30 December 2010

Holiday awesomeness and my new Drum Carder!

Noodle

Nothing is was better than waking up with Paul christmas morning and finally sorta having everything going our way.  He's sold his house finally, and after 2+ years of being together, we kinda technically now live under the same roof! It's the best. I've never been happier, and have never felt as much joy and fun as I do now.  What a difference the right person can make in your life!

Drum Carded Batt

Christmas time is always super busy, but today, I dedicated my entire day to drum carding about 8 different fibre batts weighing in at about 3.5 oz each. Paul got me an AMAZING drum carder that I totally LOVE!!! I carded so much my right shoulder hurts!  I don't want to stop, but I do want to get spinning some of these amazing batts!  They're like store quality blends!  It's amazing what a drum carder can do, and how professionally amazing the batts come out if you just take your time and card slowly.  (Above is a fun batt I carded made up of a bunch of mill ends of cellulose fibres I bought with some coloured nylon sparkle added in.)  I started off with some plainer look batts, and then started adding different colours of nylon sparkle and tufts of colour here and there.  The batts at that point started to take on some life!  I absolutely love the carder Paul got me, and the versatility it gives me now to use fibre I've dyed previously or to card up leftover or unwanted fibre into a nice lovely batt.  I'm also picking up my new Majacraft Aura spinning wheel tomorrow.  I'm not ever going to stop using my trusty Ashford Traveller, but I've wanted a Majacraft forever now and this new modified double drive it boasts looks amazing to work with.  This weekend will be busy with fibre craft that's for sure.  :)

Carding some batts on the Louet Classic:
Louet Classic Carder

New louet drum carder

Batt going into 2nd pass



One of the christmas presents I made for my mom was a plain woven scarf out of some of my hand dyed and handspun yarn.  The warp is pure bamboo and the handspun is some ethical wool blended with bamboo and handdyed with ashford dyes.  I wove this on my little Rigid Heddle and I can't express how much I love this little loom for it's convenience and ease to set up. 
Plain Weave Scarf


Lots of other stuff is going on this holiday week.  I saw some friendipoos we used to work with back at SK, and that was really fun to see them again.  Tomorrow, we're going with my parents to the curling rink for some fun curling action with my sister and Mimi.  And as I mentioned, I'm picking up the new wheel I ordered so the days following that will be spend spinning all the batts I made up today and yesterday!!

15 December 2010

Christmas Party!


My company Christmas Party was last friday, and for a company xmas party, it was pretty fun. They paid for us to stay over at a pretty neat little boutique hotel in London since we live in Stratford. It's another snow day today, and I can't make it into work, however, I came prepared last night and brought some work home with me as a just in case.

6 December 2010

Endpaper mitts, AGAIN.

Endpaper Fair Isle mitts Round 4

Yet another pair of these.   They make such great gift mitts.  This time I decided to make a super short glove sized version that ends at the wrist instead of going up the arm.  With the long ones, I'm always folding them over anyway, so these work great, too bad I'm giving them away!  I highly recommend the Endpaper Mitts pattern by Eunny Jang to anyone who likes knitting, my advice is to go magic loop with these as dpn's leave an ugly ladder.  And also, the tubular cast on and off the pattern recommends is highly worth doing.  I LOVE this cast on and off.  So pretty. :)

Endpaper Fair Isle mitts Round 4

30 November 2010

Spinning, Weaving... busy.

COILS!




I usually enjoy spinning nice even laceweight singles for 2 plying or navajo 3 plying afterward to make a nice balanced knittable skein of yarn. I love knitting with my handspun, it's nice to put it to use. I just plied up this fingering weight, almost sock weight 2 ply handspun that's been sitting as singles on bobbins forever!

Berry Handspun and hand dyed

It spun up to about 200 yards, so enough to make something cool. I'm going to weave a scarf I think, on my little ashford rigid heddle loom. So perfect for knitting scarves! I warped the loom tonight with laceweight bamboo in white. Hopefully it'll look cool when it's done.

Berry Handspun finally plied!

