Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Small projects and Big surprises

The mittens are done! Why does the second of a pair take a gazillion times longer than the first one does? I swear that first mitten took only 3 days of intermittent knitting while the second mitt took until last night at 7:30 when I was sewing in the last tail!

After making a variety of wool scarves and the tencel experience , I decided to wind off a cotton tea towel warp. I hunted through my limited stash and there wasn't enough of any one particular colour to work with. There were lots of partial tubes that I'd picked up along the way and several that I'd purchased but didn't like the results. Nothing really "went" together in a traditional colour sense. So I tossed a bunch in a basket, used the two full tubes as background and randomly wound a third colour, changing whenever I felt like it. Four towels which should be about 36 x 20 before wet finishing.

I hated the warp halfway through winding it! I perservered... Threading the loom - 534 threads took a while because there was this holiday stuff happening in between, but I had planned it so I'd be weaving on Boxing day - as it's usually quiet. Nope.. I was still winding that darned thing on. Without a paddle, I separated the strands while winding with my fingers. Obviously I didn't do a very good job as it twisted around itself horribly.
It was a slow winding job and needed frustration breaks! I thought I'd broken tons of threads while winding, but it was only 5 :) More than I like but at least the warp is on, tensioned and I.... Can... NOW.... WEAVE.........YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guess what? after grumbling the whole way through about not liking the colours and worried that I'd hate weaving it... I don't! It's maybe not an elegant or pretty project, but it's interesting to weave, with all those colours. I'm glad that I didn't give up and cut it off. Not only does wasting that much thread go against the grain, but I learned much in patience, problem solving and that sometimes the project gets much better as it goes on. Ask me as I'm approaching half way through the last towel though. That is always the fatigue point for me, wanting to get on to a new project! hehehe

You know, none of my weaving books or magazines had a draft and tie up for waffle weave. This project would have been perfect to try it out with! Right now it's a plain twill. With all those colours, I didn't want to get too fussy with a pattern.

Sometimes people surprise you in amazing ways. Without my knowledge and totally nothing that I'd asked for Christmas, my hubby '' tricked" out my Kromski Minstrel spinning wheel! The Distaff is functional. There are extra bobbins! Who doesn't want extra bobbins so you can switch out projects or do a 3 ply wool? There is a very pretty upright lazy kate. Which I might add, I didn't need because he made me one which is plain but works perfectly. His reasoning was that the new one was "pretty". It is, I'm not complaining. And.. he added in something I'd have never in a million years thought about getting myself.... A Jumbo Flyer...... It's huge for making fat or novelty yarns (says she who loves to spin fine and smooth yarn) but also for plying larger amounts. The bobbins are enormous. I say bobbins because it comes with one and he added a second one as well! It's ratios are much slower and will take a while to get used to. It required a 3 second adjustment to the wheel - and a trip to town to get the required drill bit. I plied with it. I filled a regular bobbin overly full- so full that I couldn't actually get my fingers in to change the hooks. I used the jumbo flyer! I only filled the bobbin halfway! I have the biggest skein I've made yet!
For weaving, I can see that larger bobbins mean less waste from not quite long enough ends and less knots. This is a very, very good thing..
For spinning, I can see fatter yarns and more ease in plying. With a shawl project upcoming, which is designed to be woven with fatter yarns, this will make the project so much easier.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Colours of December

Inspired by Leigh at 5 Acres and a Dream and by Life Looms Large. Sue at Life Looms Large challenged people to post their own set of colours. I'll say that in December, around here we don't have the range of colours that one might see further south. Still, it was interesting too try to capture them. These are from my yard.

The view from my front window - The hay field looks like gold when the sun shines on it.
A small shot of what is firing up the woodstove. It's a small stove but not doing too badly at keeping the rambling cottage comfortable. We'll still have to see how it performs at -20!
Our small barn. It's not very big but apparently housed 40 pigs at one time. I'm guessing they were weaners or something small like that. We're hoping to clean it out and set it up for a few chooks - some meat birds for the freezer and maybe even a few for eggs.

