March 30, 2017

Falkland Singles

The first bobbin of the Falkland singles for the spin patterning project is done.   This is 550 yards of singles, 40 wpi.   I wet finished them by soaking in hot water and then in cold, to full them a tiny bit.  I let them dry on the niddy noddy to keep the active twist from curling up too much.   I don`t like to pre-felt or totally full my wool yarn.  If it is properly spun, it will hold together without any extra effort.  Actually, from my experience, even unevenly spun yarn is pretty functional for weaving.

This yarn makes me happy!  Really, really happy!  It is so freaking awesome that I just want to show it off.  I am so hoping that the spin patterning shows up at least a little bit and all this effort is worth it.    I`m working on the second bobbin of Z twist singles.   Then I`ll do the S twist singles.   I had thought of doing them alternately, in hopes of getting the loom dressed and finishing the spinning at the same time but then I realized that I`d actually said I`d do a project in between, so there was no real reason to not just spin each type of yarn all at once.

My sweetie thought it would be sweet to make up Easter baskets for my grown kids this year.  We`ve negotiated it down to one basket to be shared.   Because we have an interesting mix of vegetarian, sometimes vegan, and omnivores, I usually end up making most of the items for things like this.  That way the I only eat organic today kid, still gets treats.

I`m making some waffle weave face cloths, that I can shape into bunnies and pair with some sort of spiffy soap.   That is presuming I actually get the project finished in time.  Easter is rapidly approaching and I`m pretty sure my idea to make Harry Potter chocolate frogs for the basket, won`t actually come to fruition.

I`m using cottolin and cotton, both stash items.  The cotton is 2 strands of 2/16 in that bleached white.  It is such a cold colour and I really don't like the way it pairs with almost any other colour.  It is just so stark, unfeeling and icy.  Most of the other colours have this softer undertone, so I find that the natural white tends to feel more organic and warm when paired together.   However, the white was in my stash and I'd no idea what I was going to use it for, so I figured who cares for wash cloths, whether for faces or the kitchen.  I have some 2/8 cottolin in a more natural white for the weft, which I'm hoping will take out a bit the reflective glare of the bleached white.

But check out those Falkland singles... so happy!

March 28, 2017

Cotton, wool and catkins

I've plied and wet finished the pima cotton.  The skein is about 435 yds.   I've stashed it with the rest of the cotton, waiting for a project.   I found another bag of natural brown cotton and still have the rest of the 1 lb of the pima.   I decided to switch things up a bit, so I'm putting the cotton away, despite not having quite enough to weave with at this time.

The guild is offering an in house design class, which is interesting, and the instructor really knows her stuff.  She was trained in England and did her Master Weaver specifically in the design process, so she comes at things a bit differently than a lot of weavers I know.  It seems to have confused a few people in the class but luckily, the difference in terminology really wasn't an issue for me.  The plus is that I've been used to doing fibre related homework whereas others didn't seem to be able to figure that part out.  It can be really hard to sit down and do a homework project.

 I've been spinning to weave again though, just because of this course.  I did the sett samples with handspun and now I'm spinning Falkland wool singles for the next project.  I've played around with spin patterning before, just once.  I tried stripes and while there is definitely a difference in the look of the fabric, I didn't like the fabric, nor was I sure that it wasn't just a variation in the fleece colour and texture that created the visual effect.    This time I'm using Falkland top.  I am spinning singles, 40 wpi, about 7 or so tpi.  I will dye it, most likely with woad as a friend and I had a discussion about spin patterning and we both figured that pigment would help the spin differences show up more.   I got a little bit excited about this yesterday and this bobbin is now over 3/4 full.  Who knew you could get sore muscles from spinning?

The spiles have been pulled from the maple trees and the buckets put away.  We did our last boil on Sunday and in total we have 5 1/2 litres of maple syrup this year.   The suggested finishing temperature recommened by Omafra info is 119°, but the info from Vermont suggests 220° gives a better taste and mouthfeel.   I finished the syrup at 220° this year and boy, it really does make a difference, in a really good way.

The other day, after some particularly cold and blustery weather, I found these little sprigs of birch catkins, laying on the deck, like a gift.   It was heartwarming.  Not quite pussy willows, but still, soft and fuzzy and a sure sign that leaves are on their way.

March 21, 2017

Busy or Not Busy - that was the question

Depending on how I look back at the past week and a half, it's been both busy and not busy.   We had this crazy wind storm for 3 days.   To the south of us, they also had crazy snow, but we had only flurries.  However, the wind was ridiculously strong and the day I had to go into town, I think it was trying to blow all the cute little cars away (hopefully to someplace warm and sunny!)   The stormy days were good ones to be reading!  Days spent reading definitely feel not busy, even if I'm running around doing chores and stuff in between chapters.

