Monday, 30 May 2011

Booty and Booties

I finally sat down and finished the felted baby booties I was making. Not that there was much left to do in any case – I just wanted to do a little ornamenting. I pulled out my felting needles and fiber, waited for inspiration, and ended up with little leaves on the toes. I’m debating whether the leaves should be bigger, but anyway, they’re cute.

In other news, Deb T and I hit the Glebe garage sale Saturday. Despite overcast skies and some early drizzle, there seems to have been a good turnout – it took half an hour to find a parking place, although that had the side benefit of seeing some lovely houses and gardens and parks. But park we did, and then the fun began. We poked through just about every place we saw (with me gravitating straight for any books in evidence), supported a few bake sales and the Scouts’ hot dog stand, and ran into some people we knew. Several hours and about five streets later it was late afternoon, most of the vendors were packing up, and we were quite ready to do the same. My haul for the day? A pile of books ranging from a mushroom field guide to old Nancy Drews, two videos, some sweets, and a dress.

The dress wasn’t a garage sale find per se – it was one of the vendors who sell Peruvian handcrafts and such. Providential, I call it – I have a wedding, a trip to Toronto with possibly dinner out, and Convocation in the next two weeks, and had just noted that the only dress in my wardrobe was the one my mother made for my high school grad ceremony. I keep it largely because she made it, and not because I intend to wear it again. I do have skirts, but most of them are a little more casual, broomstick types. Now to hope the weather will be such as permits a bare shoulder look.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Fast Forward

Watch me drop off the radar here for a few days. The next week or so is going to be fun, but it'll likely be Monday before I get to the internet again (shocking, I know!)

Tomorrow is Fleece Spa day. We were going to go spin in the park (and astonish all the Muggles), but the forecast is rain, so I suspect we may end up at Deb's as usual. That's OK, she has a cute puppy next door.
Saturday is the Great Glebe Garage Sale, and I intend to spend a few hours there. It's really almost a street fair plus the garage sale - kids selling lemonade, buskers, booths selling hot dogs and such or having bake sales or raffles as fundraisers for activities, and streets and streets of garage sales. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. Last year it was beautiful, the streets were clogged with people, and it was a great atmosphere.
Sunday is the Doll and Miniature show at the RA Centre, and my mother and aunt are visiting for that purpose. With any luck, there'll also be time for them to see a few other things in town - the Market, the lilacs at the Farm, and/or a museum, maybe lunch with a friend.

Update on Monday, before I pack my bags and plunge into the next stretch - alpaca shearing, trip to Toronto, my cousin's wedding, and a demo at Upper Canada Village. Whew.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

All I've Got

I had a lovely notion - two in fact - for a tam pattern. One textured with leaves and pinecones and acorns in relief, and one with a lace panel and ribs. I bought a skein of green fingering last week at Janie H. Knits  to make into a tam. And this is where I am.

Not much, eh? But I have frogged that thing about 4 times, and I am beginning to suspect that maybe my current ideas will work better in a thicker yarn. I need more pop, more relief in the stitches. to make them work. And now I also have to find something to do with this green.

Maybe I'll wait until the sale at Janie's and see if I can get the light green of the same stuff. I had this idea for a stranded, ferny, sort of thing when I saw the two colors together...Dang.

See, this is my issue with ideas. Mine don't just feed off each other. I suspect they get together and spawn new ones like rabbits. And then I write them down so I don't forget - but I've got a page full of notions waiting, and I can't knit (or design) fast enough to keep up.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Productive Fun

A whole ‘nother weekend busy, and no photos to show for most of it. My excuse is that I was too busy to take pictures (really I just forgot – ssssh!). Saturday and Monday were spent at the Experimental Farm for their sheep-shearing festival. Besides shearing, there were dog trials, and demonstrations of fiber crafts, showing the kids (and parents) what happens to the fleece - knitting, spinning, weaving and finger-weaving (ceinture flechee).
And a lot of them wanted to try their hands at things. So fascinating, watching the cool preteen’s eyes widen as they get the drop spindle to work, or the reluctant boy go from prodded by the parents to enthusiastic must-do-another-row on the loom, as they realize that you can MAKE things. The little ones are fun too, especially when you get the occasional REALLY enthusiastic ones who want to do it all themselves, right away, and who are therefore trying to sit on my lap and remove my hands from the roving about 10 seconds in at the spinning wheel, before they’ve even attempted to treadle.
Despite all the help, I got two skeins of this spun and Navajo-plied over the two days. Wool/mohair/angora batt picked up at Rhinebeck a few years ago from Maggie’s Farm. I have a kilo of the stuff, it’s soft and gorgeous and I’m spinning more or less right out of the bag, just fluffing it a bit first.

