Monday, 20 February 2017

Kitchen Sink and Syrup

I've started with the sett samples.   I've been able to overlap the setts - this one is 10 epi for both the tabby and the twill, and eliminate some of the yarn wasted in retying the ends to the front apron rod, for at least one of the samples.  These are the first two of the six required.  

The yarn really bloomed when it was wet finished.  Not only is it really soft but it has a lot of elasticity.  I spun it with a short forward draw from sliver, so it should be pretty much a worsted yarn.   However, with the amount it bloomed and the elasticity, I'm wondering if my Blue Faced Leicester sliver was mislabeled and might actually be Merino.

My sweetie installed the sink cabinet and the new sink yesterday.   He says that it took much longer than it should have due to a compression fitting that didn't want to work.   It was new and he spent so much time trying to get it to work that I almost laughed when he finally went into town, purchased a new one and just a few minutes after he got back home, he declared the project finished.  

It won't actually be permanently installed until we get counter tops though.  I'm hoping that at least there will be a piece of plywood or old counter top over the dishwasher and the cupboard on the other side, because it's pretty inconvenient as it is right now.  While I'd love quartz counters, they aren't in the budget.   So instead we're trying to decide between laminate, butcher block or wide plank counters.  

There was enough sap in the buckets to start boiling this morning.   Once again my sweetie set up this old Scandia stove as a windbreak.   We found the stove in the basement when we moved in.   It was held together with small pins in the corners, so to move it out, he just had to unhook the pieces.   It has side and front doors which latch and he's using the top, with the chimney connection as the back.  He can feed wood from three sides!    This stove is from Australia of all places, where they still make rather interesting stoves. Even though this stove is ancient, it still boggles my mind to think that someone would import a cast iron stove from the other side of the planet!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Middle of Feb. Anomalies

This is 545 yards of 2 ply Blue Faced Leicester, spun with a short forward draw.   I didn't post any update photos because one bobbin of white yarn looks like any other bobbin of white yarn.   I'm still spinning to get a bit more done, but I think that if I go with small sizes, I have enough spun to use for sett samples.   I left the loom waste on the loom from the last samples.   There are 110 epi, so if I tie on the new warp and don't worry about the width, I can make it work.   Samples will be about 6 inches, so I'm hoping that will be large enough.  

It took me a good number of hours to spin this boring white yarn.  It is a nice white, but I've been tempted to do some sort of wild dyeing experiment on it, just to liven it up.  It's take so long to spin though, that I'm ready to put it on the loom and weave it off.

The weather has been crazy weird this winter.   We had a ton of snow and frigid weather early on, but January and February have vascillated dramatically between snowy and cold or mild and rain.   However, the past few days have been both sunny and mild.   Any sunshine this time of year is glorious, but usually our sunshine comes with really, really cold weather.   We're having a weird mild spell though, which is also coming with lots of sunshine.  It is wonderful.  Today was so nice that I was able to hang my laundry out.   I don't think I've ever hung it out in the middle of February before.   My sheets smell like the outside...crisp and clean ;)

It's a little early for the spiles and sap buckets to be on the Maple trees, but the forecast shows a week of this mild weather.   The sap is definitely running already.   We put out a few buckets to to start on this years syrup.   Even when the weather turns cold, we'll just leave the buckets up and we can start collecting sap again when the real spring starts the sap running again.   We didn't put as many buckets out as we normally do, so we could add a few more later in the season.

Well back to the boring white fibre, and the short forward draw, which takes me forever, but does make a nice weaving yarn.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Samples and spinning

The purple superwash Merino is plied and skeined.   I didn't do a yardage count, but there is definitely not enough to weave a sett sample with.    It's a nice yarn though.  I've no idea what to do with this yarn.  Maybe I can spin up a bunch of leftover roving and make something stripey ;)
I've started weaving the sett samples for the design class homework.  I did the sampler gamp first, because I thought that it would be the more monotonous exercise of all the homework.   It was.  These weave off fairly quickly, despite having to cut them off and rethread for each sample.   It dawned on me after I'd cut the second sample off the loom, that for a couple of the twill samples, I could have run the tabby sample off right afterwards and cut some of the rethreading time.   I put enough warp on to do all the samples (fingers crossed).  These twills were at a sett of 8 epi, 9 epi, and 11 epi, using the 2 ply wool from the no longer in business, custom rug factory.    The 11 epi is pretty firm.   I have woven blankets at 9 epi and they work out nicely.  At 8 epi, the weave structure is a little loose.  It is amazing what a difference 1 thread per inch made.  They still need to be wet finished and mounted in some way.

