Saturday, 12 December 2015


Second week of December, and it feels more like October - there are dandelions blooming on the lawn, even! But Christmas is coming fast enough...with any luck there will be snow by then.

Last day of (outdoor) work for the season was November 20, after which came the pile of things-to-be-done-before-Christmas. Knitting, mostly. There was a commission of socks and little sweaters for Joan's family holiday:

Got that shipped off and started socks and fingerless mitts for a friend, with some lovely alpaca from this year's Rhinebeck trip:

Now there's a cowl on the needles for another friend, no pictures yet. I did a little spinning also, and the mostly grey Jacob yarn on the left will go in my mother's stocking, for a throw she wants to make with a pile of hand-spun she's been collecting.

The last thing that will need to be done by Christmas is the fingerless glove liners that were my brother's request, and I don't have the yarn or measurements yet. After that - well, apres moi, la deluge, as the French have it. In other words, there's an avalanche of stuff, mostly commissions, on the way. I started a list, and I'm a little dubious about my chances of knitting for myself anytime soon! Two sweaters, a shawl, a baby sweater, and a pair of leg warmers, plus two patterns to sample-knit and write up in the next couple months, plus some spinning...

Well, it'll be fun. And only a couple days until I hit the country for the holidays! Today has been about prep for a cookie exchange tomorrow, so there is sucre a la creme in the fridge and some decadent and festive shortbread on the counter. And tomorrow I also get to take in a concert by a local choir (Harmonia Choir), which I am very much looking forward to.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

I Aten't Dead Granny Weatherwax would say. (From Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, which I consider highly addictive.) No pictures today, just a quick post to say I'm alive. (Heck, I haven't managed to get the last four knitting projects photographed and onto Rav yet.)

It's been a crazy fall. Mostly fun and all, but I find myself needing more hours in a day, every day. There's been Havelock Fair and the Roxham WoolGathering,  a dye class to teach, a baby shower, Rhinebeck, the Knitting Guild vendor's night, and now next weekend is the OVWSG Exhibition and Sale. On top of that, work hasn't had the September slowdown we did last year, and it looks like we'll be running another 2 weeks at least, when last year the garden end wrapped up a week or two earlier. I really hope we don't get early snow or really cold weather...

We worked yesterday, the first Saturday in a while. Today the apartment is going to be very warm and steamy, fan and open window notwithstanding. Damp socks hanging in the living room, damp skeins hanging on the rack in the bathtub, two dyepots simmering on the stove, and the week's baking (pizza and apple muffins) in the oven. Tags are on the table for writing out whenever I have 2 minutes to spare. With any luck I can get the lion's share of the prep for Ex and Sale done today, (apart from reskeining things once they dry), and do all the other little chores that are piling up (like sorting the recycling, which is also piling up), then I can concentrate on reskeining and packing during the week. I'm thinking the Sale should be pretty busy this year. Carole, the co-ordinator, has arranged an interview on TV this week (Wednesday on CTV Morning Live, I believe) where they will try to teach the interviewer spinning, weaving and felting. Sounds like a fun session!  

...And there goes my timer. One batch of skeins ready to rinse, one dyebath ready to put skeins in, and the pizza's done, so I can start muffins as soon as the next round of pots is simmering.

Man, I'm looking forward to end of season. I want a nap. And then Kristina and I are planning a fibre prep day later in November, and then in the winter, Heather of HelloMello, who I met at Rhinebeck, and I are planning a SAL, like a little Tour de Fleece. I have ambitions to make a serious dent in the fibre stash this winter, and knit a few things for me, and...yeah, need more time again ;)

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Summer To Fall

The last of summer is speeding by already. All the signs are here that fall is on the way. Cooler mornings, geese flying overhead, asters and chrysanthemums blooming, and a few early leaves turning. In the veg garden the tomatoes are ripening (there will be bruschetta this weekend!), and I took enough beets and onions out last weekend to put up nine jars of pickles.

