August 14, 2022

More odd sock yarn dye lots

 These are the newest socks on the needles.  I was rather surprised when I wound the skein into a ball/cake and found a large band of gold nestled in at the halfway mark.  I didn't think too much about it though as the white bands were fairly large too.  That is until the second sock and I started knitting it.  I kept knitting the gold and realized that I'd have a a rather massive gold stripe, probably enough to have gold down past the heel turn.   I debated this, because I really don't like to have a yarn join in my socks, if I don't need to.  However, I cut the yarn and wound off the rest of the gold to a point just before it switche colours.  The resulting ball of gold yarn fits in my palm, so that I can just barely touch my fingers around it.  That is a large section of gold!   I could have ripped it out and maybe had enough to match the stripes, but I wasn't sure, so I left it in and kept knitting.   It's nice sock yarn to knit with.  The colours are interesting blends.  This is my third pair of socks with this yarn.  The first was speckled and pretty, but a bit plain.  The second had two totally different coloured socks as there were no repeats that I could find in the yarn.   This one is pretty bizarre too.  However, that it knits nicely and slides off the needles effortlessly makes it lovely to knit with.  Plus, I don't really mind the odd colour combos and dye jobs.   It does make it interesting to knit.  If it were a different colour than the gold, I would probably just left it as is, and not wound it off.

I made a raised pork pie for supper.  It was pretty good. I wasn't fond of the hot water crust pastry, so will try a different recipe next time.   The filling was good though.  Next time I'll make a gelatin gravy to add to it, as a moistener.   I'll also make them smaller.   This one took over 2 hours to bake!  

It's been a good year in the garden for cucumbers!  I've eaten one for lunch for the past couple of weeks.  Plus we've been harvesting English cucumbers as well, which are more supper oriented.   I missed a couple of the small ones, and they are huge.  This could be a problem, as cucumbers often die off once they've set a fruit that matures enough to reproduce.   The tomatoes are just starting to ripen.   The plants are loaded this year.   If they ripen enough to harvest, I won't have to purchase many for my canning marathon.  The Lemon Boy plant that my son in law gave me is particularly delicious!  It has bright yellow tomatoes that are nicely tomato flavoured but not overly acidy.   He also gave me a green cherry tomato plant.  Those are interesting because they have a strong tomato flavour, but figuring out when they're ripe enough to harvest is interesting.  I can't tell by colour, so I'm having to do a gentle squeeze on the fruit to see if they're soft enough.   


August 08, 2022

New Rigid Heddle Loom projects


This was such a fun and easy weave!  It's fabric that will be turned into a project bag.  It was a short warp of 4/8 cotton or maybe a tad larger.   I think it was a smallish cone of thread that someone passed on to me because they didn't want it.   It was perfect for this.   The weft was a ball of a synthetic tube yarn stuffed with a soft cord or filling.   It was leftover from placemats I'd made ages ago. 

  Now if the weather will cool down a bit so I can start up the iron. It's been so hot and humid here.  The humidex has been over 40C several days and close to the rest.   Too hot and muggy for me to iron.  I have this project bag, which needs interfacing ironed on, then to be sewn to shape.  The lining needs to have some interfacing for pockets, and a welt pocket in the lining.  I also need to figure out what to do for a handle, or if it needs a closure.   But it should be pretty when done.

Now on the loom is a 100% wool warp for a blanket.  It will be woven in two pieces and sewn together up the middle to make a blanket.   There are three stripes on this, so three on each side.  I mucked up the placement because with a bit more effort, I could have made it so the sides to be sewn together had a smaller teal section, and the wide stripes would appear to be even.    

This isn't quite so much fun to weave.  It's wider, so it's slower going.  Plus the wool is  a bit sticky, so I have to be careful about skipped threads.   I'm not 100% happy about the sett.  However the next larger reed I had for this loom was 10 dents, so I went with the 7.5 dent reed.  I'll be fulling it up when it's all said and done, so it will be fine.   It will soften up as well.

This is a more accurate colour of the yarn.   Direct warping is quick and easy.  I didn't get the tension quite right this time though, despite tensioning it twice over several hours, leaving it overnight and checking again before tying it on, and then fixing it again.    I think it might be an issue with using the cardboard slats as separators as I've never had this issue with a good paper warp.  Years ago, I purchased a roll of heavyish, but not high quality water colour paper.   The poor sales person at the shop was warning me about results with that paper, and yes, I did try some water colours on it, and it was awful paper for painting on.  However, it made fabulous packing paper and sewing patterning paper.  I ran out recently and haven't got an art store near me to see about replacing it.

The lawn tractor died.  We put a huge amount of $ getting it fixed last year and it didn't even last the summer.   The timing sucks though as not only have we had to replace all of our kitchen appliances, we also had to replace our non-functioning furnace and tank.  Then a critter chewed through the cable from the wifi dish to the house and that took a couple of days to fix  What is next I wonder? 

