Monday, 21 August 2017

Kitty update, Victorian knitting project

Kevin and Phil made friends fairly quickly.   After about 3 days of ignoring one another, there was a day of sniffs and growls, then a day of sniffs.  That night they were playing, chasing each other around the house and general wildness.   After a day or two of hard playing, Kevin's cranky leg gets sore and he starts limping again, so he takes it easy for a day or two until he's good to go again.   If I'm not around to provide Phil with a lap to sleep on, the two of them sleep on my bed.

I made some pickles last week at Westfield, in the Misener house.   The beets and cucumbers from the Lockhart garden were ripe.   The beet recipe was strait out of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, I had to adapt the pickle recipes somewhat as I didn't have a crock to store them in.  I didn't run them through a hot water bath, so they are refrigerator pickles.

 I decided to do start another knitting project as I wanted a shawl or wrap to wear in the cooler weather at Westfield.   This pattern is in the November, 1864 issue of Godey's Ladies Book (vol. 69).  I downloaded a facsimile and was able to print out the pattern instructions.  Someone has very nicely put the instructions on Ravelry as well.  The article in the magazine says the original was made with a varigated violet and black centre and fringe with black and gold contrasting stripes.   It says solid colour yarns are cheaper than the varigated colours and natural colours are the least expensive.  You can use any weight of yarn for this and the article points out that if you use strong yarns, it is suitable for charity knitting.   This is an easy to knit, utility shawl, but it isn't mindful, careful knitting.  It's garter stitch, garter stitch and more garter stitch, with a few increases tossed in.

I was originally thinking that a cream or light grey shawl with brown and grey stripes would work nicely.   However this white tweedy yarn was on sale - super sale really, with a packet of 5 skeins for a bit less than the price of 2 skeins.   That really made the choice of colour a moot point.   However when I knit it up, the white had no life to it.   It is a cold, dull white and the black bits just looked unappealing.    So into the dye pot it went.   I decided on blue though, in an attempt to minimize the black bits.    I was going to use woad or Japanese Indigo, as I have lots ready to use in the garden, but I didn't have enough time in one stretch available.  Instead I used acid dyes and I'm pretty happy with the way the colour turned out.   I have a lovely grey marl for at least one of the stripes. I might still go with the brown for the other.    I only dyed 6 of the 10 skeins I'd purchased for this project, so I have 4 left to dye another colour, if I need one for the stripe.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Fox attacks and new kitty!

The other evening we found a pile of feathers and were missing a chook.   It was under the treed area, but I'd seen the eagle hanging out there in the early summer, so I thought it might be a hawk strike.  A little odd for under the trees though.   The next evening, my son yelled and ran outside.   Two red foxes had a chicken and were trying to run off with it.  This was the mess they left behind.  The chook was saved though she's missing most of her tail feathers and a few more besides.    The foxes tried twice more that evening and we managed to stop them all.  Finally I was able to round up the girls and get them into their coop.  I kept them there for 3 days in hopes of getting the foxes to move on.  So far it seems to have worked.   We thought we were down 2 chickens in all, but we heard one who was hiding in a hedgerow and she came home shortly after we called to her.

The orange cat who was lurking about for the past couple of weeks turned out to be two tiny cats, obviously siblings.  One day, the cat on the right came up the the back door and started crying loudly, trying to get in.   He turned out to be quite friendly and he let me give him a quick once over.  He was super skinny.  You could clearly feel the vertebrae and his sides were hollow.   His coat was strawlike and very coarse.   Of course I fed him.  The next day, he came with his brother and I fed the two of them for a couple of weeks.   They started to look healthier or at least less starving.  The one on the right, who let me pet him started staying around here but the second cat, came and went.   Then the brother just disappeared, leaving his brother here, alone.  Our orange deck kitty would sit on our laps and purr and purr for as long as you'd let him.  He'd cry at the door when he wanted food, water or just for some company.  He'd sit on the windowsill all evening until it was too dark to see.   

