Friday, March 31, 2006

Look what I have!!!

It is defiantly spring! In the foreground are 2 varieties of broccoli, 2 varieties of eggplant, next come 5 types of peppers, mostly hot, and half a dozen types of tomatoes, at least. Basil is in there somewhere. My seedlings are coming along fine and the weather is finer. Here I sit with the front door open and the screen up! Today it was 18 C (65 F). Normal for this time of year is a big whopping 6 C. I think that I even have a bit of sunburn. Oh the joys! Unfortunately, this means that I will have to be extra careful when applying sun block from now on. I remember being able to play outside all day and never get a sunburn, with the exception of the beach. I remember sun tan lotion when I was a kid. There was no such thing as sun block. I think that sucks. It makes me fearful for what kind of world my kids will be facing when they are my age.

Damn! This was suppose to be a happy post.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Isn't it almost Easter?

What is going on here?

Santa production of course.

And why, you may ask, is a Canadian weaver making santas in March? Sugar high has me confused? Shouldn't I be decorating eggs?

We will do that too. But for now, I have been in Santa production because MY SISTERS ARE COMING HOME!!!! Big Nicole will be here in less than two weeks and she asked if I could make her some santas like I gave her for Christmas many years ago. I made 'em, but she will have to paint them. Nicole lives in Scotland an has not been home since the summer of '03 when I was pregnant with her namesake, Wee Nicole. Christine will be home a few days later, just in time for Easter. I can't wait! The kids are all excited too. Well, excecpt for the baby. She really has no idea. But she will grow to like it.

In any case, there are 33 of these little guys waiting to be fired. My mom used to have a ceramics business and still has some molds (or moulds) and a kiln or two. Nicole wants 12, so there are going to be a few left over for the rest of us.

The kids are going to have a field day on their egg hunt! I am getting my sisters to hid the eggs at my mom's house. It will keep them busy all day!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


1600 what you may ask.

That is the number of calories in the average bag of butterscotch chips.

Why do I know this you may ask.

Don't bother. Lets just say that that bag of chips are not going to be bothering anybody else any time soon.

I guess that butterscotch chips are my butt's Waterloo.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A tale of two skeins

Just a demonstration of over dyeing. The two skeins were dyed in the same dye bath. 60% turquoise, 30% national blue, 8% yellow, 2% black. Above, on cones, is the original colours.

Neat, eh?

And now that I have weft, I have started weaving my first shawl.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Finishing the warping

After threading all of your warp threads through the correct heddles, it is time to thread them through the reed. The reed is the thing that is laying across the boards. It has a reed hook on it. The reed holds your warp yarns in order and it also allows you to "beat" the yarns into place after you put them through the warp.

Here is a close up of the reed, and an action shot of the reed hook being used.

Then you have to tie everything on to the bar attached to the front apron, making sure that the tension is even......

And you are ready to weave. That is if you have already dyed your weft yarns. Which I haven't , so I guess that I should go and do that.

It looks really complicated to learn to weave, but it really is not. There are many many steps to follow and it is quite time consuming, especially when you first start, but then again, so is knitting a pair of socks in singles.I think that it is worth it. There are some excellent books out there, but for any one interested in learning to weave,I would suggest taking a course. The two main benefits are that you have someone showing you what to do and the other is that you don't have to fork out for all of the equipment only to find out that weaving is not your cup of tea. I worked as a studio tech in the weaving department of the local craft college (where I learned to weave all those many years ago) for a few years, before wee Nicole came along. I can honestly say that there are some people that just don't get it. And there are some that take to it like they have been doing it for years. You won't know until you try.

I have seen week long courses that are like "weaving vacations". Search for them on the net if you are interested.

Good luck .

Next step....Weaving. Once I dye my yarns.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Step Three or Warping the loom

So here we are putting the warp on the loom. Despite the word "warp"( as in "Warp speed, number one"), this is slow going. The first thing that you need to do is put your lease sticks in your cross. This is done before attaching the warp to the loom. The lease sticks are the two sticks that are hanging off the back of the loom that are threaded through the warp.

They act to hold your cross in place so that your yarns don't get out of order. I wove once with out of order yarns. It is not an exercise that I want to repeat.

