September 23, 2009

Comforting Stuff

I love wool socks! For at least 3 seasons of the year they keep my feet toasty and comfy. Because purchasing commercial wool socks with enough wool to be useful is getting pretty difficult, I am knitting more and more of them myself. I normally do a short row heel and this time I decided to try a flap heel. Well, the pattern I chose was pretty plain, however there were very clear instructions, including photos of various steps. It was an interesting experience because there were a number of errors. I figured out most of the corrections were myself, found some errata listed on line and found one mistake that wasn't yet listed. I emailed the author who got back to me almost immediately which was pretty awesome. It turns out that most of the mistakes have been fixed in the second printing, so if you're going to purchase Teach Yourself Visually Sock Knitting, check to make sure that it is the 2nd printing or later.

I made cookies. Yes, you're laughing thinking it isn't much of an accomplishment but believe me it was more than a trial in patience because I had to use a toaster oven. Currently we still don't have a working stove. We were given one, but it has a downdraft system which, after getting the hook up instructions from the company - very speedy reply on that one as well, we realize we can't use. We'd have to pull down some cabinets and at least part of a wall to figure out a way to vent it, which likely means dealing with lath and plaster. That is just too big a job right now. So while I wait for the electrician to wire a place to put a stove anyway, I made cookies in a toaster oven. It came with a small cookie sheet type pan and having no other tiny bakeware, it was the main deciding point.

It took me nearly 3 hours to bake one batch of cookies! I do believe that there is some sort of time/space distortion making the inside of a toaster oven much smaller than the outside.
Regardless of the time and effort, they were pretty delicious. I used this recipe for Oatmeal Toffee Cookies , omitting the coconut and using 3/4 cup Skor Toffee bits and 3/4 cup chocolate chips.

There is madder soaking for an upcoming dyepot. I haven't yet dyed with madder here so don't know what type of colour can get with the water. I used just tap water from our well, without any additives to see what baseline colours I will get. I soaked about 125 gms of roots in warmish water for about 40 minutes. By this time the water was just starting to turn orangish from the rather bright yellow it was at first. I drained off the first soak, added more water and watched the red colour develop. Within a couple of hours the water was really quite red. I've got some grey sheep fleece spun up to use in this dye pot as well as some white shetland. It won't be ready to use for a few days yet though but I'm quite excited to do some "real" dyeing as it has been a while.

September 17, 2009


This summer, just before we moved, I was telling my friend Aibhilin what plans I had for projects to do, along with moving house and the wedding. Her comment to me was "Sweetie, you're delusional". Well, I thought she was wrong and set about getting things done. Then life intervened. The move took longer than expected. The unpacking is still being unpacked 'cause with having to do some renovations and repairs, it just can't all be put away until the other projects are done first. While some clutter doesn't bother me, the total disarray is somewhat exhausting.

Slowly projects have been set aside. The embroidered cuffs sit abandoned in the sewing room. I came to the realization that I didn't have time to learn to embroider with wool and get the project done to my satisfaction. Yes, embroidering with wool was enough different than with cotton to make a bit of a learning curve for me.
It's not been a total loss for project completion though. I had to make a pillow cover. I knew that if I didn't do it soon, the bare cushion would end up in use and never be covered. So I dug though piles of remnant bits and settled on some wool scraps. I will admit it was as much because the cat would like it as for design elements. I think it turned out pretty nicely and it came together fairly quickly once I figured out what design I wanted on it. A couple of templates drawn on cereal boxes traced on to the wool worked wonderfully for applique patterns.

The garden is being weeded. It too, is taking longer than I thought. When we first moved in though, the soil was sodden and heavy so it took much longer. We've not had rain in ages, so it's dusty work, but coming along.

The dire "gotta weave something" project of crochet cotton is off the loom. I was able to weave up until about 2-3 inches to the back apron rod. That meant I was able to weave off the loom waste and sample bit to create a 5th project. All I need to do is run the edges by the dividing yarn through the sewing machine or serger, cut and sew up the bottom and side seams. Adding a draw string to the top opening will finish them off.

