Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Past

An English Robin
 A look into Christmas past, starting with my parents first tree in 1954. They lived in 'married quarters' in Portsmouth England. Dad was in Her Majesty's Royal Navy.

 Then I came along in 1956 and here I am about two years old at a Christmas party in 1958.  My parents later moved to Canada in 1960. They brought all their English traditions with them.    Such as Christmas crackers, Christmas plum pudding, and an orange and a lump of coal in the stocking.

Here we all are in 1962 living in the middle of the Canadian prairies with a 'real winter'.  The Santa at the base of the tree was on every Christmas tree right up to 1995.

Now its 1965 or so  and I have a new brother and another sister or two....  I'm wearing my new pyjamas that I opened on Christmas eve.

We moved to New Zealand in 1970 and lived there for close on five years. Christmas became this weirdly strange time where we'd go to the beach with a cold roast chicken and have a picnic.  No snow, but hot sun instead....and people exchanged cards with snow scenes on them!

We spent a New Year's Eve at a friend of my parents who owed this beach house right over the water. The tide is out in the picture but when the tide was in, it came right up under the house and you could slip straight into the water via a trapdoor in the deck.  I was close to being fifteen at the time so its a brand new 1971.

Here's the picnic and then a walk in dunes and along the beach....
Dad went through a black and white film phase but let me assure you, the beach is beautiful!

I found a colour version!

Many years later, my strangest Christmas was in 1984 when I spent two weeks on the railroad with Bruce.  He was placed as senior engineer on the Via Passenger train and his run was between Vancouver and Boston Bar.   Of the seven round trips in a two week period, I was on five of them.  Christmas dinner in the beanery,  New Years party by accident and breakfast on New Years morning in a dining car going through the Fraser Canyon in a snow storm, with Bruce running the train back to Vancouver.  It was a fun memory!

Speaking of Bruce, I found this old picture of one of his early Christmases in northern Ontario.  Cute little nipper...  He's only two or three here, so roughly 1948 to 1949.

Bruce with his train set.... an early start at his future career!

So where ever you are in the world and what ever your holiday tradition is, I hope you are in the company of good friends and family!    

Wishing you and yours all the very best, and a healthy 2020!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Dark Dahlia

This post really started in the Fall when late blooming flowers such as dahlia's are in the gardens still.  They are so lush, and so colourful!  When we lived further south near Duncan here on Vancouver Island, there was a property by the main road where in the fall a table would appear with jars filled with fresh cut dahlias and a sign that said $4.00 a bunch. This invariably would go up in price as the years passed and the popularity of the flowers increased. I watched the dahlia beds get larger as root stock was divided down and new colour varieties added.

I liked to photograph them at their peak:

Then, in the summer of 2016 when we were heavily engaged in packing and getting ready to move, the lady gardener added a new colour that was stunning!   Sadly I didn't get a picture, or the flowers, before we moved.   I went on-line and looked at the various varieties available with a view of maybe adding some to our new gardens here.   I found this picture that is very close to the special one from the roadside garden. Her flower was a bit darker and not so tightly packed.

Sort of a cross between these two.  

I have woven colour gradations before in this colour range and also another project where I used four or five shades of blue. The Mac version of Fiberworks has this feature and I have played around with it  and its getting easier to create some interesting colour plays. So with the rich dark dahlia in mind I used 8/2 tencel in black, eggplant and red-purple (which I call magenta) and created this 16 shaft draft.  It looked fine both front and back.... another nice feature to use before committing yarn to the loom.

But.... there is no replacement for actual yarn on the loom!

It has the central glow I was looking for but it was overly dark and broody. Too much black.  I also had a problem with sleying the ends as I kept on missing dents and practically had to put a 'search light' on the reed to see what I was doing!  Seems darker cloudy days and a lack of natural light and a dark warp really don't go together well.

I only wove one repeat and there it sat while I tried to figure out how to redeem this problem child.  I went back to the draft and kept the threading the same, as its already in place, and tried different tie up's and different treadlings.    I removed all the old weft threads and then tried this draft below for the first scarf, using black as my weft again.  It has a better balance of plain weave and twill areas and so a better chance at being reversible and having the light play on the twill floats to show the pattern. Its still dark, but has the central glow I wanted like the flower.

On the second scarf I decided to use the eggplant colour as my weft. It worked well to soften the black areas, define the centre and pull it together. The colour shifts actually flow better.  I tried another treadling variation using the same tie up:

The pattern repeats are lengthy; well they are when your joints hurt, and so weaving went slowly for me. I have been having trouble with arthritis in my feet and last 'good' knee so had to take some off days to rest.  Its also a busy time of year so there have been many other domestic distractions!  🎄

I used my new 10 clip fringe twister I showed you last post on the finishing  of the scarves.   Did it save time?  Well, yes.  Setting up the bouts to the clips really takes the same amount of time overall, whether its four or ten, but only having to turn the clips for a total of five bouts of fringe is faster than only doing two. I'm glad I didn't get the 20 clip model as the angle of the ends would be too extreme.  It would be fine for someone doing blanket fringe or a project that is equally wide as the twister, but not for finer weaving.   I'm happy with it!  Its nicely made, smooth working and I like the handle end.  You can find it for sale here

Here's the first scarf on the fringing board with freshly twisted fringe flipped up as I worked along.   They were washed and pressed and then sat as we had day after day of heavy cloud, some wind and rain and no sign of the sun.  Lights on in the house even at midday.   What you need for a project like this is brighter natural light as the flash on the camera bleaches out the colours, creates 'hot spots' and generally makes things difficult to capture. 

So yesterday it brightened up and even a few rays of sunshine and I dashed for my camera!    They will have to do and if I still have them come spring, I will reshoot again in better daylight. 

I'm hoping the various pictures will show a better range of pattern and colours!

Then we have my personal favourite, the eggplant weft scarf.  I might just keep this one for me!

Thank you for being patient with me as my posts squeak in at a minimum lately. There are other projects to come  and are underway.  Its seems I'm not as fast a weaver as I was but hopefully the quality makes up for it!

For my long time readers who have followed along with the arrival of my grandchildren.... I present Ethan (age 7 1/2)  and Madison's (age 4 1/2)  2019 Christmas picture.  Don't let those cute faces fool you.... they both can 'kick butt' at Brazilian Jujitsu now.   🎄🎅🏻🎁