Damselfly’s Delights

Being the continuing story of my creations and curiosities.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Google-Fu Master

My brain is tired and my mouse-hand is even tired-er. It’s been hard work but I think I’ve conquered the travel plans for this year’s vacation! And WOW!!! It’s going to be fun! Probably also very hot and dry. There are water falls, lava tubes, Anasazi ruins, rocks of all colours and shapes, petroglyphs, canyons, deserts, mountains and, eventually, ocean beaches. Nine Western US states in total, two of them twice – a big loop. Also fabric shopping because I can’t go through Portland without hitting the Mill End Store and Pendleton Woollen Mill Store. They’re very near each other on the same road so it’s not too big of a diversion.

However, because it’s so far to go we’ve decided to leave earlier than we’d originally planned. Which means we’re heading out a week from Wednesday so we’ll need to step up the prep and packing. What doesn’t get done won’t until we get back. Oh well. I’ll have to kiss my garden goodbye for the season. Some things did really well this year including my coleus in the deck pots. Most of them were grown from seeds. This year the leaves on some were huge!

ColeusMonster

Like the “Kong” variety but these aren’t. The ones I bought were because the seeds aren’t on offer. These “Mehndi” were particularly colourful:

ColeusMehndi

On the right you can see the “Sedona” in gorgeous red rock colours. I love colourful leaves even better than colourful flowers. Yes, odd, I know. I’ll get over it. ;)

Meanwhile, I did finish my second pair of Toe-Up Shortie Socks from the same ball of DGB Confetti:

ToeUpShorties2

Again I used my slightly modified version of Wendy D. Johnson’s Toe-Up Socks With A Difference. I’m now starting to get the hang of it though that’s not to say I didn’t have to rip out the heel turn twice on the second sock! I also haven’t figured out how to size it up for Thom or someone else with larger feet than mine. That shouldn’t be too hard though now that I’m more familiar with how it works. They look silly off the feet but fit very closely especially under the arch and heel.

I dyed this pair when they were done just to make them different from the earlier pair from the same yarn. I used some Lanaset Red plus a bit of Black that I had premixed and never used and dyed them in the craft microwave. Now they’re kind of a burgundy but light enough so that the stripey bits still show. Yeah, I’m too lazy to do a proper FO post. If you want more deets you can go to the Ravelry page.

It seems like posting to this blog is going to get a little rare to non-existent in the next while. So sorry! First of all, this next week is going to be crazy busy getting ready to go. (Aaakkk!!!) Also, unless there are more places to get wifi than I’ve encountered in my Googling, I will be very hard-pressed to get out an account of the trip while it’s actually happening. I hope to at least keep writing posts and saving them up for whenever there’s an opportunity to send them. Best I can promise for now.

More when I can!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Real Rain At Last

It was so lovely to wake up to the sound of rain yesterday morning. (Yes, remind me it’s so lovely when we’ve had about 4 straight months of it come winter, will you?) I would have had to do a major watering job if it hadn’t. Things are so dry around here! It also seems rather dark but I don’t really mind it for a change.

The rain didn’t dampen our spirits but rather invigorated Thom & I into walking downtown to go see the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Yes, we totally loved it! I thought it was a Star Wars for the 21st Century, it was that good. Great characters, a plausible story line and excellent and very believable 3D special effects, based on a rather obscure Marvel comic series. As you might know if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, I love sci-fi and fantasy. Our son owns a comic book shop. (I’m sure he was influenced by us in his childhood!) Our daughter plays in the Society for Creative Anachronism. They all game too, whether board or online. We don’t – but we get it. Most of my friends and family would rather read biographies or regular fiction or mysteries and look at me funny if I chime in with my fave reads. I don’t care. I love it when someone creates a movie that captures the feel of a good sci-fi romp. Doesn’t happen often really. Can’t wait for the next one. Of course there’ll be a sequel. They even tell you that in the movie credits! And next up I’m waiting for the last instalment of The Hobbit. Not until Christmas again though. Sigh. Seriously though, if it wasn’t for the giant 3D screen and surround sound I would love to be able to avoid movie theatres entirely. The girl next to me had stinky perfume on and the man next to Thom smelled like stale tobacco. Ugh. At least the popcorn was fresh.

