Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cat Bed

I read in one of my weaving books that you should loosen the tension on the warp when not weaving. So I did.

I read that sometimes cats would find the weaving project a nice place for a nap.

So I covered it with the weaving shuttles.

The cat just shoved them aside.

I surmised that the warp wasn't loose enough and that if I make it really loose that the cat would find it too unsteady to sleep on.

I was wrong.

I had created a beautiful and very comfy hammock.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Strawberries & Cream or Pink Fluff?

Maybe candy floss would be a more appropriate name to describe this celebration of the colour pink.
This is my latest weaving project and my second to put on the loom.
The photo is of the warping mill. It came with the loom (used) that I bought a few months ago.
It's a very simple system that helps when making a warp. It keeps all the yarns from getting snarled and helps to measure the length of each strand.
Once the yarn is tied on, the mill is turned around and around, something like a windmill, with an easy flick of the hand. My shoulder joints certainly like that idea.

The plan is to make 3 shawls one for myself, the others for my mother and sister.
Currently I'm in the process of "dressing" the loom (stringing it) which I'm fitting into the evenings in between various other chores.
When I'm not working on it though I have to tuck all the ends in and cover them to keep the cats from playing with this lovely bit of string.
This spring has proven to be especially busy with work, hobby beekeeping and gardening. I'm really wishing there were more hours in the day so I could do more. An energy boost wouldn't go astray either!
All are doing well, cats and Jeremy squirrel. He's living in his home made house which he really likes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Warp and Weft

"Weft goes left". At least that's how I remember it.

Here's my first official weaving project that is something useful.

Just in case you're not sure what it is - it's a scarf.

I'm quite happy with it.

The warp (the strings on the loom at run north and south) is a navy blue wool.

The weft is a denim coloured wool. It's roving from Northern Lights that I spun on my spinning wheel.

It was interesting to see the fabric's finished look as the yarns were combined to make the cloth.

The homespun is a much lighter blue so I can compare to see how much the navy of the warp changed its final appearance.

This project took me (a beginner) about 2 days to make.

That estimate includes making the warp, dressing the loom (stringing the loom) and then weaving the project.

(Photo - the weaving is done and the threads have been cut at the back of the loom, loosening the tension of the warp).

The happy dance at the end was only about 30 seconds :)

The only good part about our weather turning cold and more spring-like is that now I can wear the scarf.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wishing and Wondering

I was sitting quietly in the back yard on a warm and sunny afternoon. Spring was blessing us with a few unusual warm days and I've been very much appreciating them.

The children who live behind me were all outside and I could hear their laughter while they played. Some of the children must have gone inside and one child remained outside.

Suddenly the air was filled with loud singing. This child, I guesstimated to be about 6 or 7, had burst into a spontaneous made-up song.

I smiled.

Such unabashed joy and hope were so strongly felt that she couldn't help herself but to express it.

I remembered I used to do that too. I particularly remember one afternoon in the barn at Grandpa's that I sang Jim Jimmeny over and over (from the Mary Poppins movie). I sang it while I attempted to balance on the edge of the manger and walk the whole distance of about 8 feet with my arms stuck out sideways. I just loved that song.

I asked myself what had happened to me. To us adults. Why can't I suddenly burst out into spontaneous song? (Why do I feel I can't?) I guess I grew up. And I fear 'men in white jackets'.

But listening to that little girl I couldn't help but let go a few tears, remembering and regretting growing up maybe a bit too much.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Another New Hobby - Weaving

Oh I've been busy!
Spring has sprung and all the little jobs spring up just like the tulips and crocuses.

My honey bees have been busy flying and I've been tending to them - spring feeding and taking their winter hive wraps off.

Between getting the taxes done, Red Cross training courses, a really bad cold and some other mundane must do's I managed to take weaving classes... and I purchased a used loom.

Her name is Fanny. She's a Leclerc loom made in Quebec and she's now resting, her maple wood polished to a high shine, in my living room. I think the loom was made in the 1970's, but I'll get more details on that later.

For now, I have a new vobulary, breast beams, beaters, shuttles, heddle hooks, and other parts of the loom. Then there's the different weaves you can make, the plain being a Tabby, the most common a Twill and my favourite so far, the most difficult called Broken Herringbone.
For the classes you learn to make four coasters.
Thoughts of coasters don't really get me enthused a whole lot but when I realized that the purpose behind the four coasters is to learn the four basic weaving patterns, I realized the method behind the (boring) coasters.
We used table looms for the classes and they're really nifty, portable too.
The final part of the class is the fun part and that's when you get to really make something.
I'm not big on table runners so I opted to make a scarf.
Hopefully my loom will be up and running in the next week or so.
I plan to make lots of blankets... maybe even some cotton curtains for my garage.

For the scarf I'm making in class, I'm using my own homespun wool.
How is your spring going? What projects have you been working on?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In the Lap of Luxury

It took my Dad most of the day to design and make it.
I evicted Jeremy squirrel on a warmer winter day but I knew he'd be intent to get back into the garage. After all, he'd spent considerable time making a home there in the roof joist.

He'd carted dried leaves to use as bedding. He snooped through the garage and found plastic shopping bags. These he chewed up to make soft bedding.

Then he committed the ultimate crime and stole the curtains over the garage door window. I'm sure he couldn't resist the cotton fabric.

But Jeremy was chewing the wood, probably to make his home bigger and he couldn't be allowed to stay and create damage. So he was nicely evicted.

When Dad heard his plight he opted to help. If Jeremy could be happy with a home elsewhere he'd stop trying to get back in the garage.

