Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mine! All Mine!

Mia asked what of the things that I have made do I keep. There are actually very few things that I am unwilling or unable to part with. For the most part, it is the process that attracts me. The choosing of the yarns, making the warps, dyeing, even the tedium of setting up the loom I find enjoyable. To a certain extent. But it is definitely the weaving part that I enjoy the most. Having said all of that, the first thing that I am going to show you that is "Mine! All Mine!" is a quilt. A couple of years ago, when wee-Nicole was very wee, I was invited to submit a piece or two to a group show. I couldn't wrap my tired mind around making my way to my studio of the time that was about a 10 minute walk away from home,(read 10 minute walk back too) but I could haul out the sewing machine and make a quilt. Just a wall piece. When I got too tired to continue, I'd just flop into bed. My quilts are no where as intricate or beautiful as Dave's but this one is mine and I love it. It is a traditional 9 patch pattern made from some fabrics that my weaving teacher gave to me. The bag of fabrics were laces and burnt velvets, shiny unnamed fabrics and the brown fabric that you see in the patches. I was in a "brown" phase at the time, still sort of am, truth be told, and at first, I thought that I would make one block using both the right and wrong sides as a test. Just see how it worked out. I had never worked with anything remotely like this fabric before. As far as my limited quilting experience went, I was a 100% cotton kind-a-gal. I loved the results and continued to make the next two blocks squeezing out as much as I could of the pieces given to me. The backing is organza and the "batting" so to speak, is a dark beige brushed twill cotton. The black framing is another brushed cotton, and the brown edging is linen. I actually sewed two pockets on the back so that it could either be hung vertically or horizontally. There is a bit of a sag where the pocket is, I have to resew it. It's on my "to-do" list. Part of the sag is caused by Nicole, who likes to hide under the edge of it. When she is all done hiding, I shall re-stitch the pocket. I promise! No really, I do. Or maybe it'll just get hung the other way. In the photo, the poor old dear needs to be pressed too. That will happen later also. Seriously.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A question

For all of you living south of the border. I have been reading about kids being finished school and I was just wondering if school ending in May had always been the case. Up here in the in the Great Yellow (pollen season) North, my kids finish school on June 23. That is elementary and middle school. I think that high school kids are finished a little sooner. Just call me curious.

As for my weekend up date, Saturday was pretty much a wash due to a bit of excess on Friday night. And yesterday was the BIG planting day. Beans, tomatoes, peppers, basil, beets, carrots, coriander, green onions, dill and cucumbers. I even did a little bit of weeding. My peas from an earlier planting are coming along nicely as are the broad beans, lettuce, and swiss chard. Yesterday was to be my dyeing afternoon, but it was preempted by a visit from Grandma and Grandpa. These are Bill's parents who live about an hour away and grandma gets pretty serious grandkid withdrawl.

Here are my weaverly offerings for today. 100% silk noil hand dyed my myself (of course). The major difference in the colour of the two scarves comes from the weft yarns. Those are the ones that go across.

And if any one is interested, some of my beautiful creations are for sale at Etsy. penelopespiderworks.etsy.com More shall go up soon. And more weaverly goodness shall be on it's way.

And for those of you who are wondering about my wonderful prize from Jay's Craft Challenge? I'm wondering too. I think that the post office is up to it's usual tricks. I am about ready to gnaw my own arm off. Gnash my teeth. Shake my fist at.... well I'm not sure who. I know it's not Jay. I have visions of frightened yarn wondering why it is so dark and why no one has fondled it's fibrey softness in weeks. I keep checking my mail box hoping that I will find a little card telling me that something special is waiting for me at the post office. I'm a patient person, but this waiting is getting me a little tense. Is there a god of speedy delivery that I can pray to?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Call me an A-I-R

That would be Artist in Residence, not air head, although some may disagree. I received word last night that I have been selected to do an Artist in Residency week for the Fredericton Arts alliance. My week is July 8 - 14. I will mostly be weaving, but will do a little warp preparation and dyeing during my week. I had asked for two weeks, but they had such a number of applicants that few people were granted two weeks. I have done residencies before and I love it! The whole point of them is to get artists out and accessible to the public and to the all important tourists. They are held in the "casemates" of the old soldiers barracks in the "Garrison District" of Fredericton's downtown. Fredericton was an important military base in the late 1800's and there are still a few military buildings from this time remaining. I think that the casemates, as they are called, were used to store the ammunition. I am sure that Liz will correct me if I am wrong. She spent a few years working at the local Museum (home of the famous Coleman frog), and knows some of the history better than I do. In any case, they are a series of 8 or 10 brick arches that are about 10' wide and 20' deep (all measurements are approximate, based purely on guess work and my faulty memory). During the summer they are transformed into storefronts or workshops, and the Arts Alliance Residency location. The series runs from early June to late September. If you are around during that time, stop by and say hello to the artists and check out all the great things that are for sale by local crafts people.

