Sunday, August 08, 2010

It is Done

After 17 years, I'm finally an honest woman. More to follow later.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


For those of you who don't like talk of mayhem concerning bugs....look away. Nothing for you here folks. Move along.

For the rest of you, I purchased some silk cocoons a couple of months ago. I got a kilogram. I know it would be a lot, but I didn't realise that it would be about two grocery bags full! I now have a lot of cocoons to experiment with! I gave a few away to one of the graduating students that expressed an interest in them but still have plenty left.
Last month I led a silk scarf dyeing workshop for which I mixed the dyes ahead of time. I wasn't sure which colours people would like, and I knew that I had at least 9 people and I wanted to make sure that no one ran out. I mixed way too much dye. There was a lot left over.
So dyed some warps and wefts. Enough for 16 scarves. And still there was dye left over!
I dyed some soy silk  and still there was dye left over!
So I searched around for something else to dye and found my cocoons! I dumped them straight in the bottles of dyes and added some of the dye fixative and shook. No pictures of this because my gloves were covered in dye by this time. The silk scarves need to sit for 5 days. I let my cocoons sit for 2 before realizing that they looked really dark. It was hard to distinguish the black from the green from the purple. The red was easy too pick out. I dried them out and they sat.
Then I did my residency in the very humid museum where I had my cocoons on display. Then I packed them up is a Ziploc bag and came home.
Bad idea as it turned out.
About a week later I was digging through my stuff and found my bag of cocoons. And they were MOLDY! ARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH! I brought them out side, washed them in the bag with the hose several times and decided that they must be dealt with right away. Grrrrrr.
Into the dye pot they went with some sythropol and baking soda. And they simmered for a while. And it smelled kind of gross.
Cocoons being rinse. they smell much better now.
But the good news was that all that boiling pulled a little of the dye out and I was able to distinguish the colours. Sort of.

They little pupa that did all the work. In the you tube videos I watched, the people giving the tours said that you could eat these guys. they were good and full of protein. I think I'll pass.
I guess that boiling them for a while wasn't quite long enough because I didn't managed to boil all of the sericin out of them. As a result, Mira, who helped with the stretching, and I managed to pull them into some pretty interesting shapes with interesting little lumps and bumps in them. I was amazed at how firm they still were and how had you had to pull them in order to stretch them out.
We pulled about 5 or 6 trays worth. She has already used some of hers in a small felt dress for a felted alien that she is making. Mine are still languishing waiting for me to put on my felting cap again. I am busy weaving and trying to breath in all this heat and humidity.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blanket weaving 2010

Last week I was fortunate to be able to conduct a workshop through EdVentures. EdVentures is a series of summer workshops that are run through tourism Fredericton. They are a half day to five days long and cover a huge variety of disciplines and interests.  Go check it out, I'll be here when you get back.

I taught a five day blanket weaving workshop geared towards beginner weavers. No previous knowledge necessary. I had only three students so it was easy to give them all individual attention.

We went over the basic parts of a loom and a quick word on the difference between plain weave and twill, point twill and straight draw. We did up warp calculation sheets and then ran down to the store to buy yarn. We started making warps that afternoon and finished Tuesday. I know how much time designing takes so I did up about a dozen designs on the computer and had the students chose which ones they liked the best.

Joanne like the plaid. She chose colours that were her daughters favorite with the intention of giving her the blanket when she was finished. She was rethinking her generous offer by the time that she actually started weaving.

Lise came from Quebec. Her sister lives in town and had told her about the EdVentures program and weaving was something that she had always wanted to try. She chose what I called a progression design. It started with one colour and gradually blends into a second colour before shifting into a third. Lise chose a dark blue, light blue, and white as here three colours.

Angela chose a point twill with different colour stripes at each of the different points. It took her the longest to warp because she had so many colour changes.

