Friday, 30 September 2016

Today's Excitement

Look what followed me home today!  It's small, supposed to be very fuel efficient, has the few options I wanted and is a pretty peacock blue.    Hopefully it will be easy to spot in a parking lot, amid the sea of grey and brown cars which seem to be so popular locally.

It really is small though and a huge difference from driving the truck.

  I have some pretty awesome friends who didn't mind picking me up when I was vehicleless, out here in the boonies, but it will be nice to be able to pop out when I need to run an errand or want to visit, without having to beg a ride or get up stupid early to drop people off at work, just to have a vehicle for a few hours. 

My sweetie found double roll of charming flocked, metallic gold wallpaper while routing around in the basement, fixing up some weird wiring in the kitchen.   He thinks there might be a second roll hidden away.   You sure can't find paper like this too many places anymore. 

 Drywall is going up in the kitchen...yay!!!!  It's half up and the rest of the framing is almost complete.    Next up is the vent for the range hood.   When this was first planned, we weren't sure how the outside wall would need to work.  Cabinet placements and sizing were supposed to make a difference in how everything would fit together.  However, with minor adjustments, the outside wall will now have a decent amount of insulation in it.   That is a good thing too :)

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Painted warp scarf progression

The second scarf was a red, orange and black warp.  While the black looked quite black while still chained and in choke ties, when it was spread out on the loom, it definitely showed as various shades of grey.   I used a dark grey weft, which really showed the colour transitions nicely.

The next scarf however, was a lighter pink and black.  I tried the dark grey again and after a few picks, I took it out.  It made the scarf heavy looking and totally drowned out the pink.  The lighter grey looked awful as well because neither the pink or the black showed up with it.   After several more tries, I realized that I didn't have anything which would look good.  So I did the math (incorrectly so it seems, but it worked out okay anyway), wound off a couple of skeins.  I decided to do a pink for the pink /black warp and a blue for the next scarf which would be blue/green.

I actually did the math for the required colours and immediately forgot that the blue was a 2% solution.  The dye struck almost immediately, so I was rushing around madly, winding off an extra skein of yarn, squishing water through it to wet it and tossing it in the dye vat to take up the last bit of blue.  I ended up adding a few more mls of blue dye, just to deepen it a bit and both colours work with the blue/green scarf - phew.

The pink really was a lovely accident though.  The solution for a medium pastel, was darker than I'd anticipated, so had to do the same frantic skein winding as I'd done with the blue.   However the shade of pink I got from the second skein was exactly spot on the pink in the scarf warp.  Yay!

The math - I calculated the number of inches I'd need - then added about 25% and still came up just a tad short.   Luckily there are ways of using 2 different colours in one warp, so I managed.

The black warp sections show up better in real life than in my photo.
This scarf is gorgeous.  The green sections show nicely and the blues fit well with the warp blue.   Boy, will I have a lot of fringe twisting to do once these are off the loom.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Painted Warp Scarf Project

Soooooooo...........  the painted warp is finally on the loom.  This is a project which has so far, taught me many lessons.

First, I decided to put on a dummy warp and decided to do a sample scarf with it, to check the weave structure.  I was going to use a diamond twill, but in a flash of inspiration - thanks to Debbie and the last guild program - I opened up my copy of A Handweaver's Pattern Book.  I gave myself just a couple of minutes to scan through the drafts, find one which used both the required number of pattern threads I'd originally planned for and looked like it would work for a scarf.   Once done, I dug up some yarn to use for the sample warp, only once I actually compared it with my wool/silk blend, there was too much of a different in grist to use.  The only yarn I had close was a skein of in hindsight, too stretchy sock yarn.

I pushed on, winding the warp and when the written yardage wasn't quite as much as was indicated on the label, I added in a few threads of another nicely contrasting yarn.  I dressed the loom and wound on that warp and realized then that the elasticity of the yarn would need to be accounted for when I set the weft threads.  After all those rugs, beating lightly to place the threads, was an interesting task.

The scarf wove off quickly, although I miscalculated with the stretch and wove a long scarf and left only a barely workable amount of loom waste for tying on.

I used a deep grey for the weft which worked nicely with the colours of the sock yarn.  I think I got the beat down quite nicely, considering I had to guess as the finished scarf is really quite nice.

I went to tie on the painted warp -  that was a fiasco.   First, I had started my painting at the wrong end, so that the cross was at the front and not with the loom waste!  So I tied on some lease sticks, and wound the warp onto the front beam.  I was using packing sticks, but not only did I wind the warp on a bit of an angle, but didn't use enough packing sticks, so when I went to tie on the warp, there was a different of about 18 inches from the left to the right sides of the warp.  ARGH!

With unwinding, a few choke ties and patience, I got the warp on the loom, with little problem.

