Saturday, September 30, 2006

Signs of the times

You know that winter is on its way around here when the greenery starts appearing back in the house.

First to come back in was the citrus, otherwise known as GF, or Grapefruit tree. Bill started this baby as a seed from a grapefruit that he ate back about 14 years ago. When I met him it was about 6 inches high and sharing a home with an avocado plant. The avocado had since left this mortal realm to go back to nature (read compost) but the citrus has grown and flourished and is now taking over our rather small living room.

And in the herb corner, not in their permanent home are, from the left, Lonely Rose (rosemary), LG (lemon grass) and Bay (bay laurel). Their winter home is TEMPORARILY (the "T" word in my house) occupied by a few other thing which will soon find a new home.....RIGHT BILL???!!!!!!
On the fiber front, I did four of my six dye samples Friday night. Two and a bit of the three scarves that are on my loom have been woven off. Here is number three on its way. I had a few extra demands on my time last week that I hadn't anticipated and so missed my self imposed deadline of having them off and ready to go to market with me this morning. I will aim for next week now. Last weekend I also drove down to Gagetown to pick up my weavings/yarns etc that were in a summer gallery down there. While we were there, the kids wanted to go for a bit of a walk, so off we went and at the place where people put their boats in (what is that called any way?) the kids (oh joy and bliss) found a dead bird. We think that it might have been a duck at one time, but I wasn't going to get close enough to do a through examination. Ick. Liam wanted to take home the bill. What is it with boys and grossness? I say no and he (thankfully) didn't fight it beyond a small whine. I think that my boy knows when I mean business.
I'll be dyeing more bright and early in the morning, so If I have enough presence of mind in those wee hours, I will bring the camera and give you a tour of the dye kitchen at the college.
Until then, have colourful dreams.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The beginning

of my dye samples

This is the percentage chart for magenta. I can do more colours on my own if I want. The basic idea for this exercise is to start out with a specific amount of white fleece and dye it different percentages using a 1% Dye Stock Solution. These samples go from .05% DOS to 4% DOS , DOS meaning Depth of Shade. This way you are able to make colours as pale or intense as you want.

This is the beginning of my colour triangle for Brilliant Blue, Red, and Golden Yellow. There is one that needs to be redyed (the light purple at the top, as it's a bit to light) and there was one that was missed. 60% Blue 40% Golden Yellow. It was dyed in class the other day along with our complex colours (mixing all three colours in various percentages) and is drying. We started on the other triangle, Magenta, Turquoise, and Sun Yellow , and have 6 samples to dye for next week. I am going to try and get mine done before the weekend is over.

But for now I am headed off to bed again. I am having one of those nights of broken sleep and have been up since about 1 am. It is now 3:30. After laying around in bed for a few hours not sleeping,I decided to get up and do SOMETHING productive. So here I am. Good Night.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Here are some of my felt samples.

This is one of the "secondary fiber" ones. The faint hand is laid down using tussah silk fibers.

These are pieces of felt that were made using what is called a rainbow dye pot. More on that later.

This motif was made using flax fibers and dyed fleece.

Gotta go get the kids ready for school.
Tomorrow is Friday!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How could I say no...

to anything that this girl wants? Especially when she just turned 3!

More felting stuff today. This week we learned about felting with secondary fibers. What you do is add different fibers to the top of your wool before you felt it. We are using merino sliver or roving for the base fabric and today we added silk hankies, tussah silk fibers, and flax fibers. Pictures as soon as they are dry. This is all very cool and I am loving it!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Done Done Done

I am officially finished with the canning and preserving. Anything else that comes my way has to be eaten fresh or rot.

Final tally

15 1.5 liters
80 quarts
20 pints

Jalipino peppers
12 pints

Blueberry Jam
3 pints
7 half pints

Grape Jelly
4 pints
7 half pints

5 pints
4 half pints

Lady Ashburnham

5 Pints

That is what is sitting on my shelves. I am good and done. Some of these will go out as Christmas gifts to co-workers. Others will be gobbled by the bottomless pits that I live with.

