Sunday, 30 October 2011

Redwork and Other Needlework

A friend e-mailed me the other week to let me know that the museum in Smith's Falls was putting on an exhibit of redwork embroidery, if I was interested, although she wouldn't have time to go. Interested? Heck, yeah! I didn't actually know Smith's Falls had a museum, even. The website, when I took a look, described it as a house with period Victorian furnishings, and a two-storey privy. Since my mother is also a fan of old houses and furniture and needlework, I passed the info on to her, and we decided we had to take a look.

The museum turned out to be a very nice house. Only one staff member there at the time, so we got to poke about on our own, which is the most fun way to do it anyhow. Generally I don't want a speech on who lived there, and we know how people lived already. For us, it's a little more like a showroom, a place for ideas and comments. "I've got some redwork pillow shams in that exact pattern.""Look at the sampler on that wall. I need to make one like that sometime.""Come take a picture of the pantry. That's what I want mine to look like."

They had turned the space above the summer kitchen and shed into a gallery space, and part of that was more redwork, both new and old, from the collections of two friends. And didn't we have fun looking!  Unfortunate that I didn't manage to take better pictures.

My fingers are itching to do some embroidery. Redwork napkins maybe - I loved the ones we saw there, even though I use napkins once in a blue moon. Maybe handkerchiefs would be more useful.
And I want to graph the sampler we saw.

And try rickrack/crochet edging.
And I wish my pic of the needlepoint fireplace screen had come out. But I think I have enough ideas to deal with for a while.
We did see the two-storey privy as well. Separate shafts for each floor. Doubtless very convenient. And in the gift shop there was a reprint of Catharine Parr Traill's "Pearls and Pebbles" which I hadn't seen before, so that was a nice find that came home with us. Definitely a worthwhile trip.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Coming soon - Pastoral

I've been working on the pattern for the mitts I designed last year for my fleece donor, Kim - the ones with sheep and flowers on them.

A second pair was done later for someone else in a larger gauge but a smaller size. So the pattern will have two different graphs, and combined with adjusting gauge, should make it possible to get a wide range of sizes. I knit a 3rd pair as a sample/test, just finished the other day. Large graph and small needles means these mitts are too small for me, but I'm sure they will find a home at some point.

I've got a friend testing the pattern also, so hopefully that will catch any major errors or lack of clarity, and I will be able to get the pattern up within the next few weeks. Looking forward to seeing her version. I've been doing all green backgrounds, but she said she may try one with navy blue. And now I'm thinking it could be interesting in natural undyed shades too - well, maybe someone will try that at some point. Right now, cute as they are, I'm not sure I want to make a fourth pair just to try playing with the colors...

Sunday, 16 October 2011

In Which There Is Dye. And Pizza.

Saturday proved to be a rather unpredictable day weatherwise - sun, rain, cloud, wind, and many combinations thereof. However, if you are having a dyepot party in a friend's garage, with potluck pizza and pumpkin pie, the weather is less of a concern.
We boiled up a pot of black walnut hulls, some cochineal, a cochineal-madder blend, and a slow cooker of pokeberries. The black walnut hulls, even boiled, are a potent squirrel lure, it seems. At one point, Deb P went out to check on wool in the walnut bath, and we heard exclamations coming from the garage. I worried that the pot had boiled over or something, but turns out that the excitement was due to a squirrel having snuck into the garage who was busy searching (and scattering) our discarded hulls to see if we had left a nut in there. Seems Deb T's squirrel T-shirt was a better choice for the day than expected.

The pokeberries produce a deep reddish-magenta dyebath, but the colors on fiber can vary between peach and magenta. Wool in poke last year produced a melon in standard dyebath and deep magenta in a cold ferment in a pumpkin. This time the slow cooker, with alum and CoT mordant produced a bright red orange on wool the first go, and a peach in the exhaust. Silk and cotton picked up more of a pink - once it was rinsed, the cotton was pale pink, and the silk more of an old rose. Although the color proved a little fugitive on some fibers, it seems to be sticking quite well on my drying rack.

For some reason, the cochineal came out purple. Quite an astounding shade, actually. And mixed with madder, the shift was more towards burgundy.

The cotton, happily, did better in the cochineal and walnut baths than in the poke.

This is some of the results straight out of the dyebath, before rinsing. The bright red/orange lower right is the poke on wool I mentioned (Deb T's sample, not mine. Happily, I have more poke in the freezer, so I am aiming to get some red for myself.)

After rinsing at home, my results are, left to right: Walnut on wool, silk and cotton. Cochineal purple on cotton and wool. Cochineal and madder on wool. Poke on cotton, silk, and wool.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Postmortem

We were fortunate in having a gorgeous Thanksgiving long weekend, warm and sunny. Made everyone want to get out and do stuff.
Mom and I got back home Saturday afternoon, which left just enough daylight, after a snack, for me to pick about 3 cups of pokeberries and put them in the freezer, sort laundry, and get the first load washed and hung up. We planned out Sunday after supper, while the pumpkin for the pie cooked. It needed planning - my sister and her boyfriend arriving, Mom working at an auction, Dad working on the shed,  me planning wool washing and dyebaths, Thanksgiving dinner...It's amazing what you can do when you need to, though.  By lunchtime Sunday, everything was under control.
Three pies were cooling on the woodstove, (scratch lemon, homegrown pumpkin, and mixed berry from the summer's harvest) beside a thawing ham and a homegrown chicken. Mom and I tag-teamed the pies before the auction, and she got the coleslaw and the stuffing made as well.

The clothesline was full of clothes, taking advantage of the breeze and the sun, and the first bag of fleece I had from Kim this spring was found and soaking in wash water.

Four jars of Japanese indigo leaves were harvested and simmering.

And the porch had some ornamental piles of squash with apples from one of our trees for contrast.

By the time we sat down to dinner, I had a pile of fleece drying on the lawn, and some of it was blue from the indigo. A batch of walnut dye was in progress, and yielded 5 skeins of warm brown wool for Mom. Most of the laundry was washed, and some was dried and folded. Andrea and Erik, when they arrived, had time to do some homework, go on a beer run, pick flowers for the table, and help with dinner - Erik got volunteered to peel the squash. And Dad got the mudroom section walled, and started on the pantry-to-be Monday.

It was a good thing we got everything done before supper. Because after Thanksgiving dinner, no-one really wanted to move much. It's always a good meal when most of it's homegrown and homemade.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Expanding Heisenberg's Idea

For those who haven't been introduced to him, Heisenberg is the guy whose name is attached to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, stating something like the idea that you can determine where something is or how fast it's moving, but not both at the same time.

In the same way that the original Murphy's Law has a ton of corollaries, addenda, etc., I suspect we may be able to add to Heisenberg's findings.

I propose, for starters, one for blogging/calling/other forms of communication. Something along the lines of  "The amount of time available to communicate with others is inversely proportional to the amount of things happening that you want to communicate." Or, more simply, you either have things going on or you have time to talk about them, but not both.  

That's kind of how I feel this week. Between work gardening and work at Statscan, and keeping up at home, and preparing for the long weekend, somehow, the week disappeared. However, work is done for a few days, e-mail is caught up, and Saturday morning I head out of town for a long weekend, and it's supposed to be gorgeous weather. Thanksgiving dinner, some washing of fleece, dyeing, laundry, cleaning out the dye garden...plenty to do but it will all be fun stuff.

Now I just have to finish packing, check the place I'm house-sitting, change the bed, and do dishes before I leave. Happy Thanksgiving to all!