Work has slowed down a little, but there's still plenty going on. Last week (yeah, in that heat wave)  we had three of us out to an all-day job, clearing a massive set of stone terraces and steps on a waterfront property. The owner wanted some of the wildflowers left but the massive stuff and the bad stuff (like burdock and nettle and weed trees) gone. We put a good dent in it, but it will take another day's work at least to do it all. And thank goodness he had a burn pile, because that was so much easier than bagging it all - we got the pile to the point where it was six feet tall and at least twice that long. It felt at times like we were clearing Mayan ruins, and we should have had pith helmets and machetes. Yesterday we started another bigger job which will continue Monday - tidying up a property that I don't think has had much care in a year or two, but needs to get to a decent point, after which we will be doing regular maintenance. It's an older house and gardens, and definitely has potential, but some plants, like the day lilies and hydrangeas, have sort of started taking over - I think about 70% of the space is orange day lilies at the moment.

I'm still trying to finish re-skeining all the dyed yarn from the summer's batches. The bag of things to re-skein is slowly emptying (most of what's left in there is pastel shades of alpaca), and the box of things to label is slowly filling.

Only three weeks until the WoolGathering and Havelock Fair, and things need to be labeled and packed, and I'd like to do a bit more spinning and knitting if possible. Just finished a pair of fingerless mitts that are definitely seasonal, though!

The main reason the re-skeining goes slowly is HRH Julia. Standard session goes like this: I have the swift and the reel set up on the dining table, which is pretty much the most convenient spot in the place for me, and start working, then she decides after I get set up that she needs to stretch out right there also. So I shift the reel out of her way, she rolls over and gets whacked with it,

I move her over, she gets grouchy and comments that she's trying to sleep and I'm in her way. I reply that Temptations don't grow on trees and someone needs to buy them for her. I get a little more work done before she rolls over in the way of the reel again, I get up and go do something else, then several minutes later she gets bored and wanders off elsewhere. I go back to re-skeining, and try to get as much done as I can before the next round of need-to-nap-on-the-table-now-plz. Which is where I'm headed now, since the table's free for now...

Saturday, 18 July 2015

All The Dyed Yarn

It took me a week to get the pictures of last Sunday's dyeing off my camera and onto the computer so I could post them to show you all. But here they are at last. It was a busy day; I think about 7 dye baths, two of which (cochineal and indigo) had multiple batches of things going into the bath, with over-dyeing and such going on.

First out of the baths were greenweed yellow (which I actually did Saturday night, and left overnight to cool) and orange from dried coreopsis. I usually get a gold from the dried coreopsis, so the orange was a bit of a surprise, albeit a nice one. One coreopsis skein was done with sections in multiple mordants, but the results weren't as dramatic as I hoped; it just looks like a splotchy orange and brown-green (furthest left), not very pretty. That may end up getting over-dyed at some point to try and improve it.

While the coreopsis bath was simmering, I braved the heat and mosquitos and filled pots with sumac leaves for grey and goldenrod plants for olive green. The sumac greys are always interesting because you get a slightly different cast of grey on different fibres and yarns - all three greys in the picture are on different bases, and you can see the difference.

There was also a bath with madder, but I accidentally overheated it and it came out a dull salmon-y rather than the tomato-y red-orange it should have been. Not bad, but not the best. One of the coreopsis skeins got over-dyed with cochineal to fill that gap in my palette. 

The cochineal, indigo, and walnut baths finished the day. Besides the solid skeins that were either plain or over-dyed, there was a dip-dyed greenweed/indigo skein, and a tie-dyed one with bits of coreopsis and cochineal showing through the walnut brown.  But I think the purples and greens from the indigo over-dyes are still my favourites.

Today I'm dyeing just a couple more skeins. A tan with tea, and a gold with onion skin, to fill the gaps in the palette. Altogether a lovely pile of colours, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Eye Candy From The Country

Wild and wooly, warm and wet. That pretty much describes my Saturday this week. I'm out at the parents' for the weekend, and it's been a hot, sunny, breezy day - to me, that makes it a good day for fibre, since things will dry well. So laundry and dyeing and fleece washing have been most of the day.

 I started the day with a quick blocking of the hat I finished last night. Ribbed, in a cushy handspun Jacob wool I had a few partial balls of to use up. A post on the little porch proved a great place to put the hat to dry, and incidentally, provided a nice background for the photo.

