Monday, September 1, 2014

Fruits of Our Labours

.... and then, just like that, its September and summer is (almost) done. Happy Labour Day !

I would love to tell you that I have been out having fun and playing, but no.  The cold we both caught in early August was no cold and it became apparent that it was the flu and I spent an uncomfortable three weeks where days blended one into another.  I literally did not leave the house for three weeks and when I did, I felt like I had been beamed in from another planet. I had gone for groceries and left a still sick Bruce at home as he was about three to five days behind me. I rallied and started to feel a bit better and even spent time weaving, but a nasty cough reappeared and has stayed with me.   A chest x-ray later and it seems I have walking pneumonia now. So more rest and so on....    I would hate to still have this when they finally call me for my knee replacement operation as I would have to pass and wait again!  I'm one of those people with a compromised immune system so getting well is a longer go for me compared to other healthy folks.

So when I was feeling a bit better, I did get the third instalment of the runners loaded and underway. This time in a deep rich red called cerise. I wove a batch of these last year (draft there at the older post) and they sold quickly for Christmas and I thought I would try them again.   So to review:  the yarn is 9/2 French linen from Brassards in Quebec, sett 24 epi, and an eight shaft diamond huck lace.  I love this pattern as it gives an all over lace effect and is stable due to even placements of plain weave through out.   The linen weaves up beautifully, and is very satisfying to hemstitch as it stays tight and neat.    Yes, it does lint a bit and I had to vacuum off the loom after each runner.   I also ran the weft yarn through a damp cloth as I wound the pirns to help reduce the lint and  tame its wiry 'behaviour'.

I love the linen,  and the huck lace but I'm so done with it now and ready to move on!

I also have a new gadget in the studio:

I found trying to hard press the other linen runners literally gave me  'arm ache', so Bruce said to order a press and he'd pay for it.  What a sweetheart! Some research and price comparisons and we got this one on line. Lynnette has one and had lots of good things to say about it and she has no regrets on buying hers. I would tend to agree and wish I had done it a lot sooner!

After the runners came off the loom, I serged them apart and prepped them for hemming. Once my straight pins were in place I gave them a quick touch in the steam press and  spent a couple of evenings hand sewing the hems neatly.  There is something so nice about plying a needle and thread.

I filled the laundry tub with warm soapy water and left them to soak for half an hour and when I came back, this is what I found.

I gave them a good squeezing out to shift threads and get the excess dye out and rinsed very well. There was still some pink in the last water so I will mark these on the tag as 'hand wash separately' for sure!  I don't recall my last batch of the red runners being quite so bad for fugitive dye.

I rolled them into spare old towels to absorb the water and later before I was done for the day, I smoothed them out to dry overnight on towels on the ironing board. I gently shaped them and tugged them to the straight edges and corners I want to see in the final runner.   I also neatly nipped off any weft yarn tails as well.

The next morning I set up the press on top of the ironing board. I have to work out a better spot for it and that may be upstairs and work on the big kitchen counter. For now this set up  will work as I knew I wanted to give them  a final press with the hand iron afterwards.

I hope you can see this okay (maybe click to enlarge?) but I had positioned and pressed the end hem and approx six to eight inches. There is a line between the newly flattened linen and the bumpy textured cloth on the right hand side. That's one press for about five seconds, using  spritz of water on the cloth first and additional steam. I rolled up my metaphorical sleeves and got busy pressing the runners end for end and both sides.

I'm still new to the machine so in time I will learn all the tricks to do a better faster job. I tried rolling the runner and tucking in behind the pivot but there was too much material. I thought I could just unroll a section at a time. Nope!  Then I realized there would be a crease line regardless and so just did the easy pull through as shown above.   The press did a beautiful job of flattening the cloth but there was little to no shine.  

I tacked on my "made by..." label and then fired up the hand iron.   I didn't have to give that heavy downward pressure this time but simply smooth and bring out the shine. What a treat!

So here are the beauty shots:

So what's next? I have some ideas and I thought this might look good as warp.... its a variegated tencel called Sapphire Combo.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Half Way There

They say a picture tells a thousand words....

Its been many years since I had a cold and/ or flu bug in the summer.....but this one was simply dreadful.  It came with all the usual symptoms but I never suspected the train wreck that was to come!  Colds aren't simple anymore when you have Lupus.   I must confess that some days simply having a shower and changing to a clean nightie was the accomplishment of the day.   It moved into my throat and bronchial passages and so there's a whole new meaning to that term "coughing up a lung".   I feel like a mule has kicked in my ribs!

I'm slowly improving and thanks to Bruce, I haven't starved to death.  I couldn't taste anything mind you! Did you know that even when you can't taste food, you can still register salt and sweet with your tastebuds?

