Photos at the bank

Way back about a year or so ago, I got my name on a list for showing art at a local bank. They got in touch with me a couple of weeks ago – I had totally forgotten! – and so as of yesterday, my collection of Dutch Master inspired photographs is now hanging at TD Bank on Triangle Street in Amherst, MA for the next month.

This turned out better than I’d hoped. ūüôā

It’s been a stupidly busy and exhausting few months. I’m chalking it up to the pandemic and the ongoing house hunt (which has been made far more stressful by the pandemic). Making has not been happening, which just makes me more exhausted. I know I’m not the only one – we’re all exhausted. Of course, the election is also adding to the pervasive existential dread of the year.

About a month ago, I did finish (finally, a year later) the grey-with-a-red-stripe dishtowels I had started. I ended up with eleven total, and I chose the six best, packed them up, and mailed them off. They arrived on the couples’ one year anniversary, so that was getting it in just under the wire! I am not sure what I will do with the others I have. I might add them to my online shop, or I might keep them. I will take some pictures soon and post them here.

For any of you who may be reading this and are wondering about my shop, I’ve got it on hold at the moment. I haven’t had time to take decent photos of the towels, and to be honest, I’d really like to redesign my shop. So, if you see anything on this site that you think you might like to buy, you can email or comment.

Weaving anything new is on hold at the moment as I’ll be moving, house purchase or no, elsewhere around the end of the year. My big loom may end up in a friend’s studio or in storage – it’s not yet clear. I hadn’t been spinning for months because of the weather. It was just too warm, and the tamoxifen-induced hot flashes meant my hands got all sweaty, which is a terrible thing for unspun fiber. It isn’t at all clear if I’ll have room to spin where I’ll be moving to if I can’t find a house in the next couple of weeks. Things are so uncertain. However, at some point in the future, I will have a place of my own, and then I’ll be able to make All The Things again.

Stay safe, everyone. Hang in there. Make things if you can. But also definitely rest if you need to.

Balky Farm

May was a very busy month. One of the highlights was a trip to Balky Farm in Northfield, MA to watch the sheep shearing and get first dibs on the freshly shorn fleeces. Last year, the weather was perfect: blue skies, a gentle breeze, birds chirping, a warm spring sun…this year, it was freezing cold, very windy, and flurried for most of the day. The few of us from our spinning group who showed up huddled in the barn out of the wind, but did go back to sit in the car to thaw every couple of hours.

If things hadn’t been so restricted by the coronavirus, we would have planned to bring a few thermoses of hot drinks to pass around. Alas!

The barn is large and spacious. On shearing day, some portable gates were set up to hold the sheep.

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Before!

Then the shearers – there were three of them – would ask for another sheep, and a farm hand would let one out. The shearer would carefully lead the sheep to the shearing platform and kind of wrangle it over onto its side and then its back, keeping the head up. I have heard that you can’t keep a sheep on its back for too long because its insides get rearranged in a really awful way for the sheep later. So, the shearer has to be careful to work quickly when starting as the first cuts are at the belly. When the belly wool has been shorn, the sheep is moved to her side and shearing continues there.

On the right is Kevin Ford, an international sheep shearing champion (though I do not know what prizes he has won), shears his sheep with hand shears. No electricity, no motors, nothing to freak the sheep out. Everyone stays calm. The two shearers on the left are Kevin’s apprentices, and I’ve totally forgotten their names. (If someone knows, please let me know!) There were 60+ sheep this year to be shorn, and it was expected to take at least a couple of hours, but we were told the shearers arrived about 7:30ish and they didn’t leave until about 1pm.

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After! Nekkid sheeeeeeep!

However! Having arrived at the farm about 10am, we got to see plenty of sheep being shorn. And, maybe the best part, we got to see each fleece up close and personal immediately after it came off the sheep!

There were lots of white sheep, but also lots of colored sheep. And I have a thing for grey wool. I honestly do not remember if the two fleeces I bought are any of these in the picture, but they were all purchased. The breeds are all mixed, but mostly they’re Shetland/Finn with sometimes some obvious Cheviot or a touch of Romney. They’re SO soft.

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This one just kept staring at me and chewing its cud. I felt so judged.

I ended up with a light grey (very like the one on the right in the picture above), and a dark grey, almost charcoal in spots. They’re both stunning, and I can’t wait to wash them and spin them up. There’s So. Much. Going. On. (I sometimes with there were an extra 6 hours in every day.)

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Our haul. Our cars smelled luxurious on the way home.

These fleeces are not expensive. We tried to pay more for them, and hopefully, next year the shepherd, Stewart, will charge more. The fleeces he doesn’t sell to hand spinners he sends off to a mill on Prince Edward Island. There, the fleeces are scoured, carded, spun, and woven into blankets. I love this so very much. (Almost to the point where I want to set up a mill to do the same thing here in New England. Anyone got some money they want to invest? Oh we have mills in the New England that will wash, card, and spin, but none that also weave.)

When I got home, I really couldn’t wait, so I washed up a few small handfuls I picked from various spots on the lighter grey fleece I bought. I wanted to see if there was a lot of variation. And, well, I just wanted to spin up some samples.

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The perfect grey.

More about that in a future post!

Catching up

So, I failed to write anything since the first week or so of April. Which is surprising because it’s not like I wasn’t busy! And while I did take pictures, I don’t remember all the details, but let me just give you some pictures anyway as highlights of what I’ve been up to! I will post additional catching-up entries as well.

My bread has been improving steadily. I would say that it is bakery-quality now, which pleases me very much. The favourite in the house is cinnamon raisin, though I do make a plain one, adding a bit of coarse rye for added flavour, that I like to eat. Since I don’t eat a ton of bread all the time, I slice that one and keep it in the freezer, then when I want some, I take out a slice and pop it in the toaster. The results of that keep reminding me that I have got to make grilled cheese with it at some point because I think it would be so, so good. (I have got to learn to make cheese, too.)

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April 18th. Out of nowhere came snow. Kinda pretty though, eh?

Snow just means either “time to go skiing” or “yay! indoor projects!” Skiing was still out of the question. Drat?

See what I mean? They look really good! I’m pretty happy with my bread progress. So happy that I ended up wanting to eat quite a bit of it. With butter. That is spreadable. Which meant finding my butter keeper. But alas! It is so well packed away that I couldn’t find it without completely unpacking all my kitchen stuff, which would be…a whole other project I don’t yet need to get into.

So I did the next best thing: I bought one. When I finally find a place of my own, I will either donate it to someone who needs one, or I will keep it and use both that I now own.