I found a pound of Blue Faced Leicester mill ends.  It was sitting on one of my weaving tool totes, which was hiding in a corner, behind the stash of firewood.   I think it is superwash with a bit of nylon in it.  It spins like a dream.   I plan on spinning the whole pound to the same grist and hopefully I'll have enough to weave something more than a scarf.

Sunday, 5 February 2017


It was a busy week.  I'm glad that the weather held for most of it, because we had places to go.   It started on Sunday when we went to the Dierks Bentley concert.  We saw him a couple of years ago and it was  a good concert, although the openers, Tim Hicks and Randy Houser stole the show.  This time Jon Pardi opened and his set was simple, but it worked really well.  His music was pretty awesome though.  Cole Swindell sounded a bit like he had a sore throat and a lot of his songs are a bit whiney, but he was good.   Dierks was great though and has obviously had a good connection to the audience.  I really enjoyed this show.   I'd sure like a better camera though, for concert shots.  My phone camera is starting to wear out.

 The Japanese Indigo started sprouting.  It was a happy moment when I checked the planter and found these tiny, little sprouts starting to pop up.   The planter has a clear dome, which I'm opening for part of the day.  Not only can I watch the seedlings grow but I think it keeps them healthier and fungus free.

One of Al's friends gave him tickets to the Rangers game on Friday.  While the wind was blustery during the day, causing a lot of road drifting, the roads were fine in the evening.  It was my first live hockey game and it was fun.   We only stayed for 2 periods though.  Not only was it a blow out in score but the gal seated beside Al was hacking, sneezing and coughing all over him while chatting him up and the one beside me kept plying her hands with heavily fruity scented hand creme and sucking back the menthol cough drops.   Ugh...   So we decided to leave early.  We listened to the rest of the game on the way home.

The bobbin of the purple superwash Merino is almost full and I'm almost out of roving.   I'm trying to decide whether to ply it back on itself or spin up a bobbin of a second colour and ply them together.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Putting the Novel Down, finally -

Purple superwash Merino
All that dark, grey, miserable, wet, foggy weather was making me lethargic.  Instead of doing all sorts of cool things, I ended curling up with my favourite blankie, reading and drinking gallons of herbal tea (mainly peppermint yum!).    I'd put some commercially dyed merino on the Minstrel wheel but it just wouldn't spin itself.  Finally I got off my duff and began spinning.    I started off doing a very careful short forward draw, keeping it all consistent and lovely.  Then I realized that I'd be spinning this into July, to have enough for my samples, so I switched to the long draw.   It's going much faster, although not quite so consistent.  At least it feels like I'm getting somewhere when I spin for an hour or more.   I'm hoping that I'll have enough of this yarn to weave sett samples with.

white flowered Japanese Indigo seeds
I ordered some Persicaria tintoria or Japanese Indigo seed.   This is the white flowered variety.  (The pink flowered type is really pretty).  I've started a small batch early, in hopes of planting it a) in a planter and b) planting it early enough for it to go to seed, even if I have to drag it inside for a while in the autumn.  I looked for a heating pad, to help germination, but it seems a little early as I was lucky to find the little peat moss cells for planting, let alone any other garden supplies.  I'll start more seed in March, to plant in the garden.

bottles sitting on the hearth for carbonation
This morning I bottled up 2.5 gallons of amber ale.   I coudn't get into the kitchen yesterday because hubby was painting an area which needed to be finished before he installs the sink (fingers crossed for this weekend).   I filled 10, 500 ml bottles - the plastic ones.  I have to admit that I totally forgot about  underestimated the effect of the overwhelming scent of the beer, before 8 am. Yuk!

Mid afternoon, I mixed up more sanitizing solution and bottled up the cider.  There was only about 3.5 L in the carboy, so it seemed like a huge mess and effort for such a small amount.   I had 5 small bottles and 2.5 , 500 ml bottles.   The half bottle became a tester and it was pretty good.  It's cloudy though, despite letting it crash on the rather cold sun porch for a while.   I used a siphon and bottling wand to fill these bottles and that sure was an exercise in futility.   I wasn't tall enough to prime the siphon and make sure the bottling wand was securely in a bottle.  The siphon kept losing it's prime, so I needed help to do the job, which kept the mess on the floor to a minimum but the frustration level quite high.   I'm considering a bottling bucket for next time.  Using the capper was fun though ;)
Apple Cherry Cider, Day 1

Speaking of next time, because I had the sanitizing solution made and all the equipment out, plus the ingredients, I made up a batch of Unicorn Blood (apple cherry cider) based on a recipe found on the Home Brew Forums.  The batch is just over 12.5 L, because I'm not sure if the carboy I want to use for a secondary fermenter, is in Imperial or U.S. gallons.    It's sitting the the back room, which is quite cool.  I've read in a few places, that low temperature, slow ferments, help in keeping the flavours of the fruit.    Right now the room is just under 14 C, since 55 F is the temperature called for, I'm hoping I'm in the ballpark.

