Monday, October 30, 2006

Can someone tell me why

The tree planting guys in this town insist on planting trees right under power lines?

This is actually two trees. Look for the trunks.

This is what we refer to as a "slingshot" tree. How embarrassed must this tree feel?
I understand that there is little room to play with on residential streets, about 8 to 10 feet, but if you stand next to a tree and look up, the power lines are right there. There is a bit of wiggle room to be had. The thing that really gets me is that even down on the Green, the trees are planted under the power lines. For those of you who are unfamiliar with my stomping grounds, The Green is a strip of green space in downtown Fredericton that runs along the Saint John river. The narrowest section of this area is about 20-25 feet. The widest must be somewhere around 150-175 feet. And still. There are the trees. You guessed it. Under power lines. DUHHH! Wind blows, trees bend, branches break, power lines snap. Sigh.

On the fibre front, I made two warps yesterday, dyed two, and dyed 5 skeins of yarn for the table. Pictures to follow. And I am patiently awaiting a very special box filled with fibery goodness! O.K. Now that I know that it is on its way, maybe I'm not so patient. My drop spindle is all cleaned off and ready to go!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A few more things...

off the loom

Three chenille scarves. They seemed sort of popular last year, so I've done up three warps and have finished one and a half. Actually more than that. I have been having a hard time finding the time to weave (she says blogging, but the kids are still asleep and banging on my loom might wake them up, so right now doesn't count) so yesterday, I brought my loom to market. Have I told you lately how much I love my loom? I love my loom. It is a good size and easily transportable. I managed to weave a scarf and a half yesterday, as well as demonstrate to many folks who came through. Educate them a little bit as to why my scarves are priced the way that they are. Which , I've been told is too low. Pricing is a funny dance. Shifting between what a product is worth, and what the market will bear. As I have often said, if I was selling in Toronto or New York, my prices would be higher. But I'm not.

I love my loom. However, I cannot weave anything wider than 17 inches. Luckily, I now have access to other looms. Larger looms, Multi-harness looms. So now I am weaving a few shawls. The first one came off early last week. I know that this is not the greatest picture. Unfringed, unwashed, wrinkly, but at least you get the picture. I did all of the finishing over the last few days and clipped my ends at the table yesterday. The colour in the picture is a little off, though. It is really more purple than blue.
I am about half way through the second shawl that has been sett a bit tighter for a twill. The threading is a rose path, which, when treadled in a reversing twill gives tiny diamonds. Very pretty. I need to get more silk warps dyed and woven off before the end of November. Busy times ahead.
And about those greasy alpacas.... They didn't actually let me get close enough to touch them. But their coats looked like a long haired teddy bear that had been through the wash a few too many times. And the tips of the clumps had a bit of a sheen to it, as if it was greasy. So maybe they just LOOKED greasy, but were really just a bit damp because of the recent rain? Who knows. My experience with farm animals has been pretty much limited to cows. And the sleek holstein kind. No coat mystery there.
In any case, until next time...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Furry critters

Today was field trip day! The spinning class went to the Country Pumpkin, a vegetable stand about 10 km outside of Fredericton. I thought that the babe might enjoy seeing some animals and so we tagged along. It was a cold and breezy day, but those furry little guys didn't seem to mind a bit.

The gals were so happy to see these fellows. There was a lama, two alpaca, a few pygmy goats, some sheep that totally ignored us all, two donkeys, several chickens and some horses.

These two were scratching each other on their shoulders and, of course, when I got the camera out they turned away. How could I resist a shot like this?

The alpaca were much smaller than I had expected. And much greasier. I suppose that that makes them much more water proof.

This fellow was the lone lama. He was larger than I expected. He was also so funny when you offered him something to eat. Every offering was inspected with a sniff before he delicately took it out of my hand. He also had really crooked teeth. Every time I walked by him, I handed him another bit of cabbage. I take my spitting lamas seriously.

And here he is with a couple of the goats. It's been a while since I had seen a goat and I forgot how creepy their eyes are.

