Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Projects and Kevin update

This is a 238  skein of white Egyptian Cotton, 2 ply.   It took forever to spin, mainly because sitting still for hours at this time of year just doesn't happen.   It's a nice skein and will go into my stash of handspun cotton skeins for a future project.   I only spun 1 bobbin full, then I wound about half onto another bobbin for plying.
The cotton is a commercial sliver.  When I first started spinning cotton, I had to card this sliver into punis before I could spin it.  I realized half way through this bobbin, that I had started spinning from the sliver, with no thought about it.  Really, it's all about practice, practice, practice..

I had a bit of an idea pop into my head and decided that I would weave up some inkle bands.  My inkle loom is very pretty, and is beautifully hand crafted.  Unfortunately, it has a little bit of an issue with the placement of the pegs, making for a very small shed.  It made the whole project take much longer than I'd expected and it was frustrating at times.  I used 4/8 cotton, so it should have been pretty nice to weave with, but it seemed like I was wrestling with the warp the whole length, and it wasn't horribly fun.    However, I need to weave off another 6 or so lengths, so I'm going to have to figure something out to make this work better.   I had suggested my sweetie might want to make me a new inkle loom, with some small adjustments to the pattern, but the roof needs reshingling first and apparently that comes before fibery activities.  ;)

I did make this little narrow wares width guide for my next project.  It's just a strip of plastic, folded in half.  I used the plastic from a 10 litre water jug that I found in a recycling bin.   I think a juice or milk jug,  would be easier to work with.  This was pretty tough cutting.   It may still be too long as I put on both 2 inch and 2.5 inch markings.

My sweetie woke me up this morning at 6 am, to tell me that a chair had tipped over and there was a pile of green yarn on the floor.   Sitting nearby was Kevin, just looking around as if nothing was wrong.   While he normally isn't a playful kitty, when he does play, he goes all out.   This was a freshly dyed skein of 4/8 cotton.   While I can see some of the figure 8 ties, the rest of it is so tangled up that I'm not sure I'll be able to use it.    And my husband wonders why I call Kevin the" Bad Kitty".

Monday, 10 July 2017

Rodeo Fun

Who knew there was a rodeo circuit in our province, let alone what seems to be two different sets of events?  Looking for a fairly close road trip, I did a bit of research and found a couple of localish rodeos which looked like they might be a good day out.   This event was a charity fundraiser.    We slapped on the sunscreen and our sunhats and we headed out.   It turned out to be too windy for my hat to stay on my head, so I just kept putting on sunscreen.   Except for the couple of places that I missed, it worked amazingly well -
This was a small event, so there were only a few classes.   The saddle broncos had amazing muscles and were all powerfully built and gorgeous looking horses.

Just love the buckskin or dun coloured horses!  So pretty.

 Barrel racing was fun to watch.  The juniors had a little boy on a tiny pony whose legs just went a mile a minute trying its best.   So cute!
 Intermission had an exhibition of moto-cross bikes doing tricks.  The too young child just riding around after mom, with neither of them doing anything much, was sort of lame, but these guys, with their crazy tricks, in a gusty wind, were totally wild.
It was a bit surprising to see that the bulls didn't get far from the chutes.  I'd expected them to have a bit more forward movement.  Mainly it was up and down, and sometimes around in circles.   They did show that 8 seconds is a very long time.

 This is the only rider who made it the full 8 seconds on a bull really didn't want him on his back.  Yay him! 
Sooooo Much Fun!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Spring berries and blues

The red currants have started ripening.  Usually they all ripen at once and I simply have to strip each little hanging bunch off the branches.  It's fast and easy.  You don't have to take the berries off the stem to make jelly.  This year however, the berries are ripening at different times.   I have to get out there and get them before the Orioles and the Red Wing Blackbirds eat them.  They can strip a bush of it's berries in a day.  So, I've gone out picking individual currants.   Two days of picking has netted a whole 340 g of currants.   I skipped today in hopes that I'll be able to get a larger amount tomorrow.   I'd love  to get a kilo of currants, but I'm not counting on it this year.  The bushes seem to have far fewer berries than other years.  A kilo will make a decent sized batch of currant jelly.

