March 29, 2023

Flowers, for a few days

Tiny, very early crocuses.  

 How did I manage to actually lose photos from my phone?  We had a few lovely days and some very small, early crocuses bloomed.  I had taken a great photo of them.  It was a day to let the chooks out and hubby was out cooking down syrup, saw them and sent me a photo, which shows them munched on by the girls.  I loved that he was so thoughtful to make sure I saw the flowers though.   I lost a few other photos too, mostly of my first day back cooking at Westfield for the Maple Syrup season.

Just as a note, those crocuses are buried beneath more snow today.  We had a crazy cold front blow in, with wild winds, and limited visibility.  I couldn't see across the road this afternoon, because of the heavy, blowing snow.

Sunday was my first day back at Westfield.  I was in the Misener house, which has an awesome wood cook stove, by William Buck Stove Company.  It's called the Happy Thoughts stove, and it's so pretty.  It works well too, for a woodstove that was made in 1880 or thereabouts.   I made maple gingerbread, maple "not baked" beans, because we were using the oven all day and I had to cook them on top of the stove, and maple butter tarts.   A few of the tarts were a bit over cooked because so many people were streaming through that sometimes we couldn't get to the oven in time.  Also, the only downside of this stove is that the heat from the firebox makes the one side of the oven much hotter than the other, so if you don't turn the baked goods quickly enough, and your oven is a tad too hot, it burns quickly on one side.

I picked up a cast iron waffle iron. It's not antique, nor is it a reproduction.  It's a modern one.  They had two designs, one with short cast iron handles and this one with longer handles.  Hubby convinced me to get the long handle one as he thought it would be safer, and more versatile.   However, it was unseasoned, and this meant I couldn't season it in the oven.  It would need to be done outside, in a campfire or on the bbq.

It was a bit of an ordeal because unseasoned cast iron usually comes with a wax coating on it, which needs to be removed before use.   I scrubbed and scrubbed, but couldn't remove it.   Since hubby been's boiling sap, I was able to put the waffle iron on the campfire to melt off the wax.  I actually put the pieces right beside the burning logs, left it 15 minutes, and turned to get the other side.   Then I had to move the very hot irons into the house, let them cool and rub them with oil.  Back out to the fire and let them heat up again for some time.   The instructions said 15 minutes, but I probably left it longer.   I did that twice.   I was going to take them to Westfield, because they would work well with maple syrup season, but then worried that they could be messy or the learning curve might be too big for a busy day, so decided to wait until a slower day.  I'm looking forward to playing with them.  I'm looking up recipes in the meantime, to find some which might work well.  

March 16, 2023

Transferware - reproduction and original

 A week and a half ago I had a morning appointment.  Hubby took the day off, so we made a day of it.  He suggested going to browse at an antique mall.   The one he suggested was in the same city as my appointment.  When we drove by it though, it had moved into a swanky, glittery new building.   We both looked at each other and said nope.  Instead we drove home, ate our picnic in the park watching the geese and ducks on the mostly frozen waterway.   Then we headed to a local antique mall, in an old factory building. 

  I was being very good.  I ignored the oil lamps, although there were a couple which caught my eye.  I ignored the old sewing machines, but that wasn't difficult as there was only one and it was way over priced.   Instead I was after transfer ware.  Reproduction transfer ware to be exact.  I wanted some crockery to display my historic recipe experiments more appropriately.   There were a lot of blue willow pattern dishes out there, nicely made and definitely newer.  The bonus is that they weren't horribly expensive.  While I love blue and white ware,  and I like the pattern, there are other colours of the willow pattern that I like even more.  This pattern also came in green, brown, pink and red, although the pink and red may just be the same colour.  I found one solitary red bowl.   I also picked up 2 pieces of transferware from the 1930's, a purple Johnsons Brothers plate which was $2, and a blue transferware serving plate by Masons, which was $12, a bit more than I'd normally pay for a plate, but I was taken by it's shape and charm.

