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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All Things Fiber…

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I am not talking about the stuff that makes your colon happy either.  I am talking about the wonderful things in this world that are made into fiber.  Whether it is the wool from sheep, cotton, hemp and linen from plants, angora from rabbits or mohair from goats,  the common denominator from all of them is that they provide humanity with the necessary fibers to be made into all types of clothing.

Otherwise we all would be cold and naked.  Not a pretty sight I can assure you.  Even ancient man knew to cover up with a fig leaf or two, thus saving Eve from running screaming from the Garden of Eden.

Set in amongst my household bathroom renovations sits my sanctuary.   A place I can go to at the end of the day to unwind while producing something made from different kinds of  fiber, which is either knitting or weaving.   I knit mostly with wool, wool/acrylic blends or cotton yarns, heavily favouring the ‘SuperWash’ wools for socks, mittens and scarves for their ease in care and durability.  Gone are the days of trying to wash a wool sweater only to experience first-hand a phenomenon called ‘felting’, where you end up with a sweater that after washing now fits your Barbie doll.

So far in my young weaving career, I have been using a thin cotton yarn for dish towels.  Strong, yet durable and available in a huge palette of colours, I get to play designer and create my own personal linens that will last longer than any commercially made product.  I think that is the best part of taking up weaving, getting to sit down to explore the colour wheel and the many pattern variations that can be attained with a loom.  Sure, Bob may look imposing, but he is a very simple medium that with a little instruction, has you happily making your own fabrics for whatever use you can think of.

Now with all this weaving going on and thinking about yarns in general (and my love for them)…I said to myself….hmmmm… I wonder if I could make my own yarn?!

That is when something bit me.

Spinning!! and no, not that stationary bicycle thing that has been an exercise fad that should have passed by now.  I am talking about spinning my own yarn.  I figure if I love to create/design things *made* from fiber…why don’t I try to make my own fiber?

DSC01271So I researched a bit, then asked an enabler friend of mine who I know has some spinning experience for some pointers.  She happily thrust a bag into my hand that contained something called ‘roving’ (cleaned and combed sheep’s wool) and a drop spindle.  She pulled the drop spindle out, peeled a strip of the roving off the batch, attached it to the existing yarn on the spindle, spun it and voila! Yarn!

Wow…that sure looked easy.  I could so do this, no problem.  It isn’t rocket science after all, even better, you don’t need a degree in anything to do it.

I was all set.  I had a spindle, some wool and I would then be off to making skeins and skeins of beautiful handspun yarn that I could weave and/or knit into lots of wonderful things.

Until I tried it for the first time.

There is an old saying: if you can’t laugh at yourself, then you have no right laughing at anyone else.

Well let me tell you I was doubled over in laughter at my first attempts at spinning.  Then I cursed my enabler friend for making it look so easy.  Then I vowed to master this new hobby…if it kills me.

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How To Make A Bean Bag Heating Pad

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We all get aches and pains now and then which require the use of a heating pad, but sometimes the “traditional” heating pad that you plug in is impractical not to mention it uses up costly energy.

Instead, here is a super quick way to make your own bean bag heating pad using scrap cotton fabric and your choice of fillers.  I can’t stress enough that 100% cotton fabric is the only choice to use, if you use any other type of fabric, you run the risk of melting it in the microwave (definitely not desirable).

Fillers can be any type of dried rice, hulled grain (like wheat or barley) or small dried beans.  You can even add a fragrance for some “aromatherapy”, like Lavender or fragrant essential oils.  Just mix the fragrance and fillers and place in a seal-able container and allow to sit covered for a day or two to distribute evenly.

DSC00972To make the heating pad, cut one rectangle (or whatever size/shape you desire) of cotton fabric large enough for its intended purpose.  This piece was a remnant of the table runner I wove and measured 19″ wide x 11″ tall.

DSC00975Fold the piece in half with right sides together, then sew up the 3 sides leaving a 3 inch opening.

DSC00981Turn right side out and press seams flat.

DSC00983Now add the filler to the bag.  To make it easier, make a funnel out of a plain piece of paper and pour the filler into the bag.  Only fill the bag about 2/3rds full as you want it to be flexible.  Slip-stitch the opening closed and voila! your very own bean bag heating pad.

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Bean Bag Heating PadTo use, just heat in the microwave on high for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave.

I have been using mine after each loom threading marathon session as it is an awkward, tedious and muscle fatiguing job.  I just drape it around the back of my neck and let the soothing heat radiate and release the tension for about 20 minutes and then I am able to get back at it.

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This and That & Things In Between

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Hi! How are you?!  Where the heck have you been?!!
I have been looking for you everywhere.

I know, I know… I said I was going to be posting *regularly*…but in my defense, there are just too many things happening around here that are keeping me from sitting down to this medium.

