Meet Fert and Palladin

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10351730_10152717633959054_2321268615927224487_nFert & Palladin are Alpacas living on a farm just outside Niagara Falls, ON.  In October 2014, my daughter and her hubby went to go visit the farm on one of their very few days of the year that they allow visitors.  Unfortunately I couldn’t go with them that day (boo), but they did bring me back a piece of the farm.  In the form of 2 alpaca fleeces.  Not just a part of the fleece, but the-whole-fleece of 2 animals, which weighed about 3.5 lbs each.

Fert is a lovely brown fleece with highlights of red on the tips from the sun’s bleaching rays.  Palladin is as white as snow, after a good bath that is as both fleeces were pretty darn dusty but with minimal VM (vegetable matter, i.e. bits of hay & grass).1966716_10152717634219054_389215263030384962_nMy mind spun (get it) as to what I could make out of all this lovely, soft fibre.  An idea formed and it was time to get to work.  Once the fleeces were clean (which took me close to a month between other commitments), it was time to start carding and spinning.DSC02308_medium2

I first started with Palladin, whose newly washed fleece was brilliant white and as soft and silky as bunny fur.  With an idea in mind, I needed to figure out how much yardage required for the whole project and then back track.  Lots of math involved.   I hate math, hated it in school and always said to myself, “just where I am going to use all this darn stuff? No one can possibly use all this math stuff in the future”, well, here I am today doing tons of math not only in spinning, but weaving and knitting too.  Bah, anyway, back to math calculations and sampling, yes, sampling, not only do you have to do your math, you also have to make a small amount of yarn and then sample with it to make sure what you have in mind as gauge will work out for the intended project.  Like knitting instructions always say at the start of every pattern “To save Time, Take Time to check Gauge” (who me? guilty of NOT doing this? I won’t answer that)…..

Not wanting to waste 2 alpaca fleeces, checking my math and sett/gauge were even more important.

So I carded and spun up a small amount of fleece, then warped up my small Cricket loom to check how dense/open a fabric I wanted.  I started out at 12 epi (ends per inch) but the resulting fabric felt too stiff/dense.  I rethreaded the loom using my 8 epi heddle and while it appeared far too open, I knew that ‘wet finishing’ would tighten up the weave.  So I washed/dryed the sample and the resulting fabric was in the ballpark of what I wanted.  Time to finish the calculations now that I knew what sett (loom speak for warp thread spacing) to use.  The pic below shows fleece to finished fabric, yes, the two items on the right are gray as I was playing with natural dyes when I spun this last summer so took the opportunity to experiment at the same time.

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All that math behind me, it was now time to get into the groove of carding and spinning up all the alpaca, which took me almost a year between other projects/life.

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Once I had the last project off the loom, a blanket for a baby whose due date was looming (ha! another fibre pun!) it was time to finally get Fert & Palladin’s soft and luscious yarns wound and onto Bob the loom.

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After that, it wove up pretty quickly, a heck of a lot more time spent in prep than in actual weaving, but hey, that is the nature of the beast (another pun! I am firing on all cylinders this morning) when creating something from animal to finished product.

13260244_10156880387985291_875112006034015639_n_medium2This has been a great challenge in taking a raw material, applying newly learned skills and being self-sufficient.  I do believe I now qualify for being ready for a post-apocalyptic world, but sincerely hope that it doesn’t come to fruition.

So without further ado, here is the long-in-the-works alpaca throw blanket. Woven in a 2-2 Herringbone Twill pattern, it is soft, (seriously fuzzy, you should have seen the fuzzy dust-bunnies galloping around the condo while it was on the loom) and it has a beautiful drape and feel,  not too heavy, but with just enough weight to ‘feel’ like a blanket.  Incredibly warm too, although the temps outside this past week have been in the 30′s (Celsius), it will be put to good use come this Fall/Winter at the Homestead.

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Bob has been cleaned up and de-fuzzed but will most likely sit empty for the summer while I concentrate on my vegetable gardens and the next spinning project ~ a sweater currently being spun and knit from a whole Icelandic sheep fleece, then come Fall a couple of scarves are to be woven from gorgeous handspun and hand-dyed yarns that I have been working on.

Yes, I am busy, busy, busy, and I love it.

Deborah

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Cake Dyeing Experiment

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Sounds yummy doesn’t it?  Cake Dyeing….  Unfortunately no yummy cakes were baked, dyed or consumed for this project.