Phil outside
One evening we were around the campfire and there was some animal making weird noises in the nearby bushes.  It was unsettling enough that we cut our campfire time short and moved inside.   Our orange deck kitty started crying at the door and them moved to any window he could find and cried at those too.   I guess you can see where this is going....   We scooped up the orange kitty and moved him into the garage for a couple of days, until I could get him to a vet.   He was happy  as anything in the garage, not panicking to get out and loved having people visit him.   We figured he was just about 5 or 6 months old, due to his size, but after a thorough check up, where he was vaccinated and declared not likely to be a risk to our own house kitties, he's moved inside.   The vet said he's just a tiny cat, about a year old, who has had a bit of a rough life.   He's going back in a couple of weeks to get those dangley bits removed.   

Phil is another kitty who likes to sleep on wool blankets
  Al named our little orange kitty Phil.  Phil seems to have adjusted quite nicely to being a house cat.  He's gained a bit of weight and his fur is getting soft and silky.

  We never did figure out what animal was making the odd noises but it was just before the fox attacks, but we'll never know for sure.   Phil's brother comes back once in a while but he is much more feral than our new baby.    I guess in all this was a lucky week.  Lucky in that so far we only seemed to have lost one chook in the fox attacks and lucky that a sweet, feral kitty chose us to save him.




Monday, 7 August 2017

Loons, rugs and mindless knitting

This rug has taken forever to weave off.   It is made from multiple wool yarns, plied together and wool fabric, cut into strips, in the Shaker rug tradition.   I'd cut half the fabric into strips, divided the strips into equal piles and set the second pile aside.   This was so that I'd know the half way mark and be able to end on the same pattern, so that the rug would be symmetrical.   However, I set the still whole piece of wool fabric aside and started questioning myself when I realized that I wouldn't have enough of the rag strips.   It took me a while to weigh options and decide on how to finish it.  I was almost halfway done when I found the remaining fabric, sigh.. I made some changes that are fine, but I'd have preferred my original design.  None the less, it is finally done.

I threaded the loom in a diamond twill pattern, knowing that I'd have several viable treadling options.  The Shaker style rug was done in a tabby weave.   This one, with a recycled duvet cover is the diamond twill.  The multi-coloured warp shows nicely on the nearly solid rags.

2 rugs down on the 11 1/2 yard warp.  I forgot to write down the length of the first rug, so I've only got a vague idea of what is left to weave off.  I'm thinking 3 more rugs at most.     I'm weaving hems for all these rugs.   It's easy to hem them up on the machine and  I think they are more durable than fringed rugs.
We were on a day trip to visit more of the Lake Erie towns.   This is the harbour in Port Rowan.  It's  a lovely little town, much bigger than we'd anticipated.     This loon was bobbing about in the lake, ignoring the fishermen and tourists enjoying the somewhat grey, breezy but very comfortable day.

The other day the skies opened up with once again, another torrential downpour, with lightning and thunder booming around us.  I was in the store filled with fabrics, yarn and craft supplies.  While I was there only for some thread and piping cord, a couple of skeins of cotton yarn jumped into my arms as I waited out the storm.  

I knew that with the day trips we'd be taking, that a mindless knitting project would come in handy while I was in the passenger seat.   I've been knitting dishcloths and I learned something interesting.   I can knit the first 3/4 of the dishcloth without any issues.  I hardly even have to look down while knitting, except for the decreases on the last half.   But, when I get half the decreases done, I need to stop because suddenly I'm looking down too much and I instantly get horribly car sick - as in pull over if I holler.   So I've been knitting 3/4 in the car and tucking it away until I get home to finish.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Two weeks crammed into one post!

 I've been making jam.   In the middle of July, I brought home  container of strawberries, my son brought some and so did hubby.  In the end there were 4 lbs of strawberries in the fridge.   After my son made cheesecake and we gorged on a bunch, I still had enough left to make a batch of jam. 

