Friday, 27 May 2011

Gah! More Stanley Cup Spinning

I'm officially getting tired of this project.  I realize what the problem is though.  It's just mindless spinning.  The past few years, I've become more specifically project oriented and just spinning for the sake of spinning is fine sometimes, but it seems like I've been spinning miles and miles of yarn forever, with no destination!    Well, the Stanley Cup Playoffs do seem to run forever, but still.   So, only one more game in the semi-finals and the finals start next week.  So in all, there are only 5 - 8 more games left.   With any luck, I'll be able to see it through and finish up what is turning out to be the nearly endless bag of roving!   The bag of white shetland that I'm spinning right now, while is getting smaller, doesn't seem to be doing so with any appreciable speed!  I think I've been at half a bag now for a week!
My original basket was overflowing with skeins.  I had to find a second basket.    It was much more impressive with the smaller basket overflowing with skeins, but honestly, it wasn't horribly practical.  It was spilling out all over the place.  I'd totally forgotten about the lighter grey, which was hiding at the bottom of the basket!  This is mainly grey, white and black Shetland.  The few skeins of white are tucked in the back.  I'm leaving them there because they are from a different fleece.   They are not quite the same texture or colour as the fleece that I'm spinning now.  The darker grey is Romney.    I've been spinning it all about the same grist, in hopes that if I want to combine colours for one project, I can do so.  

This is the moorit and the white Shetland.  The white is being plied using the jumbo plyer in order to get huge skeins.  With any luck, it will help me identify them as I go to use them.  There probably close to 1200 yards (plied) of the white.  I'm thinking that is getting close to a usable amount for something other than scarves or mitts.   I'd love to make a blanket from all this, maybe in a checky. It would be a good bedcovering for camping and Regia reenactment events.   But I'd have to sit down and do the math first..  recount the yardage on the skeins... work out the total yardage for the project and then the separate amounts for the checky pattern.  It probably seems like more work than it is.  I've been stalling on getting a project back up on the loom and not sure why.  I think I've got too many projects in the planning stages, which always slows me down.  I think I just need to queue them up and do them one at a time.

I started this bird design last weekend, while teaching a friend how to do the embroidery stitches from the Bayeux Tapestry - stem stitch and laid couchwork.  I brought it out once I'd unpacked but then set it in a work basket and covered it with a cloth.  What was I thinking, because I had to actually hunt it down this morning, having no idea where I'd hidden it.  I'm using stupid skinny yarn for this - Jaggerspun super lamb, so it's taking longer than I'd first planned.  However the first stitches I did in a thicker yarn, looked much too chunky for my liking.

Gratuitous cat photo 'cause he's just so darned cute when he sleeps with his eyes covered like that :)

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

FOOL and Flowers

We had our local SCA event FOOL - Fruits Of Our Labours, a weekend of hands on classes and activities.   I brought my camera, because people do lots of uber cool things, but neglected to take the darned thing out!   I'm home again and still exhausted.  What is it about running an event like this that you have a great time, nothing goes drastically wrong and you're still tired?   The only glitch, was that the site is having it's 30th Anniversary Open House next weekend and the low spot to the camping area turned out to be mushy and leaving tracks, so we ended up closing it to vehicular traffic.  There were carts and wagons to haul gear in.   People grumbled a bit, but I don't think anyone wanted to leave the site with big tire tracks just before an open house.   We want to go back

I came home to find our chickens had doubled in size.  I swear they had and a few of the meatie boys are starting to act a bit roosterish.  Nothing that an apron skirt or feed scoop won't stop though.

Chitted Potato - fancy name for sprouted
Today I got a good start on the garden.  I planted the rest of the potatoes.  They were all pretty  much chitted, which I don't normally bother with.  However, it's been cold and damp, so they sat around sprouting, regardless.  I planted the tomatoes but due to the blight we had last year, I not only moved them to the secondary garden, but spread them out a lot.  That used up a bit more space than I'd planned on, but I think we'll be more likely to get a good tomato harvest.   I've got 3 zucchini seedlings planted as well.   I'll put the peppers in tomorrow when I can get some help to make a plastic hoop cover to protect them as I've found that peppers and cucumbers seem to do a lot better started under mini greenhouse conditions.

Then, after all that digging and planting, I took a wander around the garden to see what else was happening... 

Soon to be Red Currants
Pink Geraniums
 I'll have to admit that I love Pink Geraniums - no other colour though, just the pink ones.  They seem to glow in the sunlight.

Chinese Woad - Isatis Indigotica

Last year I planted the first Isatis Indigotica seeds and only had 3 germinate.  This year I tried again and only got a couple to germinate again.  However, these flowers will give me a huge amount of fresh seed to try next year, so hopefully I'll have a good amount of leaves to try out then.