It was still at the beginning of the pandemic restrictions (no, they haven’t really changed at the writing of this entry…states are trying to ‘reopen’ but then they’re finding that outbreaks are occurring, so they’re closing again…), but a local shop was doing curbside service, so I ordered one sort of via email and the phone and picked it up literally on the curb outside the shop. I really like this shop – the service is great and they have a good variety of kitchen tools. (Plus, I worked there a lifetime ago.) Yay for soft, spreadable butter!

I’d been practicing gamba regularly:

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Six strings! Gut strings! So many strings!

But I’m sorry to admit that after a few weeks, I stopped again. Practicing two instruments while working a full time job and having other very time-consuming hobbies made it slip off my daily list. Also, I no longer had a class to go to. When I started cello, I knew I was going to need lessons, both for instruction (which is, yes, super important) but also for a person to be answerable and accountable to. I had tried to teach myself to play the harp a billion years ago, and practice was…irregular. I did try, but since there was no one to be accountable to, it didn’t stick. On top of that, there was no one to play with, which is what I think I was aiming for without knowing it.

I still have the gamba in my possession for the moment. When the university figures out what it’s doing, I’ll give it back. Or maybe start another class. We’ll see. I still want to learn to play it. I just need to figure out a practice schedule. Maybe.

One of the best parts of living where I do right now:

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Someone decided to hang out with me while I was practicing. Awwww!

Bread, yarn, German cuisine…and Nutella.

It does not seem like I last posted only two weeks ago. It seems like maybe six weeks ago. Staying at home…working from home…not leaving the house…all this seems to be playing with my sense of time. Which might not be a bad thing? I like routine, to be sure, and schedules are important so that I actually get things done, so I am so grateful to be able to work from home. But not having the same routine I’ve had for years is making me pay more attention to the detail of the overall shape of my day. It’s interesting.

In any case, I’m still on the Bread Experiment. Guys, I have baked some really awful bread. The first couple loaves were okay. The third loaf was pretty good. The fourth loaf had holes so large, not even cheese stayed on. There was more empty space than bread in that one. The fifth loaf was so bad, I think I’ve eaten maybe two slices from it, and it’s still on the counter and no one else has touched it. (It’s going out for the birds tomorrow.) And then….!

Yesterday, after a few days of No Bread and Extreme Frustration at Baking, I decided to try again. I had mixed some leaven the night before and I left it until late morning to use any of it for a new loaf. This time, I replaced 50g of AP flour with some coarse ground rye, because…I dunno. I’ve heard that rye is good at promoting starter growth, it’s got good microbial stuff. So, okay. I thought maybe this would help my dough and the finished crumb. The result was a very, very wet dough, because, I suspect, the rye didn’t absorb as much moisture as the AP flour, and I didn’t know this would happen because I am a Bread Baking Newbie. I stretched and folded, but not really according to any set schedule, just as I thought of it. And when about 7:00pm rolled around, I decided it was time to bake it. I very gently folded and shaped the loaf. OMG so carefully and gently. And because it was so very soft, I put it in a Dutch oven and ended up having to snip the dough with shears rather than score it. A razor blade won’t even do it. This dough was so wet, I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to amount to an edible loaf at all.

BEHOLD! Pretty liquid-like dough. And the resulting loaf was not at all what I had expected. This time, the holes are small enough to not let much Nutella or brie drip through!

I tell you, I was so surprised. My housemates have practically showered me with compliments.

This is today’s loaf. So, because the last one was so wet and I have not been able to score any of the loaves properly even with a razor blade, I thought about adding more flour or reducing the water. For this one, I reduced the water by 50g, and boy was it dry. But this one was started last night with leaven I had started yesterday morning. I think I managed to stretch and fold once before bed (so. dry.), and then I just put it in the fridge until this morning. Miraculously, the dough was so much nicer and Not Dry. (Not sopping wet either, though.) Then, sometime this morning late, I started stretching and folding, again without any set schedule. I think there might have been an hour or so in between S&Fs, and after four times, I just stopped. About 4:30ish, I shaped it very gently, preheated the oven, and put it in the Dutch oven. Still unable to score it – argh! I wanted a firmer loaf so I could score it! Why is it not firm enough? – I snipped with kitchen shears and put it in to bake. Today’s loaf is on the left in the picture above, compared with yesterday’s loaf on the right. It’s a little lighter, but still looks gorgeous, doesn’t it? I suspect it’ll also be tangier due to the longer proofing time (overnight). The dough certainly smelled tangy when I put it in the oven.

The moral of the story is: neglected sourdough probably results in pretty good bread.

In other news, I am still spinning that grey fleece.

I plied those two bobbins I talked about last time. I have no idea how many yards I have – I still need to measure – but there’s¬†a lot. I’m okay with how this turned out, except there’s a lot of energy in one of the skeins, which I think means I put too much twist in the singles.¬†Sigh. Probably it’ll be fine, but the next two bobbins I’m spinning with slightly less twist in the hopes that the resulting yarn will be a bit fluffier – maybe not too fluffy because I want to weave with it. I think. (I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m mostly considering this fleece to be practice yarn. But we’ll see.)

The spinning guild is going up to the farm in Northfield where I got this fleece to get more fleeces in May, so I need to make ROOM.

I’ve been cooking, too! I don’t know why, but I wanted Sp√§tzle so badly, and I wanted to share it with the house. I ate K√§sesp√§tzle so often when I lived in Germany. The noodles are available for basically pennies there, but the last time I looked, the same bag of noodles is sold here for $8 at the grocery store. The sad part is that it’s dead easy to make from scratch. SO EASY.

When I was in Germany last visiting my dear friends Eva and Martin, I asked Eva if she had a good recipe for Sp√§tzle as I hadn’t made it before, and she ended up pressing a whole book of Sp√§tzle recipes into my hands with the promise that I’d use it. I picked up a Sp√§tzle press at the grocery store there, too.

Yup. So easy. So delicious. I cooked up a huge amount, and it was enjoyed by all. Of course, to be more authentic to my college days, I also opened a bottle of cheap red wine, and we all had a little with supper. (It was really awful wine – I mulled it later and it’s much improved as well as being without alcohol now. Woo!) Anyone who wants to know how to make Sp√§tzle from scratch, let me know. I can send you a recipe, and if you’re nearby, we can get together and I’ll show you how it’s done (when we’re not all under quarantine, of course). These noodles were made with AP flour and duck eggs. I think I want to try it with a little semolina flour and put some fresh herbs in too. YUM.