Now I'm weaving this lovely pastel scarf.  Those colours sure looked more intense when they were wet and when they were side by side.  However if you're a pastel person, or really like subtlety, this scarf would be for you.  It might be the last pastel anything I ever weave though.

Draft is 2 Fold M's and O's from The Handweaver's Pattern Book - Marguerite Porter Davison.  With 3 different suggested treadlings, I have options to play with.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Carol's Alpaca Days

This little girl was humming away in the barn.
 One of our guild members, Carol, has a small herd of alpaca.  This weekend was her open house.  While a small event, it was loads of fun, with family activities, treats and of course friendly alpaca.  The farm is extremely beautiful, in a gorgeous setting.  This would have been a fun, family activity.

I was  spinning and was set up in the garage.   It was a great place to spin, with lots of light.  The day was breezy though and it came right through the back door and kept blowing the fibre off the table and out to the driveway, where it rolled around like tumbleweeds until it could be retrieved.

Look at that gorgeous red/brown colour and cute facial expression.
This girl spent the afternoon eating apples from the tree.
 Carol had gotten a huge bag of processed fibre back from the mill and I had the opportunity to spin some of it for my demo.   I didn't get a photo of it, but just saying that this fibre was rejected and if it was, I was curious to know why.  The black was from an older animal, so it was a little coarser, but still it was a dream to spin.  The brown left me puzzled though as I could see no discernable reason why it wasn't deemed suitable fibre.  They were both really nice to spin and made awesome yarn.

   I met some super nice people.  I was able to spin some lovely fibre and meet some precious beasties.  It was a super fun day that I'd certainly do again.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Interesting colour experiments

The blue jersey rug is off the loom.  The little bits of colour were added randomly.  I kept the balls of colour behind me and just grabbed one whenever I wanted to put in a shot of colour.
I liked working with the jersey fabric strips.   I pre- stretched the strips when I cut them and then again when I wound them on the shuttle.  I think this helped mitigate any stretching problems.
I shudder to think how boring this rug would have been without the little shots of colour.   The fabric had some uneven fading, which has made for a nice variation of blue tones in the background.  It makes the rug look rippled, when it is quite flat.

I decided to wind a long warp for some scarves.  I used a wool/silk blend which was a natural white colour.   My goal was really just to use up some old dyes and try my hand at painting the warp.   I wound off a 10 yard warp which was calculated to give me 4 scarves.  
I set up my work space out on the deck to help contain any mess.  I didn't think it would be a good idea to have my big girl camera out on my work table while it was covered with dyes, a bucket and a jar of water, so instead I stuck my camera in my pocket so that I could take photos of the process.   I neglected to actually take the phone out of my pocket for any photos at all!  

I spread old newspapers on the table, laid out a strip of plastic wrap and put the warp on top of it.  The warp had been soaked in vinegar, water and a tiny bit of dish soap for a couple of hours.  I have synthropol someplace, but in the kitchen reno, I've obviously moved it to a hidden location.  Either way, dish soap or synthropol, 1/4 tsp is all you need to help with the wetting of the fibre.

My dyes were really old.  Some were gelling and separating.  I did a lot of shaking and mixing and ignored any flaking. I took no notes nor did I accurately measure since I wasn't sure if my dyes would work the way they should, being that old.   I was pretty sure I'd get some colour though.  The results might just not have been what I totally expected.

 The only bit which was a very nice surprise was the red/light orange/black combination.  It was supposed to be a dark green instead of black, but I grabbed the wrong jar of dye.  However, the red and black ran into the orange, darkening it enough that it no longer looked like a rendition of the German flag.   I really watered down the black, so it should have been a much paler grey.   Regardless, the colours are gorgeous and I'm really happy with the outcome.    I'm looking forward to weaving this set of scarves.    Now to finish up the rest of the rug warp on the loom and re-adjust the project queue.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Tying on a pretty blue warp

This is 2 strands of 2/8 cotton, one dark blue and one a lighter blue, tied on to the previous warp.  The sett is 8, and it is just a simple tabby weave.  I did all the math using numbers for less loom waste since I was tying it on, but then looked at the wrong spreadsheet and wound off the warp as if I needed the full amount of loom waste.   I guess I will have sampling room.

This was super fast to wind on.  Not a single knot, twisted thread, no Kevin interference, nothing to slow down or mess up the process.  Of course my man was at a golf tournement, so there were few distractions.

Gosh, I do like these colours.  I was excited to see how they looked with the dark blue jersey warp I was planning on using.

Well, the warp barely registered at all using plain weave.   I tried a thick and thin weft, using the doubled warp thread combination as the thin.  It was fussy and made for sloppy selvedges, plus it didn't bring out the warp at all.   I went back to the plain tabby.  After a few inches I realized that the rug was boring in plain blue.  I started randomly adding a few partial shots of various other colours, which breaks up the sea of boring blue nicely.

