coop rafters

Let me show you how I got the rafters framed up on the coop. This bit of the design required plenty of telephone conversations, wrestling with hypotenuse and getting my head around the concept of the rise and the run.

framed-roof

To design the coop roof I pictured what I wanted the slope of the roof to look like. I knew the width of the coop and the height of its walls, so I drew it all on paper. Then, I drew it all in SketchUp, which let me measure things out after, so I could play with information I had, incorporating what I’d drawn, til I had answers. I sent the 3D drawing to my father to confirm that it all worked out mathematically. I can tell you the following bit of information that he sent back was intimidating, but for those of you who like trigonometry, here you are:

Based on the roof angle (40 deg) and the width of the coop (60"), 
one can calculate the rise as follows:

Tangent (slope angle) = y/x
Y is unknown (Rise)
X is 60" / 2  = 30" (Run)

Formula is:

Y = Tan (40) * x

Tan 40 deg is equal to:  0.83909963117728

Substituting values and solving for Y:

Y = (0.83909963117728) * 30

Y = 25.17298835318394

Make Rise Y = 25"

Quite. 25″ rise and a 40º slope is what my original paper drawing expressed, but it’s best to double-check with a trusted mentor.

peak

I decided not to build trusses (triangles) flat on the floor of the coop, before putting the walls up. Instead I framed in a ridgeboard which rests on one 2×4 with two more sandwiching it, supported by the front and back walls. Critical to have a good level to hand, I have a tiny one and a standard large one, both very old but trusty. That sandwich piece, including the height of the ridgeboard, would be the rise. The children figure it looks like a lunchbox at this point.

side-view-rafters

Then I cut rafters (thanks to the kindly loan of a neighbour’s mitre saw, no more handsaws for all this cutting!) and notched them with a birdbeak which sits on the top of the wall. Simple strength.

rafters

Once the rafters were secure (I drill pilot holes and use deck-screws) I built the verge, the overhang, on each end. Rainy winters on the Pacific require it. You can see that the verge is anchored by a couple of flat pieces that attach to the main rafters, see? I laid one rafter flat to support these pieces. I love finding out how things work.

overhang

I’d planned the ridgeboard’s length to allow for 12″ of overhang on each end. Now it looks like a little house.

roosting-bars

The roosting bar design was a little bit inspired (see below). Now, there are cross-ties and there are chords, they complete that triangle from wall-to-wall or up higher. These give the structure of roof and walls strength, integrity. I decided to use these pieces first structurally, then practically, as roosts, and finally, socially, by staggering the height of the crosspiece, to give the flock a framework to express their social order. Each night we see who roosts at which height, and in which direction, based on pecking order. Yes, those are railings from the 1950’s house demolition.

Or, for another way to look at it all, a peek at my journals from that week:


30 june
the girls helped to mind the chicks, they love the playground under the maples, though i must enclose the area outside my potatoes. i fixed my problems after some tears – broke a drill bit, things were wonky. i managed to get things levelled, plumb, and my tall girl helped me to pop the ridgeboard in – yay! how grand! it looks pretty funny, but then i sorted through a couple of videos and worked through plain old fear, and i got the rafters worked out, one of them is up! not attached, but just there — and that was a moment of huge satisfaction. hypotenuse, kiss my -! i am so happy to have pushed through, i really thought it was going to fail. well, i’ve got it now, and i’ll cut from my template and then work out the supports for the verges.
i actually threw up my hands and closed up my writing desk, it is right beside the brooder and getting so dusty! i threw a dust cover over it. i give in! when the chicks move out i’ll return to it.

2 july
i made a mistake, and needed to raise the ridgeboard ¾” and cut the birdbeaks to my original plan. that worked, and i’ve cut 6 pieces for the support for the overhang gable. it has been mad, as it is all being done with small children visiting. the lawn needs mowing, and the thistles need to be pulled, and a front bed cleared of flowers before a tree felling.

