Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Resolution

In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Learn how to shear sheep.

Get your resolution here.

I'm not one for making resolutions for the New Year but this one caught my eye. Heh! For the wishy-washy ones like me, you can get your resolutions made for you.

We'll see about the sheep shearing.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

How to Make Your Own Lip Balm & Recipe

Making your own lip balm is incredibly easy and fast.

1 part unbleached beeswax
1 part carnuba wax
5 parts liquid oil

essential oils (optional) - teatree, lavender, orange, peppermint
Vitamin E oil (optional)

First thing to do is put a small metal spoon in the fridge - you'll see why.

Microwave method
Measure out the carnuba wax into a microwavable container. I like using glass Pyrex measuring cups. They're easy to clean up after. Measure out your preferred oil. I like jojoba oil because it's a liquid wax and it keeps longer without your product going rancid. Sweet almond oil and avacado oils are really nice in lip balms as well. You can use olive oil or any cooking oil. Keep in mind that some cooking oils have a stronger oil scent.

Microwave on medium for short burst of time (20 secs each) until the carnuba wax is almost completely melted. Stir between microwaving. Add in the beeswax and microwave the same way. You don't have to microwave the container until all the wax is melted because the rest of the wax will melt as you stir. Carnuba is a harder wax and takes longer than beeswax to melt.

Bainmarie method
Measure everything into a heatproof container and heat over a hotwater bath until everything has melted. Stir gently as not to get water in your mixture.

The rest...
Take the metal spoon out of the fridge. To test your lip balm's consistency, gently touch the mixture with the bottom of the spoon. You'll see how hard or soft your lip balm will be. At this point, you can adjust by adding more wax or liquid oil. If you're using lip balm containers, you'll want a softer consistency. For lipstick tubes, you want something a bit harder but not hard enough to rip your skin off. Adding more carnuba wax will make your mixture really hard. I like adding beeswax instead.

Once everything has melted and mixed, you can add in a few drops of your favourite essential oils. Teatree oil has great antiviral properties and great for winter use. Lavender is really soothing for chapped lips.

One excellent combination is a few drops of sweet orange and a bit of cocoa powder. The only drawback to this combination was that it made me hungry all the time.

Vitamin E can be added at this point for extra moisturizing properties. Make sure you get the real stuff (100% alpha-tocopherol) & not the synthetic stuff (d-alpha-...).

You can also leave the balm plain and enjoy the nice honey scent. That one is my favourite lip balm.

Once all the extras have been added, pour into lipstick tubes. Those can be found online if you do a search. Cranberry Lane sells them locally and online. Magestic Mountain Sage is another good place.

I usually make a large-ish batch and fill only two or three tubes at a time. If you let the mixture cool, you can keep it in the fridge for later use if you store it in an airtight container. Just remelt the balm the same way and pour into your clean tubes. You can reuse the tubes if you clean and sterilize them beforehand.

Clean up
Cleaning up is easy. Wipe your utensils and containers with a paper towel to remove excess balm. Wash with dishwashing soap and water. Your stuff will still be food safe. You're not using anything that you haven't eaten before.

Last bit of fruitcake

This is the last of the fruitcake. Martha Stewart came through - the cake was delicious! I've always wondered if the people who make fruitcake jokes ever tried REAL fruitcake? Not the quasi stuff with the red and green plastic fruits. But the ones made with REAL dried currents, raisins, dried apricots, figs, dried bing cherries, and real candied ginger? I believe in garbage in, garbage out. Despite my misgivings about making this cake so late, it turned out really well. I've been dousing it with my vanilla rum about once a week and you can really taste the vanilla flavour.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ah! Time to think of the Challenge project!

Presents have all been opened, lots of good food and drink consumed and now it's back to business...knitting & crafty stuff.

This year was a book year. Lots of books & a few odds & ends. No fibre. That's ok because I ordered all my fibre stuff before the holidays so I'll have lots of new stuff to play with. And it's not like I don't already have loads of fibre anyway.

As usual, I refused all offers from my sister to join her in Boxing Day shopping. I think it takes an insane person to wake up at 5am to line up at Future Shop for the 6am opening. There is nothing - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING - I want from Future Shop that will make me do that. Not sure I would do that for yarn either but it really depends on how good the sale is (Lorna's Laces at 80% off would be an enticement).

