Monday, September 26, 2011

More handspun

On the spool

Now, navajo plied

A very soft polwarth fleece. Colours range from blues, to browns, to brick reds.
I think I should take time to plan what I will be knitting with all of this handspun...
not yet...
I still want to spin more.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend pleasures

With hubby gone to get the trails to the hunting camp ready for the hunting season, I have a weekend all to myself.
Saturday was a pj day...all day! The animals didn't mind my sloppy self one bit. It somehow feels more relaxing when you spend a whole day in your pjs, don't you think?
But lots got done.
I started my day with some spinning...of course.
Last week, I hand dyed some roving I had originally purchased to felt around my handmade soaps. This stuff is not super soft but will be great for mitts and socks.
A mixture of red and yellow dyes gave me a mixture of pink, orange and coral. Funny how we see no reds and no yellows, all the colours blended together and I really like it that way.

 Not knowing any better (remember I am a new spinner), I did not do much pre drafting and I had a bit of a struggle to spin it.
But nevertheless, it is an improvement over my first skein. A bit more even... not all over even but better.
I also navajo plied this yarn. So it's a three ply. I didn't measure how many meters I have yet but it was close to 125 grams.

I had also dyed some roving in shades of blues and greens.
 This time, I did lots of predrafting and the spinning of this just flowed. I spun all of this yesterday between other things I did around the house. I will let it sit a few days before I ply it. I have not decided if I will do a 2-ply or a 3-ply again.

 Here is the spinning I did earlier this week. I told you, I am quite obsessed with my spinning wheel. I have a bit of a knot in by belly at the moment, because I don't have anymore fiber in the house! Any enablers out there?
 Preserving beets is an annual thing at our house. We like them done quite simply. No added spices. Just thickly sliced, pickled in sugar and vinegar.
I cook the beets between 30 to 60 minutes. I know the beets are cooked when the skin come off very easily. (just put one beet in cold water and test it to see).
I then slice them up and drop them in Mason jars. Fill the jar with the hot mixture of vinegar and sugar. Close the lid and voilà, beets for the year.
 I made 14 lbs of beets this year. A few of these jars will make their way to the hunting camp for the boys to eat up. The rest will be for us to enjoy all year long.

Dogs are enjoying the beautiful fall days we are having. Lots of sun but still cool enough to be comfortable.
(Bella, Anouk's daughter enjoying a quite moment in the sun)

Next weekend, I'm going to the province of Québec for a girl's weekend at friend's cottage. How great is that?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Serious fun!

Ok, that's it! I'm giving up everything else I know and do to commit myself totally to this new fun. I am willing to give up food, water and sleep!
Why did I wait till now to get myself one of these?!?!
I really had a feeling this activity would be one that I would like. But I did not expect to be head over heels, totally-in-love with it.

Here's what has brought so much joy to my world. A Lendrum DT spinning wheel. A birthday gift from my hubby and both children.  Now, how cool is that!
It was really hard to be patient and wait for one of these. It seems that Mr Lendrum makes about 100 wheels a year and they are in demand. Stores that I had contacted told me that they usually wait as much as 8 mths for delivery of Lendrums.
I must say, it does not come with instructions...I had to rely on good friends and YouTube videos to learn how it works. I had quite a few moments where I could not coordinate hands, feet, yarn and wheel at all.
But perseverance will pay off...or is it my stubborn streak?
But here is the first skein. Soft merino. About 49 yards. It could be considered a thick and thin...a result of getting to know my wheel.
I Navajo plied it...that was a stuggle but I intend to keep at it till I can get it all to flow. Now, what can I knit with 49 yards...maybe a cowl with a coordinating yarn.
Don't laugh at me, but today I spun so much that I have a very sore index finger...not quite a blister but almost.

I leave you with a picture of what I woke up to this morning. Deers and alpacas enjoying the crisp morning air and eating while it's still growing. Soon, nothing will grow as fall and winter will be at our door before we know it and we will have to provide hay for them...
Have you done something to make yourself happy today? I have. Enjoy your day!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Nature's dyes

There's something to be said about enjoying what nature has to offer to feed your passions.
A few months ago, I had purchased Wild color by Jenny Dean. A very interesting book on natural dyes.
Eventhough the author is from England, the book is still relevant to us Canadians since many of the same plants and trees are here in North America.
This book has been by my side for a few weeks now and is already a very favorite of mine.

I must say that I'm a little late to start to harvest plants because we have had a couple of cold nights already. But nevertheless, I was able to find a few patches of goldenrods still in bloom.
I eagerly had them simmering in the dye pot in no time.
I must say, I had trouble finding alum to use as mordant and when I did I could go ahead a prepare the fibre to be dyed.

