Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snow Day!

     See. I said the winter wasn't over yet. We had a snow day - the kind the teachers & kids have been praying for all winter.

   I actually took a snow day - didn't go in and tutor, even though  today is my usual day. I was waiting for Rush Transfer to deliver the washer and dryer, so the weather wasn't too bad for them to be out, even though the schools were closed. In fact, just before noon our snowplow guy came in and did the usual job on the "lane" - actually this year he has been plowing the whole *yard*.

       Worked out well, as the delivery truck arrived shortly after and they were very pleased to have all the room. They tried to back up to the door and got stuck! I so should have taken a picture. The machines are HUGE and gorgeous, not hooked up yet of course, so just for looking at so far.

Pale "Moon Blue"
     I spent some of the day dyeing roving - I tidied up the craft area downstairs, looking for the Jacquard acid dyes I'd bought from Knit Picks some time ago - and didn't find them immediately, but found some ancient boxes of Rit, and instructions online on how to do oven-dyeing. The suggestion was to use aluminum roaster pans but I just got out the Pyrex. You soak the wool, pour on the dye and cover with foil, then put it in the oven at 150 degrees C. for an hour. I did a dark green and a "moon blue". The blue was a cold water dye and is the palest for sure.

      You check for clear water, which is a sign that the dye is exhausted, but I think I had too much dye for the amount of roving each time. Less dye next time! I washed quite a bit of it down the sink. My weighing machine needs new batteries, so I don't know how much of each I dyed, but it was such a rush to do it that I want to do it again! I have been watching a YT video on making felted slippers - these you don't have to knit first, and they are hand-felted so there is more control. Probably less sturdy, but there's a lot of room for embellishment and so on.  Can't wait to get started!

Purple and bright!
    After I did the first two colours, I searched some more and found the acid dye tidily put away in a box - so I cleaned out the pans, soaked another two pansful of roving, and did a bright green and a really bright purple (2 t. fuschia and 1/4 t. cobalt) - again, too much dye. Tomorrow I am going to try to make pastel colours.

The dye actually *boils* in the oven, but because the wool is kept really still, and gradually brought up to temp and then down again, it doesn't felt. Amazing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Even more wintry weather!

     We've had a daddy of a snowstorm and now can boast quite a covering of snow. It was followed by a couple of days of -15 degrees with real wind chill so the snow has solidified, even though it was followed by a daytime temperature of +7 - down to a more reasonable -3 today but still lovely for going for a walk outside.
   While walking, I listened to a couple of "Gardener's Corner" podcasts from January, 2011, where they (amusingly) talked about the winter being nearly over - and flowering winter shrubs! No wonder our ancestors found Canada such a harsh environment. No, winter is not nearly over. We sometimes say that during the St. Patrick's Day snowstorm, but that's a month away yet.
     My poor greenhouse (polytunnel really) is still a sad sight, with lots of snow covering the plastic, pulling it down, the ends blown out, and many of the plastic conduit poles down - I fear to go out and see how bad it is. Obviously it's not sturdy enough for our dreadful winters. I should have taken the cover off, and then the structure would have been safe. A harsh lesson.
     Knitting continues apace. I have been making felted slippers again, and have rediscovered a couple of felted bags made a couple of years ago and never finished. I'm thinking seriously of embellishment, and have signed up to the "Ambrosia Cottage" group on Ravelry - the owner sells hat patterns to knit and felt, and posts pictures of the embellished results. This could be where my beading skills will come in handy.
The slippers are made of Patons Soy Wool, which I bought in large supply a couple of years ago in pound bags from the mill. They start out quite big and baggy - these ones are sized to end up at 7-1/2 - but they felt down quite quickly. I put them in a hot wash and they just needed to go through one cycle. 
I've been needle-felting insoles in my slippers (after they have been are felted) and that's quite satisfying, as well as being a great decoration method. Quite quick as well.  I am just using some carded locks, which I have had ever since I learned to spindle-spin many years ago (in the first crafts revival of the Seventies). Ah the memories.

  The soles needle-felt right down to a cozy and fluffy insole. Now, to figure out what to do to make the soles wear...having tried the caulking gun (and discovering that the stuff wears off quite quickly, or doesn't penetrate the fibre and picks off) I think for this time I'm going for something sewn on. Recommendations range from shelf- or rug-liner to suede or untrasuede (purchased second-hand). I do have a tube of puffy paint too, and I suppose I might try it - it's black, though, so I won't be doing it on these babies.