OK, enough of that. Back to the crafty stuff. On Tuesday two of my buddies and I had an Ai Day and played with most of the last of my Japanese indigo. It was pretty successful though I left quite a few of the plants alone that have already started to flower for me. We got a pretty reasonable blue even though some of the leaves were pretty tough and old and some were quite young and small. I only had one item to dye so I dipped my lovely yellow sock yarn that had previously been dyed in gardenia pods. Before the dipping:

Gardenia yellow yarn

Now it looks mostly green:

Ai Over Gardenia yarn

But I’m thinking it needs yet another dip in something else. Perhaps the walnuts that we keep chucking into the city green bin (aka compost pick-up) after the squirrels chop them off the tree before they’re ripe and don’t always eat them. I’ll need to collect a few and soak them for awhile. This yarn hasn’t been mordanted so unless I want to do that first, I need a substantive dye like walnut. I just want to darken one section of my skein to make it a bit more interesting! I don’t want to ruin it though.

BTW, I found out the gardenia dye is Gardenia jasminoides, aka common gardenia or cape jasmine and it’s in the Rubiaceae family. They are subtropical and need heat, bright but not direct sunlight and acid soil to survive so they won’t grow here except as a fussy house plant. The portion with the dye is the dried fruit or seed pod and it’s traditionally used as a dyestuff, a food dye and a medicinal. The latter use is why it was available from the Chinese herbalist.

Gardenia_jasminoides_fruit

You can see the yellow of the fresh pod in the photo I found. Dried ones look brown. It seems to dye protein fibres best and brightest as a substantive dye. It will colour cellulose fibres with an alum mordant but it doesn’t give nearly as bright a yellow as we found out. The cotton ties in my wool skeins didn’t take any yellow at all! And the bamboo yarn was very pale but the wool and silk took the dye quite well. But then superwash wool and nylon yarn dyes very well in almost any dyestuff. The shade as you can see in the top photo is a lovely warm yellow.

I also finished spinning my 2-ply nearly-black merino wool worsted-weight yarn:

MidnightMerino handspun

At least I thought it was merino but it might actually be Shetland now that I think of it since it wasn’t labelled. (Of course I’m going to remember, right? Right??) It’s quite nice anyway. I made quite a lot more than I really need for the sweater that I want to make but I can always knit another Bandana Cowl if there’s enough left. I have about 220 yards or so and I only need enough for the neck edge. More on this when I get to working on it.

On another subject entirely, it’s just under 3 weeks now until we go on our annual month’s vacation. I have yet to actually figure out our route but so far I do know we’re heading south this time. Hopefully we can combine desert and rocks with seashore on the way back. That’s my job today – working my Google-fu on the big computer to plan and gather information. I’m so looking forward to getting away for awhile. I love home (so much that it’s sometimes hard to get me out of it!) but I also love getting a different perspective occasionally. Anyway I’ve packed my knitting already! Too many projects for the time available but that’s just fine. Always nice to have alternatives just in case something doesn’t work as planned. I hope we can find wifi while we’re gone so I can post while we’re gone. It’s not easy or always possible but I like to think it’s becoming more and more common everywhere. I’ll be truly happy when I can get online with a fast clean and preferably free connection anywhere anytime. I know I’m not the only one with this wish.

The weather promises to be a little cooler and damper for the next while so maybe I can even get some sewing done. I have a couple of things I’d like to take with me. We’ll see. I keep thinking I need to do a bunch of garden and house tidying before I go away but so much of it just needs doing again when we get back that it’s hard to get motivated. I usually tend to go into a bit of a frenzy before we leave and I’d rather skip that if I can help it. Thom calls it my “packing mode”. I’ll try to get around to everything that really matters but I’m not going to bust a gasket! Last year was rather more seriously major because of the length of time we’d be away so we worked like crazy for the last few weeks of July. At least this year we’re only going for one month, not two. So this time I’m trying to be somewhat proactive without going nuts. Wish me luck.