A cranky old blue jay chasing off a downy woodpecker. There are at least 6 blue jays, the woodpecker, a pair of cardinals, a couple of blackcapped chickadees, a gazillion junco's and a bunch of assorted brown wrens and sparrows that we see on a daily basis. They are hungry little beasties.Sunset through the trees. As the days are finally getting longer, it felt good to offer up a prayer of thanks to the sun for coming back once again.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Backwards Brain Day

When knitting with a particular grist of yarn, generally it can be said that more stitches equates with a larger size. So knowing that I was going to make a pair of mittens for my hubby with the same black lambs wool I made the half mitts from, I reasoned that they should be just slightly larger than the half mitts. Knowing that I cast on 54 stitches for the half mitts, using a ribbing pattern that was 4 stitches (2 knit, 2 purl), I'd need to cast on either 56 or 60 stitches to make a men's size small mitt. Knowing this and thinking about it at the time, I re-did the math, just to make sure I had it correct and then I cast on ....... 52 stitches......... yup... 52... How did I not notice that 52 is not more than 54? Then I started knitting. I was half-way up the cuff and thought to myself, this looks a bit small but a 2, 2 ribbing does squish in more than a 1,1 ribbing. I kept knitting. Half-way through the thumb gusset, I thought, hmmm, this looks a tad small, but figured that I still had lots of stitches to go, not to worry. A thumb gusset has generally about 1/3 the stitches as the rest of the mitten. By the time I got to that 1/3, I had half a mitten that I knew would fit my little hand and not much else.
I wasn't going to waste that much knitting though, so I'm now on the second one.

I've been spinning fatter yarn for some reason and it became perfectly clear when my evil research project enabling friend hooked me into looking up information about knitted Tudor flat caps. Start here from the link she sent me, which led to info on the Mary Rose and then to the Museum of London and the V&A where then have online photos of extant caps. I realized that I was spinning to make one of these caps. However, my fat spinning that I figured was a nice worsted weight yarn - that I measured out - all of it- isn't actually worsted weight - which is what I'd likely need for this project. It's fingering weight - it's not fat at all! All that embroidery thread I've been spinning turned my perceptions upside down and now I get to start again. sigh.. all backwards again. It might be easier to do this project by just buying the yarn but EGADS!... buying yarn? Don't know if I can do it.... giggle

On the other hand, the casing trim is up on most of the windows, the baseboards are starting to be cut and painted. The crown moulding will be last. It's needed to hide hide the large and unfinished seam between the ugly stucco ceiling and the nice, newly painted walls! We've used a semi-gloss durable, scrubbable paint for the trim. It's white and looks clean and pretty. Did I mention that the livingroom is almost done? Yay!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Done, Done and Done!

The embroidery thread project is finished. I ended up fussing about with a bit of overdyeing and put one of the grey skeins in the madder vat to see what would happen. I also used one of the extra yellow skeins in the madder exhaust and got a really nice soft orangy colour. They will become 2 sets of threads, 5 duplicate skeins and then the rest will have to be divided up somehow. The colours are really pretty. Each skein took forever to spin though.

The rest of the Coopworth rovings are used up. In order to feel productive because honestly, spinning teeny, tiny skeins of embroidery wools, means that after spending a week spinning and plying, you get 2 little skeins of about 30 - 35 yards plied, to show for it, I spun up the the brown coopworth. The slightly fatter yarn spins quickly mainly I think because the drafting technique is much less fussy than for the worsted lace weight stuff. This skein has 342 yards in it! I'm hoping that it is about the same weight as the grey from last week so I can make a hat with it. I managed to put the grey skein in a safe place, so I wasn't really able to compare the two to make sure!

