Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Quick Update

I'm tired of sewing.  I've been trying to fit and sew this darned thing I'm working on for days now and while it's finally starting to come together, I'm not totally happy with the fit.  This is despite working on fitting it myself with both trial and error and two decent sewing books, a fitting session with a friend who was a professional seamstress, and online help from a dear friend.  I've learned a lot about fitting modern close fitting garments though.   Of course I don't know how much is perfectionist tendencies coming through or how much is just  my first attempt of an 1860's bodice.  The only thing I'm really ticked off at is that I forgot to put the piping in the armscyes.  It was on my sewing steps list and everything.   Now if I could find the second page of my instructions, which tells me what to do next, I'll be all set!

I finally finished the red socks.  That is a relief.  They weren't a ridiculously difficult knit, but they were a bit challenging because they weren't quite no-brainers for knitting.  I had to actually pay attention while I was knitting and that meant dedicated knitting time.  I'm not actually good at setting aside dedicated knitting time as I tend to do it while I'm doing other mindless things like watching a video, checking email or going to meetings. 

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Friday Sewing and Spinning

It was Friday Night Spin in at Heidi's and it's a really good way to set aside a block of sewing time.  I need to finish up a couple of Victorian garments. The Master Spinner class work has been taking up a lot of time and I've sort of neglected this project.  So I gathered together my materials in preparation.  I had to run out to town in the late afternoon, so I grabbed some fast dinner stuff as well.  I don't often do that, but it was a nice treat and gave me extra sewing time.

The shirt still needs it's cuffs, button holes and buttons.  I'm not happy with the collar.  While I cut it larger than the pattern piece, knowing that the recipient needed a larger size, it's not quite large enough, although it should have been.  The fabric is a very fine Madras plaid and so lightweight that ripping out a seam is just not going to happen, so he'll have to live with it.    Still, the rest of the shirt came together nicely for a first try with this pattern.  I think next time though, if he wants another Victorian shirt, I'll make one using the new French cut, with real armscyes and fitted shoulders, just for a nice change of shirt making experiences.  This one still uses rectangular construction like medieval shirts. 

Earlier on Thursday I was thinking about Christmas pressies.  I decided to card up some black Merino with some Sari Silk and do some just for fun spinning.  I was thinking about making a hat or some mitts for a young lady and this seemed appropriately soft and fun.    I used about 90% Merino and only 10% Sari Silk.  It really doesn't take a lot to make a splash of colour against the black.    I've no photo of the spun yarn yet.  The skein is still wet from finishing and with the cool, damp and rainy weather we've had, and the wood stove not up and running yet, things are taking a tad longer to dry than normal.  

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Colours of September

It won't be long before we have a frost.  The colours outside will change dramatically and the spots of colourful joy in the garden will be replaced with bird sightings at the feeder, the contrast of greys, greens and browns, the shadows and brightness of snow falling with an occasional bit of blue sky thrown in.  However, the garden still has a few plants blooming.

I'll have to admit that the long blooming, stalwart  and somewhat common Rudbekia Goldsturm is one of my favourite perennials.  I starts off flowering in late July and just keeps on going.  It's starting to look a little straggly now, but it's still an amazing burst of colour.
 This fall blooming Aster always surprises me.  I forget it's in the garden, as it's quietly growing away.  Then poof, one day I notice it and wonder how I missed, nay even forgot that the Aster grew there.  Then it blooms and I'm always in love.  The pink and yellow is such a nice surprise, tucked in the back of the flower bed.  It always makes me feel happy to see it back there.
 This is the second year in a row that I've had volunteer Sunflowers.  They are tall this year and the drooping heads are now jam packed with sunflower seeds.  I will harvest most of them and give them to the chooks as treats.   I'll leave a few to hopefully self seed next spring.  These could be birdseed mix I use in the winter, although usually the birds leave only the millet and other grains they aren't horribly fond of.  The sunflower seeds usually disappear in moments.
 Finally, we've had enough rain that the blossom end rot has disappeared.  The tomatoes are finally ripening.  Not tons of them, but enough to eat fresh for a few meals.  I've had some yummy tomato sandwiches which can only be truly enjoyed with a freshly picked, properly ripe and sun-warmed fruit.  I made a simple tomato salad which was a flavourful surpise, as well as the regular fresh salsa, salad additions etc.  These are Black Krims and although they didn't actually turn horribly dark, they have a slightly different and alluring taste.
 I've no idea what this plant is.  As far as I know it's a weed.  It is large and bushy and flowers into the fall.  It's so pretty, I've left it in the garden.

