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September 17, 2021

How Time Flies!

I wanted to knit a new winter toque.   The pattern called for a heavy worsted weight yarn.    I tried with a commercial yarn but it wasn't heavy enough, plus the colour didn't rock my world.   The pattern has a wide, cabled band.  I hunted through my stash and found some merino which I thought was an appropriate grist, which I'd spun worsted.  A worsted spun yarn would give really nice definition to the cables.   First, I dyed the white yarn to a mottled ecru colour.    It was nice and I liked it.   I started knitting and the cables looked wonderful.  By the time I was at the final 10 rows, I was questioning my choice.  The yarn was obviously just a tad bigger than needed, so even with my choosing a smaller size, the hat was too big.   Plus, this was a robust yarn.   My hat was really heavy!   So it's been frogged, with nary a photo for remembering it.

I made and canned salsa.  The recipe said it should thicken up with about 10 minutes of boiling.   It took over an hour.   Next time, I'll just run all the veggies through my food processor to rough chop as hand chopping took forever.  I have enough for half our winter needs though.

Apricot jam made from an 1832 recipe for Apricot Marmalade.   It's very delicious.   Apricots were crazy expensive at the market this year so it's also the most expensive jam I've ever made.   It's a good thing it's so tasty!  Just to mention that I've no problem using grocery store fruit, but I only found imported apricots this year and no little baskets or containers of local apricots.   I was happy to find them at the market.




This bowl of garden fresh tomatoes and basil became a really good marinara sauce.  I didn't peel the tomatoes though.  I just chopped them up, added some onion, garlic, parsley, carrot, zucchini, and a bit of dried italian spice.  I tossed everything in the slow cooker and set it on low.  I stirred it twice, otherwise ignoring it.   About an hour before it was done, I shredded and added the basil leaves.   I liked it as is, although hubby added some chopped leftover hamburger patty to it.  It was good day one, but it was spectacular on day two.   There are several meals of pasta sauce in the freezer too!

This is a bad photo of this year's bounty of canned tomatoes.   I ended up with 38 pints.   I actually ran out of clear jars and had to use a green glass jar, so one of the jars looks like it has ugly brownish tomatoes in it.  I'm aiming to using that one first.

Hubby has been chopping and splitting wood.  Not only did we get several loads of logs delivered, but a huge willow tree dropped a couple of branches on the neighbour's field, so he was out there cleaning up that as well.   The neighbour is in his 90's.  It really seems like there are not a lot of young independent farmers out there.






 

August 29, 2021

Garden happenings


 I harvested this handful of cotton a few days ago, from the two cotton plants I over wintered.   There have been a few bolls ready to harvest over the past few months, but these all popped at the same time!  I now have a sandwich baggie full of home grown cotton and two very straggly, ugly cotton plants.   I'm not sure if I'm going to over winter them again.   Our climate really doesn't support the growth of cotton and it's not like I'm getting a superb harvest from my potted plants.


There are a couple of milkweed plants growing in the garden, hidden in with the madder plants.   This year I saw a monarch butterfly caterpillar.     Oddly enough, this is the first time I've seen one in the wild, on a milkweed, where they're supposed to be.  I was pretty happy and hopefully it survived to make a cocoon.

I was in the garden, picking a tomato and realized that the whole top part of one of the plants was missing.   It was like it had been snipped off.  There were several other branches lower down that were stripped off all their leaves. 

After careful checking I found this tomato hornworm, another caterpillar I'd never seen before.  This thing was huge.  It must have been almost 4 inches long!  My sweetie snipped the branch it was on and tried to feed it to the chooks, but they wanted nothing to do with it. 

I looked them up and apparently they eat pepper plants as well.  I wonder if they were responsible for a couple of my pepper plants just disappearing over night?   I was definitely not as happy about seeing this beast as I was the monarch caterpillar.

I made english muffins from scratch.   I used a recipe from 1859.  It was quite easy with delicious results.





July 30, 2021

Filling the Pantry

 More flax has been spun and more is being spun.   I'm still spinning it as singles.  It's still enjoyable spinning.  I'm almost done another 100g bag of long flax.   It's going fairly quickly, but as I'm wet spinning it, I need to take breaks to let my fingers dry out or they get all wrinkly and uncomfortable.     I checked my container of hand spun linen skeins and I'm pretty sure I have enough to weave something.  I just need to decide what to weave.

A friend called up and asked if I wanted her excess garden produce as they were heading out on holidays, and didn't want to leave the veggies to grow too large to use.    I ended up with a ton of cucumbers, zucchini and some beans.

First, I found apricots at the market, so ended up making an 1832 jam recipe for Apricot Marmalade.  It's very yummy.  Then I made cucumber relish.   I'm still trying to decide whether to make a second batch or not.   It's a bit time consuming though.   