And here are todays weaving offerings. This is a warp that alternates between stripes of rayon and stripes of silk. This is hand dyed and very soft. It has a wonderful hand. This is the sort of thing that I shall be doing this summer.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The meal that launched a family

Yesterday was mine and Bill's 13th anniversary of our first date. That night 13 years ago he had invited me over so he could cook me supper. On the menu was Diced Chicken with Peanuts, a couple of bottles of REALLY excellent wine that he had brought with him from Ontario, and a strawberry desert wine that he had made himself. On my yum. the rest, as they say, is history.

In honour of this anniversary, I made the dish last night. It is still as good and I thought that I could share it with you.

2 or 3 chicken breasts cut into long thin strips marinated at least 2 hours in,

1 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup of dry red wine
10 to 12 dry red chilies (or less depending on your heat tolerance)

Stir-fry ingredients

1 1/4 cups raw peanuts skinned and shelled
1 large sweet red pepper, sliced
1/2 large green pepper, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
3 to 4 cups broccoli florets
2 tsp chopped ginger root
5 cloves garlic chopped
1 cup green onions cut 1/2 inch long
3 tbsp oil to stir fry with

Combine in a jar and set aside

1/3 cup water
2 tbsp soya sauce
1 heaping tbsp corn starch

Cooking Instructions

Put two tbsp oil in the cold wok and add the peanuts, then bring the heat up to medium and stirring constantly, roast them slowly until they are a golden brown. Remove the peanuts with a slotted spoon , leaving the oil behind.
Add peppers and celery and stir fry until cooked. Remove from pan.
Do the same with broccoli.
Add the remaining oil, then add ginger, garlic, and green onions. Cook fro about a minute, then add the chicken and marinade. Cook until the chicken is cooked, but still tender.
Put all of the ingredients back into the wok add the cornstarch mixture, turn down the heat and stir until the sauce thickens. You can remove the chilies before eating, or you can live dangerously.

I hope that someone our there trys and enjoys this dish as much as we do. Even the kids all eat it, although they don't bother with the chilies.

Todays post is also my 100th post. Hard to believe, but there it is.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

And now for something completely different

For those of you who read my profile, you see that I am interested in temari balls. And what , pray tell are those? They are decorative stitched balls that originated in Japan. They were originally made using scraps of kimono fabric or rice husks for the stuffing, wrapped with leftover thread or yarn and then stitched to keep them together. They were made as a toy for children. Through the years, the stitching has become more intricate and temari has been raised to an art form. In fact, there are temari masters. It takes 70 years to become a master. You spend the first 30 just watching. You imagine? 30 years just watching! No stitching, no pratice, no first shaky attempts. Just watching. Then if you are deemed sincere enough (after 30 years of watching I should hope that one would be considered sincere) you are allowed to stitch.

This is a traditional pattern that is a good pratice piece. It is called a chysanthimum or kiku stitch. It makes a nice flower shape.

After stitching a bunch of tight intricate balls, I decided to loosen up a bit and make this web ball. It is a complex 10 division. The first time that I divided a ball this way it took me 5 hours. Since then I have sped up and can do it in about 45 minutes. I have made about 15 +/- balls, most of which have been sold or gifted out, and these are the only two complete balls that I have left. And of course, I didn't have pictures of my other balls. But for those of you who want to see more, click on temarikai in my links listings. In the album pages poke around and prepare to be amazed.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Peruvian Inspiration

A few years ago, Bill went to Paris on business. After being warned to bring something back for me (no subtly here folks) he smartly came back with a shawl from Peru. I loved it! Good job Bill! It was cotton and striped and soft and warm. A few years ago, I needed to come up with a project to do for an Artist in Residency stint that I did with String Fever, a local weaving coop that has, unfortunately ceased to be. I decided to use all my balls of hand dyed silk noil and make a couple of shawls with a Peruvian feel. The unfortunate part is that people are not willing to pay for my time and work. "I can get something like that for $(insert low dollar amount)! Why would I want to pay $(insert higher dollar amount)?" If I weave one thing per warp, I wouldn't even get minimum wage. And in New Brunswick, minimum wage is $6.50. Pathetic.

