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