Monday, 25 July 2016

 The 3 fleeces I have are white.   I've been spinning them in rotation, all using the long draw and yes, they are all still white.  
  I love the long draw because it is a very fast way to spin, giving soft, elastic and lovely, warm yarn as a result.   But all that white was starting to get a bit dull.  After not spinning for a couple of days in a row, I dug up a bunch of small lots of leftover fibres and dumped them into acid dye vats, using leftover dyes from other projects.  The blue/pink blend is Merino.  The green is BFL and nylon.  The navy and orange is the 32 micron fleece I just got from the Wool Coop.    Here is where I say - label, label, label!  The jars of dyes were leftover from other projects.   They had colour names on them but at that time, I didn't dye with anything else and was pretty certain that I only used 1% solutions.   However, the navy was supposed to be a blend of colours and much lighter according to the math.  I'm guessing though that the navy dye was actually a 2% solution and it really changed my anticipated results.   Each new jar of dye that I make up, now has the appropriate information: colour, type of dye, dye solution percentage at the very minimum.

The green is spinning up beautifully.  It is BFL and nylon blend seconds, probably superwash.   The Black Lamb usually sells these super cheap at the Fleece Festival and it is well worth the money.  It is always lovely, dyes well and is nice to spin.  It will be great for socks.  I spun the first bit using without processing the roving but have started running the rest through the drum carder first.  It just makes it that much easier to spin.

I think of this as my Deep Space 9 project.   I've always loved Star Trek, but was never really fond of Deep Space 9.  However, my sweetie got me hooked when he played the very first episode when I started spinning this, which I'd never seen and boy, was I hooked quickly.  Sigh, and I really am not fond of watching t.v... but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do :)

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


We went to visit 3 of our kids.  They live in the big city and it is always a bit of a shock to see the differences.   They all live in a trendy little area full of little shops with "eco-friendly" items and produce shops.  The latter were amazing; full of fresh fruits and veggies at reasonable prices, like nothing I've seen locally here.  We were there for a few days.

We went to the Toby Keith concert.  

We had great seats, under the roof so when it rained, we were sheltered.   When the skies opened up, the people on the lawn got to move to the unused seats, which was nice,although they still got wet.  Eric Pasley opened and this rainbow was the best part of his performance.  Maybe it was too much base or not enough power to the amps, but he was just okay.  His album is decently produced though.

The second performer was Dallas Smith who was awesome.  He totally rocks and just pumped out a great show.  I tried and failed, to get a photo of his ink, not that I'm a fan of tatoos, but his forearms were interesting.  

Toby Keith was pretty much what you would expect and a fun concert!   A bit rushed it seemed, but we later read that there was a 20 minute delay, so he pushed his songs together to get everything in.   He certainly knows how to court the crowd, and doesn't pay lip service to social niceties or political correctness, especially when you see how many references there are to his sponsor throughout the show.

Two of my sons took us for a tour through St. Lawrence Market and then to Allen Garden.  On the way we crossed the street to avoid a fight and almost got hit by the cop car chasing the assailant. Yikes.... not worth the pretty views at the green houses for that nonsense.

But we saw turtles, a whole pile of turtles at that.   We wandered through shops and stopped for lemonade, and finally made it to our last stop, which was Medieval Times for dinner and the show.   So the show was a bit cheesy but really fun.   There were Lippizaners, or at least I'm guessing they were, since they were grey and did a horse ballet show, which was pretty much classical dressage moves.  Albeit a bit sloppy in places, it was enjoyable to watch and it was obvious that the horses are well cared for and in great shape. 

We were in the yellow section so cheered for the yellow knight, who sadly didn't win in the end.   The horses used for the games and jousting were not only beautiful, but well trained and it was a fun show.  Of course there was a dark knight, who was vanquished in the end.  The food was decent.  They catered to the allergies and the vegetarians with ease.  The atmosphere was lovely, theatrical and very well done.  The cheering and booing was lots of fun.  In all it was a great evening.

Despite all the fun and excitement, it was good to get home ;)

Sunday, 10 July 2016

First Rug

Whenever I planned projects and thought about what I wanted to weave, rugs were never part of the thought process.  I had no interest in weaving rugs.  We've had several guild meetings where rugs were the topic of the evening and still, none of it inspired me at all.  Then for some reason, it all clicked.  The July meeting had rugs as a topic and suddenly, making rugs got added to my summer project list.  