The black shetland half mitts are also done! There is still bits of chaff in them because the beast the fibre came from is a bit of a piggy natured animal. He's adorable though and likes to be petted. The wool was difficult to spin because it really wanted to be something I didn't want at the time. This meant that the knitting was interesting because the skein I'd used was the first I'd spun and it isn't entirely even... yup, badly spun might be one term for it. This was a case of the fleece deciding exactly what it wanted to be and when I reconciled myself to it, all was good. However, regardless of the above, the mitts are exceedingly soft and most likely be very warm. They are also very pretty because of the colour. I hope the recipient likes them :)

The living room furniture is in a jumbled pile in the middle of the room. We have started painting! The poor gal at the store didn't want to sell me satin finish paint because apparently living rooms should have flat paint and not be easily cleaned. Ha I say to that.. Handprints and puppy nose prints begone!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Homemade Vanilla and other stuff

I love the smell of vanilla. It is the scent of good things, of home, of good baking and general yummyness. It dawned on me that I'd seen several cooking shows way back when we still had t.v. reception, that showed chefs using vanilla from a jar with vanilla beans and a dark brown liquid. It turns out that vanilla extract is easily made, from vanilla beans and vodka or rum, if you want a stronger flavoured vanilla.

I purchased some vodka, well hubby chose it after a long explanation from the gal working at the L.C.B.O and I bought vanilla beans from the the cheapest place I could find, which was 2 beans for $5. I'm sure there is a better place to find them, but for now, I could start. The recipe is split open and chop up vanilla beans, between 3-8 per cup of liquor. Put the beans into clean jars and top with alcohol. Shake once a day for a couple of weeks and then once in a while after that. It should be ready in about 6-8 weeks. You can add more vanilla beans and more alcohol to top it up as needed, when it gets to be 1/2-3/4 empty. After only one day, the vodka is starting to colour.

The silk-wool blend scarves are off the loom and finished. They are nice and soft and I think they are quite pretty. I think the blue one will be for hubby to give away and the grey one will be a present for a family member. Nothing is on the loom right now... egads.... I need to size some singles for the warp of the next project. I should actually do some calculations to make sure I have enough spun first though.

I tried to start the socks at least 4 more times but kept ripping them out 'cause I'd lose a stitch on the first round or some other silly reason like that. Finally I hunted around and found the missing black handspun shetland, the 1 finished half-mitt and the addi stainless needles I'd sure I'd lost. Funny enough, they weren't lost but exactly where I'd left them.. hehehe... Anyway, my intuition must have been telling me something 'cause the second mitt went on perfectly firs time. These mitts are for a friend. I had to get a 3rd friend to try the one on for me to size it as my other friend has slightly larger hands than I. It's hard to judge sometimes to fit things without proper measurements. Since they are supposed to be a Christmas gift, I figured it was a good thing to get them done.

Finally, the wallpaper in the livingroom is almost all gone! Yay. The awful plant shelf which ran around in front of the windows is gone, leaving of course a horrid gold strip of carpet which was underneath and not removed when the recarpeted the room. Hubby took out a rather oddly shaped built in shelf, which was rather delightfully made of very dark, awful fake panelling from about the 70's. I couldn't get it clean; dark, nasty, icky gunk kept coming up each time I'd wipe it down. So it got ripped out, only to find it not sealed in anyway behind the joins of the old house and the addition. You could see right to the outside. No wonder we have had a gazillion and 22 stupid orange ladybugs in the house during the last couple of months. It's been sealed now, insulated and vapour barrier added. The new drywall is up and ready to be mudded!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A Wooly Week

I've think I've discovered that I'm a bit of a yarn snob! I've been wanting to knit a new pair of socks. I've got one- yes, only one, skein of superwash sock yarn in my possession. I like the colourway - really, I like almost any colour but white, so that isn't much of an issue - but it's a 6 ply instead of a 4 ply! Every time I start to knit it up, I cringe and rip it out. I like fine sock yarn, I cannot tell a lie! This stuff just curdles my blood in a horribly icky way - and it's lovely yarn, in the skein. It would make super boot socks or something, but just not socks for little ol' me because it seems that I love to knit socks with lots of stitches. I can't even pretend to spin some sock yarn because superwash means I can toss it in the washer and I just don't happen to have any superwash rovings kicking around right now. I can't even make socks for one of my boys with it because this skein has an awful lot of pink.

