Sunday, December 3, 2017

Projects on the Go

I had a few projects on the go this week:
  1. Socks for hubby
  2. Gansey Fingerless Mitts by Beth Reinsel
  3. Mystery KAL mitts led by Donna Druchunas
  4. Spinning for the above KAL
  5. Planning a loom project for the Lervad
  1. One done, one in the finishing stretch - ankle to cuff. Socks for hubby.
  2. Finished, blocked and tested. Gansey Fingerless Mitts by Beth Brown Reinsel
    Looks like they are worn over coat cuff.
  3. On hold until Clue 3 is released today. Mystery KAL mitts led by Donna Druchunas.
  4. In progress and waiting for me to get there. Spinning for the above KAL.
  5. Books and paper are on my desk. Must gather the weft together. Planning a loom project to use my Olds Master Spinner yarns to make a 'think back on' blanket.
Books being read this week or finished:
  1. Slade House. David Mitchell. This was on my list for a couple of years. Glad I read it. Well worth the read. Well written.
  2. Crust and Crumb. Peter Reinhart. Bread making book. I have picked up some much sought after info that I may have not remembered from my earlier bread making days. Good book.
  3. Women's Work: The First 20,000 years. Elizabeth Wayland Barber. I have wanted to read this for a few years now. Excerpt from dust cover - 'For over 20,000 years, until the Industrial Revolution, the fiber arts were an enormous economic force, belonging primarily to women...In most books on ancient history and economics there isn't even an index entry for cloth or clothing, despite the enormous toil required in making them...The author presents the untold human side...the relations of women and their textile work to society and economics over the huge span of prehistoric and early historic times.' 
  4. Buried. C. J. Carmichael. Fiction. In progress. Not too bad. Still reading-a good sign.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Knitting Continues on the KAL

It's so easy to just pick up the needles and knit.
KAL with Donna Druchunas
I'm participating in a Mystery Mitten KAL on Ravelry with Donna Druchunas.

Words to describe my wool:
  • from Belfast mini mills
  • my homespun
  • Navajo or chain ply
  • worsted weight
  • warm colours
  • not enough contrast
  • doesn't match anything I have
Progress so far on mitts:
The Roving. Merino, Silk, Cashmere, Mohair

The Single

My Norwegian Wheel
 I have a corner in my kitchen where I placed the dog beds. It's in the above picture behind the wheel and at the window. It was easy to put the dogs' place there, but I really intended it for a wheel and chair. I haven't decided what I will do.

And now it's time for a tea and either a little knitting or some spinning since I managed to spend the morning on my computer.

It's nice to have something I can show for the results of the day. And my looms are awaiting attention. I have a small floor loom I would like to get a scarf warp on this week.

November Endings with Bread, a New Approach

I put off the two bedroom painting projects to nurse myself back to health. I have had a sinus cold/infection for two weeks now and just when I think it is easing off I have another night of coughing and sleeplessness. Sometimes that leads to a hot lemon and honey drink to steam the discomfort away with a book or more knitting. More often than not, it's a book I choose just in case my groggy mind leads me to a knit mistake I would have to frog back.

The book I read was 'Slade House' by David Mitchell. This is the first book I have read in a long while that really had a well written writing style. Thank you David! Sort of a ghost story, but more complex than that.

I am also researching one of my other hobbies of bread baking. This time with Peter Reinhart's book - Crust and Crumb. I used to make the best tasting bread. It looked beautiful, but it really had a wonderful flavour. I haven't been able to capture it in the last few years and I blamed the modern grains we have to work with. Modern grains may very well be part of the problem, but perhaps my methods have slipped too? So I read Chapters one and two word for word and only occasionally looked ahead.

Well I started yesterday's bread making off differently. I started with a 'biga style' preferment. I mixed up a few pounds and let it age and do its flavour development at room temperature for 6 hours. I took off a pound, broke it up into small pieces in my large mixing bowl and added my fresh ingredients for two loaves worth. I put it through two risings and one final proof before the bake.

I monitored the internal temperature of the dough and the final bread; something I haven't done before. Final temperature of the loaf just out of the oven was 207 F degrees. Actually it should have been 185F according to the book, but it looked good.

The aroma of the bread coming from the oven at the 20 minute mark, I thought, was different and more pleasant than any of my previous breads. It was baking at 350F for 42 minutes. The loaves were for sandwich bread, so not a fancy artisan loaf. When they were removed from the oven, I tipped them out to check the colour which was good and set them on racks to cool.

By now, it is 10pm and the house smelled really good! I was supposed to wait 2 hours, but my husband had to have some right away, so we tried it immediately. I am fortunate to have some 'farm butter' in the house at the moment, so we cut into the loaf, sniffed it, examined the crumb and did the taste test with the 'farm butter'.

