Sunday, 30 June 2013

On Tour

Can you believe it? The yarn I dyed last Tuesday finished drying today. That's how damp the weather's been. Well, that's done, now on to the next project...

The Tour de France/Tour de Fleece started yesterday. As always, my start stash is perhaps a little overambitious.

Especially considering that both yesterday and today, my daily work accomplished was 5 rolags carded and spun, and a couple feet of pencil roving spindle-spun. My progress pictures for days that I work are going to have the enthralling slow-motion action of a kids' flip book.
Day 1:

Day 2:

Still, I've got Canada Day and the next day off, and I'm figuring I should be able to speed up the results a little for those two days...between catching up with gardening and such.

Oh yes, and the baby birds at work have feathered out and fledged already. They seem to have left the nest Friday or so. I kept an eye on it yesterday and this morning, and when no-one came back, I moved the nest out so the mother isn't tempted to start a second brood in the same place. A bit of a weight off my mind, not having to watch and make sure no-one started messing around too much with the stuff on that shelf of the rack.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Country Weekend, By The Numbers

Monday and Tuesday were the 'weekend' for me, out to the parents' with the cat. What does a couple days out there look like this time of year? Well, I didn't even get around to unpacking my camera, but it shaped up kind of like this:

Number of -

thunderstorms rolling through over two days: 3
loads of wash that nevertheless got done and dried on the clothesline: 4
dye baths cooked up: 6
skeins of yarn dyed: 15
   (the ones still damp are currently hanging in my bathtub)

baby chicks to check out: 32
bunches of catnip to hang for drying: 3
wild strawberries picked and eaten in homemade shortcake: 1 cup
mosquito bites sustained while picking: about 24 per ankle
      (bare feet in clogs not the best idea, even if it was bloody hot)
garlic scapes harvested and currently residing in my fridge: 125
bouquets picked for taking to the city:2
meals with wood-barbecued meat: 3
meals with salad and snow peas from the garden: 2
spinning projects packed: 2
yards of yarn spun: 0
      (I always overestimate the amount of work I'll get done in a couple days...)
mittens knitted: 1

mittens delivered to Johanne: 1 pair
times my cat came indoors over the two days: 4
     (and stayed in for maybe 5 minutes each time)

In other words, a great time was had by all. Now it's countdown to Tour de Fleece next weekend, and St. Anicet Festival in mid-July...

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


It's later than I'd like (10 pm, but I'll be getting up at 5:30), and I'm heading for bed as soon as I finish my tea. But I just wanted to say that the mama bird at work must have had her nest there for a few weeks already.
I checked in very quietly this evening as I was closing up, and adding to the pots disguising the nest. And mama wasn't home (presumably out finding dinner), so I could see that instead of eggs there were bran-new, worm-pink, tiny blind babies. So ugly they're almost cute. I dare say, however, their mama finds them cute enough as is, and she is probably already thinking of the day she teaches them to fly.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

A New Neighbour

Deep in Orleans, Ottawa, there is a Canadian Tire. And attached to that is the garden centre where I'm working.

Maybe it's because of all the plants, or maybe because the mall backs onto undeveloped land, but there's definitely some wildlife around. At least three pairs of birds have made nests under the front awning, and they chirp and twitter and talk to me while I'm out there watering (I suspect they're asking for a birdbath to be installed for them). And last week there was a toad between the shrubs in the garden centre (which I got to take out and release into the wild because my supervisor isn't big on handling critters).

This week there's another addition, which my supervisor found and showed me. In the top of one of our racks of plants, nestled between pots, a bird has made her nest, complete with three speckled eggs.

It's right in the middle of the place, not even off in a corner somewhere, so I don't know how she felt secure enough to build there. But build she did. Now I guess we'll have to try and make sure that rack stays full, so the nest is hidden, and we and the customers don't disturb her too much. So I won't be taking any pictures (sorry), but it will be very interesting to see if she succeeds in raising her brood there.

A few years ago I saw a nest in another garden centre, in among their nursery trees, so perhaps it's not uncommon for them to think it's a good spot. Still, it's very cool to have a bird family there, right under our noses, so to speak.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dang, I'm Good

(Julia says, "OMG! Help! A tornado just blew through!)

No, but seriously. I feel like this has been a really productive, efficient couple of days off. So much got done! Now I can go back to another few days of work with a clear conscience, clean clothes - and food in the fridge, ready to go. One of the things that got done was groceries, plus I made a batch of lentil soup and one of bruschetta (with fresh herbs from the garden!) , a loaf of bread, and some rice cooked up to use for fried rice.

And the fridge has a light now, for the first time in months. The landlord was in yesterday to check out some issues with my electric sockets, and he succeeded in getting the broken bulb out of the fridge so a new one could be put in.

The kitchen's steamed up right now, and has been all evening. One pot of boiling water went into a pail of aphid-infested leaves from the currant bush. Spraying them wasn't really helping (plus the rain kept washing the spray off), so I went out and picked off every single infested leaf I could find, and cooked the buggers. The other two pots currently boiling are mordant and cochineal dye. The UPS shipment yesterday turned out, unexpectedly, to be the yarn I ordered for dyeing. So three skeins of that and a handful of other skeins are getting colored tonight in shades of red and pink - I'm getting every drop of work I can out of that pot of cochineal.

The rest of today has been gardening, spinning and knitting. My Japanese indigo seedlings are set out in a few empty spots in the flower beds, a niche has been found for a little globe basil, and a new row of beets has been planted. Plus the blue fingerless mitts I was working on are done and blocking, and a bunch of angora/wool blend has been carded and spun. Life is good.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A Fortnight of News

Isn't fortnight a nice word? Short for fourteen-night, or two weeks. I learned that one when I was still pretty young, because it tends to crop up in the classic kids' books - Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, etc.

And it's been pretty close to a fortnight since I got around to blogging. Work's been busy, plus when you add in a few days where there were errands to do - well, there've been days when I basically got home, made supper, took Julia out, and went to bed. For the first time this past week though, I've had time to deadhead things at work, and I've been taking the bags of clippings home for my compost pile - bonus!

In that time, the garden has started to bloom. My old rosebush especially (I think it may be a Rosa cinnamomea) is covered in blooms.

My neighbors, on the other hand, upgraded their landscaping to include a plastic palm tree. I suppose it goes with the flamingos.

Knitting time on the bus has produced a pair of mittens for Johanne. Now, though, I'm working on my own stuff for a while (Yay, colour!). I'm planning to share a booth with Johanne and Chantal again for the Corn Festival back home, and that's only a month away, so time to stock up.

Less knitting at home, though, because I've got to get busy on the spinning. Looking ahead to the Guild show, end of October, which means handspun for selling and for knitting things to sell. And summer is here, which means dyeing season. Tour de Fleece is coming up, so I'm making that an excuse for getting back in the habit, even if I've only committed to being in Lanterne Rouge this year (participating but not necessarily spinning every day). So far for my 'training camp' I've gotten a skein of fine 2-ply silk/merino plied and off the bobbin, and am one skein into the 2-3 remaining to finish the Navaho-plied Icelandic I started, oh, last year sometime.

On the dyeing front, that's another thing coming at me, if not for a couple of months. It looks like I'll be teaching two full-day workshops on natural dyeing for L'Ourse Qui Danse, which should be fun. We're planning for end of August and late September, tentatively. I've got the basic timetable/lesson plan roughed out and discussed with Jo and Chantal, but at some point I will have to do the figuring to make sure I've got all the materials and supplies ready, and write the class handouts...