My New (Really Old) Find

You know how a few weeks ago I was sharing all the goodies from my junking adventures? Well, I purposely left out the best one because I wasn’t sure whether or not we would end up together and at the time, it seemed like the boat had sailed and I missed it.

Let me back up. I was on one of my junking adventures and it was the first stop of the day. A few days prior, I had done some scouring on Kijiji (it’s like a Craiglist-type of service, in case you are not familiar with it). I’d scribbled down a few estate sales, garage sales, and vintage markets I wanted to check out, also jotting down a few of the items advertised for sale at these various places. So the first stop was at 8AM and it was a garage sale. I’d written “vintage china” beside the address so I knew the reason I’d wanted to go. The real purpose of jotting down some of the items was in case I got tired of going to sales or if I was running low on my allotted amount of cash, I could prioritize the sales (I’ve got various strategies for these types of marathons and that is one of them). Anyway, as I approached the first garage sale (it was advertised as an estate/reno sale in a garage), I saw the vintage table immediately and pretty much gasped. There were only a few other people at the sale when I arrived, so I decided to look at what I came for (vintage china) and pick out a few pieces before they got snatched up by someone else. By the time I finished up with the china, and also negotiating a price for a really beautiful crystal decanter, the sale was getting busy and I was starting to feel anxious (I really can’t go to those types of sales and make decisions when other people are pushing themselves in to me). So I left the sale with my few little treasures and without inquiring about the table.

As I was was waiting in line at the next sale the regret hit me like a bag of bricks. Why didn’t I ask about that table? It was so beautiful and it was exactly what I’ve been looking for for my space. How stupid. But of course, it was about an hour later and I was convinced the table would be gone, so I tried to forget about it.

That evening the table kept popping in to my head. What can I say, I have an obsessive personality (don’t worry, I’m not a stalker or anything – I find something I love and I give it my undivided attention. Okay, maybe that sounds a little stalker-ish. I swear, I’m not a stalker!). Anyway, I was mostly mad at myself for not even asking about the table. I tried to push the table out of my head, but it there was no use.

Then a few days later I was back on Kijiji looking for upcoming estate and vintage sales (I just love them!). And there was a 2nd sale at the same location! And the table was in one of the photos! I basically died. I couldn’t wait until the next sale day and couldn’t bare the thought of losing the table a second time, so I immediately emailed the seller telling him how much I loved the table and how much I wanted it. It turned out that he remembered me from the first sale and was happy to hear from me. And was willing to sell me the table.

I guess the rest is pretty self-explanatory, I bought the table. But it was truly meant to be mine. This thing is absolutely amazing. And beautiful. And the funny part is, when I went to pick up the table, the seller told me he had gotten quite a few inquiries about it at his garage sale, but hadn’t felt quite right about any of the potential buyers, so hadn’t been willing to budge on the asking price. It sounds a little strange, but it was a very special piece to him and his wife (and yes, there were some tears seeing it go).

Canada Furniure Manufacturers Limited Vanity Table
Before I bought the table, I did as much research as I could. The table was made in Ontario, Canada in 1909 by Canada Furniture Manufacturers Limited. The most special part of the table is that it still has the original maker’s mark and thankfully has not seen too much action in the last 100+ years – it still has all of the original hardware, even the original wooden casters, and only the table top has a newer coat of varathane (pre-1993). The rest of the piece has not been re-finished and has the original stain. I want to express my gratitude for all the previous owners of this table and the respect and integrity they had for preserving the piece! I did a bit more research in to the piece and found out it is apparently from the Stickley Era, which was the arts & crafts/mission style furniture era. That definitely explains why I love this piece – arts & crafts style homes are my absolute favorite. Canada Furniture Manufacturers Limited was an amalgamation of quite a few Canadian furniture companies operated out of Ontario (with showrooms in Toronto, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba) and controlled by the Siemons Brothers. It seems that around the turn of the century, a lot of smaller furniture manufacturers were popping up in Ontario and most were bought up by Canada Furniture Manufacturers Limited a few years after they’d started, leaving CFM basically the only company mass producing furniture at that time. By about 1930 most of the furniture factories went kaput due to the depression.