This past winter I started some Dyer's Knotweed seeds much earlier than normal, in hopes of getting seed to set this year.   Usually it blooms in September and there isn't time for the seed to set.   The seed that I started in February germinated nicely.  I transplanted it into large pots and again into planters, though the last one went into the garden.     I noticed that it's starting to flower!   Yay!    However I decided to snip off the stems that weren't flowering in hopes of a) encouraging more growth and b) to see if there was viable pigment in the leaves. 

  I harvested 14 oz or just under 400 g of leaves, which  I weighed once I'd stripped them from the stems.  Although I don't think it's a necessity to do so, it takes less space in the container to cook the leaves without the stems.  I stuffed them into a glass jar, set a trivet in the bottom of a large pot filled with warm water, and set the jar into that pot, making a double boiler.  I cooked the leaves at 160° F for about 2 hours.   As I was lifting out the jar, the bottom sheared off the jar, which was startling to say the least.  Luckily, the entire mixture dumped into the large pot, saving an enormous mess.  I would have added more water to the dye vat anyway, so it was all fine in the end.

I did have photos of the entire process, but some how I managed to lose them when I transferred them to the computer and deleted them from my camera.  Normally I check to make sure they are where I want them before I hit the delete button, but for whatever reason, I convinced myself it was all good today.

At any rate, there was a reasonable amount of pigment.   I don't know if I aerated the mixture long enough though, so it might have been a little more.  I didn't weigh my fibres before I tossed them into the pot, as I was just playing around.   There is Blue Faced Leicester, a Cashmere/Merino/Silk blend and both cotton sliver and spun cotton in there.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Plying, and weaving and raccoons, oh my!

I've finished spinning the Blue Faced Leicester.  I plied it, wet finished it and it's ready to go into the stash for a future project.   I like BFL because it's both sturdy and soft.  The staple length makes it easy to spin.  It dyes nicely and is just an all around good general purpose sort of yarn.  I use it for things like mittens, socks and hats when knitting and for scarves, shawls etc when weaving.   This commercially prepared roving  was easiest to spin with a short forward draw, although I'm pretty sure I did a bit of point of contact long draw when I was just spinning but not really paying a lot of attention... oops...

 I also plied together several different yarns to put into this rug, as in shaker rug techniques.   I realized after I'd started that I don't have enough of the blue wool yardage to make enough rags to weave a rug, as long as I'd thought.   So, I've been staring at it, trying to decide what to do.  I could rip it out and start again, keep going to make a small mat, or add larger areas of the plied yarns.  Hmmmm, what to do, what to do?

The first mitt is finished.  It still needs to be blocked and it looks much nicer when being worn than in the photo.   I had it nearly finished and ripped it back to redo the thumb as I didn't like the way is sort of sticks out nor how really small it was.   I ended up not being able to figure out a better way to do it, so I just added a few rows of ribbing on top to both keep it from splaying out and to make it longer.  I also added a few rows after the pattern and more ribbing rows to make the mitt longer.   This is the 4th try at the 2nd cuff.   First couple of tries were my mistakes and then I was half way done when I realized that there were some errors that I'd not caught when reading it over.  I think I've got it figured out this time.  The cuffs are opposite though so if it gives me any more issues, I'll just redo the right cuff and forgo the difference in patterns since I already know that there is only 1 mistake in the right cuff and I've already fixed it.

My son was grilling dinner on the deck when he called us out.    It seems that the rather yummy smells emanating from the BBQ, woke this guy up.   Until the last year or so, that knot in the big Maple tree was sealed.   Obviously though, when it broke open, this little guy moved in.   It's too bad that their cuteness doesn't make raccoons such cute little animals.   We're making sure the barn is locked up tight by dusk and being careful to put the compost out early, while the chooks will still go through it and pick out the goodies.  I really don't want him to feel too welcome around here.  I don't want him eating my chooks or causing any other issues.