More soon.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

In Case You Were Wondering

Yup, I’m still here! Nope, no further bad things happened with the wasp sting. It now looks like a mosquito bite but after feeling rather uncomfortable most of the week it has finally mostly ceased to itch. Won’t stop me from carrying my epi-pen around everywhere though! You never know. I almost got stung again yesterday out at the Steveston fish wharf. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It’s been a fairly busy week and I’m missing a few photos that would illustrate things better. Camnesia? Or just plain lazy. I will attempt to do better in future. (Sure.) Of course there’s the ever-present watering of gardens. The weather remains quite lovely though slightly cooler than it has been. Just perfect, in other words! We took advantage of the dry spell to refinish the back deck:

BackDeckRefurbish

All the railings too, including the ones by the basement door and on the front stairs. Tedious to do, just sayin’. Doesn’t it look nice? Of course that was before the Stoopid Squirrels spit tiny bits of my walnuts all over it! It’s been a bumper crop year and we won’t get any. Again. Nor our hazelnuts either. Have I mentioned how much I HATE squirrels?

Anyway, it’s done for another 3 or 4 years. I love our deck. We spend quite a lot of time out there in summer. I’ve been spinning out there and nearly have a skein of black wool to contrast with the leftovers from my Rainbow Dark cardi to make another sassymetrical. And speaking of knitting projects, I’ve been sorting out my patterns, yarn and needles for our September camping trip. Not even sure exactly where we’re going yet, but I’ve got knitting to do while we get there! Far too much knitting probably but it’s good to have choices. You know. Just in case.

I also finally finished the divoré on the rayon/silk velvet. If you remember that far back, this will be a rather elegant cardigan or jacket adapted from Katherine Tilton’s Butterick 5891. I only burned out the sleeves and the front bands/collar piece and left the body solid velvet. Now I need to dye the pieces before sewing them together. I will use Procion MX in a scrunch-dyed technique but I still can’t quite decide what colours or how intense I want it. Greens perhaps? I think I need to just do it and see what comes out! Good thing this fabric doesn’t fray much because it goes through a LOT of processes before it becomes anything: washing, drying, divoré paste, ironing to activate the burn-out, scrubbing out the loosened pile, washing some more, dyeing, rinsing, simmering in Synthrapol, rinsing some more and then, after all that, sewing the final garment. Whew. I hope the dyeing process will remove the rest of the loose pile fuzz because currently the pieces shed little sparkly rayon dust all over every time I touch it! I still need to thoroughly vacuum all around my ironing board in the studio. It looks like it snowed up there.

Speaking of the studio, here’s the Mountains & Valleys scarf on the loom:

BigBumps on loom

The black wool parts look like window screening! Really hard to beat that lightly especially on my big countermarche loom with overhead beater. I have to just barely touch the weft into place. It shifts around like crazy if you just breathe on it too so I’m going to have to be careful to pack some sticks in the cloth beam to prevent the cords from causing too much slippage. Some is inevitable though I think. Hopefully it will all come right in the wash. It has to be really well fulled to shrink up the wool and leave the silk to bubble. That’s why the rectangles rather than squares because it shrinks more width-wise. Whatever. That’s as good as I can beat with this. Otherwise the warp has been very cooperative this time. Yay. I just have to carry on as I have been right to the end. The wool is continuous but the silk has to be started and cut off for each stripe so it’s not going very quickly at all. No hurry. It’s a good challenge for my weaving control anyway.

So I think I’ve accomplished my goal of kick-starting the weaving mojo! Now I keep finding things I want to weave. I certainly have enough stash to carry on with for quite some time to come. More will have to wait until autumn though. And of course meanwhile I haven’t been sewing! No new summer clothes while it’s still summer. Sigh. Can’t do everything unfortunately, can you?