There is enough warp for at least 2 rugs, so I have time to think about the second rug.  If I re-sley for a sett of 12, the warp would be likely stand out better, but I'd have a narrower rug unless I added more warp threads.   Only lucky 13 inches woven so far, so I've a bit of time before I need to make a decision. 

The jersey is easy to work with, although I'm taking a bit of care to avoid stretching it when I throw a shot.  It packs in nicely and densely.  It is making a soft rug.   One way or another, this is a much better use for that ugly blue jersey sheet. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Apple Jelly

 I checked several different 19th century cookery books for apple jelly recipes, sticking to the 1830's, since the apples came from the Lockhart house at Westfield.  Generally, jelly and jam recipes seem to be similar, in the vein of 1 lb of fruit to 1 lb of sugar or 1 pint of juice to 1 lb of sugar, but a few recipes have slightly less sugar for apple jelly.   The Cooks Own Book (1831) suggests 14 oz of sugar per pint of juice.  That works out to about a 1:1 ratio of sugar to juice.   The recipes also use lemon juice or peel.

I used 3/4 cup of sugar to each cup of juice.   The apples weren't very tart, and I was worried that the extra sugar would be just too sweet, plus modern canning info suggests that is the right amount for less tart apples.

Then they say to cook the apples until soft.   My problem was that the Lockhart apples didn't really get soft. They were hard, hard, hard and then all of a sudden, they were apple sauce, all thick and goopy and trying to burn to the bottom of my pot :(    So when the instructions said to strain off the liquid, there was no liquid to strain.  I think that if I had strained them at the above stage, when the apples were still quite firm, but a few were starting to soften, it would have been perfect.

None the less, I lined several bowls with colanders and cloths on the limited counter space.  I filled them up with the thick, goopy apple sauce and set them to strain.   It took hours.   I had 3 big bowls set up like this one, plus a small mesh strainer over a 4 cup measuring cup.   I had 4 1/2 cups of juice in the fridge before I left them for the night and by the morning I had another cup or so.  

The apple sauce then became breakfast for the chickens.

I used 4 cups of juice.   As there was a bit of sediment on the bottom of my juice container, I just strained off the clear juice and left the not so clear juice behind.   I added the sugar and the lemon juice.   While the waterbath canner was heating up, and my jars warming, I started boiling the jelly mixture. 

It probably took less than 10 minutes for the jam to set up.  I tested a couple of times but I knew when it was done because the mixture suddenly changes slightly.  The bubbling froth is somehow a bit viscous and feels different when you stir it.   I had spoons chilling on a bowl of ice and when dipped in the jelly and set back on the ice to cool, they showed the jelly was set.

I poured the jelly into jars, sealed them and popped them into the hot water canner for 10 minutes.  I figure that getting a good seal and lessening the risk of botulism is worth the time, energy and effort of the few minutes in the canner.

I got only 4 cups of jelly, plus enough to put on some toast for a snack.  It is a lovely, pale amber and quite clear, considering how much I pounded and squeezed those jelly strainers.   Better yet, it is really tasty.  Not in your face flavour like raspberry jelly, but a softer, milder flavour which hints of things autumnal.

4 cups apple juice   ( you could use unsweetened bottled juice too)
3 cups sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon

I think I want to try this again!

I almost tripped over Kevin last night.   Someone  forgot to put the vacuum hose away and since he was a kitten, it's been Kevin's favourite toy.  He still likes to sleep in it if he gets the chance.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Processing the garden

 Half a bushel of tomatoes, canned and in the pantry - yes

One bottle did a weird thing, when it foamed up with about an inch of watery, white foam at the top.    You could see the bubbles rising from a tomato core as it was cooling.  I've never had that happen before, but then I also usually put up plum tomatoes and these are just regular ones.  Still trying to find an answer but I tossed out that jar of tomatoes, just in case.

 Cutting old t-shirts into continuous rags for rug weaving - yes

Without even bothering to cut up anything but the body of the shirt, each t-shirt yields about 15-20 yards of continuous rug weft.   I think it is well worth the bit of time and a great way to re-use old, worn t-shirts which would otherwise be trashed.   But, we don't wear out our t-shirts fast enough to keep me in t-shirt yarn, so unless I can convince others to save them for me.......

Making apple jelly - yes, maybe?

Yesterday I picked some apples from the Lockhart farm house at Westfield.   I picked a bit over half a grocery bag full, which is all I could reach.  Today I have chopped them up, with the intentions to make apple jelly.   You know the instructions for processing the apples for both jelly and home made pectin are remarkably similar.   Guess what I seem to be getting? 

I will wait for the end results after hours upon hours of endless dripping of the cooked apples before doing a more complete post on what hopefully will be focusing on success and not what looks to be shaping up to a complete turn around on my results.