In between loads of laundry, staying with the Jacob breed, I washed about a fleece and a half that I had gotten a while back and not done anything with yet. This is where the wet and wooly part comes in, since I wash stuff outside, which means hauling hot water in buckets from indoors to fill my tubs. A few old sheets went in a sunny spot for drying, and Mom said it looked like I was working with skunk pelts. Definitely smells nicer than skunk, though!

Cooled wash water from tubs was re-bucketed out and onto a bunch of plants that needed a water and fertilizer shot. More buckets of water came outside in the meantime for the next project, which is a batch of mordanting and dyeing. At this point the clothesline was full of laundry, so I hauled out a big wooden clothes-dryer, because something like 30 skeins got mordanted today.

In the little gaps between waiting for a mordant batch or a fleece batch to be ready for the next step, I got to shell peas. Result, a true green thumb (or at least thumbnail) and a lovely bowl of fresh peas.

Only had time to start one batch of dye after that - greenweed yellow, which will sit overnight - but there will be more dyeing tomorrow, and hopefully pretty pictures of the results. Although I'm planning mostly solid colours, a few of the skeins to be dyed will be multi-coloured, using different techniques, so I can show them as samples for a class I will be teaching at L'Ourse Qui Danse in a couple months. Ran over to the OQD ranch this afternoon to borrow some thiox for tomorrow's indigo dyeing and talk to Johanne about the date for the class - tentatively Sept 19 or 20 at this point. The road going to Johanne's is lovely; gravel road with maple bush along part of it, opening to fields of corn and soy, dark-green and silvery against the late-summer olive of the trees, with the Adirondack mountains misty-blue to the south.

Barbecued local sausages and homemade strawberry shortcake for dinner, and now the last thing before bed will be to go outside to turn off the burner under my dye-pot for the night, watch the fireflies winking for a few minutes, and smell the scent of the lilies in the air. Life doesn't get much better than this.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Everything Going On

So here we are, at the official start of summer. Just over a week to July, folks, and the time's been going fast. This weekend seems to be my first breathing space in a while. A nice quiet Sunday with a little mizzle in the air, and a chance to sit down at the computer for more than the time to check e-mail or do work. At least for a little while, before I have to see about lunches for the week, and tidying the place for a friend's visit, and getting some work done on Liz's garden plan, a few changes to be made following a chat with her last weekend...

It's been busy in the gardens this year. We've had more clients at work, more jobs coming in, than last year for sure. No early finishes to the days. Little chance of getting rainy days off. More Saturdays worked than before. And then our head gardener let us know she was leaving, so the next little while will be more fun than ever. Thankfully Emily (the other gardener remaining) and I work well together, and the organizing of jobs we've been doing this week seems to be getting a good amount done. But if you know of an experienced gardener looking for work (a slim hope, but whatever), send them our way!

Actual knitting content has been happening also, no fear. I mentioned that I was doing one for the boss for his fundraiser, right? It got done, working on it right to the last minute. Under 4 weeks, dudes, and I am not trying that again. There are changes I would make another time, but it turned out well, the boss liked it, and he was happy with the auction results, and said it got a lot of positive comments. Phew. This was the final product (although you can't see the cables very well; they're on both red and grey stripes:

Please note the cat is helping. She's usually very good about not touching my work, so I don't know what got into her, but every time I had the afghan pieces out to pin and arrange for sewing, she was there rolling on my work, and I was panicking that she would coat it in cat hair or snag it. I ended up putting a tablecloth over whatever parts I wasn't actually working on.

The logo is from their website, and I will note that Photoshop or a similar image manipulation program is your friend if you want to copy/adapt something like this for knitting, especially if you're like me and can't draw. If you want to know how I did it, the process goes like this:
1) I grabbed the image from the website, then in Photoshop, I cropped it to the area with just the logo I needed.

 2) I did a gauge swatch of my yarn, figured out how big a panel I wanted to make with the logo, and used that info to get an approximate stitch and row count for the panel.
3) Back in Photoshop, I changed the image size width in pixels to match my stitch count desired for the panel (I wasn't too fussed about row count, as I figured I could just make the shorter strips below it whatever length I needed, and I didn't want to distort the image.)
4) Then I magnified the image until I could see the individual pixels well.
5) I opened up a page of electronic graph paper (I found it as a free download somewhere a few years ago) in Photoshop as well, and copied the image outlines to the graph paper.