At the end of your warp, there is a loop. This is where the yarns are attached to the loom. The larger roller bar is called the back beam and this is what you wind the warp on. Attached to the back beam by either strong string or a piece of fabric (called the apron) is,in this case, a dowel (but it can be metal) This dowel goes through the loop on your warp.
Are you confused yet? Let's just throw a few more terms at you then. The "raddle" is the piece of wood that has the nails on it. This is used to spread the warp and keep it spread while you wind it on. The white string on the raddle is just to keep all of the yarns in their little spaces. Sometimes things happen and the yarns will come out of their space if you don't tie them in. Not as bad as somethings that can happen while warping , but I hate to do a job twice if I don't have to. The colourful paper( see the first picture) is an old calendar that I use to put on inbetween the warp as it goes around the back beam. This is necessary because tension is VERY important in weaving. You want all of the yarns on the loom to be stretched the same amount and under the same tension. Even the difference of a few millimeters as yarns slip between each other if you don't separate them with paper,or sometimes fabric, make a difference. Bad tension is BADBADBAD. As you wind on, you have to "strum and stroke" the warp. Get your minds out of the gutter children. This is to untangle the warp below the lease sticks. Here is one of the places where warping is slow. Especially if your warp is either very slippery, like reeled silk, or very sticky, like the merino that I am using. As you slowly wind on, you must make sure that the tension is even.

Yeah! More than half way now. You can really see how the lease sticks sort out the yarns from the mess that is below them into the neat and tidy order above them.

Once the warp is wound on, you need to thread it through the "heddles". The heddles are distributed on 4 "harnesses". The heddles are those white string things to the right. The harnesses are the wood and metal frames that hold the heddles.There is an eye in each heddle and through these eyes go your warp. One warp thread per eye. Did I mention that my warp has 446 threads? Here is another reason that weaving is time consuming. And another reason that I usually put more then one project at a time. Could you imagine trying to pick each piece of yarn through each eye? Neither could I. Neither could someone a long time ago, so they invented.....

the heddle hook. Kind of reminiscent of an instrument of backroom abortions,eh? Shudder. Depending on what order you pull the yarns through the heddles in the harnesses, you can create different patterns. Nuff said about that. I could go on but either your head would start to hurt, or you would fall asleep.

Here I am using the heddle hook. You can easily see how the hook can be of great assistance.

Elapsed time to this point... about 6 -6.5 hours. I am about 1/8 of the way through threading my warp. Next stop the reed. Which I may not get to until much later. Hubby picked up a flu bug and it is nasty. I am expecting it to hit us all. I am not looking forward to it.

Thanks for reading and....Any questions?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What do you mean "It's Spring?"

I'm here to tell you all that it's still cold and windy. It certainly doesn't feel like spring. See the scarf? When it's Spring, the scarf will be gone!

Has anyone seen my horse?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

For 'Zann

I was going to dedicate these flowers to spring, But instead, they are for 'Zann at
  • lizardintheleaves
  • whose son died this past weekend at the too young age of 20. I cannot imagine the pain in her heart. Let us all cherish our loved ones today, because we never know when they will be taken from us.

    My heart goes out to you Zann.

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Step two or Space Dyeing 101

    Step two is dyeing the warp.

    Yarns to dye (not to die for). The multicoloured bundle to the left is my warp. Fugly colours to my way of thinking. The blue and green bundles are my weft. they will be dyed one colour in a pot.

    Dyes to dye them with.

    On display are wash fast red, fuscia, yellow, golden yellow, turquoise, and national blue. Not here is what I shall call mystery green. Last summer when I was dyeing some warps, I had a little bit of a whole bunch of blues and yellows left over and so I mixed them into the mystery green that I shall never be able to reproduce. Oh well.

    I soak my warp in cool water, to which a drop of dish soap has been added. Then I wring it out and soak it in vinegar. Wring most of the vinegar out.Then the warp gets spread out. Underneath my warp is a very distracting old shower curtain that I use to protect my table. Also underneath my warp is plastic wrap layed out in the same snakey pattern as the warp is. You will see it's use later.

    This is me applying the national blue. I have my pot of dye and a small sponge that I use to do the application. I basically plip the dyes down one colour at a time until I have the whole warp covered. Sorry I don't have more photos of the progression, But I got kind of caught up with all of the fun and forgot to snap picts.

    Here is my warp with the dyes all applied. I massage the dyes in with my fingers and gently lift and look underneath to make sure that the dyes have penetrated to the bottom. Then it sits for about 30 minutes. Usually. This day, my husband, who had taken all of the children plus a spare to the university to see the annual robotics competition, called to say that there was nothing happening this year and they were on their way home. After the half hour, you are suppose to soak up the excess dyes with paper towels. Sometimes I do this , sometimes I don't. If you do soak up the excess dyes, there is less tendency for the colours to run together.

