Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Some knitting is happening again. Carefully.
That is all. Peace. Out.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Silly Me

Boo-hoo! I was packing the Big Box that goes on the rack on the back of the van - just to see how much I could stuff in it - when I pinched my finger in closing the lid. Now I have a blood blister:
Not traumatic obviously except that I CAN'T KNIT!!! It's located right where I push the stitches and it hurts. Sigh. And here I was hoping to finish the long-suffering Spring Forward Socks that I started months and months ago before we leave. Not going to happen. I still have half a sock to go. Plus we may be leaving a couple of days early in order to meet up with Thom's brother and sister-in-law at our first stop, Kettle River. All scheduling has been pushed forward. At least we are ahead of the game so far anyway and we mostly only have last-minute stuff to do - including getting my hair cut on Friday. I can barely last 5 weeks and it will be twice that long before I can have it done again. I may be snipping at my bangs myself when they get too long! Other than damaging an important part of my anatomy I've been dusting and washing and clearing and gardening. Whew! I harvested the garlic and let it cure for 10 days or so. Today I pruned the stalks and gave them a root haircut. 30 heads this year:
It's so pretty! Yummy too. Now the garlic is hanging in bunches from a hook in the basement where I just snip off a head when I need one. We didn't get much produce out of our truncated veggie patch this year but we did get lots of greens, snap peas, kale and garlic. There's one cute little cabbage that volunteered and some unidentified squash that sprouted in the compost box so we transplanted several. It was late getting started though so it may not amount to much. It's barely starting to flower and hasn't set any fruit yet. I think they're butternut. Whatever, now we have to leave it all in the inexperienced hands of our house sitters and the weather so we'll either come back to a desert or a jungle! All depends. It'll mean more work to do in autumn whatever happens.
So nothing else exciting to report. Just trying to remember everything that needs to be packed. It's not that much more stuff than when we go away for a week or even a month but we do need clothes for every weather, from hot/dry to hot/humid to cool to wet to possible freezing. You never know. It can all happen in a single day! Seriously. It's not like flying somewhere and staying in a hotel. We are much more attuned to the environment, changes of altitude and temperature, rain/snow/fog, road conditions and time zones. We will be stepping back through 4-1/2 hours and then forward again on the way home. I don't know if it's any easier moving an hour every few days vs jumping it all at once. But you try getting up at 6am, then 5am, then 4am, then 3am and then 2:30am. No wonder we end up going to bed at 9! It's much easier going back but by then it's close to the Autumn Equinox so daylight hours are shorter. You really get to experience the Real World on a road trip, don't you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

She's Done!

So my previous experiments were only partially successful. Fine. I'll deal and I won't bug you with any more futzing around.
Moving right along. I finished making my Hiking Bag! I think it's pretty successful but I think I had better bring a needle and thread along just in case any of the stitching starts to come undone. I had to hand-sew a ridiculous amount of this thing. And here she is:
For size that's a 750ml (approx 3 c.) water bottle. The fabrics are all my hand-dyed samples from various Spectrum Study Group meetings over the years. The outer one is a "parfait" dye using Procion MX and I backed them all with fusible interfacing. I like the look of the cloudy marbling. All of the straps were recycled from various worn-out backpacks. The interior looks like this:
There's a divider with a pocket on the front. The back section holds my iPad in its case/stand leaving the front section free to hold my glasses case, sunscreen, lip balm and keys. Maybe even a small snack. The sides and back are fairly rigid (Timtex again) but also padded with thin fleece. I used a thicker fleece for the water bottle holder and the divider plus the padded area on the strap. This time I got smart and stuck the stiffener and fleece layers together with fusible web (Wonder Under, excellent stuff). In the bottom of each section is a padded and covered piece of Lexan to firm it up.
I also got very tricksy and decided to coat the whole outside of the pack with Otter Wax to give it some protection. It was a lot of work (like colouring the whole bag with a huge crayon) but I think it gives it a nice patina and deepens the colours. Don't know how it will hold up in the hot sun though! Better not melt all over my clothes, just sayin'. We'll find out soon enough, won't we?
While I was at it and since I had a lot of Otter Wax left I waxed my second-favourite hat:
I made this hat years ago with black linen and some jaspe fabric. The linen faded to a purplish-brown. I think the wax gives it a very funky patina which I quite like. It also should shed sprinkles though probably not much of a downpour. I didn't do the jaspe fabric with the wax anyway. Just the linen. It's much darker now though you can still see the brown showing through in places. Both the bag and the hat were finished off with a hot hair dryer and now they are airing to set the wax and hopefully lose the slight smell.
There's a shop only 3 blocks away from me that sells the Otter Wax products. It's made in Portland, OR, and has no petroleum products in it. I know I could make something similar but this was easy, if not exactly cheap. I got the large bar which was more economical and still have about 2/3's of it left. I'll let you know how it goes in use. I can re-coat anything again if I need to.     Done sewing. We are in full-on packing and cleaning mode now. Time is flying! I'm getting seriously excited.