With that all said, I do really enjoy spinning weirdo art yarns. I love spinning puffs and nubs, but for fun I spun up a bunch of thick n' thin singles the other day with which I plied into coils. Coils are ridiculously fibre heavy users. So much fibre went into these, what normally would yield probably around 45-50 yards made like 8. Really cool though. Neat for weaving with for sure. I underspun the single a bit, since I'm used to spinning balanced, and as a result, the coils could be a little tighter, but they're so cute, so I love them anyway. :)

I want a second wheel, and I want it to definitely be a majacraft. I just have to decide between the suzie, rose and aura. I'm SUUPER interested in the Aura's new modified double drive. Either way, I'll get all the fun flyer extras, laceweight, wild flyer, etc. My ashford is still rockin' it, and i'll never stop using it, but the treadling and smoothness of the majacraft wheels is just amazing! so much to decide....






learning Coils

7 November 2010

Rigid Heddle Spa Wash Clothes

rigid heddle looped wash cloth

I've wanted to make these wash clothes forever, but just didn't have the time. I read about the technique on weavezine, in which after you throw the shuttle, you leave more slack than you normally would, and then 'lift' the thread up every other warp thread, and place over a knitting needle, accross the whole row. In this way you get even loops. The warp will make 4 wash clothes, and I'll do each with a different colour weft. So far, the loops are very time consuming, but I like the outcome! The rigid heddle is perfect for this project. I really love the loom, it's so useful and fun!

Rigid Heddle Reed and warp:
rigid heddle loom

Pawl came home from being away on business for a week, and tonight we made some vegan gnocchi from my new cookbook 'Vegan YumYum' from the namesake website. It's a great book, and I've made a bunch of stuff so far. The only complaint I have is that she uses no tempeh anywhere in the book. Next up are the lemon blueberry scones with a clotted "cream". :)

vegan gnocchi

23 October 2010

Kripalu and Farm Sanctuary

rocky sticky sculptures

My mom took me on the best trip ever last week that involved a 4 day stay at kripalu yoga centre in the berkshire mountains AND a day trip over to Farm Sanctuary on the drive home from kripalu.

Kripalu Main Building:
back of the kripalu centre

Kripalu was A-MAZ-ING!   We signed up for the hike, bike and yoga program which involved a crapload of hiking up mountains and a day of 20 miles of bike riding along a rail trail amongst the mountains.   WOW.  Kripalu is just a stunningly peaceful and fulfilling place to be.   On top of the program you sign up for (and there is ALOT of programs to choose from), there are 3 yoga sessions a day (gentle, moderate and vigorous), and the most amazingly yummy buffet spreads for breakfast lunch AND dinner.   I absolutely loved the amount of steamed veggies i ate in the mornings, along with a miso broth w/ tofu and usually some kind of buckwheat, millet or hot oatmeal, toast, muffins and plenty of unsweetened interesting ice tea flavours to choose from.  My mom had alot of mixed granola for brekky, and of course there were TONNES of vegan selection.  One night they even had a great sesame tempeh entree that was so good.

The grounds of the building were amazing as well. There were little niches and trails all over the place. We found a quite sizable meditation garden nestled into a hill in the forest. There were other little niches devoted to buddha, krishna, etc, hidden away in the forest to find if you explored. The building itself was amazing as it was built as a monestary way back when. Yoga classes were held in what would've been the 3 story high ceiling church hall area.

Meditation Garden:
meditation garden

Swami Kripalu:
swami kripalu shrine

Kripalu Grounds:
kripalu grounds

Our leader greg, teaches tai chi and qigong, so during our hikes or bikes, we'd do a little of each throughout the day.   The first day we did a couple of hikes including a fairly big one up Mt Everett in the berkshire mountains, which is part of the Appalachian trail.  It's the 2nd highest peak in that mountain chain, and we at lunch at the very top with a 360 degree view of the most amazing landscape.   I ate lunch on the top of a mountain!  We then proceeded to a highland lake where we did some qigong and relaxed for a bit before hiking down.   This hike really inspired me to maybe one day hike the appalachian trail.   I've always wanted to do a really long hiking trip, and I think now I'd choose that area.   We also visited Bash Bish state park where there were some beautiful falls, and a wildlife sanctuary where we walked for an hour or so and did some more tai chi.   The bike trail the following day was pretty relaxing and nice.  It was a rail trail, so was fairly flat.  Every night when we got back we went to a nice yoga class, had dinner, attended an evening program and then collapsed into bed pretty tired from the day!