It was delicious! And the flavour of the other loaves (I can only describe it as yeast and alcohol) I had been making the last few years was not present in this one. This one was sweet tasting and had a wonderful texture and flavour. A definite success. I'm a believer in the science and chemistry in bread baking.

I can't do this post without a bread picture. A little lopsided, but unique.
Multigrain Sandwich loaf

Monday, November 13, 2017

For the Hands

I've been knitting these using a fingering weight cabled yarn I bought on a cone with unknown fibre content. I did a burn test and there is wool in it because it self extinguished.

I would probably never knit a mitt using anything without wool in it just for the warmth factor alone.

I love playing with colour, whether it's yarn, dye, fiber or paint and decided right now that I would like to produce some mittens.

My favourite knitting projects are sweater, socks, mittens, and fingerless gloves. Scarves are too boring because there is no shaping usually and I'm not into shawls too much-I'd rather weave them.

One of my favourite books for mittens is Robin Hansens 'Favorite Mittens'.
Here is a project I made from that book.
p. 142. Chipman's Check Wristers

And these are Deep Ocean Mitts from 'Alterknit Stitch Dictionary' by Andrea Rangel.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Colourwork Mittens

I am currently working on 'Deep Ocean Mittens' from the Alterknit Stitch Dictionary by Andrea Rangel.
A little bit of a challenge, but I think I've got the hang of it.
Topside of Deep Ocean Mitt

Palm of Deep Ocean Mitt

Here is an update. I just finished the right mitt. This shows it not yet wet finished, so I expect the stiches to move around and even themselves up. The yarn I am using is a mystery yarn. The structure of it is cabled - which means that it is 2 two ply yarns plied together to make one very strong yarn. It is fingering weight and suspecting it is wool or at least a wool blend, I did a burn test on a piece of it.

After lighting it with a match, it self extinguished very quickly. The ash was black and melted a little, so there must be some nylon in it. It is a worsted spin and the stitch and colour definition in the mitten is really nice for showing off the two colours.

My two colour knitting technique needs some practice and refining.

I love the thumb knitting here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Fall in PE

The fall of 2017 has been a beautiful one - many trees in a blaze of glorious colour on a background of blue sky and few white clouds. If that sounds boring to you I assure you it's not. It's a really great time of the year filled with colour and I thrive on colour; I can't get enough of it.

Colour is like chocolate for me. Of course I like chocolate, no - I love milk chocolate. It's a toss up which I like more. I think colour because there are no calories.

That's why I like love picture painting, spinning, knitting and dyeing.

At this very moment, most of the leaves are off the trees except for a few yellow ones. I'm not sure what type of tree holds them. We have three very young oak trees and they turned a lovely deep red. We have a flaming bush at the corner of the house and it was brilliant crimson.

The temperature has gone low enough to give us frost at night then warmed up again to 22 or 25, then down to 18. The air is different here. I know it will get really cold, but somehow it is different. I can really feel how the ocean regulates the temperature. They say that about the great lakes, but it always felt either stifling hot or freezing cold in Ontario. Yah, I know, just wait for winter. Okay.

I've made a sweater, slippers, socks and now I am working on some colour work mittens. That seems to be what I'm interested in right now. So for the next while that's what I'll be doing - colourwork.

Bluejay feeding

Uppsala Slippers

Made with Scarfie. Paton's Leaflet #5002

A striking pic of our neighbour's place before barn removal.
I'm still unpacking and arranging my sewing room that also has my weaving yarns. My soap, lotion and makeup stuff will have to go in the basement after the heating is installed. It's a very small 8X8 room with two really large doorways and a window. Hardly any wall or floor space. Organizing there is a tough, difficult job.

I'm still painting and will begin on the bedrooms soon. The kitchen - well, I'm building myself up for that.

On the house end part of the news, well Greenfoot has insulated the attic and basement and is in the process of drilling. The 'unit' was delivered just this afternoon. This is so exciting!!

For dog training...well Bob has kind of been suspended until he gets his barking under control. This week with the workmen around here, I can see leaps of improvement with him. He's still not ready for class, but coming along well in my opinion. The ecollars we have are working well.

That's about it for now. Time for tea and cookies from a really great bakery in Brudenell. Sorry, don't know the name of it. Bye for now.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Life in Prince Edward Island

As of yesterday, we have now been here on the Island for two months. Am I settled in yet? or have I everything in place?
No to both queries.
First I got the kitchen and bath in order, then painted the entryway. The washer was leaky and didn't want to open ever, so we replaced the washer and dryer with a grey blue pair.
Then I had to paint the entry way door. Nice touch!! I'd like to do the front one too, but it needs more work than a paint job. Things are way out of wack there. It will have to wait for spring I think because it will be quite a big job.
The living room needed to be redone right away. So it got a new paint job and it has gone from a dark room to a very bright room. From a dark orangey red to a quite light grey with green blue undertones.

