Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Rug Weaving experiment update

This is rug number one of the rug experiment.   I had one tube of 4/8 cotton to use as the warp and got a 4 1/2 yard warp wound, six epi, aiming forabout a 24 in wide rug.

  I was going to weave 2 rugs, one a bit longer than the other.  I repurposed an old duvet cover for the weft.  The duvet cover was cut into 1 1/2 - 2 inch widths.   I did a continuous cut but after weaving a few rows, I cut it into just long lengths.  Those super long lengths needed extra stitching in one of the spots, which wasn't going to happen.  The shorter lengths, still long enough for 6-7 shots, were more enjoyable to both cut and weave.

 The second rug was to use denim.  I was doing a bit of research into weaving rugs with different weights of fabrics and decided on 3/4 in strips.  I figured I'd need 5 pair for a 36 in rug and more for the longer rug I'd anticipated.   Ack... stripping those jeans into useable fabric was fine, but then cutting it into strips put blisters on my hands until I put band aids on my raw fingers and switched to the rotary cutter.  It was still a pain and after 5 pair of jeans, I stopped.  It was enough to get me a rug, exactly 36 in long.   If I was going to weave with denim regularly, I'd need both a sturdier loom and way more weight on the beater.   It turns out that while I like denim, I'm not such a fan of weaving with it. :)

With barely enough warp left on the loom for a 3rd small rug, I went back to the duvet cover.  Thinking I had only about a 3rd of it remaining, I cut some strips from a navy broadcloth I found in a bin.    Then I went to cut the remaining duvet cover into strips and realized it was folded in half and I had enough for my small rug, without the striping.  I used it anyway but  what a cheerful colour combination!  I'll have to be very careful at the end, to avoid skipped threads and get enough length, but my still blistered fingers are crossed that it will work out. 

This is all simple but fun weaving.   It does take more effort to whack those weft strips into place, which makes it also hot weaving, when the temperatures are as warm as it is these past few days.

Kevin has decided that directly under the fan is the best place to hang out.  The cats have finally decided to start shedding.  I think I've brushed out 2 or 3 extra cats worth of hair and picked it up in clumps around the house.

Monday, 25 July 2016

 The 3 fleeces I have are white.   I've been spinning them in rotation, all using the long draw and yes, they are all still white.  
  I love the long draw because it is a very fast way to spin, giving soft, elastic and lovely, warm yarn as a result.   But all that white was starting to get a bit dull.  After not spinning for a couple of days in a row, I dug up a bunch of small lots of leftover fibres and dumped them into acid dye vats, using leftover dyes from other projects.  The blue/pink blend is Merino.  The green is BFL and nylon.  The navy and orange is the 32 micron fleece I just got from the Wool Coop.    Here is where I say - label, label, label!  The jars of dyes were leftover from other projects.   They had colour names on them but at that time, I didn't dye with anything else and was pretty certain that I only used 1% solutions.   However, the navy was supposed to be a blend of colours and much lighter according to the math.  I'm guessing though that the navy dye was actually a 2% solution and it really changed my anticipated results.   Each new jar of dye that I make up, now has the appropriate information: colour, type of dye, dye solution percentage at the very minimum.

The green is spinning up beautifully.  It is BFL and nylon blend seconds, probably superwash.   The Black Lamb usually sells these super cheap at the Fleece Festival and it is well worth the money.  It is always lovely, dyes well and is nice to spin.  It will be great for socks.  I spun the first bit using without processing the roving but have started running the rest through the drum carder first.  It just makes it that much easier to spin.

I think of this as my Deep Space 9 project.   I've always loved Star Trek, but was never really fond of Deep Space 9.  However, my sweetie got me hooked when he played the very first episode when I started spinning this, which I'd never seen and boy, was I hooked quickly.  Sigh, and I really am not fond of watching t.v... but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do :)

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


We went to visit 3 of our kids.  They live in the big city and it is always a bit of a shock to see the differences.   They all live in a trendy little area full of little shops with "eco-friendly" items and produce shops.  The latter were amazing; full of fresh fruits and veggies at reasonable prices, like nothing I've seen locally here.  We were there for a few days.

We went to the Toby Keith concert.  

We had great seats, under the roof so when it rained, we were sheltered.   When the skies opened up, the people on the lawn got to move to the unused seats, which was nice,although they still got wet.  Eric Pasley opened and this rainbow was the best part of his performance.  Maybe it was too much base or not enough power to the amps, but he was just okay.  His album is decently produced though.

The second performer was Dallas Smith who was awesome.  He totally rocks and just pumped out a great show.  I tried and failed, to get a photo of his ink, not that I'm a fan of tatoos, but his forearms were interesting.  

Toby Keith was pretty much what you would expect and a fun concert!   A bit rushed it seemed, but we later read that there was a 20 minute delay, so he pushed his songs together to get everything in.   He certainly knows how to court the crowd, and doesn't pay lip service to social niceties or political correctness, especially when you see how many references there are to his sponsor throughout the show.