The seller directed me to a furniture catalog at the public library from 1908 that shows some of the furniture manufactured by this company around the time this table was being manufactured. I was also able to find a bit of research on the factories themselves. I believe that my table was actually built in the Wiarton Siemons Brother Table Factory which opened in 1901 (and was destroyed in a fire in 1912), but of course I’m not entirely sure. The handwritten label on my table has a factory code on it, but I was unable to find reference of this anywhere. The Wiarton factory was built right across the street from a lumber mill, so sourcing the wood for the furniture was simple. Here’s a illustration I was able to find of the factory:


Photo sourced from Postcards From The Bay (if you click on the photo it will take you directly to the place I sourced most of this information – it’s a really interesting read)

So yeah, if you can’t tell, I’m really pleased with my new (very old) table and all of the history attached to it. It is truly a special piece to me. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where our things come from. I’ve really been making an effort to put more thought in to purchases in the hopes that I can pare back on what I bring in to my home, as well as only bring in items that are truly special. Plus, I’m a huge sucker for a great story.

Antique Vignette

Great place to display my oddities too (I collect vintage family portraits of random people who have no relation to me)!

Yarn Dyeing With Acid Dyes

Recently I decided that I needed to learn yet another skill (because apparently I needed more hobbies in my life), and signed up for a yarn dyeing class at my local yarn shop. There were really a few reasons for this. First, I thought it would be a fun and interesting skill to learn. Second, I thought if I liked it, it might be a way to save some money on sock yarn (I seem to always be drawn to the more expensive sock yarns – what can I say, I like nice yarns!).

I’m happy to report that I loved the class. I really felt like I got my moneys worth from this class as well – it was a full afternoon and you walked away with two skeins of yarn that you dyed yourself, plus a ton of skills. I’d been considering learning the art of dyeing wool yarn and cotton fabrics for a few years but I guess I just put it off because I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of teaching myself something that seemed kind of complicated. As soon as I saw this class was being offered, I signed up right away. I feel like if I hadn’t taken the class, I probably would have continued putting off learning how to do it myself. I feel like now that I’ve taken this class I could jump in and learn other dyeing processes on my own (I am planning to try some dyeing with natural plant materials at some point, as well as trying shibori indigo dyeing).


Acid Dyed Wool Yarn

I’d like to talk about the acid dyeing process a bit, but this is not a step-by-step instruction guide because I feel like this is something better learned from an experienced person at your local yarn shop. But if you’re just interested in what it takes to acid dye or if you’re considering learning how to do it yourself, my experience may be a starting off point. It’s also just a really neat process! Also, I should mention that some of the dyes can be very harmful if not used correctly or if you breath them in, so always make sure you know what you’re working with, the proper way to handle those dyes, and what the risks are. Another important thing is to have a separate set of tools specifically for your dyeing projects – never use your kitchen utensils or pots if you’re planning on using them for food. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on dyeing utensils – dollar store items will definitely do the trick.

The first thing is to prep your fiber. We used two different wool yarns in the class, but in the future I will be dyeing primarily with a merino wool and nylon blend sock yarn. Prepping the fiber consists basically of washing it in a wool soak to remove any residual lanolin (kind of like the natural water repellant in sheep’s wool) and then soaking it in a bath of pre-treatment solution for the dye to better adhere to the fiber.

Next is prepping your dye and mixing colors (if you desire). We used Jacquard brand dyes, which already came in an amazing palette of colors, so my first skein was dyed with unmixed colors, but I did use a mixed dye on my second skein. Some of the colors people mixed were unbelievable – and the Jacquard dyes were so vibrant, even after being mixed.

Acid Dyed Wool Yarn

This beauty was from one of my classmates – aren’t the colors just amazing?!

Once all the wool and dye prep was finished, we starting dyeing. Once the coloring was finished, we had to set it with heat (which, by the way, I’ll need to buy a microwave if I want to do this at home in the future). If you’ve set the dye properly, you will not get any color runoff from your skein, even when it is squeezed. My first skein was perfect, but the second one had a ton of color runoff. I ended up having to rinse in water until no more dye was being released. The colors in the rinsed skein were still very vibrant, but I definitely went wrong somewhere along the line (I’m thinking either way too much dye or I just didn’t heat process it long enough – or a combination of the two).

The final step is to set the dyed wool in a wool wash bath and then let it dry. Easy as pie? Yes!

Acid Dyed Wool Yarn

Unbelievable colors and combinations from people – no two skeins were the same!

