Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Trudging Through Homework and having some fun!

This week I've been spinning. I'm getting tired of sampling, mainly because there has been so much of it. I've rather missed just spinning for a project! So last night, instead of working on homework, I grabbed a basket of fibre I'd flick carded on the weekend. I often flick card when I want to spin in a regulated manner, like all ends to the tips. It's a good method for a worsted type of prep. However this time, I just piled the flicked fibre in the basket and started spinning by grabbing random handfuls. I'm doing a long draw and it's making a lovely yarn! And... And... it was so much fun to just spin!

I've been doing some dye pots up. Just sampling. sigh.. I've lots of samples and I will admit that sometimes I really prefer to dye in large enough amounts to actually use on a project. However, I need samples of specific mordants for the homework, so small sample amounts are being dyed. Good thing I guess, as it is still fairly early in the season, so harvesting enough for a large dye vat would be a little more difficult. Except for the Feverfew which seems to be running rampant in the garden this year.

Speaking of gardens! Look what I found the other day.... yes, the first tomato! It will be ages before it can be eaten and because it was a colourful heirloom mix of seeds, I won't even know what kind it is until it starts to ripen. I noticed there are more this morning, but the first always seems to be a milestone! Of course this morning, the tomato was 3 times the size. Growing is good! No beans yet :( I'm wondering if some of the bush beans were mislabelled. They seem to be growing up and have started winding upon each other. Not normally seen for bush beans! I'll have to keep an eye on them.

The weekend was lovely and relaxing. All the kids were home and we had a nice time. There were many frisbees thrown, s'mores made, hot dogs roasted and much fun!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Saxon Longhall

The local Regia group is building a Saxon Longhall and some extras to go along with it. The Longhall is getting done. There are still things that need finishing, but it is "livable" for camp outs and other events. The inside needs a bit of finishing, some paint and we're hoping for a closet to hide modern items and important things like the first aid kit. The kitchen garden is new this year. We covered the ground with a tarp last year. When we lifted the tarp this spring, the ground was ready to till! It's a bit difficult to care for as we're all a fair hike from the hall, so a few things have suffered due to insufficient moisture at critical times. The aim was to have a group meal at the end of the summer, using our own produce. So far it looks like we'll be eating lots of turnips and some carrots, flavoured with a few onions and leeks.

The footings for the next area have been poured; the forge and kitchen area. The forge will be a covered open sided building for our smith to play in. The kitchen area will house the bread oven and a raised hearth, with a small common area, open sided with a roof. While covered areas like this may not be 100% documentable, the hearth and oven are. The roof will provide some protection from the elements and some desperately needed shade. Finally there will be a weaving shed for the looms and a place for people to do crafty stuff.

Our potter is pretty handy with decorative details. This is the lintel on the small end door. There is a lovely one for the soon to be closet area, carved with lovely entwined wheat stalks and painted a pretty green.

All in all, it's a huge amount of work but lots of fun. It's like a full sized playhouse for the group.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Colours of June

The Colours of June are glorious. We've had enough slightly cooler weather that some of the flowers have bloomed for a long time. So many plants are in bloom right now because of the really early spring we had this year. For more Colours of June, check out Sue's blog.
The Wiegela bloomed here in full force for over 2 weeks! I'm sure it was because the weather cooled off, but I wasn't complaining. This one is a gorgeous colour!

There are a goodly number of Evening Primroses which have been scenting the evening air quite nicely. They are pretty too, although a tad overgrown and neglected. Maybe next year I'll get to that part of the garden. Until then, I'll enjoy the overgrowth because it's pretty.


How can one resist the Borage flower? It's small but the colour is incredible. There are few true blue flowers that I've found, so this one ranks a spot in the herb garden, just because!

I found this Clematis behind a purple sand cherry bush and some other overgrown plants. Poor thing looks like it's been a feast for the slugs. It will need a trellis to help it along. I do like pink flowers though.


The pink Water Lily in the pond. It's so pretty and very pink!


The Grand River running through Paris, Ontario.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Homework Half-way Point........