Monday, July 18, 2016

More Testing

OK, that answered a few questions for me! BlogPad Pro is not so pro. It's a great and powerful app that still can't do a proper paragraph/carriage return. Doh. I mean really. How hard can that be? The developer did not answer my last request for an update timeframe. Got my money now though, doesn't he?  Experiment the whatever: OK, now the Pages app doesn't give me carriage returns/paragraphs either. Somehow it did the first time? Back to the BlogGo app. Which won't post to my blog. I can only use it as a word processor, cut and paste. Sigh.
What I do know is that the keyboard works a treat! It's not its fault that there's a glitch in BlogPad Pro and BlogGo and every other stinkin' thing I've used to post to my blog! Grrrr...
Does the photo work? This should be another photo of Manning Park Lodge from way up at the Lookout. Nope, it didn't show up. Good to know. Add photos later:  

Experiment the Sixth

Can I have yet another post in the wings while offline? Here it is! It needs a photo.
Experiment the seventh:  This is editing the saved post while working online again. This is Manning Park from the lookout on the way up to the Alpine Meadows.

Testing 123

Just FYI this post is a total test of several apps and experiments with my new supplemental keyboard. Please bear with me. Swing right past! I may just delete the whole thing. Or not. You never know. Experiment the first: My new keyboard. Bluetooth. Made by Belkin. It has its own little snap-down lid to protect it:
So nice to use all 9 (not 10!) fingers again! See? Keys:
The iPad rests against the back. It also works with iPhones and my iTouch if I want. Does this post come in with the right font? Do the paragraphs work?
Experiment the second: Creating a post without WIFI, saving it and posting it later. How well does this work? So important for writing on the fly as we travel. We never know when we can get online. Or not. Or sllllooooowwwwllly. It's a crapshoot.
Experiment the third: Copying and pasting in from Pages app. How well does this work? Do the paragraphs look correct?
OK, now do they? (The "now" was supposed to be bold.)
Experiment the fourth: The next bit of text was copied and pasted from the BlogGo app. That's what I've been using up to now and although it's a tedious work-around, it worked OK.
This is the only way that I know works for sure. However, I'd like to stop doing it this way!
We'll see if I can, yes?
Crossing my fingers! And...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Finishes and Fixes

