Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Jen was over last Friday, to say goodbye on her way to Ireland, and to take advantage of my dyeing experience. She spilled coffee on a favorite white sweater, and wanted to overdye it black and cover the stain.

We did get the sweater pretty close to black - a very dark grey-purple - but there was still a lot of the color left in the bath. I thought it was a pity to waste it. So yesterday I heated the dye up again, and plopped in a couple ounces each of silk roving and washed alpaca, let it sit while I lunched. I do like the results. The silk compacted a bit in the mesh bag, so the dyeing isn't even, but it ranges from pewter to anthracite. And the alpaca picked up a bit more of a purple shade of grey, which is nice, as I have grey alpaca already.

I'm suspecting a silk-blend laceweight might be in my future, for something drapey and slate-colored that shows off that bit of uneven color  and the sheen in the silk.  

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Marketing in Montreal

Every year, the last weekend in August, Pointe-A-Calliere museum in Montreal helps put on a farmer's market, with local artisans, demonstrators, and re-enactors, all dressed up, with the aim of giving an 18th C. flavor to the whole thing. We try to make it down every year or two, so this past Saturday was our fix this year.

We wandered the booths, watched a shearer doing her thing with manual shears, and a cutlery maker/silversmith in wooden shoes expounding to an audience gathered around his portable stove.

Ladies and gentlemen chatted, and the soldiers gave a parade and military demonstration.

Several groups of buskers and musicians played music, and common people gossiped, shopped, or tended their market stalls.

Activities for the children included more active pastimes, but also an embroidery school, and several of the participants seemed very absorbed in their work.

And we feasted on lamb sausage, artisan cheese, truffles for dessert, and passed up fresh cider, instead trying a herb drink which proved surprisingly tasty, and more thirst-quenching than the cider would have been in the heat.

Of course a few purchases got made also. I came home with hand-woven linen washcloths, and a loaf of bread, and my mother had bread also, along with honey, and a liqueur made from a berry that's a gooseberry/blackcurrant cross.

We had planned to do some fabric shopping up St. Hubert street, but only made it to one shop before they closed. Fortunately, that one had some lovely linen, marked down by about 40%, as the store is going out of business. A few meters of drapey tan linen, and their remaining stock of fine white handkerchief-weight joined the day's purchases. All in all, it was a good day's work, I think.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Why Caution is Required for Fax Machines

Something interesting happened at work last night. I was hearing rumors of the police poking around, and then I heard the explanation.

It seems someone using a fax machine had dialed 9-1-1 instead of #-1-1, which presumably was a shortcut to one of the other machines in the building. And so the machine dialed. And when it didn't get a fax machine on the other end of the line it could send to, it paused for a bit and tried again. Several times. And 911 calls with hangups still get checked out. So enter the police, and the building security, and they finally figured out what happened, and had to get in touch with the sender and tell them to stop the fax machine. It seems to have been a complete mistake, so I hope whoever it was gets off with a warning.

One of my other colleagues mentioned a similar thing seems to have happened once with a phone in her office. Proof enough that care in dialing and verifying the number on the display screen are more important than one might think.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fair-ly Quick Knitting Week

The second of the two fall fairs I usually enter handwork and stuff in is two weeks from next weekend. However, because of the way my schedule's working out, I have to have my entries for it done by next Monday. That means that in addition to finishing the second piece of Jen's sweater, I am aiming for the following:
-Do the foot of my second Pamina sock. I actually think this pic is still the first sock, but I have the leg almost done of the second. They got pushed aside in favor of baby things - and they require a graph, so not the best take-along knitting project.

-Make sure my tatted lace is at least a meter long. That, fortunately, is an excellent travel project.

-Finish my crocheted lace edging.
-Maybe knit a pair of child's socks or mitts.

Yeah, so who wants to bet I'll be spending the week on the couch, working like mad?

