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.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Crafts, hats and fabric shopping

 I was wasting time looking at online patterns and I found one for these little bucket bags.   The one on the right is made according to the pattern, with fusible fleece and some rather sloppy finishing techniques.  The one of the left, uses my own take on the pattern, with heavier fabrics and sturdy interfacing and hopefully neater finishing.   I mean, how much harder is it to put the turning opening on the side lining seam instead of on the top?   Either way, the first one is rather soft and bendy, while the second one has much more body.   They are both useful little bags though.

I've been playing around with crown buckram and millinery wire with a Victorian hat pattern.   I didn't have domet or flannel to cover the hat form so I used some scraps of bamboo quilt batting, which I couldn't iron because it had been sprayed with temporary basting spray.  Now to cover it.  I'm calling this my practice hat because I am learning a lot with it, including how to work with the buckram, what gauge wire to use and how to cover it. 

This one is a bit wonky.   The instructions call for the fashion fabric to be glued on and the seams covered with trim.  That isn't happening.  I haven't seen an extant hat with little beaded trim on all it's seams yet, so instead I will sew it down.    In all, if it is wearable, it will be a bonus hat.  If not, I've learned enough already to make the effort worthwhile.
The only place to buy fabric is a huge warehouse store.   They have a small number of 19th c reproduction prints within the volumes of quilting fabric.  Luckily, the fabric is sorted and shelved by maker, so it is fairly easy to find if you do the research first. 

I was looking for just a little bit more of the red print and couldn't find it.   It turns out that most of the reproduction prints were put on clearance.   To top it off, I had a 60% off the sale price coupon - so the fabric was $2.10 - $2.70 a yard.    I brought home 3 dress lengths, enough red to repair my red dress and a piece for a new apron.   I'll need to get just a little bit more for the apron as I will be about 1/4 yard short.   I now have enough of the red to redo the 1830's bodice and maybe even the sleeves, as I ripped one last time I wore it.  From left to right - 1860's, 1860's, 1830's, 1830's and the apron.    If I'd wanted a Regency dress, there were lots of prints to choose from.   The brown and salmon is an interesting combo.  They had it in plain light brown as well, but I really liked the rather odd mixture of the two and the darker brown.    While I am not a huge fan of green, it was one of the only non-linear period prints they had, so it will make a nice change from the rest of the stripes.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Spring Things

 We have Orioles this year!   They are so pretty and colourful, with a nice little song.   Once we saw the first one, I started putting out oranges for them.  I tried apples too, but I think I just fed a raccoon with those.   

We also have a Rose Breasted Grosbeak, who apparently likes to eat oranges too.   I've never seen one of those before.  It was gone before I could grab the camera.



The robins have finally moved their nest.  They have built a nest in the light fixture beside the garage door for the past several years.  When the chicks finally fledge, they spend forever flying from nest to whatever vehicle is handy.  Back and forth they go, all day, leaving the car or truck with large white streaks.   Now they are in side yard.   I took this last week.  Today the nest is empty and the babes have fledged.   
 Last weekend I took a class on Pysanky.  I learned to do this as a child, using a somewhat different method.  Although still using the same materials and tools, this way was much easier.   While the lack of light, finishing the egg up in the evening, without a proper light source, shows on some of the missed spots, I am really pleased with how this egg turned out.  There are virtually no blobs an icky bits.  The class was really well done and the participants were a great group of people.  I had much fun.





I was away for the weekend.   I checked my garden on Friday, before I left and the Madder plants were  all back, about 2 inches high. I came home Monday afternoon and the Madder was at least 12 inches tall.  This particular plant was taller.  Absolutely unexpected and crazy growth.  The Madder patch has finally started spreading.  I will dig a bit out of it this year and then hopefully, the rest will fill in the gaps.


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Berries and Weaving

I have a European Black Currant bush in my garden.  In the past 5 years, I have harvested 3 berries.   That's it, a paltry 3 berries.  It isn't that it doesn't bloom.  It gets tons of flowers.  However, as soon as it flowers, we get light frost or a couple of cold days, which cause blossom drop or that is what I think is happening from the Omafra website on currant information.  Anyway, we get a couple of cold days and we don't get berries.  

I was hoping with the very cool weather this spring, that maybe the flowers would just hold off enough to allow a currant harvest this year.   However, they are in full flower right now and we are supposed to have frost on Saturday and Sunday nights :(

For Mother's Day, in hopes of allaying the yearly black currant disappointment, some garden centre hopping happened.   I was looking for a Black Currant variety recommended by Omafra, but couldn't find any at all.  However, I came home with one that has good recommendations.  We also found a North American Black Currant - similar but not the same and much hardier.  Then on Sunday, most of the garden centres were closed, so we went to one that we rarely visit.  My son found me a white currant bush, a pink blueberry bush and then he hunted down a Josta berry bush.  Josta berry is a cross between a gooseberry and a black currant.    Our gooseberry bush is really old.   Everything I read about them says they should be replaced every 10 - 15 years.   I've taken cuttings in hopes of propagating some new ones and then we can replace it with the Josta berry.  If it works, we'll probably have half a dozen gooseberry bushes popping up in weird places though.