So Dad made him a house. Not just an ordinary house. No, this house is lined in carpet and cut to size. There's enough room for a tubby Jeremy to sleep in a whole bunch of different positions.

I set the house up and it took about 2 days for Jeremy to move in.

Now he rests in the lap of luxury - scraps of sheep's wool, alpaca fibre, leaves, straw and best of all, the garage curtains.

On this sunny afternoon Jeremy was trying to sleep but a talkative neighbour next door kept waking him up. He'd poke his head out and lean out of his doorway to see what was going on.

I talked to him to ask him what he was thinking.

He sat back down inside his house and pulled the door closed - see the photo where he pushed the sheep's wool up to cover the doorway.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Alpacas & Ducks

Last year's babies are still with their mom's at the Ziraldo's alpaca farm.

I dropped by for a visit and to help walk the alpacas.

[Sorry, this post from back in the winter didn't go live so I'm posting it now.... but since we've had such hot weather I can now view the snow thinking I'd like to stick my sweaty feet in it....]

We put halters and four of them and lead them down the driveway and around the house, making the circuit 4 or 5 times until they relaxed and got used to being lead.

It was a cold and windy day but it was still nice to get outside and get some fresh air.

As we stood at the fence the alpacas, though shy, couldn't resist coming over to sniff us, especially the alpaca scarf that I was wearing.

After getting home and looking at the photos I always struggle to remember all their names.

Their fibre is unforgettable. About 4 inches thick, you can part it with your hands and see the lovely crimp and the warmth of the animal underneath.

They certainly aren't cold outside in the snow.

The males must be kept away from the females because they would constantly be wanting to mate with the females, or fighting amongst each other.

They've got lovely eyes, that are very large and dressed with long lashes.

At the Ziraldos, everyone is well taken care of.

Even the ducks have a heated water dish and a home, er a dog house.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Progress ... at a Snail's Pace

A few days ago I had an unexpected opportunity to evict Jeremy squirrel.

The day before I heard him gnawing on the wood inside and I knew that it was time to get him out. He wouldn't deliberately make trouble and do damage, but a squirrel's teeth are like a rabbit's and never stop growing. He's got no choice but to chew on things to file his teeth down and that can make for some real damage to the real estate.

I'd entered the garage when he wasn't in his nest and caught him by surprise. As I approached I climbed the ladder he was hiding behind which left him not much choice except to go down to the floor and then out the cat door.

I had been thinking how to get Jeremy into the new squirrel house that dad built for him. That way when he was evicted he'd have a place to go. The house was too big to attach to a tree and the ground was too frozen to have a pole put in. I did a little brainstorming.

This is what I came up with: The squirrel house stuffed with alpaca fleece, angora fibre combings and a few sheep's skin scraps I had on hand. Then I bungee corded the whole thing to the top of my ladder. Then of course I seeded the whole thing with peanuts, one on each rung of the ladder, a few on the stand and two or three lobed inside.

That should be a real luxury for a squirrel that was living in a nest of leaves and chewed up plastic bags... and one set of cotton curtains.

When I got home that evening, all the peanuts were gone. No one has moved inside yet, as far as I can tell without disturbing it. Time will tell.

Other progress is my knitting. The Heather Hoodie Vest is coming along but slowly - a row here and there in between other projects is about all I can accomplish. The pattern has cables and it's pretty easy to follow, no complaints.

I haven't mastered the technique of reading and knitting at the same time. At least not yet.

On the kitten front, Whisper has been adopted and the family is very happy with him. George is still waiting for adoption but in the meantime he's enjoying the other cats in his foster home.

I still miss them all very much.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Heather Hoodie Vest

I've always loved jeans and denim. I always will.

So it wasn't much of a stretch to fall in love with this roving.

These shades of gray and blue will go with just about anything. I just love the winter blue sky colour blended with the white and darker blues.

And we've had lots of the blue up in the sky lately while the ground is covered in snow.

It's Northern Lights roving called Icy Winter sold by the company Louet. It's sheep's' wool top and it's lovely to work with on the spinning wheel.

The project I'll knit with it is the Heather Hoodie Vest that was originally in the fall issue of Interweave.
I bought the magazine that it was listed in which I see is now sold out at Interweave. If interested, you can also buy the individual pattern on

I used to knit 10 sweaters a year and now I can't wear them. It's not just the weight gain, it's the hot flashes. That's where wraps and vests come to the rescue. They're not so hot and yet they keep you from freezing.
(I'm also currently knitting the February Lady Sweater with the roving Picasso from the same company).

The challenge this time for me was to spin it as a bulkier yarn. Most of my spinning lately has been for finer yarns for lace shawls so this time when spinning I had to relax more and let go.

No problem. A glass of wine can help with that too :)
How the roving is painted will often determine the appearance of the spun yarn so I made sure to show photos of the roving prior to spinning.
I did a double ply and my Wraps Per Inch is about 11 so it's not a true bulky yarn. Currently I'm knitting swatches to try and get gauge so that I can begin my project.

My spinning method is really a mix between worsted and woolen, but probably leans more towards worsted.
Before I spun my own yarn I never did gauge swatches. Instead I bought the yarn sold by the pattern company or I had the yarn store help me get the substitute yarn.

Now I need to check that the yarn I've made will work for the the intended project.

Picture here on my spinning wheel bobbin is the single ply of this yarn.

It was an absolute pleasure to work with. I don't even care that the cables in the vest won't show up so well with a variegated yarn.

I can see myself also making a shawl or hat from this yarn because the colours are so nice.
I never got tired of spinning this one.