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Tomato, Tomahto

It's that time of year again  - the tomatoes have started to ripen. I wasn't sure what to expect out of mine. I got the seedlings from one of the spinners who had rather overdone it. She had no idea what they were, and so I wasn't even sure if the plants would all be the same kind of tomato. But it looks like they are - big, pinky-red fruits with green tops, large and tasty. The first one went into hamburgers at our spin-out on Friday, and into bruschetta for lunch today. There are now several more ripe ones awaiting my attentions, and I think perhaps some canning is in my future.

What I think is rather interesting is that the tomatoes, despite being all the same color, are somewhat varied as to shape and size. Some classically round ones, some huge bulging irregular ones, and one which is definitely deserving of being labeled by the old name for tomato, which is love-apple:
Of course, when we get potatoes like that they usually get labelled as butt-shaped. Perhaps there's a double standard in produce, as in humans, related to attractiveness?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Pretty Braids

I've always liked the way roving looks, put up in those pretty braids, each one continuous length of roving. So finished. I received one as a gift a few years ago, and looked at how it was done. Yesterday and this morning I braided up the rovings I dyed this summer. And I think I could do a four-strand version as well. I'm afraid it may be addictive.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Simple Pleasures

It's been a satisfying sort of Sunday. Granted, I didn't get to the destash I wanted to check out, despite the fact it was almost right across the street. But I don't really need more stash.
 On the other hand, I have almost 5 dozen chewy ginger and molasses cookies with raisins in them, from baking this morning. The gooseberries are cleaned and frozen - and I discovered that wearing a thimble makes the cleaning process noticeably faster and less painful than pinching off the stem and blossom with thumbnail against bare forefinger. We've had a few hours of rain today, and some thunder, so the garden is happy, and I'm happy, since thunder means the cat doesn't want to go for a walk in the rain. And I had a few hours of knitting, at the regular Sunday get-together and at home with a cup of tea while watching Singing In The Rain, appropriately enough. Result being that the back of Jen's sweater is almost done.

Yep, doesn't get much better than that.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Pick Up The Pace

The nights have suddenly gone from warm and humid to cooler, the geese are flocking, the goldenrod is out, and the fall fairs are starting. Summer is nearly over, and the next little while is always a whirl, harvesting, preparing, storing things, and taking advantage of the last of the warm weather.

See that sky?

That's Saturday evening, which snuck up about the time I was cleaning up after supper, taking the corncobs out to the compost, and the grey water out to the tomato plants. (I noticed today that one of my tomatoes is starting to ripen, so I'm excited.)
I've not had much idle time the last few days, it seems. A lot has gotten done, though. I stripped the gooseberry bush Thursday, got a colander full of berries. I got about half the top-and-tail cleaning of them done this afternoon, and will try to do the rest this evening, with a cup of tea and a musical on the VCR for entertainment.

A few of the gooseberries did get cleaned right away and thrown into fruit salad for an indigo dyeing morning Friday with the Fleece Spa group, before I went to work. I also brought Wensleydale roving and commercial yarn previously dyed yellow, and they are now drying on my shower curtain rail, considerably bluer than they began.

Julia woke me earlier than I considered necessary this morning, but it turned out I needed every minute to finish dressing, eating and packing before my ride showed up for the demo today at Navan fair. We had a lovely day for it, a little warm perhaps, but it did cool down after a shower in the afternoon, which made the tin-roofed building we were in very noisy for a while. Half a bobbin of cria got spun, and it was a nice chance to see exhibits and check out exhibit categories and ideas at a different fair - normally this weekend I would have been home at our local fair. I still did send some knitting for entries there, though, so I'll hear how that went tomorrow night.  In the meantime, I think the teakettle is my next stop.  

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Souvenirs For Every Taste

Mom just got back from a tour through Ile D'Orleans and the Maritimes, a 10 day road trip she was making with a friend. So I got to see the pictures, and the souvenirs she'd picked up this past weekend. None of the tourist kitsch for our family. She came home with a half-dozen of antique baskets, some interesting rocks for the garden, some of the red dirt from PEI to use for dyeing cloth, which they were doing there, and some wool from a farm they stopped at - two skeins of yarn for her, and a bag of colored fiber samples for me, for felting or spinning. They still smell sheepy, too!