Since the original image had pixels in multiple colours and intensities, and I wanted essentially a black and white version, I had to decide for the in-between shades whether a square should be graphed as black or white, and I adjusted the lettering to be more regular than it would be by using strictly dark/light decisions. But the idea worked wonderfully on the whole, and I love the idea that it means there doesn't have to be a graphed image out there for something I want to do, because I can create one fairly easily in whatever size I want. (Of course, be respectful of copyright, if you are going to try this at home. I wasn't worrying about it because of it being done by request for the actual organization in question.)

Sort of funny that I had been working so hard on this afghan for a cancer fundraiser, when one of the other recent happenings has been that this week Kim, a knitting friend with cancer, got moved to hospice and subsequently passed away. It's not like we all didn't know this would happen at some point, short of a miracle occurring. And I'm glad for her sake that when she started going downhill, she went pretty fast, so didn't suffer as long. But it's still a hard notion to get used to, that she's gone, and she won't be at knit-outs or on Rav anymore, and I will be glad to be busy for a while and not think about it. She was a nice person, and will be missed around here.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Of Mice and Men

Ok, seriously guys? It's Saturday suppertime and I'm having the second half of my lunch. The first half was at 3. I'm starving and in need of tea, which is steeping right now. And I need to whine a little. It's been one of those days. On the plus side, Emily (the new gardener) and I are having a lovely time exchanging tales of the co-op students...we laugh so we don't cry.

I had been hoping to get to the Glebe Garage Sale today, but no dice. Through a combination of factors, we ended up working today, 9-5:30ish. For one, it's first round of maintenance for some places, so we're doing gardens we haven't seen in over 6 months, and which are consequently a little, um, weedy. Then we have the fact that the co-op students are not getting any faster at working, and apparently are incapable of recognizing some basic weeds, so the work goes rather slower than it should. That meant we had a backlog of something like eight places from this week to catch up on today. And the head gardener took the day off.

Just to start the day off right, I discovered on the way to work that I had left my knitting needles at home. Had the wool, just not the needles. So no knitting during travel time. Fine, I spent the time doing a bit of planning towards Liz's garden on a scrap of paper.

I get to work and Emily and I divide up the jobs and the students, and head out. I took west end, since the biggest job there was one that I knew would be a mess. I figured it would be easier if someone familiar with it went in - they only came to us halfway through last summer, and it took two people two days to get it in shape to do maintenance the rest of the summer. And I don't think they had a fall or spring clean-up. Well, we took 7 bags of weeds and stuff out today and took 5 hours to do it. And just to make things more fun, I managed to kneel on a dog bomb in the back yard. Both knees and kneepads. So I used a spare handkerchief and some of my drinking water to clean up as best as I could, and kept going. My estimate is that I did about 3/4 of the place...

By the time we finished, it was going on 3. Emily and her student were done two small jobs and on to the third - Emily also doing about 3/4 of the work at each site. We stopped for a bathroom break on the way to our second place, and ate what we could while travelling, which added up to half a flatbread with hummus for me. Then another 2 hours work at site # 2. Emily finished their site #4 and got back to the shop maybe 20 minutes ahead of us. And bless the girl, she waited and drove me home - her new place is only 5 minutes from me. I was not looking forward to catching a bus - it comes every 30 min, I think, on Saturdays, and is 15-20 minutes walk down the road from work. She is getting cookies from me, since she is making a habit of driving me when the bus is not being convenient.

And we had our laughs on the way home. One site they went to, I had told her there was only the one bed in the back. She passed the information on to her student - who managed to walk right by the bed in question (which is in a raised masonry surround, filled with rosebushes, and right there when you go to the back). He went all the way down to the back corner where there was a patch of tallish weeds near the fence, and apparently started weeding between the weeds. Ten minutes later he comes to her saying he has a question about which ones are the plants...

I guess they haven't learned weeds yet at school? My student has been making a habit of leaving grass in the beds. Couch grass and lawn grass. He carefully cultivated around a patch of the latter at one place today. I told Emily if their prof ever gets arrested for losing his temper and killing them, I will totally support him on grounds it was extreme provocation and justifiable homicide...

