Monday, 28 April 2014

Daffy Down Dilly and garden updates

 Daffy Down Dilly has come to town, in a yellow petticoat and a green gown.

 Daffodils have just started to bloom.  The yellow ones are miniatures Daffs.  They are always first to bloom.   I realized that there are lots and lots of the large Daffodils in the bicoloured variety, but no large plain yellow ones.  I'll try to remember that for this fall.  I NEED big, plain yellow Daffs!

Before splitting
 A dump truck load of wood was ordered from a local tree care place.  They sell the trees they take down to local small mills, but the rest they cut into stove lengths and deliver for a decent price.   You still have to split it though, and it's not for this winter, but for next as it still has to dry.
 Now the guys have started in at it   But look back there at those huge chunks!  We might need to borrow my cousin's log splitter for those.  Both the chainsaw and the axe are getting a work out.  I'm staying well away from this endeavour for now.  Instead, I've been playing in the garden, since it's now dry enough to dig.  While we still have chances of frost for a few weeks more, there is lots that can be planted and loves the cooler weather.   I've got onions, multiplier onions,  beets, spinach, lettuce, and chard already planted.   I also found some nice looking strawberry plants and picked up a few to expand the strawberry bed that had been eaten.  Turns out it finally started to come back, including a bunch of volunteers.  I dug those up, made a second row and filled in the spaces with the new plants.   Since this garden is now fenced off, with the gate closed, they should be safe.

 I tried to get a photo of the baby leaves on the Black Currant bush, but was photo bombed by one of the chooks.  The problem with snapshots on the phone, is that you don't necessary get to choose the focus and depth of field, so the chook stole the show in this one.

I did get the first harvest of the spring though, some Winter Onions.  They are sweet green onions, known as Walking onions in some areas.  I ate one for my lunch and the others will be for dinner.  They grow little clusters of bulbs and seeds at the tips of the mature onions and the weight tips them toward the ground for self planting, although you can harvest them and plant them where you actually want them.  I'm hopeful that leaving a judicious amount of onions this year, will give enough to start really good harvesting next spring. 

The Welsh Perennial onions came up this year too - finally!  I've tried for two years to get them established.  The first year they just disappeared one day.  I'm guessing a hungry chook at them.  Probably the one who also ate my Sage plant to the nubbins.   They'll also be in sights for next year's harvest.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Colour outside

I finished the shawl. It was 34 x 108, not including the fringe,  off the loom, having rested overnight before I measured it.   My tape measure wasn't handy while I was weaving and I was sure I knew better than to really need it.  I had really, put only enough warp on for the shawl and the loom waste.  I'd even calculated most of the fringe to come from the loom waste, so shouldn't have finished up with a shawl, quite that long.  It's not a problem as wet finished it's 32 x 101 plus the fringe.  I could run it through the washer again and full it a bit more, as it's quite softly wet finished.   It's drapey though and it's soft.  It wraps around beautifully and feels like a giant hug.  It is definitely pink, no doubt about that one :)

After I set it outside to dry in yesterday's lovely weather,(today is wet, cool and dismally grey), I grabbed my big girl camera with a 50 mm lens and explored the garden.   Not much yet, but enough to think that perhaps spring is here.
 I want to find more of these for the garden.  It's some variety of Scilla, (siberica?).   I'd love them to be strewn throughout the gardens and yard.  They are exquisitely blue and fresh.

These are another variety of Scilla as well.  Pretty, blue and starshaped, they have started to migrate from this little patch.  I'd put in more of these as well, although I don't like them quite as much as the other ones.

I didn't get around to planting more Crocus bulbs last fall, although I had that activity in the plans.  Even less came up this year and most were crushed by a wet, heavy and late snow fall.  These were later blooming and caught me by surprise.  Still pretty though.

The garlic is up!  It's looking strong and healthy, although buried in the snow, it was a sad picture, that I refused to take.  It looks like virtually every clove that I planted has germinated this year, so I'm hopeful that we'll have lots to harvest.

