Friday, 27 November 2015

The Purpleish Cotton

It started with this dye vat, using up the leftover fibre reactive dye.   I'd found this bag of Acala cotton roving that I'd put on the back of the cellulose fibre shelf.   I know I bought it for a level 3 or 4 homework session, because it was specifically labelled Acala cotton.  It is shorter than Pima or Egyptian cotton, so a tad harder to spin.   I have a bag of Acala cotton lint, which is easy to card into punis and quite easy to spin.

I was pretty happy with the dye results, although it was definitely a tad uneven.  The roving came out fairly unscathed and hardly compacted at all.   That made me very happy was well.   Once it was dry, I started to spin it.   Then I remembered why it had been shoved to the back of the shelf.    The roving is full of neps, little balls and clumps of fibre that just didn't want to spin and were the devil to pick out.   Then I remembered that I didn't even bother with this roving for my homework, because it was  awful to work with.

Since I'd dyed just over 50 g of fibre, I wasn't going to waste it.  I haphazardly divided it into 2 sort of equal pieces.   I carded it up into punis.  Lots and lots of punis.  I carded 6 or so at a time and then spun it up, switching to a different bobbin for the second half of the fibre.

It was quite easy to spin but really difficult to maintain any kind of consistency, with all those neps.  I tried really hard to pick them out, or attenuate them some how, or just smooth them out and pack them in, to create at least an illusion of consistency.    However, in the end, it was obvious that my efforts were being wasted, so I just spun it up quickly, to get it over with.

All things considered, the yarn turned out quite nicely.  It is definitely not my best yarn every made, but it is much more consistent in grist that looks than I'd anticipated.   So, I'm happy.  It is soft, pretty and useable.  The colour and grist will go nicely with the blues I spun and dyed this summer at Olds during the level 6 class.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Colour and more colour

I found a braid of fibre, 80% Bluefaced Leicester /20% nylon and spun it up.  There was only about 100 g of it.  I was going to do a 3 ply yarn but decided that I really didn't like the colours enough to spend that much time spinning it.  It's a nice yarn, just not my favourite colours.   I am considering passing it on to a friend since really, I can't think of particular project I would use this for, except maybe a scarf.  Really though, what kind of wear and tear would a scarf go through to need that percentage of nylon for durability?

There has been a lot of colour lately; dye pots full of rainbows! Fibre Reactive rainbows.  I love the colours that fibre reactive dye produces.  It is bright and cheery, with intense, clear colours.    Once the dye powder is hydrated, the resulting solution isn't supposed to last but a few days as the dye bonds not only with the fibre but with the water as well.   Besides the brilliant colours, the bonuses of Fibre Reactive dyes are that it will dye both protein and cellulose fibres, depending on which process you use and it is a 
relatively safe dye.
But these colours are amazing!   I love having such a wide range of colour possibilities for whatever project I have in mind.   Natural dyes give one range of colours, acid dyes another and fibre reactive dyes yet another set of shades.

A few days after I dyed the above colours, which are wool yarns.   I did a bit of an impromptu dyeing session.   I took the dyes that had been mixed for dyeing protein fibres at 2% solution and added a urea solution to diluted the dyes to 1%.   Then I fished out a remnant of white flax tow and some generic
tow flax

acala cotton roving and did a bit of an experiment to see if I could dye with the leftovers.   Pretty colours resulted from the effort.    The pink cotton is a bit uneven.   I pre-soaked the fibre for almost 2 hours but still it didn't totally open  the fibre.   If I could have scoured the fibre first, I think it would have been more even, but boiling the roving wasn't even a consideration that morning.  I could have also tried adding a few drops of soap to the soak water.

Acala cotton roving
  However, in the end, my first  mix of dye was much to purple than what I was after, so I just added more red until I got a colour that I was happy with.   I did all the math to begin with.  I had all my amounts carefully measured and tossed it out the window to get a colour I liked.   In this case, it bumped the DOS (depth of shade) darker than I wanted, so having a bit of white mixed it will make it heathery and lighter coloured, which is what I wanted in the first place.   

Sunday, 8 November 2015

In which it seems like little was accomplished, but...

 It has been difficult getting anything done right now.  The weather got cooler.   This combined with the fact that the garage has been a kitchen cupboard making assembly line this summer and the fronts, frames and some of the cabinet boxes are being stored there, all the painting made it's way into the living room of all places.   Well, the living room and the hall way.  Large flat work surfaces have been erected so that painting and drying can happen in a warmer room.