Sunday, for a change of pace, I gardened. Not even mine. A family friend broke her foot, and hasn’t been able to get in and do any work this season, and the weeds were taking full advantage. More than half a leaf bag later, things are looking better but not done, so I may go again. It may be more work to weed a bed when it’s getting overgrown, but the results are as dramatic as one of those super makeovers, and very satisfying to look at.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Of Course

Yesterday morning my nose started dripping. It appears that I have managed to pick up the cold my mother had last weekend. Of course, it would have to be going into a week when I'm planning to be running around a bit. Perth yesterday, knitouts tonight and Sunday, and demonstrating spinning at the Experimental Farm Saturday and Monday. Thankfully I don't feel icky (yet), it's only my nose.

Perth trip yesterday was wonderful. Wish I'd thought to take pictures. It's been a while since I was in Perth, and it's always fun to go with a friend. The day started grey and rainy, but we had sun for the afternoon (shock), and the time went so quickly we didn't get to the museum. I've been trying to go but keep running out of time. We stopped at Janie H Knits first, and spent a while there, petting wool. I was good, bought only one ball - grass-green Kauni fingering for a beret pattern I'm working on. I've accepted that the Palette I had in stash is nowhere near enough.
Hit Perth proper once we escaped Janie's and went to the Mill Store, and a craft and fabric store, where we ran into a fellow weaving guild member. Then, having exhausted the craft supply places, we did lunch at Fiddleheads in the old mill (lovely place).
After lunch we went to look at other artisans' work at the gallery/store on Gore, whose name I can't remember, where I bought a wooden rooster puzzle for gifting. Over to the antique store, where they had not one, but three spinning-related items, all in good working order. A little yarn winder, similar to mine, not so exciting. But there was a great wheel! in beautiful condition for on ly 300$, and if I had the money and the space I would have bought it. Seeing our interest, the proprietor said there was an Acadian spinning box on top of the cupboard at the back. Now, that meant nothing to me, I've never heard of one, but when we went to look it was a kick wheel or spindle (which I heard of only recently) Looked a deal like a large drop spindle, with an iron point like the great wheel, lying sideways across an old toolbox. Very cool!
There being a bookstore between us and the car, we made that our last stop of the afternoon, and I made one last purchase - Walpole's book, 'The Castle of Otranto'. It keeps coming up as something the characters in 19th C novels are reading, and I wanted to read it too. It's a classic sort of Gothic thing, apparently - hidden identities, mysterious sounds, haunted castles, exotic settings...I'm looking forward to it. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Get Me a Shrubbery!

Grey weather again, so I thought I'd share some spring flowers. I'm having a lovely walk every day, seeing what's out.
Although the tulips and daffodils and the rest of the bulbs and whatnot are undoubtedly nice, now is the time to start looking a little higher. The blossoming trees and shrubs are coming into their own, and it ushers in a wonderfully fragrant season.

 The rhododendrons and magnolias are in full bloom, no scent, but spectacular looks.

 Less spectacular but still lovely are the flowering quince and the sand cherry.

The lilacs are beginning to open, and so are the various fruiting tree blossoms, with the crabapples stealing the show. I had to stop and sniff the crabapple blossoms.

Apple blossoms are one of my two favorite spring scents which you can’t find anywhere else. The other is when the wild grapevine blossoms, which is almost intoxicating. That will be a bit later, and there will be honeysuckle to fill the gap – the bushes all have buds now – and the June roses.

I think I’m glad I’m not a bee. The decision-making, with so many lovely choices, would be dizzying. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Wet and Wooly part 2

As promised, the pictures of some of the things I was working on this weekend. First up, the spinning.

I think these are the closest pictures to the actual color I’ve been able to get. And I've heard from the third skein - it got left behind at fleece spa on Friday, and should be home soon.
Next, the Jacob batts. The thing about the Jacob I love is not just that it’s a nice soft wool, but how white the white is and how black the black is. Beautiful stuff.

And of course, the baby booties, not quite done.

And the baby kimonos.