Pear blossoms against the blue sky.  I thought I might miss them this year as they just started to bloom before I left for the weekend.   The Bartlett Pear tree has only a few blooms left, but the other one of some miscellaneous variety, is still blooming.

A poppy to be.   These are all standard orange /red poppies.  They are overgrowing the flower beds.   I'll have to dig them up shortly.  I have some new ones to plant with them,  pink of course :)   

Sunday, 15 May 2011

More Stanley Cup spinning and Other stuff...

White Shetland, jumbo skein
 I'm fast becoming tired of spinning white yarn.  The white Shetland is spinning up nicely using a long draw, so it's going fairly quickly.  I've two huge skeins of this so far, leftover bits on a bobbin and half the roving left in the bag.  The huge skeins are the result of using the jumbo plying head and plying two whole skeins together.  I figured this way I could keep the white Shetlands, from different fleeces separated.   I supposed labelling them would work as well and I'll do that when the whole Stanley Cup spinning project is done.   The Stanley Cup spinning is easing off now, that it's round 3 - Conference championships/ semi-finals and there are thusly fewer games with which to use as designated spinning time.

Minstrel set up with double drive
Worrying about white wool fatigue setting in, I starting thinking about natural dyeing.  That makes spinning white a lot more fun.   Then I decided to shake things up a bit.  I slipped off the old drive band, put a new one on the Minstrel making it double drive, instead of Scotch tension.  I don't know that I've ever tried the Minstrel in double drive.   I know the little Ashford was a double drive, but I wasn't fond of using it that way.  Not only did it slow down the ratios a bit but it was really fiddly.   What's the worst that could happen?  I'd hate it and switch back.  However, it turns out that the Minstrel runs smooth as silk on double drive.  I almost think I like it better in double drive than single drive/scotch tension.   That's saying a lot since before, it was smooth and lovely as well.

black Shetland on the Mazurka
I'd been dragging out the Minstrel to the deck on lovely days to spin.   Then in dawned on me that I'd been lugging the Minstrel through the house and outside and the poor little Mazurka was sitting there, ignored in  a corner.  That is exactly what I got it for, a portable wheel.   I can easily lift it with one hand and as I sat down to spin, I remembered that it's just as much a joy to spin on as the Minstrel.  Different of course, since it's a single treadle, but still lovely to spin on.  This is black Shetland lamb; the stuff which is full of vm and gunk, even after processing.   It will never be spectacular yarn, but it's very soft  and yummy, so I can live with the vm.

This morning, I made this for my son's birthday.  It's been ages since I dragged out the decorating equipment and iced a cake.   I messed up a bit on icing textures and had to remember by messing a few things up.  I'm totally not happy with the roses, but I had a horrible time with the getting the icing stiff enough.  The fact that it's raining, high humidity and we don't have the house heat on probably didn't help.   However, it's filled with a huge layer of lemon curd and will likely taste yummy despite it's wonky appearance.

I did another little Bayeux Tapestry border animal embroidery.  When I first tried my hand at this, each little animal seemed to take forever to embroider.  Part of that was inexperience and the rest was using Jaggerspun SuperLamb 2/24 at just under 6000 yds per lb.   It's pretty skinny yarn so takes a lot of extra work for coverage.  I used 3 strand Persian Tapestry yarn for this guy, as I'd done for the pouch I'd made earlier.  It works up a little more quickly.  This guy took only a couple of evenings and a bit of time one morning, embroidering while catching up on computer stuff.

The rest of the time, I was digging in the garden.  I was mainly weeding and pulling out innumerable bits of leftover plants from the previous owner's that I've been trying to get rid of.  One flower bed is ready to go and now I can start on a large flowerbed which runs along the back of the property.  This year it's overgrown with softneck garlic gone wild, orange poppies and who knows what else.  I know that there is almost nothing that blooms after June, and that has got to change.   It will need vast influxes of Rudbekia Goldsturm - which I've not seen this year in any  nurseries and some assorted Cone Flowers, Bee Balms and Gaillardia!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Colours of Spring

I love Forget-Me-Nots.  They are such delicate flowers.  I love how they slowly spread around the yard and flower beds for unexpected bursts of colour in the spring.  The ones I had in a previous garden were a deep dark blue.  These are the more common, slightly paler blue but they are still wonderful.  

The first early tulips burst forth with colour on Sunday, which happened to be Mother's Day here.   I'm going to have to add a few more bulbs this fall.  Some of the Tulips were either eaten by our squirrel, washed out by the massive rains and torrents of water running through our garden this year or weren't strong enough to survive the late snows and frosts.   Maybe some lovely pink and purple ones!

We went for a short hike the other day.   It was a fairly easy hike in an area with fairly well groomed trails around a river.  Lots of marshy areas.  I'd been hoping to see Trilliums but there wasn't a single one there.  They are apparently blooming elsewhere  but that will be a hike for another day.