I have the ingredients for a 3.25 gallon batch of amber ale, but I only have a 2 gallon fermenter, so until I get another, or the cider is done, I'll have to wait.   I suppose I could use this time for weaving .....

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

One of Those Days!

Monday night I wound the warp for the new blanket on the back beam.  It went on soooo smoothly that I wondered what might go wrong.  I didn't even have anything to keep it under much tension, so I was amazed.  It was wool and a little sticky to start with, but it wasn't a problem.

Tuesday, I threaded the heddles.  It was only 240 threads, so not a huge job.  But having adjusted all the shafts to work properly, they are a tad lower than before, so a bit of reaching is required, which is quite uncomfortable for me.  If I had a bench or stool which could fit over the bar which secures the treadles, I think it would be better - but I don't, so I gave myself 2 days to thread.  It only took one, in several sessions with lots of tea breaks.

Wednesday, this morning, I was waiting for a parcel which was to be shipped to my door.  Courier cost $1.30 more than postal service, plus it was faster and I didn't have to use any gas to get to town, to pick it up.   However, the scheduled time of delivery was for "before the end of the day".   Not very definitive, that's for sure.    So in the morning, I did some paperwork, sleyed the reed, tied the warp onto the front apron rod, while waiting.   I ate lunch, drank tea, played a video game - still no courier.  

I decided then that I would tie up the treadles.   In order to get close enough to the heddles for threading, I need to untie the treadles and since they aren't permanently attached, slide them back and out of the way.  This means I need to re-tie them before I can weave.    I'm going to re-think this process in the future because it is a bit of a pain in the patootie, not because it is difficult, only awkward because I am just over 5' tall.   If I were 5'4, I think it would be a totally different story ;)

Anyway, for me to get to the left side of the treadles, I need to go at it from the back.  Of course, the loom is dressed now, and because I use a roll of heavier watercolour paper for warp packing, there is this wide roll of paper hanging off the back beam.   I slid under the loom, on my back and balanced the paper on my chest while I fussed with the treadles.    It was that exact moment that the courier showed up at the door.   Go figure eh?   He couldn't have arrived 30 seconds earlier, while I was heat sealing the ends of the texsolve heddle ties.  

If I hadn't have looked up at a pivotal moment, I would have missed him, because it was one of those days when the door bell didn't work.   Regardless of my scrambling, I was happy to get my parcel and the driver was happy to be dropping off the parcel as the sleet was just starting, as he didn't want it to get wet.   I now have all the treadles tied, the warp tensioned and once I find my last colour of yarn for the weft, I'll be ready to rock and roll.

But right now, I think I need another cup of tea :)

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Finally get stuff done...

The family was hit with a major virus, which slowed everything down, despite the fact that I managed to avoid the worst of it.   I kept staring at that cotton and the metre of sliver left, trying to will it to be spun.  However, after some effort, I'm finally plying up the last of the cotton.  It is a little bit finer than the last skein but I will admit to rushing most of this, in between periods of ignoring it.  It is definitely time to take a wee break from cotton for a bit.  I do love how easily it spins though.  It is well worth the effort of all those hours of practice to get reasonably proficient, just to be able to spin it without a lot of thought.

The design gamp is off the loom.   It is 9 different threadings wide, by 50 different treadlings long.  There was a little extra warp left that I could have used to experiment with some of my own treadlings, but really, I was not so enamoured with this project that I wanted to do more.   As soon as I was done the last pick of the hem, I chopped it off.  I think it would have helped if I'd remembered that I was using a jack loom and treadled the spaces, rather than the shafts marked.  Then I would have been able to see the patterns as I wove them, rather than weaving them backside up.  That made it a lot harder to catch any treadling errors.  You wouldn't think there would be any as I'd used a direct/universal tie up - but yes, I managed.

I've tensioned all 8 shafts and am winding a warp for a trial project.   It will be a blanket, woven in 2 pieces and joined up the centre.  I realized that I'd need 6 colours to get the block assortment that I was hopeing for.   That grey has blue/green undertones, so I was thinking medium blue or green, dark brown and a dark red.  I may have to put a call out for the red,  see what is hanging out in the guild room, or egads, maybe have to dye some yarn up,  since I didn't notice any on the shelf, in the quick glance I gave it.   There is yarn in a bin though, so it would be so much more time efficient, if some red just happened to be sitting in there.

I made a light box from a tutorial on the web - even without enough light coming through, it allowed for a much better photo than just using a makeshift arrangement of white bristol board.  I used white tissue paper for the sides and top.  It is way to delicate, so one day I will replace it with something sturdier.