  We've had a pretty orange kitty hanging around.   It's not terribly afraid of people, so I'm thinking it might be a dropped off kitty, rather than a feral barn cat.   Sadly, it's getting skinny, which means it's hunting skills aren't up to par, also why I think it might have been toss out of a vehicle, and isn't a barn cat.  Barn cats are usually pretty well fed.  It's  now got a hurt leg.   I'm hoping it stays out of the way of the raccoon and maybe I can figure out some way to slip it some food.  So far the chooks have eaten everything I've tried to set out for it.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Peppermint Patties

Oh these are so very good.    They are creamy and pepperminty and covered in chocolate goodness.  As a bonus, they are simple to make. They do have dairy in them, so too many will definitely disagree with me. But sometimes, something yummy is worth it.

This recipe made close to 50 little candies.  More or less chocolate might be needed.  I used 2 cups, but still have a dozen patties which need coating.

Easy Peppermint Patties

3/4 cup low fat sweetened condensed milk
4 cups icing sugar (powdered/confectioners - whatever you call it where you are)
1 1/2 tsp  pure peppermint extract

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (dark chocolate would be yummy too)
1 tsp shortening

Measure the condensed milk into the mixing bowl.  Add sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well.  Add the peppermint extract and mix in thoroughly.   I actually added the extract 1/2 tsp at a time, to make sure it wasn't too strong.    Once it is all blended together,  scrape the dough together and knead it a few times just to make sure it is smooth and comes together in a ball.

Line a pan with waxed paper or parchment.   Roll little balls about 1 in in diameter.   Flatten them with a fork.   Let the little peppermint rounds dry for a couple of hours, flipping once or twice to make sure they are dry on both sides. 

Melt the chocolate chips and the shortening together.  I put them in a glass bowl and used the microwave, but a metal bowl over a pot of water (bain marie or double boiler) works too.   Dip the patties in the chocolate mixture, covering both sides and letting the excess drip off.   Set on the waxed paper/parchment til the chocolate is set.

1-  I used my Kitchen Aid, but any hand mixer would work as well -  or someone with a strong mixing arm could do it with a spoon.  The dough gets pretty stiff though.

2-  It's been rainy and damp here.  Drying time took more than 2 hours, with several flips to ensure even drying

3- Some of the little patties seemed to soften and spread a bit in the warm chocolate mixture.   It just took a little extra care to get them dipped and onto the tray.

4-  2 forks made easy work of the chocolate dipping process.

5-  as the chocolate started cooling, it was making thicker coats.  I just scraped off  the excess, to try to keep a good peppermint to chocolate ratio.

6-  I used regular grocery store chocolate chips and they are really good.  I can imagine how much better they'd be using a really good brand of chocolate

Friday, 23 June 2017

Starting holiday projects

 The steam tractor was out giving wagon rides at Westfield on Father's Day.   What a cool piece of equipment but noisy!   Not the chugging as it drove around the site, but when it blew the whistle, it was really loud.   I was in a building close to the bandstand, which was cool because there was an old time band , which played fun music for the better part of the afternoon.   It threatened to rain, which probably stopped some people from visiting, but the rain held off until closing time, so the day was pretty awesome.
I've started my holiday projects.   This is a cuff for a pair of mittens.   I had to restart this after I'd made the second bobble, because the way I was reading the pattern directions, the 2 yarn overs made an extra stitch, which didn't get eliminated in the pattern.   I based the size on the hand circumference but now am wondering, as the wrist fits quite small.  It's taken more time than I expected to get this far, with still 1/4 of the pattern to go for the cuff.   Once I got all the cable details and the bobble down, it's gotten faster.

I've been weeding and mulching the garden.   I use cardboard and newspaper for mulch.   I've been told it's ugly and why do that, but it's very effective.  By the end of the season, it's starting to break down and it easily works into the garden in the springtime when we till.   I really like how it blocks the weeds so effectively and it's really inexpensive.    I tried using old straw one year, which really worked well, except a) it costs a lot more than the paper/cardboard which is usually free and b) there were so many seeds in it, that my mulch looked like a wheat field.  It kept the other weeds at bay, but I had to weed out the wheat!