The tencel scarf is off the loom. I made it a tad shorter than my first plans were. I realized that making it as long as I'd thought would make it a little less practical. Then I was left with a little more loom waste than I'd though, so I changed my treadling pattern and started weaving off the rest. Then wham- all of a sudden I had 6 or 7 broken threads in just a few minutes. The broken threads were only purple ones. Did I come across a weak spot in the cone of tencel? Another inch of weaving and another broken purple thread suggests that I did. Not wanting to have tons of little weights and threads hanging off the back, I broke down and cut the loom waste off early. I figured that I'd already completed the project and this was just the end bit, so that made it much easier.

There is a new scarf project on the loom. Hubby asked me to make as a thank you gift to a coworker. The warp is a silk/wool blend in a pale blue and cream heathered look. The weft is grey wool. The weave structure is a broken twill. I'm working on a second scarf, but I used a dark blue wool for the weft and am not sure I like the darker colour. I'm waiting to see what I really think on that one before I continue.

I found out that sometimes I can actually get enough bandwidth to watch an online episode of a program from FoodNetwork.ca. I grabbed my spinning wheel and spun up the rest of the grey wool while watching Chef Michael Smith make chicken and a barley risotto. This is a woolen fatter yarn in contrast to the grey embroidery threads I'd spun before from the same rovings. I just needed to spin something that would be soft and quick. I think maybe this fat skein will become a hat. It might be faster to just knit a new one than try to figure out which box the rest of the hats and mitts are packed in!

There is wallpaper stripping, wall priming and a hole found in the wall, behind a built in bookshelf.. but the camera batteries have died and I can't find the rechargeable ones or the packet of new batteries. I did find the charger though, so I'm halfway there.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A Blue Afternoon

It was a little frustrating yesterday. I'd gone to town for a few supplies and totally forgotten the most important one, which was Rit Colour Remover so I could do an indigo dye vat. Normally I have an extra packet or two in my mordant box, just for those "gotta dye something blue" emergencies, so I wasn't too worried. I am generally in the practice of replacing the packet before I use it, so as not to ever run out. Of course, I didn't do it last time. What I had in my box was a half packet of clumpy Dye remover and an ancient little box of dye remover from a different company that I've not seen product from in years. I decided to work up a vat anyway, knowing that there was a good chance it would fail. I was desperate for blue yesterday, what can I say? My big jug of lye (sodium hydroxide) was in the garage and I didn't feel like climbing over the old stove, lawnmowers etc to get to the appropriate bin, so I used soda ash (sodium carbonate) for the starter compound. It worked a treat and somewhat less dangerous too boot!
The ancient colour remover box did nothing - no reducing what so ever and after 45 minutes of waiting around, I tossed in the clumpy Rit. The indigo dye vat started to reduce almost immediately, although after the required waiting time, it wasn't fully reduced - obviously not enough colour remover or it was too old - but I used it anyway. It worked acceptably and I was pretty happy. Seeing the green to blue change when the dyed item hits the air is always exciting to watch. It was a very small vat, so I don't imagine that much indigo was wasted in the whole scheme of things, regardless. The greens are the overdyed yellows from Dyer's Greenweed, done a couple of weeks ago. Some are embroidery threads and the rest are for a future weaving project. It is good to dye things blue!

It dawned on me while I was spinning the grey wool for the embroidery thread project, that if I did a bit more, I could use that as a base for the blue as easily as the white, which I inadvertently tossed into the yellow vat. I ended up with 4 skeins of the grey, so 2 went into the indigo vat. It was a good idea which worked exactly as I'd hoped. The blue over grey skeins are the blue threads sandwiched between the green in the photo above. Obligatory dime on grey threads for size comparison.

On Fanny is a new project - a rather pushing the boundaries type project for me. I'm making a simple tencel scarf. A long scarf, using a variation of M's and O's - Primitive Linen - from Marguerite Porter Davidson's A Handweaver's Pattern Book. Tencel is a type of rayon. It's slippery, unlike wool, cotton or linen. It was a bugger to get just tied on the front beam as the knots kept slipping. I've found it way too easy to overbeat it without trying. If I were to redo this project, I might change up the threading abit, but I'm pretty happy with the assymetrical look. I may not have used black for the weft though as it makes the scarf quite dark. Using the red or the purple would have highlighted either of those colours better. Still, it's quite pretty and an interesting project. I'm contemplating getting some undyed tencel and dyeing up a painted warp for a shawl or another scarf. Just contemplating right now though.. there are several wool weaving projects in the wings before another modern tencel one :)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Mushroom Pie

As requested...