Oh, and the mice? Somehow one or more have gotten into the building for the first time I've noticed since I've lived here. Woke me up one night scritching around and gnawing, apparently in the ceiling above my hallway light fixture. Reported to landlord after a couple episodes, who came and put baits in the ceiling and a few other likely places, and reported some chewed insulation and stuff in the ceiling space. With any luck the baits will take care of the problem before they start chewing electrical wires.

Ah, well. Off to enjoy what's left of the weekend. There's bread rising right now, so I will have fresh bread with butter later on. And maybe tomorrow I will try sleeping in a little, if the cat permits!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

A Day For Everything?

You know how there's days for just about any food/activity/disease/whatever? So apparently today was World Naked Gardening day. Seriously. (You learn about so many random things on Ravelry...)

Somehow, I don't think it's going to catch on, though. I mean, I'll give the originator props for trying. But some activities don't really go with naked, you know? And gardening is one of them (unless, of course, your idea of gardening is the Edwardian lady with a basket and a scissor cutting flowers to arrange indoors).

I was gardening today. There were shrubs to prune, and a rosebush. Would anyone care to try wrangling a rosebush 6+ feet high with no clothes on? On a nice hot sunny day? I didn't think so. At least the bugs aren't out yet, and there aren't any anthills nearby, but I think you would have been in pain by the end of the day, one way or another...

Pi Day I will celebrate happily. But I think I'll pass on the naked gardening, kthxbai.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Must Be Monday

Otherwise known as apparently not a good day for getting things done...

Work started last week, and the weather was gorgeous. Today, not so much. It went from cold and overcast on arrival to cold, windy and raining shortly after we got to the first site of the day. We stuck it out for a couple hours, but finally admitted defeat with the place half-finished, and drove back to the shop (with the heater on full blast). Everything I was wearing was wet enough to need changing when I got home. Oh well, I'm dry now, and at least gardeners have the option to stop for the day, unlike mail carriers or the people who change advertising signs, both of whom I saw working outside today.

All right, so free day, what to do? I noticed the blue yarn in the sweater for my cousin's baby was bleeding colour onto my fingers when I knit, so I wound the yarn into skeins and washed it. Apparently the bar of laundry soap I used wasn't a good idea, because the yarn is all patchy now and will probably need re-dyeing before use...and since I already have that blue in the trim of the cuffs and sweater body, I will probably have to rip ALL of it out and restart with a different colour combination.

That was a depressing thought, so while I was working my courage up, I decided to sew some of the patches for the quilt square in progress. Got a piece done, corners lined up, and came to the conclusion that how I was lining this section up was wrong and I will have to rip out and redo. Thankfully it was only the first of the four sections with that layout.

I'm starting to sense a pattern here - and it's making me very hesitant to try and get anything substantial done. Maybe the best thing to do with my free day is going to be make a cup of tea, put on a movie, and (sigh) rip out the errant quilting seams, frog the baby sweater, and turn my attention to finding a new colour combination for the latter. Yeah. And with any luck, neither the stove nor the VCR will blow up when I try to use them.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Decision Making

To any quilters out there - how do you not go crazy deciding between options? There are so many options!

Where did that thought come from? Well, I'm working on a quilt block. One quilt block. A local quilting group is doing this for a fundraiser, and Mom and I decided to get in on it. Each person doing a block gets a packet with 2 pieces of fabric (the same 2 for everyone), and instructions. Basically, the idea is to add 2-4 more fabrics, and make a 12" quilt block. That's really all the guidelines you have.

First things first, I needed to find two more fabrics. Mom and I went through a couple baskets of scraps.  When your starting point is a blue solid and a blue print, there are a lot of colours that go with them. After trying several different combinations, I ended up with a buttery yellow and a white with a flower print that picked up the blue and the yellow.

Next, pattern. I'm pretty much a novice, so I wanted something fairly simple - i.e., nothing where I had to accurately match eight points together or something. But not too boring. And of course it had to be doable in 4 colours. Um, so we have a couple books with names like "400 Quilt Blocks". And a few with a more specialized focus. I skipped the magazines; that would have been too much input. Finally settled on a block called Canadian Gardens, which seemed appropriate.