The rug warp is wound on and ready to weave.   I'm spinning some of the weft for one rug, so decided to play around with some different colours.   This one is definitely being unwoven as it's really ugly.  I was looking for dark coloured sheets at thrift stores, but I didn't find any.   Old jeans would likely work as well but I'll need to take another trip to town for those.  Meanwhile I have a few yards of blue wool fabric which I might strip down for weft.  There  doesn't seem to be quite enough yardage for a skirt, so better to use it than leave it sitting there for the moths.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Painted warp and hand card catastrophe

 The past few days have been busy.  I've played in the garden.  I was so excited that the pumpkins had germinated that apparently when I was on the phone with my daughter, I yelled.   Since nothing grew in that area last summer, mainly weather issues, it was great to see the pumpkins growing this year.  I had to put a lot of sticks in the area to keep the chickens from sunbathing in the pumpkin patch.

I have finally started putting the multi coloured dyed rug warp on the loom.  I know it was a rescued warp -  a whole lot of threads removed from a guild project that wasn't working out as planned.   The threads were removed, a cross put in them and it was chained.  The cross wasn't actually a true cross.   The cross keeps the threads in order.  Without it, there are a lot of randomly bunched and messed up areas.   I did finally undo the chain and add choke ties.  What is messing me up right now is that not all of the threads were caught up in the cross, so there are loose threads periodically.   Those just get tangled up.  There was a large handful of really short bits that I found by accident and luckily didn't try to thread those, plus I caught them before I started winding on the warp.    I'm having to comb out parts of the rest as I wind it on to ease out the tangles.  It's not my favourite way to put on a warp, but it's a rescue warp, so I'm happy to get it used.  Plus, look at those awesome colours!   Pain in the patootie to dress the loom aside, the colours are fun to work with.

I did a lot of hours volunteering this week.   I went into a grade 4 classroom and answered a lot of questions about the Middle Ages.   The teacher sent me a list of questions.   I dug around and found Illuminations which illustrated the answers and did the research for the rest.  In all, the questions were really interesting and thought out.   The follow up questions from the kids in class, were also thoughtful and good.  The kids were amazingly well behaved and I enjoyed it very much.

In the grade 3 class, I did some fibre activities for the pioneer theme.  Sadly, my hand cards were damaged by the rougher kids.    I really like my handcards.  These ones have a gentle curve and the carding cloth works with a lot of different fibres.   I'm hoping they can be glued and clamped back together.  It isn't in the budget right now to replace them.  

Garden update:   The birds ate all my bean plant seedlings.... talk about unhappy!  Well the birds are happy.   I have little leafless stems sticking up from the ground, which doesn't make me happy.   They ate every single one of them!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Painted Rug Warp

This is the 11 1/2 yard white rug warp which I ended up with when last month when we were clearing out the guild room.   It was stark white and while it would have made perfectly fine rugs.  With the denim and solids I have on hand for the weft, they would have been plain, serviceable rugs.  My imagination started working, so I dug out the Procion MX dyes and mixed up a set of primary colours at 2%.  I used 2% strength, only because that was what I'd previously mixed up and the storage jars were already labelled that way.   It ended up being a better idea as I needed less dye volume, and was easier to work with.

I started taking a series of photos, but conditions weren't conducive to good pictures.  It was a grey, really cool day, threatening rain.   It was also very windy.   Every time I grabbed the camera, something tried to blow away.   Since I was working on the deck due to the size of this project, in the ended up just playing.  

I used Procion MX Fibre Reactive dyes, which give lovely colours and are relatively safe to use.   The one downside is there is a bit of rinsing since the dyes bond both with the water and the fibre.  The upside is you don't need any heat to set the dyes.  

I draped plastic wrap on the patio table to both protect the table and to use to wrap the warp chain in afterwards to keep it damp and protected.   It would have been smarter to use a sheet of plastic like a cheap table cloth, vapour barrier or an old shower curtain to protect the table.  The syringes were a gift from Carol who has Alpaca ( and a brand new cria which was born yesterday)  Yay!   They are perfect for measuring out dye for painting the warp.   I like that I can dilute the dyes as well, but filling half the syringe with water and then just adding the dye.  This makes it easier to adjust shades.  The plastic wrap wasn't enough to actually seal the dyes in the chain, so there was a bit of seepage and some of my oranges and bright yellows are more burgandy and brown.   I let the warp sit and cure for 48 hours because it never really got warm.  Cooler temperatures equal longer curing times for good colours.  The warp is still damp, so it won't be quite as bright as this when it's dry.