I also found a blue pyrex pie plate.   I'd seen one in the autumn when we'd done a quick pass through the antique mall, priced at $20, but passed it by.   When I got  home I'd regretted not purchasing it.   Way back when, I picked up a green glass pie plate.  It was more than I'd pay for one, and money was tight, but I love coloured glass, so I splurged.  I used it extensively, still do in fact.   A few years later they came out with a red glass pie plate, which I wanted to buy but couldn't justify the expense at the time.  Then the cobalt blue one came out.  I so much wanted to buy it, but again, the original glass pie plate was still in great condition and I couldn't justify buying it.   But while we were out browsing that day, there was another cobalt one which had been reduced from $32, to $20, so I grabbed it.   I'm still happy about it.  It's so pretty.

March 04, 2023

A Jumble of Things


I realized that the placement of the border flowers wasn't working with the size of the hoop I was using to hook with.   I kept having to adjust things to not crush the flower centres, which are large sequins.   I dragged out the PVC frame which hubby had made me, but I wasn't using because I need another couple of clamps to hold the rug secure for hooking it.   However, the border is narrow enough that it worked well when I tried it.   It saves the sequins from getting crushed, and holds it tight enough in the area I need for hooking.   

There is an issue though, that proves to stop my hooking completely.  I set up the frame, tighten the rug down the rug.  As soon as Phil notices, he watches until I reach for my hook and wool.  Then he flies up, and settles under the frame for a nap.  Silly kitty...

On the plus side, using this frame when there isn't a cat hiding under it has made the border hook quite quick.  The first 3 sides are almost complete, so Yay!

After a huge fiasco when I ordered my Pysanky dyes this year, I've finally been able to start writing the eggs.   I'd ordered the dyes at the beginning of February.  The store sent them, but neglected to send me the promised tracking number, so I didn't know they'd been sent, and apparently delivered.  However they weren't delivered to me, despite the shops insistence.   Finally they sent me the tracking number, which enabled me to use the post office's miserable virtual assistance, to find out that they had put the wrong address on it.  It was back to the store, where they said that they'd resend the packet, and then decided that they should charge me a second time.  I was nope, I'm not paying twice for one package because you made the mistake.   I had to dig up all the documentation for them, to see that I had indeed paid, and they were "oops, it slipped my mind".   Needless to say, as much as I've purchased from them before, I'll be searching out a new supplier and only using this store if I actually go to the city to shop in person.

The sap is running.    We have some buckets out but I think it's too early.  Hubby is happy with the timing though and since he does most of the boiling down, his opinion has a bit more weight than mine.    He took the buckets down yesterday afternoon because a big storm was blowing in, with snow, snow thunder and winds.

 The storm dumped almost 30 cm of snow on us: heavy, wet snow.  It took him all morning in a couple of shifts to clear the driveway and blow out paths to the bird feeder and barn. Today the skies were blue and the sun was shining.   It was hard to believe that they said we had blizzard conditions for hours last night.

February 21, 2023

What's up with this rug?

I belong to a rug hooking guild.  Next year is it's 50th anniversary, and the club is doing a huge show at the art gallery.    There are going to be 2 rooms, one for the history of rug hooking in our area and the other to showcase members rugs.  We have some spectacularly talented rug hookers.   I'm a rank beginner in comparison.  However, most of my rugs are my own design.  There's one in particular I've been asked to finish up as it's a bit of a different design.   I drew my own pattern and dyed much of the wool used for it, so it unique in a number of ways.   

Phil sleeping on the rug while I made tea
The border is fairly simple, just flowers with the dark blue background.  I wanted to use Shisha mirrors as the centre of the flowers, but the only ones I could find were going to have to be ordered, with a stupid long delivery time.  Instead I substituted these huge sequins.  The sequins worked, although steaming will likely be an issue, that the real mirrors wouldn't have.   Sewing them down didn't quite work.  Although they were secure, having only a single sewing hole, they kept flipping up when I was hooking.   I added a glue stick, but it wasn't secure enough to hold it while I was working on it.  In the end I had to use E6000 glue and let it dry overnight before using it. The glue works incredibly well.  It holds the sequins securely while I handle the rug.  

Unfortunately, the drying time is an issue. One thing about this rug is that the cats have taken a liking to it.   With all the wool blankets I leave all over for them to sleep on, it's curious to me as to why they've taken a liking to this particular rug. All that needs to be finished is the border.   I started on it and set it down to go make tea and came back to find Phil had settled on it.   He was probably awake but refused to open his eyes and move.  He'd settled in quite nicely.