Challenge Stuff

It's not sunny outside but certainly much brighter than the last two weeks have been. Bright enough to take pictures outside anyway. This is the first chance I've had to take a good close look at the yarn. I liked the colour of the batt but not the yarn. I thought the colour was grey and drabby until I looked at it outside. It's a nice pale mauve with specks of colours. Sorry...can't tell you the yardage. I "misplaced" the little piece of paper I wrote the info on. I really should start using one of my books to keep track of things.

I had no idea what to do with this skein until I flipped through the latest issue of Spin-Off. The idea of crocheting bobble yarn intrigues me. This yarn is thicker than what those women used but it might be interesting to try.

As Ms. Frizzle always say - "Take chances, get messy, make mistakes!"

So, bobble yarn is next!

Edited to add the pithy details...
Spun long draw & then plyed back on itself to make 2-ply. I haven't set the twist yet.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Banananananana Book!

This book is made with unbleached recycled paper ~ 136 pages. The signatures are separated with the same paper as the covers - Thai kozo with banana fibre inclusions. It's machine made but really is a beautiful paper. I used the deckle edges on the inside so the paper blended in with the outer covers. I used cream coloured waxed linen thread to go with the linen tapes. I'm quite pleased with the cuts this time. I punched them with the chisel from the inside and it gave the outer covers a much smoother look, without exposing the inner board. The cuts are just a tad smaller than the width of the tapes. The linen tapes were definitely much easier to glue down than the grosgraine ribbon from the first book.

I think this may be my favourite book so far. The coptic binding allows the book to lay nice and flat when opened. Not only does the spine fatteners separates each signatures nicely, it gives the outer spine a nice uniform look to show off the binding.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Fleece On Earth

*photo courtesy of Geek Philosopher

Fleece On Earth
Good Wool Towards Men!

Things are starting to get pretty busy here. I wanted to wish everyone all the best for the season - whatever you celebrate. Stay safe and hope Santa will bring you lots of fibre goodness.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Not that I'm counting...

...but I have 11 days, 15 hours, and 29 minutes to go until my next holidays. Christmas! I have my request signed and returned and I have 2 weeks off over the Christmas break! Jackpot!

This weekend was one of those "stop & think" ones. We have presents - roomful of presents, a warm house, a fridge & pantry overflowing with food for the holidays, and family and friends all around us. The only thing we didn't have is the tree. We went to look and was appalled by the cost of getting a decent tree. Not a pencil sharpened tree but a REAL tree. One can pay $100 or more easily for a decent looking tree. It just felt so wrong to buy a tree, put it up for two weeks and then send it to the chippper. Seems like such a waste. So we took a vote and decided to donate the tree money to the local Food bank. That felt so right.

My husband had a brilliant idea of us making our own tree (translated to ME making the tree). A search on the internet provided a few interesting ideas like these (not sure about the feather tree, though). Some were mildly odd like this tree made from baby food jars. And some where downright bizarre like this tree made from Mountain Dew cans.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fibre Challenge

I spent the last month or so looking at the fibres we got in our Fibre Challenge bag. It really is a mix bag of different stuff. I had all sorts of ideas but nothing definite.

My first thought had been to blend EVERYTHING together to see what the results would be. But I wasn't sure how the brown alpaca would go with all the other colours. In the end, I took a chance & everything went on the carder. I love it! I have to admit, I never thought the results would be this nice.

I was going to take the batt to show everyone on Wednesday but I'm so tempted to start spinning it to see what it will look like. In case I give in to temptation, here's a picture...

It was really difficult to take a good picture of this batt. The silk gave the batt a silvery sheen and reflected the light. The actual colour of the batt is more silver-mauve than the purplish colour in the picture. This had gone through the drumcarder twice. The first round left a lot of streaks of colours. I did like the effects of that blending but decided to go for the second carding.

Can I just submit my batt as my fibre challenge project?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Another ARRGH!!

The knitting portion of the BPT is finished but not blocked and no zipper yet. The bad news is that it's a bit snug on me. It just fits but I don't like sweaters that fits like a second skin. I was pretty sure I got gauge on this one but just remembered that I did the swatch using straight needles and knitted the sweater with circulars. I was in too much of a hurry to start the sweater. The good news is that I'm pretty sure it will fit my niece. The other bad news is that I got my sister to discreetly show her the picture of the BPT over at Knitty to see what she thinks of the sweater. Her reaction was less than favourable. She thinks it looks like an old granny sweater. Huh?! Whatever.

So now I have two options -
1. Block the sweater and hope it fits.
2. Reknit the sweater in larger size. This won't be the first time I've reknitted a sweater at the last minute. Probably won't be the last, either.