    So I quickly wrapped the plastic wrap around my warp to seal it.

    And put it in my pot to steam for an hour. I have a wire rack held about 3 inches off the bottom of the pot by one of those old metal veggie steamers. I keep the different ends of the warp as separate as I can so that I will not get reds in my blue end and blues in my red end. On goes the cover and the timer for 1 hour. Unlike rice, you can take the cover off from time to time to see how things are progressing. If you press a piece of paper towel to the yarn and it comes away clear, everything is set. Then I let it cool as long as possible. On my less impaitent days, this is until it is completely cooled. I find that the turquoise sets better if the yarns cool to room temperature.This day, I was able to hold off for about an hour.

    This is my first rinse. I love acid dyes because of the lack of runoff. I can and sometimes do use fiber reactive dyes to dye cottons and rayon, but I much prefer acids and wool and silk.

    And here is my dyed warp. Of course the colours don't look as bright here as they do in real life and natural sunlight. The reds are not quite so orange and the blues are richer. The bright pink from time to time are the ties that I used every foot or so to keep my warp seperate when it was being soaked and wrung. They are woven in through the bundles of warp like a figure 8. Well , two 8's on top of eachother. You want them loose or they will act as a resist, and the dye will not penetrate.

    This technique can be used to dye skeins too. Arrange plastic wrap in an oval shape and put the vinegar soaked skein on it before applying dyes. Put at least 4 ties around the skeins.

    Or you can apply the dyes before the vinegar and apply the vinegar on with a spray bottle after the dyes have set for the half an hour.

    This is space dying 101 completed. No guys in silver suits. Just me in my purple smock. Sorry Jay.

    Any questions?

    Thursday, March 16, 2006


    I just wanted you all to know that when I say "overdying", all that I mean is that I am going to dye yarn that is already coloured. I started this when I inherited a couple of cones of lovely, soft cotton that was a horrid pale blue and an ugly light brown. I was taking a dye class at the time and needed to make a final project, so I made a mini skein containing about a dozen rounds of each the blue and brown and dyed parts of it the various colours that I had mixed up. It was an enlightening experience. I expected to like the blue yarn better, but the brown came out richer. How many of us out there have yarn with a wonderful feel and texture, but is some what lacking in colour as per our own individual colour choices? I highly recommend dying it! A wonderful array of dyes are available from as well as instructions. Check it out!

    More on space dying later.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Cute sock book

    This is a really great sock book. There are many different patterns of varying degrees of difficulty as well as different styles. And it is shaped like a sock! What more can I say?

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Jay's challenge, step one

    Step one in weaving ( after figuring out what you want to weave) is to make a warp. OK. You have to do a warp calculation sheet to figure out how long a warp you need to make and how much yarn you need to buy. Numbers on a sheet. Boring. No pictures.

    Once you have that done, you make the warp. My warp is 220 inches long. That will give me two shawls of 70 inches with a generous 8 inch fringe on each side. Included is also an amount for stretch from being held on the loom under tension, a bit for shrinkage, and what is called "loom waste". The bits at each end of a warp that you use to tie the warp to the loom. In case you didn't know, a warp are the yarns that run through the loom. Basically, all a loom does is hold a bunch of yarns of the same length at an even tension so that you can raise some and put other yarns across to create fabric. In order to create a bunch of yarns all the same length, you use a warping board. A smooth board with holes into which you put pegs and wrap the yarns around the pegs. Just behind the green cones are two pegs that are set rather close together and this is where you make what is called a cross. The cross is necessary to keep the yarns in order or else you will end up with a BIG tangle. Not a good idea. Here my warp is about 1/3 done. I am changing colours so that when I overdye there will be slight variations in the new dyed colour.

    I have done a lot of overdying, but have never before done so with more than one colour in the warp. This is an experiment. Overdying will take place this weekend (when I can get a camera again and have another adult to run interference with all of my short people). Once the warp is all made up, You tie it on the crosses (one at each end) and about every foot so that the bugger doesn't end up as a tangled mess and in the garbage. And then I shall scour it in preparation for dying. Scouring is basically washing it to remove any sizing and crap so that it will dye well.

    Same picture, different angle.

    Keep watching!

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    Thar be sprouts!

    I went to check my pots full of soil and seeds and there were a few sprouts! I now have 4 broccoli plants that are reaching towards the sun, as well as a few jalapino peppers that are just starting to make an appearance. I am soooooo ready to plant the garden! Now all I have to wait for is the garden to be ready to be planted! If this warm weather keeps up, I won't have very long to wait. I would like to get my first peas in in about a month. Then I will have peas before summer! Yum.

