Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hazy Days

The Burns Bog is burning! This is a very special ecological area and it has only been saved from commercial development by a concerted effort on the part of people who really care. For the last couple of days there's been a growing fire in the bog (200 hectares at last report) and it's been very difficult for the firefighters to get it under control. In a peat bog the fire can go underground so the water and fire-suppressant chemicals don't have much effect. It's usually so squelchy wet that you can hardly walk on the trails without sinking out of sight, but it's been very dry in the bog after the long summer. No reports yet on how it started. But I can smell the smoke here many miles away. Yesterday it was so bad I had to close all the windows in the house even though it was 21º C. outside.

On Saturday I had my friends over for our monthly Spectrum dye study day. We were playing with dye-painting on wool which I love to do. Some people did wool rovings and some did some yarns as well and one person did 2 silk scarves. This is the wool/nylon sock yarn that I dyed in the ball. You can see how the inside of the balls (on the outside now after I rewound them!) comes out lighter in colour because the dye doesn't penetrate all the way to the centre as well. I'm thinking I'll knit the Falling Leaves socks in the new Knitty. I'm not really fond of the toe-up on one long circular (Magic Loop) method of sock knitting though. I also don't like the short-row heel much. Yeah, I'm a sock-knittin' rebel! I wonder if I can use the lace pattern, turn it upside down and knit my usual socks? Sounds like a pain to re-engineer the pattern though. I'll have to think about it.

Then there's the two different Confetti sock yarns that I got, one for my daughter-in-law (left with purple) and one for my daughter (right with blue) for their birthday presents.

I'm kind of interested to see how these knit up. They are both quite different from each other. Interestingly both girls have the same size feet even though the rest looks quite different! They're an inch longer and wider than mine. Good thing I measured rather than trying to make my usual socks in hopes that they'd fit. These are my holiday projects. I can't wait to get away from the painting and cleaning and organizing for awhile. 4 more sleeps till we go!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

One forward step — the vest is coming along slowly. I'm knitting the fronts and back all in one piece so the rows are very long. Less seaming up in the end which is all to the good. In the picture you can see the pattern in Vogue Knitting that inspired me but I'm not following it. My strange yarn doesn't match the gauge anyway being somewhat finer than the super chunky yarn in the pattern. Behind the piece on the Denise needles you can see the two cones of yarn I'm using together. In the lower picture, you can see the 5 fine wool singles that make up each of the two yarns. They're similar but not the same and there are interesting slubs of yellow and green in both. It doesn't feel too wonderful right off the cone but it does soften up after washing and blocking. This is meant to be an outerwear sweater anyway, so it won't be contacting my skin much. However it is a bit of a challenge to knit without missing one (or more) of the singles in a stitch somewhere. I've fixed a few of these glitches so far. I don't have to make any critical decisions patternwise until I get to the underarms so I'm just knitting on.

A second forward step is that part of my kitchen is finally looking better:

It took a couple of days to get all those spice jars and things cleaned off. I do like the spicy turmeric yellow colour behind the items. The light green on the jar lids and in the old print actually coordinates with the light green tiles around the kitchen sink. I collected the print of a mysterious tower by a tropical lake (OK, I read fantasy) from an antique sale when I was about 15. The Indian brass tray I got from another sale when I was 18. The basket is nice for serving dinner rolls but its main function is hiding a couple of old pipes that stick out of the wall. The two tiles would be good for serving cheese or something but in reality they never get taken off the wall.

Below is the next area to get the "treatment" — the nook. You're only seeing half of it since it's really almost 1/3 of our total kitchen area.

That horrible louvered window is a holdover from when we first moved into this house. We had the other 3 taken out and replaced but we thought we would eventually make this one into a door. Didn't happen but I still want a larger window here. The louvers are a big PITA — drafty and cold in the winter and bug flyways in the summer. We always tape shrink plastic over the window by November and we can't screen it in so we can open it when it warms up because of the way it works. I want a large bay window with room for plants but I'm not sure we can afford it right now. Meanwhile we're carrying on as if that yukky one is going to stay. For now maybe.

I know shouldn't complain since they give me lots of storage space but it took me almost 3 hours just to give the insides of those cupboards one single coat of primer. Yeesh. That was yesterday. Right now I should be giving it a touch-up second coat but I'm blogging instead! I washed most of the walls and I'm waiting for them to dry first...right...sure...

I'll go with one last nice image: my tomatoes. Aren't they pretty? The red ones are little Juliette cherry tomatoes. They're shaped more like paste tomatoes but they're only about 1-1/2" long or so. Yummy! And prolific. And the yellow ones are Taxi. It's hard to tell when they're ripe because the colour change is very subtle but they get almost orange when overripe. A nicely ripe one often will have a little pink in the heart but you don't see that until you cut into it. Some Taxis are quite big and they taste as good as only home-grown tomatoes can. My regular red tomatoes are kind of a write-off this year. They're Oregon Spring and they usually do quite well but not this year. They're all misshapen and cat-faced. (Yes, that's a real technical term! Look it up.) Luckily I didn't plant very many of them. These ones just came out of the garden. Don't they make a nice dining table centrepiece?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Still Here

No, I didn't knock myself totally silly last Friday. The bump is healing nicely, thank you. I've just been in a non-blogging mood or else too busy. Right now I'm playing hooky from the kitchen reno. I'm swiftly losing interest in the project but since there's still the whole nook to do yet, I'd better buck up and do my bit. If I wasn't here typing in Damselfly's Delights I'd be washing down cupboards in preparation for undercoating. Naughty aren't I?