I'd looked at our market, but the vendor from Niagara with all the baskets of fruit, isn't there this year.   We were going to do a run down to the area to get apricots, but my sweetie found some locally.  I was thrilled to be able to make a batch of apricot jam.   I used pectin and was checking out recipes.  To my surprise, the recipe on the Canadian Certo packet insert is different than the U.S. recipe on their website.  Not just a little different either.  There was more fruit and a smaller fruit to sugar ratio for the same amount of pectin in the U.S. recipe.     Presuming the product is the same, I mean it's pectin, then that means the info about making sure you keep the fruit and sugar amounts exact isn't actually that important.  Obviously you need enough pectin for it to gel with the lesser cooking time and you need enough sugar to keep the beasties away, but there must be some flexibility.   I tried the U.S. recipe.  It's fruitier, not as sweet and way better than my previous apricot jam which was good to begin with.

There is also cherry jam - so yummy.   I found some frozen cherries in the back of the freezer.  I tossed them into the food processor a bit at a time and pulsed them until they were chopped up finely.   Jam is a great use for that bit of uneaten frozen fruit.  This batch is pretty and so tasty.   The bread is gluten free from the freezer section.  It's by Little Northern Bakery and it is really pretty decent for a gluten free bread.  So much so that the two little sections in the store freezer are often nearly empty or empty of the loaves.  It is so much better than the big name gluten free bread - really so much better.

We took a day trip on Saturday.  We went to Port Stanley but just kept on driving.  It was a little too touristy for us.  Just down the road though was Port Bruce.  We parked the car and took a trip over the sand dune to the lake.   I'd taken my shoes off and ouch, the heat off the sand was unbelievable.  The sand is  quite dark in colour.   It was absorbing the heat something fierce.   I had to put my shoes back on or walk in the water, which was a little too pebbly for my tender tootsies.   However, with a pair of water safe shoes, the beach would be great.   It wasn't crowded at all, despite it being a gazillion degrees out side - hmm, maybe 30° with a humidex of something more.   It was pretty and picturesque.  The water seemed clean and I'd definitely go there for a picnic and some beach play.   The town is tiny though.  I think it had only a cafe and an ice cream stand.  

We ended up in Port Burwell where we toured the HMCS Ojibwa, a retired diesel submarine.  Most of the inside of the submarine is controlled, so despite the fact that the technology is very old, we could look but no photos were allowed.  I'm standing at the back of the boat, looking toward the front.   It was an hour long tour, which was really interesting and well done.   The tour guide had the coolest Doc Marten boots on as well.

Today, at almost stupid early, the guys came from the eco metal recycling place in Hamilton to remove our oil tank.   They were here at about 7:30 am and were gone by 9 am, along with our old oil tank.   I hardly saw them, though there was a bit of grunting and gentle cussing when they had to haul it out of our basement.   At noon, the tree service dumped a chook playground in the driveway.  There were 4 of them sitting in various spots on or in the pile of logs only 10 minutes later.  

I've been hunting around for something called Gum Tragacanth - used in candy making.  So far I haven't found any locally or reasonably close.  This will take more research...





Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Projects and Kevin update

This is a 238  skein of white Egyptian Cotton, 2 ply.   It took forever to spin, mainly because sitting still for hours at this time of year just doesn't happen.   It's a nice skein and will go into my stash of handspun cotton skeins for a future project.   I only spun 1 bobbin full, then I wound about half onto another bobbin for plying.
The cotton is a commercial sliver.  When I first started spinning cotton, I had to card this sliver into punis before I could spin it.  I realized half way through this bobbin, that I had started spinning from the sliver, with no thought about it.  Really, it's all about practice, practice, practice..

I had a bit of an idea pop into my head and decided that I would weave up some inkle bands.  My inkle loom is very pretty, and is beautifully hand crafted.  Unfortunately, it has a little bit of an issue with the placement of the pegs, making for a very small shed.  It made the whole project take much longer than I'd expected and it was frustrating at times.  I used 4/8 cotton, so it should have been pretty nice to weave with, but it seemed like I was wrestling with the warp the whole length, and it wasn't horribly fun.    However, I need to weave off another 6 or so lengths, so I'm going to have to figure something out to make this work better.   I had suggested my sweetie might want to make me a new inkle loom, with some small adjustments to the pattern, but the roof needs reshingling first and apparently that comes before fibery activities.  ;)

I did make this little narrow wares width guide for my next project.  It's just a strip of plastic, folded in half.  I used the plastic from a 10 litre water jug that I found in a recycling bin.   I think a juice or milk jug,  would be easier to work with.  This was pretty tough cutting.   It may still be too long as I put on both 2 inch and 2.5 inch markings.

