Saturday, September 24, 2005

To Dye For

Today was one of those really great days. Just doing what you enjoy, with friends that share your passion, without regard for time. These are so very rare.

Once a year, the local knitting guild puts on a dyeing day at a woolen mill, about an hours drive from the city. The mill does commercial processing of wool, and other animal fibres, including some dyeing. Today, they hosted a dye workshop using natural dyes. We used Cochineal, Logwood, Arbutus, Black Walnut, some local burning bush, and pansy, and a few other items. These are all cooked for a long time, then the wool was added, and cooked for a longer time, and finally rinsed.

We were a bit disappointed that some of the dyes didn't take hold on the wool. There may be various reasons, but the colours are not intense. Natural dyeing rarely is, and all our colours today were rather subdued. Here they are all hanging out in the sun, drying.The mill is a working museum. The machinery is quite ancient, collected from all over the continent, and brought to working condition. It is a fascinating experience to see it all in operation. Today, they were all silent. The mill is operated by an unusual couple. They are so laid back! They purchased an old railway station that was being dismantled and moved it to the farm. They have been "fixing it up" for ages; the children have grown up, and are gone. It has a certain charm you will never find anywhere else. And they just take each day as it comes.

While we were waiting for the dyes to cook, we tried our hand at a few other things: needle felting, felting on the felting machine, dyeing with commercial acid dyes in the microwave. It was all fun! Of course, we had to take a run through "the store" -- how can anyone get out of there without purchasing anything?!!

All in all, a good day. Now, to catch up on some of the sleep I missed out on last night.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Mysterious Fruit

Normally, I take the same route to work every day. A creature of habit, I know. But that seems to be the most direct way, and time is of the essence in the morning! I pass a row of crabapple trees along one street. They have been there a long time, and someone is looking after them, since they have been pruned this spring. I have picked the apples for a couple of years; they are the bright red ones, and right now, just after the frost, they are fully ripe and quite sweet. I would make some juice from them, and apple sauce. I still have some from last year -- I will make some muffins from them tonight, so I have room for this years' batch! Some years are not as prolific as others, so I have always learned to make good use of nature's bounty, for it is given to us to use. In other years, there may not be any at all.

There are a couple of tiny apples on some trees interspersed among the others. I think they are of some ornamental variety, have wonderful flowers, and maybe are necessary for the others to produce. They are not edible, I don't imagine. At the very end of this row is one tree not like the others. I have looked at it briefly last year, I recall, but it didn't seem to have any decent fruit on it, either too green or too small. So I normally just ignore it.

This year, I don't know why, I stopped to take a good look at what was on the tree. And it has quite a bit of fruit on it, albeit rather small, but interesting nonetheless. I examined a few of them, and many had already fallen off the tree. They were green, and rather hard -- not ripe, I guess. They had the most interesting shape to them! I picked a few the other morning, and gave one each to the girls I work with. I took some home.

Today, I decided to go and pick a whole bunch more. Since there were so many, and they were falling off the tree, I would put them to good use. So I picked a couple bags of the stuff, along with a bag of the red crabapples, and hung them on my bicycle handle-bars and rolled the bike home. No way was I going to try to ride it and balance these heavy bags as well!!

So I am including a pic here for you to try and identify. They look so familiar! Can anyone tell me what they are, and more importantly, if they are edible. I have a box full of them -- now what to do with them all.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Cable socks

Sometime earlier this year, I heard of a liquidation outlet that had tons of yarn really cheap. I had to run out to the store on my day off (it had to rain, of course) and found that it was pretty well picked over by the time I got there. However, there were still some good finds, and I picked up a couple. Later, I had to dump my armload into a shopping cart.. and so it went.

I searched for any wool or cotton yarns, and found quite a lot. I tried to get all available, and of the same dyelot, although that was not a critical criteria. I ended up with two huge bags and some smaller sundry items. Luckily I had enough cash on me!

So when I was leaving on a long bus ride on a vacation to see my mother, I grabbed two balls for socks. Usually two 50 gm balls is enough for a pair. I began the socks on about Tuesday, and by Sunday, I had finished one. Before I reached the ball of the foot, I ran out of yarn. I KNEW it was going to happen! I sometimes use a contrast heel and toe, but didn't on this one. I was going to have to be really creative if I couldn't find anything else close!

When I got home, I searched through the bags for another ball. Most of the time, I was only able to find two, so I wasn't hopeful. Eventually, I dumped everything on the floor, and searched through it again... and found one more! What a lucky strike! So I was able to finish the pair with the same yarn.

It's just a simple cable on either side, front and back. There was a bit of a problem with them on the first one, and so had to do the very same thing on the other, and they look like a matched pair. Why do both of them HAVE to be the same, anyway??

I wore them to work last week, and had to pull up my pant legs a lot to show off! It's really too bad that no one gets to see my socks -- I think I may start wearing breeches!

I am now working on another pair, this time in dark blue/navy. I am finding it is hard to see the stitches during the evening, so only can work on them during daylight. They are in a complicated-looking basket weave pattern, but is rather simple to do, once you understand the logic. They will be here soon enough!

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Long Week!