Because of the way I'm working this, I'm only gluing on the sequins onto the side that I'm hooking.   During the drying time, Kevin has decided that this rug was a good place to nap.    He would move if I chase him off, but he was sleeping  nicely and the rug needed to dry until the morning  anyway, so I left him to his dreams.

It was fine for a few days, and at least I didn't see any kitties sleeping on it.  I got some hooking done.   Some will have to be redone because those flowers have been a learning experience.   This morning though, I went to set the rug up on the hooking frame and what did I find again? Yep, Kevin has decided that this is his rug.  I thought it was safe as I'd had it in an out of the way spot.  I hadn't bothered to roll it up properly because I've been working on it most evenings. I can't leave it in the frame or hoop because it could stretch the backing and leave marks.   I have learned that if I don't want cats sleeping on it, then I need to put it away properly.  couple of days, but then it was obvious that Kevin really likes this rug.   It's now rolled up and inaccessible to kitty naps.

February 10, 2023

Scarves and Cookery books

The grey scarf is off the loom.   I've twisted the fringe and it just needs a quick wet finish.  I may hold off wet finishing for a bit and just save up whatever I weave that needs to dry on a line or flat, until the weather warms up.   It will be much easier to dry them outside than find a place where the cats won't decide to sit on them inside.   It turned out quite nicely.  It was a fairly sticky yarn because it was loosely spun.  It didn't really cause an issue until the last bit of the scarf, when I'd woven about 3/4 of the scarf.   Then the fuzzy bits on the yarn started sticking together and I had to watch for skipped stitches.   The yarn is really soft and it drapes nicely, plus the greys are pretty neutral, so they should go with almost anything. 

This pretty blue scarf is an acrylic wool mix.  It's exceedingly lovely to work with.  It's soft, well spun, and the colour is nice.   I decided it had too much white in it though, so I'm cutting the white out of the weft as I'm winding the shuttle.  The white was washing it out too much and didn't make me happy.  The yarns feels really nice.  There is enough wool in there to make me want to touch it, which makes it a yarn that I enjoy working with.  I started dressing the loom almost right after the grey one was off the loom.   

We had a weather watch out for yesterday, but I think the system mainly hit someplace else.   There was a short bit of freezing rain, but by the time I needed to head out to the rug hookers meeting it was just raining.   Raining a lot actually.   People were getting drenched just coming in from the parking lot.  One of my friends there found this little book that she thought I might like.  It's a 1911 edition of Soyer's Paper Bag Cookery.   

This cookery book is touted as being ideal for flat dwellers, girls and women living alone in single rooms, clerks, typists and teachers.   It promises good results if you can but procure the new paper bags and remember to use a broiler.   This sounds more like a broiler pan, rather than putting the oven on broil! 

  So far it's been an interesting read, with recipes which sound fine to the bizarre, such as cooking 3 or 4 eggs in a cup of ketchup!   Also, for all these girls and women living in single rooms, what would you do with an 18 lb roast of beef?   It's a really interesting bit of insight into a kitchey little cookery book, that must have cause a few oven fires.  I'm totally enjoying reading it.  I'm starting to totally understand the lure of original cook books.  It's a tangible link to the past.


February 04, 2023

Weaving update

 The double weave project is off the loom!   Yay.   I thought it would take me much longer than it did to finish it.   I played around with how much I could weave without hurting my healing hip and straining my muscles, and then kept to that schedule most days.   As I was more comfortable with the process, it became faster and easier.

I wove it to 74 inches long and it lost almost 4 inches when I took it off the loom.    It was 24 inches wide single and opened up to and 46 inches wide. I fixed about 3 errors on the top layer and a good few more than that on the bottom layer.   This included 2 skipped warp threads which were easily repaired by threading an extra warp thread between them. Because it was fairly loosely woven, it was the easiest fix.   There were some other skipped threads from my not picking up the 1st shed on the bottom layer.   

It didn't take long to fix the skips though.   My biggest issue was a big, furry kitty butt that parked itself on top of the new blanket and tried to claim it.   So after the repairs were made, and I'd double checked the machine stitching on the ends to secure the threads, I tossed it in the washer to slightly full the blanket.   This was before hemming, because I really wanted it safe from kitties and the loose thread ends would have created all kinds of interest for the kitties. 

