Pages

Monday, 6 April 2015

Laundry and huge projects

 On April 1st, it was nice enough outside that I was able to hand the laundry out for the first time this year!  A bit of an April Fool's joke by Mother Nature though as it snowed on April 5th and left us a couple of inches of the white stuff, which is still melting off today. 

I do love hanging out the laundry though.  It smells so fresh when you bring it in.   I don't even mind that linens get a bit crunchy and stiff sometimes.  
 The grass is starting to green up.  The ground is still soft and mucky though, so there is much yard work yet to be done.  I did get the currants pruned, which is a good thing.  I should prune the raspberries as well.   I left the ancient gooseberry bush alone.  I couldn't tell which branches were old growth and which were new.  Only one looked like it might be newer growth.  I'm trying to decide whether it should be dug up and replaced, or if I should try to rejuvinate it.  It really doesn't produce well any more.  The fruit is also really sour, even for a gooseberry.
 Other than that, I've been pushing through my Master Spinner level 5 homework.   I think I have all the book work done and am ploughing through the 50 hour project.  This year we are required to use cellulose fibre.  I really should have used cotton as I think I could have done with that much cotton practice but the thought of making that many punis was a bit daunting.  Instead, I started spinning hemp.  I knew I didn't have enough fibre on hand and was pretty sure that I could get more.   Unfortunately, I didn't actually check before I started spinning.   As I was finishing up the 100 g bag of hemp fibre, I went to order more and there was none available.   Egads!

Luckily, I guess, I had some flax fibre left from last year.   As this is hopefully going to be a woven project, I am hoping I have enough hemp for the weft and can use the linen thread as the warp.   I really hope that Keven is over his linen thread chewing stage, since he ruined my last linen project, by chewing on the warp threads.


I'm not horribly happy with the flax.   It isn't a strick, but rather a processed flax top or sliver.  It is supposed to be longer fibres , but not as long a a strick.  Instead, what I am finding is that it is a mix of long and short fibres, mixed with lots and lots of tow cruddy bits, tangles and neps.   Some of the fibres spin smoothly until you get to the shorter bits.  Then it is stop and start, picking out the garbage.   Sometimes I get lazy and just try to spin some of the smaller bits in.   Once in a while it gets a bit slubby and I have to start picking it out again.  

Monday, 30 March 2015

Padding Bobbins

Hills, valleys and loose tension on unpadded bobbin
A few people I know who spin fine yarns, and some flax spinners use padded bobbins.  In The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs, Sarah Anderson says it is to reduce draw in or bobbin pull, making it easier to spin a fine, even yarn.   I don't really have an issue with draw in.  I spin on all of my wheels with the least amount of brake and band tension that I need for a particular purpose.  To spin fine, I can set them up with minimal draw in.  What I didn't like though,was the way the fine hemp or linen yarns would wind on the skinny bobbin core.  It would bunch up in narrow bands and as I spun more, the tension of the thread would loosen in places as it wound on.   This would sometimes create a bit of a mess when winding off the bobbin, plying etc and if my thread broke,it could bury itself in the loose bits, sometimes creating a bit of a nightmare when retrieving it.

 Sooooo... last time I went to town, I stopped in at the hardware store and picked up a length of grey pipe insulation.   We only had a used bit at home,which I could have used, but it was ancient, compacted and dirty.  I spent .79c plus tax on a brand new piece, dedicated to my bobbins.   I worried about the threads on the end bits, sliding between the padding and the wooden bobbin ends so I cut the pipe insulation, just a tad longer than the bobbin core and squished it on, so there was no space possible.   This stuff cuts easily with kiddy scissors!
It worked a treat!   The dark line is a small gap in the foam.  One size was a bit large and this was a bit small.  The tiny gap doesn't seem to cause a problem and it nicely allowed the blue leader thread to feed up, without having to remove and retie it.  This means if I want to use an unaltered bobbin, I just have to slip off the centre core.   The downside of this of course, is that the bobbin doesn't hold as much.   Not sure a big issue with fine threads though as you can get a lot of yardage on even the partial bobbin.