Two of my sons took us for a tour through St. Lawrence Market and then to Allen Garden.  On the way we crossed the street to avoid a fight and almost got hit by the cop car chasing the assailant. Yikes.... not worth the pretty views at the green houses for that nonsense.

But we saw turtles, a whole pile of turtles at that.   We wandered through shops and stopped for lemonade, and finally made it to our last stop, which was Medieval Times for dinner and the show.   So the show was a bit cheesy but really fun.   There were Lippizaners, or at least I'm guessing they were, since they were grey and did a horse ballet show, which was pretty much classical dressage moves.  Albeit a bit sloppy in places, it was enjoyable to watch and it was obvious that the horses are well cared for and in great shape. 

We were in the yellow section so cheered for the yellow knight, who sadly didn't win in the end.   The horses used for the games and jousting were not only beautiful, but well trained and it was a fun show.  Of course there was a dark knight, who was vanquished in the end.  The food was decent.  They catered to the allergies and the vegetarians with ease.  The atmosphere was lovely, theatrical and very well done.  The cheering and booing was lots of fun.  In all it was a great evening.

Despite all the fun and excitement, it was good to get home ;)

Sunday, 10 July 2016

First Rug

Whenever I planned projects and thought about what I wanted to weave, rugs were never part of the thought process.  I had no interest in weaving rugs.  We've had several guild meetings where rugs were the topic of the evening and still, none of it inspired me at all.  Then for some reason, it all clicked.  The July meeting had rugs as a topic and suddenly, making rugs got added to my summer project list.  

I had 1 little tube of black 4/8 cotton, suitable for a rug warp, picked up in some odd batch of yarns when I first began weaving.  I wound off enough for a 24 inch wide rug, which left only a little left on the tube for weaving a facing on the ends.    It's a simple tabby, sett at 6, because it seemed easier to keep the warp consistent on a 12 dent reed, that sett at 8, which was what I had planned at first.   

I was going to use the green duvet cover, which I don't like.   I've used it every winter and this spring when I changed to my summer duvet cover, that the green makes my tiny bedroom look even darker and smaller than it is.    Since the green duvet cover cost me $8 at a thrift store, it owes me nothing - it is 12 years old, but the darned thing won't wear out!   I decided that I would keep the summer cover on all year and cut the green cover up  for a rug.

However, it also dawned on me that if I didn't like the green as a duvet cover, I may not like it as a rug.  Sooooo, I took my guest room duvet cover, which I do like, but doesn't fit at all in this cottage and before I could decide not to, I cut it into strips.

With the black warp, it looks awesome. 

It is a little fussy to weave since I'm folding the fabric strips as I weave, but if I could just sit down and weave without distractions, it wouldn't take long at all.

However, hubby is on holidays - and distractions are just  happening all over the place.

Christiana's Kevin Update

Papa was late getting home from work the other day and Kevin was not impressed.  He commandeered my loom to use as a vantage point, for waiting for his papa to get home.   He sat there for ages, until the truck finally drove into the driveway, when he ran to wait at the door like a little puppy.

Friday, 1 July 2016

HFF - In a Jam

In A Jam...or Jelly, or Pickle (June 3 - June 16) In a world before refrigeration, preserving food was an important task. For this challenge, make your favorite preserved food - bonus points if it’s seasonal!

I really wanted to make a jelly, but right now I don't have a counter or a way to hang a jelly bag.  I used to hang it from one of the cupboard handles, so it could drip into a container on the counter.  Since I have neither cupboards or counter top right now, I made jam instead.

The garden strawberries weren't quite ripe yet, so I used some that were in the freezer. 

In the Cooks Own Book, 1832, Boston, I found this recipe for strawberry jam.

The Economical Housekeeper, 1837, London offered this recipe.

Currants would cut the sweetness of the jam nicely.  As well, currants have lots of pectin, so they would help the jam set.   My currants are frozen in 1 kilo bags, so I substituted 1 tsp of lemon juice, to 600 g of strawberries and 600 g of sugar.   It took only about 15 minutes on a modern electric stove.

I tested the readiness of the jam by dropping a bit on a chilled plate to see how it set up.  If it is ready, the dollop of hot jam should have a bit of a skin on top as it is cooling down.

When the jam looked about done, I poured it into heated canning jars.  I screwed on the lids and rings and popped them into a hot water canning bath for 10 minutes, so sterilize and seal properly.  It was a bit of a waste of my huge canning pot for only 2 1/2 cups of jam, but the jam was really tasty.   I'm not a huge fan of strawberry jam, but this was pretty good.    The only issue was that I've made only 2 batches of jam/jelly without commercial pectin, and there is a bit of a learning curve as to when the jam is set.   This jam is a little to thick for my preference.

Cost - $1.00 for the sugar and probably about $4 worth of strawberries.
Time - 2 -3 hours includes prep, cooking, canning and clean up
Accuracy - except for the lemon juice substitution, pretty accurate
Success - tasty but thicker than I'd like.  I will try again with peaches or apricots, which are my favourite jams.