Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Project Continues

Just checking in to say "We're still not done yet"! Here's the current state of the dining room:

Yes, you'll notice that I finally got the Hipstamatic app on the iPad. It even makes the mess look interesting, doesn't it? Thom is currently off to buy more paint and rollers. Unfortunately we have to do another coat on a wall or two. Bleh. And we haven't even begun to tackle the living room yet. At least the hallway is finished, including the floor polished. And up the stairs to the second floor is done though the wrought iron railing is still off and needs to be repainted. Yeah, I know - wrought iron curlycues are so 1960's! I love it.

We're now a couple of days behind thanks to a weekend overnighter with the Littlest Grandbeastie. Nearly-five-year-olds are so much fun! It was a break from The Project but we're both running out of steam. Gotta pace yourself, right? Speaking of which I'd best get my rear in gear and be ready to dive in when Thom returns.

The good news? I actually finished chopping up the madder! Waiting for the last bit to dry and then I'll give you a look and a final harvest weight. Nice to complete something anyway.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Topsy Turvy

Just a quick one to say I'm still here - super tired but here. The entire house is a certified disaster area and we're less than halfway through the painting part of this project. Can you believe it has taken me two days so far just to paint the doors and doorframes in the hallway? And I'm not done yet! Talk about fussy work. Oy.

What amazes me is that the original project keeps expanding. We started out to paint the living/dining room, which is actually one big room covering almost half of the main floor. Of course we can't stop there because the paint extends into the central hall and also up the stairs to the second floor landing. We already knew the dining room area rug needed replacing which quickly included replacing the carpet pads in both rooms. And then the front entry hall rug and pad too. We still have to go rug hunting! As well as finish the painting. And clean up the mess. And sort the junk. That last is not going to be a trivial job. However it's much better that we do this than our heirs, if you know what I mean.

Meanwhile I'm not showing any photos yet! Off to my weavers and spinners guild meeting this evening. Hope I can stay awake!

Monday, November 16, 2015

More Madder

Oy! We've just begun a major revamp of the living/dining room and it (of course) all has to be finished before Christmas. It's been put off for far too long so it's an even bigger job than expected. The dining room floor needs to be partially refinished, the walls need washing and repainting, and we need to get a new rug. Also nothing, NOTHING!! is going back in unless it's been sorted, cleaned and we really want to keep it. The latter is the biggest reason we haven't tackled this years ago. It's so hard! I hope I'm getting better at letting things go. We are by no means minimalists but sometimes your priorities and tastes change, right? I need to simplify both visually and to make cleaning easier. Too much useless junk is driving me crazy! That's what you get for living in the same house for 37 years. No easy excuse to purge. No we can't weasel out of it.

Moving on to the subject of this post. I was a little surprised at how the Corriedale roving came out of the second extraction madder pot. Remember I was going to try 3 different modifiers? The results were visible but not dramatic:

The light isn't ideal so I hope you can distinguish them! Clockwise from top left: unmodified, citric acid, soda ash and iron. The most obvious is the way the acid brought out the orange. The iron didn't sadden as much as I had thought. It's just slightly duller than the alkaline red. It was a fun experiment though. And I have half a kilo of pretty wool to spin up.

I also dyed one of the skeins of Plymouth alpaca/tencel/bamboo in the exhaust bath and got a peachy pink. However I decided to wind off a couple of smaller skeins and overdye them for a selection of contrast colours to knit stripes with the Autumn Bonfires yarn. I found the perfect cardigan sweater pattern. More on this project when there's something to tell.

Meanwhile I'm still chopping up madder roots. I've got less than half the bucket to go. Not like I've had a lot of time to work on it! I'm trying for at least a short session a day and seem to be making some headway. The roots have a lot of good red in them judging by the results of my first dyepot. All it cost me is time and effort. I find it so exciting to take a plant that was growing in my garden and apply it to fibres and get such amazing colour! Alchemy.

Well off to start washing dirty walls. It's been so long since we've painted last that we can't remember exactly when that was. Yuck. If posts here are a little rare in the next while you'll know why, right?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Yes, It Madders

OK, admittedly that was a bad pun. But I finally have red! I know, I've been whining about it for ages now. The weather and the stars - or something - finally aligned and we had a window of opportunity to dig up the madder bed:

That was yesterday. Note sunshine. Thom had already cleared the tops for me. I know you can use them for dye too but the colours you get are subtle, mostly rosy beige, and that wasn't what I was excited about. We spent a backbreaking day digging up the bed and separating out the juicy madder roots from the rest of the ones that also had the last three years to get comfortable in there. Mostly from the laurel bushes nearby plus a few weeds. The madder is easy to separate. It's brittle and reddish and if you really aren't sure just break the root and it will show bright yellow-orange.