The bathroom had to be completely redone - ripped right out. The dark dull colour has been replaced by a very light colour blue called 'Bottled Water'. I love it! The lights are bright, the colour cheery and now we're waiting on the cabinetry for storage.

The sewing room was next. I carried the entryway palette (Marzipan yellow and a warm gray) over to the walls there. The weaving room is in progress. I'm getting rid of all the taupe, beige, orangey red and yucky green. The weaving room, formerly a dining room is a very light yellow (marzipan) with bright white trim. The beige ceiling is now white. The shelves I put in are in process of being painted a dark grey which was borrowed from the entryway. The yellow is from the entryway too.

After I have the sewing and weaving rooms in order then I will rid the stairway/hallway of a dull mint green. I have the colour - sketch waiting. It's a light grey. I'm thinking I will need a professional to get that done. I don't think I could do over the stairs.

Paintings and pictures are still waiting to be hung. I'm going to make sheers for all the windows. Believe it or not, there is no fabric store on the Island that sells drapery material or material for clothing. The closest one is a Fabricville in Moncton.  I will do some online ordering for fabric.

On another note, I have to say the fresh fish is wonderful here. We had some great halibut yesterday.

We enrolled in dog training the second or third week that we were here. Bob causes us a lot of concern with the way he behaves when people come in. We're using e'collars on both of them. I'm not seeing any headway and I am quite discouraged. I am keeping at it though to see where this goes.

We are located on the other side of the the beach road so it's a short walk to the beach.

I've finished my painting for the day and am spending the Sunday afternoon watching Mindhunter and knitting on a sweater. I need some relaxation and am going to put my feet up.

Guernsey Cove Beach, PEI

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Springtime in Ontario

(I wrote this in the spring of 2017. I think I forgot to add the pics, so here it is now July and I published it and now it is out of order.)

It's hard to believe I haven't made an entry since last October 2016.

Winter has come and gone. I can't say it was a very cold winter, it wasn't really and we managed to save money on natural gas for heating. We still have the snow tires on and I guess they can come off now until next year.

I have kept spinning and knitting right along. I've made a couple of sweaters this past winter-one for hubby and an Icelandic for myself, both of them a dark green. I bought some worsted in pink for a change and made a pullover in an Elizabeth Zimmerman design.

I entered the Alpaca Ontario fibre art competition - hasn't happened yet, but later in April. I spun two skeins for the competition: one is 100% alpaca; the other 70% alpaca.

A few pairs of socks were made with more yet to do in both purchased pretty yarns and my own dyed skeins.

I've combed alpaca for a singles in a three ply yarn I'm making with one singles of Genopalette wool and one singles of N.Z.  merino wool.
I used a fibre reactive dye to dye a skein yesterday using a 2% dye stock solution at 1%DOS.
It was first dyed fuchsia and then brick. The spun yarn was twisted into a skein for dyeing, though for the first dye it undid itself.

It's a very warm pink.

Closer to Moving

I have six days left to pack some things. The goal tomorrow morning before I have any visitors is to finish up my studio. At that point I will have all the easy stuff packed up and all of the oddities will be left for the movers to pack. Things like large paintings, lights, strange weaving tools, long skinny tools.

Then I can pack a few more things like in the kitchen.

Finally the things that will come in the car with us. First on this list is everything needed for the doggies. Then the suitcase stuff. (I) Have to remember sheets, towels, jackets, etc. for all weather.
Maybe an umbrella. Snacks. Drinks. Doggie cookies.

I will be so glad when we are finally on the road.

But I have a little knitting project on the go to keep me on track-a farewell gift from a friend.

You can't see the colour very well-it's a blue green and it is so very soft. It's a mix of superwash merino wool and nylon.

A little knitting and some sleep.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

An Update on Move Preparations

I have arrived at a point in time that is five weeks away from our move to Prince Edward Island (PE).

When looking at the large picture of moving, it's easy right?

After all, all that needs to be done is put everything in a box or few, put in in a truck, drive, unload and that's it-or is it?

When you're a Virgo and your age is sixty three, that's not all there is to it. Oh no!! No! No! No!

To a Virgo that packing part is literally a pain in the derriere or neck!! It amounts to:

1. Sorting, finding out what is really important to me and can't live without.

2. Washing, dusting and generally getting things the way I want to see them at the new house when I place things again which includes a lot of laundry first.

3. Trips to the Goodwill type of stores in the areas to pass things on that are no longer being used and have a lot of life in them.

4. Calls to deal with disposal of other things, like paint, etc. and washers and dryers since the new house comes with the appliances.

5. Then finally real packing and boxing.

6. Questions frequently arise like how do you pack woodworking clamps that are large and heavy?

7. How to pack a lamp and lampshade?

8. How do seven spinning wheels get packed?

I think this is enough to drive any fibre loving spinning girl ccc...spinny.