I've passed the half-way point in my course homework. Phew... While I can't quite see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, it's getting done. I'll have to say that most of these little piles of skeins have 2-4 10 yard skeins in each pile. There is also a box of samples and bits and pieces and a huge file full of write ups, essays etc. Yesterday I broke down and took a break from spinning. I may ease off a bit for the next few weeks so I can get some sewing done, however there is still much spinning between now and the final requirements...sigh...
I'm considering not spinning at all on Saturday. You know, just to shake things up a bit!

In between spinning sessions I've been drying herbs. The Lovage is huge and I've nipped back the growth tips in hopes of it branching out a bit more so I can get at least another harvest or two from it this summer. It has a celery like taste - sort of but not quite. It's a bit stronger and doesn't seem to have that bitterness that celery has. I've been using it in pasta sauces and salads.
Sage is something I didn't really like until I had it freshly picked. The Dill is really something I don't use a lot of. However, it's volunteering in my garden so I'm harvesting it You never know when you might need some, and it's there. I've lots of Basil as well, only I'm not certain I like it dried enough to go to that much trouble. I may chop up the basil leaves and freeze it in a tiny bit of water so that I have frozen basil cubes to use during the winter.

Gratuitous Cat Picture, just because!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

One Misty Moisty Morning

Yes, it's been raining or drizzly most of the weekend. Yesterday though was exceptionally warm and humid. Today is just cool and wet. What a huge change in just a few hours. I didn't even get my morning walk in today because the fog was too heavy for my comfort. Instead, I worked on spinning study work. Then I got a few rows on the second sock and then I ran outside to take a few piccies, taking advantage of the rather steady light conditions and wetness of the world.

The garden is almost completely planted. I have 4 rows of beans to plant and a bit of space for some more greens. These beans will hopefully produce from about the middle of August. We'll see if my planning works.

The chooks are growing. This is one of the pullets who will lay for us. She has a variation on the colouring of her breeding, which is very beautiful. We have two with this colouring. Doesn't matter very much though as they'll all give us brown eggs, perhaps as early as mid September.

I knew if I didn't just start the second sock, I'd put it off too long. I wasn't overwhelmed with the first sock, mostly because my gauge was just a tad too loose. However, it's bright and pretty. The pattern is a sort of basket weave pattern that I worked out after trying a variety of different true knitted baskets weaves, none of which I liked. Right now, I wish the gauge were tighter, but I imagine that when it's in the sock drawer and being used, it won't really matter much at all.

This is what is blooming in the pond right now. A few days ago there was a water lily in a lovely shade of pink! I guess if I had my choice of what colour to plant, I'd have probably planted all pink water lilies. I'm guessing though, if they were all pink, the pink one wouldn't seem to special.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Busy Hands

It's been a cool and rainy week. The garden is looking happy though because it likes the rain although I'll bet if it were a tad warmer, it would even be happier. The potatoes are finally growing. The leeks have decided they will survive and the garlic looks amazing! I'm a tad worried about the tomatoes though. I wonder if they soil is a bit too rich for them. They are growing quickly and very green. The first tomato flower was seen yesterday! The pumpkins look happy and I bet if whatever is eating the zucchini and cucumbers would stop, they'd be happy too!

I finished the first sock. It's very colourful, but it fits nicely. I always worry about the fit because using the standard sock pattern, using shoe size, a sock will be just a tad too small for me. Seems that I need to do a few extra rows because most sock designers must have short, stumpy toes. Now that I've figured out the change, it's all good but I still worry about although I know it's unnecessary. This one sure is bright! I've got 5 more balls in the same colour. One more is needed for this one's mate but the price was way too good to resist.

I was visiting a friend on Monday. We had a lovely time. She has just gotten a huge 60 in., incredibly solid Finnish loom. It's very pretty but she's just getting it set up now. We were talking about it, weaving and spinning. Her husband wandered in and we ended up talking about spindles, weights and details. After a bit, we went in for tea and a short while later, he popped in and handed me a spindle, which he gave me. After a few more questions and comments he left and came back a few minutes later with a second spindle. The first, larger one he said weighs 1.2 oz and the second about half that. They spin beautifully and are pretty to boot. What a wonderful and thoughtful gift that day. I had to actually force myself to set them aside and get back to spinning on my wheel. I really do love my spinning wheels.