I separated out the crowns as we went though I knew we had more than I needed to replant the bed. In the end I used 16 of the best ones and increased the madder bed a few feet longer. Here they are all tucked back in:

A little lime, a little bonemeal for the roots and everybody's happy. Especially me! I got a huge bucketful of these lovelies:

Three and one-third kilos of them to be more precise! The most ever. It's going to take ages to chop them up and dry them without hurting my hands or getting blisters. As it was, I began by washing them thoroughly under the outside tap this morning. It was cold, wet work but I got most of the dirt and fugitive dyestuff off. Then I weighed the results and began chopping up about 500g for my first dye pot:

I poured the first extraction off through a cheesecloth-lined sieve and popped in 2 skeins of alum-mordanted superwash wool/nylon sock yarn (Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet). The dye struck immediately! So fast that the first skein is slightly darker than the second when it took me a few seconds longer to put it in the pot. The only colour left in the bath was a slight yellow tinge to the water. Yikes! Here's the results after an hour of heat (below a simmer) and cooling and rinsing:

So pretty! A little uneven but that's exactly what I wanted. It's still damp so it will be a tad lighter when it dries. I'm calling it "Autumn Bonfire". I've done a second extraction too which is currently sitting cooling until tomorrow. Then I'll dye the Corriedale roving that I also mordanted the other day. I plan to use 3 modifiers: acid, alkaline and iron plus unmodified for 4 different shades. So. Much. Fun.

One more colour to show off:

This is a half-skein of alpaca/tencel/bamboo fingering (also from Plymouth Yarns) and it was dyed at my Spectrum meeting the other day in a mushroom dye - dyers polypore, Phaeolus schweinitzii.
I actually have another half-skein of this yarn that we also dyed but it's still with my friend Kirsten at her house. Another whole skein is probably going into a pale afterbath of madder tomorrow when I finish dyeing the roving. More on my mad experiments soon. And no, I haven't had a chance to do any more sewing. A bit of spinning though. And of course some knitting. Moving right along.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

First of Many

Here I am with the first Finished Object off the sewing pile:

Apologies for the artificial lighting - it's as dark as twilight today because it's pouring rain. Typical Vancouver autumn weather, the kind we really haven't seen much of up to now.

I'm calling this my Bonus Vest because I barely managed to cut it out from my Italian wool pinstripe after already cutting most of the pieces for the shirt/jacket. The pattern is Katherine Tilton's B5891 View C. This has not one but two really useful and adaptable patterns in one envelope and this vest is my fourth piece from it. (It obviously no longer owes me anything.) I modified the original asymmetrical jacket by using only the right front and mirroring it. The collar is one quarter of the original, mirrored for the other three-quarters. However I randomly pieced it as well as the pockets in order to get enough fabric for the pattern pieces.

I went for patch pockets instead of the inseam ones. They're lined with my damselflies batik cotton which made them just a tad heavy for the fine wool. I had to apply the pockets right next to the princess seam for support but it seems to have worked out well enough. Otherwise this fabric was quite lovely to sew and press flat. Though you might be able to see in the photo that it bounces back somewhat afterward. I also used a bias strip of the batik cotton to face the back neck and here the firmness gives the collar some useful support. The armholes used self-bias strips instead for more flexibility.

So next I plan to start on the shirt/jacket, Marcy Tilton's V8709 View A, from this same fabric. Hopefully the sewing will benefit from all this previous experience! The dingy weather is certainly conducive to staying in the studio and sewing up a storm. It's been so wet that I still haven't dug the madder bed but I did get some yarn and wool roving mordanted in anticipation. Baby steps.

And yes, if you were wondering I did post this with my iPad. Just because I can...


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Corbie's First Post

Hello Everyone! I finally found a simple interface to post from my iPad. Yay!