I wasn't really going for any particular colour range. I didn't measure rug lengths and change colours for each rug, or even plan anything ahead of time.   In my mind I saw rugs with bright splashes of colour to add interest.   I'm pretty sure I've accomplished that with this warp. Now I just hope  the finished product looks as exciting as the pictures in my imagination.

The sad thing is that I will most likely not be selling these rugs or any of my handcrafted items at the guild shows this fall.   My guild is spectacularly unsupportive of hand spinners, which is mainly due to the attitude of a small number of members.  I've been told that no items will be allowed which are made with hand spun yarn as all hand spun items are only suitable for church bazaar items (meant in a derogatory manner).   Most other guilds who have spinners, don't seem to have an issue with this but apparently ours does and I'm only allowed to put in skeins of hand spun yarn.   So rather than change what I do, I'll just change the venue where I sell items.   It makes me unhappy in a way, as I do a lot to support the guild, and the commission would help the guild bring in speakers and pay for a new site when we find one.  The upside is that I'll likely have less commission to pay and may be able to put a wider variety of items for sale, especially if I go the Etsy or FB page sales route.   I just need to figure out how to set those things up.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A couple of quick projects

Half of the Polar Vortex, Blue Faced Leicester sliver has been spun.   If I'd chain plied it, the colour changes were long enough to make a pretty rotation of solid colours.  However I didn't want a 3 ply yarn, so I just plied it together and called it good.  It's a little bit brighter than the photo shows, but it's pretty enough.  I have a pattern for mittens which seems like a good match for this yarn.

The purse I whipped up last year before holidays was starting to fray at the zipper.   Since I'd wanted a small denim bag and had only a part of a single pant leg on hand, that is what I used.   Considering it took about 30 minutes in total to figure out what I was doing, sew the whole thing together, including lining with a welted, zippered pocket and a zipper to close the whole bag, I'm pretty happy it lasted this long.    But instead of repairing it as it's more of a functional bag than fun and attractive, I decided to make a new one.

This one is also made from recycled denim, but I had a whole pair of jeans to work with.   I really wish I had time to make a denim strap for it, however due to time constraints, I used a bit of nylon webbing.   I'm also refinishing a little kitchen island workbench, packing, doing stuff for my son who's moving tomorrow, just brewed a batch of beer and my sweetie is home on holidays, which seems to make less available time for projects.   I'm hoping I'll sit down and make the denim strap next week, but since we're off to a Jays game and a concert tomorrow, I opted for the quick fix.   Because I lined the bag, with the obligatory zippered welt pocket for my keys and a patch pocket for other stuff, it took a bit more effort.  There are a few miss-steps, but in all, it's cute, fun and is quite roomy compared to the bags I've been using lately.  The lining matches the belt.

 Both apple trees blossomed this year, although the new one bloomed in two stages, half just after the Northern Spy had finished blooming.   I've no idea if anything got pollinated, as we had so much wet, windy weather I don't remember seeing any bees around at all.  I guess time will tell.   But aren't they pretty, whether or not we get any apples this year.   A friend of mine has an apple press and knows of an abandoned orchard.  She's thinking we should get together for an apple pressing day.  Wouldn't that be fun!

Friday, 26 May 2017

What happend at home...

 While I was away last weekend, I received text updates, with photos on what my boys were doing at home.  They were installing the counters.  Friday night I got the photo of the installed counters, without the sink.  On Sunday morning, the sink and tap had been installed, all the caulking dried and it was complete.  I'm sure my friends were tired of me showing them the tiny, phone photos, but it all came together so much faster than I'd anticipated.

   I absolutely love the counters!  They're just formica trimmed with maple, but they look great.     There are only a few things left to do in the kitchen.  We're putting bulkheads in over the counters.  This is because there were some there before and the previous owners didn't bother to finish the whole ceiling last time, just up to the bulkheads, so it's either redo the whole ceiling or redo them like the original kitchen.   It's less work to remake them than to redo the whole ceiling.   We need the trim around the window, doorways and floor.   There are two cabinets which need to be remade which go on either side of the
sink.  Who knows when that will get done.  Because of a last minute choice to frame in the outside wall for extra insulation, the previously made cabinets are too big. We're using them elsewhere though.

