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?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Pumpkin Cookies ... Yum!

Two words which you might not think go together, but do in an awesome way.. Pumpkin Cookies. They aren't really cookies, more like muffin tops: big handfuls of soft, moist, yummy goodness. I made a batch yesterday to use up a bit of leftover pumpkin and the boys snarfed them down pretty quickly. Next time I'll add some walnuts and cut back the chocolate chips. Even though I reduced the amount of chips called for, they could do with even a few less. Since the first load of wood for the fireplace arrived last night they got to work off the extra calories helping unload the trailer and stack the wood. 2 cord down, 5 more to go!

I took advantage of the sunny day to do some work on the new garden bed. I'm making raised beds using a layered composting method first described by Ruth Stout. We've tons of leaves and grass clippings which have combined to make the base of the first bed. I've layered it with some compost that's been percolating for the past couple of months. Eventually there will be two beds, both about 4 feet wide by 30 feet long, but my goal for this year has been to get the first raised bed ready to plant this spring. Hubby showed me the merits of the mulching lawnmower with the collection bag. This made fairly short work of the leaf collection duty, at least short as compared to a rake. It was a much longer task than with the lawn tractor, but it doesn't collect the clippings! They are piled over a cardboard base - we've lots of that right now, having just moved. I haven't soaked it down though as we've more rain in the forecast and everything has been pretty wet of late anyway.

Inside time has been spent a) trying to find the wool for the next two scarves and b) spinning some embroidery wools to be dyed for a friend. She sneakily used the ones I gave her before on a project for me, so I'm making more. These one's are turning out better than the first ones, so I'm happy about that. I still need to find some dark rovings that will spin up to a fine worsted thread as the ones I currently have are far too crimpy and want only to be fluffy woolen threads. Obligatory shot of plied wool strand on penny for judging thread size!

I've been having a lovely time researching different veggie varieties for the garden. The problem is that I should be doing this in January, not October! I've been given some Orach seeds by the generous gardener found here, to plant and am looking forward to trying the new salad green. The garlic is planted and I'm starting to plan for next spring, although I do worry that it's just a bit early. There will be lots of time for this in January when the snow is starting to build and the blustery cold winds make you dream of spring. Still, it is fun and just a little bit exciting in anticipating growing a real garden again.

Inspector helper kitty is tired and has found my partially finished wool coat to be an ideal spot for napping. I shall have to wait until he gets up to work on it!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

On Scarves, Hearths and Inspector helper kitty

I decided that I would unpack 2 "sewing room" boxes on Wednesday. Sewingroom really means miscellaneous craft supplies or we don't know how to label it so we'll put sewing room on it and leave it for Mom to deal with later! The first box I found had yarn, yarn and more yarn in it! Well, as it got unpacked and I was distracted. I found the green wool from the Summer Solstice dye pot and a bunch of handspun bits and pieces, all in grey! Of course, I suddenly needed to dress the loom. You know, a small project like scarves really takes little time to wind off the warp and little more to thread the heddles and reed. It really only took a couple of hours to set up! Sometimes it's really nice to have something work up quickly. The grey warp is about 4 or 5 different handspun yarns, in different shades of grey and slightly different thicknesses. One is some of Wellington Fibres mystery rovings which I split to maintain some of the colours, so there is a bit of blue and purple in there as well. There is enough warp for 3 scarves on the loom. The first weft is wool dyed with apple leaves in an iron pot, done back in June. It's a very pretty green and I wish I had more of this colour to work with as it really does remind me of spring! It's woven off and I'm just waiting on finding the skein of handspun black yarn I wanted to use for the second scarf weft. I may have to change my mind if I don't find the box it's packed in soon! While having a project on the loom always looks nice, I hate not getting it woven off as there is always another project waiting in the wings.

It took 2 days more to get that second box unpacked, but I did 2 more to make up for my inattentiveness. If hubby hadn't shifted some boxes, it might have been even more as I'd just found a box with books and binders packed in it. It was like finding an old friend. It was slow to unpack but enjoyable. I got a couple of books put away and found my Tudor costuming binder and then he shifted some boxes and I can't find the half unpacked box of books now!