Mushroom Pie
makes 1 9 1/2 in - 10 inch pie

1 single pie crust
700 gms button mushrooms ( about 1 1/2 lbs)
1 tbsn oil
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
pepper to taste
2 tbsn plain bread crumbs

Parboil the mushrooms. Drain well. Mix in the oil, cheese, spices and bread crumbs. Dump mixture into the pie shell. Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes or until crust is done.


Notes -
* You can saute the mushrooms but I found they release more liquid requiring more breadcrumbs than when I boiled them. It only takes a minute or so in boiling water.
* Next time I'm going to substitute the ginger with Thyme.
* I used Old Cheddar cheese but I imagine that many other cheeses would work. I'm thinking brie would be awesome.
* My son thinks that spinach would be a good addition as well.

The recipe is based on one from Le Menagier de Paris, found on the Gode Cookery website.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Bits and Pieces

I totally planned way too much for the weekend. It was the Arts & Science Fair for the local SCA group. I had wanted to do a fibre arts display with some demos and hands on activities. Then one of the food vendors backed out, leaving the Pie Stall empty. It was only a few weeks before the event, so I jumped in. However, it left me working out recipes for medieval pies and experimenting on my family. One night when I served Mushroom and cheese pie, my middle son asked me "why had I been holding out on them and hadn't made this particular pie before"? I figured that one was a good one. In all, I made 8 pies. The tortieres were cut into 8ths but the rest were in 6ths. That was 64 servings, which sold out in much less than 2 hours and meant that half the people attending had pie for lunch!

I did get the borrowed table loom dressed. It was there for display as I was going to let people try it, but I never did get around to it as I had to judge a bunch of things and had a bunch of meetings as well. The weave structure is a simple 2/2 twill. I'm using handspun bits and pieces that I regarded as "junk yarn" as there wasn't really enough of it for any real project and it is some of my much earlier spinning, so a tad uneven. It is dyed with Brazilwood and Cochineal. The Brazilwood will fade as the scarf gets used as it doesn't hold it's colour as well. It was spun pretty much in a woolen technique and I'm pretty sure this was all spindle spun as well. Because the yarn is fairly stretchy, I'm beating quite gently.

I also worked up a bit of bobbin lace. I used to do this a bunch of years ago but it has been packed away for a long while. It took me a few minutes to jog the memories but once I started, it was all good. Unfortunately I found that a) I stupidly used black thread so it's rediculously difficult to see and b) I was getting horrible stiff working away at it. It is a slow and somewhat tedious activity and I have to find a better way to position myself if I'm going to finish it.

Here I am in the new kirtle. I think it looks quite out of a Brughel painting. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to do some redesigning of the pattern. I know it seems horribly picky, but that look is about 30 years later than I was after! It was comfortable though and I had lots of really nice comments about it, which was very flattering. The pattern will need a little bit of tweaking to make it perfect.

Other than that, I repotted a bunch of plants, including potting up a spider plant which was a housewarming gift. Once it roots in the front window, I have the perfect place for it. I unpacked a box of novels not long ago. The whole box was just one series of mainly trilogies. I picked one up last week and I shouldn't have. I'm now currently re-reading the whole series and am on book 7. That is what is really cutting into my time. All in all though, it was a really good week and it felt productive!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Projects, new and old.

A few days ago I harvested the radishes I'd planted shortly after we moved into this house. It turns out that these radishes are 60 + day radishes and not the 30 day radishes I'd presumed them to be. I'm guessing because of the wet, grey weather, some snow, they never seemed to really start to grow. I did finally get to harvest these few after only 2.5 months in the ground. They tasted fine, but were more than a tad woody in texture. Not really worth eating.