I had 1 little tube of black 4/8 cotton, suitable for a rug warp, picked up in some odd batch of yarns when I first began weaving.  I wound off enough for a 24 inch wide rug, which left only a little left on the tube for weaving a facing on the ends.    It's a simple tabby, sett at 6, because it seemed easier to keep the warp consistent on a 12 dent reed, that sett at 8, which was what I had planned at first.   

I was going to use the green duvet cover, which I don't like.   I've used it every winter and this spring when I changed to my summer duvet cover, that the green makes my tiny bedroom look even darker and smaller than it is.    Since the green duvet cover cost me $8 at a thrift store, it owes me nothing - it is 12 years old, but the darned thing won't wear out!   I decided that I would keep the summer cover on all year and cut the green cover up  for a rug.

However, it also dawned on me that if I didn't like the green as a duvet cover, I may not like it as a rug.  Sooooo, I took my guest room duvet cover, which I do like, but doesn't fit at all in this cottage and before I could decide not to, I cut it into strips.

With the black warp, it looks awesome. 

It is a little fussy to weave since I'm folding the fabric strips as I weave, but if I could just sit down and weave without distractions, it wouldn't take long at all.

However, hubby is on holidays - and distractions are just  happening all over the place.

Christiana's Kevin Update

Papa was late getting home from work the other day and Kevin was not impressed.  He commandeered my loom to use as a vantage point, for waiting for his papa to get home.   He sat there for ages, until the truck finally drove into the driveway, when he ran to wait at the door like a little puppy.

Friday, 1 July 2016

HFF - In a Jam

In A Jam...or Jelly, or Pickle (June 3 - June 16) In a world before refrigeration, preserving food was an important task. For this challenge, make your favorite preserved food - bonus points if it’s seasonal!

I really wanted to make a jelly, but right now I don't have a counter or a way to hang a jelly bag.  I used to hang it from one of the cupboard handles, so it could drip into a container on the counter.  Since I have neither cupboards or counter top right now, I made jam instead.

The garden strawberries weren't quite ripe yet, so I used some that were in the freezer. 

In the Cooks Own Book, 1832, Boston, I found this recipe for strawberry jam.

The Economical Housekeeper, 1837, London offered this recipe.

Currants would cut the sweetness of the jam nicely.  As well, currants have lots of pectin, so they would help the jam set.   My currants are frozen in 1 kilo bags, so I substituted 1 tsp of lemon juice, to 600 g of strawberries and 600 g of sugar.   It took only about 15 minutes on a modern electric stove.

I tested the readiness of the jam by dropping a bit on a chilled plate to see how it set up.  If it is ready, the dollop of hot jam should have a bit of a skin on top as it is cooling down.

When the jam looked about done, I poured it into heated canning jars.  I screwed on the lids and rings and popped them into a hot water canning bath for 10 minutes, so sterilize and seal properly.  It was a bit of a waste of my huge canning pot for only 2 1/2 cups of jam, but the jam was really tasty.   I'm not a huge fan of strawberry jam, but this was pretty good.    The only issue was that I've made only 2 batches of jam/jelly without commercial pectin, and there is a bit of a learning curve as to when the jam is set.   This jam is a little to thick for my preference.

Cost - $1.00 for the sugar and probably about $4 worth of strawberries.
Time - 2 -3 hours includes prep, cooking, canning and clean up
Accuracy - except for the lemon juice substitution, pretty accurate
Success - tasty but thicker than I'd like.  I will try again with peaches or apricots, which are my favourite jams.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

1830's Bonnet

I started this hat on Tuesday.  I wanted to see how the hat pattern worked and fitted so I used materials on hand, which meant some medium blue cotton velveteen and some darker blue broadcloth for the lining and trim.  I had the buckram base wired, assembled and mulled by Tuesday evening.   I should have finished it Wednesday, but the first fabric I tried for the lining was cotton gauze, which gathered beautifully and stretched so much it looked awful.  The second try, was the cotton gauze without the ruching, which looked worse!  I did a quick sample up with the broadcloth and despite having to shorten the lining a bit due to lack of materials, I thought it looked much better, so kept it.

There are flowers for decoration, but I forgot to purchase some florist tape, to bind them together, so they will have to wait.

The pattern is the 1830's (version C)  from Lynn McMasters.     I used crown buckhram from Farthingales  .   I didn't have any millinery wire in the correct gauge, so I used some 16 g  wire  (aluminum?) from the hardware store.   It pretty much looks like the fencing wire we used on the farm, but that was probably galvanized steel.