Cake dyeing is taking a skein of yarn and winding it into a “cake” with a ball winder and then dyeing it.  The word “cake” came about due to the resemblance of the wound yarn to a stacked layer cake.  This creates a centre-pull “ball” of yarn to knit from.

Ok, enough of word origins, on to the experiment!  I found 3 balls of sad looking yarn in the “free bin” in our condo craft room.  2 were an ugly golden-yellow colour, the third was a really ugly greenish-gray ball of what surely came out of a swamp.  No wonder they were cast off from whoever put them in the bin.  Nobody wants butt-ugly wool.  So I rescued them a few weeks ago with the intention of brightening them up in a dye experiment.

Enter cake dyeing.  The process where you wind yarn into the cake shape and submerse it up to half its height in a dye liquid, flip and do another colour and you come out with a wonderfully colour-patterned yarn.

DSC04434First off was to soak the 2 gold ones in water and citric acid (or vinegar) to prep the wool to accept the dye.  I then took a roasting tray with a rack and placed enough water in it to come up to halfway up the cake of yarn.  I then added my dye stock which was 1/2 tsp of Wilton’s Icing Gel red food colouring to half a cup of boiling water, stir to dissolve and dump in.  I also added another 3-4 tbsp of vinegar too.

DSC04439Add your yarn and bring the temp up to 170F and simmer for about an hour.  I carefully flipped the cakes over and let the second side soak for another hour.  Turn off the heat and left them to cool.  Once cool, rinse under the same temperature water, wind back into a skein and let dry.

The results are 2 very bright skeins of yarn now worthy of knitting.  I call these 2 skeins “Orange Sherbert”.

DSC04461Now with the other skein of butt-ugly greenish-gray yarn, I omitted the pre-soak to try and get the colour absorption to slow down.  Which worked a little too well as the colour didn’t penetrate as far into the cake of yarn as I would have liked.   The other steps were the same except for not pre-soaking.

DSC04453I added 1/2 tsp of cornflower blue Wiltons Icing Gel to one half, after an hour, flipped and added 1/2 tsp of violet.

The result?

DSC04468Burple ~ which is a combination of Butt Ugly and Purple.

I will re-dye this one solid purple as I really don’t like how it came out.  But heck, that is why they are called experiments as you never know exactly what you are going to get!

Deborah

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The Great Avocado Dye Experiment!

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Yesterday I posted a recipe using avocados, and in that recipe I said to save the pits and skins for later use.  I guess I *should* have been more specific, but I thought it would be interesting to see how many people would be wracking their brains wondering what the heck would you use them for.  I mean, they are inedible after all, and unless you are wanting to grow an avocado tree, why save the pit?

So here is what I do with them….

To one 500ml canning jar, I added 3 oz of chopped avocado pits. Combined 3/4 cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup ammonia and added it to the jar. Topped up to about 1 1/2” from the top.

To another 500ml canning jar, I added 3 oz of chopped avocado skins. Combined 3/4 cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup ammonia and added it to the jar. Topped up to about 1 1/2” from the top.

I screwed the bands down snugly on the jars and the heat/steam from the boiling water  sealed the jars after about 15 minutes.

DSC04087Here on Day 1, the colour starts almost immediately, but it is necessary to let the jars sit for a minimum of 30 days for the colour to develop, if you tried it now, you would not get any colour to stick to the fibers, it would mostly rinse away.

Here they are on Day 3 they are darker, but they still need to sit.

20151202_091140_medium2I put these jars up on November 30th and left them until after Christmas.  Close to one month later while we were up at the cottage, I finally cracked the jars and dyed 2 skeins of yarn.  The larger skein went into the skin dye, which looked purple/green, the smaller one went into the dye made from the pits, which looked rosy-red.

Here are the results…

Studio_20151229_110736_medium2The skein on the left was in the skin dye bath and it came out a gorgeous, soft beige colour.  The pinky-rosy one on the right was in the pit dye bath.  The colouring on the skein from the skins was much more even, but the pit dye bath took up the dye very unevenly, so it was a more rosy/tan mottled look.

I really liked the colour of the skein from the skins and have another batch fermenting now, but will let the jars sit much longer this time to deepen the colours.