The garden is winding down. There are bare patches now so I’ll be planting some fall rye seed soon. I made sweet spiced bean pickles out of a couple of large bags of beans. It made 7 and a half jars. I think I still have to work on the recipe some more though. They keep floating in the jars. We may soon be dehydrating some of the bumper crop of mini paste tomatoes too. Nice to have them ripen before September! Next week we’ll be doing another Ai Day with the Japanese indigo. I may not get to the woad this year but that’s ok. Or maybe when I get back in October. The indigo is already starting to flower too. I found it helps to leave some plants untouched and they’re the ones sending up flower shoots. It takes a long time for the seeds to mature however. They’ll need to be picked in late October to finish ripening in the house.

And speaking of dyeing, at our Spectrum meeting on Thursday we had a pot of dye from dried gardenia pods going. I’ve never heard about this dye in any of the books. These were bought from a Chinese herbalist (we have lots of those locally because of our large Asian population) and obtained with great difficulty by one of our members who had to try to explain what she wanted. Not easy even armed with the botanical name and the Chinese name. (I need to find out what these are myself!) Finally she found a shop where the woman figured it out right away and sold them for the very reasonable price of $1 an ounce. These pods give a lovely warm yellow that is substantive (i.e. doesn’t need a mordant). I dyed a couple of balls of my recent Elann sock yarn acquisition and didn’t even bother to skein them but just threw them in. I didn’t really want an even dye but it came out rather more even anyway probably because those cute little puff balls are quite softly wound. I plan to skein them up and dip-dye in the indigo vat next week. Photos to come.

Yesterday Thom & I took his mom out to Steveston, a cute little touristy fishing village that is part of the municipality of Richmond. We had fish & chips and fish tacos at Pajo’s on the dock and then wandered around for a bit before going down to the fish dock. The sockeye run is just starting so we bought a medium-sized one and a couple of pounds of side-stripe prawns. Oh big yum! Thom & I had half the prawns for dinner last night with garlic butter (first of my new batch of garlic!) and half the rest in an omelette for breakfast this morning. Ambrosia. The fish was descaled and cut into 3 chunks, two for the freezer and one to barbeque for dinner tonight. I love living by the sea. Apparently the run this year is going to be a really good one so hopefully we’ll have another chance to indulge. It’s fun to go directly to the fishers for their catch and know they get to keep all the proceeds themselves. Just like the farmers market only wetter! Thom also stopped at a farm stand on the way home and bought some fresh strawberries. The second flush of the everbearing varieties are perfect right now.

Today we need to go find something crafty to give the biggest grandbeastie, Princess Silver Fang, for her 10th birthday. (Can’t believe she’s hit the double-digits already!) Today’s the day but the party is tomorrow which gives us a little more time. There are two big art/craft stores on our walking route so I’m sure something will inspire. She’s so hard to fathom sometimes (serious introvert) but she does love to make things as long as it doesn’t have complex written directions. Illustrations are better. Or just created from imagination. I always like to encourage making stuff.

More soon! It’s warming up out there and…my garden needs watering. Again.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

YOIKS!

Well that was a terrifying experience!!! I got stung by a wasp yesterday and didn’t use my epi-pen!!! The reaction, while uncomfortable, was normal and I didn’t go into anaphylactic shock the way I did the last time I got stung. That was quite a few years ago now. Why didn’t I have the same reaction this time? No idea. But I was reluctant to use the pen immediately because then I would have to go to the ER right away – a total waste of at least 3 hours of my life if it wasn’t necessary. Unless I really needed to use it of course. Saving my life is definitely a priority!

Instead I took a couple of antihistamines, iced the area (right in my soft belly near my belly button) and waited, monitoring my skin and breathing. The last time the reaction was pretty immediate with a blotchy red face and neck and difficulty getting a breath. Nope. This time all was fine apart from some pain and itching and swelling around the puncture site. I can still feel it today and the area is a bit red and very itchy but otherwise I’m fine. Had to find something soft and non-binding to wear so I’m swanning around in my handwoven Celadon Dress.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I probably shouldn’t have hesitated but we live only a short distance from the hospital. If necessary Thom could have gotten me there almost faster than we could dial 911. It ended up being the right call anyway. Possible crisis averted. So what did I do to deserve getting stung? Nothing! Unlike a lot of people I’m not afraid of wasps or bees. Usually we have a truce: I don’t hurt them and they don’t hurt me. This time I was innocently sitting at my kitchen table reading a book when I felt little insect feet scrabbling under my shirt. Before I could unbutton it, the beast stung me so I flung off the shirt and my pants too because I couldn’t find where it had gone and didn’t want to get stung twice. Thom found it later by the window looking a little the worse for wear. Serves it right, I say!