Have you ever noticed that if you have what you might call "your normal aches and pains" how they totally all disappear when you get sick?  Its like the body says "I simply can't do all of this at the same time!"  Rather cruel I thought....being able to walk better, but too sick to go.

Needless to say, there has been ZERO weaving done..... and all of this was going on in the middle of a heat wave here.

Now Bruce is coming down with this bug and so I'll be passing the tissue box to him shortly.

Like the rest of the world,  I was stunned by Robin William's death. I loved the way he found the funny in ANY situation and made huge difference in so many people's lives. I'm just saddened by the way the same genius that moved through him, also came with demons.

While he was a crazy manic comedian, he was also a incredible serious actor: Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King and many more.  One movie he made never gained much notice but I actually went of of my way to find it and buy it.  Its a amazing kaleidoscope of colour and imagery but with a very dark and gritty subject matter.

What Dreams May Come   was made in 1998. Its about a man who dies in a car crash and he searched the afterlife for his wife. When he finds she's not there, he goes to Hell to recover her.  It would seem that Hell is actually her mind and he must rescue her from herself.   A poignant subject now that we know how Robin died.

.... and you simply must watch Patch Adams too....that treatment plan is based on an actual real life Doctor and his hospital.  Should be required watching for all medical students and doctors who take their job too seriously.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Five Days Away

We just took five days off and crossed the pond and visited family and friends in the Vancouver area. We missed one ferry by four cars and so had to wait two hours for the next. That was okay and we sat reading. The crossing was beautiful and the water flat calm.The main object of the visit?  This little boy:

Sitting with Grandad ( or Crum-Dad as Ethan calls him)

Ethan is now two and a half and a real going concern! Favourite word? NO (not much of a surprise there). His usual speed?  FAST!  I didn't even try to keep up. I couldn't....
Hours of operation? 8 am to 10:30 pm. (with a brief lull in the hostilities between 1 and 2 pm for a nap that he generally fights). I have no idea how his mother does it and holds down a job too.

We had a great time and enjoyed their company .... and the BBQ with their friends was super. We contributed home made potato salad and strawberry shortcake. Bruce taught them the easy peasy microwave method of cooking corn in the husk that impressed everyone! A trick we learned on Facebook.

We shifted to a hotel over town to be close to where my Dad lives for our visit with him. It was his birthday and it was a lovely afternoon spent chatting, eating trifle my sister had made,  and watching his little chickadee family come and go from the peanut feeder on the patio.

This adorable little man is my Dad at age two or so.

We took time to visit another elderly family member of Bruce's and had a lovely afternoon reminiscing  about people, times and places as he helped me with dates and data for my genealogy program. The time flew by!

The farm area around Vancouver is enjoying a bumper crop of blueberries this year. We saw the bushes are so loaded with fruit they are bright blue and branches are bending with the weight. We bought a ten pound box. We plan to freeze them but so far we are enjoying them fresh like candies.
Its also corn season and so we got some of the famous Chilliwak corn. Tender and sweet. Nothing says summer like fresh fruit and veggies!   We had taken fresh plums from our orchard at home and gifted them liberally everywhere we went. The tree had given us a bumper crop too.

We soon found it was time to head home. I was starting to really feel the heat along with painful joints from all the activity.  We have been 'enjoying' a heat wave again and hot weather and I are not on friendly terms.  People with Lupus are advised to stay out of the sun and that suits me just fine.

With the coming weekend being a holiday weekend, I had had the foresight to book reservations to come home. Best money spent ever!  The line ups for the ferry at Horseshoe Bay was right up onto the main highway and judging by the sheer numbers, at least a two or three ferry wait. They stopped us and confirmed our reservation for the 12:50 pm sailing and we drove right by the entire parking lot of cars. Then they saw I needed to be near an elevator on the ship and we were first up in line to get on.

They like to pack everyone in tight! We made our way upstairs and went out onto the decks to take in the view. Here are some random shots of Horseshoe Bay, the marina and the traffic on the water.

Busy place... and you can see the next ferry coming around the point.

If you look closely at this one above, you can make out the cars lined up on the road, upper left.

This lady and I took pictures of each other and shared a laugh.

I got a nice one of Bruce who was also leaning out and taking pictures.

The prop wash from our ferry and the distant islands.

For emergencies....

Lucked out with this nice shot. That's the view towards Squamish and beyond to Whistler where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held.  The pictures below were taken by Bruce:

RCMP boat for patrols.

Yes, that's me snapping pictures. Notice my new wheels? Yup, the knee is that wobbly now.