My brother and his wife had a lovely party in celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary on Saturday evening. It was held at the Sergeant's Mess in the Armoury where my bro spent a lot of his younger years. He got to the rank of Sergeant-Major which is as high as you can go as an enlisted man in the Canadian Armed Forces. My sis-in-law was also in the Reserves and their daughter was in Cadets. Can't say I relate particularly, but I guess unless people evolve a lot farther than they have so far, we have a need for soldiers. It was great to visit with family though we don't know very many of their friends. Everyone who wanted to make a speech was encouraged and some were quite impressive though unrehearsed, especially my 17-year-old nephew. My granddaughter (aka Spot!) was very entertaining as she crawled around and played hide-and-seek with another child. Her chickenpox are still showing but she's not catching any more. It's been over 2 weeks. I have to say a few people were cautiously staying away from her though!

I indulged in a little stash enhancement today. I bought 2 balls each of 2 different Confetti self-patterning sock yarns in colours that I hope my daughter and daughter-in-law will like. One is light gray/dark gray/blue/blue & white spots and the other is light gray/dark gray/purple/dk gray & white spots. I'm offering to knit them socks for their birthdays but they won't get them until later. I'll be measuring their feet at the birthday party next Saturday evening and they'll get a card with an IOU. Pictures to come.

I also sprang for one of those Clover crochet hooks with the larger handle, Soft Touch. Not sure whether I like it or not yet. More testing needed. They're sure expensive though! Good thing I get a discount at my LYS. While I was there I got another bag of black crossbreed wool for spinning. I've used about half of the first bag but wouldn't want to run out. It's so great to have a real black-black which is pretty tough to dye yourself. And the feel of this stuff is not too soft but still very nice. I don't like too fine a wool for most knitting or crochet. Very fine wool feels too cottony, pills badly, felts too easily, and just generally isn't very durable. I prefer Perendale, Corriedale, crossbred or young Romney. The advantage is that these are easier to spin than the finer stuff.

Thom & I are both suffering from what he calls the whim-whams. Neither of us feels like doing much right now. Maybe we just need a holiday. We've been going pretty full-out for so long particularly with the kitchen reno. There's still 11 sleeps before we can escape to Oregon. Yes I'm counting! Better get my rear in gear right now though or we'll be leaving an awful lot undone until we come back. Say goodbye, Damselfly.

Friday, September 02, 2005


This idiot Damselfly-woman managed to bash her stupid head on a cupboard door this morning while clearing out the stuff so we can start painting the nook area of the kitchen. That smarts! Bled quite a bit too. I was home alone and I can't see the ouchie on the top/back of my head so I do hope it doesn't need stitches or anything. It stopped bleeding fairly quickly so I suspect I'll live. I'm not doing any more in the nook until Thom removes those darn cupboard doors! Not taking any more chances that one will sneakily swing back over my head right after I bend over. And I was accomplishing so much today too. Poo.

Of course my tiny problems pale in comparison to the disaster wrought in the Gulf States by the combination of Hurricane Katrina and human stupidity. I can't understand why the worst in people comes out when things are in such dire straights. It's taking way too long for help to get in where it can do some good. I like that our local Urban Rescue Team has gone down there where they can get some real experience but they aren't allowed to do anything until the folks who are shooting at everybody are stopped. I'd rather hear about the brave and selfless people who are doing their best to help in what seems to be an increasingly desperate situation down there. Not the greedy creeps who are taking advantage or who are just plain nutso. My heart goes out to everybody who lost everything. I can't imagine how horrible it would be to be in the midst of that kind of destruction.

On a lighter note, something good to blog about: my one-and-only brother and sister-in-law are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary tomorrow. I found a set of silver napkin rings that just needed a bit of polishing (did I get them for our 25th?) and 4 white damask linen napkins that I had bought years ago. I planned to dye them but never got around to it until I had a good excuse! So first I soaked them in hot water with a drop of Synthrapol to break the surface tension. While that bucket was soaking, I measured 1/2 tsp each of purple, midnight blue, turquoise, and emerald Procion MX dye into 4 plastic cups. Then I poured in 1/2 cup of warm water slowly and mixed until the dyes dissolved. I squeezed out the napkins and scrunched them up one by one into quart canning jars.

Each one got a different colour of dye but no stirring or poking. After letting them sit for 1/2 hour I used the same cups and mixed up 1 tsp of soda ash in 1/2 cup of hot water in each. I poured this over each napkin which just covered them and left the jars overnight.

This morning I poured out the dye and rinsed the napkins well in cold water first, then into a dye pot with warm water and a wee bit of Synthropol. I brought the pot slowly up to a boil and simmered for about 10 minutes. This really speeds up the rinse-out of unfixed dye. After a squeeze out, the napkins went into the washing machine for a regular cycle (no soap) just to make sure everything is thoroughly rinsed out and then I hung them to dry. This last step is because I really don't like the smell of Synthropol at all plus I don't like to give away something that might bleed later. (OK, I promise no more mention of bleeding...)

I was a bit disappointed with the turquoise and the emerald ones. The patterns are very minimal especially on the turquoise. But then that dye is the most quirky of all the Procions. The emerald didn't "crystal" as much as it has done in the past. Maybe I didn't scrunch it hard enough? There weren't any white areas left on either of them. The midnight blue and purple ones are very nicely crystalled and the purple has divided into more purple and more blue areas. I like that one best.

Perhaps if I had mixed blue and yellow instead of using turquoise straight up I would have gotten better results. Dyes that are mixtures "break" more interestingly with this technique. To accentuate the effect even more you can divide the dyes and pour one colour over and then another. I think these look pretty nice anyway. They'll for sure brighten up dinner at my bro's!

I think the Advil is wearing off. Deciding if I need another one...