Something has eaten every last strawberry plant and the bunnies got the blueberries, which are showing no signs of recovery yet.  I haven't checked the raspberries but at least a few of the blackberries made it through the harsh winter.  The black current bush has lots of leaf buds, and I'm hopeful that there might be a few berries to harvest this year.   Last year there were 3 currents on the bush, so more would be a good thing.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The floor that kept on taking

When we moved into this house, the laundry room had ancient peel and stick tiles.  There were a few spots where they were starting to lift, but after the sunporch roof disaster, there was a whole area which wasn't happy.   We decided that it was time to replace the floor.  

We took off the floor trim which turned out to be warped 1 x 3 boards - not sanded, planed or shaped in anyway, just nailed on.  That meant the trim needed to be replaced and not only around the floor but the door and window casings as well, because they too were 1 x3 boards.  None could be salvaged for other uses. 

 Once the trim was off, we realized that the wallpaper was peeling in places, so it was stripped, the walls spackled and primed.  None of the wallpapered walls in this house seem to have been coated with primer first, so taking off the paper has been a horrendous job, requiring both manpower and a steamer.  I supposed we could have just painted the walls, but they aren't horribly straight in places, so we're matching them with the hallway, by putting in wainscot. 

A couple of weeks ago, we went flooring hunting.  At the store which sells the "good" stuff, we found a huge remnant piece of vinyl flooring, which cut our costs nicely, considering the room is an irregularly shaped 13' x 17'.   It's a laundry room, so pattern wasn't really that important.  Really, I wanted something which looked a bit more old fashioned than many of the huge tile patterns currently available, so I was happy at finding this one.

Finally, this weekend, the guys started sizing the flooring and cutting out the intricate maze of details to make it fit.  Then they started lifting the old tiles.   Gosh it was nice to see the old tiles go.  They never seemed to come clean and were so dark that even in the bright room, they seemed to absorb the light.

Last night, I noticed that the guys were taking a break, so I wandered by the laundry room and saw this!

Totally awesome!  I love the new laundry room floor!   It's much lighter feeling and doesn't weigh down the room.    Last night, it still felt like a bright room but this morning was even better.  It is light, bright and airy feeling!

Hopefully, soon I'll be able to move my table and sewing machine back into that corner on the left and be able to sew happily and comfortably.  My sewing room is only 9' x 9', so always feels cramped for some reason.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Using my handspun yarn and making more

 I've spent the past few days winding a warp with the pink yarns and dressing the loom.  I'm using a soft grey Shetland for the weft.  It really softens the depth of pinks.      I realized that I could have dyed the grey and my first thoughts were that I could have dyed the grey, the same array of pinks.  It would have made the fabric much bolder in colour impact.  However, I love the soft shading of the grey and I think it will make the shawl much more wearable.

I tie up my treadles so I can use a walking motion when I weave - left, right, left, right.   I've always had my tabby tied up on the two outermost treadles.  However, I changed that up for my last project and didn't switch it back.   I hadn't realized how ingrained the muscle memory has become.  My legs really want to treadle a straight twill with the previous tie up, that I've used for years and not the new one.  It's making the process a bit slower than usual, though enjoyable none the less.

I spun up a sample of Kinred's fleece.   I combed it out, pulled sliver and spun with a short forward draw.  It's a nice yarn and spins up nicely.  However the fleece has a lot of waste with combing, as it's an old style Shetland fleece.  I'm not sure I want to waste 50% of the fleece by combing.   I'll try carding some fleece and sampling next to see what the differences are.  I was trying to match the grist of some wools I'd spun for embroidery, but I couldn't get it quite fine enough.   The fibre is quite springy and really bloomed when I wet finished it.

Friday, 11 April 2014

1830 Cooking at the Inn

The Bake Oven at Westfield won't open until May 4th.   When I'm not baking at the oven, I get to play in one of the buildings.  You'd think that I'd spend my time at the Spinning and Weaving Shop, but they've lots of people there already.  Instead, I often play at the Inn.  The Inn is dated 1830 and is an old log structure, with a feeling of the past.  Sometimes if I touch the walls, I wonder about who and how many people have walked through this building, stayed here and ate here.  It's a beautiful building, with lots of windows letting in light and giving the whitewashed interior a bright and airy feeling, at least in the tap room part of the inn.   I'm betting when it was -25 outside, it was darned cold inside because of those windows, single pane, with old, rolled glass and leaky as all get out.   