The kirtle is done! Totally finished, except that I can't find a lace to match the dress. Right now I've a dark blue one in there, taken from another dress. I think I might have a yellow lace someplace as well. Any opinions as to which one would look better? The apron took much longer to make than I'd anticipated. That was mainly because there was a lot of handsewing on it. The hemming and the sewing together of the straps, since I really didn't feel like trying to turn a tube on each end of the middle bit. Of course I ended up doing teeny stitches as they looked "right". Do you know that teeny, tiny stitches take forever to do?

I also finished a new coif and flat cap. I looked everywhere and couldn't figure out where I'd packed the old ones. I chose to do a different style this time and it seems to look fine, fitting into the Henrican 1530-40's time period. Hubby thinks it looks funny to put the flat cap on top of the coif, but all the illustrations I could find suggest that they were worn that way. Thankfully though, I did also find the two partlets my girlfriend gave me for a gift a couple of Christmas' ago. They are awesome and so pretty . I get my choice of colours depending on my whim in the morning. I also found my old ratty sleeves. If I have time I'll make a new set, but I'm not counting on it. Right now I'm trying to finish up a new chemise, which I think is more important. I'm pretty happy that I'm back being excited about late period costuming. It's been a while with projects and materials languishing in boxes and bins. Luckily I seem to be on a roll now. Next stop - the gold and yellow brocade for a new court gown. Even better is the fact that the brocade was $3 a metre and the lining - a light blue taffeta was only $1 a metre. Score on both accounts!

I finished spinning up some dark brown Coopworth for the embroidery wool project. The obligatory coin for size reference. These are two plies. The yellow skeins are dry and look fine. I do wonder what was going through my itty bitty brain that day when I tossed the skeins into the pot. I need 4 skeins of yellow - two for yellow and two for green. I not only left no white un-mordanted but I tossed in the skeins to be dyed blue in the yellow pot as well. Now I need to spin up 4 more skeins and of course I'm out of that particular wool roving. Some days...
I am finding that it takes much longer to spin a tightly twisted fine yarn that something even just a little fatter and fluffier. This will be good yarn though. Somedays though you just feel a bit daunted by the fact that you've been spinning wool for an hour and you have to really check the bobbin carefully to see what sort of progress you've made. On the other hand, I don't need to actually fill a bobbin to get the amount of yardage that I need.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Taking Stock of Things...

It sort of feels like I got nothing done over the past few days, but I think I actually did.

I finished weaving off the towels on Fanny. They came off at 9 pm so I couldn't wet finish them until the next day. I tossed them in the washer and dryer, then divided them up and actually started hemming them. I am notoriously bad at getting the tea towels hemmed - probably why I only have one or two and I end up giving most of them away. If I give them away, I have to hem them first! They washed up nicely, almost too nice and drapey. Enough to make me think that I had a bit of 10/2 cotton in there so that the sett might have been a tad loose. They are nice though. Two have new homes. One I gave away hemmed and the other I gave away unhemmed. I only felt a little bad about that.. no I didn't feel badly about giving her an unhemmed towel 'cause she enjoys hand sewing.

I finished making a Christmas ornament in a Crazy Quilt style. It's been a long while since I'd done any and I'd forgotten how much I'd enjoyed doing that fussy embroidery in the past. This one I kept really simple as I didn't want to overdo it on the first project in over 5 years. It is pretty easy to go overboard with fancy embroidery. I thought about the difference between embroidery with wool and this type of embroidery and figure it must be the Ooooh Shiney! factor. I think perhaps the size and simplicity made it easier to get right to finishing it as well.

I went to Ealdormere Crown Tourney. Thankfully I was able to car pool with friends so it made it a much nicer trip. I had to get to their house early though as it was a 2 hour drive from there. It was dark when I left for the 45 minute drive to their house. It was also Halloween. The backroads are pretty much deserted that time of the morning and did I mention it was still dark? It started to rain and the wind picked up. The leaves spiraled across the road and whipped around. The bare trees and their shadows seemed to loom in my headlights which seemed to be inadequate to cut through the darkness. An animal half the size of a large deer, but which ran more like a dog slunk across the road and into the ditch. My imagination started to run rampant. I put on the radio - CBC - 'cause early morning weekends they have cheerful program hosts with lots of chatter. What was the first thing I heard? "nope, I'm not really into Slasher and Chop 'em up horror movies, I prefer the Paranormal and Psychological Thrillers!" Like that was what I wanted to hear right then. It didn't take me nearly as long to get into town as I thought it would, hehehe.

