The party for son-in-law’s 30th birthday went really well. Unfortunately not everybody who had been invited was able to come at the last minute but it was a pleasant gathering of family and friends. The barbequed turkey was really yummy, though we had some difficulty at first when it was obviously too big for the rotisserie. It worked fine on the grill with a drip pan underneath and careful watching by T-Man, spray bottle in hand in case of flare-ups. Took about 4 hours but the turkey was all cooked before the first guests arrived so visiting could be first priority. It was hot enough on the deck that cold turkey (and ham and seed buns, plus 2 potluck pasta salads, chips and several dips) was just as satisfying. A good time was had by all and I got many kind comments on the Boring Black Socks which the birthday guy loved as much as I hoped he would. It was also great to see my baby sister and her two young boys before they head back home to Mexico for the opening of school in August.
If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to since then, I finished reading the new Harry Potter after I bargained my daughter out of her new copy. She said she wanted to read all her old Harry Potters over again before reading the last one so she leant it to me for a week or so. And she took all those fantasy/sci-fi books of mine to look through. Yippee! If I’m lucky I won’t see them again! HP #7 was a great read and quite satisfied me as the end of the series. There’s one major hole that I noticed (and perhaps a couple of loose ends) but I’m not going to discuss it since I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. Wonder what JK Rowling will write next. Hopefully it will be as good as HP so I have an excuse to read it along with the children she’s supposed to be writing for. A good story is a good story and I don’t think it matters whether it’s aimed at kids or adults. Either that or I just have a child-like mind? Keeps me young. Speaking of Harry Potter — it’s his birthday today! And I never thought I was that big of a geek.
Moving right along. Yesterday, T-Man had a day off work so we worked for awhile in the garden. The tomatoes in the greenhouse are getting larger but some have dropped off due to mildew. I think it was dampness left over from all the rain we had so I’m trying to keep the door and vents open as much as possible to dry things out some. If it’s not one problem, it’s another. Sigh.
Oh, crafty stuff! You want some fibery content! Right. I’m turning the heels on T-Man’s latest pair of socks. I’ve got about 3 inches of the sleeves on the Hepburn Cardi. And I’ve started a new weaving project, one that I’ve had in mind for about 10 years or so: a new blanket for our bed. I may have mentioned before that I bought about 50 skeins of vintage Condon’s 2-ply Medium and Briggs & Little 2-ply (now called “Heritage”) from my friend Sandra who bought them from another weaver who had them for who knows how long. I already have a handwoven blanket on my bed in similar but slightly lighter weight yarns (Condon’s 2-ply Fine and Quebecoise II) but in mid-winter we need two blankets to stay warm enough with the window slightly open. Since my other commercial blankets are very elderly (like 30 or more years old!) and need to be retired, I figured now was as good a time as any to get on this project.
These yarns are all various colours and nothing really coordinates that well, so I pulled out the natural greys (3 different ones, 8 skeins and 1 kilo total) and over-dyed them with black Lanaset dyes. I only used a 2% depth of shade so they’re a little charcoal (especially the lightest grey) rather than deep black but that’s fine. I decided not to waste the dye trying to get a deeper shade and maybe not exhausting the bath all the way. My dyepot only holds 4 skeins at a time so I did them in two batches. Luckily it was cooler in my basement dye studio but it still felt pretty warm while I was rinsing skeins over a hot sink. And it’s quite toasty outside right now where they’re currently drying on the railing:
Now I have to reassess the colour combination and see if I need to overdye anything else to make it work better. I need 35 skeins total so it’s going to take a goodly chunk of the stash. Not that it really matters what colours the blanket is — it will mostly lurk under my coverlet anyway. I’m not putting any nice covers on the top of the bed until my old cats go to kitty heaven. Between the cat hair and the extra claws catching, they make quite a mess of their favourite daytime snooze spot. And we won’t even discuss the upholstery. Not that they are scratchers so much, but they don’t have total control of retracting all their claws. Ms Polly particularly has claws that curl under and are wonderful fun to trim, let me tell you! Luckily I don’t need to trim her daughter Julie’s claws because that would just be not feasible. She’s much less amenable than her mom and there are 24 of them. Yikes!
Oops. Wandered away from crafts again. Where was I? Oh yeah, the blanket. I’ve tentatively decided on an 8-shaft pinwheel twill:
Ignore the colours. I just used them to sort out the draft. The wee bit of plain weave at the top and bottom is to give me something to hem stitch into and the 2 plain weave ends on either side are there so I don’t need to use a floating selvedge. The 8-thread pattern repeat is simple to thread and just as easy to treadle. The only problem I’m having with it is that it really doesn’t show it’s to the fullest unless it has the colour contrast. Which means threading and weaving in 8-end stripes throughout. The stripes are just long enough (an inch) so that you can’t just loop it from one area to the next. And just short enough so that it’s not worth beginning and ending each one off either. It would build up too much with all those tucked-back ends. The only other solution I know of is to catch the yarn not being used along the selvedge which is a lot more work. There’s an 11-yard warp to weave! I need 3 widths stitched together to cover my bed the way I like and that’s a lot of fiddling with selvedges. One thing I’ve done before is to attach the shuttle not in use to the beater so that the weft automatically wraps it. I’ll have to photograph that solution if I decide go that route.
Another idea would be to make more random stripes and not worry about the colour-and-weave effect. Or to use a different twill, maybe just a simple 2/2 that changes direction at each colour change. I plan to full this fairly well after weaving for warmth so that will mute any pattern anyway. Hmmm…maybe I’m talking myself out of the pinwheel twill?