I told my students on Monday that I was going to work them hard. It is possible to weave a blanket in a week and that I knew that they could do it but that it was going to be a lot of work. And they all managed to cut off by 3:00 on Friday. It was a little tighter than I would have liked but we still had an hour to go over sewing in ends, fringing and washing.

And here we all are with our blankets! Because there were only three students, I though that I would have enough time to weave on too. I chose a point twill pattern and used some brown yarns from my stash. I have enough two ply worsted wool to weave another 20 blankets so didn't want to  buy any more. I also knew that if I didn't finish it would be easy for me to go back the next week and finish weaving it.
On Thursday afternoon, all of the people from the different workshops went around the school and talked about what they had done. Most of the other classes talked about the great music and conversations that they had been enjoying. I felt bad for my students because there was very little conversation and no music. We were all counting and didn't want to be distracted. First counting the warp colour changes, then counting the heddles while threading, and then counting treddles and/or colour changes while weaving. After everyone cut off, they all started laughing and talking and I felt much better.  And everyone was pleased. It was a successful week!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Remember ......


This past weekend we went to the lake. While picking up provisions at the grocery store, it was impossible to miss that watermelon were on sale.
And seeing as we had a watermelon.......
And seeing as it was a hot day.....
And seeing as the desired wardrobe was bathing suits.....
And seeing as there was a large body of water nearby.....
I was the first
Liam quickly followed and did his best to look goofy. 12 year old boys are a strange thing.
Simon loved the helmet and wore it often for the remainder of the weekend.
The true ham in the family.
Here she is singing in to the "microphone"
I'm cute and I'm not afraid to use it!

Mira wanted nothing to do with the melon helmet. Instead she covered herself in mud.

Poor Bill. His head was too big to get into the melon helmet so he had to content himself with stripping paint off the porch. We were having a wee contest to see who could peel the biggest swath of paint off and I think  that this monster will be a hard one to beat!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I feel like I should be posting

And really I probably should. I have been doing things. All sorts of things. I just haven't felt much like writing about them. A lot of them should have been photographed, but that really didn't happen either.
In sort of the right order.......
I have been to Liam's year end review. He was in Cadets this year and he really enjoyed it.

We planted the garden. Mostly the same stuff as always with the addition of brussel sprouts. Or brussel stench as Mira calls them. There is a lot of weeding to be done, but that is also nothing new.

I attended the Craft College graduation cerimonies. Where Rachel, Celine, Katie, and Jessica all marched up in their caps and gowns and were presented with  their Diplomas. Congradulations all! I am so proud of you!

I did a stint as an artist in residence. It was in a different location than last year and I didn't like it nearly as much. Thankfully the renovations that caused the move are going to be complete and we will be back in the regular spot next year.

I heard Nicole's choir sing at the retirement party for her school principal. They all performed really well and we were able to duck out before the speeches began. Sorry for the blurry photo but with other peoples kids I think blurry is better.
I taught a silk scarf dyeing workshop for my weaving group. We all had a great time but I didn't take any pictures. (slaps own hand)

UPDATE: I had forgotten that I had dyed a scarf myself at the workshop! I found it in it's hiding place and rinsed it out and here it is! Still wet. It was a quick pattern (simple knots) with different greens on each segment. I am rather pleased at how it turned out.

Before I finished work for the summer, I took advantage of the nice warping mill at the school and made up about 6 warps. With some of the dye left over from the workshop, I dyed some of them and some will wait until later. The dyes that we used are fibre reactive dyes that only last a very short time once they are mixed up.
And I also dyed some some soya silk sliver. It looks and feels like silk so we will see how it spins up.
 One of the reasons that I have been neglegent about posting is that I have been suffering from sinus problems for more than a year. I have some good days and some bad days. On the bad days, I feel like my brain is full of fluff and I have sinus pressure. On the good days, I feel almost normal. I have tried two different courses of antibiotics, and various types of nose sprays as well as allergy medications and x-rays to see if there were any strange growths in there. Nope. I am now waiting to see an EMT.  Here's hoping that I get the call soon.