I was outside planting onion seedlings and I heard this loud raucous bird obviously calling attention to himself.  He stuck around long enough for me to wash up, grab my camera and come back outside.  I've seen him a few times since.  I'm guessing that Mr. Baltimore Oriole must have a Mrs. nearby.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Projects here and there.

The new fencing doublet has been started.  I marked out and cut, a gazillion yards of continuous bias with which to make decorative piping.  I was lucky that I found some piping cord hidden away because none of the local stores carry piping cord suitable for clothing.  They only have jumbo, thick, massive cord for upholstery.  The gals working at the stores had no idea you could make your own piping and one of them thought it was a rather crazy, weird idea!  

Lots of spinning happening as well.  I finished up the tan and white Shetland roving.  It was a joy to spin as it drafted beautifully.  It's lovely and soft as well.   It is interesting how the lighting and camera settings affected this photo as the skeins are close to the same colour.  

Now I'm spinning white Shetland.  I am pretty sure it's Gwennie's fleece.  The fleece was incredibly greasy.  It lost over 2 lbs weight in processing.   It's lovely and crimpy and reasonably soft, though not as soft as I'd expected.   I learned in my master spinner course that often fibre beasts with a little bit of stress, outside a bit in the winter, etc, have finer fleeces than those which are not stressed at all.    This flock of sheep is the more about being pets than farm animals and it might show a bit in the fleeces.

I started some new socks.  I found this very pink sock yarn on sale.   It's soft and yummy sock yarn and was a very good price.  It's very pink.   It's like knitting up Valentine's Day into socks!  I normally run the pattern down the foot but I decided to keep it just on the leg.    I'm not keeping these ones though.   They're a gift that I'm quite thrilled to be starting with plenty of time to actually finish them.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Back in the real world

The wild storms we had last week, knocked out the local Internet Relay thingies in our county.  The one servicing our area, was down for nearly a week.  I really hadn't realized how much our connection intertwines with our lives, for little things like "what's the weather tomorrow, honey?".   Oh well, we're back.  I found myself reading, just for fun, which was, well, fun!   Gotta love a trashy novel once in a while.

While we couldn't stream the Stanley Cup games, I still kept up with my Stanley Cup spinning.  I really wasn't sure if it should count, since there wasn't actually a game on in the house.  However, I've been figuring game coverage is normally 2 - 2.5 hours, so I tried to get that in on game days.   I missed one, but the two bags of rovings are finished.  I went looking for some fleece to card and found, hidden away, a bag with 1.9 lbs of lovely white Shetland rovings.  That is my next effort to spin up during games.  I do hope Vancouver makes it to the next round though.  I was a tad disappointed when the Habs didn't make it through. 

Spring is trying so hard to make an appearance..  It mainly feels springlike.   The ground has finally dried enough to not feel like one is walking on sponges.  The garden has been turned and ready to plant, when the time is right of course.   

Winter Sown Experiments: Success!
The Winter Sown bottles have been a success.  I planted Golden Marguerite, Icelandic Poppies, Red Yarrow, Rudbekia Goldsturm, Black Hollyhocks, Single Hollyhocks, Lupins, Gaillardia and something else I think.  Only the Red Yarrow and Rudbekia have not germinated.   It's last year's seed and they didn't germinate last year.  I am wondering if the seed was old or bad.   I'll be looking for actual plants this year!  Otherwise, I'm thrilled with the results.

Last year's pot hyacinths, planted in the fall.
 I had bought several pots of forced Hyacinth bulbs last spring.  I kept the plants growing until the foliage died back and let the bulbs dry out.   I planted them in the fall.  Although not all of them survived, enough did to make a pretty little patch of colour.   I'll do the same with the ones I bought this spring as well!

The Lilac trees have tiny leaves and little flower buds.   It's so reassuring to see them.  Despite the fact that they are white, they are still one of the sure signs of spring that I remember from my childhood.  I'd rather that they were purple, dark purple or even pink, but they are mature, so the blooms are lovely.     If the breeze is right and the day warm enough, the scent of the Lilacs is intoxicating.

The peas have finally started to show.  So much for the cool weather issue.  We've had so much rain that I feared they had washed away.  Nope, still there, just a tad delayed.   The onion sets are up,  the garlic seems to be hale and hardy.  It's about a foot tall now.   The tomato plants are looking fine and should be able to go in the ground in a couple of weeks, along with the cucumbers, squashes, zucchini and peppers, etc.
The Green Haze of the First Young Leaves

The Willow trees are among the first to leaf out.  The soft green haze glowing  amongst the brown of the rest of the trees is one of those heart pitty-patty making signs of spring.   I do find the first sight of emerging leaves so exciting.

Remember, it's almost Dandelion season.   Pick off the flower heads and use them in a dye pot.  They produce a beautiful shade of yellow.  Dandelion flowers also freeze well.  Toss them in a freezer bag and you can use them at your leisure!