Saturday, 25 August 2012


I did have to purchase the tomatoes this year...
All of them blanched, peeled, chopped, heated, tossed into jars with a bit of lemon juice , 7 jars at a time and then canned in a water bath for 45 minutes.   35 jars, which at least shows results for effort expended -
enough said :)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Sampling - getting tired of it!

Finally! Those darned striped socks I started in the spring are done.  They seemed to take forever, mainly because I set them aside and kept ignoring them.  However I found a bag with 4 skeins of sock yarn, hiding in my bedroom and decided that they should get off the needles to make way for a new pair.  I have to find a better way to photograph the socks as I hate the way setting them like this makes one sock look larger than the other!

Samples, samples , samples.  I've been spinning lots of small bits of yarn, practicing drafting techniques.  My whole house is now covered with sample yarns of different grists, tpi and wpi.  They are piled on the loom bench, on any flat surface, hanging from the loom and drying rack.  They are everywhere!  None yet for my homework and I've no idea what I'll use these small bits and pieces for.  At least they are getting closer to what I'm aiming for, even if I'm not there yet.
The wool samples are at least nice yarns.  Then there are the silks.   Spinning silk hankies can sometimes be like spinning dental floss.  I had a few older hankies in my stash which were painful to spin.  Thankfully a friend gave me some hankies from her stash which are much nicer.  They draft fairly easily and make up a half decent yarn.   Then there are the start of silk tussah skeins, trying to get them thin enough for a specific purpose.  This ugly chartreuse shade isn't quite there yet.

I'm not sure about the purple either.  While it looks okay, I think it might have used a bit more twist.   I've started swatching to see if it can tell me more about the yarn.  I don't really like swatching for no particular reason and I'm trying to tell myself that this is a good reason.  So far, I'm not accepting that it's not a waste of time.  This knitting yarn is okay.  The swatch however looks to have a little too much Mr. Darcy and Pride and Prejudice mini series (with Colin Firth) knitted into it.

After plying, there is always one bobbin with a little extra yardage on it.  No matter how carefully I way or measure, I'm out a few yards.    So I've been using that extra yardage on the bobbin to practice chain plying.  This is just for my own practice, not a homework requirement, trying to get my chain playing not over twisted.  The bottom couple of butterflies make me think I've got it figured out.  At least that is one small accomplishment to have conquered.  To bad it's not one of the homework requirements for level 3!

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Cupboard

I had this idea for a simple cupboard.  Not the one with the big door I found, that's a later project.  This was just to try out some simple techniques and play around.  So a few pine boards and a trip to the city to pick up some square nails, this is what the simple beginnings looked like.
My original drawings had it a bit wider.  However, when I measured the space in which is is to go, I had to make it narrower, adjusting some front side panel width as well to look balanced. 
While we picked up the square nails, we also picked up some milk paint.  My plans included a two step paint finish, with the yellow under the blue, sanding wear spots so that the yellow showed up.  However, I miscalculated the amount of paint I'd need and didn't get enough yellow.  Instead, just a regular 2 colour finish.  Here the milk paint hasn't dried yet, so it looks really splotchy.
The two coats of paint are dried and two coats of danish oil have been applied.  I know that varnish or polyurethane coatings would have been more durable, but oil gave a really nice patina to the milk paint.  Since this is for dry storage, I figure that it will be okay.
This little latch is the last piece in the project.  It was made after I'd painted and oiled the main cupboard.  It just needs oiling  before being attached.  Then the cupboard can replace a couple of small, ugly, space consuming shelves in the kitchen. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Busy Hands Make Finished Projects

 Much spinning has happened lately as I get back into practice and homework mode for Olds level 3.  The more I practice the long draw, the more I enjoy it.  This is a 3 ply, woolen spun, Falkland wool.  The wool was sliver, so the end preparation is semi-worsted.  It's very round, smooth and springy.   I think this type of yarn would make an awesome hat with cables and it's likely what it will become. 
More long draw with the trashy Shetland.  It's a nice enough yarn when a short draw, worsted prep is used, but the long draw is perfect for this fibre.  Despite all the VM, when spun with a long draw, it is soft, soft, soft, springy and luscious.   I'm considering spinning up another skein of this as I think it would make a lovely gift.   I'm pretty sure the recipient would be able to over look the VM is what otherwise is an awfully nice yarn. 