In fiber related things, I am almost finished my second orange scarf. Dye class is coming right along, but we are now down to a grand total of two in the class. That is a lot of samples per person. And I still haven't finished my homework for tomorrow. But at the end of it, I will have a kick ass sample book. Felting class is fun too, but also a lot of work. I was in the school last night to do my homework with Amber, the other woman in my class.

And my sister sent me some more Alpaca yarn. This is mixed with some acrylic, but I don't know the quantities. Alpaca/ Acrylico is on the label, but no percentages. I did a burn test and there was a lot of burning hair smell and very little black bead. So I think that it is mostly alpaca. What I want to know is why anyone would mix alpaca with acrylic? This batch actually had Peru on the label as the place of origin.

Back to the kitchen to finish the cleaning.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy Friday

Is my house the only one where this is a true. With one notable exception. Replace "game" with movie or some form work on the computer.

On top of everything else that is happening in my life, I am also taking a couple of classes at the Craft College. There is a new dyeing teacher who is REALLY GOOD! She is very precise and looks for reproducible results. So far, my dye book has read like the journal of unreproducable results. I shall now be able to change all of that! For my warp and skein dyeing, I may some day want to match colours and dye lots. She is also a felting teacher and I am sitting in on that class too. It is good to be able to answer students questions, But, we also have homework. The rule of thumb is that for every hour of class you do an hour of homework. That's an extra 6 hours a week that I need to come up with. I'm loving it though. I love being given an exercise to challenge my mind. Get it out of the dish pan, so to speak.

And do you know what I did yesterday in the middle of running errands? Stopped off at the garden to see how things were progressing, and apparently, they were progressing quite well because I picked two more grocery bags of cukes. These we will eat. Last night there was frost and the cucumber plants shall produce no more.

I am off to market in the morning and I shall make sock progress and hopefully sell a few things at the same time.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

soon to be socks

I chose my yarn, picked up my pattern and needles and started the socks last night. I got about an inch done on them before it was time to stop. I'm hoping that it doesn't take me a months to finish this pair.

I'm off to work! Happy day.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I swear...

that there will be some actual content soon that has to do with fibre, and not of the vegetable matter.

In the mean time, the latest count on the vegetable count is ....

5 pints of Lady Ashburnham pickles. And these are definitely not for my benefit. I am allergic to mustard and cannot eat them.. The kids like them though. And some days breathing mustard fumes is all about sacrifice. One batch per season is about all that I can handle.

And that leaves me with...

Green tomato relish. Now this one is definitely for me. As stated earlier, I am allergic to mustard and mustard figures very large in most relish recipes, It actually is in my relish recipe, but I figured that I could just leave it out and get something that I could actually eat. It worked and it is a really good relish. Truly kick ass. And seeing as we had a bit of an early frost and I have a few (cough,cough) green tomatoes I think that I will get a batch of relish out of them yet. You want the recipe, Give a holler and I will post it for your pickling pleasure.

In the mean time, I seem to have picked up a bit of a late summer cold. I feel like that stuff that no one really wants to talk about that lands on the sole of your shoe. Or the sole of some other unfortunate that happens to settle near you at an awkward time. And we have a leak in the brake line. Very tense drive home from market yesterday. Sigh. Someday I will feel that I will be making headway instead of just treading water.

Hope your weekend was restful and relaxed and I swear that soon the gardening/vegetable content will be done and it will be back to dyeing and weaving.

No! Really! I mean it!

Don't look for any lace updates until after Christmas. I am trying to live within reality here! In the mean time, I MAY just start another pair of socks from a skein of yarn that has been sitting on my table for a few weeks. I'm thinking either one of the purple/pink skeins or the brown/yellow one on the lower right. I LOVE hand knit socks. And I could actually get some knitting done while sitting waiting for people to give me money. Sounds like a plan to me. And you?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday Sky

Here is the sky this morning. Foggy. Cool. Not so pretty. Nice trees though.