This has been a very long week! I took Monday off from work. It's my Mental Therapy Day -- I went spinning with my friends. On the first Monday of the month, several ladies get together for a day of spinning, and I always enjoy that. When I used to have Monday off, this was perfect. But now that I have to work Mondays, it's a bit more difficult. Since I worked on Friday, I took Monday off instead, and it all works out fine.

It was a bit of a struggle to find a ride but I did it. The lady that hosts this spinning day lives way down in the south of the city, so I need to find a ride down there. Luckily, I have several friends that come from the north and are willing to pick me up. I pack a lunch, take along my small spinning wheel, a spindle, some fibre and some knitting. All this because I'm not sure what I will want to be working on that day! Of course, something that I have finished, for Show and Tell. It was a great day, and good to see everyone since we haven't met since June.

I've been trying to encourage some of the knitters at work to work on a couple projects, but it seems they are content doing whatever it is they do. But I do have one woman that knew a few things about knitting, and needed a bit more help. So I have been pestering her to get working on a few things. We started with a simple hat, knit in the round. This was the first time she worked with double pointed needles, or circulars. But she did very well, knitting two hats. Then I started her on a simple baby jacket... that didn't get very far! Then we talked about doing some mittens. We were going to do this in May, since she was taking some classes earlier and didn't have time for anything else!

It wasn't until July that we got started on the mittens! All she could find was some acrylic, but I accepted that. I keep encouraging her to get some wool, or at least a wool blend, but that is very hard to find at Michael's or WalMart! But I got her to cast on, knit the ribbing, and then the body of the mitten. We did increases for the thumb gusset -- except someone didn't count the stitches, and one thumb ended up being a bit smaller! She is able to knit in the round very well now. I showed her how to do the decreases for the end of the mitten, and then we did the grafting. That was easy.

I showed her how to pick up a few stitches for the thumb, and knit around, and to decrease. She was very excited about that, since it was nearing the end!! Then she darned in the ends, and all is done! Her daughter was so thrilled to have them done, and wore them the next day when it was rather chilly! Now, she is going to work on some for herself. I gave her a skein of my handspun for this project. It's in white wool, and we might do some dyeing when they are done. Little by little, I'm getting her to learn a new technique with each project, and trying things she would never attempt on her own.

But I wanted to show you the mittens! One is slightly larger (don't know what happened there) but are not too bad. This is not my choice for a yarn, but that was all she could find. I have shown her a thrift shop where she is finding some needles for her collection, and some yarn.

I'm off work on Friday. This has been a very long week! I'm exhausted! After I came home, and checked some emails, had a little snack, I went to bed before 9 o'clock! That is the exciting life I lead! I don't need supper EVERY day, you know.

I'm working on another pair of socks. These are in a dark blue, almost navy. I find that I have to work on them in daylight; it's too hard to see at any other time. It's in an interesting basketweave pattern, looking more complicated than it really is, and I'm having fun doing them. They should be quite nice when done -- soon.

It rained again today. I was going to take the bike to work, but changed my mind. It was a most unusual wet dreary grey misty day. The weekend should be a lot better, with some sun, and maybe a bit warmer. And I have so much to do!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Long weekends

There hasn’t been much posted here for a long time. It’s like this: I knew I had a blog set up, but couldn’t remember what name I used when I signed up for it. Yup, my own name I forgot! But there are so many sites I have to create a name in order to use, with passwords and all kinds of stuff, that this one just got lost. I have a long list -- a very long list -- of all the sites I have to sign in to, with names, and passwords. But the Blogger site was not listed!

Eventually, I was able to get them to email me with the name I used and my password. Well, what do you know!? I DO have it listed on the list, but not as a blog, so that is why I missed it! But I got it now.

This was a long weekend. I was off work for four days. Yup, that is a long weekend, but actually is about right. I think one more day would be perfect, since I have too much to do, and nothing got done this weekend at all. I haven’t set foot outside my apartment for two whole days. It was nice out, and I wanted to go to the Farmer’s Market, and needed some groceries ---- but you know, it was just too much trouble to get up and out that door. Maybe another day.

I did some spinning this weekend. I have lots of fibre laying around here, waiting to be made into something. So I tried to help them out a bit. Not sure what they will become, but as long as I make an attempt at showing that I haven’t forgotten them, they are happy. I did knit up a sock out of some of my handspun. Just a little baby sock really. It is only about 3 inches tall, and didn’t take me long to do it at all. It might go to someone, unless I decide to make another one for her. I need a few more details on it, I think. Yes, I think there will be another one knit up very soon! (That’s a quarter in the pic, for sizing purposes.)

I got to using newsgroups. Well, I have used it before, long ago, and had forgotten how to do it. Or where. But after some work, it was really simple – once you know the right magic words to use! Cool! I located an Old Time Radio group, and was able to download some shows that I hadn’t heard of before. I will have to keep checking in frequently, since people post different things all the time, and they don’t stay up there for long, apparently. So while I was listening to some of the shows, I knit that little sock. Can’t waste time, now can I?

But tomorrow, it is back to the grind! Oh, I hate mornings like that… I will survive, I suppose, but it’s going to be a rough day. Supervisor has been away for two weeks and it has been a great time. I knew it wasn’t going to last! Oh, I have to be more positive –