Bash Bish Falls:
waterfall

I was so excited to go to kripalu for many reasons, but one of them being that at some point, I'd like to sign up for the 1 month 200 hr teacher training course.  I wanted to see if I could spend a month there doing yoga basically all day everyday.  If i'd be happy isolated from my normal life at this place.   I'd say I'd be more that happy to spend the time involved in getting the course done.   I'm definitely going to take it next year after i sort out my destroyed lower back.  :)

Farm Sactuary:
farm sanctuary main buildings

On the way home, my Mom suggested we stop by farm sanctuary since i've just entered into a sponsorship with a goat and a sheep there which I will be carrying on every year.  They encourage sponsors to come and meet their sponsored companions and I was SO excited.  :)  Peanut the goat was so incredibly adorable, and although Dickse the sheep was a bit shy, the director of the sanctuary assured me that over the years they warm up to people.  They all come from such horrible, cruel situations in which humans were committing acts of terrible cruelty of the sole purpose to bring meat to the public, that of course they'd be scared of us.  Sheep are absolutely amazing creatures though.  They can remember around 40+ faces visually for their lifetime.   They can remember you by voice and smell as well.  They will remember their sheep friends even after being separated for years and years.  They have a personality like a human.   They have a sense of humor and they emote love and compassion if you pay attention.

Peanut:
Little Peanut

I just fell in love with Farm Sanctuary.  So many stories starting with such cruel beginnings, and ending the best possible way.  What makes me sad is that the cruelty they endured, that they luckily escaped from, happens all around us, ALL the time.. so much so that we pay no attention as a society.  It's sad that cruelty is so widespread, that someone speaking out against it is considered a radical, or crazy.  It's sad that no one cares that the eggs they are eating come from poor poor chickens that have had their beaks ground off.  Or that the milk they are drinking pretty much is a product that enables the veal industry.  Have you ever seen a baby cow chained by it's neck in a crate the size of a large dog?  It's heart wrenching.  I see them all the time on my drive through the country to work.  I can't stand seeing the head of the baby cow sticking only as far out as it's chain will let it.  Their moms only a field away, they cry for them.  Heart wrenching.
Farm sanctuary is amazing, and I love donating my money to them as I know they advocate such a soulful cause.  With such positivity, sometimes I can only think of the poor animals who never make it there.

cute giant piggles

5 October 2010

Norwegian Sockies half done

Norwegian fair isle sock

I'm done one of the Norwegian fair isle socks I started in the summer.  It's the knitting project that sort of takes a back seat most of the time as I have to read a pattern so I can't be knitting at lunch or during dinners or any other social event.  It's too complicated to talk and look at a pattern and keep your place.  I save the easy projects for those situations. 

This time I decided to try the magic loop sock technique and toe up as well.  Two things I've never tried before.  Magic loop is awesome, and I don't think i'll ever choose dpn's again if there is a way i can use the magic loop.   So much easier, and my work never falls off the needles either when I'm carting it around in my bag.  I also tried toe up socks.  I like this way...alot!  

Norwegian fair isle sock

30 September 2010

Kitty Love!

My kitties are the best cats in the whole world.  I love each one of them more than anything ever.  They all have such amazing little personalities and they each have their favourite time of day they like to come hang.  I'm so happy to provide love and a home for each one.  I want a billion more.  I'd rather spend money on giving some souls like my kittens a home than getting cable, or some other stupid convenience.  I just want to take care of cats that deserve love and respect.  No cat or any other creature deserves to suffer and I'm so grateful for the chance to show my kittens that they are wonderful souls who do nothing but bring me joy. :) <3<3

Captain loves cameras-fd0000
Captain:
You are my captain.  You are awesome and wake me up with eye kisses in the morning, and you tuck me in at night and sleep beside me.  You rub your face on dirty laundry, and climb me like a tower.  You do tricks for pets.  To think someone thought they could take you from me after they so graciously stole thousands of dollars from me.  To think I considered it.  I couldn't imagine my life without you CrappyPants and no one can take better care of you than I do.