I loved learning yarn dyeing! And I am kind of obsessed with it now. I’ve already got a list of some of the color combinations I want to try next. Plus, I have quite a significant staycation coming up, so there is going to be a bit of yarn dyeing in my future this summer. I’ll definitely share some more finished yarn dyeing projects on my blog in the future (and hopefully some of the projects I knit with the yarn). I’d also love to hear about your experiences with yarn or fabric dyeing if you have any – and what sort of advice you have for this new yarn dyer!

Acid Dyed Wool Yarn

These two are my finished products – I really couldn’t get enough of that fuchsia!

One Year

It was exactly one year ago, June 19, 2014, that I clicked publish on my first Carrots & Raspberries post. I don’t know if I ever believed I would stick with it for an entire year, but here we are!

Sometimes it is a bit difficult to put yourself out there and try new things, especially when you’re a bit of a recluse. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but I’m an introvert, with a small group of close friends, and I like to stick to doing what I’m comfortable with, mostly in the privacy of my house in my stretchy clothes, surrounded by my cats.

In the past year, I’ve really stepped out of the box and basically put myself out there for the world to see. I was scared shitless, I’m not going to lie. I like my little world where I knit and I cook and I tend to my garden and I meet a friend every now and then for a tea. And no one else really knows about it – I just do my thing and that’s quite alright.

I’d waffled about starting a blog for a few years. I love reading other blogs and I even have a few blogs that I check several times a week, and I’ve always thought I’d like to try it, but I just wasn’t too sure what to write about. On top of that, I was afraid to put myself out there. It’s not that I can’t take criticism or that I care much about what other people think – it’s that I like to be a private person. Then one day about a year ago, I decided that I was tired of coming up with excuses not to start writing, so I went ahead and started writing about one of my main passions in life: gardening.

One main reason why I wanted to start writing was to challenge myself. I wasn’t looking for a way to bring in extra income and the goal wasn’t to see how many followers I could get. I just wanted to write about things that I loved.

I hit publish on my first blog post a year ago, then I published a few more posts, and then I decided to share the blog on my personal Facebook page. I wasn’t really expecting much. I mostly received comments from friends and family members on how much they liked my blog, but I kind of felt like they may be saying those things because they were my friends and family and they were obligated to say nice things (I’m not saying this to be negative at all, I was very pleased at the initial response. And there were no haters, so that had to be a good thing, right?). But then I started to get some positive comments from people I was not expecting, like people I hadn’t seen for years, and that was a shock! A little weird for me, but in a good way. Then comments from people I’d never met before, and that was unbelievable!

I think the hardest part of putting yourself out there is figuring out how to accept the positive feedback. My instinct is to turn red, say something awkward, and then change the subject. Learning to smile and say thank you has been a huge mountain for me to climb. Just accept it, Megan!

The point of this post is not for my readers to comment here and give me praise. It is to say that if you really want to do something, just do it. I’ve learned a ton from this blog. I learned that I really like writing about things that I am passionate about. It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert on any particular topic – if you’re passionate about something and love talking about it, do it!

The thing I didn’t expect when I started blogging is how much of a community I could become involved in. I’ve gained a few internet friends who share common interests, exchanged emails with people in the gardening community I really admire, and have even been asked to contribute to other people’s blogs. I’m trying to be humble about some of these things, but I am also very excited, so hopefully this doesn’t come off as smug.

Even though my blog has evolved a bit since I started writing it (the original plan was to focus primarily on small space gardening, but I do write about cooking, weaving, knitting, sewing, cats, and whatever else fancies me), I feel good about where things have ended up. I’m really looking forward to the next year on Carrots & Raspberries.

And lastly, thank you to all of my readers, you are the milk to my cereal.

Vintage Little Red Express Wagon

The little wagon that belonged to me and my siblings growing up – I use it for plants now!

Cedarbrae Community Garden, 2015

For another year, I’ve decided to rent a plot at our local community garden. I wrote about growing there last year, but I didn’t mention it too much after that until the Fall. I like having a garden there, it gives me a lot more growing space for vegetables, and it is also nice to get out in to the neighborhood. My hope is that I’ll be a bit more diligent about documenting the progress with this garden, but then again, I’m famous for neglecting my community garden plot, so who knows. I do have the best intentions though!

