Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Missing items always seem to turn up in an extremely obvious spot, or one where you have no clue how they got there. This time it was a bit of both.

I hunted for my doffer and brush for 20 min or half an hour last night, then gave up and finished the carding using a pencil and one of my hand cards as substitutes, which worked well enough.

Peeled the last batt off, and moved the carder aside, then picked up the cloth underneath to shake out all the bits of hay that fell out of the llama fleece.

And promptly felt very silly indeed, as the missing items were under the cloth the whole time. I did look under the carder (lifted it up, even), but I guess between the carpet pile and a wrinkle in the cloth, there wasn't enough of a bump showing to clue me in. No idea how they got under there in the first place, but they're found. No need to suspect aliens, or the cat, or a burglar with a fiber fetish.

Now that's solved, I think today I'll do a little spinning.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Hunt Is On

I've gotten about half the brown llama carded, and pulled the drum carder out from beside the bookcase this afternoon to see if I could get the rest done today. But when I was ready to take the first batt off, I noticed something peculiar.

My doffer and my little brush weren't with the carder. There's no reason they should be anywhere but beside or on top of the carder and...they weren't there. They're not in the basket with the other tools like my carders. They're not in the bag of llama that's already been carded. Or in the bag of fleece beside it. Or under the drum carder. Or anywhere I can see on the floor.

Or, indeed, anywhere I've looked. Not the kitchen table, none of my baskets, none of the drawers of my apothecary, not a bag or a box in the bedroom or entry, not the miscellaneous box in the hall. I am thoroughly stumped and annoyed.

They have to be somewhere. I probably stood up to do something else, put them down somewhere, and never came back to the carding that day. But since that was several days ago, and I don't know what that particular interruption was, I have a feeling that I'm going to be spending a lot of time on the hunt this evening. Wish me luck.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Fiber and Color

What a lovely couple of days. Yesterday was meet-up for spinning in the park, and yummy lunch stuff. I didn't bring my wheel, since I was coming from an errand beforehand, but I brought some knitting with handspun. Mittens in alpaca, in a nicely textured bubbly pattern.

We're getting a bit more formal in our park set-up. Drinks used to mean a thermos of whatever. But this time there was a portable Coleman stove, and a table, and all the fixings for tea and coffee. Wonderfully luxurious, really. And happily, the rain which was threatening held off, but there was enough breeze to keep cool by. Of course, then I didn't notice until I got home that I had a bit of a burn, and a funny one. Heavier on one side, and with the position of the necklace I was wearing clearly marked!

After a quick stop home to drop things mid-afternoon, I headed for Colonnade. Warehouse sale at Wool-Tyme, and I kinda found a few things. 

I have this little problem resisting pretty colors. All fingering-weight alpaca and alpaca blends, and my excuse is that they will turn into colorwork mittens for selling at craft fairs. Having done that damage, I met up with a friend and we did a flying tour to Brockville, as the Thousand Islands Guild was having a quilt show. I forgot the camera in the car, but there were so many pretty things, and we were so pressed for time, that I barely had time to see everything myself, and only glanced at the vendors. Really, the quilters are expanding their creative range as fast as the knitters - every time I see a quilt show there's new and interesting ideas to take in. 

Off again this morning to the annual Glebe Garage Sale. And oddly enough, the fiber and dyeing theme continued here, as I found three books on the topic.

 Casselman's dye book I've heard cited as a good one, the Weaving and Dyeing book looks intriguing, has the old recipes, and weaving patterns, so will be of interest to my mother as well, and Women's Work I had from the library and loved, so was thrilled to find a paperback copy. Besides my book pile, I found a few movies, but nothing big. I did, of course, get some edibles...lemonade from a kid's stand, a hot dog from the Scouts, and half a pound of homemade maple fudge by way of dessert. Really, the limiting factor for the Glebe sale is how long my feet will hold out. Otherwise I could really spend longer there, listening to bands and buskers, nibbling at various bake sales, seeing what treasures people have found, looking at the houses and landscaping...but as it was, I was very happy to get home, and put my feet up for a bit. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


One of the things I rather love about having connections in the country is how easy it is to acquire fleeces for spinning. For someone with a few pet sheep or camelids, or cross-breed sheep raised for meat, they still have to shear, but it's not usually worth the time and gas for them to bring the fleece somewhere to sell. People get to hear through the grapevine that I spin, and fleece falls into my lap.