And I had an anonymous commenter who said that there has been no spinning on my blog. This was said because I am part of Yarn Aboard and signed up for the spinning swap. There is a good reason for the lack of spinning content, and that is my lack of time right now, and my low level of spinning ability. Our studio head just came back from a weekend spinning retreat, and it was all that I could do not to hide in her suitcase. She had a great time and said that next year it is happening on PEI. I am definitely signing up for that one! I will hopefully be more organized next year at this time. Stop laughing! It's possible. Highly unlikely, but possible. In any case, it is one that I will aim for. And I didn't even mention the goodies that she brought back. Oh, my.
As for the low ability of my spinning, I have made arrangements with the spinning teacher for a few private lessons, but that is not until life has settled into a dull roar for both of us. Read: After Christmas. Two months until Boxing Day people! 9 more markets for me, and 7 weeks of classes. The kids are in school until Dec. 22 and don't go back until January 8 so we will have a couple of relaxing weeks after the big day.
So my anonymous swap buddy, you will see spinning, it might just be a little bit on my drop spindle to satisfy the urge that I know I will have when a BOX ARRIVES ON MY DOOR IN A FEW DAYS!!!!!!
I'm so excited! It's like Christmas two months early! I can hardly wait!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Where do I start?

And when do I get to stop?

Things here at OTTT are really getting busy. I think that I have never been so busy. Ever. It starts with the family. They always come first. Sort of. Then work and school and then getting product ready to sell. Sales have started to pick up a bit at market, but I need to weave more. What I really need is a few more hours in my day.

Here are a couple of picts from the Art Trek opening last weekend. My scarves and temari balls are cleverly displayed in the center of the room. There were 4 other artists and around 50 people that came and went that evening. As Maria, the Fredericton Arts Alliance director said of the opening "It wasn't an opening, it was a party!" Everyone had a great time and we, my family and I, left at about 9:30. Half an hour after the "opening" was suppose to end. Apparently there were some people were there much later. Basically, a good time was had by all. I even sold a scarf.

Last week I also put another warp on a loom at the college. More merino shawls. These turned out darker then I intended. You know that when you are tired, you get...well, lets just say, the brain cells don't fire as well as they could. In any case, I made this warp up (including a colapsing warping mill, but I'm NOT going to talk about that, just know that that is a BAD thing). So I go to dye this thing. For those of you who have been with me for a while, you have seen me dye a warp before. Plastic wrap, vinegar soaked warp down, apply dye, wrap warp, steam, rinse, repeat. It works great. If you don't forget a step. Like the vinegar. Sigh. So what happened was I decided to dye in the dye kitchen at the college, cause I could. Dedicated dye kitchen. I'm in heaven! But I digress. Warp made up. I decided to skip the vinegar soak part because I thought that I would spray the vinegar on with a spray bottle after I soaked up the excess dye. Less waste of vinegar. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I should have known better than to mess with established procedure. Live and learn.
So plastic wrap is down, warp is on it, dyes applied. Pooh. I forgot my rack for steaming at home. Steaming is not something that is taught now at the college and so they have no steaming racks. I live a few minutes away from the college and so home I jaunt to pick up my rack while my warp sits for its 30 minutes. All is right with the world. I get back and set up the pot, ready to steam. Wrap up my warp put it in the pot. Turn on the heat.....and then think %$#@%^&!!!! Forgot the vinegar. Have you ever tried to get wet plastic wrap to stick to itself? Add dyes and 312 inches (over 8.5 yards people) of warp. Wet, dye soaked warp. Not a pretty sight. Didn't sound very nice either.
I took three deep breaths, looked at my options, and dumped the whole thing in a pot with the correct amount of VINEGAR and just enough water to cover the yarn and called it a rainbow pot. Let it cook an hour and sit for two days to cool down and clear. The result is a beautiful (but very dark) warp. I am going to miss this yarn when it is all gone. And there was a lot of it. In any case, the shawl that is on the loom is a plain weave that is 28 inches wide. After the first shawl, I will cut it off, and re-sley it for a twill. I have it threaded in a rose path. I am going to do some experimenting with an 8 harness that I can use, but it was in use by a student when I was ready to warp, so went back to a good old standby on a 4 harness.