Sorry about the rant, but there are few people who are willing to pay me what I ask for my weavings. There are some, and to those I say "Thank You!" My friend, Linda is constantly telling me that my prices are too low. I must educate the market. I think that I will do it slowly. Thankfully, I am not reliant on my weavings to make the rent/bills/food etc. But I do try and make them pay for themselves. In any case, here are my shawls.

This one was woven in a twill (sort of like your jeans).
This one was plain weave (like regular cotton fabric, over one, under one)


Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 19, 2006

What to do with odds and ends

Every now and then, I put a black warp on my loom and use up some of the yarns that are left on my bobbins. I am lucky enough to have many, many bobbins, but I usually find my self scrambling to find enough free bobbins for my current project. So, what to do with all of the bits of fabric that I make???? I make purses.

I also inherited the silk trimmings from a fellow fibre artist Margaret Boyle of Common Threads Studio, who makes beautiful painted hangings. These trimmings are about 12" long and 1/8" wide. These are what the top purses are woven with.

These are a mixture of cottons, rayon, and chenille.

They are fully lined and have zipper closures. I had some blue ones too, but they have all left the roost.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My pretties

I was having a day on Tuesday. And when Wee-Nicole FINALLY went down for a nap just shortly after noon, I quickly did up the dishes and dyed the Briggs & Little that has been teasing me in all it's whiteness for more than two weeks. I wanted ORANGE! And I think that I managed to get it. Of course, I was trying to multi task and after checking and folding laundry, and checking and sweeping the floor, and checking to make sure that it didn't boil, I decided to quickly check my e-mail. Well, you can guess where I am going. When I went to check again, the buggers were boiling happily in their bath. I, on the other hand, was not so happy. They did shrink a bit, so it means that when they become socks, I will have to be careful to make sure that they fit, as I will not be able to do my shrink trick.

Look what met my daughter on her way out the door this morning! My Make One Yarn Studio yarns had come!

To the left, are two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepard Sport in Tahoe. For socks of course. Next, to the right, are three skeins of Misti Alpaca Natural White. Enough to make a lace shawl. It may take me three years, but I want it enough, and I think that it is something that I could work on at the lake this summer. It seems that every time that I try to read something at the lake, my MIL wants to chat, but handy-work is an acceptable thing to do. To the right of the Alpaca is my first set of Addi Turbo needles for my shawl. Sigh. The at the bottom are two balls of Noro, one Silk Garden, the other, Kureyon. They are both a little darker than I expected, but beautiful none the less. The Silk Garden has such a lovely feel that I think that I will be getting a few more of them. These two have no project attached. My goodness, I had a hard time choosing. I think that I changed my mind about a dozen times. And these wonderful people ship for free within Canada any orders that are over $30. It doesn't take long to find $30+ worth of beautiful yarns.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Today's offering

Along with hand dyed scarves, I make some scarves that are stripy. This one is silk noil, spun silk, two different cottons, one of which was dyed by moi. I like playing with the stripes and getting the little diamond shapes.

And here is a detail.

Dear Jay thinks that I weave these things for my children. Alas, he is so wrong. For them,I make blankets. Blankets cannot be lost at school or left behind at a friends house. I always know where their blankets are. Scarves and mittens are something else. Some of my weavings (quite a few truth be told) have been gifted out to family and friends. These scarves and shawls are all for sale. They live in a container, all tagged, until I have a show or sale to go to. Then we travel together and I send them home with people who will appreciate them. And seeing as my day job doesn't pay well in dollars, I need to do something to support my fiber habit. Not to mention, how many scarves do kids need. Oh, right, the answer is unlimited because they keep getting left behind, or even better, out in the yard. Not a fate for my fine handwovens.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Same warp different scarf

Here is the second scarf from the warp that I showed you on the weekend.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Things are growing

Tulips and in behind, the peony is comming along nicely.

Some of my peppers, basil, and eggplant. I have to admit that my tomatoes are not doing as well as I could hope and so did not take any pictures of them. I hope that they do better when they are set into the ground. But the basil is more than making up for it. Funny. Peppers, tomatoes, and basil all like heat and rich soil. They have been planted in the same mixture of compost and potting soil. They have had the same amount of sun and heat. What is it that makes the pepper and basil grow better than the tomatoes? They will all go in the ground next weekend! And I am excited!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Blast from the past

Well, not too far in the past. Just last summer. This was a hideous light brown cotton that was very soft. Another large cone of inherited yarn. Loved the yarn, hated the colour. So I made up enough warp for two scarves, skeined off some to dye for weft, and the rest is history. I am so glad that I learned the valuable skill of dyeing. And as many of you know, it is very addictive. 75% of what I weave now is hand dyed. The rest are blended warps (mixing a bunch of different types and colours of yarns) or stripy things. There are a few of those coming up in a few days.