The fireplace insert has been ordered but we don't yet have an install date. We were hoping the stove would be installed next week sometime, but I'm guessing that it won't be. The weather is getting rather cool and the wood burning insert should be able to heat most of the house. Hubby is starting the hearth repairs and upgrades. There was carpet right up to the fireplace and a hole in the floor with a fan in it as well. Both of these are code violations, so they need to be fixed up before the stove gets installed.

We need to extend the front of the hearth at least 16 inches of a non-combustible material. We're putting in 18 inches of ceramic tile over concrete backer board. It was fun choosing tiles. While the sales guy at the store thought we should co-ordinate our tiles with the carpet, I really wanted it to look like fireplace, not the greyish colour of the rug. The tiles are extending the hearth the whole width of the fireplace.

The first step is for hubby to measure out the tiles so he knows where to cut the carpet out. Then it's fixing the hole by putting in stringers along side the joists - one was cut for the fan hole, sigh.. and then patching it with a piece of wood the same height, in this case 3/4 in plywood. The helper kitty decided to play inspector to make sure the job is getting done correctly. It's pretty ugly right now but will be much prettier when done!

The black wool with all the veg matter in it has turned into a not so bad project after all. While spinning it is a bit of a pain, it knits up really, really soft and yummy. It's rather nice to work with after all in terms of the finished project - which isn't actually finished yet.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Madder and baking and general busyness

The thing about socks is that they come in pairs. When you get the first one done, you're really only halfway there! There are ways of doing 2 at once, but I'm fine with doing them as singles. Less chance of major mistakes I think :) This pair is done. It would have taken far less time had I actually worked on them regularly. There were lots of other things to get done though, they took a while longer. Do you know how hard it is to take pictures of your own feet?

This black lamb wool is some of the nicest and some of the nastiest that I've ever spun, both at the same time! It's super soft and crimpy, so lovely when worked up. However, that particular sheep is a bit of a pig and his fleece is filthy. It cost double to process this because it had to be sent through the machinery twice! I just didn't have the time or energy to pick and comb the fleece. There is still so much chaff in it, that doesn't want to fall out when spun, nor is it easily picked out in the rovings due to the soft, crimpy nature of the fleece. I can only spin it in between other projects as it is a tad frustrating.. no, alot frustrating, being so nice yet not at the same time.

The second madder pot wasn't what I'd hoped for, although the colours are pretty. It turned out that the madder root had a lot of plant stems in it and really didn't give a lot of good colour. The iron helped bring out some reds and the plain white, with alum mordant turned salmon. The exhuast white skein is a pretty coral colour.

I made a dozen of these square cupcakes today! There is bread rising and lasagna planned for dinner. What do these all have in common? They can't be cooked on a hot plate! Yay... The stove is hooked up and has proven so far to bake evenly and nicely. The boys brought home the fixings for the cake and the lasagna yesterday so that I would be able to make the dishes they've been missing.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

3 Bags Full

The gift bags are done. For not having access to most of my yarn stash and not being able to run out and get any, I think they turned out darned well. They are pretty, are a decent size and the colours are satisfactory as well, considering all I was able to find was crochet cotton.

We were at a camping event last weekend, which while being SCA, was geared towards early period authenticity. It was awesome and I can't believe I didn't bring my camera. The Regia household camped together which was nice.
I worked up a sourdough bread dough which was cooked on a griddle over the open fire for lunch. The culture must be a cool raising one as it tried to overtake the bowl and my tent despite it going down to 5C that night. I started the dye pot with just the liquor from the madder roots. This is the colour we got. I resoaked the roots and am cooking them up right now to over dye and see what happens.

With non-stop rain for the past half week and another half week of rain in the forecast, I took some time to wash up half a fleece. If I'd had another 3 lingerie bags, I could have done the rest as the washer tub is large enough. I'm using the fill the washer with hotwater and soap, stuff the bags in, turn the washer off and let soak method. Takes a bit of time and lots of water, but gets it done faster than small bits by hand in the sink.

All that is left blooming in the garden is this pretty purple mallow. Weed it may be, it's pretty enough to stay.