Sorry. I just realized that I am rambling. I guess that is what happens when I have three people talking at and around me while I am trying to share with all of you. Add sleep deprivation , and you have a recipe for a babblefest.

Oh, yeah. I also wove off my first chenille scarves of the season. They were fringed and washed and ready for the table this weekend. The two were a burgundy and dark chocolate colour and weave. I have three more chenille scarves on my loom at home that are tans and browns. The colours remind me of a seal. The kind with flippers.

And today at market I sold two scarves. Both pink off of the same warp! Who could have known. And to think that I was so tired this morning that I almost didn't go to market. Small soggy girl in the early hours of the morning contributed to that decision. I packed the car last night so felt that I had to go. Glad that I did.

And then, this afternoon, after market, I taught a dyeing workshop to 9 people. Most of them are coming back for stage 2 in two weeks. More about that when Karen sends me pictures. Let's just say that a good time was had by all!

Till then....

Monday, October 16, 2006

Comfort food

Saturday after market, I was feeling a bit tired and needy. O.K. I was feeling a lot tired. I had another one of those wake up at 3 am and not able to get back to sleep until it was time to get up and get ready for market. But I digress. In any case, I stopped at Victory (a small locally owned grocery store) and picked up the fixings for Scandinavian Chicken Salad. Comfort food if ever there was one. I know that the recipe looks long and involved, but it really isn't.

The following recipe came to the family with my husband, Bill. In as much as I know its history, it originated from a restaurant called Scanway, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was slightly modified by Bill. He eventually went to that restaurant once and tried their version after he had been making it for a couple of years, and, as is usually the case, it was not nearly as good as what he made at home.

Heart of the dish

2 chicken breasts
dry white wine
salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, celery tops, herbes de Provence
romaine lettuce (use iceberg lettuce in desperation only)
white rice (preferably basmati)
curry powder
green onion
whipping cream
plain yogurt
one can of mandarin oranges (in light syrup)
slivered almonds (not toasted!)
one large orange
english cucumber

Skin two chicken breasts and poach them in a 50:50 mixture of white wine and water. Also include two bay leaves, some thyme, rosemary, celery tops (the leafy bit), black pepper, salt, and herbes de Provence. Use a low heat for a long time so the chicken will be very tender.

Cook two cups of rice, preferably white basmati or some long-grained white rice. First rinse the rice several times with cold water to remove some of the soluble starch. Drain it well. Add two cups of water for the two cups of rice. Bring the rice to a boil over high heat and as soon as it begins to boil turn the burner to low. Simmer for 15 minutes and then turn off the burner and let the rice sit, covered, for another 15 minutes. When the rice is cooked, add about a third of a cup of butter, some curry powder, and one finely chopped green onion. You should use enough curry powder to give the rice a light flavour; it should kiss you with sweetness, not assault you with heat.

Prepare a sauce from a 50:50 mixture of plain yogurt and whipped cream. Carefully fold into the sauce some of the juice from the can of mandarin oranges until it has a light sweet flavour.

For this dish presentation is important so assemble the plate as follows. Prepare a bed of lettuce, romaine or iceberg. Spoon and shape a pile of rice on the lettuce. Break the chicken into small chunks (about the size of a mandarin orange section) and dot the top of the rice with chunks of chicken and mandarin sections. Spoon a generous quantity of the sauce over the chicken, orange, and rice. Garnish as follows. Take a slice from the centre of an orange and two slices of English cucumber. With one slice of cucumber on each side of the orange slice, split and twist the three of them and place in the centre of the sauce. Surround with a few sections of mandarin. Sprinkle with shaved almonds. I know there are no almonds shown in the picture. For me it's an allergy thing. As for the missing mandarins....ooops.

This dish is one that we all absolutely love. Even on the hottest day in summer this dish sits lightly on the stomach.