  Last Sunday I brought out some recipes from 1826.  I took my dutch oven and put a Scotch Barley Broth in it.  Really, I think it was more of a cabbage soup.  It smelled awesome, but was a bit bland, perhaps because I was a bit stingy on the meat and salt.  I also made a muffin recipe, which turned out to be what we'd call English Muffins today.  They were pretty yummy, especially when topped  with my period Currant jelly.  English muffins are cooked on a griddle or fry pan, rather than baked, though they are a yeast bread.

It's too old to have a woodstove, so it's hearth heated all the way.  It has a double fireplace, one on either side of the chimney.   We've had both fires going at times, but if it's just me, I only keep the one fireplace going.     I have often wondered if this little oven in the hearth is functional or not.   Luckily my little dutch oven works just fine for baking.

This is the back part of the building, part of the kitchen.  It's very pretty and homey in there.  There aren't as many windows so it can be a bit easier to keep that area warm.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Pink - lots of pink

I spun and spun and spun.   I had lots of 2 ply white Shetland yarn spun to weave with.   I sent a cryptic email to hubby, with 3 colour choices.  I didn't tell him what it was for, just choose one of Pink, Blue or Purple.   He chose pink.  

With the magenta acid dye, I did a Depth of Shade study including .05%, .1%,  .5%, 1%,  and 2.%, using a 1% stock solution. 

I couldn't believe how long it took to dye this.  I had two dye vats going and started at about 10 am.  I finished up at 10.15 pm    Phew, that was a long day.   While it wasn't all spent at the dye pot, much of it was, keeping the temperatures from going too high or too low.  The darker colours took much longer to exhaust.

A few weeks ago I was playing with my new wool hackle.  Hubby made it for me as there were a couple of colour exercises in my homework.  I was pretty certain I'd never, ever use a hackle again in my life, so instead of putting out the $ for a commercial one, he ran to the hardware store and for $26 he got supplies.   It was -25 in the garage, but he persevered.  It took him the better part of a week, but he presented me with a hackle to play with.
 Here is where I say, NEVER say NEVER!   This was such fun to play with.   I loved the way the fibre came off in lovely sliver using the diz.  It was easy and gave a lovely blend.  I could have kept blending it to get a more even mix but I really liked this one.   It spun nicely too.

Yep, the hackle will be a fun tool for bits and pieces leftover from other projects and to just play with when miles of whatever I've been spinning just seems to need a fun break time.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Random Project updates

 The linsey woolsey is off the loom.  It's been wet finished and heavily pressed.  It's an okay fabric and will make a decent apron.  The reed marks didn't disappear which is a little disappointing.  It makes the fabric look like it has more inconsistencies than it really does.   It's a pretty fabric though and the stripes are fairly even.

I need to cut it up and sew up the apron to be able to tell if I'm really happy with it.

More proof of Kevin's loom antics.  I caught him in the act, again.  I'd meant to cover the warp before I went to bed, but forgot.  This is how I found him in the morning.   I've never seen him do this when there was a project on the loom before, so who knows why he chose this particular one, when it being well executed meant more to me than any of the others I've done since he  "enriched" our lives.  Silly cat!
 We've pulled the spiles from the Maple trees and ended our syrup season.  We might have gotten a few more boilings done, but it's a lot of work.   The melting snow has flooded the fire pit, so boiling the sap down, is a wet, muddy and not such a nice experience.   We've gotten 4 litres and a bit,  so not too bad a haul for our first try.   The syrup is pretty tasty and will likely last most of the year, depending on how much ends up in my daughter's pantry.
 Maple syrup drizzled on oatmeal makes an awesome breakfast!
Gluten free chocolate angel food cake, with chocolate drizzle was today's way to use up excess eggs.  It was pretty delicious, as well as pretty to look at.  I just took my regular angle food cake recipe and substituted 1/4 cup cocoa for an equal amount of gluten free flour.  Instead of lemon flavouring, I used vanilla, so it has a really interesting depth of flavour.   This one was a huge success.