Pattern is the Sachiko baby sweater, wonderfully simple and ideally suited to knit nights. I did find that the diagonal edges are a bit tight and tend to curl because of it, but other than that it’s an adorable little sweater. I used Knitpicks CotLin for the embroidery and ties. A duck and balloons should be nicely gender-neutral, and I like the contrasting ties.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Wet and Wooly, part 1

Out to the parents' this weekend, and I was hoping to have a chance to do a bit of work in my dye garden. But it rained ALL WEEKEND! Ok, so it let up a bit in the mornings - I took advantage of that to go and pick myself a few flowers - but it was wet the whole time, and I don't particularly like gardening in the rain.

On the other hand, when you stay in and work, you can get a lot done too. Mostly fiber-y, natch. No pictures of the work in question yet, you'll have to wait until tomorrow for that. It was going on midnight when I got back last night, and I didn't want to hunt the camera and hope the batteries were charged. But...

1. The pink and orange yarn is done, all spun and plied. The first skein has gone AWOL, though, so I'll wait to wash and set the yarn when I find it.

2. The baby kimonos I was working on for gifts are done - blocked, ties made, and embroidered. The felted baby booties are felted and drying, after which I have to do the velcro and maybe a bit of needlefelting.

3. Sorted all the remaining washed and undyed Jacob fleece I had and put it through the carder, for 2 batts each white, lt grey, dk grey, and black. The belt broke halfway through, so I had to improvise. Nylon cord (rather like large shoelacing) of the appropriate diameter, with the ends melted together to make a continuous loop and the join smoothed, did the trick.

4. Helped my mother with warping her loom for some rag rugs destined for the kitchen and living room.

and finally 5. Went over to Kim's (she of the mitts - Ravlink) to pick through this week's shorn fleece before they dispose of it. Came home with a garbage bag or so. Wish I had pictures - her duck has 5 little yellow fuzzy ducklings, ever so cute! The duck is the only bird she has currently who seems to know how to do it, though. Apparently her hen which is setting is only setting on one egg now, being in the habit of eating the eggs she's setting on, at the rate of one per day. And the goose has a nest which the gander is fiercely protecting - but his mate only sets on them when she feels like it, so I doubt there'll be any results there either.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

New Season, New Experiments

Dyeing season is beginning again, and I’ve got a couple experiments going already. My bathroom windowsill faces south, and generally does not have a cat in it, so it is holding two bottles of things soaking for dye.
One is avocado pits and peels, which are supposed to give pink. I tried this last summer, and was disappointed in the results, but I only had time to let it soak (in ammonia water) a couple days, and most people seem to get better results with longer soaking before cooking/dyeing. Looks hopeful – it’s really dark red-brown and there’s only the remains of one avocado in there.

 The second bottle is plume poppy (Maclea cordifolia? I'm sure that's not the spelling, but anyway...) roots. Every year it tries to sprout from runners in the garden, and I have to dig the runners up. The runner roots are orangey-yellow, as are the sap spots on my hands (it washes off easily, though). So I chopped up the runners from this session, and popped them in a second jar, along with water and ammonia, same as the avocado. There is some color coming off, (more green than I expected, but that may be the ammonia) and I don’t doubt there will be more runners to add.
Now with any luck the weekend will have some decent weather and I can start cleaning out the dye garden.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The story behind

I was going to show you pics of some dyebaths I have started, but it will have to wait for tomorrow. In the meantime you get another book report.

I pulled Paul Kane's journal of his sketching travels out of the library last week. If his name sounds familiar, he was a 19th C artist who lived in Canada most of his life, and is best known for his paintings of Native Americans, and Western lifestyle and scenery, in an era when the only whites out there were fur traders and missionaries, and Vancouver and Edmonton were forts. And I tell you, I am absolutely in awe of the drive that would voluntarily take a person through such a trip for the sake of material for pictures. He earned himself the money to go to Europe and train, came back, and searched around to find people who would commission him to paint pictures of the Natives and the scenery out West. Then he attached himself to parties of fur traders and natives, making two trips west. The second took him all the way to Vancouver and back, and took 2 years.

Think of it. Two years travelling by canoe and horse and snowshoe. Food mostly what you could hunt on the way, and sometimes not much of that. Or it would go bad - he describes one point where the only thing they had for some days was salmon they had to shake the maggots out of. Snow many feet deep in the mountains. Plains with several days travel between houses, and the threat of massacre. Wading through swamps or rivers wet to your chest. Rapids with the risk of losing self and canoe to a rock. Coming close to getting gored while trying to sketch a buffalo during a hunt. But he did it, and came home with two years' growth of beard, and many sketches to turn into paintings. Not my cup of tea, thank you, but I take my hat off to all the people who wandered the wilds in those years, and underwent similar hardship to come back and tell people what it was like.    