During the growing season, when I visit the parents', I often take back a bouquet of flowers from the gardens for myself, as I don't have as many flowers here, and I prefer to leave most of them for the rest of the tenants to enjoy seeing. Julia has decided that the hakone grass I put in this week's bouquet is a souvenir more to her taste - you can see that the blades have been clipped short on one side, where they were draping gracefully!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Water, moths and mending

Weekend went fast. It always does, right? This one I think felt shorter as it was midafternoon Saturday before I got to my parents', and Monday morning when I left.

Sunday was all about water. It hasn't rained properly in weeks, so Mom is watering the gardens. But since they're on a well, even though it's a very good one, that meant that laundry got done only when watering wasn't in progress. And water from washing dishes or fleece, scalding or rinsing vegetables, etc., is collected and put on the gardens also. I do that with the shower water and dish rinse water at the apartment also - no sense in wasting.

I got to see exactly what overdoing it with the well water at one time could mean on Sunday afternoon.  Mom's friend Chantal hasn't been home much in the last week or so. Her husband had a heart attack and is in the hospital, so she is mostly there instead. Consequently, although someone has been taking care of Chantal's animals, her gardens were neglected, and Mom volunteered us to go do some watering and picking veg Sunday afternoon. The old dug well there is still in use for watering outside, and we had it going most of the time, doing the tomatoes and peppers and other vegetables, and the pots of flowers. By the time that was done, we must have nearly gotten to the bottom, as the sediment was coming up and the water was brown, so it needed time to refill and settle. Then we got back home, and our pump was running but not bringing up any water, and had to be switched off for a while to cool and then checked out. Fortunately it was just an air pocket in the aquifer, apparently, and after a few hours, spent planning in case it was a serious problem, we had water again, and were not reduced to throwing buckets down the old well or something.

I was rather amused one evening at home. Mom is a great one for decorating and color-coordinating things. I did not realize, however, that the insect population was aware of this. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth, and in the yellow/ecru/brown bathroom, I found a color-coordinated moth.

Today it is overcast, hopefully going to rain. I sat down and did some mending this morning, so I will feel justified in doing something less prosaic later. And my linen garden shirt is in one piece again - even if my attempts at invisible darning are rather visible.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Festina Lente

That's Latin for 'Make haste slowly'. One of the quotes that my prof gave us in class when I took Latin in undergrad, and one I remember because I have to repeat it to myself every time I am tempted to rush something, but know I'll muck up and spend more time on the task if I do rush.

Today, though, I'm taking it to mean there is progress happening, even if it feels slow. A little update/recap every now and then sometimes makes me realize that.

Like baby stuff. I've had bits of baby projects started and finished and sitting around for months, but they are finally mostly off to the recipients or soon to be. Three sweaters out the door - I finally got the last one mailed off this week - and a hat and slippers left, but one shower is coming up soon.

And I was hoping to get my cross-stitch done for the fair next week - it's not going to happen, but I am past the halfway point, so that's something.

Hopefully I will have time to work on it this weekend, between washing laundry and fleeces, and perhaps a spot of dyeing...

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Tour de Fleece Loose Ends - Plied!

I finally got around to finishing the spinning and plying up the challenge fiber I was working on during the Tour de Fleece. Result: two lustrous skeins of fine yarn.

Of course the big question is how much is there? Count wraps, weigh skeins, measure skeins, do a bit of math - on paper since I couldn't find a calculator. Assuming both my brain and the scale are functioning correctly, the totals are as follows:

Weight: 107.5 g total. I thought it was supposed to be more, but that does explain quite nicely the problems I had earlier with dividing the roving.

Measurements: 64"/163 cm skeins, 151 rounds in one and 164 in the other.

Total meterage: 513 m

Now to do a bit of hunting to figure out how big a lace stole I can get out of it, and I can start swatching. After I finish Jen's sweater, of course. Maybe. This stuff is going to sit there tempting me, though.