This sign is on our only bathing facility right now.   My sweet pulled off all the not so old, but peeling caulking and re-applied it, with a different brand, in hopes that it would be more durable.  To make sure it dried completely, he declared the 3 hour cure time as stated on the tube of silicone would be upped to 24 hrs, just to be sure.    I'm counting down the hours.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A spinning exercise

Trying again since I managed to do a whole blog update and forgot to save it.  I got distracted by Maple Syrup.

First, take a photo of some sort of interesting outdoor scene.   I had to go outside at dusk to get the lighting right for this one.  It did take a few tries to get the drip just right.


 Define the colours in the photo, find suitable fibres and blend them into batts.  I used the drum carder for this.


 Spin the batts into singles on two bobbins.  


 Hunt through the bead stash to find the clear glass beads.  I really thought the dark amber beads would look nice but to look like the photo, I needed clear ones.  These are dollar store glass beads because there is no bead store within an hour drive of here.  They are not horribly uniform in shape, but they work nicely and it isn't noticeable.  I used a dental floss tool designed for braces for threading the beads onto the single.  

Ply the two singles together, dropping a bead off at fairly regular intervals.  I kept them fairly far apart as the sap was dripping rather slowly at the time.   Okay, I'd have kept them fairly far apart anyway as I prefer yarns like this to have less frequent beads.  I think it looks classier when knitted up into something, rather than heavy with frequent beads.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Guild Dye Day

painted warps for scarves
About once a year, our guild hosts a dye day at a negligible cost of $5 per 100g.  This isn't a math oriented, carefully calculated, reproducible effects dye day.  Rather, it's an experimental dye day using acid dyes for wool, silk or nylon.   Depending on who can come that day, there may be many long warps for multiple projects and weft yarns to match or coordinate.  Sometimes people wind crazy long skeins of sock yarn to do self striping yarn, bring fibre for spinning and this year we even had a gal bring multiple skeins to do a gradient coloured knitting project. 

We have an array of the basic colours and with syringes, squirt out a bit of this colour and a bit of that, getting some interesting and one of a kind results.  Invariably, the finished projects are absolutely breathtaking or at least beautiful.

 Just a few days before hand, I realised that I could actually attend the dye day.  ( I drove myself too!  Yay!)   While I have plenty of white fibre and a bit of white roving, I had no real projects in mind for it or it needs re-washing (Thanks Kevin!)   I did find this skein of Blue Faced Leicester superwash and nylon blend that I had spun up ages ago.   It weighs about 85 g, so I dug through some stash and found a huge bag of white icicle, which is a sparkly nylon additive.    I weighed out 15 g of the icicle and separated it into 3 g lots to make up the rest of the 100g.

The skein was just wound normally on my 61in niddy noddy.   I started painting it with the blue, which was a strong concentration of the turquoise blue colour.  For the green, I used a bit of the leftover blue, with a small percentage of yellow and watered it all down a fair bit.   The pink was a dilute mixture of straight fuchsia.   I'm not sure what I'll make with this skein, but I think the colours are really pretty.

Nylon takes acid dyes readily.  The nylon Icicle fibre is strong, sparkles and not a really soft fibre.  It tends to be used in small quantities to add sparkle to more modern or arty type yarns.  It is too rough for my liking to add to strengthen sock yarns.  I use fake Cashmere nylon for that purpose as it is soft as well as strong.   But the Icicle dyes beautifully.  I did a lighter concentration of the same blue left from the yarn skein.  The pink was some very diluted leftover fuchsia.   I added the last few drops of blue to the mix afterwards to get the purply pink.  I mixed a bit of yellow into the now empty blue container, for the pale green.  The orange was made from adding yellow to an empty red container that I found in the discard area.   Everything went into my dye steamer when I got home.  In all, I think I captured spring colours rather nicely.  None of the colours are easily reproduced as no measurements were taken, but even if I never find a use for it, it was a fun experiment and a great morning out!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Sneaking outside to play

We've had a couple of days of lovely, mild weather.  I am getting tired of being cooped up inside, unable to wander around even in my gardens and yard.  However, with all this mild weather, the snow in the front is starting to melt.   I love the snow this time of year, all dirty, grungy and heralding in the spring.   Since the shoulders of the road are clear of snow and ice, albeit muddy and the driveway is almost that way, I grabbed my big girl camera and slipped outside for a few minutes.   Oh it was wonderful, even if I really only walked back and forth along the driveway a couple of lengths. 