It's not perfect but at least I can get my thoughts out of my head and into my blog without booting up the computer. Above is my Scarlet Minimalist (I tried to link it but it's not working - just go to my Rav projects). The pattern is a free Ravelry download by Anna Kuduja. Of course I had to refigure it for my figure. Heh! My gauge was off in the doubled mohair yarn from the weaving stash. So used several of the hints from those who had gone before and did another couple of rounds of increases to make a smoother yoke and an extra few at the bust line after the armholes were divided off to fit the girls. I also did some hip shaping instead of just continuing straight down and knit a few inches longer because I know this thing is going to curl like mad.

The mohair yarn softened up a lot after it was washed and blocked. It does need something underneath though as it's pretty sheer. This was a fun experiment and I hope it fits into my wardrobe. The bright red is a good colour and actually goes with a lot.

And there you go! I've been sewing the vest that I mentioned in the last post. Not done yet but tomorrow is my Spectrum Study Group so it will have to wait. And so will you!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Chop Chop

The last week or so has been a frenzy of sewing prep: pattern fitting, adjusting, redesigning, laying out and cutting. Whew! Even with good lighting and my excellent cutting table I spend a lot of time going around and around it, arranging and rearranging to get a hopefully straight grain and the most efficient layout. It’s like a real-life game of Tetris! I’m up to a count of 6 garments cut out now which is perhaps a third of my current list. Yeah, I know. Ambitious, aren’t I? Well, I’ve got the fabrics including a few from deepest stash, so why not? I’ll just keep going while the momentum holds. Right now I should probably get sewing on what I’ve got so far – just for a chance to sit down for awhile if nothing else.

The most stressful piece of fabric to cut out was the fine Italian wool that I bought in September at the Mill End Store in Portland, OR. The selvedge had a woven-in label so I could look it up: Guabello. It’s apparently been around for 200 years and I had 3 yards of the second-finest (150s) pinstriped suiting in their collection. Who knew? It was pricey at US$28.99 per yard but not ridiculously so. And yes, I went at it with the rotary cutter. Brave damselfly. I’ve used both patterns before so I had a pretty good idea of fit.

The first one was Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8709, View A:

Line Art

I’ve made View B before as a vest after lengthening the bottom by 3”. The only differences between A and B are in the collar and the sleeves. This time I added another inch, moved the bust darts down more and shortened the sleeves. Although the sleeves on the model are not full length, they probably still will be longer on my little “tyrannosaurus rex” arms! The pinstripes will add interest to the shirt/jacket as they are horizontal (sort of) on the peplum and meeting in a V on the bias-cut back.

There was still fabric left over so I decided to make a vest from Katherine Tilton’s Butterick 5891 View C, the jacket (not the vest):

Line Art

I modified this quite a bit by using only the front right side piece to cut both left and right, thus eliminating the asymmetry. I also used only one quadrant of the collar pattern and repeated it to make a more simple collar. However, I ran out of fabric pieces big enough to cut it so I had great fun piecing together bits with the stripes running every which way. Of course then I had to make matching pieced patch pockets instead of the inseam pockets which don’t hang very well in the draped sides anyway. When I was done, this was all that was left of the original 3 yards:

Mostly selvedges! And wee scraps not even big enough for a pocket. Did I mention that when I brought this yardage home I actually washed it in the washing machine on gentle with Orvus and then held my breath and threw it in the dryer? It came out completely wrinkle-free and hardly shrank at all. Perfect. I was glad I’d stitched a line of straight stitches across the raw edges though because it ravels quite easily. Now I don’t have to dry-clean the finished garments because I hate dry-cleaning with a passion. I’ll just wash them on gentle with Orvus and hang to dry on a padded hanger. So much cheaper and easier and Orvus smells much better than toxic dry-cleaning fluid. Excellent tightly worsted-spun wool. Gotta love it! Now I just have to sew all the rest of the pieces together, right? Right.

What else is new? Halloween was fun but the fireworks were a bit much. They kept on and on long after we went to bed and were trying to sleep. Ghouls and demons for sure. Then yesterday was of course my birthday. Hah, I’m an official Old Person now! Can’t even fake the middle-age thing anymore, can I? Oh well. Now I’m looking for seniors’ discounts instead. Somehow there aren’t as many as there used to be though. Too many of us Baby Boomers are retired now and used them all up. So how come I still feel about 25 in my head? Where did that last 40 years go anyway?

So I have a knitting FO to show you too but right now it’s suppertime and I’ve gotta go cook. Back soon.