July 27, 2022

A Day at the Beach

 It was a warm and windy day.   We took a day trip to the beach.    This beach is usually not nearly as busy as most of the area beaches because it's got black sand, which can get super hot on the feet and isn't protected by any coves, points or land features.    We try to do this once a year.   We're not very good about sitting on a beach in the sun, but one of the  beaches is on a sandbar and is great fun to wade and float about in.   The waters are shallow and warm, unlike this beach.  However this one is fun to wade in.   Did I say it was windy that day?   It was creating crazy waves.  We only got our feet wet that day.
I don't think anyone who went in the water on this beach got clean at all.   The waves were churning up so much sand they were brown.  Here we're standing on the water's edge.  
There were a few kids in life jackets bobbing in the waves.  None of the adults were brave enough though.  We certainly weren't.

Five minutes away, the sandbar beach was still and calm.   We ate a picnic on a bench on the pier.  We probably should have gone in the water here, but instead we went for ice cream.  It was so hot, the ice cream was melting rapidly, making me happy I'd gotten mine in a dish, not a cone.   Next time I'll get a kiddy sized one because the single scoop was sooo big!


July 20, 2022

Painted Cotton Warps.

 I painted a cotton warp the other day.  Mainly because I had this idea for funky tea towels, but the timing was so I could use it as an example for the guild's upcoming cotton dye day.  I meant to take photos, but I got involved in the process and didn't have a spare set of gloves, so I missed the photos of the actual painting process.  

 It's been crazy warm here.  Not as warm as in Europe but still really warm for us, so I was able to batch process outside.  I wrapped the warp in plastic cling film, set it in my black enamel dye pot and set that in my black wheel barrow, because I could tilt it slightly to catch the sun.   The warp bundles got really warm, and uncomfortably hot to touch.    They rinsed out quickly and I was happy!

These are 5 warp chains drying, with 42 threads each.   They will create colour bands between 6 similar sized vertical stripes of navy blue.    I'm looking forward to seeing this project on the loom.

I used Procion MX dyes and sodium carbonate (Soda Ash) as a fixative.   I put them to set in the sun and left them for 24 hours.   It did get quite cool at night, but the next day they had heated back up so that they were hot to the touch.    The dyes were mixed at 1%  and I just diluted them in a secondary container as I worked.

July 15, 2022

Serendipitous Plaids

 There are all sorts of multi coloured and varigated yarns available these days.   The selection that is available is a far cry from the brightly coloured or baby pastel short runs of colours which gave you colour pooling no matter what.   Lately, I've found all sorts of wonderful gradients and self-striping yarns which give large blocks of colours which can be incredibly beautiful.  However the yarns which give serendipitous plaids seem to be more difficult to find in our area.  At least affordable yarns at any rate.   

I picked up two skeins of this yarn on trip to the yarn store a few months ago.   It wasn't really the colours that I would usually be attracted to, but they were pretty and I thought they'd make a pretty scarf.    I loved weaving this scarf off as the  plaid patterning came up quite quickly.   It really felt like a bonus with this yarn.  It's soft and has a nice drape as well.

The yarn was really nice to work with too.    When weaving with a striping yarn like this, you wind the warp and dress the loom as you would normally.   For the weft though, in order to keep the colours in order and striping without any abrupt changes, it's best to wind a bobbin or shuttle length of weft off.   I wind a small cake of yarn on my ball winder.    I've also wound a ball by hand or put it onto a stick shuttle.   When you wind the weft straight off the skein, or cone, the beginning of the yarn becomes the end of that weft yarn.   If you wind it into a ball, and then re-wind onto your shuttle or bobbin, the start of the yarn is again at the start of your weaving.   Do this for every bobbin or shuttle and the yarn will stay in the

same order as it is in the skein.  This gives you even transitions - no abrupt colour changes, and keeps the patterning in order.  Effectively, you double wind your bobbins/shuttles.  It takes a little extra time, but not much, however it gives beautiful results.

Off the loom, with a finished length of 77 inches and width of 11 inches.  I twisted the fringes at a meeting in the park.  It really did turn out to be very pretty.



July 06, 2022

Matching socks!

I think I did it!  When putting these two socks, exactly side by side, it looks like the stripes match up exactly.   I think I even got it matched to the number of final rows in the toe decrease.  I couldn't find a way to photograph  them with the stripes perfect though.  Maybe if I had sock blockers.   However I don't really want to spend the money to purchase sock blockers, so I may just soak these and then pin them to shape on a rubber mat, like one would do with other pieces of knitting.  Not quite as simple and effective as a sock blocker, but I don't have to buy anything either.

The sock yarn was nice to knit with.  It wasn't splitty and didn't tangle.   Once I figured out where the repeat was, it was easy to find my starting point and I had a minimal amount of waste, which was also nice.  I managed to toss the ball band out by accident though, so I have no idea what the sock yarn that I used was called!  Despite the matching and constant checking to make sure my tension was the same, it was a fairly fun knit.