All the priming had been done already, during the summer.   I got to help with that because the work surfaces were at a height that worked for me.   With all this inside stuff, the height of the work spaces just doesn't work for me, so hubby has been puttering away at the painting.   There are just 2 edges left to finish up on the upper cupboards, which I think were misses rather than planned for the next session.  The yellow paint colour, which I chose for the upper cupboards will be used for the walls as well, when we actually get to that point.   However, it looks really pale everywhere except in the kitchen, where the light makes it look just fine.   The bottom cupboards will be red.  Doing them all red was just going to be too dark, so by splitting up the paint colours, I still get my red cupboards.  However, because of all the painting, it's been difficult to actually get anything done and really, I can't complain at all.

We've had some lovely bonus days lately, with very unseasonably mild temperatures and sunshine.   We actually didn't run the stove at all for 4 days as it was just too warm.   Kevin wasn't impressed at all with this.   He loves to sleep in front of the stove when it is pumping heat out.   When he wants to warm up, and there wasn't a fire, he started crawling right up to the window and staring in.  Luckily he doesn't do it when the stove is warm, so we don't worry about him being hurt when he presses his little nose to the glass. 

I've been playing with gluten free ginger cookie recipes.  So far I've gotten cookies which are edible, some which are decent but not any which are perfect and worth sharing.   Meanwhile I am getting my ginger cookie fix. 

Knitting happening.   I'm finally on the second front of the cardigan but because I had to rip out half of the first side, it's taken a bit longer.   Not so much that much extra knitting time, but you know that week and a half or more that I sat around staring at the fact that I had knit 6 inches using the wrong pattern instructions and wondering how I managed that.   Then I was finally able to rip out and reknit the offending 6 inches.

  Lots of spinning, but I forgot to take photos!  Like really!  That is a new one for me.   I did manage to make a dust cover for my sweetie's practice amplifier.  It is a good thing to keep the sewing machine working  once in a while.    While it seems to me like I didn't get much done, I think I might actually have done so.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Pumpkin Sunday

Last Sunday was Pumpkin Sunday at Westfield.  There were free pumpkins, pumpkin activities and some of us cooked with pumpkin.   I was at the Lockhart farm house, which is interpreted as 1830s.  This means open hearth cooking.  Since there is no oven, all baking is done either in a reflector oven or a dutch oven.

I made 4 dishes.  The first was a pumpkin corn bread from 1878, which I didn't take a photo of.  It was baked in a dutch oven and was either liked or disliked.  I won't try that recipe again. The chickens like the leftovers a lot though!
Pumpkin Pie, The American Frugal Housewife, 1829
I also stewed up some pumpkin.  Mainly, I wanted to talk about how to use a fresh pumpkin for baking and other recipes.   After boiling or baking, you need to strain it.  Unfortunately it was both too busy and the farmhouse didn't have a colander as part of it's equipment, so I didn't get to show it being drained of the excess liquid.  I did talk about it though.

I made a pumpkin pie which I brought home to eat.  The recipe said to cross and chequer it, which was one of those things we don't do to pumpkin pie today.  I used the amounts of spices called for in the recipes.  If I had to do it again, I'd likely add more.  It was tasty, but not nearly as flavourful as I prefer.
Potato Pumpkin, The Virginia Housewife, 1838

I also made a pumpkin stuffed with force meat.  I had to explain over and over again that I was saying force meat and not horse meat, which was kind of funny.   Force meat is a basic mixture for meatballs or meat loaf, made of minced meat, with herbs and sometimes bread crumbs and egg.   I wish I had a photo of this cooked.      It was an easy recipe to cook and the finished product was really pretty.  We ate it for dinner and it was delicious.

Potato pumpkin is a winter squash.  Since we don't grow it around here, I substituted pumpkin.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

New Girls in the barn

Sometime back in the summer, I'd asked Lisa at Westfield what they were going to do with their chickens during the winter.   While they have a lovely, cozy barn there, since the village is closed for most of the winter, I wondered if they were going to keep them or not.  If not, I was willing to give them a home, since I was down to 2 laying girls and one who was retired and just hanging around.  I was told that someone else had said they wanted them.  We talked for a bit and that was that.  I went home thinking about it and remembered that you could order ready to lay pullets.   A few weeks later, I popped into the feed store and yes, they could still get me some ready to lays, especially because I wanted just 4 of them.  A week and a half later, my new little girls came and all was good.

So a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Westfield about picking up the chickens.   While it was a bit unexpected, I was pretty happy because really, having 10 young birds in addition to my 3 old birds means that they will produce enough heat to keep warm all winter.   These are the new girls, who arrived on Sunday.  They were fine and calm during the trip home, in a dog crate in the back of my pick up.  They popped out into the new pen as if they did this sort of thing every day.  Yesterday they gave me 6 eggs.  A couple of them came up to say hello and not a single hen showed any signs of stress.  They don't even seem to mind having shavings instead of straw!