Four fabrics, quilt block, all right...Wait, I still have to decide which colours are going where. So out come the coloured pencils and the paper. I'm sure this is a lot easier if you have a vision of the finished quilt in mind - which colours you want to emphasize, for instance. If all you see is a pattern of triangles and squares, there are a lot of possibilities. (If I was doing a whole quilt, in fact, I would be tempted to try out all the various permutations and combinations of colour arrangement for the same block layout.) But since I had only one block, and didn't want to spend two days choosing the colour placement, I sketched just four and picked one of those (the top left one, if you're wondering).

Got the pattern pieces drawn and cut out (the 8-squares-per-inch graph paper I had for school made that SO easy), traced onto cardboard and cut out for templates, and traced and cut appropriate pieces of fabric. Which was a job, not because of the cutting, but because the cat decided she needed attention, and accurately tracing and cutting pieces of fabric is much harder when there's four feet and a tail in the way and a cute face purring and trying to rub your face...Now I get to do the sewing, and hope everything lines up.

But not right now. Because it's beautifully sunny and nice out (supposed to be 23C today!), the birds are chirping, the crocuses are blooming, and I need to finish cleaning up the garden before work starts later this week.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Spring: Finishing And Starting

Despite the fact that we had a winter wonderland outside (again!) Sunday morning, spring is just about here. Things are coming up in the garden, and work starts next week.

A lot of my fibre projects seem to be either finishing or starting right now also. On the finished pile, I have all 5 skeins of that pewter-grey llama I was spinning, plus my first official weaving project, hemmed, washed, ends trimmed, and ready to go to the Guild on Monday.

Also going to the Guild will be my basket from the class I was taking. I must say it's not exactly a perfect basket, but hey, it's my first try. The reed we used was really light-coloured, and the basket sticks out like a sore thumb, since every other basket I own is patina'd and rather darker. But by a nice coincidence, I've been doing my first dye-bath of the season - walnuts - and thought that the exhaust bath might be useful to stain the basket darker, even if it takes a few coats. So I'm trying that right now.

The walnut-dyed yarn is hanging up to dry. The darker skeins are going for a sweater for a cousin's new baby, commissioned by my aunt. It's wool from their sheep that they had mill-spun at MacAusland's, and the weight and texture are similar enough to Briggs and Little that I will add some colours out of my stash of B&L to get enough yarn for the sweater.

The lighter skeins had a cold soak for 30 min or an hour in the exhaust bath - I just want enough there for a tint, which gives lovely reds with a cochineal pink/red on top.

While waiting for the yarn to dry for the little sweater, I'm finishing off a pair of socks for me. Fleece Artist BFL Sock I bought at Rhinebeck last year. The only picture I have so far, though, is this one of Pumpkin having a lovely nap on my laptop case and knitting bag, with the sock sticking out of the sandwich.

And the last current finished thing is the first Cowichan-style sweater Joan commissioned (we're still waiting on the yarn for the kid's version). It's really cozy, even if knitting with Lopi does make me feel like I've got a hairball in my throat. And I found out that taking a picture of your own back is rather tricky, but I got some sort of picture in the end! (All right, so the easiest was taking pictures while not wearing the sweater.)

Saturday, 14 March 2015

I See An(other) Addiction Looming

This is for all of you weavers out there who keep saying things like, "Come on over to the dark side! We have yarn!" You know who you are. I did not need another hobby. I can knit, spin, tat, dye, embroider, sew, and crochet, and that's just the fibre crafts on my list. My mother weaves; I didn't need to.

But I thought it might be nice to try making a Linus blanket to contribute to the Guild's initiative. And here's my mother, aiding and abetting, volunteering her stash and loom and knowledge to help me....

I had a dentist appointment Thursday morning, came home minus one tooth, and started my period. Notwithstanding,  I learned to calculate yardage, and started measuring warp. We only had enough to warp up for one blanket, unfortunately, but it's the process that counts...

Finished measuring and chaining up the warp Friday morning. Between us, Mom and I got the warp through the reed, rolled onto the back beam, and threaded into the heddles over the afternoon and evening.