As given the recipe serves three. We double the recipe because there are six of us. Oh, and the stock you have left after poaching the chicken is a fantastic chicken stock for any use. As a starter for chicken soup it can't be surpassed.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


It has been three weeks since the Bug went out and never came back. She was 14 and in decline. She started loosing weight and eventually stopped eating. We think that she went off to die. No trace has ever been found. We think that she had hyperthyroid disease, and one of the side effects of this disease is potential heart attack.

I realized that I did not have very many pictures of her when I looked. I took a few when she was younger, but I soon came to discover that a black cat is hard to photograph. Especially if her eyes were closed.

I got her as a kitten. She was 7 weeks old and had been away from her mother since she was 4 weeks. She had been in two places by this time. Apparently the first fellow that had her was a heavy drinker and didn't feed her so the neighbour took her in. But this woman had two small and very active children and was concerned for the tiny kitten's safety. Enter me. I heard about her from a friend and went over to see her. She came right up to me and mewed. I took her right home. Because she had been taken from her mother so early she was a suckler. Big time. She had a litter of kittens when she was about a year old and funnily enough, she stopped suckling. She was a good mother.
When she was little, she liked to eat peanuts and raisins.
We moved several times and she always adjusted quite quickly. Even if there were other cats involved. In fact the first move we made together was in with a friend who had a cat about the same age. About three months old. After a week of hissing, I saw the two of them together on evening grooming each other. It was lovely. A few moves later, we ended up in a second story bachelor apartment right down town. Her outdoor days came to a halt. At this same time she some how injured her back. We had been living in the country and it might have been a kid, a car, or a cow. She never said. She had a cracked spine and was at the vets for about a week. They said that she would probably be fine if she managed to go to the litter box. Otherwise we would have to worry about kidney failure. She survived, but her jumping abilities were affected and she was always tender in her hind quarters.
She hated to be held like a baby.

Her first name was Hagel. Which came from the Norse ruin meaning a disruption in ones life. The summer that I was pregnant with Mira, there were an awful lot of small green lacewings that were flying around the apartment. She liked to eat them. LOVED to eat them. That summer her name slowly changed to Bug. She was a hunter of spiders and flies.
She was not a hunter of other things. Although she did once catch a bird, and once a bat. Both times, she brought the live creature to the foot of my bed and stared at it as if to say " OK. Now what?" The bird survived the encounter, but the bat didn't.
She never played with my yarns or fibers. I could wind a warp or a bobbin and she would just watch. Occasionally she would sniff.
She was a small cat and people were always amazed that she was so old.
She was a lap sitter. She loved to be on my lap. Any adults lap actually. She liked to have about two minutes of petting, and that was it. And if some unknowing person stroked too hard by her tail, she generally just hissed.
She liked butter. I have to say that I am not going to miss tongue marks in the butter.
Nor am I going to miss the litter box.
But I still keep seeing her out of the corner of my eye. Asleep on the couch, or curled up on the futon. Until the shape reveals itself to be a discarded kids sweater or cap.
Good bye dear Bug. I'm glad that we had 14 years together.

And to all of those who are wondering, No. I am not going to get another pet. Unless you count the spider in the bathroom.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fibre Content

What a surprise! Actual fibre and weaving in one post. Three new silk scarves in hot oranges and reds. The pattern is Gothic Cross from Marguerite Davidson's Handweavers Pattern Book. The book is definitely worth how ever much I paid for it all those many years ago. The scarves are not quite what I envisioned when I put them on the loom, but they will do and hopefully they will find new homes before Christmas. And on the loom now are a couple of chenille scarves. Rust and dark chocolate brown colour and weave. I have two more warps waiting in the wings to go on. One is greens and tans and the other kind of reminds me of the colour of a beagle's coat. Browns and tans. The warps are pretty. I hope the scarves are too.