Back to more crafty things where I’m currently warping up the loom for another project. This weave will hopefully go easier than the last one! (Gee, how can it not?) I’m making a one-off scarf using a pattern from the free e-book How to Weave a Scarf from Weaving Today: 7 Handwoven Scarves. This is #3, the Big Bumps Scarf by Madelyn van der Hoogt.

Hand-Woven-Scarf-Bumps

I’m calling my version the Mountains & Valleys Scarf because the natural silk tweed reminds me of snow-capped mountains and the black Jagger superfine merino represents the valleys. So far I’m at this point:

BigBumps warp

About 1/4 of the way through the threading. It’s going very quickly compared to the last project! This weave structure is (I think) a 2-block deflected double-weave where the two different warps are woven only with their own respective wefts and just float over each other rather than interlocking. Here’s part of the draft so you can see what I mean:

BigBumpsScarf draft

The actual texture doesn’t happen until the cloth is wet-finished and in this case is even more dramatic than regular deflected double-weave with the added action of the shrinking (fulling) vs non-shrinking areas. As soon a I finish warping and get some woven up I’ll take another photo. In this particular weave the wool is sett 10 ends per inch (1 per dent in a 10-dent reed) but the silk is sett at 20 (doubled in each dent, except for the last thread in a group which is sleyed singly). When I go to weave this I’ll have to be sure to only press the wool into place carefully or it will be beaten too hard. The spaces are needed so it will have room to full up properly leaving the silk which doesn’t shrink to bubble. It’s 14.25” wide in the reed but is supposed to end up at less than half that width and correspondingly you have to weave enough for the length to shrink bigtime as well. So much fun on 4 shafts!

What else do I have going? Oh yes, the second pair of toe-up short socks are nearly up to the gussets. They are slow because they’re alternating with the Ophicleide Cardi which is partway down from the underarms now. The yoke is quite pretty in the navy noil silk:

Ophicleide prog

This is lighter than the true navy colour but otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see it! The white at the neckline is the provisional cast on. I’ll have to finish it with an i-cord edging at the end. So far it fits fine though I did do some increasing just before I split off for the sleeves to give more bust room. The body shape is swing so there should be plenty of room for the rest of me.

Anyhow I’m laying a bit low today to give myself a chance to recover from yesterday’s excitement. It’s been very hot and sunny here but I can’t complain that we’re actually having summer this year. Thom has been busy pressure-washing the deck in preparation for giving it a fresh coat of water-repellent stain. Gotta make hay while the sun shines, right? In my case I should be making bean pickles. I have a whole fridge full of them and more in the garden!

Oh, and if you’re interested here’s a great read. I totally agree with the sentiments in this post on creating and time – the infinite list.

More soonest!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Done and Dusted

I did it! (I sound just like the Littlest Grandbeastie, Rosebud, there. Heh!) I finally and with Great Perseverance have finished:

The Surprisingly Difficult Waffle Weave Tea Towels

clip_image001

Date Begun: June 22, 2014
Date Completed: July 29, 2014

Project idea: from “All-Purpose Waffle-Weave Towels” by Marilyn Murphy, from Handwoven’s Design Collection 18: A Treasury of Towels.

Warp Yarn: New World Textiles 16/2 hemp/cotton, 55% hemp/45% cotton, natural (off-white).

Stripe Yarn 1: Blue Blazes (hemp/recycled blue jeans cotton) from New World Textiles, light denim blue, handspun on the brass tahkli and plied on Louet Victoria wheel, approximately 2/8.