The Bowen Island ferry or otherwise called a "puddle jumper"! 

....and then we were under way and heading for home. Its just under a two hour trip. The water was flat calm. No observable wild life such as whales or dolphins. Maybe they took a little break too?

So now we are trying to revive our gardens with watering, doing laundry and catching up. Calli might have enjoyed her stay at the doggy resort initially but she's letting us know that five days was too long for her. She's alternating between ignoring us completely or following closely on our heels!

Okay folks.... August is high summer... the dog days of summer.... the last four weeks before school again.  Get out there and enjoy!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Round two... and this Time Blue!

Sorry to keep you waiting for a post. Its just *that* time of year when everyone is distracted by summer, traveling and guests. Its a slower time of year.  No rules, and no agenda for many.  We have also just come through a nasty heat wave and the much needed rain that was promised, only fell lightly here and far too much elsewhere !
 We are very dry and you might have heard of our forest fires.   Besides the Okanagan fires, the far north is burning, and there's a huge fire that has taken over one hundred homes south of us in Washington State. 

I also have had another new distraction!

I was doing some updates for my computer one morning and found this program and saw that it was on sale for 50% off. Who doesn't love a sale???  Doing up a family tree is something I have wanted to make a start on for some years now. I have 'special boxes' with letters, cards, photos and mementos.... all with bits of family history scattered throughout.  Printed emails from my Dad with his stories of family long since passed,  and many memories of days and times long ago.    I have dug it all out and organized it into folders based on the families that intersect with mine and starting adding in what I have to hand. Even something as simple as an old letter from a family member gave me a name of a family member and when they died,  an address and a date.  Its all gold on the genealogy trail !

Its also *very* addictive...and it eats time like crazy! You are a super sleuth and solving a mystery.  Next thing you know, you find yourself calling relatives who haven't heard from you in a decade or longer.  Now you suddenly want to know them better  :)

Eventually it cooled down enough here that I felt like weaving again. Yeah, it was *that* hot here. My studio was 86 degrees and that's the above ground basement where its supposed to be cool.

I just kept treadling away and two days ago I pulled off three runners and some samples.  I have one more warp wound to go for third linen runner warp and after that, I'll be hanging up huck lace for while!  I can do this pattern in my sleep now.  Its just more proof that I could never be a production weaver. I like variety too much.... I get BORED !

On the loom and under tension.

Hemming with linen is great. Fold into thirds and press.  The linen simply fold neatly, unlike cotton, or tencel where it can spring back on you unless you press at every move.

Press flat...

Fold one third over...

Fold again to the bottom edge of the hemstitching and press, then pin. {Excuse the nasty ironing board cover. Its time to buy a new one.} I quite enjoy the hand sewing as we relax in the evenings. The longer daylight is a nice bonus.

I filled the laundry tub with hot sudsy water and soaked them for half an hour. Then I rolled up my sleeves and got to working the cloth with my hands to encourage the threads to shift into their groups and also to reduce the reed marks.  I think we are harder on the cloth than the final owner will be as manipulate and press the cloth into its final look!

After gently squeezing out water I lay them onto  older towels and fold it all up like  a parcel. I pull and shape as I go.... it all helps with the pressing to come! ( Heck, I knew of a weaver who would pin out a damp piece until it dried to keep it to a preset size she needed. "All's fair" she said. Since knitters pin out their work after washing, it seemed reasonable to me!)

The big work out is the pressing. Hot iron, lots of steam and a whole lotta muscle!  It seems to have been worth it. I got two all blue runners and one longer one that I mixed with natural coloured linen again. 

9/2 French Linen from Brassards en Fil in Quebec, Canada
Sett 24 epi ; colour is "Vieux Bleue"

8 shaft huck lace diamonds: nicely balanced fabric. 

This runner is 72 inches long and is just lovely!

I also found a source for uber fine Japanese silk in a stunning array of colours, sold by the ounce. They are leftover yarns from a Kimono weaving house in Tokyo that was in business in 1920. These silks are close to one hundred years old.

I thought a penny might give some perspective to the fineness of the yarn.  I think I might ply the silk on my spinning wheel. The sheen is amazing! Hauser Gallery  They even have gold wrapped silks. Take a peek at least....

I hope your summer is going well! Friends, family, BBQ's and sunshine.... Its what we waited all winter long for so enjoy!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Friends From Afar

There are many options out there on the internet for weavers to enjoy each other's company,  their latest projects and share helpful advice on social media. One is Ravelry which was originally set up primarily for knitters and crocheters and somehow weavers carved out a little niche on the web site.   There are many groups of weavers gathered by area or region, associated by a particular yarn store or fan of a weave structure. Some are groups set up by and for a weavers guild from varying locations around the world. Its quite amazing what you will find when you do a search!   Then there are the projects which you can isolate either by 'friend' status or simply by category of 'weaving'.   Pure eye candy!

