June 29, 2020

Adventures in Spinning

Three days of spinning cotton.   The photo show the different but between the bobbins, but while I'm spinning it, it seems like I'm accomplishing very little.   Day three was almost 2 hours of spinning to get to that point.   This has been my Tour de Fleece (a virtual spinning event) project.  My goal is the cotton spun and plied at the very least.

I do like spinning cotton though.  I like the long draw and longdraw is my go to when I'm doing a spinning demo.  Cotton as a fibre is just a bonus.   I'm wishing I had some flax to spin next but my stash is all out of flax right now.  My car needs to go in for repairs later this week, so my  stash will remain empty a bit longer.

The Merino /silk blend I was spinning is all spun and plied.   It's very soft and lusterous.   I didn't count my yardage which is ticking me off now.  It's easier to count while on the niddy noddy, than afterwards.   Now I have no idea of the yardage, so planning a project for it is a bit more work.

I also finished spinning up the Merino top.  It was a lovely fibre to spin.   The top was a commercial product and spun beautifully.  I will admit that I spun this while talking and paying little attention, so I'm happy it turned out so even and pretty.    Once again, because I was doing two things at once, I just skeined it up and didn't count the yardage.      I am thinking I might toss this bit in a dye pot.   I do like to have spun up white yarn on hand  for spur of the moment  dyeing experiments.

June 23, 2020

I've been working on the hooked rug almost every day.  I had to revert back to using my hoop though, as the pvc frame keeps having issues.  Issues that crop up when I go to make a cup of tea or start dinner.  Issues like these ...  It seems to be a favourite hangout for Phil and Kevin.  It makes it difficult to accomplish anything when there is a cat under your hooking frame.

 We popped out to see where a local farm produce vendor had moved their stand.  It used to be one large one, but it's been moved into two locations with smaller stands.   On the way home we did an impromptu hike on one of the short trails we passed by.  The river was flowing nicely and so pretty.  This lovely wild rose shrub was in full bloom.    Someone and their kid or kids had painted rocks and left them around the trail.  It was fun to find them.  I loved that while some were painted with some skill, others were obviously painted by a younger child and they were put out as well.   That made me very happy.

The wool/cotton yardage is wet finished.  It ended up losing about an inch in width and about 10 inches in length.  I have 4.9 yards to work with.   It is still soft and drapey. 

I'm struggling to think of what to put on the loom next.   While I have a queue of project ideas, nothing is jumping out and screaming "weave me".  I'm thinking I should just close my eyes and point to a project, and get it started.  Then I worry it could languish on the loom all summer if it doesn't inspire me to weave.

The garden is doing well.   I bought straw to mulch the garden with and it turned out to be super seedy.  The last time I used seedy straw, I couldn't keep up with the darned wheat that was sprouting.   This time I've learned to strew a few flakes about and let the chooks go at it.  The sort through the straw, spread it out and eat all the seeds.  The bonus is that they have been pushing the straw into the places that I want it anyway.   It's keeping the weeds at bay and the soil fairly moist.  A friend said her garden was so dry that her hoe bounced off it yesterday.   Today's rain is very welcome.

June 14, 2020

Friday was cool, with a high of only 16C.   I used the cool weather as an excuse to make some black cherry jam.   I had frozen berries which needed to be used up.  I chopped them up in the food processor and used them for jam.  The jam is spectacular.   I love apricot and cherry jams.   I can't find them in the supermarkets, so I have to make them myself.  It's better jam albeit more work than purchasing a jar.  I can't decide which one I love better though.  It depends on which jam is on my toast at the time.  Last year there weren't any apricots available locally, so I hope I can find them this year.  Then I'll be set for favourite jam for the whole year, for me,  for gifts and then some.

 There are something like 7 trails or more within a half hour drive.  They aren't long and difficult trails but just small, local trails.  They are groomed, usually quite well groomed to make them easily accessible.  So while not challenging or difficult in any way, they are relaxing and fun to ramble over and through.  It's nice to get out of the house, even if it's a trail which is 12 minutes from your house and that's because they just graded the gravel road. We've been doing a different trail every weekend, though this weekend we did 2 of them.  This morning's ramble had some excitement.  It was through a hardwood bush and during the most recent storm a couple of trees had fallen.  They looked like ash trees, and since they are pretty much all dead, they are susceptible to the high winds.  Anyway, right after we parked our car, a guy pulled up in his truck and dragged out his chainsaw.   He told us that the ministry of whatever government agency which looks after the parkland, usually only deals with dead falls every few months.  When trees fall and he finds them, he just chops up the bit on the trail and moves that part of the log, to keep the trails open.  His daughter was pushing a stroller with a baby in it, accompanied by a very wet dog, so I can understand why he wanted to keep the trail open.