Cedarbrae Community Garden

There are a few things I need to keep in mind when planning this garden. The first is that whatever I’m growing needs to be somewhat low maintenance, so if I’m being neglectful (out of sight, out of mind) or if we end up going out of town for a few days, this garden will be pretty self-sufficient. The other thing that I need to keep in mind is that it is a garden out in the open, with no signage, and pretty minimal monitoring, and things could get stolen or damaged. I’ve been pretty lucky with my plot as it is kind of plunked in the middle of the garden and the worst thing that has happened has been a few pulled out and abandoned carrots, but I have witnessed other nearby plots almost completely wiped out (darn hooligans!), so I always keep this thought tucked away when I plan this garden.


Clearly I need to do a little bit of weeding, but I prefer to wait until everything has come up – some beans are still breaking through the soil right now, so the weeding will have to wait another week.

I decided to continue with the tradition of keeping it simple, and planted kale, bush beans, cow peas, fava beans, and a couple of zucchini plants that wouldn’t fit in at home. But, I also decided to throw in a few marigolds and zinnias that I started from seed indoors. Most of the gardeners here grow flowers alongside their vegetables, and I’m always admiring it – plus, I do this is my garden at home, so I went ahead and did the same thing here.

Baby Kale

Baby kales. And yes, I was overcrowd my plants, but they don’t seem to mind in my climate.

I also want to mention that everything I grow in this space I’ve started by seed – most (with the exception of the flowers and squash), were sown directly in to the plot about the last week of May. Mainly, I do this because I don’t want to spend a lot of additional money on this garden. With having to pay plot fees, and with the chance of things getting stolen or vandalized, the thought of spending more money on this garden is just not very practical for me. My garden at home is an entirely different story though!

That’s about all that’s going on in the community garden right now. I’m hoping the next update will be in a month or so when everything has had a bit more time to flourish.

The junking bug is back!

For about the last couple of weeks I’ve been flying solo as my husband has been away on a trip. I was pretty excited at first with the prospect of watching a ton of click flicks and getting a bunch of projects done around the house. But the truth is, the novelty wore off after a couple of days and I was getting a little tired of eating crackers for dinner (cooking for one just seemed pointless). Also, those projects? Yeah, I really didn’t get to any of them. Chick flicks? I mostly just watched Beverly Hills 90210 DVDs for the millionth time (I heart that show). Most of my time alone was spent finishing things I’d already started pre-husbandless or doing work in the garden. So much work in the garden.

But I was getting bored with being around the house with just myself and the cats. It all started with an impromptu visit to the Goodwill when I was running another errand. I had some good luck there, so then I decided to try another place. More luck. Then another and another. And the next thing I knew I was calling a friend to go to a big vintage market. Of course, then the bug had basically taken over my entire body. It needed to be fed.

Vintage Finds

This is where it all started! A little metal filing drawer I will be using for my seed collection, a crystal candy dish (I’ve been looking for one for under $5 for a long time!), a couple of little china plates, and my favorite find from this hunt was the little Siamese kitten (because apparently I need more ceramic cats in my life)!

Vintage Finds

The next hunt was just as good! Some large china platters, a few heavy flower frogs, a little crystal & silver bowl, and two little lead piggies! The pigs are my favorite and remind me of ones we played with as kids that came from my Grandma’s house. After doing a bit of research, they are most likely pre-war, which makes them a bit more special in my mind.

Vintage Finds

I was in heaven when I stumbled upon this antique shop in an old church. Not only was the architecture absolutely stunning, but the curation was unbelievable. I will definitely make the trip out of town to this shop again! And the best part was I totally stumbled in to it, I had no idea it existed until it was right in front of my face.

  I thought it was finished feeding the bug after that 2 day ultra junking marathon, but then the next week I felt it coming back. So I went online and searched for upcoming estate sales. And starting making a list. And then I discovered some upcoming vintage markets which I thought were promising. It was basically a two week long junk-a-thon.

Vintage Finds

And the haul from my last excursion. I already have a bit of a teacup collection and I really haven’t bought any for several years. It was actually a point of conversation with a friend recently, where I mentioned I was laying off on the teacups as I needed to be selective about what I was bringing in to the collection. But I couldn’t resist when I saw these at an estate sale for $2.50/set! Plus the colors on the blue and pink sets are like nothing else I have in my collection. Trust me, it took all of my will power to only come home with four sets at those prices. And am I kicking myself now? Maybe a little, but more over the vintage vanity table I passed up for some stupid reason.

This bug usually hits me in the spring time, but for some reason this year it was much harder than normal. I guess I could be doing worse things. I’d love to hear about some of your junking adventures/scores!