** Tip if you are going to try this ~ when you first get the pit out of the avocado, chop it up into small pieces immediately, if you wait, the air gets at it and it turns rock hard and you will be unable to chop it.  I store pits and skins (washed) in ziploc bags in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch with.

There, aren’t you glad you asked? If you want to dye yarn (or fabric), this is what you can save your avocado skins and pits for. ;)

Deborah

 

 

 

 

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From Ewe To Me

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With Love.

DSC04118Which is absolutely spot on.

Over a year in the making, I have finally completed a project that started with roving from sheep fleece, spun it into yarn, then wove it into a blanket.

This is my ‘practice’ blanket.  I have another one planned for the alpaca I am still spinning, but this was a test to see if my handspun can hold up to the high tension requirements of loom weaving.  It is comprised of rough, lumpy, bumpy yarn that were mostly spun a year ago, which I then spent last summer experimenting with natural dyes and dyed a variety of yellow/gold/pale orange shades from 10 skiens of yarn.

DSC03473Once my tea towels were off the loom (which languished for 3 months, but in my defense, Christmas/life/cottage was hindering my loom time), it was time to prepare the warp for the blanket.

Warping a loom is time consuming, it can take anywhere from 1-2 days for thicker yarns to a week for thinner ones, luckily, all my practice yarn was roughly the same size.  Nice, thick and quick to wind on the loom.

Studio_20160108_091309_medium2Once the yarn was on the loom (special thanks to hubby for his help!) it was time to get down to business.  In just 3 days, it was finished and cut off the loom.  I knotted the fringe last night and just need to trim to an even length, then into the washing machine on a wool setting for the final finishing to plump up the fibers and soften them.

DSC04116Simple, Satisfying and Useful.  This is what people HAD to do before the days of the cheap cr@p made in China that filled our store shelves.  I know that there isn’t a lot of folks out there that are able to do what I do (either in need or want) but we have a choice to either buy the overseas garbage or make our own, I choose to make my own.  Yes it takes time, but in the end, I have an item that will stand up to a lot wear for a very long time.

Deborah

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2016 ~ The Year of the Wheel!

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Happy New Year to everyone!  Yes, it has been awhile, but how many of you had the time to try and keep up a blog AND do all things Christmas-y?  Baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping, visiting, etc?

That is my defence and I am sticking to it.

I can also add spinning, knitting and weaving into the above as many of you who follow me on Facebook can attest to as I  regularly post pics of FO’s or WIP’s (Finished Objects or Work in Progress) to brighten the days of those cruising on FB.

Now that the holidays are fading in the rear view mirror, it’s time to concentrate on a New Year.  I have a couple resolutions, but these ones I am sure to stick too.  I gave up on the ‘must lose 10 lbs!’ or ‘stop eating chocolate!’ resolutions a couple years back.  Moderation is the key, you can still have your chocolate, just make sure you walk that stuff off the day you eat it.

My resolutions this year are to refine and hone the skills of my latest obsessions um…hobbies.  Weaving and Spinning.  I am well on my way in the weaving world, but there is always room for improvement and while spinning is a fairly recent craft, I am generally happy with where my spinning skills are at, but again, there is always room for improvement.  I am spinning yarn to not only knit with, but to weave with on my looms.  There is something so satisfying from taking a lump of fluffy fleece and turning it into yarn, then weaving it into a finished product.  Whether it is a scarf, blanket or fabric for clothing, it’s like taking raw food ingredients and assembling them into a Five Star restaurant type meal.

To aid me in my quest to hone my spinning is the addition of another wheel.  Yes, I clearly hear you when you scoff – “another wheel?! she’s turning into the crazy cat lady of the fibre world!”  No, not really, as there are many others that have many more wheels than I do.

20160105_134117Each of these 3 wheels are vastly different in function and spinning style.  The one on the far right, the small, boxy shaped one is a Spin-Well.  Made in the 1930′s in Sifton, Manitoba, she is the youngest of the herd and is a workhorse of a wheel.  She was built mainly to make thicker yarns, but I love her for plying 2 or more yarns together as the bobbins on her are just huge.  This is the one that I *obtained* from my Aunt & Uncle a year and a half ago that started me on my spinning odyssey.