For now, I think the best thing to do is to put it away until after Christmas.

Monday, December 04, 2006

No more room in my brain...

Ack! If I don't get this out of my head, I won't be able to sleep tonight! I just got a great idea for an advent calendar tree. Inspired by the little stuff button tree at WhipUp (btw, she has a link to a PDF template for the tree) and the Shrinky Dink pins at Wee Wonderfuls.

The idea is to make the little stuff tree and then make the ornaments with Shrinky Dink pins. You can number the ornaments and poke one on your tree everyday. And if you have kids, they can help you make the shrinky dink ornaments. It's so simple and quick!

Ok. Now that it's out of my head, I'm off to sleep now. Sometimes I have so many things running around in my brain that if I don't write it down somewhere, I'll forget things. Sometimes writing things down doesn't help either because I'll forget where I've jotted things down. I guess I could use one my books for that. :D

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More sewn bindings

I can't help myself!

I'm expanding my bookbinding skills and have been trying different ways of attaching the covers. has lots of great tips on using the tapes as hinges. He made it sound so easy. really wasn't that hard but I did made a few mistakes.

I used my carving chisel to set the holes. It does give a nice straight cut, as Dennis suggested but I cut my line just a bit longer than my ribbon. This gave the ribbon too much wiggle room. Next time, I'll cut the line just a tad smaller and cut from inside to outside. The bevelled cuts exposed the inside board. Also, I didn't plan my stations well. I had to double back a few times to keep the pattern consistent. It made some of the signatures a bit bulkier than the others. The ribbon is a polyester grosgraine and it does not hold glue well at all. In order to attach the inside paper, I used a bit of book binding tape over the ribbon so the glue would have something to grab onto.

Here's the book for the Duulan contest...

I wanted to create a journal that knitters can use. Something small that you can toss in your knitting bag. The finished size is roughly 4 3/4" x 5 3/4". There's 160 lavender graph pages inside so you can jot down schematics as well write notes on your knitting. The sheets are acid free and contains 30% recycled wood product.

The coptic binding allows the book to open flat, making easier to make notes while knitting. The thread is red waxed linen. There will also be a ribbon closure on the outside but the ribbon I had planned on using didn't match the cover. I'll have to head over to the fabric store in the morning.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Measuring the speed of Meme

In the name of science...

Measuring the speed of Meme

The knit bloggers are starting to find their way there.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fibre, Books, & Fruitcake

Fibre Stuff

I'm spinning the rest of my merino/silk fibre from Mud River Angora. I love it! The yarn is so soft! It will be perfect for chemo hats. I used the skein of the McKenzie fibre to knit something for the gift exchange but I want to keep it for myself!

Book Stuff

I think I understand the Coptic stitch now. Once I figured out what I was doing wrong, it wasn't so bad attaching the covers on at the same time. I've been pulling tight - it should be snug but not overly tight. The trick is to snug up the stitches inside the signatures but not pull too tight on the chains.

I have another two sets of signatures prepared and ready to be sewn. That was the plan for Friday but now I have to clean up my workroom. Unfortunately, that room doubles as our guest room and we have an overnight guest on Friday. I just spent most of this week sewing, knitting, and general crafting stuff! The room looks like a tornado has hit it! It's a good thing that he's not fussy...all I have to do is to clear a place for him to sleep. :D

Other Stuff

I have a weakness for fruitcakes. I love them! The best fruitcake I ever had was made by Robert Clothier (he played Relic on the old TV show Beachcombers). At Christmas time, he would bring in a huge fruitcake to where I used to work. No one else liked fruitcake so I always end up taking the whole thing home. He made the cakes from scratch and they were delicious! Usually, I start my fruitcakes late September or early October. This year I'm very late...just made mine today. The recipe (I think it came from a TV Guide - ETA - it came from a Martha Stewart recipe) makes a nice small loaf, unlike most recipes that makes 50 pounds of this stuff. This fruitcake is very very rich. Tomorrow, it will be wrapped up in cheesecloth and doused with vanilla rum until eaten. I'm not sure how it will taste, with having so little time to sit, but I'm looking forward to this.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I like the covers on these two books...

But the one of them suffered a slight misshap - I was a bit overzealous in creasing down the endpaper...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Snow Day!

I love snow! My son loves snow! My husband HATES snow - he has to work in it.

It started Saturday afternoon and have been snowing on & off until today. I heard in other parts of the Lower Mainland area, they got LOTS of snow! I saw on the news a snowplow skidded off the road. I love snow - even more so right now because I have the next 10 days off! Right now, it's beautiful! Eventually it will start to melt and turn into the ugly grey lump, sitting on the edge of the curb, but right now it's beautiful and clean!