I am weaving a series of 4 silk noil scarves right now. I am finding it hard to find the time to do much weaving because there is always so many other things that are clammoring to be done first. I am not selling anything anywhere this summer so my first big show is Labour Day weekend, and then nothing until November and December, so I guess that the weaving isn't really yelling all that loudly at this point.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I have finished my yardage that I started a few months ago. It wasn't that complexity of the weave structure that held me back (easy huck lace) nor lack of materials (yards and yards of hand dyed silk noil), nor anything else except for the nasty lack of time. Laundry, dishes, floors, homework, and a pathetically small amount of gardening meant that my yardage warp (really only about 3 meters) sat on the loom for a couple of months. It didn't help that the loom is set up in a room just outside of children's bedrooms and so I can't very well beat away on the loom after settling them down for the night. If it didn't get done before bedtime, it didn't get done. Couple all of that with a sense of tiredness and general lack of well being and you have a sadly languishing warp.

But it is all better now and it is (even better) off the loom. This is yardage that is suppose to be for a short boxy jacket. It is a very simple construction and hopefully won't take as long to complete as the yardage itself did.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Who knew?

So, there I was. In  the local liquor store. It was my birthday the next day and I though that I would pick up a bit of libation. A gal is only the answer to the question of life the universe and everything once, RIGHT?
We picked up a nice bottle of white wine. There was also a bottle of bubbly that looked good. And a couple of beers for good measure. And off we head to the cash. Where I spy this......
Melon Head.
Did you SEE the picture? I couldn't resist!
Yes. That is a cat. In a melon hat. A rather pissed off cat in a watermelon hat.
Yes. There was a surprising hint of melon in the beer. Melon beer! Who knew? Every sip I took was a new discovery. Every time I was surprised by the melon.
I couldn't drink a lot of these in one sitting (too weird) but it was rather enjoyable.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Happy Birthday

To ME! Here you see my birthday dinner. From the center and then clockwise starting at 12 o'clock, Chicken Korma, Turka Dal, Tomato raita, Potatoes, peas, and carrots with cumin, radish cacumber relish, tomato and cucumber salad, curry rice.
I have to say that I really LOVE Indian curry dinners.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to all of the Mothers out there. Especially the one we call Mamoo!

I had a pretty good day. I slept in. Had breakfast made for me. Was able to thread most of my next warp. Has a bath that was relatively uninterrupted (a miracle in itself!). And had a lovely supper.

Scandinavian Chicken Salad. I posted the recipe here.  It was one of the first things that Bill made for me and it had been a family favorite ever since.

Mira also made me a cake. It was a Lightening Cake. So called because of the speed with which it can be whipped up. She had her friend over and the two of them were reading the recipe together. As in one would read one bunch of instructions and the other would read the next. Surprisingly enough, this resulted in a few mix ups and the cake wasn't constructed as quickly as advertised.

She then had fun with icing.
This was her first venture into cake decorating and the plan was to try and experiment with as many tips as there were. Colour mixing was also explored.
I likened it to a coral reef gone amuck. The cake was tasty, but I have to admit that the icing was a little over the top.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fibre Arts Retreat!

It seems that I have been rather neglegent in posting for the past month. I have been busy though.

One of the highlights of the month was the trip that my buddy S and I took to the Maritime Fibre Retreat in Nova Scotia. It was at Oak Island Resort and we had a blast!

On the trip down we made a couple of stops. The first was at London Wul (sic) outside of Moncton. Ohhhlala! Heidi's place is crammed with all sorts of goodies of the fibre variety. I picked up and carried around a bunch of yarns and fleece before coming back to reality and putting half of them back.

I love this wall of colour
 Our next stop was Amherst to see Deanne Fitzpatrick's Rug Hooking Studio. I am afraid that I dropped the ball and didn't get any photos, but it was worth seeing. Colour Colour Everywhere!