The Zebra Mallow comes up wherever it pleases.  Those that grow in garden beds are left as they provide stunning colour all summer and sometimes even survive light frosts.  It is a native plant which is welcome in my garden.

Fall Crocuses?  I was wandering around the yard one day, trying to round up some chickens who hadn't heard me call them in for scratch grain.  I saw these almost hidden under a cedar shrub.  A lovely little surprise.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Cotton Plant Update

In April, I planted 6 cotton seeds, 3 white and 3 green.  Living in an area horribly unsuited to growing cotton, I knew that they'd need coddling over the summer and to be brought inside to extend the growing season in the fall.   Of the 6 seeds, only 4 germinated, all 3 green cotton plants and 1 white one.  I even made up a plant marker for the white one so that when I re-potted them, I'd know which was which.  Of course, this presumes that I would have put the marker in right when I finished potting the little white cotton seedling and not waited until I had them all planted, not knowing which was which!

This Cotton bloom is white but the other was pinkish in colour.
Over the summer, I didn't actually coddle the cotton plants.  It was so hot and muggy, all I ended up doing was making sure they were watered now and again.   Mainly I forgot about those poor little cotton plants.   Still, they grew a little bit.   One day I noticed that one of them had a little flower on it and a bud.   It was an Hibiscus type flower, very pretty but short-lived.  Because it was the only flower on any of the plants, I wondered about germination.  Did it need other flowers and a host of bees in order to create seeds and thusly bolls?  Hopefully it would be self pollinating because the trumpet vine was growing a little bit out of control and hiding it.  I'd been hacking back that poor Trumpet Vine, trying to keep it under control but had no idea what it was.  Last year I decided to let it go and see if it would flower, so I could tell what type of plant it was.  It finally flowered for about two days,but the chooks ate all the blooms! 

It's definitely autumn here and on Saturday, the temperatures were supposed to drop to about 6C.  I had some plants that needed to be repotted and brought inside for the winter.  So the Meyer Lemon, the Key Lime and the Basil were repotted to bring inside for the winter.  Two of the cotton plants looked worthy, so I took them out of the planters and put them into clean, new pots.  Then I took a good look at them.  Despite my neglect, there are two cotton bolls forming on one plant and the second plant has started flowering.  It has 2 more buds ready to bloom. I've no idea what colour cotton either of the plants will produce though. 

The cotton houseplant instructions suggest that I should stop watering the plant, to allow it to dry out and the bolls to finish developing.  However there are signs of more blooms developing, so I may let it go for a bit longer.  Does anyone know if it will harm the current developing bolls?

 I'm hoping to try this again next year.  I now know that I should plant the seeds in February or March to allow more time for the seeds to mature before they go outside.  As well, they'll go in the front, with more sunshine and I'll remember to feed them once in a while!  It would be fun to find a couple of brown cotton seeds to try out as well.  I love the idea of spinning naturally coloured cottons!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Time Flies When You're Scrubbing and Spinning

Talk about time flying!  This week whizzed  past so quickly, I am stunned to realized it's already the weekend.   Monday and Tuesday were dedicated to cleaning and organizing the local Weaver's Guild Studio.  We are very lucky in that we have a dedicated room to host meetings and our equipment.  However it's been set up the exact same for years and this year's new executive decided they wanted to shake things up a bit.  So a few of us volunteered to get together to clean and shake!  On Monday, there were 3 of us plus a 4th who came a week early for a meeting by mistake.  Carol very nicely stayed and while Maureen and Pat started moving the small library from the locked cupboard into an accessible bookcase, Carol and I started sorting yarns.  We have bins upon bins of yarns and a lot of it is great but there was a lot of miscellaneous knitting yarns from mystery donations throughout the years.  Those got bagged to be donated as they really aren't suitable for most of our weaving projects.  I'll admit that Monday late afternoon, when we all headed home, I wondered if we'd get the room finished up the next day.   It was a bit of a mess.