Monday, 9 May 2011

Pink is my new obsession

I’ve had the song stuck in my head this weekend because of a new spinning project. Well, not pink per se, but the oranges and magentas I dyed last year (cochineal, madder and pokeberry), and have been looking forward to doing something with.

One of the local Quilter’s Guilds had their show this weekend, and several of the other fiber and handwork-oriented guilds set up shop there to demonstrate skills and advertise. I spent Saturday spinning there. But what do you bring to spin at a quilt show? Weavers and knitters are producing a fabric, so that is sort of relevant, but spinning is a step before that. My figuring was that there are more people who are doing mixed-media things now with quilts, and maybe they’d be interested in something colorful and textural for yarn. Besides, I wanted a break from the unending cria.

I noticed shortly after starting that I apparently didn’t rinse the dyed fleece thoroughly enough. Pink fingers. Which, after all, doesn’t look quite so bad as walnut staining or indigo.

But the singles were turning out lovely. I figure there’s about enough for three skeins.

I couldn’t resist plying up the first one before finishing the singles, just to see. Pretty, no?

Oh, the cria? I measured what I have done, just for the heck of it. There are 328 g spun, which is approximately 1640 yds. I can fit about three times the yardage I normally do on a bobbin. This explains quite nicely why each bobbin feels like it’s taking a looong time.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

New Skills Week

I feel like this week has involved doing more new-to-me things than usual. Not big things, mind you, but still new.

Tuesday the bathroom sink blocked up. It had been running slow for a while, and I tried the whole baking soda/hot vinegar thing, but no real improvement. I unbent a coat hanger and went fishing, and brought up some gunk, but the sink was still blocked. So I bit the bullet and bought a drain auger, and went at it. 10 minutes of work yielded a running sink, a large amount of stuff that looked to be mostly composed of dirt and hair, and a good workout for the cat, who spent the time chasing the other end of the spring, which was wiggling around on the floor. The dirt I understand (I garden), but the hair is a puzzler, as I don't shave in the sink and the cat doesn't sit in the sink.

Tuesday also my computer, which was dying, gave up completely. Fortunately I never got around to getting rid of the last one, which still works. It's an ancient laptop (remember the ones that were over an inch thick and had their own briefcase?) but has most of what I need. Another first - I installed a program on it. I got to love the photo editor program on the newer computer, and I had the program CD from my father, so set that up and went happily back to work.

Wednesday's new thing was at least not due to anything breaking down. At spinning night, we were doing kind of a spindle testing night - bring your own and/or try others. One of the spindles was a Russian type, which is totally different from a drop spindle (no notch or disc, it looks more like a nostepinne), and runs more like a great wheel or a charkha in that you turn it with one hand and draft with the other, and the yarn spirals off the spindle tip. That took me a few minutes to get the hang of. It's cool, but slow (at least in my hands) compared to a regular drop spindle. I can see how it would help with a very delicate or short fiber, but I don't think I'll be switching anytime soon.  

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Mixed Reaction

Aaandd...the election results are in. Trying to count my blessings. After all, the Green party now have an official seat, and the NDP are way up, official opposition for the first time ever. And of course, we can vote here without having to worry about riots or anything.

But dudes, did you HAVE to give Harper a majority? The man scares me. At least in a minority he had other parties to sit on him if he got out of hand. I am not looking forward to 4 years with a leader whose ideas on environment and women's rights are shaky and trumped by financial concerns, at best. I can feel us sliding right back to last century already. Well, hopefully in 4 years he will either have proved me wrong about him or gotten to the point where people are ready to drop him. Hopefully.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Weekend Results
1. Finished Montreal Deb's mitts, and I think the revised pattern is still cute.

2. Lovely weather this weekend, got some work in the garden done, and planted a row of lettuce. Everything is going crazy.
3. Kit was destashing knitting magazines, and I found several I liked. Plus she lent me the TV series of  'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', so I'm looking forward to seeing that.
4. I made chocolate chip and pecan cookies.

1. I completely zoned on the fact that I was supposed to be helping out at the OC Transpo unclaimed items sale on Saturday.
2. I also managed to forget some of my new magazines at a friend's on Sunday when I brought them for people to look at.
3. My laptop appears to be dying - it shut off several times randomly in the last week or so. I hope the newer one I was supposed to get comes through soon.

1. It's grey and rainy and it's Election day. 'Nuff said.