Now is the time for a bit of rest and getting the house ready for the holidays. Interesting post at Damselfly's blog. Not being a religious person, I've always struggled with what to call this time of year. I've tried other titles but have decided long time ago to just use Christmas. It's the name of the season, just like "Winter" or "Summer". It doesn't have any deep religious meanings for me but it does represents a time for reflection of the old year and the start of the new. I love all the hoopla that goes with this time of year - the music, the food, the sense of being part of a greater tradition. The three of us (me, hubby, & son) have our own family traditions - little things that we love doing. Over the years, we've simplified our Christmas - we have a tree decorating at my sister (mid December), dinner at my mom's on Christmas Eve, Christmas dinner with Hubby's family at our place and that's it. If anything else comes up, we see how we feel. As for presents, we buy for the kiddies (nieces & nephews). We used to draw names for the adults but stopped that years ago. Most of the things I want or need are so specific (fibre related) that it's better I buy my own.

I think stressing over what to call this season is the last thing anyone should be doing. Do things you enjoy and cut out the things you don't. Everyone else can learn to chill out.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I love November!

One of the reasons I love November is that I get to play Christmas music...quietly. There's a web radio that plays Christmas music 24/7! They even have a substation devoted to all the different versions of "Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" As much as I love that song, that was too much even for me!

November is also when I start knitting hats for the Cancer Society. All other kniting projects are put on hold - at least, that's the plan. (Exception this year is that I had to finish my mitts first. Someone put my other warm mittens in the dryer & they now fit my thumbs.) I love knitting gifts but everyone in my family either have lots of hats, scarves, etc; or don't need or want anything knitted from me. I decided years ago that I would knit a hat for each person and donate it in their name. I would take a picture of each hat and put it in a card for the "recipient". This worked surprisingly well and I got great feedback from my family. Some years are good and I get through my entire list and some years I get about half or so. It's not about the numbers but the effort. Even one hat makes a difference.

I think this way, everyone wins. I get to knit something that will be appreciated, my family doesn't have to worry about hurting my feelings, and someone gets a hat made with love. I'm not saying that everyone should do this but if anyone is feeling up to it, Tammy is hosting a contest for the Duulan project. I have personal reasons for doing the hats for the Cancer Society but if anyone is up for this, the Duulan cause is a good one.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


It kinda makes you wonder when the highlight of your day is that you made paste. It's really good paste but still paste. Wheat starch paste for bookbinding. I have a couple of test samples drying right now. So far so good. This paste is easy to use and easy to clean up. It doesn't seem as strong as PVA glue but the starch glue is archival quality.

This is a silk noil that I've been spinning for quite a while now. It's taking a long time because I'm still picking out bits of leaves as I go. No matter how thorough I am, I always find clumps of VM tucked away in the fibre. I've pre-picked this fibre several times. It's really beautiful to spin. I love the lumpy bumpy texture of this silk. I have some tussah that I dyed the same colours which I will spin and ply with this.

Good Stress

There's 6.6gms of Alpaca, 6.6gms of Tussah silk, 11gms of Mohair, and 22gms of Polworth in the Guild challenge fibre bag. The fibres are a mix of dyed and natural colours. I have no idea what to do. The good thing is that I have until February. Knowing me, I'll probably procrastinate until the very last minute and stay up all night finishing something.

My sister has a Christmas breakfast every year and we're all expected to show up with an handmade ornament. It's getting harder each year to come up with something creative and original. She was disappointed one year when I showed up with something I've already made her. She tells me she looks forward to seeing what I come up with and she likes my ornaments best. No pressure there.

I have to make a small gift for the Vancouver's Guild gift exchange. I've been told that their standards are high. ACK!! I wonder if I could just spin a couple of skeins of yarn?

At least my mug rugs for the Coquitlam gift exchange are done.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Books and Bears

I was going through some bags and found this little guy. I made him years ago when I used to make miniature teddy bears. This one is special because it's a No-No Bear. When you move his tail, his head turns as if he's shaking his head to say No-No. He's about 3 1/4" tall. I loved making little bears but it was really hard on my hands. The stitches were so tiny - about 35 stitches per inch by hand. Once in a while, I would try again but I just don't have that dexterity anymore.

I've been inspired by the beautiful books at to try the Coptic stitch. It took a bit of research to find out just exactly what is the Coptic stitch. As far as I can tell, the basic coptic is a chain stitch and there are zillions of variations of it.