Tuesday afternoon we gathered again, this time Maureen, Pat, Kai and I.  We pushed and pulled, scrubbed and emptied, all under the watchful eye of an old time member who clucked at us as the room had never been shifted so much before and she didn't see the need.  Midway through our work, Kai did up a beautifully presented tray of drinks and cookies for our afternoon pick me up.  It was such a thoughtful and welcome break.   We finished up more quickly than I'd thought and it was only 4 pm when we decided we were done.   Our guild room now  had an accessible library, a cheerful bulletin board which could be read and accessed, looms moved about so that the open area for speakers now had access to the blackboard and the whole place turned to a wonderfully, warm and inviting room!   And like Maureen commented at the end of Tuesday, it was a good thing we were done, 'cause our get up and go, had gone.  It was well worth the effort though.

While I had done a tiny bit of spinning in the mornings, on Wednesday I hunkered down and spun for 5 hours, trying to accomplish something useful.  I tried spinning a beaded novelty yarn.  It is a rather small skein as it takes a fair bit of time to thread the darned beads.  I was trying to put the beads on randomly, but I fear that they are a little too regular for parts of the yarn.  When I got into a plying rhythm, I found myself forgetting about the randomness of the beads!  Still, for the number of hours I've put in spinning this week, it hardly seems like a reasonable result in productivity.   It's pretty though and consistent and so totally something I'd not have thought to use before.  It's like more cobwebs have been shaken out this week, than just those in the guild room.   I think that is a good thing for me!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

1812 Anniversary Activities

Last Saturday was very wet, with lots of rain to start the weekend off.  It rained again Saturday night.  Sunday started off cool, and cloudy.  Showers threatened, but we were lucky with only sprinkles here or there.  I packed a picnic lunch and we headed off to the Backus conservation area to check it out.  We were absolutely amazed at how lovely the scenery was in the area.  The conservation area itself was stunningly beautiful.

 We mainly went to check out a reenactment of the War of 1812, being that it's an anniversary year. There have been lots of adverts and information out this year about 1812.   There have been a goodly number of reenactments this year but this was conveniently located and came at a time when I could easily free up a day.  It was held at the Backus Heritage Village, which is a small collection of buildings, including a homestead, some log cabins, a mill and others.
 The Backus Homestead, (c1850) had an interesting collection of artifacts and was set up as the Backus family home might have been.  The kitchen was chock full of kitchenwares, with this lot of tin and iron ware gracing a counter.  There was a lovely stove, cabinets, table and even a real mouse skittering by as we entered!

There was a lovely great wheel.  I'd love to have one of these in my living room as they are great fun to play with.   There were numerous old sewing machines and other textile tools.
This crazy quilt was so pretty.  I've not seen many done with the velvet sashing between blocks, but it's very effective.  I also like the scalloped border.  I'd have loved to have had someone move the nightgown so I could have taken a better photo of it, but this was the best I could do.
The heritage buildings were interesting.  The reenactors were  camped among the buildings, sitting on their porches and even camped out in the log cabins.  The forge was going in the blacksmith building and games were set up in the general store.

These boys were just watching and waiting.

There were Red Coats all over the place.  Nearby there was a musket shooting match were the participants had to shoot off the most rounds within a certain time limit.  .

This group was practicing manoeuvres in a small grassy area.  No actually shooting, just marching and raising their muskets.

There were cannon crews.  The cannons make big noises!  There were a lot of different companies there, from both Canada and the U.S.  There were kids playing in period dress and women cooking and gossiping.  I had nice discussion with a lovely lady named Linda about spinning wheels.  It turned out to be one of those small world things since she goes to a weaving group with several friends of mine.

The weather got warmer and the clouds rolled in at times, but the rain held off.  It turned out to be an absolutely lovely day.  