Next up, the one in the middle, is the wheel I picked this past summer.  She is a sturdy little wheel that will spin miles and miles of thinner yarn, and even though her bobbins are small, I can fill them to the max and then use the Spin-Well for plying.  I am not sure on her pedigree as there is no maker’s mark on her but she is similar in style to the Young family of wheels (there were 4 makers in the family) from Nova Scotia back in the 1800′s, which is where she came from and is estimated to be between 150 and 200 yrs old.  She is in exceptional condition for her age too.

My latest wheel is the largest of all, she certainly didn’t look that big when I picked her up yesterday.  Not until I brought her home and set her beside the other two – eek! her drive wheel is huge!   This means she can spin thinner yarn, faster than the others.  This wheel also has no maker’s mark but the owner said she was made in Quebec, which is info she received when she obtained the wheel last year.  I am currently on a hunt to narrow down her style/maker and while she is similar in stance to a CPW (Canadian Production Wheel), she lacks the tilt-tension which is the key to her not being one.  She is also very, very similar to a Louis Bisson, but again, lacks a very important detail, a swooping treadling piece along  with no maker’s mark.  She was incredibly filthy too, I spent a good hour cleaning her up with Murphy’s Oil Soap (excellent product for any wood furniture), she now functions as she should and looks much better for it.

20160106_081914And if I haven’t sounded crazy enough, I have names for all the wheels (and looms too).  As soon as I brought the new wheel home and sat her beside the other two, she just paled in colour against them…so I named her Blanch.  The Spin-Well (Grand Dame I call her) is much darker and Beth, is more reddish-orange in tone, so I have Grand Dame, Beth and Blanch.

I am looking forward to finding out as much as I can on these wheels, as well as to further my knowledge and skill in using them.  Cheers to 2016! ~ The Year of the Wheel will be a fun journey!

Deborah

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Alpaca Throw Blanket

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I have a serious flaw.  I come up with crazy thoughts and ideas that cause me to spend days, weeks and even months doing something that results in an object I could have gone to the store and bought.  This time? I am making an alpaca throw blanket from scratch.  Way more fun than buying a made-in-China-piece-of-crap-knockoff.

Last Fall my lovely daughter and her husband visited an Alpaca farm just outside Niagara Falls and brought me back 2 alpaca fleeces.  As I was in the throes of Christmas prep, house renovations and purging/packing to move, the two fleeces were washed and placed into totes for storage.

I finally was able to get to carding the fleece (getting it ready to spin) this past summer.  I have most of Palladin (name of the critter it came from) done, he offered up some lovely creamy-white fleece that spins like a dream and feels as soft and fluffy as a cloud. Fert, not to be confused with Fart (he gets a complex if people call him that) is a rusty-brown colour. He is still in a tote to be carded, but I had to start somewhere and Palladin was the first tote I pulled off the storage shelf.

I am guessing at the weight of the fleece I have from both animals as I never weighed them (probably about 4 lbs each), but it will most likely come in around 2.5 lbs each after wastage from carding/spinning.

Thanksgiving weekend, I spun up 2 sample bobbins of lace weight and plied them together. Roughly a fingering weight of which I dyed with leftover mint dye liquor with an afterbath of iron. Resulting in a soft gray. This will not be the final colour(s) of the blanket, just something to test with and looks better than a plain ‘ol white skein.

I will be using both my new (old) wheel (Beth, an antique Nova Scotian wheel) to spin the yarn, but because her bobbins are not that big I am plying the yarn on my Spin Well (the sturdy Manitoban wheel) as she has enormous bobbins (my, that does sound risqué doesn’t it?)

I then took the sample (152 yards) and using my 15” Cricket loom, I wove a sample at 12 epi (ends per inch, the vertical threads) and 8 epi respectively and I played with the ppi (picks per inch, the horizontal threads) on both and ended up liking the 8 epi with a 10 ppi so that is what I will aim for as I love the feel of the fabric at that density. The sample was woven plain weave, but I will be using a twill pattern on the floor loom when all the fleece is carded and spun.

Pictured below (from left to right) is raw fleece (washed), then the carded “rolag”, bobbin full of spun yarn, plied and dyed yarn, then the woven sample.DSC03691

With the exception of yarn spun from Fert, Palladin’s yarn will be dyed using natural materials in earth tones (tans/browns/reddish-browns) to match our living room décor where the finished blanket will reside…whenever that happens, hopefully by the end of the winter….but that is being optimistic!

Note to self….keep a vacuum on hand while carding/spinning alpaca…holy fuzz batman!