 There has been some knitting going on as well. I knit this pair of fingerless mitts from handspun Shetland.  They are quite soft and will be perfect for fall spinning.   Fingerless mitts also go by the  older 1800's name of "muffatees" .  I think that is a far more interesting word that just fingerless mitts.   The lace pattern on the cuff was nicely repetitive, so it went fairly quickly.

I knit a Sontag!  That's just a fancy, old-fashioned name for a shawl.  Most of the sontags I've seen, tie behind the back.  This one is loosely based on a pattern from either Godey's Ladies Book or Petersons.    I tried it on before I'd blocked it. It was a tad too small to knot, so I added ties.  Of course, when I soaked it, it relaxed and was much softer and larger when I blocked it.  Once it's dry, I'll see  if I really need those ties or not.    They are only about 8-10 inches long, so they might only get in the way.  Our house is cool in the winter and I'm hoping this will be nice and cozy.  It's knit of handspun Shetland, from some of my first efforts with the longdraw.   It sure was a lot of garter stitch knitting but the most tedious part was the cast off- 305 stitches made for a long time casting off. 

It's finally harvest time.  I made a lovely sweet veggie relish.  It has cucumbers, sweet onions, green and red peppers and carrots, lots of yummy spices in sugar and apple cider vinegar.  It is very tasty although I should have maybe cooked it a tad longer as it's just a little runny.  The taste makes up for that though.  The recipe barely fit in my largest pot and made a full 7 500 ml jars!

We won't have enough tomatoes from the garden this year.  Not only has the dry weather affected the harvest bounty but we've some blossom end rot ( I think) and because of lack of moisture, most of the tomatoes are fairly small.  I'm planning on a trip to the market for canning tomatoes.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

More Day Tripping

We spent a day at Upper Canada Village.  Even so, we didn't get to see all of it.  It's huge and the costumed staff is knowledgeable and willing to discuss the history of the various buildings and depictions of the homes, businesses and trades.  

The Wool Mill was situated right near the entrance to the park.  The front part of the downstairs had a huge fibre washing facility.

 After washing, the fibre was spread outside on these racks to dry.   A storm had rolled through the night before so the fibre was really quite wet.  It was very clean and enticing.

Upstairs housed the carding and spinning machinery.   The fibre is  starts in the first carder and automatically is fed to the second carder.  It's pretty messy as large piles of vm and short cuts fall out the bottom of the carders.   

There is spinning machinery as well as bobbin winders.   It wasn't running when we were there but all the spinning equipment is functional.  I don't remember the all the details about the commercial spinning machines,  the speed was quite impressive.

After seeing the carding and spinning facility, the tour leads to the weaving room.  Here you can see the huge belts which connect the machinery to the water driven gears.   There were looms, a warping mill, brushing and fulling machines.  It was all fascinating but I was particularly taken with the brushing machine.  It uses Teasels!    The sample showed that the Teasels do a really good job of raising the nap.

The weaving and spinning house has a large number of wheels, including production wheels, one with an original distaff, and an absolutely lovely walking wheel.  It did invoke a small amount of lust, seeing that wheel in the corner.   It is a beauty for sure!   They have a 4 shaft barn loom in really good shape as well.  They were weaving a blanket with a cotton warp and handspun weft which was really nicely done.

 This very old castle wheel was in a roped off bedroom.   After asking a few questions about it, they brought it out into the main room so I could photograph it properly.  It's from the late 1700's.  it's in amazing shape.  The 3 legged design is so it will fit easily into a corner and be out of the way in a small cabin.    I was thrilled that they took the time to bring it out and show it off.  You don't see a wheel like this too often, at least in our area.