And here we are about one hour later. I was at my market which is in an alley way. But sunny! How nice. It even warmed up enough so that I could take off my jacket and sweater. It is really cool in the alley, and there is always a nice breeze. Wonderful conditions if it is hot. Not so much if it is cold.

We had a visit from our old market manager Mike. His wife, Monique, makes and sells jewelry. Nice stuff too. In any case Mike is running in our provincial election. He is a really nice guy. He looked a little tired and dazed this morning, but after 4+ weeks of hard campaigning, I can't imagine what I would look like. I hope I never know. I wish him well on Monday.

We also had a visit from Brian A.(sorry, can't remember the rest) He was to take pictures of the market for the tourism department. He had a lot of fun trying to set up the picture. He had all of the vendors set up where he wanted , and then there were no customers. Not a single one. Eventually he had what he wanted and went on his merry way. It was his birthday by the way. So happy birthday Brian!

And I was on my way to use the facilities and I saw Daniel. Holding court it looked like. He is a pointillist. And he is GOOD! And he is a nice guy too. There were about 8 or 10 people and he was talking away about what he does. He is really talented. There are some of his pieces that have over 500 hours of work in them. Boggles the mind.
There were lots of people that came through because there were a lot of people downtown for the festival. All in all, a pretty good day.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Just to shut you up...

Here is a blog entry.

Bill has been complaining that I haven't been blogging enough lately. So I am making a special entry just for him.

Yesterday, the day started off with blueberry jam making ( 4 pints, 6 1/2 pints) followed by a trip downtown to run some errands and see the casemates show that I am in. It is a group show of all the artists in residence from the casemates that I was in earlier in the summer. Sorry, I had no camera at the time, but I will try and get some photos up soon. There are some very nice works by some very talented people. Everything from stain glass combined with felt to my weaving, to pottery and drawings and paintings. Then it was off to Liz's house to harvest grapes and back to my place to process them. 1 pint and 6 1/2 pints later (4 pints for Liz) it was time to collect kids.

In the mean time, cucumbers for Lady Ashburnham pickles are being chopped and salted and ready for processing.... tomorrow. I was going to do it today, but I just couldn't face it.

As an aside, I went shopping with Mira yesterday. This is a big deal because Mira HATESHATESHATES shopping. Except for grocery stores. Because grocery stores have lemons. But I digress.

In any case, we went shopping yesterday. With Mira it is something that you have to work up to. Warn her weeks in advance that we are going to buy her new pants because she grew 6 inches over the summer and the pants that fit her in June just don't fit any more. We went to the (evil) mall. We found pants that fit. We bought two pairs because that was how many pairs that there were. Same colour, same style. I care not. We came home. I washed the new pants that fit. She puts them on this morning and.... they were flood pants. Just as bad (almost) as the ones that I physically ripped from her body last week. So after another trip to the mall, I just couldn't face cooking more pickles. Not today. The cukes are salted and will defiantly keep until tomorrow afternoon.

And now for something completely different....I had a package arrive in the mail yesterday. My sister, Nicole, was in Bolivia this summer and picked me up some alpaca yarn. Unfortunately, it is not 100% alpaca. It just didn't feel quite right and so I did a burn test and there is definitely some sort of synthetic in it. It has wool because you can smell it, but that hard plastic bead.....hmmm. I will see how it dyes and weaves up. It is still a beautiful yarn. Very soft. Very colourful. I am thinking of shawls.

And Simon got a harmonica today. This evening he was out on the front step playing it (doing quite a good job I might add) and calling out " 10 cents for a 2 minute show". Then I heard him say " Wow! I got my first customer!" Someone had dropped some change in the little plastic cup that he had out beside him. He was thrilled. We all had a good laugh.

I'm off to bed. It's market day in the morning. Good night all.

Good enough for you, boyo?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Why do some people feel compelled to go into a building and shoot others?

In case you haven't heard, a young man walked into Dawson College in downtown Montreal and shot students. Some reports say that as many as 20 people were shot. One woman has already died.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims.