After the cucumber relish, I made bread and butter pickles and finally zucchini relish.  We should be set for a while.



July 23, 2021

dyes and flax loooove!

 I totally can't believe that almost a month has passed since my last post.    I've been busy but still feel like I haven't accomplished much.   As well, we've had a lot of rainy and stormy weather which tends to knock our wifi connection out until the weather clears again, making blog updates difficult.    The weather has been really odd.  Flowers are blooming early and our trees look like they do at the end of the summer.   

The garden has been a partial success.   The green beans and salad greens have loved the straw bales.   I've had issues getting cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, beets and carrots started, not because of the bales, but because something was eating all the young plants down the night after they sprouted.   Next year I'll have to work out some way to protect all the seedlings; maybe cloches pinned down or something.

After an extra week of delays due to backorders, the new dishwasher has arrived.   It also arrived while my sweetie was working from home, so while I had an afternoon with the hookers (rug hookers) in the park, he installed it on his break.   He told me that there was an issue with it though as it was so quiet that he couldn't tell if it was running!

I did some spinning.  I finished up the superwash merino.    Then  I did a sample dye vat of Japanese Indigo, to  see what sort of colour it had.  Just a bit early maybe, and I was using up old Thiox, so it was a bit of an iffy experiment.    But there was colour, lots of colour.    

I dyed 2 skeins of the superwash merino.   It is a lovely soft blue.  I'm happy with this colour.   My indigo vat wasn't fully reduced.   I'm thinking it was the old Thiox, but it could have been that I jumped the gun a bit on timing as well, so it may not have had the extra time needed to be fully useable.   Still, it's the sort of blue one would expect from a woad or indigo vat, so yay for that.    

Then I shoved a handful of merino/cashmere/silk in the vat to see how much dye was left.  The photo is actually a bit lighter blue that in reality.   It's super soft of course, but the colour is lovely.   After this came out of the vat, there was more colour, however after a late start, the light was fading, so I ended it there.

A day trip to the Fibre Garden , my favourite spinning supply store was my birthday present.   I got some extra heddles for the 8 shaft table loom and some lovely Finn sliver.   Best though, was some long line flax.    Flax strick is really difficult to find here, but sometimes the shop has some long flax sliver.  It's processed, but with 12 inch lengths of flax.  It's super slick to spin and really it feels like it spins itself.    

I absolutely love spinning this stuff.   It feels like flax. It spins somewhat close to spinning strick spins like.  And it smells like flax.    This skein is 76g of long line flax sliver.   There were 3 packets in the shop.  I came home with all 3 of them.   

Hiking, jam making and other things have happened.   I'll try to post things more frequently.



June 30, 2021

One of those weeks...


 Gooseberries and a few black currants are topped and tailed.  I've popped them in the freezer for now.   I didn't weigh them yet.   However, I'm fairly certain that with what I have from last year, combined with this haul, there will be enough for a batch of gooseberry jam.  

There are more berries on the bush and I might get around to getting them.   I pick the berries just before they are ripe.   The first couple of years here I waited until they were ready to pick and they were eaten before I could get to them.  It seemed like there was a full bush one afternoon and by the next morning the bush was fully stripped of berries.    So vexing!

This year I've left the red currants for the birds.  I got the first harvest of the white currants, but today I realized that the birds had eaten the rest of them.  So much for that.  The black currants are just ripening.   There are raspberries beginning to turn red.  The blackberries flowered a bit early and some of them already have fruit, albeit very green fruit yet.  There should be blueberries in a week or two.   If I get around to picking them, the wild black raspberries may give a good harvest too as there are a lot of volunteer brambles this year.

My sweeties truck spent a bit of time in the shop getting fixed.   Then my car needed a routine

servicing.   I didn't want to wait at the dealership while it was getting an oil change.  They do manage to fit simple tasks like an oil change in, but I've waited 2 hours for it to get done and really didn't want to risk that happening.   As well, they are a bit laissez-faire about sanitizing.  The iffy mask wearing and the wiping down of things with a few squirts of cleaner on a dirty rag icked me out. So I had my sweetie pick me up and while I waited, we went for a walk along the river.   It was so nice.  The weather was perfect.  There was enough breeze to keep the mosquitos away too. 

 I'm switching the servicing of my car to my sweeties mechanic, as the rather rude call after I got home, demanding that I fill out a survey and give them the score they wanted, before I knew the questions that would be asked, really turned me off.   

