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...