So here is the first scarf that I wove off.

And here is a detail. This is actually the picture that is on my desktop of my computer. I somehow managed to drag and drop it in the wrong place (I was trying to attach it to an e-mail) but now that it is there, I quite like seeing it every day. Happy accident.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

My first knitting project that was not flat

Here are my first mittens.

They were taken from a book that a friend had that was hat and mitt patterns from New England or the Maritimes. It's been a while and I can't remember the exact name of the book, but it went something like "Geese and Ducks" or "Hen's and Fences". I saw and liked and photocopied (shhh, don't tell anyone) The Incredible Checkerboard Mitts pattern. With a quick tutorial from Linda, I was up and running. Or sitting and knitting, as the case were. This pattern requires you to use two different colours of yarn. While knitting with one colour, the other is carried behind the stitches. You change colour every two stitches and so I learned how to knit with both hands instead of dropping the yarn every two stitches to pick up the other yarn. I tried it that way, but it wasn't very efficient and we won't talk about tension. What I ended up with was a pair of mitts that were quite warm because they were essentially doubled. As you can see, I loved my mittens and wore them for many a year. Every now and then, a hole would appear and I would darn a patch out of whatever yarn happened to be nearby. When I started to have to darn the darnings, I decided to start on a new pair.

These are my Two Year Mitts.

They are called that because..... yup. It took me two years to knit them. I has some beautiful fat shiny wool that I picked up at a yard sale and dyed during a dyeing class a few years before. I decided that I wanted to use it and I also decided that I wanted "boiled " mitts. Once knitted, you literally boil the mittens and they felt up and are warm, wind proof, and have a certain amount of water resistance. But you have to knit them big. The pattern calls for a 3 ply yarn that is "half again as heavy as worsted" So with my fat yarn and bigger needles (6mm maybe) I started to knit away. It was slow knitting because I was more interested in weaving (or soaking in a hot tub) in my spare time. Then summer came and who thinks about knitting mittens in the summer. Not me. At least I didn't think about it then. They got put away unfinished. A dreaded UFO. Eventually, I was sick of darning the darned darns and got them out again to finish them before Christmas 2004. They knit up HUGE. They were over 12" high. Silly me didn't think to actually measure them but I remember the looks that people gave me when I was caught working on them. I boiled them for about an hour and then I chucked them in the washer and then the dryer, checking every now and then so they would fit me and not some kid that I birthed. The result is these wonderful things that are actually still a little to big, but I'm not complaining.

Friday, May 12, 2006

What a week

Where did the week go?

Monday was a school holiday, so we called it a second Sunday and didn't do much of anything. Tuesday was spent running errands that didn't get done Monday. Wednesday is a half day for the kids, so most of the afternoon went into homework, laundry, cleaning,and deciding what yarns I was ordering from "Make one yarn studios". That was tough. Really it was. I changed my mind about 16 times before I finally settled on the yarns that I did. Thursday was spent taking photographs of my weavings in preparation for applying for an artist in residence stint for a couple of weeks this summer. 3 hours it took. I was shocked when I realized how late it had become. But I have some nice pictures that I will be sharing soon. Today was spent doing up the additional documentation that is needed for said application. And then this evening was spent at Liz's and who was there, but Kate the oddball with her much cursed shawl. All I have to say is wow! And I wonder how she can even think about sending it away. ESPECIALLY since she can't get a call back from the ...people... for whom she made the shawl. I say, keep it. It is stunning.

And speaking of stunned, remember the Duhh Socks? They are done. All the way done. Not done but anything. Well excecpt for the washing, but seeing as I dyed and rinsed the yarn before knitting the fool things, I say that not being washed doesn't count.

Right. Of course. Blogger doesn't want to let me load my socks. It's not THAT warm yet. Can't you give a gal a break? No?

Maybe in the bright and early morn. As they say at the radio station... Please stand by........

Yeah, I tried one more time and was accecpted. So with out further ado......