Mean people suck.

And the count continues

Yesterday I made

20 pints of Dills
2 quarts of Dills
3 1.5 litres of Dills

I'll give you the grand total soon but I can safely say that I am officially not making any more dills this year. So I moved on to....

14 pints of Jalapeno peppers.
That is it for the peppers. I can still smell them in the air.

I also washed 243,675 tomatoes. and if I miss counted, I can honestly say that I am not far off. Most are still green, but I have great hopes for the majority of them. Tonight for supper I made an uncooked tomato sauce that was sooooo GOOD! I'll give you the recipe tomorrow. Maybe.

Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, it will be grape jelly time. And maybe some blueberry jam too. And then there is the Lady Ashburnham pickles that the kids all like. But those are for another day. And much later the green tomato relish that I really like. And I thing that will be it, but I am so tired right now, that I might be mistaken.

And all this time I have a lovely orange warp that is on my loom just asking to be woven. And it is the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival this weekend and I had wanted to get a few new scarves ready for all of the lovely people that would be coming through town and hopefully our little market. Instead, I make pickles. Maybe I could put a few of those on the table. I think that I have a few extra.

And just to let you know, all of my spare basil found new homes.

And I am off to bed.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Baa Baa Black Sheep...

have you any Basil?

Yes, sir! Yes sir! Five bags full.

And that would be garbage bags full. Two have already been given away, one dealt with in my own kitchen, and I have three people interested in the remaining two. One confirmation just came in for a half a bag. It is really funny when I ask "how much do you want?" and people say "as much as you can give me". Then I mention garbage bags and there is silence. Then a "How Much?" It was 11 large plants that I picked yesterday. And by large, I mean 36" high.

I sent Mira to pick the peppers while I dealt with basil and a crap load of green tomatoes and she came back with this curiosity. A truly Canadian pepper. To me , it looks like a moose.

And here are the dills so far. I say so far because I have yet more cukes that were picked last night that shall be made into pickles today. And then there are the scores of tomatoes to wash. The good news is that most of them will slowly ripen over the next month and a half and we shall have tomatoes that , although were not fresh picked, we know where they came from.

In case you haven't guessed, we had our first serious frost threat. Last night it was forecast to go down to just above freezing. Time to go process.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The smell of vinegar

More pickles. That is Bill's hand BTW that is stuffing those jars. I told you he was a prince among men. In this case, he is the pickle prince.
The kids feel the same way about dill's as I feel about fresh peas. Which means that I have been making a lot of pickles.
17 liters and 6- 1.5 liters jars. And we have been having lovely warm days and evenings and THAT mean that I'm not done yet. As they say about opera, "it ain't over till that fat lady sings" (and for those of you who are opera fans, that is NOT in any way, shape, or form degrading the opera. Relax. It's a saying) we say, "it ain't over till the frost hits". And if the forecast is to be believed, it ain't over yet. Thank (insert favoured deity here). I want a few more ripe tomatoes. Our tomatoes are not so happy this summer. Cool temperatures, moist/wet conditions make for small blighty tomatoes in my garden. I just hope that we actually get some plum tomatoes that we can dry. I have visions of Chicken Fettuchini with Sun Dries Tomatoes dancing in my head. We also have a dehydrator that has done yeomans service.

I also dyed some more yarns Thursday. But I don't have a camera today and so I don't have any pictures of them. But just to tease you, I have named one Chocolate Flambe, one Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright, one Tahitian Sunrise (not that I have ever been to Tahiti), one Chocolate Dipped Grapes. There are two others whose names I am still playing with. Or at least thinking about. They will be named first thing in the morning just after coffee, and just before being lovingly laid out on my table at market.

And for those of you who are local and were wondering, I was serious about the basil. Does anyone want some?

Monday, September 04, 2006

A WHAT in the hand?