The basic stitching wasn't hard but I ran into some problems trying to attach the back cover and the last signature at the same time. I think if I had three hands, I would be ok. The book does open nice and flat but there are very small gaps (~1/4") between the signatures when opened. Is that normal or the results of bad stitching on my part?

Fibre Challenge
We got our bags of assorted fibres last night for the Guild Fibre Challenge. The rules of the challenge is to use all the fibre given. You may add to it, dye it, felt it - whatever it takes to creat a finished project for the February Guild meeting. The Twisted By Choice did a short presentation on properties and ideas using the different fibres.

My first thought was to blend it all together & knit a pair of gloves but that sounds so boring. It's going to be fun trying to come up with creative ways to use this fibre.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Making stuff

Despite the weather, it was a glorious weekend! Most of my time was spent crafting bits of stuff. I came across a lined zipper pouch tutorial (via Whipup) and just had to try it out. Despite me being zipper-challenged, the pouches were quite easy and quick to make. Just a note...finer nylon zippers are easier to use than the heavier metal ones.

From there, I moved on to bags. I revamped the Knitting Bag, made it taller, added an inside pocket and extra outside pockets, loops to attach things to (like keys & umbrellas), added buttonholes so I can use these sheep buttons, and made the handle longer. In hindsight, I think I should have made the loops with the lining fabric and used a fabric stiffener for the sides as well as the bottom. The material is a cotton floorcloth canvas - really heavy duty stuff - but because the bag is taller than the other bag, the sides are a bit more floppy.

I should note that the original bag came from the Crafter's Companion book. Seventeen internet Craft Bloggers talk about how and why they craft, plus projects to inspire you.

A bit of knitting got done on the weekend...the BPT is still not done yet. Still working on that hood and trying to decide if I want to put in a zipper or buttons. I just realized that I've never put in a zipper in a knitted cardigan before. It will be a first for me! I'm not good at sewing and find zippers, if not done right, will buckle and pucker funny. I'm a haphazard kind of seamstress.

More books...

It takes almost the same amount of time to make four books as it does one. Instead of staring at your book, waiting for the glue to dry, you just move on and glue up the next block. The photo album at the end was the most difficult as each page had to be cut separately and interlined with the glassine. The binding is done in the Japanese stab binding tradition. After all that work, my final holes were croooked. I didn't noticed it until the binding was finished. Lesson's worth the hassle of setting up the drill press.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Blustery Saturday

It's Saturday morning and it's the kind of day that you want to spend bundled up inside the house. You can't see the rain pelting down in this picture. Some of the Twisted by Choice gals are heading over to Langley Weavers & Spinners sale this morning. Husband is running on Sunday so we're going to spend a nice quiet day at home today. It's been a very long week at work and it's nice to be home relaxing with nothing planned but a bit of knitting.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Button Button

It was a good day at work. I was not grumpy at all. The reason was that I discovered Gaffer Tape. The guys were using it to mark seat numbers on the back of the floor chairs for the concert. It's fabric on one side and sticky tape on the other side. It looked just like bookbinding tape except it's flourescent pink. I asked the Purchasing manager if it comes in other colours and YES IT COMES IN BLACK!! He gave me the contact's number and I called them up. Apparently, Gaffer's tape IS bookbinding tape! And they will cut a roll to my specifications. Life is good.

Hey, Tammy! It's called Button Button and here's the address...

422 Cordova Street West, Vancouver, BC V6B 4K2
Telephone : 604-687-0067

She has only buttons - all different kinds - new, vintage, EVERYTHING!! It's located on the outskirts of Gastown. Be prepare to spend hours going through all the drawers. I found a really neat looking button that I'm thinking of making into a brooch.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Work gets in the way of real life.

It's official...I hate work. That's two weeks in a row that work got in the way of me meeting up with my Fibre friends. I'm going to be incredibly grumpy tomorrow. I think I'll have to make this up by doing something fun at lunchtime a visit to the Button store? :D

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

ARGH! What a week it's been! This is the first time ever that I did not carve my pumpkins until today! It's been so crazy at work that I haven't had time to think about Halloween! I think this year's trick-or-treater count is the lowest ever! We had 14 kids come to the door. When we moved into this neighbourhood years ago, we had close to hundred kids. Each year, the numbers steadily dropped.