I transplanted the rosemary to a pot and brought it inside for the winter. I am tired of buying a new plant every year and then it never really growing enough for a good harvest. At least this way I can have fresh Rosemary once in a while during the winter and hopefully it will be larger next spring to go back into the garden. There is also Sage to harvest again. I don't use alot of sage but the stuff I harvest and dry tastes so much nicer than the dried, supermarket sage dust.

The Medieval Weaving program I did for the Oxford County Weaver's and Spinner's was lots of fun. I am amazed at how warm and welcoming the spinners and weavers I have met through this venture. I felt at home with them as I did with all the other groups I've been to. I think I shall enjoy being a part of their guild. It did however take a big bite out of my time this week as I had to figure out where I'd stashed all my demo resources!

While the underdress is finally done, the hem was marked a tad too long so I fear I must take it out and redo it in order not to trip and land flat on my face in some embarrassing context 'cause you know it won't happen when nobody is looking.
Don't ask me about the the new gown 'cause Aibhilin, my friend.. you were right! Maybe just a tad delusional :)

September 13, 2009

A week which flew by....

The wallpaper stripping is on hold due to the fact that the drywall underneath was installed backwards. Hubby isn't sure he can skim coat it smoothly enough to paint, so he wants to try a bit first before more time is spent removing wallpaper. I tried Tammy's idea with the hot water but ended up getting an inexpensive home steamer in the end, which works a charm. Still lots of work, but not quite so hard. Hot and sweaty though :)

The chimney inspector guy was here. He tried to check the chimney but when he pulled out the fireplace insert he found over 20 lbs of creosote chunks behind the stove. He ended up cleaning the chimney just so he could see it! So while it is in good shape, we need a liner and a new stove.. yay.. Now the whole house smells like smoke and creosote, just because the fireplace is empty for the moment. I will say though the inspector guy left the house almost soot free which was quite amazing considering he was covered in it.

I'm doing a medieval textile presentation at a local weaver's guild and have been spending some time trying to gather my materials together. None of the resources I use were packed in the same place. Some are finally put away and some are still sealed in cardboard bins of doom. At anyrate, my warp weighted loom came back from a demo in not so good shape, needing to have heddles and weights restrung. Foote the potter made the weights are they are spectacular, working better than I had even hoped for. I really wanted to do a twill this time, but really didn't have time. Instead I settled for a basket weave since it is already the first step towards the twill. Sometime in the future, I will just re-do the patterning for a sample bit of twill.

The crochet cotton project is almost ready to cut off the loom. The first one was a broken twill as found in a Coppergate sample. By changing the treadling it miraculously turns into a broken diamond twill, which is much more fun to weave I will say. I managed to break the clip on my loom lamp, rendering it unusable and making it nigh impossible for me to weave once evening sets in. The bulb is a super intensity "daylight spectrum" compact flourescent bulb which allows me to see easily, even to thread the reed with dark thread. Replacing the clip required a new lamp, meant a trip to Ikea today as there isn't anything else that I've found to fit nicely on the back beam of the loom.

Yesterday was a trip to the K-W Knitter's Fair and the Stratford Garlic Festival. The Knitter's Fair is always fun. I met friends I hadn't seen in a while and the inspiration is always good. I got yarn.. big surprise.. but 2 balls of sock yarn in colourways I wouldn't normally choose just to get some variety in socks and some wool singles in grey and a lovely red. Ostensibly they were for a blanket, but I think they might be too fine. However they were cheap and nice so I dragged them home with me.
Then I got 2 lbs of seed garlic to be planted in October. My cousin dropped by with a housewarming pressie of some of his fabulous wooden cooking tools and a huge braid of garlic. It's the best garlic I've had in ages so when I found the garlic suitable to plant.. not the imported wimpy stuff, but real garlic with Oomph, I had to get some. Of course this means that I need to get the one garden area ready to plant. This afternoon was spent pulling weeds until the mosquitoes started to eat me.