Commander loves food-fd0000
Commander:
Fatty boom booms.  Mandy pants.  Fatricia.  You are my big bellied softy.  You love your belly rubbed and you love food just as much.  I love you commanderpants!  Somehow despite your size you are a ninja.  All of the sudden I'll look down and realize you're on my lap!  How you got there i have no idea. How can 15 pounds of cat just appear on me?...


chief-fd0004
Chief:
Little chi chi boo.  Cheechers.  My little one.  Why do you pull the vents up.  Why are you scared of everyone but Pawlie and i?  You like to climb the fridge.  I wake up to you everymorning lying on my back like a little backpack purring at top speed!  You do weird things like dig at the floor, or at the wall, but your face is the cutest with your eyeliner around one eye only.. so cute!


Ensign-fd0000
Ensign:
My little meh-meh.  Mummers.  Mummlesten-Jones.  Sir Mummles Esq.  Mummles Mcgee.  You are on my lap every night purring and forcing pets.  You love so much to be paid attention to and you are the first to greet every guest.  My little ambassador.  You are very intense and often we are injured by your intense love of pets. You like to chase your tail, but you never catch it.  Every night you bring your toys upstairs for us in bed... and then everymorning you bring them downstairs.  I think you might have kitty ocd because you clean the litter after other cats use it, and you clean up around the food bowls too.


sophie
Sophie:
Sophie Doodles, sophacles, sophie doody doodlie doo, Sophleton Jones, Soph-maloaf. Tiny paws Jones.   You make angry noises with your face when I stop petting you.  You are queen of the loom.  You used to pee all over the place, but now you don't.  You love pets just as much as MehMeh, right on the tip of your face and you love brushes.  You are my little ball of angry who is really just a softie inside.  Poor little girl, sometimes you get ganged up on, and picked on, but i love you so much!


Pengi!!
Pengi:
Little crazy faced Pengers.  My little pengi poo.  Pengers pengleston Jones.  Pengerston.  Pengles.  You are such a little fluffy nut.  Your silly floofy tail sticks straight up.  Your little meow is a high pitched little whine.  You always have these wide crazy eyes.  You lie on your belly with your feet out behind you, crossed no less.  It's so adorable they way your fur poofs out.  You are such a little kitten.  When I pick you up, you sorta freeze up.. it's adorable and I love you!

27 September 2010

DONE DONE DONE! Done Weaving, Done Canning.

Shawl ends

I finally finished the shawl I started a while back on my giant huge 45" floor loom.  It ended up being over 6ft long at least.  I wove a twill variant pattern I found in my fibre focus magazine and used Bamboo yarn.  It turned out fairly awesome for my first go.  No disasters really, no tangled warp, no broken warp ends, etc.  I'm proud especially of not tangling the confusing warp of many hundreds of ends and 3 different chains.   The *ONLY* thing that went wrong-ish was when I washed/dried the piece to full it.   The fringes got so so tangled.  I spent about 2 hrs detangling by hand and then snipped off about an inch afterwards so it ended up ok.  I don't have a fringe twister yet and didn't want to spend days doing it by hand, so instead I just hemstitched the ends on the loom and knotted each fringe bunch after i took it off.  Next up is a rag rug!

here's the shawl after fulling it in the wash:
Shawl

Shawl Ends

Finished!

A while ago I made my 4th and final batch of jam for the season.  I decided on apple pear and it turned out great despite a few substitutions I had to make.  I ran out of sugar half way through making the recipe and put in about a cup and a half of agave syrup.  I hope it keeps ok on the shelf.   It tastes amazing and I'll make it again next year for sure.

Apple Pear Jam

25 August 2010

Jams and Chutneys and kitties

Blueberry jam, Curry Peach Chutney, Peach Jam

I like at the end of the summer when i have a pantry full of preserves.   I have no air conditioning in my house, and the hood above the oven is just a fan.. so canning in the heat of the summer is pretty brutally humid and sweaty.    I am really pleased with everything this year, especially the peach jam... yum!  Pealing peaches though... ugh.

So far in total, I've put up:

6 Qt Jars of Garlic Dill Pickles
8 Pt Jars Curry Peach Chutney
6 Pt Jars Orange Ginger Marmalade
10 1/2Pt Jars Blueberry Jam
12 1/2PtJars Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
8 1/2Pt Jars Peach Jam

I have two more canning sessions to do.. One for Sweet Pickles, hopefully around 6 Qt jars, and another for a 4th type of jam, hopefully maybe apple pear.  I much prefer making jams and chutneys to pickles... only because buying ice and doing the whole 'cucumbers in the sink with ice and salt' is a pain.  I get grossed out by drains, and even though i give the sink a thorough cleaning, it still grosses me out.  I don't know how to do it otherwise so that it drains as the ice melts.  meh. 