The one thing that you never hear of or think of, if you're not a weaver, is how much of your set-up time you spend tying and untying various parts to each other. I know when Mom got her loom, the lady who sold it to her sent a whole bag full of random pieces of string with the rest of the accessories, saying we would need it. At the time it seemed like a really random thing to send. But really, you tie up your warp, you tie the beater in position, you tie the shafts in position, you tie the lease sticks on place, you tie the extra heddles back - it all adds up. The box of string bits is an essential tool.

Anyway, this morning saw the sleying done, and the warp tied to the front beam, and I did a little math and worked out a random stripe pattern. Two and a half days into the project, and I finally got to sit at the loom and actually weave after lunch today. It's a twill weave, in cotton yarns (DK-ish weight, I think). I got a quick run-down on how to weave, change colours, and advance the warp, and off I went.

It is going surprisingly fast and well, in my opinion, for a first project. And I can see how this could get really addictive, really quickly. I'm over 2 feet in already. Wove for a while, refilled bobbins as needed, and wove some more. Wandered downstairs for a break - tea, bathroom, and a Motrin to take the edge off my headache (always happens at this time of the month) - and went back to weaving. Made a few mistakes in treadling, corrected myself, and wove some more. Answered the call to supper, and went back to work. Dad went off to the Irish concert in town, Mom settled down with her knitting, and I wove. Finally stopped a little while ago, and discovered my back muscles were stiff, so I think that ought to be it for the night. But I think I like this weaving thing.

I did tell Mom she might have competition for the loom now. She says when they find a buyer for the piano, maybe the other loom, currently in storage, can go in that space...

We all see where this is going, right?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

New Projects From Old Stuff

I've been thinking I wanted to do some spinning on my old wheel again. I started spinning some wool on it a while back, but the wool was full of nups (my fault entirely, I thought it was something else when I was carding, and the teeth on the carder were way too coarse). I thought I could salvage it, but the spinning was so tedious that I kept abandoning it. So I just sat down yesterday, took off what was on the wheel and plied it - a small skein of white could be handy.

Then I took out the carder, and a heap of pewter-grey llama fibre. I think the fibre was from the first time I went to Rhinebeck, several years ago. I had washed it, carded and spun and knitted a couple skeins, and wrapped up the rest for's lovely fibre and time it got used. I did get around to picking it all before Christmas. It only really needed one pass on the carder to make it reasonable to spin, happily, since it produced 16 nice little fluffy batts, now rolled up and ready to go. That was most of the afternoon.

And you know what? It's so much nicer to spin than that blasted wool that I have more of it spun already than I had of the wool. I feel so much happier!

The other thing I'm tackling that's been taking up space is some cotton yarn. I had leftovers from a couple baby kimonos made 3-4 years ago, plus some destashed to me, and I thought it might turn into a baby blanket. Knit a bunch of squares and started putting them together, decided I wasn't overly enthused with it, and put it away. But even thought the squares were small, the length of the pieces of yarn in them is long enough, I figure, for a few rows of weaving. So it's all getting frogged and rolled up, and maybe it will be a baby blanket after all - but a woven one instead. And that will clear out a project bag, and keep the yarn from gathering (more) dust. So nice to feel there's progress being made!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Spring Forward

March so far has been coming in like the proverbial lamb. And like actual lambs, I suspect there will be a lot of busy-ness and bouncing around going on. I just got a call from work to schedule a meeting for next week, so I know the season is showing signs of starting, despite the snow still on the ground.

In the meantime, let's see. There's a pile of stuff to go to Jo again, including the scrappy fingerless I was working on (they came out nicely, but the ends! They practically had a fringe inside!), a pair of mittens, two skeins of yarn, and another pair of mittens on the needles which may become something else, since the yarn seems to be going faster than anticipated - I'll have to weigh the remainder after and see.

Also there's a pair of socks for Joan, for her daughter.

Hopefully we will be able to work out a meet-up this week when I go down to the parents'. I have to deliver Jo's stuff also, visit the dentist, and then (Oh, excitement!) Mom and I will warp up her loom and I will have my first go at weaving on it. A baby blanket, towards the Linus Blanket project, which the guild is also working on things for right now.  Oh, and I have to choose some fabric and a pattern for a quilt square for a community quilt that Mom and I signed up for last summer.