My second set of socks

The yarn is not nearly a soft as my first socks, but I am sure that my feet will be kept warm in about 6 months.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What a weekend or call me an ant

Years ago, I used to watch "Northern Exposure". I loved that show. There was one episode where Chris was going around calling everybody ants because they were looking to the future and gathering and saving. He was a grasshopper because he lived for the moment believing that he was going to die at about the age of 40. All the men in his family did. I think that it turned out to be because of high blood pressure, but I digress. What I was getting at was that ants gather and save food. The season is upon us. For those of you not fortunate enough to live along the eastern north American coast, I'm talking about fiddleheads. They are the unfurled fronds of a particular type of ferns which grow along river banks. They are one of the first foods that spring forth abundant in these parts. You boil them up and serve with butter, salt, and for some, vinegar. I am fortunate enough to have access to a great fiddlehead patch, or rather, patches. They are on my dad's farm. Over the weekend, we picked, blanched and froze 21 1.5lb bags. Did I dye my yarn? Nope. Did I start new socks? Nope. Did I make up ia new warp? Nope. I did however find out that I won a $100 gift certificate from from Make 1 Yarns. The draw was a part of the Warming Grace campaign. I had actually forgotten about the draw when I received an e-mail stating that I had won! I was shocked. But oh,my my. What beautiful yarns I have to chose from. I also won $5 in the lotto. And after winning Jay's Craft Challenge... I now know that good things do happen in threes.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Big whoop

I have finished the duhh socks. Aka, the socks that time forgot. But guess what?!? No camera, so no pict progress. I can hear my ship tooting on the horizon (read 'camera coming soon"), but still, she ain't in sight, and for all those of you who say, "ain't ain't a word" , go pee in your shoes. I don't want to talk about it.
I am going to dye some Briggs & Little this week coming up. I need to make another pair of socks. Like I NEED more wool socks. Today has been a beautiful day. The temp was 22 C (71 F to those of you who care) I mean really? Wool socks? Talk about DUHH?!?! But, as sure as summer follows spring, winter will come again, and I will be coaxing those socks onto my chilly feet. And being GLAD about it! Thank the flying spaghetti monster, those days seem so far away right now. Right now my thoughts turn to cottons, rayon, and (sigh) silks. Wool? Socks? Those are for lesser mortals. I am thinking summery, breezy shawls and scarves. Light, flowy, airy. Beautiful colours. Beautiful hand. Strange as it may seem, I LOVE to weave in the summer. Pounding away on the loom, mopping sweat from my...(well... lets just not go there) while the kids play outside and debate the benefits of sprinkler vs. hose. And whether it is better to build a monster village starting from the foundation (I kid you not). I love my kids. I really like the ones that I inherit from time to time ,too. The big picture got you down? Let's go for a walk in the woods. There are an amazing array of things at a bugs eye level to even you out. And you don't even have to ask to be shown. The kids yell "LOOK! LOOK!" And the next thing, there you are, looking an something that you may have seen before, but, all you have to do is look again. New eyes are a wonderful thing. They don't let you take things for granted. Right now, it is raining out. You remember. Those magical sun showers when it is both sunny and raining. Warm, and wet. The kids are laughing.
I remember years ago, someone asked me what I would like to be doing in ten years.(Just so you know, it was much more than ten years ago). My answer was that I would like to have a bunch of kids (done) and be able to weave in the winter (done) and pot (as in play with clay, you nasty people) in the summer. Son of a gun... I'm almost there. What a juxtaposition. Weaving, where one needs to be so clean, and potting, which means mud, clay, dirt (hee, hee). Can you see that I am a Gemini? ( read birthday commin soon) Cue the shark sounds, dunt dunt dunt dunt, dunt dunt dunt dunt,... well, you get the picture.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Colour me pink

I am pleased to say that I have been chosen as the winner of Jay's craft challenge. I am sooooo looking forward to a box of knitterly goodness coming my way, including 100% authentic Australian yarn. I can hardly wait to get my fingers in that bundle of beautiful fiber.

For those of you who have just joined us, I'm going to give a quick and dirty tour of what went into the shawls. To begin, they are woven on a loom.

I started by making a warp

then I dyed the warp in two sections, using different colour ranges. Blues and greens on one side, reds and oranges on the other.

After it dried, I had to put it on the loom, first by attaching it to the back beam and then slowly winding it on.

Here is when it changed to the blue.

Next it was threaded through the heddles

through the reed

and tied on to the front beam.

Then came the weaving.

Then the knotting and fringing.

And here is a close up of both shawls.

For more indepth coverage of any of these steps, please feel free to browse through my archives. I started the whole process on March 14.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The things kids say

When we were in the garden yesterday planting, my father and my son were setting up the hose to water those oh so important peas. This necessitated using a set of vice-grips to get everything all hooked up. My son asked his grampy if he could have a turn using the advice-grips. I thought,"great, just what we need, something else doling out the ADvice" I had to laugh.