Well. I discovered where I made my mistake when I dyed my yarn in rhubarb leaf and then madder. I forgot that I needed to finish up with an alkaline modifier. Perhaps it might have behooved me to dig out my notes and check procedures before diving in! The memory she ain't what she used to be. Last time I tried this dye recipe was 2010. That was awhile, no? Anyway, the samples are:
On the right is what I had in mind and on the left is what I got. Never mind. I like it anyway of course. I mean, orange! Flaming orange at that. I've also been naughty and started the Intersect sweater:
Perfect gauge. Yay. This is the most convoluted knit ever! This little strip goes horizontally across the upper back to which you next pick up a small number of stitches in the centre and knit perpendicular to this piece for the collar stand. Each piece grows out of the rest of the knitting and there's a lot of picking up stitches and sewing parts together. The sleeves are knit separately in the round and set in but several clever knitters have already figured out how to pick up and knit them top-down. I know how to do that but I'll decide which way to go when I get there. I may just continue to follow the excellent instructions as written. 
As with all of Brooklyn Tweed's patterns, the format, diagrams, charts and tech editing are second to none. 18 pages worth! I mean, how many books or especially magazines will devote that much space to one pattern? And you get to peruse the lookbook free and if you fall in love with a design you pay just for that single one, download the PDF and go to town right away. No trees have to die either unless you prefer a hard copy. In the last couple of years I've bought pretty much all my knitting patterns one at a time through Ravelry. I've only bought one single knitting book (for the technique more than the individual patterns) and gave up on the magazines entirely. I take a few out of the library electronically if I feel a need to read them. Saves me a bundle. I used to have a hardcore addiction to books and magazines but this method has helped me to curb it right back to nearly nothing. Besides I'm running out of bookshelf space! I'm thinking I need to start culling the duds and the not-so-useful some day soon.
But meanwhile I'm still struggling along on my Hiking Bag. It's completely over-engineered and there's a gazillion pieces to figure out how to put together, including main fabric, lining, 2 weights of interfacing, two kinds of fleece, Timtex scraps and fusible web. I currently have assembled a lining with divider and pocket, a top flap, and a water bottle pocket, and all the straps, buckles, rings and toggles are stitched onto the main body pieces. Now I just have to put the sides on, pop in the lining and add the flap. Yeah, another day at least!  Urm...I hope my water bottle actually fits in the pocket.
In other news, I f you'll remember the Knitting Caddy I finished a few weeks ago, I had issues with it. The sides kept folding up and actually got worse as time went on. Things were falling out of the upper tier of pockets as they sagged. I needed some Viagra for it! Thom to the rescue. He cut me two 1/4" strips of  Lexan scraps. It's a clear plastic like Plexiglass only more flexible and nearly unbreakable. We use it over several vulnerable windows in our house. Better than iron grills!
Anyway, the strips did the trick!
See? Nice and straight but still with enough flex to avoid being totally rigid. I picked out a few stitches from the end of my binding and just slid the piece right in, stitched up the binding again, repeat and done. Now it works the way I originally envisioned. Saved. Whew.
Oh yeah, I nearly forgot my latest FO! This is the Falklands Flare pullover:    
Excellent pattern by Veera Välimäki. I only had to lengthen the body a couple of inches to achieve perfection with my handspun tweedy yarn. Yes, I know I took the photo on Debbie again. Otherwise you'd still be waiting to see it. Instead I have to wait until the weather cools off enough to wear it. Not like it hasn't been doing the June Gloom thing right into July...  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Busy Busy Busy