It was announced today that the Rolling Stones concert in Vancouver has been postponed to Nov 25th. Bah! Instead of 2 weeks of intense stress, it has now become a month of intense stress. The stage build started on Monday and it was going so well. It's just as much work to cancel a concert as it is to put one on. Good thing I have my fibre to keep me sane.

On the knitting front, I've finally finished the sleeves on the BPT and started on the hood. Not sure if I like it with the hood but I'll try it. If I don't like it, I can always re-knit the hood into a collar. Started some more socks for the work commute. Nothing special...just plain old socks.

I felt like sewing tonight so I made this...
(Yes, it does look like the bag SOMEONE bought at FibreFest. I've been regretting not buying one when you did, Amber.) It's about 11"x7"x5". I lined it with some leftover fabric I got at Maiwa and made a drawstring closure for the top. I think the next one will be a bit taller, with inside pockets and a loop to attach my keys. That would be the perfect knitting bag.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Odds & Ends

I love the Fall season! The weather this year has been exceptional. We had a few days of rain but it's been mostly sunny. A lot of the plants have started to die back but there's still a lot of colour tucked away here and there. It's like finding treasure. Our yard is slowly being covered with leaves from our trees and the neighbour's trees. It's a never-ending chore to rake and re-rake the leaves. Good thing we have a teenage kid. :D

This is my first attempt at sewing the head & end bands. Bookbinding is really an ugly process. You're looking at all the bits & pieces, covered with glue. Then suddenly, you put the cover on and transform the whole ugly mess into a book that actually looks like a book! In hindsight, I think I should have practice the headband sewing on something first. You can't see it but the bands are lopsided. The cover is handmade paper - not by me - and the paper inside is recycled paper.

I like this book. Instead of using binding tape, I used dyed abaca rope. The cover spine had been slit to pull the rope through and tied. The cover is handmade paper but I tried distressing it to give it a leather look. I diluted water and glue and painted it on. The back cover was done first and I used even strokes. The front was painted randomly and it seems to work much better. Again, like the whole headband fiasco, I should have practiced this first.

Now I have to go and finish the sleeve of my BPT. Yup, I'm still on the first sleeve.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Where have I been?

I need more hours in a day! I've been seduced by bookbinding and have not had time to knit (much) or spin lately. I just finished another book today with handsewn head bands. I'm really proud of this book. :D

What am I going to do with all these books? I can't bring myself to write inside them...I have very messy writing.

BPT is going slow. I seem to have lost steam. I'm still halfway down the first sleeve. I promise tomorrow night will be devoted to finishing the sleeve and (hopefully) start the second sleeve.

Today was supposed to be Pumpkin Patch Day. That was cancelled due to rain. We'll save that for next weekend. Instead, I was treated to a trip to Aberdeen Centre and a long visit to Daiso. I love that place! I picked up lots of cool paper and abaca string.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Paper & Glue

Wow! The last three days have been just a whirlwind of paper and glue. Total sensory overload. I was at the three-day workshop for Bookbinding at Maiwa Handprints. Paper had been my first fibre love right from day one - I come from a long line of printers. I grew up running around printing presses. I love paper. I have memories of me sitting at my dad's desk playing with the bits of paper trimmings. I would glue the ends to make great elaborate sculptures or stack bits of paper together and make little tiny books. I would take the die-cast letters and dip them into small ink puddles to stamp my pages. I still have some of those teeny tiny books around somewhere.

Gaye Hansen is an excellent instructor. I've heard so many good things about her classes before and I'm glad I had the opportunity to take this workshop. The last time I actually made any books was close to twenty years ago. I had forgotten so much. The little blue book (our practice book) is covered with Japanese paper and fabric binding. The larger book is covered with fabric from Maiwa and put together, using all sorts of wonderful add-in pages.

It was good to do this workshop and refresh a few things and learn a whole lot more. One thing about these workshops is that you're not just learning from the instructor. The work that everyone was doing was amazing. So many ideas and so little time. I feel like a diver coming up to the surface too quickly. I really need to go into a little room and decompress. Unfortunately, I had to go straight back to work today. It was really really hard to mind was on paper.

Everytime I look at this book, I can't help but think - wow! it looks like a real book! It has headbands and everything! And there's another use for my kumihimo braids. :)

Friday, September 29, 2006

BPT in Progress

I'm halfway through the body of the BPT sweater. The pattern is for a top down cardigan - my favourite way of knitting a sweater. When you're done, you're really done. No sewing the pieces together. I'm finding this sweater is a very good traveling project at this stage. The cables are very straightforward and I don't need to drag a chart around with me. I think when I get to the sleeves, it will be a bit awkward knitting on transit.