Like this weekend. My cousins are starting up a flock of meat sheep, bought parts of two flocks from different people, and two guard llamas from someone else. And the sheep were sheared recently, so they wanted to know whether I could use some of the fleece, and whether I might want the llamas' fleeces also, since the co-op they're sending the fleece to doesn't take llama. There you are. I got to spend an hour or two Saturday picking over the fleece. Some are really more like coarse hair, but some were fine and crimpy and lovely (if a bit dirty, as you can see in the picture), but I came away with a garbage bag of stuff that washed out white and soft. Still don't know what the breeds involved were, but it's nice!

The llamas are not shorn yet, but when they are, I get that too. Price? One handspun item from the fleece. Can do.

Plus, it's lambing season, so I got to visit with the lambs. My aunt was on midwife duty - one had dropped triplets that morning, and another had twins while we were picking over the fleece. I got to hold one of the morning's lambs - still with a bit of umbilical cord dangling, and tiny fleece curls like embroidered french knots. The count at that point was 85 lambs, and to keep them organized they were all numbered and color-coded. Sheep from one flock had pink numbers, and the other had purple, painted on the back, and the lambs had the same numbers as the mother. Talk about counting sheep!

While batches of that fleece soaked, I picked and dehaired llama. This one came from someone my mother knows. She came up to me at the local Fair a few years ago, said she had heard from my mother I spin, and she had a llama. They had shorn him when the weather got warm, so he would be more comfortable, but now there was a garbage bag of fleece in her garage, and could I use it? And in due time, a bag of fleece arrived. It's quite a nice grey-brown, soft, and not dirty - but oh, so full of hay. Either he's very fond of rolling in it, or he believes in keeping emergency snacks stashed on him at all times.

raw llama

clean llama

I'm going to lose a lot, either to felting due to my taking a couple years to get to it, or to short and excessively hay-filled bits. But I've got a couple hundred grams cleaned already, so enough to do something as a thank you, and some over, for sure. And I will be certain to clean the next llama fleeces promptly.


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Knitting Update

There has been knitting going on, and spinning, I promise. I just haven't been very good at posting. Apparently I'm not the only one, though. The thread on Ravelry for our destash KAL has been quieter this past week or so, as well.

I've finished spinning and plying the remainder of the Romney from the Rare Breeds fleece. Total of four plain white skeins, not interesting to look at, so I won't inflict pictures on anyone. The Leicester is now on the wheel, but it will go slowly, since I've really only been spinning while waiting for things like the computer to load up or the teakettle to boil.

I've been taking my Alpha socks out for Sunday knitting, so there is progress on those. Halfway up the leg of the first sock, anyway.

My mother and a friend are getting a booth for a local craft sale in July, and so I'm getting in on that also. Not sure what the market will be for yarn - I'll send a bit, but more finished things, I think. So in the pile for that, I've added two tams and a lace scarf, and started another scarf.

The red striped tam is my Bargello pattern (on Rav or my Etsy), but I wanted to try it in alpaca, to see if maybe it would be suitable for Johanne's alpaca yarn. She wants some patterns to go with it, and asked if I could make some. Of course it's a bit slouchier than with wool, since it's heavier, but I think it could work. This one was in all my random scraps, though, so I would like to try it in her yarn to be sure.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Nothing Changes

I've been working my way through a translation of Pliny (Senior) these last couple weeks, and in the medical and herbs section, I came across the following:

"That such ignorance about (a particular honor) is rife among us I consider less strange when I see the further indifference to the means of preserving health, of banishing physical pain, and of warding off death. But who could not censure modern ways? The cost of living has been increased by luxuries and extravagance; never has there been more zest for life or less care taken of it. We believe that care for our lives is the duty of others, that others make it their business on instruction from us, and that physicians have already provided for our needs. The enjoyment of pleasures is our personal affair, but our lives we entrust to the charge of somebody else, thereby incurring what I personally hold to be the worst possible disgrace."

Um, anything familiar in that? How many people are out there, do you figure, that fit that description? Who doesn't know, or hasn't heard of, people who have health issues which could be avoided or improved by changing their diet or lifestyle? And how many of those don't change, because it would mean having to give up something they like, or do something extra.  Nope, go to the doctor and get another pill,  or live with the problem and complain about it. And not just health - how many people are there who complain about their finances, for example, but who still constantly spend money for these 'luxuries and extravagance'?

I read that section, and a couple where he's denouncing quack cures, which people pay for even when it should be obvious they won't work, and I couldn't help laughing to myself. Don't we have those too?

It's one of the reasons I love reading some of these classics. You get a glimpse through a window into life two thousand years ago or so (Pliny was writing in the 1st century AD; he died in the eruption that buried Pompeii, because he went back to rescue some friends, and then wanted to take a bit of extra time and observe the eruption...). The setting is a bit different, but the people are just the same as today.
Kinda makes you wonder what the people (if any still exist) in 4000 AD will be like, and what they'll think of our ideas.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Multimedia Week

I suspect this is going to be a very inspiring week. Of course that means by the end of it I'll be itching to take up a half-dozen projects in various fiber media...