Other than that, I've been continuing to weave the shawl on my big loom.  I'm still knitting those socks, which are taking forever, mostly because I go to the gym at lunch now.   I'm still working on the quilt... and .. I've been painting my warhammer 40k army.  space wolves!  Noodle and I are hittin up the fan expo I think on sunday.. and hopefully also hitting up the store where we can get some daiya vegan cheese and dinner at fresh! :)

Chi Chi Chiefers waiting for brekkie kibbs

Chief wanting breakfast

Noodle and I waiting for pizza.  Him with murder, mine sans cheese.
Noodle!

11 August 2010

Orange Ginger Marmalade!

Orange Ginger Marmalade

I've been making jam and pickles for years, and have gotten into a nice groove with those feeling comfortable with any type of pickle, relish or jam recipe. One thing i had never made was marmalade though, so this year I decided to try a batch. I researched a bunch on the interslice, and found some blog postings about many different ways to make marmalade. Chopping up the oranges whole with the pith... grating the skin off, throwing the pith out and digging out the meaty bits, and many other techniques. It was kind of confusing, but i decided to go with just shaving off the orange part of the skins, and dicing it up, carving the pith off and throwing it out (composting it of course), and then chopping up the meaty orange bits. I also decided to use a bunch of orange juice that i juiced instead of the 4 cups of water for a richer orange taste, and I also decided to grate a bunch of ginger to add on suggestion of a blog post i read about marmalade. I decided to use a packaged liquid pectin instead of fooling around with boiling the membranes and seeds.

So all seemed to go according to plan, and i ended up with 5 Pint size jars of marmalade, which is a little big, but i didn't have half pint jars. The next morning i wake up and check the jars and the marmalade was the consistency of water. *sad*. So I read up on re batching and decided I might not have let it simmer or maybe I didn't add enough pectin. However, 2nd session was a fail as well as it didn't set up this time either. Pawlie suggested the pectin might be expired.. and lo and behold... it was. I didn't realize that it stopped working after getting kind of old. So i bought some new pectin, re batched a THIRD time, and it finally set up!!! :) Lesson learned.

I also made some yummy garlic dill pickles and this year decided to add some turmeric to my dill recipe to green them up a bit. Normally I only put turmeric in bread and butter pickles, but I noticed that the store bought ones have it on the ingredient list, and i like the greeny colour store bought dills have. So we'll see how that turns out in a few months. I also added some hot chili pepper flakes to two jars for some spicier pickles!

Dill Pickles

Finally, I attended a fun soap making class at Everdale a while ago, and my first batch turned out so nicely. It's amazingly easy. I can't wait to make my next batch!

First soap batch

16 July 2010

weaving! omfg i didn't mess it up!

shawl pattern

So hopefully the fact i've gotten about 12" in of weaving done so far on the shawl indicates that i didn't horribly tangle the warp while dressing the loom, and that all of my warp chains were wrapped correctly. I *did* lose the two outer threads, but that's ok.. i must've not tied them properly onto the back apron. However, since they were luckily the two most outer threads in the warp.. it didn't really matter that i dropped them, and now the shawl will be two threads thinner...i don't think anyone would ever notice. ;) I like the pattern, i decided to use a slub yarn for the weft. However, in hindsight, i should've prepared two floating selvedges to pick up on each pick. Next time,... next time.

shawl on loom

warp at the back

12 July 2010

dressing the loom

heddles

The shawl i'm making is 480 ends, at 16 ends per inch. That's ALOT of ends, and they all have to get threaded individually through their own heddle which is what controls whether they go up or down during weaving. It took me all day sunday to thread them. Now I have to sley them through the reed... which just means i have to thread them through that now too. AHHHHHH. Hopefully the shawl will weave smoothly, i'm sneakingly afraid i did something wrong at some point, and that the warp will get all tangled as it unwinds off the back beam....

back beam

45inch leclerc loom