And of course, I am making masks so that my housemates and I are as safe as we can be when we are out shopping for groceries. The New York Times had an article on which fabrics have been shown to be adequate. The suggestion was good quality quilter’s flannel and heavy quilting cotton. I chose batik – it’s a fairly high thread count, and it seemed to be the only cotton I had that (gulp, I hate to admit it) I felt I could sacrifice. (Yes, much of my cotton is earmarked for projects.)

Flannel on the left, batik and some other quilter’s cotton on the right.

I haven’t quite finished them yet. I still have a couple with the swirly green fabric and blue flannel to sew up. I did cut elastic for them, but I’m thinking I’ll just make bias strips and make ties.

But I’m trying not to think about making masks and why too much right now. The news as well as the certain level of ignorance and not-critical thinking in people online right now have made me angry, so I’m trying hard to spend a little while concentrating on crafty stuff. Stuff that makes me happier. And Nutella. There’s not a lot that chocolate + hazelnuts cannot help.

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I am prepared for so much bread in my life.

(I understand there are people who dislike hazelnuts and/or chocolate. I am not one of those people. Not even a little.)

How are you? What have you been making?

Definitely not bored.

So the seams of the world are starting to come apart. Things are weird, everyone agrees. We’re all living in a dystopian science fiction novel, and very probably, nothing will ever be the same. I am hoping there will be a silver lining for the United States when the worst is over: universal healthcare, better welfare, less emphasis on capitalism, more emphasis on helping everyone. We are all human and we are all in this together; this life on this planet.

But. That is not the topic for right now. Right now, I want to blather on about all the things I am doooooing! (Or trying to do.)

When it looked like the proverbial sh*t was going to hit the fan and the BossMan declared we should all work from home for the foreseeable future, I drove over to my friendly baker and asked for a cup of sourdough starter. The bakery is LOVELY and they want to encourage people to bake bread, because they’re makers and makers want to encourage other people to make. I also got 12 pounds of bread flour. I figured while I was working from home, I could also wait for bread dough to rise, and learn the ways of baking sourdough bread. (The crew at the bakery agreed this was a most noble cause.)

I’ve been eating a LOT of bread.

Behold the leaven made from the starter!

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This sat on the counter all night – 100g of it will be used to make the bread dough. IT’S ALIVE!!

My first loaf looked so promising right up until it came out of the oven…

So weirdly crooked. I have no idea why it does that – I’m still learning how to do this and what it all means.

Loaf #1 compared with loaf #2. The second loaf was baked at a slightly cooler temperature. I cut the first loaf right open as soon as it was cool. Lots of holes!

But, as oddly as I thought this bread looked, it tasted WONDERFUL. So, success! Of course, I kept going:

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Loaf #3. So. Tasty. And slightly denser, which holds in the Nutella more easily.

Today’s bread:

Which I had high hopes for! But, the oven was slightly too high, and it’s a lot darker than I wanted, and very tall. (No picture yet…) I’m positive it will taste wonderful. Positive.

I’m going to need more flour soon. This is very compatible with working from home. The schedule isn’t strict – I can get up and have a five minute break to go stretch and fold or shape a loaf.

So, a friend gave me the basic recipe, but she got it from the book Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, which was recommended to me by the baker at Henion Bakery in Amherst, MA. (Where you should totally go for all your bread and pastry needs!) I failed to get the book, and up until now, didn’t have the time/circumstance to learn about baking bread. My friend did – she was frustrated, so amassed knowledge and then practiced for a year. I will totally buy that book when I have the opportunity!

A few weeks ago, I was working on another project. It was cold, still below freezing at night and above freezing in the day. I have a bucket and spile, and there is a line of totally tappable maple trees in the front yard. Of course I tapped one. Of course, I totally forgot to take pictures of the bucket on the tree – it’s a big bucket.

It was bit complicated. For a week, I got a lot of sap – about 5 gallons – which I did not expect, and at the weekend, I started boiling. Twelve hours of boiling later, it was almost there, and I sat down to supper. Unfortunately, I should have stayed by the pot because I missed it by about 3 minutes. Smoke rose from the pot, it had cooked to just about the hard crack stage. People, if you’re boiling sap and you get down the the end, for goodness’ sake, stay by the pot and watch it. I had to throw it all out. But! I left the spile and bucket on the tree for another week, and amazingly got another two and a half gallons of sap. At the weekend, I boiled again.

I did stop short of actual syrup. It’s more like maple juice, and still in the fridge. I think this weekend, I’ll pour it back in a (smaller) pot and cook it down some more. Watching it very closely.

I also had supper with my dear neighbours from when I lived in Hatfield!! I miss them so, they are such kind people. And they have the most beautiful fish!! I got to see them in their huge tanks – they’re so beautiful, I’m awfully tempted to plan my own tank one day.

They’re discus fish, about 4″ across. Sooo beautiful.

Aaand, on with projects.

It’s spring, and my spinning guild has plans to visit at least two farms this year for fleeces. I still don’t have a single whole fleece spun up. So I’m determined to try to get as much of the two Shetland fleeces spun up as I can. The tendonitis is so much better and I can wield the combs again and spin.

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Lovely hand-combed Shetland top! Sooo soft!

Combing is slow because this fleece has some dandruff, and I’m having to brush it out first. Some bits are faster than others, but it’s mostly slow. However, the results are so wonderful to spin.

This is as of this morning! I’m planning on plying this weekend. Other crafty friends of mine and I were planning another Crafternoon – people show up at one of our houses, sit around with crafty projects to work on, eat snacks, and chat. Or just work on projects, sitting quietly working and not talking like a room full of cats. Well, in light of the corona virus, we can’t do that. But we can get together virtually, so a bunch of us are going to try it out with video chatting and see how that goes. I’m really looking forward to it.

I have been in the house for two weeks – my brother came down with something that was suspiciously like the symptoms of the corona virus about a week ago, and I had hung out with him a week before that, so I stayed home. It turned out that his oldest daughter had been sick with a different virus at college a couple of weeks before, but hadn’t said anything until just recently. So. I’m safe. And today was the last day of the two week quarantine anyway. Tomorrow, I am going to venture out for a few groceries and maybe try to get some stamps at the post office. Maybe not. Things are weird out there.

And finally, I realized that my ‘home office’ right now is pretty great. Here’s the view:

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Yep, it’s messy. But it’s full of sunlight and craftiness! The only thing that’s missing is the pot of tea. I had drunk that earlier.

I have heard many people say that they are bored in their self-isolation at home. This is not a thing I can relate to. If anything, I no longer have to commute anywhere, so I have nearly a whole extra two hours in the day that I can devote to practicing cello or gamba, or I can work on weaving, spinning, drawing, baking, sewing, etc etc. It’s wonderful!