Deborah

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2015 Summer Vacation

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*Hello*!

Can you see me waving?

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No, not the loon (who seems to be waving) but me! ;)

Long time, no chat everyone!  Totally my fault though as the past year has been nothing short of controlled chaos (and I use that term loosely).  Last summer hubby and I started getting our house ready for sale, meaning de-cluttering, purging, building a new bathroom, gutting and renovating the original bathroom and sprucing up the property.  All that effort eventually paid off, even if it tried our patience (and bank account) as we sold promptly this past March in 3 days.

After that it was on to the next challenge, finding someplace else to live.  We bought a lovely 1+1 bedroom condo apartment on the 8th floor overlooking Lake Ontario, and located about a km from our previous home.  Once we took possession, we then spent a week priming and painting over very garish colours and moved in at the end of May.  I spent a month trying to organize things to suit the new space, especially the kitchen, I probably spent the majority of time in there trying to find a good fit for what I use, when I use it, etc.  After that, it was on to figuring out what furniture that we brought with us would work and tossed what we couldn’t use.  We had already tossed our sofa and chair set prior to moving as they were well loved but no longer suitable.  So after living in the space for a month or so we decided what would best fit the space and then went furniture shopping (ugh, there really needs to be a better way to shop for furniture than walking into a big box furniture store and being immediately corralled by salespeople), anyway, we selected a sectional sofa and a new chair and got the heck out of dodge.

With the condo somewhat settled, it was time to split the big city and head north.  Prior to the end of June, we had not been up that much due to all the moving ruckus.  My vegetable garden was in place and growing nicely and wasn’t in need of much attention until later in the season but we did make sure to set up the automatic timer/watering system and let nature take its course so to speak.

So I packed up the car with a LOT of stuff.  Not just food and the usual household items needed everyday, but all my fun fiber stuff.  My small Cricket loom, knitting needle case, yarn galore, a very large tote full of alpaca fiber that I want to card for spinning and some already spun yarn ready for the next new *hobby*…dying with natural materials as well as planned sewing projects.

I then spent 2+ months spinning, weaving, swatting mosquitos, knitting, sewing, dying yarns, swatting mosquitos, kayaking, gardening and swatting mosquitos…which were really brutal during the later half of June through to the end of July.

DSC03409August saw my busiest month in the garden as it was starting to pump out tomatoes by the ying yang, there was a lot of processing to be done.  Over the span of a month, I probably roasted a good half bushel of cherry tomatoes (slice into 1/4″ slices, layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast at 225F for about an hour and half – awesome on pizza or in any pasta dish) and canned up jars and jars of stewed tomatoes and pickled Serrano/Jalapeño peppers.  I also made 2 batches of my Chipotle Peach jam, one for me and one for my daughter.  I  had also wanted to make more blueberry jam, but I was too late in going picking (others that were on the ball picked all that there was in the wild patch nearby) as well as we had a very dry summer so a lot of the plants were shriveling up from the heat and lack of rain.

DSC03404During the past couple months, I started dying skeins of handspun yarn with natural materials.  Birch and Oak leaves, Marigolds (seen here drying in the sun) andDSC03373

Tansy flowers (which are highly abundant weeds here in the north, like Goldenrod), Onion skins provided a lovely shade, which I dubbed “Antique Gold” as that is what it reminded me of,  take a look at the skein to the right of the bright yellow one and see if you agree.  DSC03369I then tried 2 attempts with a plant called “Phragmites australis” aka Common Reed.  It grows along roadsides and highways all over Ontario and is actually considered an invasive species by our government, so I did my part of hacking off the flowy flower heads to use as a dye.  I had seen someone else (on the internet no less, so it had to be true right?) attain a lovely shade of green using this plant.  What did I get?

Gray – with very, very faint hints of green and red streaks running through it (really strange actually), but very cool looking (the skein on the left in the above photo).  Apparently, so I am told, I need to harvest the flower heads in July, I had picked them in August so that is the only difference between what I had seen online and what I actually attained.

