March 27, 2011

Colours, stitches and Chicken Math!

I've spent the last few days dyeing, that's with an E, and stitching.   The dyeing are for samples for the carding class at FITP this weekend.  This used to be an SCA event hosted by our Canton, but it's moved out to the real world where it has a chance to become bigger and better.     The brown is Mohair locks which turned out quite nicely.  The lurid purple is Cormo.  The colour split making it a rather bright fuchsia and purple.  I had wanted colours to show the differences of fibres when blending.  No, nothing natural about these colours.  Both are food safe acid dyes.

The stitching has been more experiments with the Bayeux laid couching stitch.   I was using a different type of wool on different grades of linen to see what the differences were.  I like the wool, a 3 strand Persian needlepoint yarn. It's easily available, comes in a ton of colours and is relatively inexpensive to boot.   The blue linen is a coarser weave.  It's a little trickier to stitch on.  I was halfway through when I realized that I'd probably saved this bit for a keyhole neckline trim, since it's the right size for that.  Oh well...  next time I should probably label my scraps instead of folding them and putting them in a bit with assorted other bits. :)

I was stitching away minding my own business, when out of the blue, my sweetie says to me " You're going to make a whole reproduction of that thing, aren't you?"   I had to reassure him that I wasn't interested in doing all 68 m of the tapestry and like where would I put it.   I do have plans for a bit more trim for a gown, maybe a pillow and a wall hanging - a small one.  The hanging would be to take to the longhouse as decoration.  That one is in the future though.  Right now, doing singles of the animals is a really nice break from Master Spinner homework!

Garden seeds are started - 4 types of tomatoes, peppers, soup celery, marjoram, onions and leeks.   I've still a few more to plant but sometime this week should suffice.   I don't know how many extra tomato plants I'll have.  I ordered hybrids this year because of the severe blight problems we had last summer.  These varieties are said to be quite disease resistant, so I thought it was worth a try.  They seem to come in exceedingly small amounts - like 15 seeds in each packet.  I may run out and grab a packet of regular old tomato seeds to start as a backup, just in case. 

I ordered chicks as well.   The meat chicks are a no brainer - we ordered the faster growing ones this year.  We've enough time to do 2 runs if necessary.  However I also wanted to order a couple more layers.  This fall our girls will be moulting and likely not lay any eggs all winter.   I figured a couple of new hens would help us have winter eggs.  I thought maybe 3 would be a suitable number, but when I ordered them, it came out as 5 of two different varieties.  So I've  got 10 more laying chicks coming.  Someone once warned me about the dangers of chicken math because sometimes it just doesn't add up right!  How 3 could turn into 10 is beyond me!

March 23, 2011

Totally Cool....

March is going out like a Lion.. Our mild weather has vanished and it's darned cool now.. maybe even cold.   It's snowing...  It started last night and it's still falling.   If I'd been smart, I would have shovelled the deck and a path to the chicken coop this morning, while it was still fresh and only 5 inches deep.  It was very wet and heavy though.  Instead I waited until this afternoon.  It's now packed and dense..  6 -8 inches of hard snow that I couldn't shovel if I wanted to.  I waded out to check the chooks.  They don't care.  They were just thrilled to get some of last night's left over spaghetti noodles. They didn't care that my jeans were wet to mid-calf because I wandered through a drift or that I was going to have to thaw out my mitts... They just  like noodles!  A lot!  Not as much as tomatoes or strawberries though.

So I spent some time gawking at websites this afternoon when I was supposed to be working on handouts and dyeing some samples for a class.   I found a pattern for these..  Socks with untranslated text from Beowulf.  How totally cool is that?    The pattern is from  The Sanguine Gryphon  .   They have lots of other cool patterns, kits and yarns.  Not affiliated.. yada yada... I just think their stuff is way cool!   

It sure beats looking out the window at the still falling snow. 

March 20, 2011

A Week of Firsts

First laundry on the line for this year!   Up until two days ago, we still had snow on the ground.  The ground was still frozen and along with the melting snow, we had tons of rain.   Because the water had no place to soak into, we had unexpected waterfront property as the small river raced through our backyard, through the chicken coop and into the neighbours field.    It's starting to dry up now, thankfully but still too wet and mucky to rake the leaves off the flower beds or get into the garden.  I'm refusing to use the dryer again until the fall as even with the cooler temperatures, the laundry is drying fairly quickly.  Today was 3C and still have the most yummy smelling, dry towels and jeans!

Well, I did peak into the garden.   Pulling back a tiny bit of the straw mulch, exposed a wonderful first garlic sprout.  I'm guessing or at least hoping that under the rest of the straw are more, but it's too muddy to check and they're better off left to do their own thing.  I'm sure by next week or so, I'll be able to see the sprouts through the straw.   There is a 4 x 5 patch of garlic this year.  I hope it does as well as last year. 

The first campfire of the year!   Okay, so it's not really a campfire as we're not toasting marshmallows, sitting in comfy chairs or pretending we can play musical instruments around the fire.  The guys are clearing out "stuff" from the rest of the little barn, that we use as a chicken coop.  It's filled with odds and ends from the previous owners.   Single pieces of wood, not large enough for any decent project apparently, so they're getting burnt, along with the winter fall branches which have accumulated over the snowy months.   Hopefully soon we'll be able to get back to our good weather routine of having a campfire every Friday evening.