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Part of this month’s practicing for cello!

I hope you all are well and that you stay well.

Stay home! Knitting/spinning/weaving/baking/reading can help save lives.

 

I’m still here!

Wow. It’s been a while.

Things got really busy with doctor’s appointments and general exhaustion. I am better now! I had a lumpectomy on November 14th and radiation therapy for the entire month of January – my last day of radiation was also W. A. Mozart’s birthday, so there was a lot to celebrate. It wasn’t until about two weeks or so ago that I realized exactly how tired I had been because all of a sudden I wasn’t that tired. I still am tired, and my joints are creaky, but that’s the tamoxifen. But hey, as far as I know I do not have cancer, and that’s a win.

I’ve tried to keep up with practicing and making things, but tendonitis struck again. I’ve had it since about this past September in my left elbow, and I did not do what I was supposed to do (rest, heat, NSAIDs), but kept practicing both cello and gamba. The result was that I stopped cello the end of October until mid January, and I stopped gamba in the first half of December until the very end of January. I couldn’t button my sweater or braid my hair anymore, and I still can’t believe I let it get that bad. It’s sooo much better now, but it’s still there, so I’m being careful and doing what I need to do to make it better.

This also meant that all that hand work I was doing wasn’t possible anymore. Spinning for any huge length of time made it worse. Knitting has been right out for months and months. Combing wool was only possible in about 3 minute chunks. And then my friend Lee started a make-a-thing-daily project and invited everyone to join in. Her process of choice this time was embroidery.

Well!

I have been itching to embroider for some time, and Lee’s rules seemed simple enough: gather all your materials ahead of time, set the bar so low you can roll over it (quick and dirty, Kate, quick. and. dirty.), and do not fret about what you are making. Quantity over quality. Okay, okay, so I naturally fret over quality. Always. But I also recognize this is a thing that I need to maybe let go of now and then. So. A daily thing for February. The Short Month! Yes, I thought, I can do this. As long as it’s in tiny chunks.

I found all my embroidery floss and hoops and needles. And I began.

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Week 1. These are Very Small, which keeps to the quick-and-dirty principle.

I had no patterns – so I just doodled. And doodled. Some I like, some not so much. But I did start to look at embroidery online and got to thinking about flowers. Lee presented me with tiny laser-cut frames she made. I love them.

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Week 2, plus one. Moar doodles!

I re-learned how to do French knots, I learned the bullion stitch, and I learned that some of the yarns I spin are perfectly suitable for embroidering with. The purple flower (there’s a bit of charcoal on that one from the frame – the frames were laser cut, and so had carbon on the edges) is a silk/merino blend I spun up, as well as the purple in the octagonal frame. The grey sheep/mouse (it was supposed to be a sheep, but didn’t quite work) is a bit of Gotland I’d spun.

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Week 3, plus a bit? Feeesh, flowers, and…more flowers?

I am really enamored of French knots. And embroidered flowers. And in rayon floss! I really wanted silk yarn (because who wouldn’t?), but all I could get quickly and on the cheap was rayon, so I settled (for now). The tree I’m especially happy with – that one is all in cotton floss, but from three colors I kept pulling out and staring hard at. I’d been looking at pictures online of tiny, gorgeous embroidered flowering trees made from satin stitches and French knots. Eventually, I knew I’d get to it. And I did. And I’m happy with it. And I think this particular tree with this particular color scheme will inspire Something Else (stay tuned?). The dandelion was a doodle to see if I could do it. I have a skein of variegated yellow cotton and I thought, “O, that reminds me of dandelions.”

I’m telling you, I have so much appreciation for those professional embroiderers who can create depth with needle and thread just through the use of color and stitch direction.

Late in the game, I ran out of white linen, so reached for a scrap of blue. But you know, it just wasn’t working. I love this shade, but I just wasn’t happy with how the colors of the floss were working with it.

Well. In any case, you’ll notice that there are fewer than 29 embroideries. I framed the last batch (Week 3 and a bit) yesterday, and while trying to start another wee embroidery to catch up on the last day of the month, I realized that the tendonitis really did not like it. I practiced a ridiculous amount of cello yesterday (yay, Vivaldi [except I can’t play it yet]), but the thing that made the tendonitis really painful was holding the embroidery hoop. Argh. The embroidery can wait. There will be other months, and an almost endless supply of floss and handspun yarn.

This is not to say that I did not make nothing prior to February. Spinning did aggravate the tendonitis, but as long as I did it in small chunks and took care, I spun. The spinning also helped with the mental stuff going on – a repetitive task that I don’t have to think overly much about and at the end, I get soft, squishy yarn. That I can squish.

I’ll try to go in order.

 

This was a bit of dyed Leicester Longwool and I got from a destash pile at one of the spinning guild meetings that I spun up in late December. I’m pretty happy with it. It was very easy and very mindless to spin, and there was a lot of it. I believe this is 8 ounces – each skein is 4 ounces. The only thing about this project was that the dye still hasn’t finished washing out, and I washed that skein about four times. I had used some cotton weaving yarn as ties on the skeins, and those picked up some of the dye, which leads me to believe the dyer used fiber reactive dyes rather than an acid dye. Which is aggravating. It would explain the lack of luster one would expect in this breed of wool. So, I’ll have to be careful when washing whatever project I use this for. (I’ll likely get a dye magnet or another fresher bottle of Synthropol to remove the rest of the excess dye.)

At some point, I realized I needed to start making progress on the Shetland fleeces. Because I have way too many fleeces and need to get through them! Especially if I want to buy more fleeces to make into more fabulous yarn to weave fabulous cloth. I’d been spinning samples for a bit (pretty sure this was January), and this one was one I was reasonably happy with. It’s got a bit more twist than I think the Shetland really wants, but I would absolutely weave with it. And let me tell you, Shetland is a joy to spin. It almost spins itself, it’s so very soft, and it’s so very lustrous. Can you see the shine?!

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FLUFFFFFFY SHETLAND!

I tried another sample of the Shetland, this time with slightly less twist, and look at the difference! It’s much puffier than the stuff in the previous photo, and it’s so, so squishy. I loves it, I do. I want so much to weave with this, but I’ve had two people (experts in weaving and spinning, actually) tell me that this yarn is Really Suitable for Knitting. Sigh. I mean, it’s a sample. I can’t quite knit yet (tendonitis), but I might be able to weave it into a sample. Maybe. A tiny one.

Honestly, I love that yarn. I have never loved yarn I’ve spun so much as I love this one.