This will be a fairly short post, just snapshots of what is happening in the Southern Homestead…

Bob the loom is naked.  It is time to plan the next project now that my table runner is complete although it will be heading to the Northern Homestead as the kitchen table there is a varathaned white pine and much better suited to the bright colours than the walnut dining table here.

DSC00949I also have a B-I-G sewing project to start.  We have a very large, square patio umbrella over our hot tub that is in desperate need of replacement.  Since I can sew and am very thrifty (cheap), why pay $500-800 for a new umbrella to be made when I can make it myself?  Here is the chosen fabric, a grey and white checkerplate pattern…all 12 yards of it, and picked up on sale to boot.

DSC00939Now that Spring is here (sort of), my little plant pots are filled with dirt, seeds and love that are now showing little green sprouts of sunshine with the promise for a great harvest to come.

DSC00962But the most challenging and time-consuming project has been the basement bathroom addition….

DSC00909 DSC00955The PITA part of busting the concrete floor for hooking up new piping is done and hubby cemented over the hole, then applied a layer of self-leveling cement, which he will probably need to do again before we start tiling.  Meanwhile, the back wall is re-vapour barriered and ready for inspection by the City and he managed to drywall the outside of the bathroom wall amongst a bunch of little electrical projects that needed doing.

DSC00952He was so very busy this weekend and is sore to boot.  Poor guy had to head back to work today for a rest from all the manual labour.  I best take it easy on him if I want the project finished.

While he was busy playing with concrete and drywall, I was playing with paint (and managed to sell a property in between) in the laundry room.  The walls are a pale, butter yellow and the floor is a rustic brown shade, which still needs to be finished and will get done this week.

DSC00970The walls have been primer white for the last 8 years, I figured it was about time I got around to applying some actual paint.

I still need to get back to the de-cluttering (mostly my closet!) and with the warm weather finally here, I am rushing to get inside projects done as I have a few outdoor ones to tackle.

Life is always busy, so make sure you take the time to stop and smell the roses so to speak…or have a beer on the patio in the sun.

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Patience is a Virtue

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I wish you could just head to the store and buy as much patience as was needed for any given project or situation.  It would be a heck of a lot easier than trying to muster up your own patience…especially when one doesn’t have very much to begin with.

I have boatloads of patience in my chosen career, but apparently it doesn’t transfer over to my extra-curricular activities.  Take this new hobby of mine ~ weaving.  Like with anything new, you are all gaga over it and want to see things made before your eyes instantly.

But weaving (like knitting) brings your ego crashing down to earth with its realities.

Setting up a loom for weaving is a lengthy, time-consuming ordeal.  For my latest project (my Mexican inspired table runner), it took about 4 hours just to wind the warp threads.  8 colours, each 3 yards long by 70 *ends* (70 individual pieces of warp threads that are each 3 yds long).  Enough to make a 3″ wide stripe vertically on the loom x 8 coloured stripes gives you the width of the table runner (this is before finishing, you have to make things longer and wider to account for shrinkage).

Once the warp is wound, it is time to get it on the loom.  Which is another labour intensive function.  This takes approximately 6 – 10 hours, with many breaks in between to un-knot your back and neck muscles due to sitting awkwardly on the floor threading each piece of yarn through an eye in a metal heddle.  70 threads x 8 colours = 560 threads in total.

After all the time consuming work has been done and you have gone to your chiropractor to get things put back where they belong within your body, it is time to weave.

So you think.

I wove a header and notice instantly that something wasn’t right with one of the threads in the red section, I was missing a thread that was supposed to go up while its neighbouring thread went down when the first peddle was pushed. CRAP.  To compound things further, at that very moment, one of the warp threads snapped at the tie on point of the front beam.

%$#*&!

For the love of Pete I grumbled.  Well this is getting off to a fine start now isn’t it?  Pissed off, I pulled the newly woven header pieces out, untied the offending sections of warp, yanked it back out the reed and then pulled them one by one, out of the eyes of the heddles and re-threaded them back in their proper order.  I was off by one in the pattern sequence.  Instead of 1,2,3,4 in one section I did 1,2,3,3.   Not at all desirable and would effectively have made a visual gap down the center of the red stripe section.

2 hours later, I was back to where I started with the header section woven and ready to start my project.

DSC00839

DSC00846 DSC00850I literally used up every ounce of patience in me during this ordeal so hopefully there are no more screw-ups for the remainder of the project.  Maybe Costco sells patience in super-duper-sized buckets.   I sure could use some.

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WIP’s & FO’s

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Have you missed me?  I know I have missed sitting down here writing out my thoughts but life just seems to be getting in the way of my writing these days.  I will try to become a little more regular…emphasis being on the word ‘try’.

Now I am sure you are asking.. “What the hell are WIP’s and FO’s?”.  Well,  WIP’s are “Work-In-Progress” and FO’s are “Finished Objects”.  Acronyms of the fiber/craft world and I am sure many other pursuits either hobby related or career related.