I also dyed another merino warp for three shawls. Lots of fun there. Lots of mistakes too. One major one was forgetting the vinegar, Duhh. So I ended up dumping the whole thing in a pot and pretending that I was doing a rainbow type dye job instead of a painted, then wrapped and steamed type of dye job. It's a bit darker than I wanted, but still nice. I'll see how it looks on the loom.

Tomorrow is an opening for Art Trek '06, sponsored by the city of Fredericton. Various studios are open to the public and I am showing in one of the galleries on the tour. Hopefully I will have some pictures to share with you tomorrow evening, or at the latest, Saturday evening.

Until then...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bad house keeper or good hostess? (warning:spider ahead)

You decide.

This is my little friend. S/he lives in the bathroom. Just above the night light. At the corner of the cabinet. I am sure that s/he drives my mother-in-law crazy when she comes to visit. This spider has been in my bathroom for about a year now. Before that, her/his mother was there. I know that the previous one was female because she laid an egg sac and many little spiders came out. Most of those went outside, but I missed this one in the clean up and surprisingly enough, s/he has thrived. I mean, really, how much food is there in a bathroom? Every now and then, I try and throw some food her/his way in the form of a fruit fly, but I am not exactly what you would call a great waitress. But this little spider has a great capacity for patience.
A couple of years ago, a spider got caught between the kitchen window and the storm window (we live in an old house) just before freeze up. I didn't notice her until after the window had swollen shut ( this happens every fall when we start closing the windows and the humidity inside skyrockets. We can't open the kitchen window again until about June and even then it involves a hammer and some swearing) That spider lived for MONTHS in sub freezing temperatures with no food. S/he finally succumbed about March. What an amazing creature! And better yet they eat FLIES! And MOSQUITOES! And FRUIT FLIES! What's not to love? I know that some people have a real phobia about spiders and I have to admit that I have been startled by a few in my time, and actually, I'd give a tarantula or a black widow a wide berth, (I don't play in traffic either), but your little garden variety orb spider? If you are not a fly, you really have nothing to worry about. In any case, I hope that I have not scared you away. I promise that I will not speak of spiders again for... well.. it's been almost a year and this is my first spider post, so I will say that you are good for at least another 9 months spider free. Unless Louise from work really does bring me the HUGE spider in her garden. That one you will hear about!

My little friend is as yet unnamed. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Yup. Thanksgiving. We up here in Canada celebrate our Thanksgiving earlier than you down south. The harvest is earlier. The cold comes earlier. The snow flies earlier. So it works for us.

At this time, we are told to think about what we are thankful for.

For me, the list starts with my family. For my husband Bill, a great and wonderful man, I am truly thankful. Without him, I wouldn't have the kids that I have. I am thankful for my kids. They drive me crazy sometimes (as does Bill) but life without them would be sparse indeed. I am thankful for my parents. Wonderful people both. I am thankful that they live so close and that I can still call on them for help if needed. And my in-laws. No overbearing, bossy in-laws here. Just a great cohesive unit that is free with the love and sparse on the advice. And Grandma makes a mean pie. I am thankful for my sibblings. My sisters, Nicole(the larger) and Christine, both far away, and my brother, Von, nearby. And the much revered Uncle Sandy. Aunties and Uncles are a wonderful thing.

I am thankful to have a job and enough money coming into the house. Still can't afford the holiday in the Swiss Alps, but necessities are covered and there is a bit left over for "fun". I am thankful for my ability to create beautiful things and for having a place to sell them. I am also thankful to those who recognise the quality and are willing to pay for it. And of course, the Carleton Artist Market would not be the same without my fellow vendors. They are a great group of people. I am thankful to be a part of it.

I am thankful that I have a loom small enough to fit in my house. I am thankful for my teacher, Susan, who both nurtured my love of weaving and gave me this loom.

I am thankful that I have the ability to grow my own food. I am thankful that the kids will eat all of the pickles (including the LAST NINE JARS) that I put up this year. I am thankful that I am done pickling. Really done with the dills. I hauled them out by their little roots last week. Enough is enough! Well, I still have that green tomato chow, but that is a story for another day.