This Downy Woodpecker is the first bird other than the Chickadees who would let me get close enough to get a good photo.   It's one of those moments that I'd love to have a good zoom lens for my camera.  However, I'm not willing to compromise good glass for a cheap price, so it will have to wait a while longer.

March 09, 2011

Bayeux Cuffs, sewing and chook update

They Bayeux stitch cuffs are done!  Talk about way more hours of work than I anticipated.  But they are totally cool and I love them.  I could even imagine a modern jacket with these scattered around it.  They are for a pink linen dress.   I'm not going to do the neckline because I will likely wear a veil with this gown most of the time and it wouldn't be seen anyway.  It was difficult to figure out which was my favourite but I do think the blue winged horse may win.  The centre winged cat things were fussy to stitch.  The white didn't cover as well as some of the other colours. It and the orange colour seemed just a tad thinner than the rest.  The blue horse went smoothly and well, it's blue.

The first apron is almost done.  It's called a gathering apron because the bottom ends and centre will tie to the waistband, making a pouch to hold things.  This will be very useful.  I tend to pop out to the garden and need something to put beans or tomatoes in, but have nothing handy.  I used to use the wooden fruit baskets but now that they're made of cardboard, they aren't sturdy enough.   I've got more t-shirts with marks on the hems because I've tugged them around to hold whatever I just harvested because I didn't have a bowl big enough or a sturdy trug or basket handy.    This one still needs the buttons on the pockets.  It needs to be shortened a tad.  The model is about 6 or 7 inches taller than me.  Plus I need to make the button holes for the lacing to go through.  I will wait to do the button holes until the second apron is done.  My main sewing machine has a difficult to set up buttonhole stitch.  I usually have to set up my emergency sewing machine, which has an easy, very good button hole foot.

The purple yarn for the Sheep to Shawl warp is ready to be plied.  It looks the exact same as the last photo, but the bobbin is full!

The chooks have ramped up their egg laying!  Just over a week ago we were getting 2 -3 eggs a day with 4 on occasion.  This past week it went up to 4, then 5 and for a couple of days, 7 eggs a day.   It does decrease with the cooler weather so I imagine this blustery spell will drop back down a couple.  I thought they might have been traumatized by the massive melting we had.  With the ground still frozen, water poured through the chicken coop.  Luckily it only got the edges and left the centre dry.  The girls didn't seem to care, one way or the other.

March 01, 2011

Stiching, wanting to stitch, planning to stitch and growing stuff!

I used to do a lot of crazy quilt type embroidery, silk ribbon embroidery and Victorianish designs, mainly for crazy quilts and dolls.  I have been wanting to try some embroidery for a Saxon tunic, but kept getting distracted.  Finally, I just grabbed the box of supplies and went at it.   This is the start of a set of cuffs for a tunic, using the Bayeux stitch. I've played around with the stitches from the Bayeux tapestry but never actually created something useful.   I've always loved the look of the Bayeux laid work stitch and the Bayeux tapestry itself.  Regardless of the limited colour palette, it is an amazing piece of work.   I'm working on the second cuff now.

I've been promising the make my sweetie a new doublet for several years.   I finally started on the project.   I wasn't able to find either of the previous doublet patterns that I'd drafted and fitted so decided to use a commercial one.   What a horror that was!  Pattern pieces didn't fit, the instructions were vague, the pattern pieces have no markings and it's just such an odd shape that fitting it was obviously going to be a nightmare.   I dragged out the drafting tools, took the roll of paper from my loom and started fresh.   I still have to do the toile or mockup but it shouldn't take too much work to get it to fit.   I'll wait until I've the neckline corrected before I draft the collar though.

The Sheep to Shawl team, which is really 2 teams who work together interchangeably under the name Sheep Thrills.. hehehe... met and we had a donation of fibre for a warp.  One of the competitions requires us to handspin the warp. While the competition isn't until September, we thought we'd get a head start.  Free fibre is always a good starting point in deciding what fibre to use.  It's a lovely purple colour, blended with a little bit of grey.  It's sticky unfortunately, like it wasn't washed properly or has too much oil in it.   I'm pretty sure will wash out.  The rest of the warp will be a merino/silk blend filled in with some grey.

The Amaryllis I planted in the fall is flowering.  It's supposed to be pink.   I thought it would be a bit more pinky in colour, but it is still pretty.  I've never grown them before and was amazed at the flower size.  It's huge.  The two blooms are both bigger than my hand!

The pot of pink tulips I purchased while still in bud form are pretty but they aren't pink.   Yes, I have a fondness for pink flowers :)

Other than that, for the first time in ages, I went shopping for fabric to be used for regular clothes!  I can't remember the last time I did that.  I purchased fabric for two garden aprons and a skirt.  I got tired of finding only very short skirts in stores and nothing suitable in thrift stores.  When denim went on sale for half price, I bought a skirt length.  I don't care if it isn't horribly fashionable to have a longer denim skirt, it's very practical!

Leek seed is planted.  Onion seed will be planted next week.   I wanted to spread out the fun a little bit ;)