Yeah, I know everybody claims to always be busy, don't they? Such a cliché! For me it's been a whirlwind of social engagements alternating with attempts to catch up on things that need doing before we take off for 2 months. I'm so far behind and I'm trying not to panic slightly. The important stuff will get done and the rest doesn't really matter.
Still on a bag construction kick (though not the one I'm supposed to be sewing), I started a "boro" stitched Japanese knot bag at my Spectrum Study Group:
The fabric scraps are from a small pile I collected from sewing show booths. You know, the dealers who buy up old kimono and obi and sell them chopped up in packs of coordinated scraps. I added some woad dyed samples from a workshop I took with the French Woad Masters (the late Henri Lambert and his wife Denise) a number of years ago. The lining is woad-dyed linen/rayon. So nice to find a use for such pretty bits and bobs! The bag  I chose has a circular bottom creating a tubular shape. The white stitches you see are just machine-basting to help hold it together until I'm finished the wonky sashiko stitching in perle cotton. Now I'm deciding whether to take this project with me to work on. Question: how much quiet down-time will there actually be whilst driving 10,00 miles?
The big travel project however is the Intersect sweater by Norah Gaughan (for Brooklyn Tweed):
(Isn't the model lovely?) If you recall I began by teasing and carding 400g each of Canadian Arcott X Rideau Arcott and local baby Romney into a nice homogeneous blend.  Then I spun the wool into a fingering weight 2-ply with a forward woollen draw. I got about 3000 yards but it reduced somewhat with further processing so I ended up with about 2,800 yards. Hopefully that's going to be enough!
The poor yarn had to go through so much to finally get the white dyed to the final colour! First I had to scour it which took two soapings and several rinses. Then I mordanted it in 600g of rhubarb leaves that I'd saved in the freezer from the spring harvest. There were 7 skeins, too much for one dyepot so I had to split the mordant into two equal pots.
After simmering for an hour and letting it sit overnight it took at least 4 more rinses to get out the excess mordant. Rhubarb leaf puts a yellow under-colour and I was hoping I would also get some of the burgundy-brown effect that I've gotten in the past when it is overdyed in madder. I used my whole remaining 2012 harvest of madder root but there wasn't enough so I topped it up to 30% WOF with purchased madder from Maiwa. After soaking the madder overnight I did 4 extractions, combined them and added 5ml of calcium carbonate (chalk) to the bath because our water lacks hardness which is beneficial to madder's colour. Then I divided the dye between 2 pots and repeated the low-simmer and cooling process. This time it took at least 6 rinses for the water to come clear! Poor wool. Totally abused.
And I got a much brighter orange than I expected when I was all done. I think I didn't use enough madder. But the colour is still really pretty even if it just about glows! I'm calling it "Flaming". You can see from these two skeins the difficulty I had untangling the matted wool yarn. On the right is before and on the left is after I spent forever parting all the stuck strands. I had to be gentle enough not to break the yarn, which I did only once when I pulled too hard.
Heck, this represents hours and hours of my life carding and spinning so I wasn't going to give up on it! The skeins are still somewhat stuck together so I'm winding the cakes very carefully. On top of that, there's madder dust that didn't sift out of the dye stuck in the yarn and it sheds off as I wind leaving drifts everywhere.
See my black pants? Fun. The final rinsed and dried shade is hard to capture accurately with my iPad but this cake is closest to my eye:
The handspun yarn survived, a little fuzzier than it was before but stil intact. I bet it won't pill easily now! So then I leaped into starting my Flaming Intersect sweater, which is still just a tiny piece so more later. I also finished my Falklands Flare sweater this weekend and don't have any final pics yet. I have to stop gallivanting about.
Speaking of gallivanting, I was invited to another blogger mini-meetup! This time we lunched at the vintage Sylvia Hotel by English Bay and then repaired to Dressew for some stash enhancement after which we crossed Hastings Street to Atex for a little more stash enhancing. I hadn't been there before and found it very nice with lovely fabrics at very reasonable (but not super-cheap) prices. I paid $14.95 per metre for linen.
Oh you want to see who I was playing with? Here we are in the Sylvia:
From the left that's me, Sue (A Colourful Canvas), Barbara (sadly no blog herself but she follows a lot of them!), and Melanie (A Bag and a Beret). Photo from Melanie's camera and kindly taken for us by a hotel employee. We had such a blast! Such delightful, thoughtful, intelligent and hilarious women. I don't think we stopped laughing and smiling and talking for a moment. My advice to the envious - find your tribe and make a date. Even if like the introverts among us you feel a bit of a  "social hangover" later, it's totally worth the effort.
Yes, I bought more fabric. No, I didn't photograph it for you. I'm feeling a smidgen guilty because I can't sew any of it until we get back. I'm supposed to be making my hiking bag. Yup. Better get started. I'm running out of time. Sound of me running up to my studio...swoooooshhhh...

Saturday, July 02, 2016


We survived Manning Park! It was a near thing though. I look like I have chicken pox with all the bug bites. The noseeums were particularly bad and we were glad of our new window screens because they slipped right through the regular fly screens. Evil little &@$(!!  Can't complain about the weather though. It was perfection!
The Grandbeasties were mostly reasonably well behaved for us and had a great time together considering the differences in their ages:
Small, Medium and Large! They went fishing and caught quite a few rainbow trout in Lightning Lake. We got to eat most of it ourselves since they didn't want more than a bite. Yum!
That's Thom in the middle supervising. Plus we ran into some elderly friends of my daughter and son-in-law. Check out the crew in their canoe:
If you can't quite see them since I had to try to focus in while they were moving, those are large stuffed animals (plushies) sharing the bow, stern and centre seats! So funny.
So now we're home and somehow there's only 4 weeks left until we head out on the Transcontinental Trek. How did it get to be July so fast? Much to do before August including beating the garden into some kind of order, cleaning the house and packing all the stuff we need for two months on the road. We played around with a box on the bike rack (because we aren't bringing the bikes) and we can get our barbecue and propane tank on it as well. That will keep some of the clutter out of the minimal floor space. The box will hold a change of linens, warm sleeping bags (which we won't need until sometime in September) and the dirty laundry as it accumulates. There's only a couple of chances to do the laundry while we travel but we don't mind getting a little grubby. Part of the experience! Heh.
In crafty news unfortunately I didn't do much knitting while we were away. Too many distractions! But I have only one sleeve left on the Falklands Flare pullover to finish. I have to get spinning too because there's at least one more bobbin to fill and two skeins to ply before I can dye the Arcott/Romney yarn. It needs to be all wound into balls and ready to go with us so I'd best get to it.
Moving right along...