Usually for a top down sweater, I like to put along the back, a few rows of short row shaping for the shoulder. I didn't do that with this sweater because I think the hood will give it extra length in the back.

I know I can get more knitting done if I stop fondling the work in progress every couple of rows. I love this yarn!

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I am in awe of this woman! Check out Bugknits! You hve to see it to believe it!


Saturday, September 23, 2006

My Fall Cable KAL project

It took me many hours this week, going over all my pattern books and magazines, looking for a cable sweater pattern. I had forgotten how many Aran sweater patterns are out there. I found a beautiful classic Aran cardigan pattern that I thought would look great in a cream Misson Falls wool. The one problem I have is that most Aran sweaters are too warm for me. It would be a nice gift for someone. I worked out the yardage and set off to Three Bags Full. Even though I was there only three weeks ago, I still had to fondle and touch everything. It doesn't help that they encourage touching. I fell in love with the purple Lorna's Laces and left with a bag full.

The pattern is a traditional classic Aran with lots of cables and twists throughout the whole sweater. But once I did the swatch, I knew it was not meant to be. The purple, being handpainted, had slight variations of purple all through it. It would have been such a shame to hide it all in a cable sweater. So the new pattern is the Knitty's BPT hoodie.

I think I've made the right choice. The cable is not hard and the sweater is knitting up quickly. There's enough cable work to keep it fun and the colour variations will keep it interesting through the plain bits. If I don't like it after it's done, I can either reknit it into socks (a lot of socks!) or give it away.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kudos to...

...the schools and Provincial government in Labrador and Newfoundland for setting an example for the rest of Canada. I know my son's highschool have already started bringing in healthier choices for lunchtime meals over the last few years. It was not mandatory but a choice the school decided upon. Anytime there's change, there will always be opposition. Still, I think having healthy choices available also serves to raise student awareness about what they eat. They may not always pick what's good for them but at least they have a choice now. I hope they stick this out.

Having said that, I feel slightly guilty as I munch down the do-nut sitting on my desk.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

How I spent my weekend...

Sweater time

I know summer end officially in another week or so but it always feels like summer ended on Labour Day. The first day back at school, no matter what the weather, is the end of summer. It's time to take stock of my sweater situation and think about knitting cardigans and other warm clothing. I spent some time this weekend going over my sweater drawers. It was sad. Sad because not much fit me anymore. I just have to face up to the fact that I'm getting older and my metabolism isn't what it used to be. Either stop eating so much junk food or start knitting larger sweaters, I guess.

I love going over my sweaters. I usually don't knit a lot of sweaters for myself so if I decided to keep it, it's special to me. It's like seeing old friends again. I may not be able to fit them but I love them all the same.

This summer I knit quite a few pairs of socks and a lot of small things but no sweaters. I've started a few but ended up ripping them out. I did visit the new yarn shop, Three Bags Full the first week they opened, to pick up some yarn for the Rogue sweater. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) they were not set up to take debit or credit cards yet. I came across the Fall Cable KAL today. This might be what I need to keep me motivated in finishing a sweater. Time to pick something and stick to it. I've given myself to the end of this week to commit to a project and yarn, whether I spin it or buy it or use something from the stash. Once I pick something, I'm going to knit it through to the end - even if I change my mind about it. There. I've committed myself.

I finished spinning the chartreuse Polworth and I love it! 330 metres of plushy softness! I was thinking of knitting this into a scarf, using plain stockinette stitch to see how the fabric would twist and pull. I did a small swatch and I'm really liking the effect so far.

Cotton is not evil

The white stuff is pima cotton ~ 1" staple. The brown stuff is the Foxfire organic cotton ~ 3/4" staple. The pink stuff is cotton/silk ~ 1" staple.

One thing I've realized is that I will have to spin A LOT of cotton to knit a sweater! Last year, I had thought about getting a charkha but decided to get the Little Gem instead. I'm glad that I did. Both the Suzie and the LG spins cotton beautifully once I got the tension right. Sometimes I think I need more stuff but I really don't. I just need to learn how to use what I have properly. This weekend, I was in the spinning zone.

A slight mishap

I made a batch of liquid shampoo yesterday and I knocked it over today - all over my laundry room floor. In my 20 years making soap, I've been very careful and have not dropped a batch. I was always paranoid that I would do just that! I'll bet you that I have the cleanest laundry room floor around.