My sweetie woke me up this morning at 6 am, to tell me that a chair had tipped over and there was a pile of green yarn on the floor.   Sitting nearby was Kevin, just looking around as if nothing was wrong.   While he normally isn't a playful kitty, when he does play, he goes all out.   This was a freshly dyed skein of 4/8 cotton.   While I can see some of the figure 8 ties, the rest of it is so tangled up that I'm not sure I'll be able to use it.    And my husband wonders why I call Kevin the" Bad Kitty".






Monday, 10 July 2017

Rodeo Fun

Who knew there was a rodeo circuit in our province, let alone what seems to be two different sets of events?  Looking for a fairly close road trip, I did a bit of research and found a couple of localish rodeos which looked like they might be a good day out.   This event was a charity fundraiser.    We slapped on the sunscreen and our sunhats and we headed out.   It turned out to be too windy for my hat to stay on my head, so I just kept putting on sunscreen.   Except for the couple of places that I missed, it worked amazingly well -
This was a small event, so there were only a few classes.   The saddle broncos had amazing muscles and were all powerfully built and gorgeous looking horses.

 
Just love the buckskin or dun coloured horses!  So pretty.


 Barrel racing was fun to watch.  The juniors had a little boy on a tiny pony whose legs just went a mile a minute trying its best.   So cute!
 Intermission had an exhibition of moto-cross bikes doing tricks.  The too young child just riding around after mom, with neither of them doing anything much, was sort of lame, but these guys, with their crazy tricks, in a gusty wind, were totally wild.
It was a bit surprising to see that the bulls didn't get far from the chutes.  I'd expected them to have a bit more forward movement.  Mainly it was up and down, and sometimes around in circles.   They did show that 8 seconds is a very long time.

 This is the only rider who made it the full 8 seconds on a bull really didn't want him on his back.  Yay him! 
Sooooo Much Fun!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Spring berries and blues

The red currants have started ripening.  Usually they all ripen at once and I simply have to strip each little hanging bunch off the branches.  It's fast and easy.  You don't have to take the berries off the stem to make jelly.  This year however, the berries are ripening at different times.   I have to get out there and get them before the Orioles and the Red Wing Blackbirds eat them.  They can strip a bush of it's berries in a day.  So, I've gone out picking individual currants.   Two days of picking has netted a whole 340 g of currants.   I skipped today in hopes that I'll be able to get a larger amount tomorrow.   I'd love  to get a kilo of currants, but I'm not counting on it this year.  The bushes seem to have far fewer berries than other years.  A kilo will make a decent sized batch of currant jelly.

This past winter I started some Dyer's Knotweed seeds much earlier than normal, in hopes of getting seed to set this year.   Usually it blooms in September and there isn't time for the seed to set.   The seed that I started in February germinated nicely.  I transplanted it into large pots and again into planters, though the last one went into the garden.     I noticed that it's starting to flower!   Yay!    However I decided to snip off the stems that weren't flowering in hopes of a) encouraging more growth and b) to see if there was viable pigment in the leaves. 

  I harvested 14 oz or just under 400 g of leaves, which  I weighed once I'd stripped them from the stems.  Although I don't think it's a necessity to do so, it takes less space in the container to cook the leaves without the stems.  I stuffed them into a glass jar, set a trivet in the bottom of a large pot filled with warm water, and set the jar into that pot, making a double boiler.  I cooked the leaves at 160° F for about 2 hours.   As I was lifting out the jar, the bottom sheared off the jar, which was startling to say the least.  Luckily, the entire mixture dumped into the large pot, saving an enormous mess.  I would have added more water to the dye vat anyway, so it was all fine in the end.

I did have photos of the entire process, but some how I managed to lose them when I transferred them to the computer and deleted them from my camera.  Normally I check to make sure they are where I want them before I hit the delete button, but for whatever reason, I convinced myself it was all good today.