If it is one thing I have learned about dying with natural materials, is that you are never quite sure what you are going to get when you pull the skein out of the dye pot…take the vivid yellow skein of yarn that I dyed with Marigolds…talk about bright!! It is almost neon yellow, clown yellow I call it.  I saved the dye liquid and over-dyed another skein that was dyed with oak leaves earlier and it came out a similar colour to the onion skin dye.  After that, there was still colour left in the pot, so I placed another skein of yarn in and came out with a nice, mellow yellow that is similar to the Birch leaf dyed skein (Birch leaves give a gorgeous, clear, sunny yellow colour).

DSC03473All these variations of yellow dyed skeins are destined for a weaving project, which will be the subject of another post down the road a while.

If the above doesn’t sound like I wasn’t busy enough, I spent some time carding up the aforementioned tote of alpaca fleece.  This is what it looks like before carding (middle of photo), and this is what it looks like after (on the left). DSC03482Nice, fluffy tubes of fleece (called rolags) ready for spinning.  Carding takes all the fibers from a fleece and arranges them neatly in one direction, easier to spin that way, plus it gets out any remaining bits of hay, dirt and dust.  This needs to be done on a nice calm day so you can sit outside and have all the bits float away outdoors instead of covering the inside with alpaca fuzz.

Not to be forgotten, my Cricket loom got a workout in July when I cranked out 6 scarves destined for gifts this Christmas.  DSC03218Nor did my knitting, I am currently working on a sweater made from Cotlin (blend of cotton/linen) yarn, but it has been on the back burner the last couple weeks as we had a spell of hot weather that makes it uncomfortable to try and knit a large item in the heat so I switched to a pair of socks and now finishing up a hat made from yarn that I spun ON MY NEW WHEEL!

11947550_10155969213730291_964574286738722593_nIsn’t she just gorgeous?!  She is lovely and old and estimated to be over 150 years but doesn’t look a day over 30.  She spins like a dream too, a nice, smooth and even action.  Then I went and did something stupid, I was trying to get the full bobbin off the flyer and snapped the flyer in half….I then spewed out a string of very un-lady-like verbage which would make many a sailor blush.  So the flyer has just been replaced by a fellow I found nearby to the southern home that makes and repairs spinning wheels and I am back in business.

Now don’t think I just sat on my tush and knitted, spun and wove all summer.   I also did some heavy lifting, in the form of wheelbarrow-fulls of sand and dirt.  We had a pile of sand that I had started to sift and relocate as where it was situated, the fella that plows our driveway in winter kept heaping snow laced with driveway gravel on it.  So I painstakingly sifted about 2 yards of sand and wheeled it over to its new home off the side of the driveway (after depositing more on our beach along the way).  This was a 2 year project as where it was located, could only be done after mid-August or you were swarmed by skeeters, plus, if it rained, well, that made pushing the sand through the home-made sieve really challenging.  With the stretch of hot sunny weather a couple weeks back, I managed to get the rest of it sieved and moved….then, last week I had 2 yards of dirt delivered….for…. my new garden bed!!!

DSC03385I am so excited!  Hubby built another raised garden bed for me, a twin to the existing one which basically doubles my gardening space.  We spent this past Sunday morning moving dirt and filling her up, she looks beautiful and I am so excited for next Spring’s planting and will spend this winter getting my seed selections and layouts done – woo!

Well that pretty much gets you all caught up on my summer antics, there was more, but these were the highlights.  So what did you do on summer vacation?  Would love to hear what you all had going on so leave a message below!

Deborah

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Do You Hear Crickets Chirping?

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It has been a crazy few months around the Southern Homestead.  So much to do in so little time that I have neglected one of the things I love to do most….write my daily adventures.  Hence the title of this post…the long time sound often used to denote nobody or nothing is around or listening.

Let’s see if I can catch y’all up here…

I spent almost every waking moment from January until 2 weeks ago purging, cleaning, primping and staging our home for sale.  I sewed new throw pillow covers for pretty much every room in the house (14 in all!), there was touchup painting and cleaning and washing the insides of cabinetry, then set finishing touches in every room.   I even cleaned windows, inside and out, in subzero temps.  As a Realtor, I know the importance of maximizing your homes potential for a quick sale.  All that hard work paid off as we listed and sold within a week for over our asking price.  Then, just 5 days later, we bought a condo apartment.  Another whirlwind of emotions with the end result being we have the next chapter in our life to look forward to.  More on that in a later post though.

