Cross Country Skiing + Blizzard Weekend

This weekend, we rented the last pairs of skis in our sizes at the local outdoor shop and came to LOVE cross country skiing!P1020272IMG_20160122_155021121 Skijoring with Penny.IMG_20160122_154540058IMG_20160122_155428138Going along the river in the parkway.P1020283Go Penny, go!IMG_20160122_151127544Always wants to fetch. Always.yfOur power luckily stayed on so we got to stay warm and cook good food!IMG_20160124_183013586_HDRshShoveling the driveway.bbIMG_20160124_081743983_HDRIcicles!P1020287Casey joined one of his doctor buddies on a 5 mile trek up to the top of Mill Mountain. P1020296Roanoke covered in powdered sugar! 😉
P1020294The famous star at the top!P1020301They headed back down through Fern park.P1020325I took Penny skijoring through our neighborhood, she loves it.IMG_20160124_192801143I think we tired her out this weekend!

Crafty Vacation

Interestingly, I ended up doing a lot of creating during this winter break.  Knife.  Wallet.  Dog collar.

The Knife is something I’ve been working on for weeks, under the tutelage of a friend, Jesús, who is a professional bladesmith (click to check out his website).  It’s supposed to be a Seax, a type of knife that was widely used mainly by ancient Germanic cultures (e.g. Anglo-Saxons, Vikings) both for fighting and for mundane, everyday tasks.  The blade was forged, ground, and polished by hand.  The pattern on the blade is made using a special technique during hardening–the steel is actually of a different crystalline structure in the contrasted areas.  The handle is made of copper and wood from a walnut tree that had been cut down on his property.  We also made the sheath using copper, and with leather we hand-stretched and dyed.  The following show at least some of the steps to how we made it.

Forging the rough shape of the blade:


We then put a type of clay on the blade in a pattern that will appear later.  Heating up to temperature one last time before quenching in oil (to harden it):


Jesús demonstrating quenching with the blade he was working on (you have to pull it out of the forge and put it in the oil within seconds, so it doesn’t cool too much in the air):


Tempering the blade in a relatively cooler oven so that it isn’t so hard/brittle that it will shatter easily:


The blade has been ground to give it an edge and smooth surfaces.  Next is to start the handle, chiseling a recess in some walnut:


Fitting a copper plate for the hilt piece:


Shaped the handle and epoxying the copper plate to the top:


Looking good so far!


Stitching the sheath’s stretched leather for reinforcement:


Also, made a copper inlay for the butt-end:


Added decorative coiled copper, and the blade is ready for polishing:


Spent about 18 or so hours polishing (up to 2000 grit), and burned runes into the handle (my name on one side, the name of the knife [“niedscyld”] on the obverse).  Final steps were using acid etching to bring out the “hamon” pattern we created during quenching, coating the handle with tung oil, and epoxying the blade into the handle.


I had so much fun with all the skills I learned to make the knife, that I got some leather working supplies of my own, and made a couple of simple items.  First was a new, slim card-wallet.


Next, I thought a great thing would be a new collar for Penny. Used the woodburner tool to give it a flower pattern.



Making things with your hands is super satisfying!