I do love my kitchen now!   It's bright, cheery, easy to work in and enjoyable to just hang out in there.

We also got the first load of wood in.   In the past, we've gotten the logs already chopped up, but sometimes the lengths are too long for the stove, but not long enough to be chopped in to two pieces.   This time they just dumped the whole logs.   When the dump truck drove into the yard, my old kitty ran off to hide in a bedroom.  Keven though, ran to the window.  He watched the truck drive up, was intrigued by the whole dumping process and watched the driver and Al while they chatted and talked about taking down a large tree in the yard.  It was rather peculiar cat behaviour, as he's so curious and interested in what happens, rather than hiding or ignoring things.    I wonder how long it will take to chop up and split the logs?

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Fruits of Our Labours

I was away for the Victoria Day weekend again this year.   I go to FOOL or Fruits of Our Labours, an SCA event dedicated to teaching arts and sciences.    It's always lots of fun.  I always drag along a spinning wheel, but hardly ever have time to actually spin.  This year I got about an hour of spinning in but really nothing to bother even showing.

On Saturday though, we did some natural dyeing.  We mordanted with alum, iron and copper.   We dyed with ferns, cochineal, dandelion and bedstraw.   The bedstraw was disappointing in that it didn't give us any colour at all.   It wasn't quite flowering yet and the dye vat water was literally colourless after almost an hour of cooking.    It was quite cool and windy, and we were outside, so it's possible the bedstraw just didn't get enough time in the pot.   The cochineal vat though, was awesome.   We got beautiful pinks and purples.  There was much dye left in the pot and I sent it home with one of the people in the class.
The results from the fern dye pot were also disappointing.   I think that is my fault for allowing only 4 hours from start to finish and with the weather being cool and breezy, we just didn't have time to do it all in the outdoor class.   My previous results with ferns were soft but bright gorgeous greens.

We had results - some good and some not so good but still, we had results and those pinks and purples are really luscious.

Orla, one of the gals in our group is mundanely, a jewellery maker.  Her work is gorgeous.   Several years now, she's run an enameling class.   A couple of years ago, I made a little cloisonne pin.  This year I did an etched pin, based on an Anglo-Saxon original.  It's the one on the left which looks awful because it had just been heated to cherry red with the blow torch, to melt the glass onto the copper and it's just cooling down in this photo.   I ran out of time to get it finished, so it went home with the instructor and I'll fetch it at a later date.

There were a couple of other classes that I wanted to take, but with teaching on Saturday and the weather streaming down rain all day Sunday, I ended up not doing all I'd hoped.  Still, it was a great weekend and we've already started planning next year's event.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Fawn fleece in the garage

My sweetie was cleaning the garage yesterday and found a plastic bag full of obviously forgotten fibre.   It was likely cold so I had him put it in the upper loft area of the garage for storage and forgot about it.    It's labelled fawn, so it's probably Shetland.   It's definitely brown but isn't sold brown.  There are pale browns, creams and some tan/grey looking areas.   It has a lot of VM, but much of it seems to be larger bits, which are easier to get out.  The lanolin has hardened, so it was difficult to tell how soft it was.   I'd obviously used some of this as when I unrolled it, there seemed to be a missing bit.

The staple length is all over the spectrum.   Some areas are only a couple of inches long -  leg and belly maybe?   Except that the leg areas would have been skirted off and the belly as well, since it's usually pretty icky with bits you don't want to bother with.   Some areas have a stable length of close to 6 inches.   That is a huge variation. 

Because of how it looks to have a definitely break of colour in the locks, I'm thinking it's a double coat - with both the white and the brown fibres, except that the brown doesn't go all the way up to the cut end - weird.

So I put a bit of fibre in a laundry lingerie bag and washed it - then realized that I'd use the same amount of soap and degreaser for a laundry tub full, so filled 4 more bags up and washed those as well.    It's all hanging to dry, either in the bags on the line, or it's laid out on the rack, inside to dry.  It's so windy out there, less than yesterday when I washed it, but still, if it's not pegged down, it would definitely end up in the neighbour's field.