I helped teach a class on weaving rag rugs.   It was hit or miss if we were going to have the class at first, but almost everyone made it in, despite the weather.   It was fun, and all participants finished their projects.    We had a teenager weaving who produced a lovely rug.  When I talked to her, it turned out that she weaves on a regular basis, on a jacquard loom no less!   We were lucky with the warps though.  We had wound on what should have been enough for 2 projects, but the first class was allowed to weave whatever amount they wanted and no-one thought to see how much would be leftover.    It was just barely enough but since it wasn't my class to organize, it didn't even occur to me when I had to step in to help out.   Next time though, I will suggest they either actually measure each person's project or put on extra warp length for security.   They all chose lovely colours and ended up with really nice looking mats.

The next two days were spent at Westfield for the March Break Maple Syrup days program.  The Wednesday was brutally cold and windy.   I was in the Lockhart log cabin, which used to be one of my favourite buildings, but it's a bit of a barn in terms of size - it's a huge log cabin, and it doesn't warm up.   There were two of us, standing right in front of the blazing hearth and we could still see our breath.  It quickly changed my feelings for working that building.   It was too cold to be enjoyable.   I had brought the fixings for a vegetable soup for lunch and I put a pork roast and veggies in a dutch oven to bring home for dinner.   The soup was delicious but because I'd used the same veggies for both, it meant a lot of carrots, potatoes and pumpkin to eat for that day.

I cut a pair of jeans into 1/2 inch strips and wove off another sample of the log cabin project warp. When I did the math, I calculated the whole project, including the normal amount of loom waste, despite the fact I was tying it on to the old warp.  The magic number was 3.3 yards and I rounded up to 4 yards, to make for easier winding.   Now I'm wondering why I did that, because I've got 3 samples woven and it looks like between 1/3 and 1/2 of the warp still left to weave off... ARGH!   I'm ready for a new project but not quite so ready to cut it off.

I've bottled 4 gallons of cider - 1 of apple cider, which was really tasty and 3 gallons of apple/cherry cider.  My auto siphon decided to have issues and at one point I was spraying cider and Star San everywhere.  The rest of the time though, it just sucked air in through a loose hose and I didn't have enough experience to figure it out while I was bottling.   A hose clamp will fix the issue until I can replace the plastic tubing. The other issue I have with the auto siphon is actually height related and there is not much I can do about that.   Tonight I'm bottling 5 gallons of an Irish Red Ale.  I'm waiting until later so that he with longer arms can prime the auto siphon for me.    I really think know I need a bottling bucket.  They work so much easier for short arms.    I don't think I'll do 5 gallon batches too often though.  Do you know how many bottles that is? 

Bettina - the reason you didn't see the error was because I hadn't actually posted the photo of the rug with the glaring mistake.  But here it is in all it's glory.  I love the feel of this rug and the look, just wondering how I could actually miss that mistake!

I'm still spinning white cotton.   I think I'm going to have to dye up some funky roving or something, just to have a bit of a colour break for spinning.

March 12, 2017

Washing and weaving

I've been washing fibre.  It's one of the fleeces I picked up at the Ontario Wool Growers coop last summer.   It's short, soft and springy.  It was a smallish fleece, but still, it's turning out to be a lot of washing.  Because I'm drying it inside and not in front of the fire, it's taking a little longer to dry.   It's cleaning up nicely.  I'm using a degreaser as well as Dawn dish detergent.   I've been so tempted to start dyeing the fleece, but I'm worried I will have too many small amount of fibre and no real project in mind for the colours.

I spun a sample using a long draw and it was rather nice to work with and the results were very lofty and soft.

I tied on a narrower warp to the previous rug warp.   I'd run out of 4/8 cotton, so used 2/8.  This worked well because these aren't actually rugs, but yardage meant to be bags or place mats, etc.   I think if I'd had more of the heavier yarn, the white squares would be much brighter, but still, the effect is still there.

I forgot to take a photo of the blue sample which I'd woven before the grey one.   This is the underside of the loom.  I'm using 3 strands of 2 ply carpet yarn for the grey, but the blue was 1 inch wide strips of jersey fabric from a thrift store sheet.  These are supposed to be used for samples for photographs for a future class the guild is teaching.

I was a little worried in between projects as Kevin decided that he was going to use the loom as a jungle gym.  He spent a rather long time exploring the hanging ends, which were only lightly tied in front of the reed.    Thankfully, he wasn't too invested in the exercise and was fairly easily distracted.  He only chewed on one thread, which wasn't going to be used anyway, since this project is only 11 inches wide and the warp I was tying on to, was 26 inches wide.

March 07, 2017

One of those days..

I woke up at some ridiculously early hour this morning, with rain pounding on my window and the wind howling.   It was one of those moments which makes you wonder what the rest of the day will hold.   I snuggled back under the covers and amazingly got back to sleep - amazingly  because usually once I'm awake, I'm up and running.