 The bottom 2 photos are of my summer girls.  They are a couple of months younger than the new layers.   They have a little more white and some of the lovely bi-coloured feathers.   Between the two little flocks, they should make one handsome larger group of very pretty chooks.

I've been feeding them GMO free food which costs only a couple of dollars more than the regular layer mix.   It has 2% more protein though which has made a huge difference in the birds' condition.  As well, the chook who used to peck her egg open to eat it, has stopped.  Even my old girls have started laying eggs with a nicer shell and a more regular size.  I've very happy with it.

So anyone need farm fresh eggs?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A Crazy Week

 Save for 2 cupboards and the drawer fronts, which won't be built until everything else is installed, all the cupboards, face frames and doors are built.   The two corner cupboards will be built later so that the size can be adjusted should everything not quite fit.  Since the man has built these with incredible precision, I mean the doors are fitted with the recommended 1/16th inch and they are inset doors, which look awesome but are harder to get perfect, I cannot imagine how he would need the fudge room.  However, it is his project, not mine, so I am not complaining.   The cupboards are gorgeous!

Because the weather has cooled off substantially, all the face frames and doors are inside for priming.  We are using a grey primer because the bottom cupboards will be a dark barn red.   This will hopefully make for easier painting because reds can be fussy colours.

On Thursday night we had tickets to see Paul Brandt and Dean Brody who were playing in London.   It was an awesome concert.   Dean Brody's band was tight and perfectly timed.  There was even a chain saw involved lol. His set did seem a little short though and as it was a greatest hits type performance, there were a few great songs that were left out.   Paul Brandt and his band were a little looser and there was a bit more connection with the crowd.  They were both great, but I think Paul Brandt stole the show.

    I tried to get a few photos on my phone, but they just show the limitations that I am finding with my older phone camera.  Even though our seats were in the cheap nosebleed section, it was well worth it to see these great Canadian musicians.

Saturday was the Woodstock Fleece Festival.  If you spin, weave, knit, crochet, rug hook, felt or do any sort of fibre art, this is a great place to hang out for a few hours.   I didn't come home with all that much this year but did pre-order a few dyes from Fibre Garden, which I was able to pick up at their booth.  It is so easy to get exactly what I need from them, without paying for the shipping or the gas, and not have to worry that they didn't have enough space to bring what I wanted.

Sunday, I woke up to heavy white skies and this white nonsense!  YUK !  It is way too early for snow.  Luckily it melted before I had to leave for Westfield.   I made a steamed pudding and a beef soup.  It was pretty steady with visitors so I neglected to get photos.   The steamed pudding was a batter pudding from Hanna Glasse.   It was pretty tasty!

I found this funny, little waffle maker on deep discount at the local hardware store.   It is quite small, and heats up in just a couple of minutes.  It only takes 2 or so minutes to cook a batch of 8 mini waffles, which are absolutely perfect for the consumption of real maple syrup.  Gluten free waffles cook up really nicely in this little waffle maker.   It looks like a lot of waffles, but in actuality, there was less waffle batter for this pile of waffles than in one regular sized waffle.  That seems like a win to me!

Monday, 12 October 2015


In my mind, thankfulness comes at all times of the year, but it seems right to express it on Thanksgiving, a day dedicated to such thoughts.  
I am thankful not only that we have wood for this winter's heating, but that I was able to pull my own weight in bringing it in.  I loaded wood into the truck, unloaded and stacked this year and it wasn't just a token effort this year.  
 I am thankful that we still have rogue flowers blossoming this time of year, when clearly they shouldn't.  This brave Phlox is one of those in my garden.  Hiding in the back of a messy flower bed, I noticed it in my little walk about the back yard.

I am thankful for being able to take that little walk, with my camera in both hands, not needing a cane or any other walking aid.
 I am thankful that I can have odd pets.  My chickens are definitely in the pet category.  They come running at me as soon as I get out to the yard.  It is pretty cute when I've had only 2 or 3 chickens, but when it is 10, it can be a little daunting if you don't know my cute little girls.  Not only are they personable and funny creatures, but they provide eggs for my family and a few others.

 I am thankful that Canada is a great country to live in and I am always thankful that I was born a citizen of the maple leaf.   This allowed me access to medical procedures which changed my life, giving me back my mobility.  It allows me to live in a place where I can plant rogue flowers, have chickens as pets and stack wood because of a lifestyle choice we made.   It allows us to have a choice and a voice.   Oh Canada, the True North Strong and Free.