This morning I processed a small handful of the now clean and dry fibre.  I picked out the larger stuff, used hand cards to make rolags, but did a few passes first, to shake out a bit more of the smaller VM.   The two colours are definitely separate fibres, which blended nicely on the hand cards.    I should have taken a photo of the rolags as they were quite beautiful.  The fibre is super soft and fine but has some neps in it.   I figured it would be the brown weathered tips, but they are all white.   I'm wondering if maybe the sheepie was starting to roo and those little neps were bits of the new coat coming in. 

The neps and some of the fleece length differential caused spinning to be a little fussy at some times.   I used a tradition longdraw with the rolags and thought it would be a horribly uneven yard.  It's not though.  It's quite consistent and look at that lovely heathery look too the yarn.  So different than the original fleece.   It's soft and pretty.    It will be fun to play with. 

Friday, 12 May 2017

A Woolly Week

 I found 2 little bags of  Corriedale leftover from level 6 Master Spinner.   It's got just the right amount of grease and absolutely no VM.  It took no time at all to wash up.  I washed one bit up just loose and it took only 2 washes and rinses to get it spectacularly clean.  To wash the second bit, I separated the individual locks and put them into my little screen envelopes.   It took a third rinse to get these clean.  They are super white and absolutely gorgeous.   As there isn't very much of it, I'm thinking I should blend it with something else.   Sometimes washing fleece can bet a bit tedious, especially if there is a humongous amount of it.  With these two little baggies, it was super fast and fun.   Now to decide what to do with it.

All the Blue Faced Leicester has been spun and plied.  There are a few grams left that I will put towards another project, but for the most part, the whole bag is spun into 3 large skeins.  One skein has 432 yards but I haven't counted the other 2 skeins, which look to be slightly smaller.  I think I will wind a bunch of 10 yard skeins to use for a nature dyeing class that I'm giving next weekend.  

 I look for something pretty to spin, which wasn't white and wasn't Ramie or silk.   I found this bit of Blue Faced Leicester that I'd dyed a while ago, during that horribly cold winter, when it never warmed up for months.   I named the colourway Polar Vortex when I'd dyed it.   Now I'm spinning it up.   I wasn't sure what I was going to use it for though, so I'm spinning it fairly fine and then can use it for socks or for weaving.

There is nothing on the loom right now.   I wish there were, but soon I hope.   The sheet of formica that was in front of my warping board has now been applied to countertops - yay!   Said counters should be ready to install this weekend - Happy Mother's Day to me or by next at the latest.  

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Just a few little projects

I finished the bobbin of Blue Faced Leicester  singles.  I wound them into a centre pull ball and plied the two ends together.   There is lots of controversy over plying from a centre pull ball.  Some people say the grain or twist is different.  Others say that you get these little twisty tails from this method.    I've even had someone tell me it was just plain wrong and didn't work. 
This is the way I was taught, so plying from 2 bobbins took some effort.  Until I learned to control the tension of the two bobbins, I'd get those tails from that method.    One risk with a centre pull ball, is that with fine singles, the centre core can become tangled as it collapses in on itself.   To counter act that, you can put something in the centre of the ball to hold it secure.  Sometimes I'll wind the ball on a core like a toilet paper roll.  Other times, I'll slip my thumb in there, or more often these days, I use a piece of well sanded dowel.  As long as you keep your tension even for both threads or ends, no matter what method you use, you should get an even ply, with no little tails sticking out from it.  My conclusion is that use whatever method works for you. 

This afternoon I bottled the light amber ale which was in the fermenting bucket.  I have decided that I don't like using the bucket, because I need help getting the stupid lid off it.   I purchased a spigot and at some point I will turn it into a bottling bucket.   I'm not certain that I like the bottling wand and siphon method.  My bottling wand valve sometimes gets stuck, so that I have overflow and a bit of a mess.  Putting a hose clamp on the top of the bottling wand, where the siphon hose attaches, stopped the excess air getting in while siphoning and the siphon actually worked a treat this time.  Yay!    It should be carbonated by the long weekend in May. The recipe called for chocolate malt, but the recipe description suggested it was an amber ale.   I'm pretty sure I'll be more careful with using chocolate malts as this batch is pretty dark.