3 july
cool and a bit windy today, but i was glad for it. i made great progress with the coop. i attached the middle rafters and with a chat with my dad and some more mad calculations i figured out the overhang. the verge. when a friend came we got it put together on the front! i am so relieved! very pleased. it will need the same again at the back. my friend was just brilliant, so practical and enthusiastic.

little birds were well and went to sleep easily. i have the heat lamp on, still. they’ve weeded the patch under the maple very well, and i think i’ll move them to a spot under another bush further on, tomorrow, where i can watch over them as i build.

i had a brilliant idea that came out of a conversation with my dad – to use the chords as roosting bars, yes, but to stagger the heights, descending toward one end of the coop like a ladder. i’ll end at wall height, and the highest must still have headroom. so that’s finally sorted. good. the next steps, then. i’ll be attaching the back gable verge next, and securing all of it, yes. i’ll need to add supports to the posts.

i’ll not be putting wire over soffits, instead i’ll just close them up and plan to keep the back gable screened.

i’m quite tired. and sore, from falling over on to a rock! slipped in the rain while carrying a couple of chickens, pippin and blue. i saved them, but not, literally, my own ass. ah well, more bruises.

6 july
i took on the north gable verge, banging my head repeatedly, in the rain, swearing. i did it alone, save two minutes from our tall girl. clamps ‘r’ us. the chicks were happy in their enclosure all day, and i’m glad to have had help to move them inside. now the framing is complete, topping out ceremony traded for an epsom salt bathe.

shop cabinet woodwork

Right alongside my new studio in the lake cottage, there’s a little nook. It’s the sort of space that begs for a bit of custom shelving to fill it and I knew at once it would be my little studio shop, if only I could fit it out nicely. When I spotted a beat up old buffet & hutch going for a song, I bought it.

damaged cabinet

While I may claim some talents, measuring accurately the first time is not one of them. Oh, dear. To fit this particular cabinet, a bit of woodwork was required!

cabinet cornice

I already knew that the top edge of the cabinet was badly damaged – but it wouldn’t be seen once in the nook. I’m not fond of such a generous curve in the top molding, and needed to remove it to fit, so I marked a line and sawed it off.

cabinet sawing

And cleaned up the edge on both sides so the piece would slide in nicely. Sawing with a really good, sharp saw is so pleasing! I studied up in advance, as I’ve not handled a saw in some time.

cabinet marked

I had known when I bought it that the edge of the buffet needed to lose half an inch, though I’d had some crazy idea about planing the thing off. Once I measured (hmm, properly) I could see I needed to cut it.

cabinet - sawn

I was rather impressed with myself for sawing it freehand. Don’t be afraid of this kind of work! It is just as satisfying as splitting wood with an axe.

However. I hadn’t expected to face solidly glued, nailed molding at the base, sticking out far too widely on each side to ever get the cabinet into the nook.

cabinet- corner molding

Don’t despair, as I did. Come back and see how I solved it!

woven rug

Perhaps you’ve already met my little childhood loom, which being tiny, though perfectly formed, has merely made me crazier to try a large weaving. Perhaps you’ve also heard of my friend Amy C Lund, the extraordinary handweaver. Amy is going to take us through the process of weaving a woollen rug on a loom in her Tiverton, Rhode Island studio. If, like me, you are mad to try even a simple bit of weaving, this will not help you calm down. It will inspire you to further heights. Hang in there.

Many years ago another weaver gave me a large quantity of wool rug yarn, some of which had become home to mice before I got it. Not having an immediate project in mind, not wanting to take the time to sort though it, I left it aside until recently, when I was clearing out corners of my studio and I had a loom set up with a bit of warp left to weave. So I gathered it all up and shook it all out.

rug-yarn

With the warming spring days I found some time to give it all a soak, and set it to dry in the sun. It was a lot more than I would need for this project, but I got a sense of how much I had and what weights. Some of the yarn was thick and some thinner, some plied and some single strands. I did not end up using the darkest blue, but decided to use the two lighter shades with some gray on an ivory ground in a pick and pick pattern.

warp

While the loom I used already had a warp set up, usually I measure out all the ground warp threads to the same lengths on a revolving warping reel or a stationary warping pegboard. The principle is that between threads wound between two points, A to B and back, become sets of 2 matching length threads. This is done for as many threads as needed for the density per inch and the width in inches of the project. The grouped threads are then chained and transferred to the loom. They are spread to the proper width and wound onto the beam. Consider the loom as a scroll from which the threads begin on the back beam, get threaded through the harnesses and tied to the front beam. As the fabric is woven it comes off the back and winds down to the front cloth roller.

harness

Each warp thread passes through the eye of a heddle (similar to threading a needle) in a harness or shaft, which will then be raised or lowered. The order the threads are threaded, as well as the order the harness groups are raised can create a multitude of patterns. The simplest pattern is to alternate every other thread through the front or back harness shaft to lift & lower odd and even threads alternately.