Then there are the people!

I have 'met' and made friends with so many either by my blog or by also interacting with them at Ravelry.   I reckon I could travel across Canada or the USA simply going from weaver to weaver..... and also include the UK, Scotland, Denmark, NZ and Australia.  Though, I might start with Hawaii first   :)

Through this blog, I get nice emails from many people all over and sometimes even pictures of their latest project.  Its all a wonderful connectedness that simply would not have happened if not for the Internet.   I love it!

I met Wayne, or rather, Padre Wayne in the group "Warped Weavers" at Ravelry.  Wayne is an enthusiastic weaver who is also an Episcopalian  Minister in a small community in Michigan.  We have exchanged  messages and occasionally Skyped.  He would complain about the snow and cold in Michigan ......and I tell him all about the annual flower count in Victoria in February.

So when I heard that Wayne and his partner Harry would be coming out to the west coast on a sabbatical  I hoped my surgery would not conflict with it.  They were staying at a place near Port Townsend and planned to take the ferry to Victoria, then drive north to our place in the North Cowichan Valley.  Home to the world famous hand knit Cowichan Sweater

They arrived last Monday and after lunch we had a tour of the studio and Bruce's train room. We then drove to a place a bit south of Duncan called Whippletree Junction. Its a collection of funky little shops. We visited a yarn store called "The Loom". Now you could be forgiven for thinking its all about weaving, but it isn't. Maybe one day in the past it was but it now features yarns mainly for knitting, with some spinning fibre, and a few cones of yarns. Wayne is making unique scarves on his rigid heddle loom and so bought some lovely colour ways to make some more while they are vacationing.  I was a good girl and resisted temptation.

Leola had a double building that are interconnected inside. There are teapots in the garden out front.

In behind the shops are even more shops and home to Leola's weaving studio.  We sat and waited for Leola to return from her break taking in all the flowers and water fountain. There is also a tea pot garden. Old tea pots of all sorts and sizes are tucked into nooks and crannies and filled with flowers.  I didn't have my camera with me so sadly, no picture (this time).  Its a fun and funky place literally FILLED with dozens of looms of all kinds, all with works in progress and Leola has students from the local colleges and Shawnigan Lake School there, as well as interested members of the public who want to try their hand at weaving.  There is even large outdoor dye kitchen in the back for colour experimentation too.   Wayne and Harry enjoyed the ambience and of course Wayne found some yarn that called to him and followed him home!

We had supper at a restaurant called The Rock Cod Cafe down at the shores of Cowichan Bay. Specialty? seafood of course and the majority of it is local.  We had a view of the marina with its sailboats, power boats and floating homes.   The local Dragon boat racers were out on the bay practising and it was a beautifully calm evening for it. Across the bay is Mount Tuam on Saltspring Island. After dinner we took a pleasant stroll on the pier at the Maritime Museum.  The marina is getting ready for the wooden boat festival in Maple Bay near where I live. The boats are looking grand. With it being Canada Day the next day, there were flags flying everywhere!

Later at home we cracked a bottle of bubbly and had dessert. You see, Wayne and Harry had just got married two days before in Washington prior coming to see us!  We had to celebrate and wish them well!

The next morning Bruce made a wonderful omelet breakfast and then we headed to the studio.  I set up my spinning wheel for Harry to play with. He was taught to spin by Judith MacKenzie no less!
Wayne and I each took a loom and we all started to  play!  Bruce took pictures of us.  The morning light filled the room and so they turned out great!

Wayne weaving on the Woolhouse

Harry testing the ratios on the Rose

...and me on the Louet Spring

Wayne and Harry also brought a little heat wave along with them and so it was quite warm. We had been unseasonably cool until then so it was an adjustment to make in a hurry!

All during the time Wayne and Harry were with us, Harry was folding Japanese origami paper cranes.  (The link is to a video how to guide) A friend had asked them to visit a memorial tree planted for a lost loved one in Oak Bay, Victoria  and so Harry had a plan.  He was folding cranes every chance he got and soon had a box full of them. A quick use of my hole punch and  Wayne had a cone of bamboo yarn to hand.   

After we said our good byes and they headed south to Victoria where they did locate the special tree. They later sent us this picture:

There must have been some curious people in Victoria when they found these cranes hanging in the tree later!   While Wayne and Harry are heading back to Michigan and home later this week, I somehow suspect they have fallen in love with the west coast of either country.... and we haven't seen the last of them!