When we made it to the hotel were the retreat was taking place, we quickly signed in, dropped off our bags in the room, and got straight to spinning. I hardly stopped all weekend. While I have been busy doing things, one of the things that I have not been doing (along with blogging) has been spinning. It was great to sit and spin and sip tea and chat.

S and I set up across from each other and got right to work. You can see the top part of Victoria in the photo above.
The first thing that I had to do was to ply my yarn that had been on the bobbins for a while. This is a blend of 80% merino, 10% nylon, and 10% cashmere that I bought at the spinning retreat in the fall and dyed myself. One skein is 275 yards, the other is 146 yards.

And then I started to spin my hand dyed merino. And I spun and I spun and I spun. 241 yards and 175 yards. I even managed to ply them before the end of the weekend!

And that was a feat because there was so much going on! Spinning, of course, but also weaving on a rigid heddle loom, quilting, knitting, needle felting, tatting, and lots of hooking! There was even a woman who was doing rope work on a bottle! Did I get a picture? No. I was busy spinning.

I met Janet of High Fibre Diet. It was actually a bit of a funny moment. She was chatting away with one of her neighbours and said something about her and her mother teaching weaving, and I said "Wait a minute! Are you High Fibre Diet?" She looked at me and said "yes" and I replied "one thread two thread!" Did I get a picture? No. I was busy spinning.

At one point, there was a gathering of people looking at someone's feet. Susan's maybe? In any case, she does all of her heels like this. Pretty fancy! She described how she did it and it made sense, but did I mark it down? No. I was busy spinning.
But I didn't spend the entire time spinning. The kids wanted me to "pick up" something so I went for a wee walk on the beach. I found shells and beach glass and seaweed. Guess what souveners I picked up for the kids?

The trip was a really good time and even better, really reasonably priced. I almost feel guilty saying that the whole thing (not including gas and all the stops along the way) was only $169. And that included the room for two nights, the fee associated with the retreat, two buffet breakfasts and one really kick-ass supper. The resort had a pool, sauna, and hot tub, all of which I made good use. The view was spectacular and the staff was great. The only one downside was that Saturday night there was an awards dinner in a conference room really close to our room. There were drunken hockey players and karaoke. Need I say more. Thankfully they finished at 1 and were all gone by about 1:20. But still.

All in all, it was a great time and I am looking forward to doing it again next year!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I love weaving

I noticed this the other day when I was winding a skein to dye some weft. I thought that it expressed the way that I feel about yarns and fibres in general. Although it seems lately that I have been having a hard time getting things done. And an even harder time getting things documented. Couple that with kids that have pretty much taken over my computer and you have a serious lack of posting.
Spring is here though. About a month earlier than it normally is so I hope that means that I will soon be taking more pictures and feeling more like blogging.
Right now, my WIP are numreous. I have hand dyed merino/cashmere/nylon on the wheel. I am almost done spinning and can soon start plying. I just have to finish that last little bit of spinning. Hmmmm.

Also there are two pairs of socks on needles. One pair was the left over yarn form the pair that I knit for Liam and I thought that there might be enough to get most of a second pair, but alas, no. SO I just have to dig in my stash to find something  that will go with the mostly dark blue yarn that I dyed a couple of years ago. They will not be prefect, but they will be warm.
Not much yarn left on the left eh? Thank fully they are at the same place right now so I can make them look like an eccentric pair. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it.

The other pair of socks is with Lornas Laces yarn that I won in a draw a few years ago. I had started a couple of pairs of lace socks but lace needs too much attention for me to knit successfully. These are plain jane socks that will be pretty and that is good enough for me for now.

I also have a warp on the loom. More about that later but here is a sneak peek.

And lastly I have felt vessles in various stages of compleation or experimentation.
Add to that a couple of application forms that I need to fill out and TAXES (ick) and general family life and I'm finding that I have little time or energy left for blogging.
Here's hoping that the spring will change all of that.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Call for Help

My friend D of Hobbits, Home and Abroad is also a Phd student who is looking for information. It is a survey that is geared towards people who use a different computer at work and at home. I took the survey ( I am not generally a survey taker) and it was relatively painless and only about 20 minutes.
If this is you (different computer at work and home) and you have a few minutes to let D know about your computer use habbits, go ahead and helpout.