At any rate, there was a reasonable amount of pigment.   I don't know if I aerated the mixture long enough though, so it might have been a little more.  I didn't weigh my fibres before I tossed them into the pot, as I was just playing around.   There is Blue Faced Leicester, a Cashmere/Merino/Silk blend and both cotton sliver and spun cotton in there.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Plying, and weaving and raccoons, oh my!

I've finished spinning the Blue Faced Leicester.  I plied it, wet finished it and it's ready to go into the stash for a future project.   I like BFL because it's both sturdy and soft.  The staple length makes it easy to spin.  It dyes nicely and is just an all around good general purpose sort of yarn.  I use it for things like mittens, socks and hats when knitting and for scarves, shawls etc when weaving.   This commercially prepared roving  was easiest to spin with a short forward draw, although I'm pretty sure I did a bit of point of contact long draw when I was just spinning but not really paying a lot of attention... oops...



 I also plied together several different yarns to put into this rug, as in shaker rug techniques.   I realized after I'd started that I don't have enough of the blue wool yardage to make enough rags to weave a rug, as long as I'd thought.   So, I've been staring at it, trying to decide what to do.  I could rip it out and start again, keep going to make a small mat, or add larger areas of the plied yarns.  Hmmmm, what to do, what to do?



The first mitt is finished.  It still needs to be blocked and it looks much nicer when being worn than in the photo.   I had it nearly finished and ripped it back to redo the thumb as I didn't like the way is sort of sticks out nor how really small it was.   I ended up not being able to figure out a better way to do it, so I just added a few rows of ribbing on top to both keep it from splaying out and to make it longer.  I also added a few rows after the pattern and more ribbing rows to make the mitt longer.   This is the 4th try at the 2nd cuff.   First couple of tries were my mistakes and then I was half way done when I realized that there were some errors that I'd not caught when reading it over.  I think I've got it figured out this time.  The cuffs are opposite though so if it gives me any more issues, I'll just redo the right cuff and forgo the difference in patterns since I already know that there is only 1 mistake in the right cuff and I've already fixed it.

My son was grilling dinner on the deck when he called us out.    It seems that the rather yummy smells emanating from the BBQ, woke this guy up.   Until the last year or so, that knot in the big Maple tree was sealed.   Obviously though, when it broke open, this little guy moved in.   It's too bad that their cuteness doesn't make raccoons such cute little animals.   We're making sure the barn is locked up tight by dusk and being careful to put the compost out early, while the chooks will still go through it and pick out the goodies.  I really don't want him to feel too welcome around here.  I don't want him eating my chooks or causing any other issues.

  We've had a pretty orange kitty hanging around.   It's not terribly afraid of people, so I'm thinking it might be a dropped off kitty, rather than a feral barn cat.   Sadly, it's getting skinny, which means it's hunting skills aren't up to par, also why I think it might have been toss out of a vehicle, and isn't a barn cat.  Barn cats are usually pretty well fed.  It's  now got a hurt leg.   I'm hoping it stays out of the way of the raccoon and maybe I can figure out some way to slip it some food.  So far the chooks have eaten everything I've tried to set out for it.






Sunday, 25 June 2017

Peppermint Patties

Oh these are so very good.    They are creamy and pepperminty and covered in chocolate goodness.  As a bonus, they are simple to make. They do have dairy in them, so too many will definitely disagree with me. But sometimes, something yummy is worth it.

This recipe made close to 50 little candies.  More or less chocolate might be needed.  I used 2 cups, but still have a dozen patties which need coating.


Easy Peppermint Patties

3/4 cup low fat sweetened condensed milk
4 cups icing sugar (powdered/confectioners - whatever you call it where you are)
1 1/2 tsp  pure peppermint extract

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (dark chocolate would be yummy too)
1 tsp shortening



Measure the condensed milk into the mixing bowl.  Add sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well.  Add the peppermint extract and mix in thoroughly.   I actually added the extract 1/2 tsp at a time, to make sure it wasn't too strong.    Once it is all blended together,  scrape the dough together and knead it a few times just to make sure it is smooth and comes together in a ball.

