasons she was a huge hit with the visitors.

Churning butter

Churning butter

On Sunday we had a visit from Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Federal Liberal Party, and his family.  They spent the day at the village and apparently enjoyed themselves.  Heather had no idea who he was when he purchased his ticket and rode on the train.

from Justin Trudeau's facebook page...

from Justin Trudeau’s facebook page…

Village life…looking out my windows

I have been in a few different buildings in the last couple of weeks.  A couple of weeks ago we had the Queen’s birthday celebrations.  This picture was taken out of an upstairs window at Cooks Tavern where our village sedentary militia was assembled behind some visiting members of the Brockville Infantry and the Brockville Rifles.

Queen's Birthday

Queen’s Birthday

One thing that is GREAT for me this year is that my daughter, Heather got a summer student’s job at the village.  It is an hour drive in each direction and it is wonderful to have company and someone to drive half the time. She is regularly on the miniature train, but about once a week she is being put in my old building, the woollen mill.  She is obviously comfortable in there as she has known the guys for many years.  My best friend at the village, Lynda has also just replaced me for the summer in the mill. Here is Heather dressed for a day in the mill.  Her dad took these pictures as it would have been much too public for me to.

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Last fall I did a temporary placement in the McDiarmid House, which is hand spinning and weaving.  I am now going to be doing a day in there now and then when the regular artisan is on her days off.  I was in there last week and I couldn’t resist going into the bedroom to take a picture of the young Brownies and Girl Guides as they trooped past.  No pun intended.  Really.

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I made my first (totally passable) rhubarb pie in the bake kettle with no one else around to help me.  I have used bake kettles before, but never without supervision.  I was surprised how well it went and how straightforward it seems to be.  Hopefully it wasn’t just beginners luck.

My first rhubarb pie

My first rhubarb pie…yeah!!!

The bake kettle

The bake kettle after use

A week in the life of the village-in drag

In drag for a day in the Grist mill

In drag for a day in the Grist mill

I have been moving around the village a bit, things are unsettled in the first couple of weeks as staff shifts around and new people get incorporated.  I had a visit to costuming so I could go into the flour mill in drag.  They had me outfitted in less than five minutes.  There is no real way to interpret around some positions as a woman, so we have to dress in men’s clothes once in a while and I spent that particular day in the grist mill.

costuming department

costuming department

Costuming is always busy in the mornings just before work.  They are standing by for mending, supplying hairpins, last minute re assignments that require special outfits, etc.  Later in the day they often have to outfit large groups of visitors that will be spending time on site in costume as part of their programs-overnight groups of school children and their teachers or girl guide troupes.  Later in the season they have to outfit the kids from the overnight camps.  Thirty kids a week with two complete outfits per child.  They also have a lot of work to do on special event weekends where regular staff need clothes representing people of a higher social class than they usually portray, and visiting extras need to be clothed in period costumes.

I enjoyed my day in the grist mill where they grind a hard, red Ontario spring wheat that is high in gluten and protein.  They produce flour for our on-site bakery and our gift shop as well as a few local bakeries who like the authentic stone ground flour our grist mill produces.  It makes REALLY good bread that usually sells out at our gift shop, sometimes within minutes.

Grist mill interior

Grist mill interior

I spent 4 days in my old job in the woollen mill, then moved into my new position in the cooking unit.  I am at the completely opposite end of the village this summer in the kitchens down on the farms.  I baked my first cake in the wood cook stove and thankfully, it turned out fine..nice and moist and not burned, which had been my fear.  This picture is before I added a brown sugar icing.

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A week in the life of the village–opening week

A few weeks ago, we set up the houses at work for the season.  Every year all the antiques are taken out of the buildings and stored for the winter.  The houses are cleaned top to bottom, the carpets rolled up and the furniture draped in protective tyvek.  We come back in the spring, clean again, return the antiques to their places and set everything up for the season.  I took a before and after shot of one room, sorry the after shot is a little overexposed.  This is the sitting room at the Loucks farmhouse.

....before

….before

...after

…after

On that same day a few weeks ago, I snapped a shot of the back street of the village just as everyone was leaving work.  It does NOT look like your typical 1860’s street scene!

...before

…before

Today, I left my building a few minutes early so I could get a shot from pretty much the same place of a few of the same people leaving work.  It looks a little different (as well it should!)

....after

….after

For this shot, I was standing just beside the rock in the picture above.  I remember once a few years ago when Alan drove me to work and I had stuff to move between buildings.  He was horrified when I made him drive through the village in a car.  I must admit, I like to walk round the village before work sometimes and the bucket lifts and pickup trucks do nothing to enhance the experience, let me tell you.  Luckily for the visitors, we do everything we can to help them have an authentic 1860’s experience during opening hours.