At some point in January, I decided to try out R.H. Lindsay Wool Merchants. I follow them on social media, and some of their pictures of wool are just so delicious. They sell wholesale, but they’ll also sell by the pound to whoever wants it. And I did. They’d posted a picture of super bouncy Dorset/Polypay roving from New England sheep. For $8.50/lb. I ordered two pounds. (The shipping was nearly that much, so I did briefly consider getting three pounds – I have no where to put it!) It came lickity-split and I pulled some of that off to spin:

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Super springy! Super bouncy!

Yep. That’s pretty springy and bouncy! I gotta say, I really like this. You can’t beat the price, even with the shipping, and the roving is not carbonized. There were bits of VM in there, which I very happily picked out.

And then!

Gotland

Look at that luster! Look at the color! Ooooh! Aaaaah!

I’m putting in a full size photo of the Gotland. I mean, how could I not?

This was my first attempt at spinning it. It’s not easy to spin. This is from commercially prepared roving that had sat in storage for some time, so was compressed some. There’s no crimp, there’s no wave. It’s a bit like spinning mohair, except it’s a bit less slippery. Getting the right amount of twist was a challenge, but I am pretty happy with this. It’s a two ply and if I can, I’ll weave a tiny sample out of this and full it to see what happens. But, on the other hand, I have more roving, and really what I should do is spin up the rest of it, and weave that into a sample, but cut the sample into three pieces, and go to town with experimental fulling. “Why all the trouble?” I hear you ask. The answer is that I want so much to sew myself a grey wool coat, and, believe it or not, I cannot find the right grey wool. It’s either not the right color, not the right weight, or some combination of wool and synthetic fibers. Or some combination of those three. And it pisses me off. So, I’ll just weave my own cloth, and spin the yarn if I have to. Dammit.

I know this is a huge project. I’d like to get it done in the next three years (before I’m 50).

Here’s another snap of that yarn:

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I guess all that practicing spinning really paid off. I seem to be improving!

And then!

My friend Rachel (over at Spotted Sheep Studio) found some Gammelnorsk fleeces. I bet you had no idea there was a breed called Gammelnorsk, did you? Well. There is. And it’s rare. And she found a person in Norway who raises this breed, and got to buy a bag of fleeces from her. And Rachel and I stool around in the Webs parking lot after a spinning meeting opening the bag and smelling the delightful fumes of Norwegian barnyard and lanolin. And, of course, fondling the Gammelnorsk fleeces. The colors are amazing.

This breed is a dual coated breed, which means it has hair and a downy undercoat (tog and thel, respectively). I do not know much more than this, but Rachel is a fount of knowledge and will impart all her wisdom if I ask – also I’m going to be helping to prepare these fleeces for spinning, and then with the spinning. So I’ll have to know.

And the very last picture I have to show you is a bit of yarn I spun up yesterday. I have been learning about spinning and preparing the fibers via some Interweave videos. And so I tried combing the alpaca batts I have, because who doesn’t want alpaca top? Well. The batts are made from garbage alpaca. Or they were carded into oblivion, I’m not sure. In any case, the batts are only suitable for felting. The fibers are way too short for even spinning yarn. I even tried to card it and spin it. So aggravating. So, then I decided to turn my attention to a red Spelsau batt that Rachel’s husband brought back from a recent trip to Norway for me (and Rachel too, you should have seen her haul!). I tried combing a bit, and I got some top off it, but I think this batt is really suitable for carding. However, the color is AMAZING. Behold:

NorwegianSpelsau

And lo! The Perfect Red!

And you know what? No dye came out of this when I washed it. None. Not even a little.

I love this red so much I want to roll around in it.

Really, what makes it so gorgeous is that it’s a tan or brown fleece that has been dyed red. The brown deepens the color and brings it over to the orangey side rather than the blue side. I’m thinking about experimenting with dyeing some of that brown Shetland – I have a white fleece too, but man, this red…

 

Unexpected things. Mostly brown.

This past weekend was full of unexpected things. But good unexpected things.

I did not know there were going to be house guests, but breakfast out was really nice! We went to a local caf√© on a farm down the road from us. The building is a strawbale construction, a simple design, with rustic decor. The food is tasty and plentiful. And the owners know my friends (of course). During the course of chatting with the owners, I happened to look out one of the side windows and noticed a walnut tree laden with nuts, so at an appropriate moment in the conversation, I changed topics and asked about their tree. Would it be possible to collect some of the walnuts I had seen on the ground? I wanted to make a dye. Of course! was the answer. The one tree I had seen turned out to be part of four trees. I was given a small paper bag and after we’d finished, I went outside and around the corner to the walnuts. And lo! there I saw so many walnuts. In fact, I’d never seen so many walnuts, and I wanted all of them. However, not knowing how many I’d actually need to making dye, I happily filled my paper bag and asked if I could come back if I needed more. The owners were more than happy to oblige. I can come get as many as I like. Woohoo!

(Sadly, I did not get a picture of the trees.)

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I counted them – about 60. But I had to toss a few that ended up being full of worms.

I must say, black walnuts smell delightful. The hulls have a sort of earthy citrusy fragrance that makes me so happy. I can’t quite adequately explain it.

The hulls will also stain your hands brown like crazy. We got home, and I put the rest of my day’s plans aside for a few hours so I could peel the hulls from the nuts – the hulls are used for making dye. The shells are too, but if I’m going to use the shells, I want to save the nutmeats, so I spent time separating everything into two buckets.

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Nuts in the left bucket. Hulls in the right. Unexpected fun with walnuts!

Most of the instructions I found online made it seem like getting the nut out of the hull was really hard and that I needed to drive over them, whack them with the claw of a hammer, or find a mallet and whack them until they yielded the nut. None of that was necessary. I got a steak knife and just ran the blade around each walnut, neatly dividing the hull into two hemispheres. Then a twist released one hemisphere, and if it didn’t, then one more cut to divide a hemisphere in two did the trick. It was a bit reminiscent of pitting all those peaches I canned a while ago.

So, the staining. Because black walnut hulls have so much tannin in them, they stain things pretty permanently – the tannin is the mordant. Cloth, skin, any natural fiber…brown. All the sources I found online told me to wear heavy rubber gloves. I didn’t have any, but I did have some disposable food service gloves at hand.

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Yeah. So, all this brown? Still got through, and my forefinger and thumb are a bit brown.