Once the heaviest of the rain stopped, I let the chooks out of the barn.  In this mild weather, they hate being inside.   They don't like being out in the wind much, but they will come and go in this sort of weather but boy, if you don't open the barn door for them, they complain and complain like something is horribly wrong!

When I looked outside to the front, I realized that the culvert under the driveway wasn't happy.  It generally drains nicely, but for some reason, the ditch decided to drain on to our side yard and the driveway!  This has created a muddy mess!  

As I was contemplating this mess, the neighbour's dog, came running across our lawn.  I didn't used to care about their 2 dogs because they were friendly and kept away the racoons.  However, their current black lab is territorial and has started growling at me when I'm in my own yard and raising up a fuss when I go to do anything.    Today though, he went after one of my chooks.  I raced outside and caught up to them 3 feet from our garage.   I was able to get the dog to drop my girl, who miraculously was alive.    She ran off, while I chased the dog off.    After quite a while of searching and now worrying that my girl was hiding away, fatally injured, I found her in my front entryway (note to self - remember to close the door properly!)   While the poor chicken is quite friendly, she doesn't like to be handled, so I couldn't pick her up and she only huddled near the house door, trying to follow me inside several times.  She is a little chewed up, but doesn't look like she has taken any major damage.  There is a chance she may moult again though, from the stress, which means several months of no eggs.   I found a second girl, with possibly mauled feathers in the neighbour's field, far enough away that it looked like she'd been carried off.  She seems to be okay too.   I'm not happy though, with their dogs worrying my chickens.  Dogs will kill chickens for the fun of the chase.    

The rugs are off the loom.   The red one turned out quite nicely.  The last rug, from a navy blue jersey sheet has a glaring error in it, where I treadled two border patterns in a row, instead of a full block.  It is so obvious, that I can only think that my being so oblivious to the mistake was because I was rushing to get the rugs off the loom for the guild meeting.  Bad. Idea!!!!!

On top of everything,  the big box store where we ordered the Formica for our counters has the company's ads listing sizes available.  We ordered two of their advertised sizes and they won't actually sell the sizes as advertised.  Now we need to rethink the countertops.    And... my shoes are soaked from my foray outside, because to save the chook, speed was a necessity.  My barn boots are at the back door and I ran out the front, into that wet, soggy, muddy mess of a yard.  Some eaves trough fell off in the wind and the bathroom tap started leaking and why does it all happen on one day!   On top of everything, I've hardly accomplished anything at all :(

 Blech... not a great day so far.

March 04, 2017

Spinning, weaving, printing.

The Blue Faced Leicester is plied.  I used the jumbo flyer for my Kromski Minstrel to make a huge skein of about 430 yards.  It's soft, squishy and I'm happy with the spinning.    There is so much roving left that when I eventually get around to finish spinning it, that I'm sure to have enough to do something with.  I just have to convince myself not to dye it before it is all spun up!  I'm spinning up a bit of cotton sliver right now.  I thought it would change things up a bit, but it's white too and really sort of feels the same, even though it's a totally different spinning technique for the cotton.  It is still white.

After a bit of trial and error on the loom, I'm half done the 2nd log cabin rug.  I tried using two colours and I really disliked the lighter tan that I'd used.  It looked grubby to me.  Log cabin uses 2 shuttles, but adding a second colour also added a 3rd shuttle, which I didn't really enjoy using.  I tried just manually setting in strips, which helped a lot, but in the end, after about 8 inches of weaving, I unwove it and started again. 
Next I tried 3 strands of 2  ply rug wool.  It was a dark grey and looked fabulous.  If I'd had a narrower piece on, it would have made great tote bags, but with a rug width, it was just too light weight.   I will either try it with 6 strands of yarn or use it for a warp specifically for tote bags.   I did have this dark red sheet, already cut up into strips and waiting for me to use it.  I'm happy with it and it's a quick weave.

I played around with making a new block print.   This only took a couple of hours to carve.  I tried using an acrylic paint, which is why the stamp is stained black, but I didn't read the fine print on the label.  I'd presumed that acrylic paint, meant just that, but this is matte finish and I'm guessing is kids tempera paint.  It covered well, but had a horrible texture once dry.   I worried it would flake off in time.   I used the purple ink, the only colour I have at the moment, to make a few cards with this print.  I have learned I need a barren, to rub over the applied stamp or carved block , to help keep the ink adhering evenly.  My son who can actually draw, sculpt and paint (really do so, not just dabble like myself) suggested a small paintbrush to add a bit of extra ink to places where it tends to be lighter.   I'm officially out of supplies though, and for the moment I can't do anything new.   There is no art supply store locally, so it means a trip to a nearby city at some point, and I've no idea when that will happen.

Despite it being cold today, the sun is out and the wind is fairly gentle, at least compared to the past couple of days.   The chooks are enjoying the sunshine.  This girl is determined to dig up the front flower beds with her sunning and dust bathing.  She really looked like she was enjoying herself, so I let her dig away.  Hopefully she'll dig up some of those weeds.