Line a pan with waxed paper or parchment.   Roll little balls about 1 in in diameter.   Flatten them with a fork.   Let the little peppermint rounds dry for a couple of hours, flipping once or twice to make sure they are dry on both sides. 

Melt the chocolate chips and the shortening together.  I put them in a glass bowl and used the microwave, but a metal bowl over a pot of water (bain marie or double boiler) works too.   Dip the patties in the chocolate mixture, covering both sides and letting the excess drip off.   Set on the waxed paper/parchment til the chocolate is set.

1-  I used my Kitchen Aid, but any hand mixer would work as well -  or someone with a strong mixing arm could do it with a spoon.  The dough gets pretty stiff though.

2-  It's been rainy and damp here.  Drying time took more than 2 hours, with several flips to ensure even drying

3- Some of the little patties seemed to soften and spread a bit in the warm chocolate mixture.   It just took a little extra care to get them dipped and onto the tray.

4-  2 forks made easy work of the chocolate dipping process.

5-  as the chocolate started cooling, it was making thicker coats.  I just scraped off  the excess, to try to keep a good peppermint to chocolate ratio.

6-  I used regular grocery store chocolate chips and they are really good.  I can imagine how much better they'd be using a really good brand of chocolate

Friday, 23 June 2017

Starting holiday projects

 The steam tractor was out giving wagon rides at Westfield on Father's Day.   What a cool piece of equipment but noisy!   Not the chugging as it drove around the site, but when it blew the whistle, it was really loud.   I was in a building close to the bandstand, which was cool because there was an old time band , which played fun music for the better part of the afternoon.   It threatened to rain, which probably stopped some people from visiting, but the rain held off until closing time, so the day was pretty awesome.
I've started my holiday projects.   This is a cuff for a pair of mittens.   I had to restart this after I'd made the second bobble, because the way I was reading the pattern directions, the 2 yarn overs made an extra stitch, which didn't get eliminated in the pattern.   I based the size on the hand circumference but now am wondering, as the wrist fits quite small.  It's taken more time than I expected to get this far, with still 1/4 of the pattern to go for the cuff.   Once I got all the cable details and the bobble down, it's gotten faster.

I've been weeding and mulching the garden.   I use cardboard and newspaper for mulch.   I've been told it's ugly and why do that, but it's very effective.  By the end of the season, it's starting to break down and it easily works into the garden in the springtime when we till.   I really like how it blocks the weeds so effectively and it's really inexpensive.    I tried using old straw one year, which really worked well, except a) it costs a lot more than the paper/cardboard which is usually free and b) there were so many seeds in it, that my mulch looked like a wheat field.  It kept the other weeds at bay, but I had to weed out the wheat!

The rug warp is wound on and ready to weave.   I'm spinning some of the weft for one rug, so decided to play around with some different colours.   This one is definitely being unwoven as it's really ugly.  I was looking for dark coloured sheets at thrift stores, but I didn't find any.   Old jeans would likely work as well but I'll need to take another trip to town for those.  Meanwhile I have a few yards of blue wool fabric which I might strip down for weft.  There  doesn't seem to be quite enough yardage for a skirt, so better to use it than leave it sitting there for the moths.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Painted warp and hand card catastrophe

 The past few days have been busy.  I've played in the garden.  I was so excited that the pumpkins had germinated that apparently when I was on the phone with my daughter, I yelled.   Since nothing grew in that area last summer, mainly weather issues, it was great to see the pumpkins growing this year.  I had to put a lot of sticks in the area to keep the chickens from sunbathing in the pumpkin patch.