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    For Jay's craft challenge

    On view, my little "heirloom" that I inherited from my wonderful weaving teacher, Susan Judah. Ugly coloured yarns and assorted weaving paraphenalia including, shuttles, bobbins and bobbin winder,reed hook. A few cones of yarn already skeined off so that I can dye them for the weft. Actually on the loom is my colour tests and sample so I can determine the correct sett (how many ends pre inch). I have not included all weaving equipment to be used, such as warping board, raddle, ball winder nor swift. The plastic bag on the loom contains my dyes, but all other dying stuff ( like pots and plastic wrap, measuring cups and rubber gloves have been left out because who really needs to see all of that stuff)

    In any case, Jay, does this mean that I am official now?

    As promised

    Second set of socks started with the procrastination space dyed yarn.

    procrastination yarn in procrastination basket.

    Drum roll please......

    Happy feet in soft foot bags.

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    song meme

    List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they a’re any good, but they must be songs you a’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they are listening to.

    1. Jewel - Who will save your soul

    "Who will save your soul if you won't save your own?
    Some are walking, some are talking, some are stalking their kill
    You got social security, but that doesn't pay your bills
    There are addictions to feed and there are mouths to pay
    So you bargain with the Devil, say you're o.k. for today,"

    I love the range. I love the lyrics. She is a truly talented writer. This was her first album, before the spit and polish was applied to her. It is still a little raw and her voice is the focal point. This is one of my all time favorites to sing along to.

    2. Jewel - almost the whole album "Spirit" But if I had to chose one song, it would be "Down so long"

    "I look to everyone but me to answer my prayers
    till I saw an angel in the bathroom who said
    she say no one worth saving, anywhere.
    And a blind man in the corner said it's simple,
    like flipping a coin.
    Don't matter what side it lands on if it's someone else's dime"

    I find my self singing this one from time to time when I am feeling particularly oppressed by life, the universe, and everything.

    3. Richard Einhorn - Anonymous 4 - Voices of light

    Taken from the inside booklet "An Oratorio inspired by the film "The Passion of Joan of Arc"

    Holy oh mothers! This is a beautiful album. The words are Latintin (translation in side booklet) . I will not pick one song from this album, and you can't make me!

    4. Amanda Marshall - Everybody's got a story

    "See my eye's, don't see what I see.
    Touch my tongue, don't know what tastes good to me.
    It's the human condition that keeps us apart.
    Everybody's got a story that could break your heart."

    Why do I like it? I'm not quite sure, but I like to walk to this album. It is upbeat and true.

    5. The sound track from " The Piano" Michael Nyman

    I saw the movie 12 years ago and fell in love. With the music, the film, New Zealand. Hubbies comment " what a strange concept for a movie". I love the scene where Ada ( Holly Hunter) is on the beach playing the piano and her daughter,( played by Anna Paquin) is dancing and making sand sculptures. It is an incredibly moving scene where you can see the bond and understanding between the two characters.

    6. On the street where you live - From the sound track of My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison

    "I have often walked down this street before;
    But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.
    All at once am I Several stories high.
    Knowing I'm on the street where you live.
    Are there lilac trees in the heart of town?
    Can you hear a lark in any other part of town?
    Does enchantment pour Out of ev'ry door?
    No, it's just on the street where you live!
    And oh! The towering feeling
    Just to know somehow you are near.
    The overpowering feeling
    That any second you may suddenly appear!
    People stop and stare. They don't bother me.
    For there's no where else on earth that I would rather be.
    Let the time go by, I won't care if I
    Can be here on the street where you live."

    Another one that I find myself singing when wee N and I are on our way home from a walk and she is starting to get fussy Excecpt that our version goes "On the street were WE live"

    7. Gulf War Song - Moxy Fruvous

    "We got a call to write a song about the war in the Gulf
    But we shouldn't hurt anyone's feelings
    So we tried, then gave up, 'cause there was no such song
    But the trying was very revealing
    What makes a person so poisonous righteous
    That they'd think less of anyone who just disagrees?"

    Apparently the first part is true. They did get a call to write a song about the war in the gulf and were told to not hurt any ones feelings. The strange thing about this is that it was 13+/- years ago and about the first gulf war when George Sr. had enough sense to stay out of Iraq. Because there was no good "exit strategy" . The song still rings true for this war that is happening now. What has changed excecpt the common sense?

