November 29, 2017

Christmas Preparations and frustrations

 I made a dozen ornaments, 6 of each kind.  They were fun and crafty, although each skein ornament has 8 little skeins in them, and they got to be a bit of a pain to wind, although they were fairly quick to do.  It was just a lot of them.    The knitted swatch ornament was pretty easy, once you got the trick to a) knitting them on those tiny toothpick knitting needles, and b) getting them into the round ornament and getting them to hang nicely.
 I also crocheted a huge hat, to felt down.  This is the second time I've tried that pattern and the second time it didn't work in a spectacular way, albeit it was a bit better this time.   I ripped that hat out 4 times and redid it trying to get the shape right, but in the end, it just didn't work for me.   No photo of that one because I'm pretty ticked at the waste of materials and the iffy instructions which I was assured work.  They do, but they don't seem to make a hat which is wearable when I follow them to a "T".

My son asked me to make stockings for him and his girlfriend.   This is the first one which is half finished.  I wanted to make sure he liked it enough before I sewed on the bells.  Next time I'd make the dagged cuff longer though as I think the proportions would be better.   I'm not sure if I'll do them both the same style or choose a different cuff for the second one.   Pattern is one I drew myself.

I'm also making myself a new stocking this year.  I have the pattern drawn out, but need to find the right materials.

I tried to take one of the feral kitties, Dion, to the vet on Friday.  He totally freaked out and in the end I had to cancel the appointment.   Monday I went to get him some happy, calming meds which will hopefully make today's trip easier.  Hubby is coming home from work early to help me catch and crate him too.

I've spent what seems like hours on the phone to Amazon trying to figure out why the parcels they send, get stuck at the courier office and don't get delivered.   The address is correct, so I can only guess that since they switched to a smaller courier with contract drivers, they don't actually want to drive out the extra 10 minutes to the rural areas.   There are several of us waiting for parcels which are well past the delivery date, with nothing happening at all.  While the customer service people in India try to help, the best they've been able to do is say to wait another week and hopefully it will get there.   It is frustrating and I can't find any other contact info for service/complaints etc.    When they delivered with UPS or Can. Post, parcels arrived quickly and on time.  Now I don't know if the ordered presents will arrive at all?   From what I've read on various forums, I'm not the only one with issues with the new courier service.     So very frustrated with this.

November 20, 2017

Playing with Overshot

The rest of the 4/8 rug warp has been sitting on the loom waiting for inspiration.   I'd started another rug, but although they are quite fast to weave, there is all that cutting into strips and then making sure the weft is beaten down really well.   I'd put a fairly high price on the Shaker Rug, but it sold.  With all the spinning required for the specifically plied yarns, as well as the fabric strips, they are a fair bit of work.   If I'd known it would sell, I would have made another couple.  However I'd already rethreaded the heddles for an overshot project since there isn't a huge market for rag rugs.   Even using recycled materials for the weft, I can't compete with imports or even some of the guilds who, we were told, charge dramatically less than we do, so that our prices were too high.   I was told they sell tea towels for $9 and Queen size coverlets for $125, with the implication that so should we.

So, I'd rethreaded for an overshot patter from Davison's Green book - snowballs I think it's called.  The warp is handpainted in a variety of colours.   The tabby weft, could either have been white or dark.  I had some purple, which made the colours pop quite nicely.   I thought with the dark tabby weft and the bright colours, that white would pull things together.  I was very wrong with that.  The first sample with white wool was too thin.   I thought then that the white was too light, but I tried a slightly thicker white wool, which was also too thin.    I was at a store which sells regular old knitting yarns and picked up a jumbo ball of black acrylic worsted weight, to see what that would look like.    It was perfect - except of course it was cheap acrylic yarn - but it looks and feels right.

There are a couple of issues that I noticed after I'd gotten a good sized sample woven.   I'd neglected to reverse the selvedge border threading, so they are both facing the same direction.  As well, I'd neglected to consider that little connecting block and should have either eliminated it at the end or added it at the beginning of the pattern threads.    However, it is pretty stunning regardless of those errors.    I'm not sure what I'll do with this.  I have tons of warp left.   There are two different treadlings suggested for this threading.    If I weave it all off,  will either have lots of yardage or need to weave specific lengths for specific projects.    I'm just not sure what those would be.  The floats are just a little long to be really durable.  It is pretty though.