I have finally started putting the multi coloured dyed rug warp on the loom.  I know it was a rescued warp -  a whole lot of threads removed from a guild project that wasn't working out as planned.   The threads were removed, a cross put in them and it was chained.  The cross wasn't actually a true cross.   The cross keeps the threads in order.  Without it, there are a lot of randomly bunched and messed up areas.   I did finally undo the chain and add choke ties.  What is messing me up right now is that not all of the threads were caught up in the cross, so there are loose threads periodically.   Those just get tangled up.  There was a large handful of really short bits that I found by accident and luckily didn't try to thread those, plus I caught them before I started winding on the warp.    I'm having to comb out parts of the rest as I wind it on to ease out the tangles.  It's not my favourite way to put on a warp, but it's a rescue warp, so I'm happy to get it used.  Plus, look at those awesome colours!   Pain in the patootie to dress the loom aside, the colours are fun to work with.

I did a lot of hours volunteering this week.   I went into a grade 4 classroom and answered a lot of questions about the Middle Ages.   The teacher sent me a list of questions.   I dug around and found Illuminations which illustrated the answers and did the research for the rest.  In all, the questions were really interesting and thought out.   The follow up questions from the kids in class, were also thoughtful and good.  The kids were amazingly well behaved and I enjoyed it very much.


In the grade 3 class, I did some fibre activities for the pioneer theme.  Sadly, my hand cards were damaged by the rougher kids.    I really like my handcards.  These ones have a gentle curve and the carding cloth works with a lot of different fibres.   I'm hoping they can be glued and clamped back together.  It isn't in the budget right now to replace them.  

Garden update:   The birds ate all my bean plant seedlings.... talk about unhappy!  Well the birds are happy.   I have little leafless stems sticking up from the ground, which doesn't make me happy.   They ate every single one of them!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Painted Rug Warp

This is the 11 1/2 yard white rug warp which I ended up with when last month when we were clearing out the guild room.   It was stark white and while it would have made perfectly fine rugs.  With the denim and solids I have on hand for the weft, they would have been plain, serviceable rugs.  My imagination started working, so I dug out the Procion MX dyes and mixed up a set of primary colours at 2%.  I used 2% strength, only because that was what I'd previously mixed up and the storage jars were already labelled that way.   It ended up being a better idea as I needed less dye volume, and was easier to work with.

I started taking a series of photos, but conditions weren't conducive to good pictures.  It was a grey, really cool day, threatening rain.   It was also very windy.   Every time I grabbed the camera, something tried to blow away.   Since I was working on the deck due to the size of this project, in the ended up just playing.  

I used Procion MX Fibre Reactive dyes, which give lovely colours and are relatively safe to use.   The one downside is there is a bit of rinsing since the dyes bond both with the water and the fibre.  The upside is you don't need any heat to set the dyes.  

I draped plastic wrap on the patio table to both protect the table and to use to wrap the warp chain in afterwards to keep it damp and protected.   It would have been smarter to use a sheet of plastic like a cheap table cloth, vapour barrier or an old shower curtain to protect the table.  The syringes were a gift from Carol who has Alpaca ( and a brand new cria which was born yesterday)  Yay!   They are perfect for measuring out dye for painting the warp.   I like that I can dilute the dyes as well, but filling half the syringe with water and then just adding the dye.  This makes it easier to adjust shades.  The plastic wrap wasn't enough to actually seal the dyes in the chain, so there was a bit of seepage and some of my oranges and bright yellows are more burgandy and brown.   I let the warp sit and cure for 48 hours because it never really got warm.  Cooler temperatures equal longer curing times for good colours.  The warp is still damp, so it won't be quite as bright as this when it's dry.

I wasn't really going for any particular colour range. I didn't measure rug lengths and change colours for each rug, or even plan anything ahead of time.   In my mind I saw rugs with bright splashes of colour to add interest.   I'm pretty sure I've accomplished that with this warp. Now I just hope  the finished product looks as exciting as the pictures in my imagination.