The solid socks which are a grey/brown colour haven't been quite
as much fun.    A lot of it has been my fault because I knit the first sock and then knit the blue striped pair before I did the second sock.   I also didn't think to write down the details as I was going, which did make it more difficult.   It's not a difficult pattern, but I started off the second sock with making the cables the wrong size and had to rip back half the top part, back to the ribbing.   Then I dropped a stitch in a cable and had to rip back to where I could pick it up because it was too difficult to try to hook it back over several cables.  Then I started turning the heel before I did the heel flap!  Argh, that was such a careless error because I had counted out the heel, meant to knit the heel flap, told myself to do it and then got distracted by something DH was watching on the telly.  Thankfully I found my mistake before I'd turned the whole heel.  To top it off, this yarn is splitty.   It doesn't seem to have much stretch or forgiveness to it, so it's not quite so much fun to knit with.   I wish now I'd gone for a more complicated pattern.  At least that would make the end result more worthwhile for all this fussing over a single sock that I've been doing.

My hip has been cranky lately and weaving on my Fanny floor loom has been difficult.  However there is a little Artisat loom in the guild room.   It's smaller than the Fanny loom, and has a smaller width to the treadle setup, which means less lateral movement for my cranky hip.   I was able to weave pain free on that little baby.   

This was a leftover warp from a tea towel class.   I just did a straight twill treadling and wove off this towel in about 2 hours, with little to no effort or pain.   I'd love to purchase a loom like this so that I could get back to weaving.   Not happening though because we need to replace our furnace!   That's been priced out so far to $7200 because we don't have a fuel tank, so are switching from oil to propane.  That's without a/c too!   It's not available right now due to back orders and increased demand.   We haven't had central heating for a decade or more, so it will be a change.   We'll still use the woodstoves, but it means we don't have to get up in the middle of the night to load the stoves and can be away from home for more than 3 hours if we so choose.  That will be an interesting change.


June 20, 2022

Stories of socks, benches and raccoons.

I wasn't going to make a new pair of socks until the autumn.  However, I was offered a trip  to the yarn store and came home with 3 new skeins of sock yarn.  This skein was a bit of a whimsy purchase.  I wanted something self striping.  The other two skeins were more abstract.  I'd not seen the pattern that this yarn made, but it was a nice yarn, so I wasn't sure what to expect.   I'm not a huge fan of this fake fair isle type stripes, however the yarn is so nice to knit with that I'm enjoying knitting them immensely.   I also decided to try to match the repeats, so I noted the start point and checked carefully for the repeat start so I could match the second sock to the first.  We'll see how that works out soon enough.

This bench left here when we moved into this house.   It had worn yellow painted legs, the screws were so rusty they were getting loose, and the wood on top was starting to rot.  It was really handy but the ugliest thing ever.   Last year it fell apart completely, but we couldn't get the wood to repair it.  This year, we found the right wood sizes.  DH painted the legs with black rust covering paint.  He even stained the ends and water sealed the whole thing.  It looks amazing now and should last for another 20 or so years.  

Raccoons -   

The other day we had a raccoon in the barn.  Well for several nights he'd been opening the door latch and getting in.  The chooks are pretty safe now, if they're inside since the entire pen is either solid wood or 1/2 in hardware cloth from ceiling to floor.   We put two jointed hinged latches on the door and locked them with snap carabiners.  No more anything without proper thumbs and the ability to slide the lock off the latch is getting into the barn now!  When I went to lock up the chooks the other night, one chook was inside and the rest refused to go into the barn.   The raccoon was in the pen, helping himself to the eggs.  It took two of us, but we couldn't get him out of the barn, and instead he just hid.  As soon as he did, the chooks raced inside for the night.   Not knowing where the predator was, we manually moved the girls into the greenhouse for the night, so they'd be safe.   The next day, we double checked the barn and secured the window better, just in case.   The chooks are staying in the pen for a bit.  They hate it, but with the raccoon out and about, I feel better about their safety. 

  Then today, while I was weeding the garden, I saw this critter coming toward me.  It was shortly after lunch time and he didn't seem at all afraid of me.  He's fairly young and luckily he waddled slowly enough that I could get into the house.  I watched him wander all over our deck before he headed off to where ever he was going.   I'm totally not impressed with a daylight loving raccoon hanging around our house.  Those poor chooks may spend most of the summer inside.  I really dislike raccoons.  I just wish they weren't cute.

June 12, 2022

Warmed over Chicken, 1896 recipe

This is a creamed chicken recipe from the Boston School of Cookery cookbook, by Fanny Farmer.  I used the recipe from the 1896 edition, but the one from the 1918 edition of the cookbook is exactly the same, and a bit easier to read because of the print quality.

It's a basic white sauce, with added diced chicken and mushrooms. I used ground chicken because I'd forgotten I'd used up the frozen leftover chicken from the last roast chicken.   The parsley garnish is because I had some which needed using up.  

The potato border was just mashed potatoes piped onto the dish, using a pastry bag and piping tip before adding the sauce.   I'd suggest using a larger piping tip though because any tiny lump got caught in mine.   It was an easy dish to make and it looked so pretty on the plate.

The chicken in sauce was quite delicious.  The white sauce worked perfectly with the chicken and was so easy to make.   Despite this being a dish of leftovers, I think with this presentation, one could easily serve this to company or someone you wanted to impress just a little bit.