The sky is a glorious blue to the north.  Right at the centre top of this photo, is a wasps nest which survived the winds and snows of this winter.   The buds on the trees are starting to swell.  We probably won't have leaves until May, but this is a sure sign that spring is on the way.

Hubby set the spiles on the weekend and the sap is running.   This tree is huge and could easily hold 4 or 5 pails, although we have only 2 on it right now.  The sap on the south side of the tree is flowing freely.  The rest of the spiles have just started dripping while we've had to empty this bucket already and have 2 gallons of sap already for this weekend, when we will start boiling.   Or the guys will start.  I just get to watch from the window apparently, because there is too much snow for my hip in the back!   (grump, grump)   



Sometimes it pays to look down.   This pretty little round stone was sitting right by the front door.  It's smooth, round and unlike any of the gravel bits on the driveway.  I think it must have been dug up when the boys filled in the hole in the foundation or from when my son dug up the ancient, overgrown shrubs from the rest of the flower beds.  I find it amazing that it didn't get lost in the gravel, buried in garden dirt, hidden under leaves or sent forth by a lawnmower.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Peep Tradition and squishy, fat yarn!

My annual tradition of hot chocolate with Peeps!  However there are no pink bunny peeps to be found anywhere in town this year, so I must make do with yellow chicks.  For some reason, pink bunnies are just so much tastier.  I think it is the pink part. 

The hot chocolate is actually dark chocolate almond milk, which is a gazillion times superior to just regular hot chocolate.  Smooth, thick, chocolatey, almondy and creamy, with no dairy.  What is not to like? 

Most of my homework skeins are finished up.  There are a few I'm redoing because  it was too early in the healing process and they show a bit too much distraction.  However, I am really happy with this skein.  It is 1 tpi, or 1 twist per inch.  For scale, every two twists in the yarn equals about 1 inch in real life.   It is fat, fluffy, squishy and such a huge departure from my spinning norm of worsted or semi-worsted fine yarns for weaving.  Now to do the last couple of skeins, mount everything and figure out what my final project will be.


The weather has shifted and the temperatures are supposed to rise above freezing this week.  They will be perfect temperatures for the Maple sap to start running.  We will be setting the spiles this weekend.  Last year I did the job by myself.  It was really quite enjoyable, drilling and tapping the spiles into the trees and then hanging the buckets.  However this year I get to watch from the window as I'm not allowed outside to play until the snow melts.  At least I should be allowed to play in the dirt once it's time to turn the soil and plant some seeds.  

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Random Bits and Pieces

My attempt at something called Flake yarn.  Actually, it is my second attempt.  The first was so ugly that I couldn't in all honestly use it for homework.   I'm limited as to the size of the flakes or tufty bits because of the size of my spinning wheel orifice.   It's pretty yarn though I'm going to have to get creative to figure out some sort of valid use for yarn like this.


I finally finished the toe on this sock and grafted it together yesterday afternoon.  Now to cast on the second sock.  Last hip check up I had, I'd forgotten to bring my knitting bag and had to sit around twiddling my thumbs for a bit until I remembered I had put a game on my phone.  It was my least desired waiting room activity.  I don't think I will forget to bring a project or a book along next time.   My sweetie suggested I just leave a project bag with a pair of socks in the truck, so it is there when I need it, which isn't a bad idea actually.

I spent 45 minutes this morning sanding this simple boot jack.   It was a quickie project that my sweetie made for me last night, out of a scrap of wood.  It isn't horribly pretty, but it works just fine.  With something like a boot jack, function is really what is important.   Many years ago I had a pretty little blue one that my uncle made me when I was a kid, to help me haul off my riding boots.   This one is needed so I can get my new boots off without mucking up the heels too much.

The deal was if I got my hip done, my sweetie would get me new boots.  Love the boots.  They are super comfortable.  A bit ticked off that they cost $100 more in Canada than in the US, but we're used to that.  On the other hand, the service and selection from Keleher's Western Wear was pretty awesome.  Awesome service is hard to come by at a lot of stores these days.