The pattern pieces go together nicely.  The instructions bounce around through the 6 pages a bit, so once I realized that, I read them through a couple of times and marked which pages were the ones I needed.  The instructions said to use glue in a few places.  I was bound and determined not to use glue, but in the end, it made things a lot easier so I used the glue.   You can't tell on the hat. 

  The pattern fits a little small and the ties aren't really in a place to hold the hat on my head if it were a windy day, but those are both easy fixes.   All in all, I think the pattern is really well done and I would recommend her patterns to anyone who wanted to try their hand at hat making.   I am pleased that the hat went together fairly quickly and is going to be a useful, wearable sample.

Hopefully I will have something other than broadcloth for my lining next time, but I'll have to say that I'm not unhappy with the look of the finished product by any means.  It does need the floral spray though :(

Materials - Crown Buckram, 16g wire, bamboo quilt batting, bias tape, cotton velveteen, cotton broadcloth, thread, tacky glue, flowers for trim. 

I had to stop by the fabric store for the flowers today and a dress length of 1830's fabric came home with me as well.  Totally unplanned, but it jumped out at me on my way to the floral department.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

HFF - Breakfast Foods

I'm playing a bit of catch up here.  May was one of those months with hardly a day to relax.  Between FOOL - an SCA event, a regional conference in which I was both an organizer and a speaker, and finishing up my Master Spinner In-depth study, for the second time,  and having a kitchen under renovation, I've been fitting in the past few challenges.  I'm almost caught up though :)

Breakfast Foods (May 6 - May 19) It’s simple - make a breakfast dish. Get creative, but make sure to provide your documentation for its place at the breakfast table!

Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management - 1859- Great Britain

2145 - The following list of hot dishes may perhaps assist our readers in knowing what to provide for the comfortable meal called breakfast.  Broiled fish....... omlets, plain boiled eggs, oeufs-au-plat, poached eggs on toast..... etc.

While the challenge was to get creative, I was hungry.   I had been away from home for 3 days and I didn't have a lot of choice for interesting ingredients.    I did have a lot of fresh eggs.  

So, I made poached eggs on toast.  I even followed Mrs.  Beeton's method for making poached eggs, which was pretty similar to a modern method, using a sauce pan of boiling water, a little bit of vinegar, turning off the heat and adding the egg.

I have to admit that I really like poached eggs.  The yolk was soft and runny, so I could dip my gluten free toast in.  It was a satisfying breakfast - quick and filling.  It was very successful and it was a good method for making a perfect poached egg.

Time - 10 - 15 minutes included running out to the barn to fetch the egg, heating the water, tossing the toast in the toaster and finding a plate garnish.

Cost - all ingredients on hand.   The eggs are from my own chickens and this time of year I pay about $6 a week  or less to feed them, getting anywhere from 8-10 eggs a day.  

In all, this was a really simple, tasty and period breakfast.

Monday, 20 June 2016

A quick break to eastern Ontario.

We took a few days off and drove up to Brockville.  On the way, we stopped by the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers warehouse, where I got to wander through the building, see the bales and bins of fleece and picked out 2 to come home with me.  Of course my camera was no where to be seen.  More on those fleeces in a later post.

One day we took to revisit Upper Canada Village.  I have to say it is an amazing place with a great many knowledgeable interpreters.   However not all were into sharing information.   A couple of the cooks were more interested in talking amongst themselves and the tin smith was down right curt, unfriendly and unapproachable, answering questions in half sentences at best if one or two words wouldn't suffice and not sharing any information beyond those questions.

 There were baby animals though.   This little calf was just a few days old.  Because calves were removed from their mamas a day or two after birth, they do the same thing, rather than leave the calves to be raised by the cows, despite them not using the milk.   I was told they do this not only because it was period practice but because it socializes the calves more easily, making them less skittish around the many, many people who will trapse by.

The buildings are really well appointed and as I said, most of the interpreters are amazing.  The broom maker was one such interpreter who gave a stellar talk while making a sorghum broom.
 They were out tilling the corn fields.  Their gardens were growing nicely.     Actually they had potatoes, tomatoes, beans, kale, lettuce and more which were much bigger than mine at home.   It didn't help my garden that the chickens found there way in while we were gone,  ate all the lettuce, pecked a bunch of early tomatoes to pieces and ate the strawberries.

But back to the village.... they had a set of working oxen!  How cool is that?   Apparently oxen over heat much more quickly that horses and in the very hot weather, like that particular day was, they require many more breaks.  It has something to do with them having less sweat glands than horses.

In all, it was another lovely visit.  I do wish I'd picked up one of their cobber brooms though, because I am noticing many cobwebs this spring.