Then back to the guild and more weaving of a different kind - I'm taking my first class there in a couple weeks, in basketry - we're making a wool-drying basket. Very exciting, and it will be a busy day, since after that, I will just about have time for supper, and then a friend and I are going out contra dancing!

It's been a few years since the last time I did contra, but the subject came up recently in a conversation with the same friend, I went looking, and not only is the Ottawa Contra group still going strong, but they've moved nearer to me! And hey, with spring and work coming, it's about time I did a little exercising after sitting on my butt all winter, right? They had a dance this weekend that I went to, and it all started coming back pretty fast, and was super fun. Only, I am being very impressed with the fairy tale of the dancing princesses, because my feet were tired after only a few hours, whereas they danced all night! Well, I will have to experiment with different shoes, try something with a little more cushioning. But I definitely hope to make this a permanent part of my schedule. I've never really been much for the club-fashion, unstructured dancing. Contra, however, is as much a mental as a physical work-out, since you have to remember a different sequence of moves for each dance, and they change every dance - and you have your partner, and your current neighbour couple(s) interacting with you in each sequence. We get a walk-through of one repeat before the music starts, then the caller helps keep you on track for part of the dance. From the sidelines it looks like organized chaos, but it feels wonderful when it all comes together.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What To Do...

With all those little balls of scrap yarn that accumulate in the wake of projects.
I've been knitting stuff for Johanne's ranch shop for a few years now, and all those little bits have been building up. Taking inventory, I found I had 8 or 9 colours of her 2-ply yarn in little balls, and the scale confirmed there was enough for a pair of fingerless mittens.

So with the help of the scale, I sorted it all into approximately equal quantities of each colour in two piles, one for each mitt.

Looks a mess, right? What do we do with it? Arranging things in a gradient order of some sort always helps, I find. (I've been arranging things in rainbow order, gradient order, whatever, since before I started school. I think it's a compulsion.)

A quick swatch suggested that I would have at least enough for 3-4 rows in each colour, more in a stranded pattern. The dark browns had the most, so I figured that would be cuff and trim, and I let the rest percolate a bit. Finally decided on a 4 row pattern repeat with the colours shading in and out along the gradient, and cast on to start.

I think I like the way it's coming out; now it'll just be a question of hoping the colours hold out properly to keep the sequence going. And the weaving in of the ends will be a chore. But hey, as a method for not wasting yarn, it'll do!

While my ideas were percolating for the mitts, I started a new project. I probably "should" have been spinning, or sewing quilt seams, or frogging something in my frog bag - you know, dealing with the things that are already on the to-do list - but I didn't want to do any of those. I wanted to start a new cross-stitch. So I did. I've had this cross-stitch kit around for years, and finishing Frederick last year means I can start something new, right? And the colours are just what I want for the space over my table, now occupied with a print of pansies in blues and yellows, and my dishes are mostly blue and white...As my friend Deb would say, 'Justify, justify, justify!'

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Ticking Things Off The List

It's always nice to feel progress is being made. I keep feeling like things aren't getting done as fast as I'd like, but once I started adding up the last few weeks, it's not so bad.

All three pairs of socks for the cousins are now done, blocked, labeled, and wrapped up, ready to pass along.

And there is a pair of mittens and a pair of fingerless mitts done and ready to bring to Jo at the Ranch the next time I go. Right now I'm working on a pair of baby socks to add to that pile, and they go fast enough that they should be done by tomorrow.

I finally got the yarn on the wheel finished and plied - it's cormo that I dyed with bedstraw, walnut, and indigo. Not sure I like the texture of the wool, but we shall see how it is after washing. 

No thanks to the Julia, who makes it very obvious she dislikes me spinning by running out and flopping down in front of the wheel when I'm trying to use it. 

At least this time she was far enough from the wheel that I could work - sometimes she's right against the wheel like a hit-and-run accident, so I have to stop. Well, she won't be getting away with it for the next little while. Jo's cria rovings are the next thing to spin, and there's a lot of it. Probably close to a kilo. I'm glad it spins easily, but it will still take a while.