I have a lot of both going on right now.  Actually, I think there are more WIP’s than FO’s happening in the household.  From the commencement of the basement bathroom build, to de-cluttering (which has really consumed most of my time recently), knitting and of course…weaving. DSC00834In between helping/cleaning up after hubby while he makes a mess in the basement, here is what I have been up to recently.  In no apparent order either, just random works of art I like to think of them as.

FO ~ My second set of woven tea towels.  DSC00829I had lots of fun playing with colour as is evident from each one.  The warp threads were the same striped pattern, but by choosing a different weft thread, it clearly makes each one a unique individual.  All that is left is to hem the ends, which is a perfect activity for after dinner while watching t.v.

DSC00833FO ~ Knitted Poncho for hubby’s cousin.  It is the same as my beige Mexican Travel poncho I made last summer.  It is really stunning in the ice blue cotton yarn.  I hope she likes it.

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WIP ~ Socks, yes, me, the sock hater (hate is a strong word, how about sock disliker?). I picked up a hank of gorgeous variegated Manos Del Uruguay yarn (which means Hands of Uruguay in Spanish) that has been delightful to work with.  It doesn’t split or unwind itself and knits up smoothly with great stitch definition.  I will definitely be keeping this type of yarn on my radar for future projects.  One sock is done and the other has just been started this morning.

DSC00824WIP ~ Knitted washcloths are fast and easy to knit up and make great gifts when paired with a hand-made, organic soap.  One 50g ball makes one washcloth with a little leftover.  So what to do with all the leftovers?  I mix and match them into unique and colourful squares instead of wasting them.  These washcloths are extremely durable and can be used in the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room.

WIP ~ My Mexican Table Runner has DSC00825been designed, yarn requirements calculated and I will be spending the next few days winding all these pretty colours onto the warping board in preparation for weaving.  Stay tuned for further updates on this one, when the loom is *dressed*, I will post an update.

Next week I will be embarking on my annual Spring ritual of SEED planting! YIPPEE!  I am so very excited and all my little plant pots are ready to go along with a big bag of seed potting mix.  Now Mother Nature needs to cooperate with some long, sunny days to get the little sprouts growing.

That’s about it for now and I promise I will try and get myself back to regular posts.  Meanwhile, there is another winter storm brewing in Southern Ontario that is going to give us more of the damn white stuff to shovel tomorrow.  I am really hoping this is Old Man Winter’s last blast which will lead to warm, sunny Spring days to melt the epic amounts of snow we have received this winter.

Stay safe over the next couple days and don’t venture out into it if you don’t need to.

Hasta luego.

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Running on Empty

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Almost running on empty….It has been a very busy week here at the Southern Homestead, hmmm… maybe I will call it the Southern Plantation…seeing as the house here is about double the size of the Northern Homestead….anyway, it has been very busy with work, house, knitting, sewing, weaving and cooking.

So busy that I haven’t had time to get into regular posts, but I figured I would toss out a quickie for Friday while my ginormous batch of meatballs is cooking in the oven after having pulled out a small dish of yellow beets that were finished roasting.IMG_20140131_130510

I have been on a beet salad obsession this past week.  I have had it for lunch every day this week and literally just scarfed down another plate full.  It is so yummy, so flavourful and so satisfying.  I do believe it has helped my waistline too.  My pants are not as snug as they were a week and a half ago.

To go along with the cooking, I have been knitting 3 different projects this week, I finished a scarf for myself out of yarn that my daughter gave me for Christmas.  It is baby alpaca and so very soft to the touch it was hard to keep knitting and not just sit and play with it.  4 balls (2 light blue and 2 dark blue) made a scarf long enough to match my navy pea coat.  Looks nice no?

luscious lace scarf_1I am also working on a pair of socks that I started while in Mexico and a couple of dishcloths that will be part of a closing gift for a client.  I love the colour of the sock yarn, vibrant shades of purple and mauve that remind me of the colours of Mexico..

IMG_20140131_130259and because I have nothing better to do, I have also sewed 2 pairs of flannel jammie bottoms to replace ones I literally wore out along with a beach bag that has been requisitioned by a friend and I have a set of curtains to shorten for another.  My Huskystar machine is getting another workout lately.  She is going to need a well deserved rest soon…with a good oiling too.  Here are the fabrics that are ready to go for the beach bag…

IMG_20140131_130746and last but not least…weaving.  Last weekend I wound another warp for some more tea towels, using cinnamon/rust/chocolate brown for the warp and the first towel is natural, the next one will be sage green which I think will look amazing against the other colours…

IMG_20140131_125538I am about 12″ in on the first one, hopefully I can get some more done this weekend, the weather is to be sketchy tomorrow, so that may give me some ‘weaving’ opportunity.

Hope you all have a great weekend, if you are in *snow country*, careful driving out and about.

*See* you next week!

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