Yesterday I went with a friend, Meredith, to a show by one of the quilter's Guilds in town. I have the one quilt in progress which I haven't worked on in a couple years, and going to the shows like this always makes me feel like I want to get back to it. And then do more - lots more! The show was amazing, always is. I wish I had brought a camera, so I could show you some of the stuff - but I didn't know we were allowed cameras until we got there. There was one quilt, which had about three award ribbons, where the quilter had designed something like stained glass, with celtic knot-patterned vertical panels as the 'leading', and batik fabric in jewel tones for the 'glass'. Quilts like abstract paintings, exploring light and shade. Quilts with fine floral applique. Whimsical quilts for children - one had a collection of cartoon animals wearing a variety of shoes. Another had an open book titled 'A Collection of Animal Tails', with all the tails sticking out of the book, Swiss-Army-knife fashion, including a pompom for the bunny tail. Quilts with lace or jewels or charms added. Exchanges and challenges where you could see what several people had made out of the same collection of patches or a set theme.

Included in the set theme category was a popular exhibit, where each person had had to create a square that was a rebus of a flower name. They had a contest going, for visitors to try and figure out what they all were, and people were into it. Sitting on the benches, flipping through seed catalogs provided, Googling ideas on their phones... I think we spent at least 10-15 minutes there. Some were obvious (heart with drops of blood = bleeding heart), some funny (black bird with swearing symbols at it's beak = crow-cuss, crocus), some requiring more thought that others (plain beige square plus letter C = tan-C, tansy).

I didn't buy anything from the vendors, but it was tempting. Fabrics in every sort of print and color, alone or packaged in lovely combinations of colors, threads ranging from silk to metallic, books and patterns...sigh. Must do more quilting.

We ran into someone from the Knitting Guild, and I discovered a) the meeting is tonight and not next week, and b) Cat Bordhi is the speaker. She's been in town doing workshops this weekend, and from what I understand, she has a math background, and is known for novel ways of getting to a particular result. Right, so, must go. I think that would definitely be an interesting talk.

I also found out that the Embroiderer's Guild has a show on at the Almonte Textile Museum. So Friday afternoon, that's where I'm off to with my mother. Meredith said it was definitely worth seeing, only poorly advertised. Since I've dabbled in embroidery as well, I expect I will come away with more ideas and wishes to start something. Again.  

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Murphy Strikes Again

I came across a thread on Ravelry the other day, on Murphy's Laws of knitting. People contribute all sorts of stories of Murphy's Law striking their work. For example:

- The case where if it's a project for someone else, you will have plenty of leftover yarn. If it's for yourself,  you will be 4 yards short, even if you bought more than called for.
- The case where you may have several of a particular notion - needles, scissors, stitch markers, tape measure - but they will never be findable when you need them.
 - The case where if you run out of yarn for a project, it will either be discontinued or no longer available in that dye lot.
 - The case where if you start a simple project to get relief from a complex one, the simple one will have errors or otherwise give you as much grief as the complex project.
 - The case where if you are going out to knit, it is likely you will manage to pack the yarn for one project and the pattern/needles for another.

Etc, etc.

It seems to be a common issue. I have managed to get three instances of Murphy-esque behaviour in my own knitting in the last few days.

The first was in the tam I was knitting. I got halfway through a stripe and unexpectedly ran out of yarn. Unpicked the stripe and rerolled the ball, which came out smaller than remembered. A search of the area revealed the ball had had two lengths in it, and I was sitting on the second one.

Then there was the case of the sock heel. I read the pattern three times, and couldn't figure out how I was supposed to be doing this. Tried twice, ripped twice, e-mailed for help from the designer. Of course then it suddenly made sense, and before I heard back, I had the heel finished, feeling slightly foolish.

And then there was the question of use. I don't usually make things if I don't have a use for them or someone to give them to. So last week I passed up a chance to test-knit a stuffed toy. There are a lot of cute toys out there, and I would have loved to knit one, but couldn't think of anyone I knew who was expecting a baby, who I could pass the finished toy to. This week? I find out that a friend has just become an aunt, and two of my cousins will be parents this fall. Babies galore to knit for.

In light of that last one, I would like to say this. Murphy? I want you to know that I am very deliberately NOT knitting a lacy corset top with matching garters. I have NO conceivable use for one. That is all.  

