April 30, 2008

Project finished!

Finally done! After getting waylaid and distracted over the past couple of weeks with things which included working and the worst chest cold I've experienced in years, I got the darned bag finished. It was a little smaller than I'd originally planned. I realized this once I had the lining put together - medium weight linen, lined with fusible woven interfacing and a couple of pockets. I was going to redo the lining as I hadn't cut the handwoven fabric yet. Then I lifted it up, and realized that the couple of extra inches I wanted to add would just add weight, and I still had the strap to add on, so I finished it as it was. Turns out, while it is a big narrower than I wanted, it will work just fine. It looks good and the pockets turned out in the right spots.

Now, to hem the leftover pieces into towels, a pouch, maybe a hat and of course keeping a sample swatch for future reference, so I can remind myself how nice a 10/2 cotton in a twill weave is. I still wish I had enough of that thread to make a shirt or something for myself but it was two small cones from a $2 leftover cone sale bin. I'm not even sure what it was, though it is obviously cotton and wove up so nicely into fabric with a lovely hand. Really, too soft and drapey for a handbag, which is why everything is interfaced to death, but it worked.

April 21, 2008

Basketmaking 101

The therapeutic nature of basket making has been known and used for many years. So, on Saturday, I went for a bit of therapy and spent the day with a dozen wonderful ladies learning about basket making. The class was a basic skills class, revolving around making a useful basket covering skills which would allow us to make more baskets in the future. We had a choice of 3 styles, a market basket, a tote bag and a square basket, which I chose.

If I was going to make a useful basket, I thought something to hold fibre or fibre tools would be a good thing to own. This baby will hold a lot more than I thought! The base is 12 inches square but the weaving opened it up another couple of inches. It is a good 6 -7 inches deep. It is made of flat reed, oval reed with handmade ask handles, although I didn't make the handles.

It is a good outside activity though, since it does require lots of water and wet reed that invariably ends up on your lap. The dog and I spent part of the morning outside in the lovely weather, being chided by the birds for being too close to the feeder, while I finished up lashing the rim. This was an awful lot of fun. It wasn't rocket science, but did require some effort, planning and detailed thought. The sad thing is that in Canada, basket weaving supplies are a little pricey.

April 18, 2008

Madder and Indigo

I started my seeds too early. With commercial madder seeds, I found them to take up to two weeks to germinate and be slow growing after that. The fresh seeds I harvested last summer must be happier as they started germinating very quickly and look at them now!
I've lots of them as well as a few extra for a friend who was unable to start any this year.
As well, I've got Japanese Indigo sprouting. I had read that it can be difficult to germinate and fussy to keep as seedlings. I was lucky though I guess as a number of the seeds I planted germinate. I haven't tried to grow Indigo ( indigofera tinctoria ) though as we really are much colder than the required growing zone and I am not sure using the limited space in my garden is useful for that experiment. Maybe I'll be like medieval dyers and just buy my indigo. That way, my limited space will be used effectively.

Hubby's car died and he's using mine, so I'm effectively sans car for much of the time. When I get a chance, which doesn't include having to use the city bus, I'm going to pick up some row covers and start some woad seeds directly in the garden and see how that works. I know that it says you can just direct plant into the garden once the soil is workable, but this does seem like a good excuse to start playing with pushing the growing season.

April 02, 2008


The first Madder sprout of 2008! Hurray! It is so nice to see that my seeds are viable and are growing. So far I can say that these seed which I harvested myself last fall are germinating faster and more completely than any I'd purchased in the past. Last year I put 3 seeds in every pot, hoping for 1 seeding in each pot. I had a couple of pots with two, but probably 1/3 the pots with nothing at all and the rest only 1. This year I put 2 seeds in each pot and have signs of growth in all but 2 pots, and many have both seeds growing. The 2 pots with no signs yet maybe just a little slow.

This is a container with Dyer's Knotweed. Also known as Japanese Indigo or Polygonum Tinctorium, it is another of the few plants which yield indigotin. The seeds are exceedingly tiny and very difficult to find. I searched high and low earlier this year for them but couldn't find a source which sold them. However, I was given some by a lovely gal at the Guelph Guild of Handweavers and Spinners as she had some extra and I'd given her Madder and Woad seeds. Pretty cool and very nice of her. So most of them are planted to see what will happen. They just got in the soil yesterday so it's a tad early yet.. I was just excited.