Here is the link to the survey.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

lost and found

I don't even remember when I started these silly things. If I wanted to search through my archives, I am sure that I could find them because I remember proudly stating that I was going to knit a pair of mittens in a time that could be measured in months, if not weeks, instead of the usual years.

Famous last words.

Oh. So I looked in the archives and it was worse than I thought. Here is my original entry about these mittens. Go look at the date. I'll wait for you.

Did you see the photo of the mittens? Did you see the state that they were in? Did you do the math and figure out how long they have been languishing in their project bag?

Well, they are finished now. I must have traded the needles for a smaller set (presumably to hold the stitches) because if you look at the thumbs, they are two different sizes. So are the mittens, really. Not my finest effort, but they are finally FINISHED!

The other knitting projects on the archived page are no longer around.  The hat and socks are finished and are being worn. I'm wearing the hat and Liam is wearing the socks.

Alas, the shawl is no more. I made so many mistakes and I really didn't like the way that the colours were shifting and pooling. So I frogged it back and it is now a ball. I really like the pattern of the shawl so I think that I will someday knit the fool thing. I think that I have almost 3 years to reach my self-inflicted deadline. So at this point, my goal is achievable.

And what else is languishing on needles in various bags around the house? All that I can think of is two pairs of socks and a pair of mittens. I have at least four things that are in the queue to go on the loom, but that is a story for another day.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Close Ups

As requested, here are a few close ups of a couple of my pots.

In the first few classes I threw two basic forms. One was belly forms that looked sort of like a honey pot in the Winnie the Pooh stories. Back a hundred years ago when I was a student, it was one of the forms that I enjoyed throwing. I made a number of mugs like this but over time they left my life in various ways. Some walked away in the hands of friends. Some were abused and eventually died. And a couple succumbed to temperature shock.
Here is the last one that I have. It was one of the ones that succumbed to temperature shock. There is a hairline fracture on one side so it has been holding toothbrushes for the last 10 or so years. 

I had fun decorating around the handle. I seem to recall that we had a workshop with a fellow named John Glick who showed us some fun decoration techniques that he used. I really wish that I had taken more photos of some of my pottery from this time. Most of the pottery ended up in the hands of others, and none of it was documented. I was still in the delusional land of "I made it once, I can make it again". At the time I didn't understand how children change things.

Oh, the lessons we learn.

Now I know, just because you can do something doesn't mean that you will.

My forms this time around were not quite the same. And as I said, I had forgotten (or didn't take into account) the whole shrinkage thing.  The little blue pot is 3 inches where the brown mug above is a respectable 4.25 inches. I was also in a bit of a rush and didn't really want to take the time to make handles. These cups would have had to be espresso cups anyway.
The second type of form that I concentrated on were bowls thrown off the hump.

The basic idea of this type of throwing is that you put a big chunk of clay on the wheel and center only the top of it. You then throw your bowl and cut it off the hump. The top part of the clay is centered again and the next bowl is thrown. This continues until the clay is all used up.

Here is one of my hump bowls.
I started to scratch words into my hump bowls. This one says "Truth". The glaze is one that doesn't  show up the words at all. Chris, the teacher, said that he was very interested in using "safe" glazes. And by that he means glazes that don't run too much and muck up the kiln shelves. I understand this totally, having seen what runny glazes that were over-applied by inexperienced people can do to a kiln shelf.

This is the one glaze that actually shows the words. I really like it but it is not the glaze that I would like to have on all of my pots. I would like a celadon. Which is basically a clear glaze with a little colour that shows up words and/or throw marks really well.
This cup says "Oh Dear". The reason for this was that it was still a little bit wet when I was trimming and I gouged the foot a bit. So...."Oh Dear.....I goofed"