The sad thing is that I will most likely not be selling these rugs or any of my handcrafted items at the guild shows this fall.   My guild is spectacularly unsupportive of hand spinners, which is mainly due to the attitude of a small number of members.  I've been told that no items will be allowed which are made with hand spun yarn as all hand spun items are only suitable for church bazaar items (meant in a derogatory manner).   Most other guilds who have spinners, don't seem to have an issue with this but apparently ours does and I'm only allowed to put in skeins of hand spun yarn.   So rather than change what I do, I'll just change the venue where I sell items.   It makes me unhappy in a way, as I do a lot to support the guild, and the commission would help the guild bring in speakers and pay for a new site when we find one.  The upside is that I'll likely have less commission to pay and may be able to put a wider variety of items for sale, especially if I go the Etsy or FB page sales route.   I just need to figure out how to set those things up.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A couple of quick projects



Half of the Polar Vortex, Blue Faced Leicester sliver has been spun.   If I'd chain plied it, the colour changes were long enough to make a pretty rotation of solid colours.  However I didn't want a 3 ply yarn, so I just plied it together and called it good.  It's a little bit brighter than the photo shows, but it's pretty enough.  I have a pattern for mittens which seems like a good match for this yarn.

The purse I whipped up last year before holidays was starting to fray at the zipper.   Since I'd wanted a small denim bag and had only a part of a single pant leg on hand, that is what I used.   Considering it took about 30 minutes in total to figure out what I was doing, sew the whole thing together, including lining with a welted, zippered pocket and a zipper to close the whole bag, I'm pretty happy it lasted this long.    But instead of repairing it as it's more of a functional bag than fun and attractive, I decided to make a new one.

This one is also made from recycled denim, but I had a whole pair of jeans to work with.   I really wish I had time to make a denim strap for it, however due to time constraints, I used a bit of nylon webbing.   I'm also refinishing a little kitchen island workbench, packing, doing stuff for my son who's moving tomorrow, just brewed a batch of beer and my sweetie is home on holidays, which seems to make less available time for projects.   I'm hoping I'll sit down and make the denim strap next week, but since we're off to a Jays game and a concert tomorrow, I opted for the quick fix.   Because I lined the bag, with the obligatory zippered welt pocket for my keys and a patch pocket for other stuff, it took a bit more effort.  There are a few miss-steps, but in all, it's cute, fun and is quite roomy compared to the bags I've been using lately.  The lining matches the belt.

 Both apple trees blossomed this year, although the new one bloomed in two stages, half just after the Northern Spy had finished blooming.   I've no idea if anything got pollinated, as we had so much wet, windy weather I don't remember seeing any bees around at all.  I guess time will tell.   But aren't they pretty, whether or not we get any apples this year.   A friend of mine has an apple press and knows of an abandoned orchard.  She's thinking we should get together for an apple pressing day.  Wouldn't that be fun!




Friday, 26 May 2017

What happend at home...

 While I was away last weekend, I received text updates, with photos on what my boys were doing at home.  They were installing the counters.  Friday night I got the photo of the installed counters, without the sink.  On Sunday morning, the sink and tap had been installed, all the caulking dried and it was complete.  I'm sure my friends were tired of me showing them the tiny, phone photos, but it all came together so much faster than I'd anticipated.

   I absolutely love the counters!  They're just formica trimmed with maple, but they look great.     There are only a few things left to do in the kitchen.  We're putting bulkheads in over the counters.  This is because there were some there before and the previous owners didn't bother to finish the whole ceiling last time, just up to the bulkheads, so it's either redo the whole ceiling or redo them like the original kitchen.   It's less work to remake them than to redo the whole ceiling.   We need the trim around the window, doorways and floor.   There are two cabinets which need to be remade which go on either side of the
sink.  Who knows when that will get done.  Because of a last minute choice to frame in the outside wall for extra insulation, the previously made cabinets are too big. We're using them elsewhere though.

I do love my kitchen now!   It's bright, cheery, easy to work in and enjoyable to just hang out in there.


We also got the first load of wood in.   In the past, we've gotten the logs already chopped up, but sometimes the lengths are too long for the stove, but not long enough to be chopped in to two pieces.   This time they just dumped the whole logs.   When the dump truck drove into the yard, my old kitty ran off to hide in a bedroom.  Keven though, ran to the window.  He watched the truck drive up, was intrigued by the whole dumping process and watched the driver and Al while they chatted and talked about taking down a large tree in the yard.  It was rather peculiar cat behaviour, as he's so curious and interested in what happens, rather than hiding or ignoring things.    I wonder how long it will take to chop up and split the logs?