 (Goldenrod flowers. They grow in open fields, along the highways and in ditches.)

The colour is a very soft yellow with a touch of green in it. I am really excited about it.
Well, yes, I know, I do easily get excited about these things!

(Goldenrod dyed yarn)

A trip to my mother's house to help her dig out and move her rhubarb plants this week meant a great big pot of rhubarb roots for me to play with!!!
Yup, rhubarb is not only to make jams and pies.
I could not believe how big and deep those roots are. We worked really hard to harvest these!

(freshly washed rhubarb roots) 

In order to extract the most dye from the roots, I chopped them up in smaller pieces. It's also the best way to dry what I will have left for another day.

I soaked the roots for a few hours, then simmered them a few more and left everything to cool overnight.
The next morning, strained the dye stock and proceeded to dye my yarn.
Look at that glorious colour...almost orange.
(yarn is simmering in rhubarb roots dye stock. Roots still in the sieve.) 

A very rich golden orange type of colour. Love it!
(Rhubarb root dyed yarn)

Sorry, just have to put up another shot of this colour. I'm so happy with it!!!

Oh, and by the way, I have lots of dried rhubarb roots left. I have a feeling that I'm not yet done experimenting with this stuff.

Looks like it will be a glorious weekend here, hope to enjoy every minute of it! Hope you can do the same.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fall harvest time

I love this time of the year for the wonderful vegetables and fruits that are so plentiful.
I made a trip to the Farmer's market last saturday and saw these cute little lanterns.
Hummmmm, what are they? I asked.

Well, it turns out that they are edible.
They are called ground cherries. Inside this paper thin shell is a tiny little yelllow/orange fruit. It's not too sweet and not tangy either. They are good to eat just like that but I was told they are especially good in a pie.
I was intrigued.

So I brought home a basket ground cherries and started to look on the Internet for a pie recipe. I settled for a ground cherry pie with a crumble top.

They were indeed very delicious when cooked. I made little pies by using butter tarts pie shells instead.
They were all gone before I thought of taking a picture...oops!!

Now, how about a peek at my latest project.
It involves paint...

...a sheet of plywood and piece of canvas (or heavy twill fabric)...

...and some masking tape.
Finally started on another floor cloth for the front entrance. I made one about 15 years ago and it had a wonderful life and now needs to be retired to the lower level.
This project is slow going, as I am lacking inspiration...I'm not too sure which direction I will take from here with it.
But I'm sure it will be done very soon.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Last weekend,

...took the pots out and proceeded to dye!
I recently purchased new dyes and I'm trying to use up the ones that I still have. Well, at least that's the excuse I gave myself to play with colour and ignore the cleaning and cooking that needs to be done!
My goal is to get more saturated colours, deeper shades...I'm getting there. Experimenting seems to be the only way to learn how. So experimenting I will do.

After a day's work, here is my yarn, drying on the rack.
7 skeins of fingering yarn
1 skein of bulky yarn
1 skein of lace weight

 Eventhough I don't wear shades of gold and orange, I really like the shades in this skein.
Hubby bought a 4x 8 sheet of plywood to build a pump house to bring water to the alpacas and I quickly decided to use it before he cut it up. I'll tell you all about it in my next post!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to soap making

I really love to make soap. I have not made any since last winter, just before our daughter's wedding. Thing is, I make much more than we can ever use. I do give lots away...but I would make soap every week if I listened to myself.

Have a look at what I just bought myself!
A beautiful soap wooden mold. But what is great about this one is that it's lined with silicone. This means I do not need to line my mold anymore! Well, with this one, I only need to line the bottom. Soooooo much easier!
And look at how it opens up! No more coaxing to get the soap out. By removing the metal brace, the hinged sides just move away from the soap.

Here is my first batch with this mold. A rich soap made with olive, coconut and canola oils. I added just a bit of red clay.
When I was at Michael's last month, I had purchased a few stamps. This Sparkle & Shine stamp is showing up well on my freshly made soap.

And look at these...cute little sheep soaps. Now if I could find alpaca molds...that would make my day.

Speaking of alpacas, we enjoy having them so much. They've been with us for about 2 weeks now.  We were concerned that the dogs would make them nervous...but they quickly got used to each other.
Having one side of the fencing in common, they can check each other out as much as they want.
Coco (that's the little brown cria in the picture) will come right up to the fence.

 Hubby is still working. Today, he's digging a trench to bury the cable to bring electricity to the barn. Alpacas are curious. They have been following him along the fence all morning. Frankie, the llama is right there making sure everything is done as it should be.

After awhile, they were all having a good snooze.zzzzzzzz.
Life is good!