I got them all hulled! But what to do with them then? Most instructions say to simmer them for an hour or so, but I do not want to have an accident in the house and stain the kitchen. It is not my kitchen after all. So, I’m trying what I think is a far more likely historical recipe (even though I have no proof at all): I’m soaking the hulls in that bucket in water for a couple of weeks. Then I’ll strain everything and maybe might see if I can find an outdoor cooking arrangement so I can simmer it and kill any mold that might have formed. Or not. Maybe I’ll put some in quart sized mason jars for later.

This dye is also apparently an excellent wood stain! I loves me a multitasking thing I can make! So, after a little experimentation with some wood scraps and some research, I may do any final prep and put some in jars for my woodworking friends. (And I am filing this knowledge away for later when I want to build bookcases for whatever house I end up with!)

I’ve got a couple of white skeins of two ply yarn I’ve spun – one skein I really have to run through the wheel again to give it some extra twist. And I have so much more white (Down breeds blend) that could be dyed with local black walnut dye handmade by me. The dyeing process itself is apparently super easy. You simply put the yarn or cloth in the dye and leave it there until it’s brown. If simmering it, I think you simmer for something like 30 mins to 1 hour. I will likely try just soaking it for a day and see what happens. (I do have to look into some sort of outdoor cooking equipment, though…)

I was also thinking of dyeing some bamboo rayon yarn and/or cotton yarn for weaving cloth or towels or something. Because why not?

But, don’t you need more walnuts for dyeing all that stuff? I hear you ask. It turns out, everyone seems to agree that you only need 12-15 walnuts per gallon of water. For just the hulls. So I have 4 gallons of the stuff. That’s a LOT of dye. Even 2 gallons is a lot if some of the water is supposed to be lost in cooking it. I am planning on also getting the shells, which apparently yield a darker brown. (Of course, that may not work, but I will try.)

 

I filled up the bucket with the hulls with water. I’ve set it in the garage with a piece of wood on top to soak for a while. The bucket with the nuts got filled with water, and I started scrubbing the remaining hull gunk off. I had read that the gunk could rot and mold and make a mess, but most importantly, it would dye your hands dark brown. I don’t feel like walking around with dark brown hands and having to explain that I have been playing with dye everywhere I go, so I elected to scrub. The two floaters were thrown away – I suspect if they float, there’s probably a problem with them.

I got about half scrubbed before I ran out of time and energy. So I drained out the water, put a tiny bit in so the ones that were left were only barely covered, and set those in the garage too to wait until I have some time to resume scrubbing. I’m hoping the soak will help to soften up the remaining gunk.

The real work to this project is going to be actually cracking the nuts. A quick read about black walnuts online seems to show that I’ll need to use a vice as a regular nut cracker will not do it at all. Woo.

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Excuse the messy counter – my first attempt at waffle production!

I also unexpectedly found an as-yet-unused, brand-new-in-the-box, three-year-old electric waffle iron in the house! Of course I tried making waffles. This is the first time I’ve tried making waffles. It was an adventure. Definitely an unexpected adventure.

I thought I’d double the recipe, because ultimately, I wanted waffles in the freezer that could be toasted in the toaster for near-instant waffle goodness. But then I accidentally put in twice the amount of butter for a doubled recipe, which meant I either had to throw everything away and start over, or end up with a quadrupled recipe. I went for the quadrupaling.

We have a LOT of waffles in the freezer. The house guests tried the waffles the next morning in the toaster, and declared them delicious. Successful experiment! I think the recipe needs tweaking – it needs a little sugar, and the optional cornmeal actually sounds good, so I might try that. And they were a little dense, probably because I didn’t whisk the egg whites nearly has much as the recipe said I ought, so maybe I’ll try that next, but with some cream of tartar to help things along a bit. So many tweaks. Or I could try another recipe.

In weaving news, I have a crazy idea involving 60/2 silk and some very fine baby alpaca and an overshot pattern. First, I want to make myself something beautiful like a shawl or scarf, but it occurred to me that I could sell one, and the pricetag would be fairly high – this would be a very time-consuming project with excellent and expensive materials. The bulk of the cost would reflect the labor involved. I wonder if I could sell one or two (or three?), because then I could buy a cello. It looks like that experiment has been successful enough that I’m close to outgrowing the cello I rent. Do you guys have any thoughts on this? Advice? Suggestions? Is this an idea worth pursuing?

(I can rent a viola da gamba, it turns out, and it is affordable. I kind of hope that I don’t love it as much as I think I will, because there are almost not enough hours in the day for adequate practice…)

 

…in which Things Get Done.

Making is still slow going. My life living with people now means compromise, and that’s okay. I learned this past week that another culprit might also be the cancer drug I’m on: tamoxifen. It’s great stuff, and will help me not develop more tumors, but over the last three months, I have become increasingly tired, sore, and sad. I have been off it for a week as my oncologist wanted to see if those and other side effects I was having were actually related and went away. As of this weekend, I don’t hurt nearly as much, I am feeling more alert, and I have energy and strength again. I have been trying to make hay while the sun shines and do all the things I will not be able to do when I’m on it again!

This weekend, I found the waffle iron, and am hoping to make a load of waffles to put in the freezer (there is currently a surplus of buttermilk that must be used up – oh woe!). I bought some lavender plants last week (on sale! more on that later), and will try to weed the area I want to put them in today, and then I’ll plant them. I am going to try to figure out all the heavy lifting I’ve been meaning to do and do it today.

Okay. On to Making over the past month.

I finished up the overshot towels! One is in use at home, two of the yellow ones went to friends as a gift – their kitchen is yellow and green – and one has stayed with me, as yet unused. I now think these are the perfect weight for towels, and are very absorbent, but if I sell them, they’re going to be very expensive, because these take twice as long to produce.

When I am preparing to hem, I always wash and dry the cloth two or three times before I do anything. Then I iron the whole thing front and back. (I know lots of weavers say press, but honestly, this is cotton. They’re towels. I have never found a need to get super fussy with an iron other than to flatten the cloth.) Then I cut along the weft marker lines I threw when I was weaving. Sometimes, there are bits of scrap. I save those and use them to make greeting cards, or sometimes just as reference samples. Then I go over each towel looking for errant weft ends sticking out and I snip them flush with the cloth. I have read that snipping the weft ends flush while you’re weaving works a treat, but I’ve always found a few sticking out anyway after wet finishing. I’ve attributed this to the shrinkage of the yarn, and then the ends just pop out. But I like snipping the weft ends because it also allows me to really inspect every inch of the cloth, and sometimes I see a mistake I didn’t see before, which I can usually fix.