In between all the house staging/selling hoopla, I managed to finally somewhat master the spinning wheel I borrowed from my Aunt and Uncle last summer.  Once I figured out that moving parts were gummed up and employing help from hubby to rectify them, I was off to the races.  As when I learned to spin on the drop spindle last Summer, the first output of so-called yarn was laughable at best.  So I sat for about an hour a day, usually evenings or early mornings, spinning from roving (prepared wool) that was on the rough and scratchy side (practice fluff) and  I now have a skein of yarn that can actually be made into something without falling apart.

DSC02895Bob the loom is still set up with a project as well.  A scarf that I am weaving with some handspun yarn created last Fall on my drop spindle, of which it is about half done.  I need to get that finished up and off the loom before the loom gets taken apart for the big move.

DSC02903Packing has also commenced, along with more purging of *stuff* in the crawlspace.  I tossed an awful lot of things into that deep canyon while prepping the house for sale.  A crawlspace is great place to store things, but it is so huge, that before you know it, it is filled to the brim with things that you no longer use or need but don’t have the time to get rid of.  Time to knuckle down now though if I want to be out of here in 60 days.

So my living room is set up with empty boxes and there is a staging area in the crawlspace for garage sale items, which is probably at least half the stuff in there if not more.  The rest will be donated or recycled in some fashion.  I detest sending anything to the landfill unless it is broken and of no use to someone else. Hubby and I are very environmentally conscience which comes from years of cottage life experience as well as our own morals of what we want for the planet. Hence my gardening/self-sustaining practices.  Of which, TODAY is the day I finally start my seed planting for the garden.

YAY!

DSC02901I was delayed a week or two by the house selling routine.  I couldn’t very well have a living room window full of seed starting trays and pots, people would think it was a greenhouse, not a living room.

Cooking has also of taken a back seat lately, I cook to feed ourselves, but haven’t had time to experiment with anything new and exciting, which is a bummer as that is something I really like to do.  Once the move is done and we are settled into the new digs, then I will get my creative chef’s hat back on.

So that is about it in a nutshell, the important things anyway.  I will post quick updates as we move along with the move, but I hope for a return to a normal routine come June.  Just in time for all things blooming and growing in the gardens and the peacefulness of summer at the Northern Homestead.

Deborah

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Seaside Throw

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Just before Christmas I embarked on the largest weaving project since I have owned my loom, which is a year and 5 months now.  I usually start my weaving projects (and knitting) with some sort of inspiration,  whether it be a photo, nature, yarn sample or a snippet of a textured pattern.

The seaside throw concept was born from this photo…

DSC03407A picture of the Caribbean taken a couple years ago from the Mayan Riviera.  With this picture in mind, I designed a pattern…

Seaside Throw_Revised copyAll the words and numbers below the design are the calculations needed to measure out yarn requirements.  With the pattern set and the yardage calculated, I needed to get some yarn.

DSC02491Berocco Ultra Alpaca Fine yarn in 4 colours, I originally started with just 3, but added a 4th colour that is in between the green and the medium blue colour.  Next was winding 840 warp ends (3,368 yards) and get them on the loom.  A feat that took up approximately 20 hours over a couple weeks.

DSC02586Here are the warp chains ready to go on the loom….

DSC02617And here it is almost done.  Just need to tie onto the front beam and then it was off to the races.  My loom can accommodate a project up to 45″ wide, this came in at 41″, but once you start weaving, there is draw-in factor of anywhere from 1-2″, so the final weaving width was 39″ once it came off the loom.

DSC02663This is the final end of warp (4 yards total), I managed to squeak out as much as I could to minimize waste.

20150115_125715_medium2Here it is fresh off the loom, total length is 80 inches (not including fringe) and 39 inches wide.  Perfect size for snuggling on the sofa on a cold winter’s night.

DSC02790 The fringe twisting took me a loooong time to do, but I like the finished look of it.  It adds 6 inches to the ends of the throw.

DSC02795After weaving the blanket, there was enough warp left on the loom to make fabric to create a matching pillow (20″ x 20″).

Start to finish from design stage through to completion, this took me 2 1/2 months with work/life/holidays thrown into the mix.

Would I make another one?

Absolutely.

Deborah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Bounty & Fiber Thrills

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Me: Let’s see…what was my password to log into WordPress?

WordPress: Username ______________  Password ______________

First Try:                Type type type type….Nope, that isn’t it, let’s try another one.

Second Attempt:   Type type type type…..
Crap, this is what I get for leaving it so long between posts.