The dishwasher died.   It's been faultless for over 10 years but the electronics have gone screwy.   Sadly, we don't think it's worth fixing.   I've discovered it's a joyless task looking for new appliances.   Half of them have delivery dates for the fall.  A bunch more just aren't in stock, with no timeline as to when they'll be back in stock.     I can't seem to get curbside pick up set up.  Nope, I don't want you to install it for some stupidly outrageous price when I have people who can do that living here.  Argh.   I want to just stash my dishes, press a button and come back later when they're clean.   I don't want to wait until September or October to be able to do this!

The the clothes washer started making weird squealing noises.    It's never ending...


 



June 20, 2021

Just playing around with colour

I found a ziplock baggie with 89g of white merino stashed away.   It wasn't in a place where I expected it to be.   I pulled out the slow cooker which never got hot enough to actually finish cooking whatever food was in it, and put in a couple of inches of water, and a few glugs of white vinegar.  I put the merino roving in to the slow cooker to soak for a bit, then turned it on and added some red and yellow dye.

I'm happy to say that while I never actually was able to finish cooking a meal in this slow cooker as it never seemed to get hot enough, it did an admirable job with dyeing.   I did keep a check on it now and again, but I was pretty much worry free.   After a few hours in the pot and the dye was exhausted, I turned off the crock pot and let it cool down overnight.   The next morning I pulled out this lovely flame coloured roving.    Yay for colour!

Then in the same box, of odds and ends, I found a bag of purple and pink mill ends which I'd dyed a while ago.  I didn't feel like dragging out the drum carder, so I just pre-drafted the bits that I could and hand carded the rest.  

Once I'd finished spinning the second bobbin of cotton, and plying the two for 318 yards of white 2 ply  cotton,  I started spinning the purple/pink.   I'm on the second bobbin so will hopefully get to start plying soon.   There isn't a lot of it but it's pretty and after spinning all sorts of white fibres over the past few months, it has been a joy to play with colour.

Playing with colour and paints.   The top row is trying out a new set of watercolours in pans.  The bottom row of cards is using the old gouache paints I've had for ages.  So much fun!


June 14, 2021

Spinning

This is 298 yards of 2 ply merino.   It's lace weight and I haven't yet spun enough of it to use it for any real project.  Maybe a scarf could be made from this, but I really, really don't like knitting scarves.  I'd want much more yardage in order to weave scarves.  If I'm going to dress the loom for a scarf, I'd better have enough supplies for 2, 3 or better yet, 4 scarves.  Same amount of work to dress the loom,  for more woven items!   

It's super soft, bouncy and I've no idea what to use it for.    

I was a bit tired of spinning fine white yarn though, so I dug through some of the bits and pieces looking for some dyed wool.   I found absolutely nothing in the way of dyed wool roving in my stash.   How did I let that happen?   Next I thought that I'd spin some flax. Spinning flax and cotton are both fibres I need to practice periodically.   Since I spin neither of these fibres as much as I do wool, I like to keep my spinning muscle memory active.  I can always tell when it's been too long as it takes me a few yards to get warmed up and spinning them comfortably.


I had this idea to spin some flax.  I set up my wheel for flax spinning.  I filled my lovely little pottery flax water pot and hung it on the wheel.   Then I routed through my stash for some flax, but instead grabbed a bag of Egyptian cotton sliver.   Why I changed my mind, I don't know.   It's not like I don't like spinning cotton.  I love it.  It's a fairly fast spinning fibre, using a point of contact long draw.   I spin it relatively well.  What I don't really love is this particular cotton sliver.  It's white.  It's commercially prepared, so while it's relatively long staple, about 1 1/4 inch, it's super slick and slippery.   It takes a bit more effort to get it to spin nicely than the coloured cotton rovings which are processed with a bit of crimp left in, making them easy to spin.

I started off spinning this years ago, by making punis from sliver, to give it that little bit of tension which made it easier to spin.   A puni is a very tight, small rolag.   You roll the fibre off the handcarders, using a thin dowel as a puni core to get the cotton fibres rolled tightly.    Then you slide the dowel out and the puni is ready to spin.     It's been a while  since I've spun this particular cotton sliver, so I'd totally forgotten that I needed to make punis.   After spinning a few yards though, I realized that I didn't actually have to make punis and I was spinning it just fine.   I guess practice does make perfect.

I emptied 3 bobbins with flax singles on them.   It took a while, which was why I'd kept putting this
chore off.  It's done and they are stashed with the rest of my spun flax/linen yarn, for a future project.  I also dug through the bin and noticed that I'd been tossing in the bags of flax fibre.  I'd thought I was out of flax, but nope, I have some left.  I'd just hidden it.

Yes, the flax is pretty much the same colour as the weathered board.   Maybe a little browner, but washed out because at the particular moment I snapped the shutter, the sun came out!