I am thankful for all of the trees in this city. It is a truly beautiful place to live. I am thankful that it is relatively crime free.

I am thankful for the Craft College and the students there. There are some truly creative ones and I find myself inspired at times.

I am thankful for my friends, both near and far. For those who I see seldom and those who I see often. I am thankful for all of the people who I have met through blogging. It amazes me how much you can care about someone you have never met face to face.

I am thankful that I live without TV. Soul sucking consumer driven box. Have you ever watched the kids channel? The adds are enough to give me a headache. No wonder kids end up wired and hyperactive. I am thankful Bill agrees.

I am thankful that all grandparents will be here today to squeeze around our table and share this day with us. I am thankful that there is wine in the fridge.

I could go on and on, but, you get the picture. There is one last thing that I am thankful for. I am thankful that I live in a peaceful country. May we always stay that way. Nuff said.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dye Kitchen

Here we have the dye kitchen at the craft college. I love working here. There is space and equipment enough to do what you need to do. There is both heat and ventilation. The only thing missing is a fume hood for mixing the dyes, but there is one in the studio next door that we have permission to use. You only see the first of two long tables that have been jacked up to be a comfortable height to work at standing up, as well as having storage shelves underneath. Thank you Joe for doing the modifications!

And here is where we are headed with our dye samples. These are some samples done by previous classes (except for the magenta colour gradation chart done this term). Actually, the colour triangle was done by Denise when she was in school and there are a few wrong colours. Apparently her class dyed 5 grams of fiber at a time. We are doing 30. It is easier to be off when you have small quantities.

And lastly is my latest dyepots. Upper left and lower right are 80% turquoise and 20% sun yellow, and 40% turquoise and 60% sun yellow respectively. The other two are wee rainbow pots one in blues and greens and one in reds and yellows. They are samples for felting class on Wednesday when we will be trying layering colours and then doing cut away.

As for weaving....I could put up the same picture of the loom that I took last weekend and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. No progress. But I have scheduled an hour today to weave. I'm going to put it in early in the day so that it will get done.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Not done

Just when I thought that it was safe to clean out all of the dead stuff from the garden, what to my wondering eyes does appear? But yet more cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers. Some dill and carrots and green onions too. Sigh.
I just can't let them rot. I know that I said that I could, but it is not in my nature to let good food go to waste. Well, there is occasionally the bit of buried treasure that finds its way to the back of the fridge, but we won't talk about that. Actually, I am thrilled to have some more tomatoes. There have been a few with bad spots, but nothing totally disgusting. I'm sure you know what I mean. There are enough green ones that they will ripen over the next few weeks and keep us supplied with fresh tomatoes for another few weeks. Bill said that he was in the lunch room at work the other day slicing a tomato and one of his coworkers mentioned the fact that he could actually smell the tomato. " You must have grown that tomato" he said." I can smell it! You can't smell store bought tomatoes" I never really noticed the smell before. The taste, yes. But the smell? No.

Mira also said that she wanted to make more dills. Why? I have no idea. But in any case, I said that if she does all of the prep work (read: wash cukes, dill, jars, pack everything into the jars, fill the pots with water, get all of the utensils out, etc.) That I would deal with the boiling water part. She went for it! So I guess that more dills are in the works. And there are enough green tomatoes left ( I forgot about the plum ones that were picked mostly green and have been ripening slowly, on a shelf, for our "sun" dried tomatoes. Dehydrator really, but who can tell the difference around here?) In any case, there looks like there are quite a few green tomatoes left and I think that they might be turned into chow. I've never had chow before, its a mustard allergy thing, but I have heard enough raves about chow that I am willing to try it once, sans mustard. The recipe calls for 16 cups of chopped tomatoes, but I am thinking that I could probably half it and be alright. Right?

So, who likes green tomato chow and what do you eat it with?

Oh, right. Fiber stuff. Cukes have lost of fiber! But seriously, I did some more sample dyeing this morning. Maybe you will get to see it tomorrow if I am having a hard time sleeping tonight.