Once the loom is threaded and the warp ends are tied to the front beam extension apron, the cloth is ready to weave. This requires inserting the weft or filler threads.

pick and pick rug

To start weaving the rug, I created a hem or header section of a tight weave before beginning the body of the rug. For this project, I chose to weave a pick & pick weft-faced patterned rug, which means alternating 2 color yarns so that one shows more on the even shaft and the other on the odd shaft, also resulting in a structure where the weft is condensed over the warp ground threads. Here, I alternated each section color with a ground color in a repeating pattern.

finished pick & pick wool rug

There are many ways to finish a rug, with tied fringe, twisted or braided, hemmed edges folded under, or in this case I rewove each of the warp threads back up into the rug (as if in a U-turn) for a flat finish.

You see? Such appealing possibilities. I am willing a loom to come to me, and a weaving teacher like Amy along with it. We would love to live with a woollen, woven rug. Visit Amy’s gallery and studio on one of your trips to New England’s coast – until then, content yourself with seeing her gorgeous work at her site and getting a piece of your own at her shop. Thanks Amy!

fishing lessons

On the lake we are learning to fish. My young cousin taught the girls patiently, and reminded me of knowledge I had years ago, fishing with grandfathers and uncles, on rivers and oceans, fishing for goldeye, rock cod, salmon. Our Finnish heritage is fine-tuned to forests and lakes, you can see us all settle in the way you do when you get home.

fishing-lessons05s.jpg

This lake is tiny and perfectly formed. It was named Teanook Lake by Emily Carr herself, who rode in on her buggy to paint it nearly a century ago. Can you picture her here? With a flask of tea, I think. I’ve been photographing its beauty daily, in all its Monet-like changes, and could go on for a lifetime. My tall girl wants a paintbox to continue the tradition.

fishing lessons

Getting the hang of angling isn’t so hard – and then, oh, what a pleasing game. The arc and whistle, the bobbing movement, the timing, the winding and watching. The tension of the line! Catching it with your finger, holding til you let go at just the right moment – I tell you, the knitters in my history met the fisherfolk, and they nodded in appreciation. Any sort of practice that requires silence, stillness, observation, a bit of skill, I love it. If this was your only opportunity for meditation, it would be enough.

fishing lessons

My tall girl got it quickly and landed a small fish on her first go – it was exuberantly celebrated and promptly sent back. In less than a moment the children fell in love with fishing on the lake, and they want their own tackle, their own rods.

fishing lessons

How I’ve longed to return to fishing! It took me a few tries to remember how, it’s been easily 30 years since my grandfather took me out for my own fishing lessons on Winnipeg river. We’d stay in a spot for a matter of minutes; if there weren’t any bites we’d move on to another. My father would nap, hat over the eyes. Once, as a small girl, I caught eighteen goldeye in a row. My little Finnish grandmother would race up the steps to the old family cottage and down to where the fish were cleaned and smoked. I can recall the flavour like it was last night’s dinner, and see my grandfather eating fish soup at the red gingham-covered table. I didn’t know then how lucky I was.

Oh, we’d race down the dock and jump into that river after a sauna as I’d love to jump into this lake – without a sauna it’s still too cold for wild swimming, this rainy late May.

fishing lessons

I bet all the old folks would be deeply pleased to see the next generation of cousins out on the dock together, still fishing. It pleases me ever so much.

Do you love learning old-time skills too? You might like to see the the old school movies. Don’t miss my next projects, get the postcards!

short spring handwarmers

There’s something grounding about wearing even the smallest garment made with my own hands. Knowing how it was made! Where it came from. Connecting with a long history of people making what they need, and a simpler, slower life. Little steps into traditional skills make me courageous and deeply curious about making more and more of the things I wear and use. Here’s one of my small studies that you can take up, short sweet wrist-length handwarmers in springtime colours.

writing with handwarmers

I love handwarmers for all the things you can do while cosily wearing them. I’ve begun making some photographs on the subject.

short.seagreen.cable.left.watch.side

What do you think? Could you make a pair of cabley fingerless gloves? I learn best by looking over someone’s shoulder, so that’s how I made the tutorial movies. (Watch them in the schoolhouse, in the lefthand column.)

short.cable.heatherblue.typing

Handwarmers do add a bit of elegance to tapping away on the keyboard. I’m very happy when I get a chance to rattle away on the typewriter, the old technologies give such satisfaction.

short & sweet heather grey handwarmer kit

This heather grey is the original shade you see me working with in the movies.

spring.yarn

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