Stripe Yarn 2: Organic cotton from Sally Fox, New Green (natural green), handspun on the brass tahkli and plied on Louet S-90 (?), a little finer than 2/16 cotton. Simmered in soda ash solution to bring out and stabilise the colour.

clip_image003

Warp length: 4 yds (4 towels @ 30” each plus loom waste)

Warp width: 20”, 601 ends sett at 30 epi (2 per dent in 15 dent reed) plus floating selvedges

Weft: same as warp. 2 towels woven with plain hemp/cotton and 2 with stripes at each end.

Partial Draft: 

WaffleWeaveTowels draft

Finishing: Towels were cut apart, hems pressed, machine stitched with the same cotton sewing thread as used for the hem weaving. Finally machine washed and dried, both hot.

Comments: The original pattern used New World Textiles 10/2 organic cotton sett at 24 epi. My yarns were finer so I sett them closer. That was a good call, at least for the natural hemp/cotton.

I had GREAT difficulty with this project! I had to separately weight the jeans/hemp yarns, spritz frequently with water and slather everything with flax-seed sizing (aka snot!) to make them behave. Still ends broke constantly! (Mostly the jeans/hemp on shafts 1 and 4 which didn’t interlace as much as the other ends.) Lots of repairs to make. The last towel was 2.5" short but didn't want to chance trying to weave further. The shed was getting very small because of the heavy weights hanging off the warp bar. I even had to make string slings up to the loom frame to support the bar near the end.

After cutting off the loom it took 2 long sessions to finish repairing all the broken ends. However, the final results are quite lovely! They feel soft but crisp at the same time and are very absorbent. The finished towels ended up 14.5” wide by 23” long (except the last one which was only 20.5” long) – a nice hand size. You can’t even tell that the tension was wonky and there are many repairs in there! The hems are not too rippled and are in scale with the rest of the towels. I guess it was worth having nearly INFINITE patience with these things! I think I deserve a medal for sticking with it despite everything that went wrong.

I currently have the littler towel hanging in the bathroom and one of the others hanging on the oven door handle. In use already! Surprisingly, now I want to weave another project! Hopefully a much quicker and easier one. I even have it all picked out and ready to start. Kind of like getting back up on the horse that threw you, right? More on that soon.

Meanwhile, I want to tell you about 2 of the new books that I got. They are kind of related, both of them being about natural dyeing. First up, we have the latest by Jenny Dean:

A Heritage of Colour

This is quite a small book but it’s packed with really interesting information on the dye plants that have been used in Europe, in particular Great Britain, for hundreds of years with great success. Jenny is a really good writer and has a way of making the complex subject of natural dyes accessible for nearly anyone. Most importantly she combines the necessary information with encouragement to do your own experimentation. I find it the perfect middle ground between the rote “follow this exact recipe” and the airy-fairy “try anything and see” approaches. I’ve learned a lot from all of her books and this one is no different. The text is pretty dense so reading it carefully is most rewarding.

Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with the repetition of much dyeing information that is already available in her earlier books. Though I suppose it’s really helpful to have it all in one volume especially if this was your only source of information. Jenny explains everything you need to know succinctly but thoroughly. Included this time is info on contact dyeing (sometimes called eco-printing) and on using lichens and fungi. The fibre of choice for the dye samples in this book is wool, including dyeing over natural shades of grey and brown wool. The abbreviations used in the photo captions were somewhat annoying until I finally found the key in the text on p.48.

I haven’t quite finished reading every word yet, but I’ve already discovered a couple of dye plants from my garden that I haven’t tried including buddleia and willow. And I’m quite excited about the 1-2-3 vat (aka the lime/fructose method developed by Michel Garcia) as used with woad (powdered extract). I have yet to experiment with this. Ah, so many plants – so little time!