This however, has been the main time stealer.   Getting the sunset, cotton/wool yardage off the loom took much more time than anticipated.   I finally cut it off this afternoon.   I have 5 yards, 10 inches in length and 20 3/4 inches wide.   I still need to wet finish it.  I'll do that tomorrow since my son has his laundry on the clothes line today. It's soft and drapey.  It would have made lovely shawls.   I have it in my mind to make a sleeveless tunic, jumper or pinafore dress (the same garment with different names) with this, to go over winter t-shirts and jeans.    I will need to run to the fabric store, which is nice that's it's open now.  I'll need some lining fabric, a bit of interfacing, a zipper and some thread to make this into a garment.   I can also get the fabric for lining the bodices of the 1830 and 1860 gowns which are patiently waiting in the project queue.   I have everything I need for them except the bodice lining. 

June 05, 2020

Rug Hooking

I've started hooking the tulip rug pattern.   I have some odds and ends of wool that I picked up, but not enough to really coordinate anything, so it's really going to be a bit of a hit and miss sort of pattern.   I thought I had plenty of green, but ran out much sooner than I expected.  I'm also not sure of what colours to use for the last 3 tulips, since I don't  have enough of any colour to complete a single flower, let alone 3 main colours and 3 contrasts for the lot of them. 

The running out of green problem I solved by taking a bunch of yellow bits and pieces and dumping some blue and yellow dye on them, using a mason jar technique.  Then, I did a second dye, where I dumped them all in a pot and married the colours - forcing the dye to bleed out, then hitting them with a bit shot of acid to force the now blended colours to take.  This gave me  slightly mottled and more similar shades of green.  Having distinct greens in lights, mediums and darks worked for shading the leaves, but the green that the yellow wool gave me was one I didn't particularly like and there was too much contrast with the yellows and the green.  This way, although I loose the shading, I gain in a green that I like, which has some texture but not too much.

 Not having access to a  wool strip cutter is getting a bit tiresome.   I'm cutting everything with a rotary cutter.  My strips are a bit larger than I'd like, but I can't get them much narrower.  Maybe lack of skill on my part, or my ancient cutter, which has a wobbly blade sometimes, and  tightening screw which is either too tight or gets too loose very quickly.  It's getting tiring cutting all those strips by hand.  I spent over 2 hours cutting and hooking today.   All I had to show for it, was a little pile of strips and all I had hooked was that little bit of black/blue background.  

Mister supervisor Phil also impeded my hooking time by deciding that he needed to check out the underside of my pvc frame. 

June 01, 2020

The end of May happenings

I finally got the go ahead to order some new rug hooking supplies.  I was out of linen backing.  I had some Monk's cloth, but it's a much finer weave.  Since I don't have access to a rug hooking cutter, I'm having to hand cut my wool strips.   They are thicker than the size that I want to use on the monk's cloth.  

I'm using a variety of sizes on the Tulip rug, mainly because I'm using a bunch of noodles (the name used for the cut wool strips) that I got at a guild sale at a winter meeting.  It's a bit of a hodge podge effect as there isn't enough of any colour to coordinate the whole rug.  However this was going to be my Westfield rug to work on over the summer.  Since we're still unable to gather together, and Westfield is closed, I'm doing in in the fashion I'd have hooked it over the summer, while in costume and demonstrating the technique.  Many antique rugs show that when you run out of one colour, you just pick up another colour and keep on going.  That is what I am doing.

The white lilacs are blooming.  This photo was taken a few days ago, when they were just starting to bloom.  We'd had some crazy warm days and the scent carried, perfuming the whole yard.  I'd bring my tea outside and enjoy them.

  Then the weather changed and got crazy cold.  I mean it was 29C with a humidex of 37C one day and then poof, it went down to 3C at night.  Luckily the beans had started germinating and they survived.  I forgot to move the cotton plants and the lemon tree under shelter, and they were fine.
Even the Dyer's Knotweed  seems to have muddled through the 2 cold days and colder nights. 

I found this Jack in the Pulpit growing in the area where hubby splits wood.   There it was bravely blooming amidst the unstacked wood, the wood chips, bits, and other pieces.   While I was photographing it, my sweetie was yelling at me to move and I'd look around and could see nothing dangerous.  No toppling towers of wood.  He wasn't tossing split pieces my direction - nothing.   He came over to point out I was precariously near an ants nest that he'd disturbed with his slicing and dicing of downed maple tree.  They didn't seem to bother with me and it was pretty neat seeing a wild flower like this.  

I whipped up some hamburger buns to eat with leftover burgers.  They were so much nicer than commercial buns.  The fact that they were super easy to make was nice too.  I did take the time to measure the dough into 8 equal weight pieces before I shaped them.   That was the only fussy bit.  It wasn't really necessary I guess, but each bun was a different size the first time I cut it into pieces, and I was a tad worried they'd all cook at different speeds.  Hindsight says that they were only a few grams difference in weights, so it would have been fine.  However, producing near perfect hamburg buns was also nice.

I've been weaving off the wool/cotton yardage.   The pictures are all the same - purple sunset fabric.   I'm on the home stretch now, with only 1-2 yards left to weave.   Because the yarn is variegated, I am winding each bobbin twice, so I can keep the colours in the same order as they are winding off the skeins.   It's been working well.  The yarn has certainly been strong enough, despite being singles, except in one place where it looks like a kitty got curious and I found some yards of  shredded yarn singles that were covered in cat spit.  At least I hope it was cat spit...