Speaking of the wheel. On the Kromski right now is more sampling. This time it's East Friesian Milk sheep fibre. It seems to spin up nicely. I was going for a yarn which wasn't too skinny because it's easier to knit up a sample with fatter yarn than thinner. Sigh, I conveniently ignored my glasses and well, did you know that blurry yarn looks fatter than it is? I guess it's all in the air right now because the little point and shoot is starting to finally show it's age and it's auto focus is not always horribly accurate. Some of the pictures are like my close up vision!

So I'm starting to research new cameras now. Boy there is a lot to choose from. It's been a while since I thought about real photography. When I was younger it was a huge interest of mine, including having my own darkroom. The nice thing about digital photography is that you don't need a darkroom set up. On the other hand, that sure was a lot of fun!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Garden, Chooks and Fibre

Today I replanted some of the zucchinis and cucumbers. It seems that there is a hungry beast, birds most likely which is eating one side of the garden. It's gotten the cucumbers, a zucchini, some Dyer's Knotweed and some Marigolds. I don't mind so much about the Knotweed as I've got it planted elsewhere and these were just a few plants that I'd started in a different pot and had forgotten about. The cucumbers however were ones I'd started early and were doing really well. I've now planted extra seeds in hopes that I'll have more than the birds can eat.

All the planters that I was going to ignore this year due to lack of time have been planted with purple Petunias and orange Marigolds! Thanks to my boys who dug out the worst of them for me. There was a tree growing in one and both were overrun with Goat's Beard.

The herb garden is planted. I didn't think I'd get it done this spring and had started planting some of the herbs in the regular garden. However, with some help with the digging from my son, it is done. I've got Lovage, Sage, Borage, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Savory and Chives. I will admit to planting Borage mainly because I like the blue star shaped flowers, rather than eating it. I ended up buying a few of the herb plants because mine were still too tiny and some were crushed by the snake. I broke down and bought the ones which are larger, so we'll be able to harvest at least some of them this year. We should have enough for drying as well.

The chooks look like chickens now! They have started checking out the roost and once in a while we even see them on it. Some of the white meaties have a harder time getting up there and most of them haven't even tried! The pullets like it though, which is who we put the roost in for anyway. All we need yet is a nesting box or three for the girls, but since they won't be starting to lay until the middle of September, there isn't a huge rush on those.

I've been doing more sampling. blech... I'm getting tired of spinning up 10 yard samples and enough to knit small bits. I don't have a tiny loom weavette type loom because if I did, I'd be weaving my samples, rather than knitting them all. I need to get it done, so I'm chugging away at it. I ran up to Spinrite yarn outlet and picked up a few bits of wool for future projects. I've got some yummy Alpaca/bamboo blend and some Silk/Bamboo blend. It's thicker than I normally like to use, but it was very soft and very yummy. I've not enough for a huge project, but enough to make a scarf from each. I have 6 balls of this sock yarn so I started a new pair of socks yesterday. 6 balls = 3 pair of socks, at least. It's a bit bright for me to be really happy with that many similar socks, but it was really inexpensive, so I figured it was worth it. I'd hoped they had white so I could dye it, but even in their regularly priced sock yarns, they had no solid colours :( The name of this colourway is Sailor Stripes.. I'm still trying to figure out what part of Sailor uses bright pink, yellow and green. The blues and white, I can see.. hehehehe.. must be some cool Navy!

Over the next few days I'll be washing wool. I need to do a bit of sewing before Pennsic. There are still a few rows of beans to plant and then I'll start thinking about the Perennial beds. Currently it seems like there isn't much left to bloom in the Perennial beds. If it is all early flowering, it will be pretty sad to look at the rest of the summer. It will be a ton of work, but I like late summer flowers!