November 08, 2017

Winter skies

We had a frost last night.   It's almost the middle of November and it's the first real frost this year.  When I went to let the chickens out, it was raining leaves and the ground was a sea of yellow, orange and red.   With the blue sky, it was a perfect autumn day.   Yesterday however, the skies were restless, with churning clouds in every shade of grey. 

When I went out to help my man switch out the tires on the cute little car, as it really does need snow tires, I had to run back in and grab my camera.  The light was interesting to say the least.   Since my job was to label the bags for the tires, so we knew where they were on the car when they came off, I had lots of time to wander about, up and down the road, playing with camera settings.

 The beans have been off for weeks, but the corn is still in the fields.   When a stray beam of sunlight hits the drying stalks, it lights up like gold.   Sometime in the next few weeks, if the weather is cooperative, the corn will soon be gone too.  The autumn colours will then be much more subdued and wintery.  I suppose that is appropriately seasonal, but it's been such an awesome autumn that I'm loath for it to end.

The hay growing so lush and green against the backdrop of the corn is an interesting contrast.   There is winter wheat starting to sprout around here as well, but this was a hay field this year and hasn't been plowed under since, so hay it is.   I keep thinking that it would be a good place for a few sheep to graze, but since the farmer raises beef cattle, that isn't likely to happen.

 That green does bring about hope for a far distant spring . First though, we have to muddle through dismally short days, grey wintery skies and winds blowing snow across the landscape, into boot tops when slogging out to the barn . 

I love the colours of the weathered wood on this fence.   It blends in beautifully with the landscape, but yet has purpose as it keeps the neighbour's  horses safely in their fields.   And somehow, NEIGHbour's and horses side by side, seems like it should be a pun, but it's not.. sigh.. just one of those days I guess.


November 06, 2017

Bits and pieces of finishing up

 It has been a busy and odd few weeks.   It has been odd that we've had to get back into the routine of lugging in armloads of wood and loading up the woodstove.   I'm pretty lucky as my menfolk do most of the lugging.   I usually clean out the ashes properly during the day though.   We've had some sort of evil virus run through the family, which was not so much fun.  I managed to avoid it mainly, for which I was thankful.
I spun up the rest of the grey BFL and got it plied.  It's a nice yarn although not quite as soft as some BFL that I've spun.   There is 225 g of plied yarn in total, so at least enough to do something with.   

I've been washing up the two toned Shetland fleece.   I almost tossed it a while back, because it had been sitting around and I'm getting a bit lazy and cranky, preferring to spin commercially prepped fibre when possible.  However, I just couldn't do it.  So I'm washing it up and will probably drum card it into batts for spinning, to blend that lovely colour nicely.

 Dion is one of our feral rescues.   I took him to the vet for a check up before we let him in the house.   The vet said he had an eye infection, so we dutifully gave him eye drops - that was a wild activity.   It took 2 of us, at stupid early because it never occurred to us to move the time to later in the afternoon.   Hubby held the poor boy down, while I dripped in the drops which weren't drops nor were they ointment.  Not enough pressure on the tube and the gunk wouldn't come out.  Too much pressure though, and the gunk spurted everywhere!  They helped a little bit, but his eyes were still weepy.  The vet said it looked like he had Entropion or turned in eye lids, which apparently isn't horribly common.  So they checked when he was getting his dangly bits removed and then cut slits in his eye lids, removing a bit of tissue and stitching them back together.    Poor baby looked scary for almost 2 weeks after the surgery.   His cone is off now and his eyes look better, although the stitches in one eye were loose at the check up and that eye is still a bit drippy.   We've got 2 weeks with a true ointment for that eye, to see if it is a real issue or if it is just inflamation.  I hope he doesn't need that eye redone, as  all this kitty stuff has already blown our budget way out of whack!   He has gotten to love his cuddles and patting sessions though this whole ordeal and is such a sweet, gentle kitty.  I can't imagine him not being a part of our family.

I have the rest of a lb of white merino that I'd purchased for one of the later levels of my Master Spinner homework.   I'm spinning it up in a quest to get rid of some of the partial bags of fibre left.    It dawned on me that I might want to blend this with some alpaca or even camel that I have sitting around as well, so I stopped after 1 bobbin full.  I'd bought myself 2 oz of camel down as a treat after I sent my Master Spinner in depth study off - so maybe this is a good time to blend and spin it up.

Way too much real life stuff happening, which is getting in the way of the fun stuff though.   I'm still practicing the banjo though.   It's a daily time out for me, which I've come to rely on .