Sunday we did more leaf collecting. My goal was to have one of the new raised beds ready this fall, but it seems we have far more leaves than I'd estimated. Both raised beds have their compost base beginnings done. The first one will be a tad better as there are layers of green and brown while the second one is mainly brown. I might have to add a bit of soil or purchased hummus in the spring, but still I've just doubled that growing space so I'm pretty happy about that. It's does require some physical labour to get it done though, using a mulching push mower with a bagger. Go Me!... because we have a really big yard!

Dyer's Greenweed is an easy to use and seemingly forgiving dye. I started the dye bath last week by cooking up the leaves and stems that I'd harvested both at Earendel Farm and from the two bushes I transplanted when we moved. I wasn't able to use it so left the leaves in the pot and only managed to heat them up a time or two again until yesterday. I strained out the leaves and then realized I'd not yet mordanted any wool, so out came a second pot and I mordanted spun wool skeins that I had. One for a friend, the embroidery wools which need to be dyed yellow and then some of those in turn green. I forgot to leave some to dye blue, so will have to spin up a few more. Takes forever to spin that thin! I left the ones out to dye red though so at least I don't have to make that many more.

Once I'm finished the dyeing, it will be back to leaf mulching duty. My sunshine just disappeared. I really hope it doesn't rain.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

This year the boys decided we needed to have a carved pumpkin. Nobody has carved one for the past few years here, so it's a nice change. Yesterday when I got up I noticed the carving tools on the counter. Not those cheapo plastic carving tools but his clay sculpting tools! Last night he called me out to the back deck to see what he'd finished up. There was no moon and the cloud cover was fairly thick. There wasn't even enough light to see the deck floor! It was dark, black and a bit spooky out there last night. Sitting on the table was this. This is the reason that I don't carve pumpkins.

On the weekend I went to a friends place for the night. We hung out and stayed up way too late watching Tales of the Green Valley, a series about the explorations of rebuilding a working 17th Century Welsh Farm. I'd only seen the last episode before then so it was very much fun and much geekyness too I'm thinking.

The next day I pulled out my Tudor kirtle project which had been stuck in a box in storage for a year. It got packed away when we had to "declutter" to sell the house and there was so much to do when we got here, though I found the box, it didn't get opened. This was a good excuse to get it out and started. The bodice was almost finished, more so than I remembered. There were two bits of hemming to do on the armceyes. Then I basted up the bottom hem and pleated the skirt fabric to a waist band. While I had the two on, hubby marked where they met. Now I'm wondering if I should have lined the skirt as it doesn't have alot of weight to it or will a petticote or two bump up the skirt.
I will think about it for a bit and decide whether to take apart the basted pleats, line and redo the skirt or not. I was sort of hoping to have the kirtle done for this weekend, but two weeks from now is also fine. That second date would give me time to get a new chemise and cap made and to find my new partlet which was a gift and which I haven't yet been able to wear. I know which bin it's in.. just need to find that bin!

The 3rd towel is woven on Fanny so one more to go. I am enjoying weaving on her so much. I spent a bit more time trying to do a broken diamond twill for the second towel but decided that the more complex weave structure was really obscured by the busyness of the warp, so the last two will be plain herringbone. It was an interesting moment when I looked up from weaving to see out the window, a scene with the exact colours that were on the loom.

I'm almost finished spinning the last bit of roving into embroidery wools. There is some Dyer's Greenweed in a pot on the stove waiting for me to finish up, ply and mordant the wools. I want to double the skeins in yellow so that I can overdye half of them with indigo. Hopefully the spinning and dyeing will be done by the end of the week.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Torrid Affair or is it True Love?