Sometimes I also find knots in the weft yarn that I didn’t notice while I was throwing the shuttle. The thing I’m pointing to above is a knot. (Sigh.) It was on the back of the cloth, so I didn’t notice it until the pre-hemming stage. I could fix it, but this particular thing is hard to fix after the cloth has been washed. I can’t believe I didn’t notice it when I was winding quills – normally, if I find a knot in the yarn, I’ll cut it out and just overlap the weft in the same pick as if I were starting a new quill.

With this batch of towels, the cloth is a bit thicker than just twill, so I did a little different thing with the hem: I wove a a bit of the ground, leaving the pattern out, and just folded that over and stitched. Behold:

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This hem is sooo thin and unobtrusive.

I like it a lot! I had seen something like this in a picture somewhere and thought I’d give it a try as I find thick hems can get annoying with a stack of towels. I also just love how it looks.

What I need to do now is get an inkle loom or put together a backstrap loom so I can weave bands – I want to sew loops just under the hem of each towel I make (and maybe weave a logo into them?).

I took the last week of August off from work. Man, I haven’t had a vacation in what feels like years (and it might be two or three, I can’t remember), and it was pretty good. A friend and I went up to Shelburne to Apex Orchard to go peach picking, and we could not have picked a better day for it! The sky was blue, the air was clear and ever so slightly crisp, there was a gentle breeze…and the trees were positively laden with fruit. Some of the branches were nearly on the ground.

The view from the orchard’s shop is staggeringly gorgeous. That picture above doesn’t do it justice at all.

We each picked a large box (and spent several days eating our respective peaches), and then went back up to the shop for lunch. There was a lovely eating area outside, and I’d brought All The Food in an ice chest. We had already eaten several peaches in the orchard, but managed to get something other than fruit into our systems before packing up and checking out the shop in detail.

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It doesn’t look like much, but this is actually quite a lot of peaches!

The shop is lovely, and I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area. While the orchard has been around for years and years, the shop is fairly new, so don’t expect too much – but they do have pottery from a local potter or two, maple syrup, honey from the orchard, some handmade quilted things, and coolers of fruit. They also have a walk-in cooler of seconds!

I took advantage of this cooler of seconds a couple of days later:

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This is a LOT more peaches than you think. I learned what ‘half-bushel’ really was. Also, please note the lovely and very useful overshot dishtowel under the peaches on the counter.

For a mere $22, I got a half-bushel of Red Haven peaches. They were fiiiine, and only some were very slightly bruised. They were very nearly all ripe to being completely ripe, and they were perfect to make into jam.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle with getting enough canning jars, running out of pectin and sugar and running out to buy more, not adding enough acid to the second batch because I’d been canning for six hours and was exhausted, canning the second batch a second time the next day after adding the right amount of acid and slightly more pectin, but in the end, I got it all done. Two cases of half-pint jars. I still have three cups of peach mash left (in the freezer) because I ran out of time and energy, and I thought this would be enough for a very modest batch of peach chutney. Which was supposed to maybe happen today, but won’t because omg I’m doing all the things today and will run out of time.

I finally finished my friend’s jeans:

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FINISHED. FINALLY.

It took months, and most of the delay was due to nonsense with the house I’d lived in before, being diagnosed with cancer, freaking out, and moving house…well, all of that is now behind me and this was actually on the top of the list for my vacation! (That list is so long still…) I’m so happy I finished it – it’s not quite right, but I couldn’t figure out what else needed to be there, and my friend was being SO PATIENT waiting. She loves them and I am thrilled to have learned a new method of repairing holes in clothing.

So, during that kerfuffle of getting enough canning jars (see second case in photo above), I might have accidentally bought five lavender plants (var. Provence). They were on sale! They were so healthy and so large! (Actually, they were so much on sale, I couldn’t NOT buy them.) I got that little pink yarrow as well because, well, it’s pink yarrow, and beautiful and well, it was on sale, too.

I am currently trying to get the garden by the front walk back into garden-shape again. My friends who I live with do not have time for this, and are sad that it’s gotten to this point, but basically don’t have time to really think about what to do with it. Well, this is something I can fix, albeit slowly. The strip is quite long as is not obvious in that picture above, and it seems to be taking forever. The grass/weeds are actually growing on the layer of old rotten bark mulch, so it all peels up pretty easily. I feel pretty much like I could run a race today, so it’s on my list of things to tackle. Maybe I can get it all peeled up? My plans are to put the lavender in the bit that gets the most sun. (I had plans to put it in the back yard where the drainage is probably slightly better, but I discovered there are ground wasps living there, so digging in their nest is probably not a good idea.) I hope there’s enough sun in the front.

My next plan is to keep an eye out for beautiful (and inexpensive) mums so I can add a bit of color to the front. I might put some spring bulbs in as well, but I want to ask my friends first – I don’t want to set up something that they will need to take care of after I’ve moved out. That would be mean. My Ultimate Plan is to plant perennials in there that will basically look after themselves with minimal weeding required. So, daisies, mint (already there), bee balm, lamb’s ears, maybe a rose or two (hardy)…you get the idea. The hostas and a couple patches of daylilies plus weeds is just sad. (And don’t get me started on this way of landscape planting that wastes so much space with bark mulch and nothing else – argh!)

I also will mow the lawn today:

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A toy!

I can’t hardly believe my luck, and the trust my friends have in me. As a member of the household, I am always looking for ways to be helpful and contribute (other than financially), so I mow the lawn. It’s a very big lawn, and it takes just short of two hours to get it all done. Above is what I use to mow it, along with a regular push mower to get the edges and fiddly bits. It’s an actual tractor (not a lawnmower), with a mower attachment on the power take-off underneath. I like to think of it as a Kitchen Aid mixer with the fun attachments. There’s a snowblower attachment parked behind it in this picture that I will likely also learn to operate when it’s time. The driveway is also large.

I can’t adequately express how much fun it is to mow the lawn! I hope that never wears off.

In other news, I’ve been thinking hard about something else to make. I’ve been wanting to do this for years:

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A good friend was off-loading some books…of course I nabbed them!

I figure I’ll scope out supplies and gather as necessary and required, and start small. So small. My goal is to make the rose scented soap I can’t get at the store anymore (because amazon bought Whole Foods, and while I do not buy into the complete hipster/yuppie/whatever it’s called this decade philosophy that WF peddles, they do carry a few things that I do like – but so many things have been discontinued). Rose oil, it turns out, is five times more costly than it was when I last checked (maybe 15 years ago), and there are varying reviews about the fake rose fragrance that most people use. So, I’ll start with lavender because that’s not too expensive and I can get it locally.

And I’ve saved the best for last.