Apparently, 7 snails in the hand is worth a lot to a certain 11 year old girl. Better her than me. It's not that I am afraid of snails or slugs, Heck, I pick up worms in the garden all the time and move them to safer places, but there is something about that slime trail that just makes me not all that anxious to pick them up. Mira delighted in grossing out my cousin's wife this past summer when they were visiting. She was raised in Montreal and is not used to the ways of a gal in the country. Especially when that gal is a tom-boy.

And what is Bill holding?

It's a quick trick bubble stack! Pretty impressive display, eh?
Well, actually, it's not so impressive when you find out that the bubbles are the kind that harden a few seconds after they are blown. Not hard like a glass ball, but their surface actually is able to be touched and retains it shape. Think of them as fragile balloons. Fragile sticky balloons.

And I have been hard at work creating more temari balls. I am down to about 3.5 hours for most of these balls. Now I am looking for new patterns. Not that it is hard to find them, it's just hard to chose one that won't take 20 hours to complete and still look great. I think that I may have found a few to try over the next few weeks. As well as getting a new warp on the loom. And working. And dealing with the much dreaded HOMEWORK! Oh, pooh. The garden is almost ready to be taken out and what with frost threatening, the basil, ALL the basil will have to be processed soon. All 8 or 10 large bushy plants. We pre-measure it into double batches of 4 cups packed basil and a cup of olive oil, pop them in the freezer in tubs and eat pesto all winter for the price of pine nuts and parma. But there is a limit to how many times we have pesto in the run of a winter. And I think that we have about 6 or 8 tubs in the freezer already. And it doesn't even look like I have touched the plant. So I will get to the temari balls..... sometime.

So, does anyone want some basil?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A walk in the woods

Friday was such a nice day that Liz and I decided to take the kids for a picnic lunch and hike at O'Dell park. I love that park. After scrambling to pack lunches and a quick stop at the grocery store on the way, we made it up into the park and found a spot to eat. We ate our sandwiches and wraps, grapes and veggies....and then Liz cracked open the pretzels and doughnut holes. Well, the doughnut holes were nothing spectacular, but some of the pretzels!

Liz was the first to find an altered pretzel. She thought that it looked like a pregnant Virgin Mary. The kids all thought that she should sell it on e-bay and make "a bunch of money". Somehow, Liz wasn't convinced. Every time that she ate a pretzel, the kids just about blew a gasket until she would hold up her "special" pretzel.

Then Liam found one, and we realized that maybe it wasn't so special after all.

With India's find, we knew that there was a problem with the pretzel making equipment. No big sales on e-bay. But then again, I have seen some pretty weird things for sale on e-bay. Like used toilet paper, and a used tampon. My sister found them and brought them to my attention. Actually it is not a gross as it sounds. The toilet paper was used as a paper weight, and the tampon was still wrapped and used to separate two classes of CD. And they sold. So who knows, maybe someone out there would actually pay for a funny shaped pretzel.

And now for something completely different....

New purses.

I inherited some scraps from a silk painter/dyer/designer of beautiful household items. I think that they are pretty. I have 5 more that are ready to sew up. I just have to do it. And I have another 6 or 7 pieces that are waiting to be incorporated into a tote bag type of thing. I just have to come up with a pattern and the rest of the fabric and not to mention the time. Sewing is not my favorite thing. Probably because the only sewing class that I took was in grade 8 and I didn't want to be there, so I didn't really pay attention, and all of the clothing patterns that we were to chose from were pretty fugly, so I sewed a hamburger pillow and a light bulb pillow. They were cute, but useless and somewhere along the way disappeared from my life. Needless to say, I am not the greatest seamstress. Someone suggested that I find someone to pair up with and have THEM do the sewing, but I am selling these things for so little as it is that I don't see that as a viable option. If I had an outlet in Toronto or (gasp) New York, where people actually SPEND their money, I could probably charge a good price and give someone else a cut. But here, not so much. But they are so pretty that I will continue to make the purses. People really like them though, and maybe I will sell a few at Christmas time.

Until then, wish me luck in my sewing pursuits.

See y'all later.