On Sunday, my friend's Leslie and Sam dropped off a bunch of wooden bits and pieces, an envelope of nuts, bolts and 6 little screws and a 12 dent reed. Yes, I did measure it, just to be certain.

On Monday, I sat down at my little Leclerc Artisat and wove and wove and wove to get the scarf project, off the loom. The green is the apple leaves with iron mordant, the blue is either vatted Woad or Dyer's Knotweed and the grey is natural. I finished it up fairly late in the evening, leaving time to twist the fringes on only one scarf.

Tuesday morning, I twisted fringes and twisted more fringes until all 3 scarves were finished. Thankfully some enterprising soul invented the fringe twister. I swear that handweavers would have no fingertips or fingerprints without those nifty little tools.

I tossed them in the washer, watching like a hawk to wet finish them and then spun them out and blocked them outside on the deck. You couldn't do that today because not only is it raining, but it seems like the trees have devested their finery, dumping it all on the deck. Tuesday though was somewhat sunny here. After blocking the scarves, I folded up the Artisat and immediately, Inspector Helper Kitty decided that I'd done it just for him. After trying to distract him, I let him be and made lunch. He'd wandered off shortly after that so that I could start assembling these wood bits. I totally understand his reluctance to leave the spot on the rug though. As I was on my back tightening the nuts on the carriage bolts, I didn't want to move either. The sun had heated the carpeting to near nap-requiring temperatures! mmmmm By dinner time, Fanny was assembled and I had to head out to a meeting.

On Wednesday morning I dithered about what colours I was going to use as a trial warp. I wanted an 8/2 cotton warp because it is fairly easy to warp, forgiving to weave and becomes functional items. In the end I grabbed a huge cone of yellow cotton something that I was given, a few cones of Lily cotton and some unidentified mystery cottons, the latter all being shades of browns and all seeming to be at least close to 8/2 cotton. I wound the warp. The yellow threads I did singly but the bouts of random threads I wound off 4 at a time. It would have been fine except that afterwards I realized that one of the cones was S twisted, while the rest were Z twisted. It managed to twist itself around the others and made for a tad of straightening later on. If I'd known that there was a cone of S twisted thread in my stash, I'd have saved it for a totally different project - but it has never occurred to me to check twist before.

It took most of the day on Thursday to dress the loom. I took my time as I didn't want to get stopped at some inconvenient moment - like having a handful of ordered threads when the oil man stops by and you have to scramble for bulldog clips to organize it all while he's waiting at the door and you can't pretend you're not home because your loom is in the front windows of the house and are curtainless so the guy has already seen that you're home and you're hurrying as fast as you can go without losing your project so you can get to the door before he glares at you through the window.... 'cause you know that waving a fist full of threads at him will mean nothing unless he's a weaver! Okay so that did really happen and I was waiting now for the second oil guy who was supposed to inspect the furnace and replace a fuel line. He never did get here that day so I just enjoyed my leisurely loom dressing day.

After dinner I finally started weaving. Now I adore my little Artisat. I've been able to all sorts of projects that you're not supposed to be able to do on a fold up, nearly portable loom, which is ancient and rickety. BUT... BUT... I think I have fallen in love with weaving all over again. Fanny is sturdy. She is quiet. Her treadling action is specific and easy. Her shed is fantastic and it only took me few shots to figure out the difference of throwing the shuttle without a shuttle race. Within moments of starting to weave I was thinking of all sorts of projects for this old gal, who is much obviously younger than my other loom. I don't think this will be a short lived but torrid affair with a newcomer, I think this is true love... sigh...

Friday, 16 October 2009

Is there anything to say but


Ahhhhh I love the feel of wood heat and the look of a fire. The loom is set up and I'm weaving by the fire. The radio is blaring horrible '80's hits and it's good to be home. And... the wood delivery guy can only deliver the rest of our firewood on Sunday - that is 8 face cord as hubby ordered extra - and we're having a Regia meeting in the morning and a housewarming party in the afternoon! Do you supposed that stacking wood is an appropriate party activity?