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

In Bloom

A couple days of warm weather and rain, and everything is growing in leaps and bounds. I took advantage of the sun yesterday to edge and weed some beds, turn the compost heap, and prepare the beds to plant veggies. I planted the early stuff - peas and lettuce - today. And the whole time I was out it was idyllic. Warm, all the birds singing like mad, and the breeze wafting scent over from all the blossoming trees and shrubs. The crabapples trees across the road are in bloom, and apple blossom has to be one of my favorite scents.

The sand cherry is just covered with blossom.

The lilacs are opening.

Everything else is taking off too. I've had to pull flower heads out of the rhubarb already. The yarrow and Jacob's ladder (polemonium?) have buds. The lily-of-the-valley will be adding their scent to the air in a few days, and the irises have flower heads coming all of a sudden.

I started tomatoes and peppers and Japanese indigo inside today. Tomorrow I want to pick up a few more seeds for things I'm missing. Now the only problem is I'm running out of windowsill space!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Spring Cleaning

My lilacs are blooming, the sand cherry is blooming, and the weather is beautiful. That usually inspires spring cleaning behaviour on my part. Which is only a good thing, really, if I think a process through first.

Yesterday I had an urge to vacuum. Later, I was looking for a sweater to wear out to knitting, and started noticing that most of the sweaters on my shelf were starting to smell a bit stale. How I didn't notice before, I don't know. But clearly they needed washing and freshening up. So, in a sudden burst of energy inspired by the lovely spring weather, I decided to start washing them then and there, and started filling the bathtub with water.

Now, the smart thing to do, seeing as I have an apartment with limited space, and quite a few sweaters of the handknit / wool / 'handwash, lay flat to dry' variety, would have been to see how many sweaters I could reasonably spread out to dry at one time, and wash only that many to begin with. However, I only thought about drying space AFTER the first batch was draining, and the second batch was soaking. Leaving me with a dozen and a half of wet sweaters to find space for.

To make life more fun, note that I couldn't even spin out the excess water in the washing machine, really. The machine in the building is a coin-operated one, and will go through the entire cycle, regardless. I wasn't going to waste money and water and hang around in order to put my sweaters in right before the spin cycle. I squeezed and pressed out what water I could, stacked the whole pile flat in the tub, and constructed a crude press to try and get more water squeezed out - meaning essentially I topped the stack with a Rubbermaid bin filled with the heaviest books I could find, and left it to drain while I had supper.
Then any sweaters that could go in the dryer went, and the rest got pressed in towels, and the various wet towels and sweaters spread out as best I could on the clothes rack and chairs, and propped on an expandable bamboo trellis under the ceiling fan.

Despite the sunny sky and open windows, I think the weather in here will be on the humid side for a couple days.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Making Out like a Bandit

Despite the fact that I definitely do not need any more yarn, fiber or books in my apartment, the last few days have seen all of those follow me home. You know how it goes.

This time it started on Tuesday, when I had a surprise call from a friend who I thought was in Morocco. But no, she was detouring on her way back home to New Zealand, here to visit her grandmother, who had had a stroke. She was coming to Ottawa to see other friends and family while she was here, so we met up Thursday morning for coffee and a bit of shopping. She needed books for the plane back, so we hit a second-hand bookstore, and of course I found a few things.

Friday night at knitting was a destash night. Not that I destashed anything. However, I did come home with several skeins of yarn (including some black alpaca not in the pic because it's already on the needles), and a bag of white Icelandic batts

Last weekend at the Arts and Scraps sale, I met Pat, who had a big bag of Cormo roving which I ended up taking home. She said she had other spinning fiber at home, and if I wanted it, she could bring it to the Fabric Flea-market today. Yeah. So I went there. I got her fiber - Columbia and Cormo roving, a bag of brown alpaca, and some smaller quantities of mohair and angora. And a skein of alpaca lace yarn (the pale one in the destash yarn photo).

And I did a little damage at some other tables. I found 6 balls of vintage cream-colored Kroy sock yarn for 4$. That was good - I signed up to test a stranded sock pattern, and needed to get some yarn for that, so this saves me a trip to the yarn store. Dyed part of it with food coloring when I got home for my contrast color. Also bought 4 balls of something similar to Briggs and Little yarn. And I looked for stuff my mother might want for weaving rugs, and lucked out at one table - a large piece of white cotton, another of linen/cotton in a light green, some brown wool, and a bit of dark brown linen. The box of vintage pins with the fabric came from another table, where I also got 2 sets of dpns.

Yeah. There may be a stash-down going on, but my stash seems to be expanding in spite of that. Here's hoping the Tour de Fleece and Ravelympics are very productive this year.