The second book I got is this one:

A Garden to Dye For

The author here is a garden writer as well as a hobby farmer who includes fibre animals with her plants. Chris lives in Placerville, California, so she has a more North American viewpoint including woad as a noxious weed! However she has done her dyeing homework. The result is a gentle and easy to understand introduction and even though Chris insists she’s not scientific, there’s definitely enough clear info to be useful. This book will help even a beginner dyer get good results from plants that you can grow in your own yard and Chris happily gives reasons to play with the more fugitive colours, such as for dyeing eggs or play-dough. There are also instructions for watercolour dye paints, play silks and eco-dyed scarves as well as the usual fibres and yarns.

This little hardback book is a lovely production with lots of enticing photos and an interesting layout. It could benefit from a more comprehensive index rather than just the plant names though. Otherwise I thought it was pretty comprehensive as a way to get started with natural dyes and, as I already do, to grow them in your own dye garden. I enjoyed Chris’s personable friendly style.

Both Jenny Dean and Chris McLaughlin are careful to discuss environmental and safety issues in their books. This is a quite different approach to the “olden days” when natural dyers were flinging around the more toxic mordants and using the less nasty ones in much higher proportions than necessary. My Guild has even gone so far as to put a disclaimer sticker in all the older dye books in our library as a warning that the amounts and types of mordants are not now considered environmentally safe. We live and learn, right? Assuming we survive our original follies!

I have several more books and videos to review. More soon! Right now I’ve got dinner to get. Hungry…

Monday, July 28, 2014

Heating Up Again

So where did I leave you last? Oh yeah. My thumb is feeling totally fine again. No idea what the problem was but I’m so glad it didn’t linger. I’ve had tendinitis issues in the past that were extremely long-term and debilitating. I’m always doing my best to avoid that happening Ever Again! It’s kind of hard to do though if I don’t have a clue what caused it in the first place.

So finally I’m partway through weaving the last Waffle Towel. I found the secret is to keep spritzing the warp with water to counteract the dry conditions in my studio right now. Oh, I will be so glad to cut this particular demon off my loom! I have given myself permission that if this last towel gives me any more serious trouble I’m going to hack the darn thing off and call it done. Life is too short to put up with struggling to finish weaving a few bucks worth of yarn, even if part of it was very fine and time-consuming handspun. Moving right along. I already have an inspiration for the next warp. Which was one of the original purposes of this first project – to jumpstart the weaving mojo that has been missing for the last number of years. Of course I haven’t been doing any sewing while I’ve been weaving. Hmmm…

The weather has been heating up again. I was so enjoying some cool days and even a spot of rain to ease the constant garden watering. Speaking of the garden, the peas are done but the beans are coming on strong even though the scarlet runners have barely even started yet. I’m quite liking the French-style filet beans (pole) that I’ve been growing for the last couple of years. They seem to be quite productive with their long skinny pods. Must get a photo to show you. I’ve pulled out the garlic which is currently curing on the deck. Also the Juliet and Black Cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen. They are so big this year! The plants have already reached the roof of the greenhouse and fallen over because I didn’t tie them up well enough. It was a chain reaction with the weight of the bunches of tomatoes bringing several more stems down with them. I’ve since tucked them back to clear the pathway into the greenhouse and hope they will keep producing anyway. Oh well. We get what we get.

I tried to fill in some of the bare patches in the garden with some more greens: lettuce, arugula, mizuna and red komatsuna. Sadly the lettuce totally got eaten off by slugs. The mizuna only has a few survivors but the komatsuna has more and the arugula did very well. We’ll see if I can get them big enough to eat before we go away in September. Otherwise there’s not much point in planting new seeds because they wouldn’t do much before we leave. Nobody will take care of them while we’re gone anyhow.

Speaking of going away, we decided not to go to Kettle River this coming weekend to meet up with bro and sis-in-law. Too far, too hot, too risky. Provincial campground rules say no second RV in a single campsite and even though we seem to be able to get away with it at Manning Park, Kettle River is fussier and their campsites are smaller. Our van is no bigger than an SUV which would be allowed but some parks managers are sticklers for THE RULES. I’d hate to drive all the way there (6 hours) and find out there’s no place to stay on a crazy-busy BC holiday weekend. Not my idea of a good time.