I made gluten free gingersnaps, which turned out quite well and are really delicious.  I put chocolate chips in 1/3 of the batch, but really, they were just as good without.   I'll put the recipe up later, because it finally stopped raining and there is so much to do.

More BFL on the wheel.  Nothing on the loom, but lots of ideas.   The formica is now on the counter top and not in front of my warping board, so that at least gives me options.   Finished and installed kitchen counters are so close that I've been told to research back splash materials..... squee!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Lots of cotton, a little wool

I've finished spinning the 100 g of natural green cotton.   I'd forgotten to divide it up in half before I started spinning, so part way through, I took 50 g off the end of the sliver and hoped it was good enough.  Sometimes the labelled weight is a few grams off, or more than a few, which can make a difference in the spun yardage.   In this case though, I had only a 3 yard or so difference in bobbin yardage, so all was good.  

The light skein is 227 yards of 2 ply cotton before it was wet finished.  The darker green is 345 yards of the same cotton after wet finishing.   I simply tossed the skein in a pot of water and simmered it for about 40 minutes.    I so love the colour changes with coloured cotton after wet finishing.   Be aware though that white cotton can turn off white or tan after simmering.

I put some roving mill ends, which I'm pretty sure are superwash BFL with a bit of nylon on the Minstrel.   I am doing some natural dyeing on the long weekend in May and thought maybe I could get enough spun for the dye pots.   Just in case, I'm going to hunt down some commercial white wool yarn as well.    I'm planning on having 4-6 dyes going, using several different mordants and maybe some after dips for colour changes.   We'll need a bunch of yarn for all that.

Our weaving/spinning guild has to move.   We've got almost everything packed up but decided to thin out a bunch of our stash.  We had 8 stacking bins of stuff that no-one had touched in years, as well as a huge tote of donated bits.   I was looking at a bag with a warp in in, wondering what I could do with it, when Judy gave me another bag and said here, this one says 2 warps.   They came home with me, since I'd been complaining that there is a 4 x 8 sheet of formica on the floor in front of my warping board, so I can't wind any warps.

Only one warp was labelled and it was with an approximate end count.  The other 2 had no labels at all.   No wonder they sat in that bin for ever.  How could anyone figure out what to do with them, with no info!  This morning  I counted ends and measured yardage.   They are all different.   One is probably 2/8 stark white cotton, is 11 yards long and would only be wide enough for mug rugs.   11 yards of mug rugs - eek.     The next one is only 3 yards long but has 298 ends and finally a 6 yard warp with 208 ends, in what looks like mercerized cotton.  It's not like I can even mix them together to make something wider because of the length differences.  The 11 yard warp has a cross only at one end, or I could have easily cut it in half and doubled it up.   Right now it's really only wide enough for mug rugs and really, who would want to do 11 yards of mug rugs.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Signs of spring

 There are signs that spring is really here!  There are leaves on many of the trees.  In town, where it seems to leaf up a little earlier than out in the country, there is already a canopy of green.  The magnolia trees were flowering and so beautiful.  Magnolias are a bit of an iffy proposition as we can get late frosts which stop the flowering abruptly some years.

The leaves are bursting forth out in the country too.  This photo was taken a few days ago.  Yesterday there was the slightest green haze on the trees, but today, they are that bright spring green.  So pretty!
The currant bushes are getting ready to flower.  The one on the left is a native currant bush while the one on the right is a European currant variety.   Both are supposed to be hardy in this area.

The tulips are in full bloom today, but yesterday they were just starting to open.  The sunny daffodils have been happily blooming for a few days now.

These are some of the Japanese Indigo seeds that I started early this year, in hopes of getting them to seed.  I transplanted the seedlings into several larger pots.  This one is doing the best.  You can see that the leaves already have a bluish cast to them, so they are developing pigment.  I need to transplant them again, into a larger pot which will go outside, but there is still too much of a frost risk to do so yet.  They are doing much better than I'd expected, so this is making me very happy. 

The Hyacinths are out in full force.  They are beautiful and I love the scent.  However it's been grey, dull and too cool for the scent to throw far, or it's been warm and too windy.  Either way, I get to see them, but having a cup of tea on the deck, surrounded by the scent of the Hyacinths has not happened yet this year.