   I tossed it in the top loader washer and set it on a light load wash cycle, made a cup of tea and promptly forgot to check it.  I pulled it out of the washer and it was well fulled, although not horribly felted.  The looseness of the weave allowed for a lot of loss though and it ended up at 40 inches wide and 60 inches long.  However, that size was in the ballpark of what I was aiming for so I'm not sad.   It's soft and cozy and the perfect size for a lap blanket.  It needs a bit of a press and steam as the cats dragged it down while it was drying and slept on it.

I took a couple of days off from weaving and tossed on this simple scarf.  It's Ferris Wheel by Lion Brand.  It's a bit loosely spun to make it a really easy weave.   I had to cut a scarf off earlier because it was so sticky, it made for miserable weaving.  However the scarf I'd woven  before it, with the same yarn was okay to weave, although a bit delicate.   This is the same as the first one.  It requires a bit of care as the yarn is subject to a bit of abrasion  and  drifting apart when the spinning loosens.   Both of these are easy to deal with as long as you watch for them.    Advance the warp every few inches of weaving, which is reasonably good advice anyway and if the yarn is drifting apart, mainly while hem stitching  or winding on the shuttle, then manually add the twist back in. 

 I do like the greys though.   It's a soft, easy care acrylic and works nicely enough on the rigid heddle loom.  I wouldn't use that yarn on my floor loom though. 

January 30, 2023

Double Weave on the Rigid Heddle update

The start of the rigid heddle double weave project was slow.   Figuring out the heddle and pick up stick sequence required thought.  I have a little book which I wrote the sequence in, to make sure I had it correct.  It's the same order as any other double weave joined at one side, but it just feels a bit different not using treadles.  I started from the right, as my left selvedge is my better one.  This puts the join on the left side, so theoretically it should be neater and more invisible.

The order was bottom layer A, which was the bottom pick up stick, top layer A, front heddle up, top layer B, top pick up stick , bottom layer B, back heddle down.  The 4th  pick with the back heddle down was slow as it made a very small shed, which didn't always separate, depending on where the fell line was.   The two top threads were no problem, but the second thread on the bottom, didn't separate enough to get the shuttle through.   Pick 4 became a hand picked shed, where I slipped my fingers under the cranky layer of threads and slipped a third pick up stick through them in front of the heddle, to make a shed where I was least likely to miss threads.   This worked really well.   It made a slow process even slower.   However, once I got used to the whole process, picking up that last pick of the sequence became quite fast.

I put in a small burgundy stripe near the beginning, but am not sure I'm going to put another at the end.   It looks nice, although maybe I should have put 2 or 3 stripes in.   The yarn isn't packing quite as nicely with the two heddles as it would do otherwise.  I don't know if this is do to my technique or the yarn sett.   It's a little looser sett than if I'd used the floor loom.  I would have used a sett of 9 on the floor loom and I had a 7.5 or a 10 dent reed to choose from for the rigid heddle.   I went with the 7.5, because the yarn is definitely too thick for a sett of 10.   (Sett is warp threads per inch).   

Anyway, because of this bit of looseness to the weave, I may weave a few extra inches, which means  I'm not sure of where to put in the last end stripe to balance the shawl.   The stripe is 2 inches wide and 8 inches from the end.    I warped a width of 25 inches (doubled).  Figuring out the drawn in and some shrinkage, I wanted it to be 45 inches x 60 inches long.    But it's weaving up at 23inches wide x 2, is 46 inches before wet finishing, so it will be a little bit narrower when washed.  Warp shrinkage though has varied with this yarn, depending on which loom it was woven on.   So it might be easier to just put a single stripe on one end that fuss with the second stripe.

The double weave is working well though.   One crossed thread, which will need to be snipped and fixed as it's holding the two pieces together in that one tiny spot.   Otherwise, the layers are working well and properly separated.  The left join looks very even and so far I'm happy with it.  I'll know for sure when it's wet finished though.   There are a few skipped threads here and there.  They're mainly at the beginning when I was figuring the process out.  I've fixed some of them, bu others looked to be easier to just spend a few minutes with a repair thread and fixing them manually, after the fact.   

I've woven 58 inches so far, so another  8 - 10 inches to weave.   I guess if I'm putting that second stripe in, it should go in soon. I'm still trying to decide if that 8 - 10 inches is enough to wet finish to 60 inches finished length.   That is the stripe dilemma.