I decided to put a quick sample project on the floor loom.   I found this draft of the Birka 10 textile that I put on the warp weighted loom.  It was a small sample, only 15 inches wide, with rug yarn that I sett at 9 ppi, much coarser than the original textile.  I used a light beige colour and a woad blue, the same colours as on the warp weighted loom.  My hopes are that one day, it will be an interesting comparison between the two.  That is of course, presuming that I actually get the warp weighted loom project woven off.

This is off the loom and drying after wet finishing.  


Monday, 9 May 2016

WW Loom Diamond Twill

Stupid threading errors are infinitely more obnoxious to fix on the warp weighted loom.   I had a threading error on the first twill threading and it made it into a broken twill, which was nice enough but really not what I had intended.   By the time I had realized that I had undone the wrong heddle rod, I decided to redo them all in a diamond twill.  This is what I had wanted to do in the first place, but was getting a bit confused on how to tie it up. 

I am currently reading a thesis on the warp weighted loom and she has surmised that multi-harness weaves are better worked with only one row of weights.   I thought I would try it, since it sounded like she had experimented herself.  However, having tied up the loom, with all new heddles, it turns out that it didn't work for me.  The pictures and diagrams of old looms, show 3 heddle rods and it is thought that the bottom support bar acts as a "shed bar", helping the 4th shed being just open.   This

works really well.  However, the open shed wouldn't actually open at all,with only one row of weights.  It might have worked well with an extra heddle rod, but I only have 3.  The next redo had me make my heddles too short, so I had virtually no workable shed.  It was miserable to weave with, so out they came again.   By now, I had done more research and found Marta Hoffman's diagram on how to thread one of the Birka twills.   Of course, the open shed in this diagram was 1/4, rather than the plain twill 3/4, so I  un-knit all the heddles and re-tied them again. 

  I made a mistake on one of the shafts and had to do it twice then finally got to start weaving!

Low and behold, a diamond twill - Birka 10, I think it is.   How cool is that?

I am using a stick shuttle instead of a weft butterfly, mainly because I sometimes need to travel with the loom and my weft butterflies keep getting too tangled to be of use.  I don't think it makes weaving any easier.  

It still isn't my favourite way to weave.  I do like my floor loom, but it is very satisfying doing something other than tabby weave, which is by far the easiest way to dress a warp weighted loom and what the weave structure is of virtually all the projects on looms I've seen in real life or in photos.  I'm sure there are project twills out there, but I just haven't seen them.  

Monday, 2 May 2016

Warp Weighted Loom

3in - 4 in section of the original warp.  The rest is the same or worse
Dressing the loom....  I really, really didn't want to do this right now.   It takes a lot of time and I've got a couple of major time consuming activities happening right now.   However, one of them is preparing to speak about Early Northern European Textiles.  For that, I need the warp weighted loom.   I've only used this beast a couple of times in the past few years.  Mainly, it has been sitting in my garage; that same garage where Kevin likes to play.

The project that was on my warp weighted loom has been there for a few years.  It was getting ratty anyway, but I'm pretty sure that Kevin has been playing with the warp threads, knowing how much he likes to chew apart wool projects which are important to me.  I was going to try to repair a few of them, but it turned out to be just too many to bother with.  The fact that I hadn't tied on the tablet woven warp header in enough places, so the tension was uneven, really meant that I had to put a new project on.

weaving a tablet woven header and warp for the w.w. loom
It meant winding a new warp and weaving it through some tablet weaving.   There are examples of this in archeological textile finds, including a completed warp, ready to dress the loom, hanging from a tablet woven header.  I didn't research the tablet woven pattern, just stuck something on which used only a few tablets and was easy to weave.  (Note to self, incorporate a reverse turn in there so that the threads  unwind on their own and you don't get the twist setting in on the finished band.)

tying on the header and warp to the warp beam.
I tied it onto the warp beam every few threads, going one way and then back the other.  I have enough string to make heddles but I wasn't sure if I had enough to tie on the warp, so I used 2/8 cotton.   I had some linen thread, but it was only a single ply and I really wasn't sure it was strong enough.   I may go over it again, just to be certain, only because my weights are about 1 lb each.  I don't want to have to re-tie the header just because there was too much weight for the cotton string.


warp ready for weights and heddles
This photo bothers me because of the busy background.  Unfortunately with the kitchen renovations going on right now, my kitchen bits and pieces are scattered throughout the house and the dining table has become storage space.  The table was pushed back to the window, to make space for cupboard storage, which will be needed soon.  Right now though, it is the only space large enough and open enough for my warp weighted loom.  It works only because my warp weighted loom is self supporting as well, with non-period back legs, hinged at the top.

I am hoping I made my warp long enough to be of value.    The cereal box weaving cards are also not authentic, but they are functional and cheap.

Next step is to knit the heddles onto the heddle rods or rod, depending on if I do a tabby or a twill.