In other crafty news there’s not much to report since not much got done. I’ve been happily spending some of my earnings from the Kumihimo Classes though! I bought a few books, a video class, some yarn:

Elann sock yarn

This was my first order from Elann and they were very prompt. The box was really well packed – even the receipt had its own plastic bag! I’m quite pleased with them. The company is actually within driving distance of me in Delta, BC so I could conceivably get Thom to take me out there to pick up an order and save a bit of postage but it wasn’t really expensive to get it delivered. At least there were no Canada Customs involved which always slows things down! So what did I get this time? The new A-Series F05 sock yarn: a dozen balls. The A-Series yarns are knitter-influenced and made especially for Elann. The whole fibre content and their sources are right on the label. This one has South American and European wool and nylon and is spun in Italy. The price is very reasonable (less than $4 per 50g ball) and there are quite a few single colours including white and natural that I especially like for overdyeing. This lot is going to be either a sweater or 6 –8 pairs of socks. Don’t know how it will wear as socks but I guess I’ll find out, huh? It doesn’t seem as durable as say DGB Confetti or Regia to my fingers though.

I also ordered a couple of extra items in my Elann box: two more connectors and a pair of Heartstoppers (end caps) for my Addi Lace Clicks (short tip) set. I never understood why the set doesn’t include these items in it in the first place! These will give me more options to keep stitches from falling off if I need to detach the needle tips. Also to create stitch holders for armholes etc. So convenient. I love my Addi Click system so much that I’ve completely ignored my original Denise interchangeables since I got them. No contest. Although if I needed larger sizes the Denise has some really big tips! For smaller circs though I need the regular Addi Lace fixed circular needles. Clicks don’t size down past 3.5mm due to the connectors. Next time I order I’m thinking of adding to my cords as well. Can’t have too many of these great tools, can we?

So guess I’d better get a wiggle on and get my next instalment of the Summer Woolie Wash out. Yesterday I did this many shawls and scarves:

WoolieWash2 WoolieWash1

I ran out of blocking wires, foam mat space and room on my deck for any more! Most of these are sock yarn except for the Black Rock Shawl (Jared Flood’s Rock Island) in Zephyr wool/silk and Galloping Gail (Gail or Nightsongs by Jane Araújo) in handspun bison down. There’s a bunch more waiting their turn in the warm soapy water today. It’ll be so nice to snuggle into clean woolies come the cooler weather!

More soonest. I have several crafty books and videos to review.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Quick Upadate

Oh, man! This has definitely been the time for car repairs around here! Our MINI Cooper, Velvet (a whole 12 years old now!), needed an oil change but what she got was a new water pump, timing belt and a wash and brush up as well. Ouch. Though a lot of it was on warranty and such so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. She’s good to go now and the best part is we aren’t at all seduced by a new one – even though they have all kinds of mod-cons like a fob instead of a key and a push-button instead of a key-start. Who cares? She still works just fine. They don’t make her beautiful burgundy red anymore. And the new ones are tinny and cheap in comparison. So there. We loves our Velvet.

But really the best auto news is dear brother-in-law’s Westie is fixed now and they are back in search of the vacation that was sadly truncated by a breakdown in sweet little Pincher Creek, AB. Yay! We’ve been invited to catch up to them on their way back home at Kettle River Provincial Park next week for a few days of camping in tandem again. I think they were very happy with the repair shop we sent them to (a pleased shout-out to Bert’s Automotive in Vancouver!!!) that allowed them to get back on the road before they lost all their campground reservations and vacation time. They fixed our Westie recently too and she’s really good now. Oils well that ends well, yeah? Stuff happens. Wish it didn’t but that’s life.

So meanwhile, I’ve been having some trouble with my left thumb. Don’t know quite what I did to it but I haven’t been able to knit or hold a shuttle comfortably. The problem seems intermittent at best. One day trouble – next day fine – next day trouble again. Anyway I gave it today to rest and hopefully I can carry on normally very soon. It’s driving me nuts! I’m so used to knitting whenever I have any downtime. I’m going twitchy without it. twitch twitch

More soon.