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Generous bounty and small projects.

The blue cupboard is settled in the kitchen.   It gives a lot more storage than the tiny shelves in the corner did and it looks much nicer as well.    The crocks are a gift from a friend, who thought I might be able to use them as set dressing for a medieval event.   For the moment though, they look at home in the new cupboard.  I think the grey jug might move up to the top, so it can keep the tea tin company.  That would give more space to the yellow crocks and allow the cast iron corn bread pan to show off as well.  I'm trying to figure out what to put in the bottom of the cupboard.  As of yet, it's still empty!
I love how the blue and yellow take your eyes away from that awful peachy coloured border.  It hides it nicely and the blue is bold enough to draw one's entire attention.  I fear what is under that wallpaper, so won't remove it until we're totally ready for any surprises!  I think it could be 70's panelling over deteriorating plaster.

 I found a note on my computer monitor the other day.   It said to call my friend Suzi.  It seems she had an abundance of excess green tomatoes and did I want some of them?   Of course I did.  There is a batch of Chow Chow, which I'll admit is a bit more ketchup-like in texture than I'd like.  It's okay tasting.  The front jars are a green tomato mincemeat.  There were several recipes for this chutney, but I tried the one which was most mincemeat like.  Oh, is it ever good!   I can imagine that in a couple of weeks, once the flavours meld a bit more, it will be at least as good or better.

 I realized that it might be a little bit of time before I bother to sit down and twist the fringes of the scarves.  So here they are in all their unfinished glory.  It was one neutral warp in camel and white.  I chose to use a red for one scarf and a browny black for the second and a lovely pewter grey for the third.  The fibre is a wool silk blend, which gives a nice sheen and lovely feel to the finished scarves.  Our guild has a studio room and two of us did this quick project on the 8 shaft loom. 

The neon cherry sock is coming along.  It should be finished by now.   However, when I got to the heel flap of the first sock, I realized that it was going to be too small, so I frogged it and started again, going from 64 to 72 stitches.  The cabling is fairly intense and has little stretch for that area and the slightly thinner yarn is knitting up to a bit of a tighter gauge than I'd anticipated.  No problems though, better to rip it out than have a sock that wouldn't fit anyone around here!  I have to admit that the colour is quite cheerful and bright.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Bits and Pieces

Recently I wandered through an antique / flea market.  I found some lovely huge armoirs which I really would have loved to bring home for fibre storage.  Unfortunately, they are all way over  my budget!  Really though, there were a couple which would have held most of my fibre stash, which would have been very convenient.   Instead, I did find a few things which called to me.  These lovely napkins were one of those love at first touch.  The ones wrapped in brown ribbon are so soft, while the others are a set which brings back childhood memories.  They came with "oh my Gosh, you're going to have to iron" warnings! hehehe...

There were several packets of buttons, one white and one black.  The white buttons came home with me.  The little bag is really heavy as the buttons are almost all china, shell/mother of pearl and some bone.  They are fabulous to run through one's fingers.  The pricing was pretty fabulous too, as there were packets of obviously plastic buttons for more money elsewhere.

I did some weaving.  I wove off 3 scarves of wool/silk blend.  They are off the loom, but need their fringes twisted and wet finishing before I photograph them.

Then I cast on a pair of socks in what can only be described as a neon cherry colour.  Yes, I chose that colour myself, because it was the only and I repeat only skein of red sock yarn in the store, other than a rather ugly red and white with a silver metallic ply, which felt rather harsh.  I really wanted just plain red.  I'd hoped for Scheepjes red or even a handdye type semi-solid red, but they have discontinued carrying the first and are a bit too mainstream of a store for the latter.  So, neon cherry yarn came home with me.   I'd never knit with Austermann Step Classic yarn before.  It's supposedly infused with jojoba oil and aloe vera.  It's also somewhat thinner than what is usually available around here.  It's quite nice to knit with.  The colour is officially and creatively called 1004.

I took the past two days off from spinning, in order to weave and freeze corn.  Today I will get back to it as I am suddenly missing it and feeling deprived.  Who knew eh?