I did take a couple of hours off to drag the Kromski on the deck, ply myself with much tea and spin some more. hehehe actually, I did some plying of wool as well - a bit of roving labeled New Zealand "off white", which we all think is actually grey here. It's pretty though, it spins nicely and effortlessly. I've one skein done and another half bobbin of singles. I don't seem to be able to sneak quite as much time in spinning these days, but I'm hoping to get the rest of the fibre spun up in the next week and a half. I think it will make nice mittens and winter is coming.

On the list for this week.. finish the garden weeding, weave off the yardage, weave a couple of inches of basket weave on the warp weighted loom, spin a bit, hem an under dress and make the over gown, both of which I am hoping to have done for Saturday. Then there is the normal stuff I've been doing and preparing for a guest who told me not to prepare. I think it would be prudent to at least make the guest bed and perhaps clear a pathway to the room so she won't trip over the inkle looms etc, that always seem to be in the way.
Sigh... so much to do.. too few hours in the day ....

September 05, 2009

To Remind Me

why I decided to strip the wallpaper in the living room, 'cause this project is going to get old, really quickly. Yesterday working on and off all afternoon and evening, I managed to strip away an area in the living room which was about 3' wide and not quite the full 8 ' high.
There is a layer of vinyl wallpaper of which the topmost layer mainly, but not quite completely peels off. The paper and glue layer must be soaked to remove, revealing another layer of wallpaper. This one has 2 layers and has been so kindly glued down directly onto the drywall. There isn't a drop of primer on the walls nor even the plaster joints.

It is taking forever and I've already gone through over 1/2 bottle of wallpaper remover. It was probably 4 -5 hours of scraping to get that small patch done. Did I mention it's a fair sized room?

However washing the wallpaper couldn't get all the dirt off. A second wash just pulled more out and moved it around the wallpaper. Pulling off the top layer, reveals that the smoke, tar and nicotine had permeated into the under layers. Ick.. When I get frustrated, I'll check back at this photo for renewed incentive.

September 04, 2009

Stripping, sewing and weaving ....

I'm taking a break from stripping wallpaper. I went to the large box hardware store and asked for a scoring tool.. and he gave me a scraper, insisting it had the scoring tool in it. It doesn't, so I either have to peel each layer off and curse as I'm fighting the fact that there is a heavily glued on layer of wallpaper under the first that I can't get to easily or I have to go back into town and pick up the correct tool. I really didn't want to have to take a second trip to town today.

I am hoping to make a new dress for an SCA ceremony in September. A friend gave me a lovely length of herringbone linen. It was white, so I dyed it and it came out in a colour I seem to be very good at getting... pink. I finally had time to overdye it and have at least toned down the pink to almost red. Much more satisfactory. Although the pink was nice, I wasn't actually after a pink dress!

In my spare time, I've hacked up a piece of diamond twill yardage I made last fall. It's turning into a coat. Rectangular construction, it is based on the little we know about Anglo-Scandinavian outerwear. Mainly needed 'cause it gets really cold and blustery here in the winter, I also thought that if I didn't get the Elevation ceremony dress done, I could wear the coat. However the coat is lined with wool. The fashion fabric is a wool/silk blend and that sucker is heavy and warm. Definately too warm for September, in Ontario.

I can't find the boxes I packed the weaving threads in. I've found a few cones of wool, but they are slated for projects later this year. I really just wanted to warp up the loom with something I could whip off some simple and fun to weave projects. There are some lovely green dyed wools hiding which are to be scarves for friends, but that box is well hidden. I was also thinking about making a few gift bag type things up. Well, all I could find were 2 balls of #8 crochet cotton, one in red and the other in off white. Since the off white was a double sized ball, I figured I had enough warp for something useful. I started up with the white warp in a width which would have been wide enough for towels, but ran out of thread 3/4 of the way there. So a narrower width should be fine for rather bright gift bags. At least with it being an off white, the colours aren't quite so optically jarring as a pure white would be. It sure is easy to catch treadling errors though!