Remember how I started that cello experiment? I started with three months. That was one billing cycle for the instrument rental, and I figured that was a good window in which I could decide if I liked learning to play it or not, liked the teacher or not, etc. And it was. Well. I have been mooning over the viola da gamba for a while (a year and a half, about) and this semester, I got my name on the list for a gamba class over at UMASS, just down the street from my office, and got the okay from my boss to take a long lunch once a week. And I got in. No auditions, no previous experience with string instruments required (but it helps).

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So pretty!

I have borrowed the tenor gamba. It’s lovely in every respect. Well, not tuning. I’m sure I will get used to it, but tuning is a pain right now. The strings are gut, so any whiff of air from elsewhere makes it go wildly out of tune, especially if that air is of a different humidity.

So for three months, I’ve got to figure out how to practice two instruments – but the opportunity is so good! And it’s only three months. And maybe I’ll make musician friends? And maybe it will help with the anxiety about playing in front of other people? Seems like it couldn’t hurt!

GUYS, I GET TO HAVE VIOLA DA GAMBA LESSONS.

And I’ll end the post with a picture of cuteness:

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Ollie above, Marlie below. Not the best picture, but it was tricky to snap this one with one hand.

Ollie stayed with us for a week, and has gone back with his owners. They were a joy to take care of together. I will miss Ollie, and give Marlie extra snuggles for a while.

A Quickie Post

I’m slowly getting back into the making groove, and having a couple of deadlines coming up certainly helps. This past weekend, I finished the overshot project on the loom!

I am so surprised at how well this came out and how much I love it. For some reason, for this particular pattern, translating the little picture in the pattern draft book (The Handweaver’s Pattern Dictionary by Anne Dixon) to a larger format just didn’t work in my head. Needless to say, I will be trying other drafts out! I really think the patterns I wove would lend themselves very well to an all-wool scarf. Or several all-wool scarves.

The cloth in the picture is fresh off the loom, but not yet washed. It’s since been washed and dried a couple of times, so the next step is ironing and then hemming – they’re towels (of course), and I think a couple will become gifts.

The next project for the loom is a bamboo sample – it will likely be a scarf. And then I have to get going with some wool for a blanket. The deadline is sometime in September, and I never have enough time to spend at the loom! I am going to be taking a week off from work, so hopefully that will give the project a good start. (And maybe a good finish? I can hope!)

Moving along with friends

Well, I have moved house.

After my diagnosis and ensuing freak-out, I immediately started making arrangements to move in with friends because they offered and I knew I’d need help taking care of myself after surgery.* I asked other friends for moving help, and so many people showed up. It took most of the day, but we managed to get the last bits packed up, everything put into a moving truck, drove to my new place, unpacked the truck, and then had pizza and ice cream. I am so grateful, I can hardly even think about it without crying. So now, I live in a beautiful house with air conditioning, a happy little dog, functional plumbing that never needs fixing (though I could do it if I needed to), a sun room, internet access, and a nice big yard. My belongings are packed up neatly in labelled bins and stacked on shelving in the (very dry) basement. There is no mold anywhere. I want to give everyone lovely handmade things, and be the most useful person I can be.

It’s very strange living with people again – I’ve lived alone for at least a decade, so this is taking some getting used to, but I’m getting there.

The friends I moved in with insisted I set up my big loom, and the sun room was the obvious spot (they said). So, poor me, I get to work in pretty amazing light! I managed to get a warp measured and on two or three weeks ago, but I have no had a lot of time to throw the shuttle.

Firstly, I wanted to do a particular overshot pattern I had woven before, so checked my notes for how many ends per inch were needed so I could measure out the warp properly. I ended up measuring out more yarn, then realized once I had the warp wound on the back beam that I’d been looking at notes for a pattern I hadn’t woven before. So I threaded the heddles for this new pattern, sleyed the reed, and tied on. Excited to start throwing the shuttles, I looked up the pattern in the pattern book, wrote down the treadling on a sticky note to put on the beater, and started in weaving. And the resulting cloth did not look like the pictures in the book. It took me a few days, walking by the loom and thinking about it (I do not have nearly as much time at the loom now), but I realized I’d written down the treadling pattern wrong. So I’m weaving an overshot pattern that I didn’t intend in a way that the book it came from didn’t intend: I made it up. It’s completely accidental, and it works, which I think is pretty lucky? Behold:

So, I was not wild about it at first, but by the time I was halfway through this towel, I decided I really liked the pattern and have tentative plans to mark this one down for a wool scarf. Actually, the subsequent towel, once I had written the correct treadling pattern down, is coming out pretty nicely too, and might also have to be a scarf:

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The diagonal lines are my favourite part. However, it is perhaps important to note that this pattern is being woven upside down and I am too tired to change the tie-up now.

The beat in that pattern is a little wonky (the diagonal lines are not perfectly straight), but hey, I am wildly out of practice.

Gratuitous dog pictures:

That’s Marley. She’s adorable. She chews on almost everything. I do love her, but really hope she starts chewing only on her toys and bones. And not clothing, skeins of yarn, or pillows.

My orchids apparently love this new place. I noticed new shoots on most of them about a week after I’ve moved in. This one is working on flowers!

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This could be a white one? We’ll find out soon!

I am listening to different music in an attempt to Broaden My Horizons. Currently, I’ve got Smetana (in the photo above) and Bartok (not pictured). I rescued a really pretty geranium that was on sale at one of the local garden shops – I have a small hope of revamping the front garden by the walk at this house. It’s a mess right now, full of weeds and grass. I’ve got to find a turning fork and wait for a day when it’s not eleventy billion degrees out with All The Humidity. The stones in the third-from-the-left picture are ones I bought years ago with the intention of making a drop spindle that I could also disassemble and wear: the whorl as a necklace and the stick in my hair. I think that is back on the list. The coffee, oh the coffee. This coffee was advertised as being “espresso roast” on the package. Sigh. Needless to say, it is not espresso roast and was not even drunk.

My making list is full right now: I neeeeeeed to finish G’s jeans, make the adjustments to J’s pants pattern and make a couple pairs of those, finish the weaving project, measure out the warp for the bamboo blanket project for L, finish the photos of L’s art, finish spinning the blue merino (so I can clean off the bobbins and start spinning one of the fleeces I got at Balky Farm back in May), and I need to practice cello way more than I am now. That last one is a different kind of making, but making nonetheless. One day I want to be able to make beautiful music, and that’s going to take many more years of practice.

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

 


*So, there was some awkwardness with the house I was living in as well (<– very understated). In short, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Ever. Sometimes those ‘free’ lunches are more expensive than just paying for a regular lunch.