This are the 7-1/2s with insole, and the red-orange ones will end up at size 9-9-1/2. I have another bigger pair with black soles and another stripey yarn on the tops. I like the little semi-circle of sole that comes to the top of the toe - they look like old-timey rubber-soled sneakers.
      I should say that the pattern for these slippers is "Duffers - revisited" and I bought it from the designer, Mindie Tallack, on Ravelry. I am becoming a true fan of this online buying of patterns - just click and it's in your email - or, if you buy through Ravelry, it's in your Ravelry Library.  I am sure people have been doing this for years for music and movies on iTunes, but it's new and thrilling for me. 
   We finally got to  go to dance again - Fred's work and snowstorms kept us away for three weeks, so it was great to get back. Work at the fabric store has kept me from ballroom dance, however (three weeks of being scheduled for 5-9 on Thursday nights!) but this week I'm on for Sunday afternoon (so as to miss dancing at the pub!) and all day Wednesday instead. I may not have the energy to dance at Irish after being on my feet for 8 hours! But it is simply great to not have any responsibility. And there are plenty of fabrics to drool over - and buy - as well.  I got a big bolt of lambswool interlining - regularly priced at $21.99/metre - for $10 the lot. I don't know what the future holds for it, but it will make many warm things. Or perhaps many things warmer.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


    The much-ballyhooed January storm didn't arrive, but we did get one on February first. It was my first day of work at the fabric store, and I was allowed to leave a few minutes early, although I didn't actually get *home* early as I had to wait for Fred's car pool to arrive... we ended up at home by 6. However, the power was out, so we couldn't cook, and the house was cool-ish. We lighted all the candles we could find, and got the wood furnace going, with the gravity-feed panel open at the back. I'm thinking of putting it on a hinge, it gets opened so often.
    Anyway, we ate cheese and crackers and dip, and went to bed to keep warm, and shortly after the power company came and we had power again. It is amazing how quiet the house is without the mechanical hum of the fridge, the furnace fan, and so on. It's also amazing how much warmer the furnace makes the house *with* the fan! Anyway, we now have a nice amount of snow, no more than 20 centimetres, but nicely piled up in places. I was out for a walk today, but the wind was bitter - fine when it was at my back, but excruciating in my face on the way back. It's a gorgeous day, though - bright and clear, with a few big flakes every now and then. I wouldn't be surprised if there was quite a bit of solar gain.
  Knitting continues apace, with another pair of Cloisonee mittens in the pile for next year's Christmas presents. It's so nice to make something that takes two days, rather than two weeks (like socks).
    I invested in a few skeins of Patons Classic Wool - went to M*chaels first, as they had a sale on - 2 skeins for $10 - but they had very few colours. I bought black and orange there, and then went to Owl's Hollow, and got a lime yellow and magenta - for their regular price of $8.99. Eeek. Anyway, they are nice big skeins, over 200 metres each. Good for a couple of pairs each, almost.
     The current pair use the black and magenta, and the blue and the white are Aran yarns I have in abundance. (I tried out a pair in Briggs & Little but they are so scratchy I don't think anyone would wear them. I'll wash them and see if there's any improvement.) Once the ends of this pair are darned in I will have a look at another colour combo. I made these in size small, and they really are tiny. I'll have to think about whom they will fit.
    Speaking of tiny, I made a 'selbu' pair of mittens in sock yarn - a fairly dreadful self-stripe from S. R. Kertzer in pinks and turquoise - with which I had tried to make Jaywalker socks long ago. I discovered that the Jaywalker pattern made the leg so un-stretchy that I couldn't get my foot through, so they were frogged, and the yarn's been in time-out city ever since.
    This pattern starts out with 40 stitches, so the mittens are really, truly tiny, but the stripes are set off quite well with the white, I think. Or perhaps it's just cute because  it's so tiny? Anyway, everyone else on Ravelry who made this pattern used worsted or DK weight and made mittens to fit adults, so I may try that myself at some point. It's quite an easy pattern.  I liked the stripes so much that I may have to find some stripey DK! Another time I might make a corrugated rib or a braided edge, as, again, I'm not keen on the stripe by itself.
   I managed to get my deck table grouted, despite the frustration of only finding grout in large boxes, so I ended up with much more than I really wanted. I mixed it up in a yogurt tub, and underestimated twice, so had to mix three batches in all. On the up side, I didn't have to throw out much.
      I suppose that the spaces were quite wide between the marbles, compared to the granite tiles which were our last grouting project, so I needed more than I thought. However, it's finished now, and I have enough of the charcoal-coloured grout to do a couple more projects.
     I have a book on mosaics home from the library, so everything that isn't moving should look out!

     The table will have to be sealed before it goes outside, of course, and I'm looking for a small amount of grout sealer - Home Depot seems to think that we all want a big $40 jug of the stuff.