    As for the tagging part, that feels to me like chain letters. So do it if you want, don't if you don't.

    BTW. Did any one else have the spell checker cack up your text? It did strange things to mine. Like it was stuttering. Curiouser and curiouser.

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Heavenly foot bags

    I actually did it today.

    After all of the sweat and tears, after days of sidelong glances and admiring stares, after fondling and wondering at their softness, I wore my socks today. Both indoors and out. At first, I thought "let no boot rub against my carefully constructed heel" But then, after wearing them around all morning in my birk's, it was walk time. Or at least "get me out of this house" time. One deep breath later, and my socks were in my boots. You have 4 kids cooped up all day when it is nice out and see how long you last. We walked to Victory, the locally owned meat/grocery store. Then on to the library to exchange a DVD. Then across the foot bridge to the walking trail and down river to the old converted train bridge. It was a balmy +6 C. The rest of the week looks about the same. I am so glad that winter, mild as it was, is loosing its grip. I think that everyone will sleep well tonight.

    The socks held up well and my feet feel great in their new "foot bags". When my eldest was quite a bit younger, she enjoyed playing with words, Well, she still does. Everything that you say goes through a "how can I make this funny" filter. Some times this can be a good thing, sometimes it can be down right annoying. One day she decided that socks was too boring for her and renamed them "foot bags" What can I say? I kind of like it.

    I am already thinking about what other soft yarns I have in stash that I can convert to socks. I should say soft FAT yarn. I think that there is a wool silk blend that I have had for years waiting for the perfect project. It is off white, and I inherited some turquoise so I think that they will end up in the dye pot.

    I also got a great tip from a sock book (Knit Socks! by Betsy Lee McCarthy) checked out from the library. If you need to splice yarn with mostly wool content ( with the excecption of superwash types) you can easily do so by unraveling about one inch from each end, laying them together, apply enough spit ( I kid you not) to moisten and rub the splice rapidly between your palms. The combination of wet ( from the spit, but water would work as well I think) and heat and friction ( from rubbing your palms together) will felt the ends together. It took me about one minute of this to get the ends well felted and reduced in size to the original weight. Who knew?

    Monday, March 06, 2006


    I am.... done the socks. Yes done. All the way done. Ends sewn in and washed type of done. They were a little large and so I did as I has threatened and shrunk them. Carefully. Slowly. They are still a little loose around the instep, and should I ever use this pattern again I shall adjust the stitches. I have already started on my next pair of socks in the blue green procrastination yarn that I dyed last week. They are working up quite a bit quicker. Fat yarn. Pictures, as always, to follow.

    On a slightly negative note, I have discovered that I simply cannot tolerate cheap wine. I shared a few glasses with Liz yesterday afternoon while sitting in the sun and a few more last night while watching "10 things I hate about you" . Drank lots of water before going to bed. Woke up with a headache and the urge to make a call on the porcelain phone. Sigh. I am getting old.

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    What are we doing?

    So here I am, doing my morning surf, and listening to CBC and it is an article about cancer. Now , the chances of getting cancer is 1 in 2. 50% . That is either me or my husband and two of my kids. That is my mother, who had breast cancer diagnosed three years ago, and is fine now. For the moment. That is my mother in law. Breast cancer 30+ years ago. That is my paternal grandmother. Breast cancer. That was Rick and Robbie. And Haifa, and Marilyn, and Liz S. Who else? And what is causing all of this? Nobody really knows. The best guess is that it is all of the crap that we eat and breath. The chemicals that are put in our food to keep them "fresh". The shit that "off gases" from the cheap building materials that go into today's houses, and mini home. I went to an "open house" for one of these locally built "Maple Leaf Homes" It is basically a modular mini home. House lego. You chose the pieces and they assemble the bricks on your property. Looked nice and clean, but I could smell the chemicals and I had a headache after 5 minutes. And these things are being marketed to young families. Look at the ingredients list on lots of "foods" in the grocery store. After a few that we know and can pronounce, there are many that are there to give whatever it is a shelf life of 18 months or more.What else are they doing? I would love to buy everything organic, but my grocery bill would rise to $1000 per month. I kid you not. I can't afford it. The money isn't there. So what do I do?

    In North America, a chemical is considered innocent until proven guilty. Why are the food giants trying to kill us slowly? Oh, right. The same reason that the US is in Iraq. Money.

    There are days that I dream of being omnipotent. I make my self large, look down on the world, and start squishing the greedy bastards that put money above life, humanity, morality. I squish them like mosquito's with my thumb.