A good thing

What's better than a loaf of freshly baked bread? A loaf of freshly baked bread with homemade blackberry jelly. Not jam but jelly. No seeds. My brother loves me. :) He gave me two jars of his homemade blackberry jelly. I finally replace my old bread machine today. The old one was close to twenty years old and the loaves were like bricks. The paddle didn't work properly anymore. It would have cost almost as much for a new one to have the old one fixed. The inaugural loaf was prompty sliced up and slathered with blackberry jelly. Oh, it was absolutely heavenly!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunflower Pulp - Part 3

Day ??

I've lost track of how many days of beating now. I've stopped counting. The pulp is not looking any better. This stuff looks exactly the same. I've drained it, rinsed it, and will ship it off to a friend with a Hollander beater. I'm done.

The cotton linters dyed to a nice soft brown colour. Weather pending next weekend, I'll make it into paper with a surprise.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sunflower Pulp - Part 2

Day 4

The liquid had been strained out and saved. The pulp is still quite chunky. The fibres are soft but not sure if it would make good paper. I think it will have to be blended with something else - cotton or linen perhaps.

I started beating the pulp this afternoon. The easy way is to spend $7000.00 for an Hollander Beater - the alternative is to find a good pounding rock and beat by hand. I would dearly love one of these but until I win that zillion $$ lottery, it's the alternative for me. A good pounding rock is one that fits in the palm of your hands nicely. You may need to pound for hours and hours.

The rock pounding broke up the bigger chunks and I can use the mixer to break up the rest. The mixer resembles a modified paint stirer that you attach to an electric drill. As long as you're careful not to overheat the drill, it will do a pretty decent job of breaking up the fibres. Not practical if you're making paper on a large scale but good enough for the home hobbist like me. It's not a good idea to use it when the pieces are big as you don't want to chop up the fibre but to break it apart.

Day 6

Nothing new to report on the progress of the sunflower pulp. This is taking a lot longer than I anticipated. The pulp is S-L-O-W-L-Y breaking down. I can't beat it more than 15 minutes at a time because the drill will overheat.

I've decided to try and dye the cotton linters in the liquid. That way, if the pulp doesn't break down completely, I can use it as an inclusion. Cotton, by itself, makes a very soft paper so I will add some abaca to give the paper more body.

Cotton linters are made up of the very short fibres, the leftovers after the cotton plant has been processed for clothing fibres. The short fibres are pressed into 2'x 3' sheets, sold to papermakers. This fibre is even SHORTER than the regular cotton fibres we spin with. I have not tried spinning this stuff and will never ever attempt it. Might as well spin dust.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Yarn Pr0n

The weekend was not spent entirely pounding the crap out of smelly pulp. There was a trip to Granville Island - specifically, to Maiwa and Diane Sanderson's Weaving Studio. I picked up some beautifully dyed warp ends perfect for Kumihimo braiding. I can see this will be another addictive hobby.

This is some of the merino/silk from Mud River Angora that I picked up at Fibre Fest in April. 50gms at 265m, navajo plied. This stuff was so much fun to spin. I think the blend is 70% merino and 30% silk.

The weekend has been absolutely gorgeous! I love this weather - hot during the day and cool enough at night to sleep. The plants are loving it as well. This is the first time my Apothecary rose has rose hips!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sunflower Pulp - Part 1

Day One

The plan was to boil the sunflower stalks, save the liquid for dyeing, and use the pulp for papermaking. I started with 500gms of sunflower stalk, cut into 2"-3" pieces, 90gms of soda ash, and water. The soda ash will help break down the pulpy bits. The pot will sit overnight and the boiling process will begin tomorrow.

No living sunflower was harm in the making of this project. This one fell over and broke.

Day Three

This is the results of 2 - 3hours boiling sessions with it cooling and stewing overnight. It's still not ready yet. The stems are a lot tougher than I thought. In hindsight, I think I should have cut the pieces in half, lengthwise.

You are so lucky that you can't smell what's coming out of this pot! The first time I ever made paper with plant fibre was years ago when we lived in a little apartment in the West End. It took days to get rid of the smell. Fortunately, we had a corner apartment and the ocean breeze really helped. Still, I don't think my husband really forgave me for that. Everytime I bring out my pots, he cringes. Now, I do this in the backyard. The smell is not as bad as when I render suet but it's pretty bad.

Today is such a hot day that I left the pot outside in the sun. I've been stirring it every hour and it's steaming.

Edited to add:
Just found out that the liquid will not be good to dye wool as the soda ash will damage wool fibres. It will be ok to use for dyeing silk or cotton. Hmmm...