Third Attempt:        Type type type type….. Yay! I’m in!

As for my audience here….have you missed me?  I sure have missed y’all (typed with a southern accent, make sure you read it in one).  It has been an insanely busy Spring that launched headlong into Summer.  So busy that I haven’t had time to write my daily thoughts, ideas, creations or wonders of my world…or any world for that matter.

Until today ~ Consider this your early Christmas present.  The way things are going, my next post may be on Boxing Day.

So back to the headline above…. Summer Bounty is exactly what it is.  I have been picking cherry tomatoes up to my eyeballs the past couple weeks and the Serrano peppers are all but leaping off the plants into the pickling pot. I have harvested my garlic that was planted last fall and have around 40 large bulbs hanging in the garage at the Homestead drying.  Soon they will be put into my yummy Spicy Homestead Pasta Sauce once the Roma toms are ready.  I have dried armloads of Oregano and the chive plant sprouted pale purple puffball flowers which I let go to seed to harvest.  The carrots need a weekly trim so that they don’t block the sun for the pepper plants while the fuzzybutts and honey bees are busy collecting pollen in the wildflower gardens.

I love this time of year when there is so much colour in the yard.  What I don’t love is getting stung by a wasp while mowing the lawn a couple weeks ago.  My foot swelled up like a balloon for 3 days.  I since found their nest (in the ground, I know, never would have thought to look there!) and we are attempting to evict them… not so easy apparently.

House renovations are winding down, thank &*%#@!!!  I almost applied to be on either Mike Holmes or Bryan Baeumler’s show…titled “How to do a new bathroom install IN-correctly”.  After a few weeks of fret, worry, cursing and drinking myself into a stupor, the new bathroom is now complete and works as it was designed to.  Mental note – do NOT try to install a new bathroom and renovate an existing bathroom at the same time.  It is not worth the loss of your sanity.

We have a few things left to do, but the big indoor jobs are done.  Outside awaits 150′ of 10′ high cedar hedging in need of a little of the top and sides.  I may contract out that job to save hubby from being worked to death.

Now this is the most exciting part of this post ~ FIBER THRILLS!  I have managed to squeeze some time out of my very busy days for knitting, spinning and weaving.  I have completed about 4 pairs of socks in the last few months and currently have a gorgeous purple hued Madeline Tosh merino wool on the needles that hopefully will be done this week.  DSC01674I also warped up the little Cricket loom with a faux Burberry style scarf made from some sock yarn stash, which didn’t come without its complications and me almost pitching the Cricket into the lake after a warping fiasco. DSC01670But what I have really been concentrating on is getting better at this new spinning thing.  Man, talk about total delusion with oneself for what seemed an eternity.  I am now at the point where I can say I have actually spun USEFUL yarn!

Here is my first attempt:  (Don’t laugh)DSC01677Here is the Second Attempt: (ok, you can giggle a little)DSC01680Here is the Third Attempt: (go ahead…you have permission to guffaw)DSC01682Getting better right? Please tell me you see a difference?

Here is my Fourth Attempt: (look in awe)DSC01669Which is the longest amount spun of the four, this one at a whopping 130 yards!  The others were all under 40 yards, and the first one only being 12 yards.  This latest one is long enough and good enough to actually be knitted into something other than a potholder or a drink coaster.  It will become a warm winter hat, which is about all you can use 130 yrds up with.

Now this is what is currently on the spindle…. DSC01668Pretty darn good eh?!  I have finally been able to keep my consistency and it is a LOT thinner than the previous attempts.  I guess practice does make perfect, even with some timeouts now and then for when it was acting up (it…the fleece and spindle, certainly not me).  I will fill up the spindle, then transfer it to a bobbin and spin another spindle full then I am going to attempt plying for the first time.  Plying is joining 2 or more separately spun single spun yarns into one yarn.  I have done my research and it all looks easy enough (emphasis on looks easy), they also say that plying yarns is magical, they take lumpy-bumpy singles handspun and make it look just like store bought yarn.  We shall see if *they* are correct.

I think I have babbled about everything I wanted to babble about this morning, but now it is time to head to the kitchen and thinly slice a whack of cherry toms and roast them in the oven until they are carmelized, which by the way, are excellent as a pizza topping.

Ciao for now amigos y amigas, I am hoping to get back into a normal routine soon…

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