So I put every event in my calendar and step by step, like everyday that passes us by, they each get dealt with and pass by until moving day arrives and is over and we are packed up in the car with our doggies and we are on our way.

That part can't happen soon enough. Believe me.

The other part of this-the unloading and moving in...well it should be a little easier-don't you think?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Endings and a New Place in Time

My husband and I returned a few days ago from a trip to maritime Canada; more precisely eastern PEI. We spent a few days touring the eastern section of the island, spent some time with friends then went to visit family in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

We flew in to Charlottetown airport in the early evening and landed in what seemed to us to be gale force winds and very cool weather. The day before it went up to 30C, but this day was around 7C or 8C. It was cloudy, cool, but we were warmly greeted by our friends who had arrived to the island a couple years earlier.

After a brief tour of Charlottetown, we stopped at one of their favourite places for the inevitable fish and chips. How could we resist that? Not possible. Lovely little restaurant with a lovely tin ceiling and lots of ambience and a heat pump I noticed,

Then we packed ourselves up and left for the beautiful countryside ride to their new home in the country on 42 or 49 acres of beautiful land. It's a modernized century farm house with an addition. Beautiful, bright and decorated just lovely.

Since my friend is a weaver and a spinner and her husband needed a workshop, they have added a rather large addition to the property in the form of workshop on lower level and weaving studio on the top level - both very spacious and well lit. It is heated and connected to the house so they don't have to face the winter weather.

The farm is home to a draft horse, alpaca, lama and a few chickens. It is rolling hills and includes a woodlot and a stream running through.

A truly wonderful place.

We rented a car, because we truly value our independence and sought about looking at the island properties we had scouted out before we left Ontario. We had that list and a list our friends put together with information from people they know in the area.

Our goal was to find a little piece of land suitable for the dogs where they would not disturb any neighbours and a place without neighbours too close that would infringe on our space. We didn't care about an ocean view, much preferring the rural setting with the quilted farm scenes and planted fields. I was willing to downsize, but I still needed studio space and hubby still needed a sizable workshop.

We looked at a 16 acres place on Fort Augustus. With some work it would be an absolutely beautiful property and it would be terrific for the dogs, but a little too roughly built, though we did like the style a lot.
The next one on the realtor list was another century house, modernized recently with a gorgeous property. Again it needed a lot of yard clean up, but it was a gorgeous property with lots of acreage, a woodlot and a really nice location. At our age, the land cleanup was undesirable.
We went on to the one we bought and were really impressed with every aspect of it. First impressions told us that this family house had been well loved and impeccably maintained. It was a larger house than we wanted, but we both like space and I could have my weaving looms in the house along with all of my spinning wheels, The bedrooms are all a very fair size for our family guests that we expect to visit us in the future. The kitchen is not modernized with fancy cupboards, but solid and well built. I can live with that. The old fashioned island basement is more than adequate. It shows a foundation solid as a rock. If we go up to the second floor I'm sure we could see the water from the house. Actually it is closer to the shore than I would have liked, but I think it will be okay. Did I say how big the barn is? It is humongous!! The two adjoining workshops are at one end of the barn and the rest is storage. The metal roof should last much longer than we will live.

We saw one more house near Belfast. Lovely land, private, good location, and 'very pretty'. To be honest, it would have been fine, but I call it 'cosmetically pretty'. It was decorated very nicely and the location and land were great, but when I left this place I had one more in my mind that I wanted to see on Bangor Rd.

As Brad Oliver, our realtor agent, was returning with us to his office to make an appointment to see the next house on the list I knew which house was meant for us. Ten minutes later, from the back seat of the truck, I announced it would not be necessary to see anymore properties. The house for us was waiting on Cape Bear Rd. We were ready to make an offer.

So that is what we did. Offered, counteroffered, accepted and now we are at home packing up and getting ready to move.

Wednesday of next week we will decide on the actual date the moving company will come in and pack us up.

So after allowing ten days for house hunting, it was accomplished in four days. I connected with my brother and his wife in Lunenburg, NS and off we went for a visit til we had to catch our flight back in Charlottetown to ON.

My brother and his wife built a house in Lunenburg. I don't use 'built' loosely as Nancy designed the house and my brother literally built it. It is a very large house with all infloor heating and everything anyone could want in a home and more, so much more. It is built like a fortress and the landscaping is lovely with three ponds, but still maintains a little of the wild look. Bordering their house is a farm with sheep and border collies. What could be more perfect? We had a wonderful visit and then left May 30/17 for our flight home.

NS is really very beautiful and PEI is the perfect place for us.

We are both looking forward with great anticipation to our new life in our final years to an island filled with both farmers and artisans.

The artist living within me has returned!!