Monday, March 31, 2008
Lately there have been more and more Kauni cardies showing up in the world. Curlysalamander has recently posted about her own Kauni creation. It's the most marvelous variation of the Kauni cardie theme. I love the vertical stripes, they make the wearer look extra tall and extra thin. And the flowers, well that's just the perfect thing for her to wear. She often reminds me of a field of brightly coloured wild flowers, so I think the sweater is perfect for her.
There is one remarkably brave Kauni cardie knitter I've come across lately (actually, she found me). Have a look at Knitting sheep, threading beads... and what she did with her Kauni cardie. Like me, she has lost weight from the time she began knitting her cardie so that the finished cardigan is now too large for her. Rather than despair, she has taken steeking to the next level and devised an ingenious solution to the age old problem of size.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I'm just sort of resting this morning, drinking coffee, playing on Ravelry, and just treating myself to a calm, restful morning before I dive back into my Kant homework. (note to self: paralogisms, although fun, are not as easy as they first appear)
I'm hugely excited about the flax that Shelley brought down at my request.
Ever since I first realized that human hands can make yarn, I have wanted to spin flax. Don't ask me why this is. I simply feel drawn to it. The flax fibre has a smell to it. Most of the people I've talked to tell me it smells horrid, but I love it (as if you needed more proof that I'm not quite normal). It smells like fresh honey. I'm talking about the smell of a honeycomb that has just been harvested from the hive on a sunny day in late summer. It still smells of wheat and wind and clover, and long summer walks across corn fields. It smells like the summers of my youth. It smells like that beautiful moment when you are out for a walk in the country, munching on fruit, corn or grasses that you have gleaned along your way, you wonder into the middle of a flax field and the world is boundless. For that brief moment you forget that school will start soon, you forget that there are dishes in the sink, you forget everything except that one, beautiful moment when the wind ripples across the grain. That's what this flax smells like to me.
I bought three different types, all unbleached and all produced by Louet.
Euroflax long line stricts:
This stuff is quite course compared to the other two I brought home. I think it must be a hard working fibre as it feels strong and dense. I wonder if I could make a belt out of it.
Water retted flax top:
This is softer and delightful. I think that this is the middle quality flax. It's easy to draft and I think it will turn into quite a happy little yarn.
Softest of all is the super fine flax top:
The fibres are thinner and longer than the water retted top. They are also softer. I think this must have been harvested at a younger age and planted closer together. A sign that it was grown strictly for the fibre and not for the seeds. I think that this will finish up as a very soft but durable fabric.
ETA: Knitty has a great article about spinning flax.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Yesterday's helping out with Fun Knits booth at the Sewing and Craft show was (as curlysalamander put it) intense. At times, I suspected that the entire population of our fair city had descended on me all at once, in order to buy yarn. It was wonderful. It has been a long time since I've done something like this, but I think it went well. I got to see some friends, make new friends, meet Ravelry friends, and to spend time surrounded by yarn and yarn-people (they really do make the best kind of people). It was great to see everyone, even if I didn't have much time to talk to you all. I even got some knitting in (a few stitches here, a few stitches there, not much, but it all adds up in the end).
I'll be there in the afternoon again today. If you see me, say 'hi'. I'll be glad to see you.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Araucania Yarns is inspired by ancient Chilean crafts made from hand painted natural yarns.
My mother and I joined our talents and experience to create a company with the goal to introduce this traditional style to the world outside Chile...Each hank is different; its individual beauty emerges as the artisan blends colour in the kettle to create several unique shades.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I had the good fortune of helping Shelley of Fun Knits set up her booth for the show. When I arrived, there she was, standing in the middle of a pile of yarn (and yarn related goodies), attempting to convince a passer-by that yes, indeed, she really can fit all that yarn into her little booth.
It wasn't long before things began to take shape, and with a little bit of effort, and a whole lot of fun (now I understand why she calls the shop Fun Knits), we began to find order in the chaos.
There is so much lovely yarn attending this show. Of course there is an unbelievable amount of sock yarn.
(not to mention a sale bin full of sale sock yarn that I forgot to take a photo of)
And there will be Kauni yarn.
And other yarn.
And fibre and needles and books and... Ai me, there are just too many good things for me to tell you about. Well, let's just say that there will be a lot of yarn. I hope I will see you all there tomorrow or the next day. I'll be helping Shelley with her booth. Don't forget to say 'hi'.
Another good reason to go to the show this weekend (as if the pictures of the Fun Knits booth weren't enough) is Indigo Moon. I caught a glimpse of her setting up her booth and the yarn is gorgeous. A few photos to whet your appetite.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Actually, I've been teasing all those poor people in the rest of the country who have real snow (for example Wool-Crazy In Ottawa), so it would serve me right to get some real snow. I envy real snow, it's not something we get here very often. I would love to enjoy a real snow storm. The only thing is that my potatoes are up, my spinach is growing, and I've just put a second batch of seeds in the ground yesterday. So, I'll qualify all my dreams of snow. I would like snow to come here in winter, that would be fine by me, just don't let it invade my spring.
No matter how confident I am that the people on my radio are confused on this snowfall issue, I'll take my camera with me today just in case. I wouldn't want to miss a snowfall in the middle of spring.
Monday, March 24, 2008
I have heard on the grape (aka. Ravelry) vine that there are at least two yarn vendors coming to town for the show: Fun Knits (who, I'm told, is also bringing some spinning fibres as well as yarn) and if that's not exciting enough for you, Indigo Moon will also be there.
I'm certain that there will be lots of other exciting things happening there that aren't yarn related, but really, you and I both know that I'm only going there for the yarn.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
But who would I be kidding? You people are far too smart for me to fool with such tactics. You see right though me, I'm certain of it. And, although I would like to be fooled by my own ability to rationalize away each time I buy yarn, in the end, I too, see right through my own attempts to deceive myself.
When you strip aside all the elaborate rules and justifications, what was the real reason I went on a yarn fast? Well, I had two goals: one, I am running out of places to store my stash. Even though I have been diligent at knitting from my stash, I've discovered that spinning makes more yarn to live in the stash. Despite my efforts to use up stash yarn, the stash seems to be maintaining a critical mass, neither increasing nor decreasing as time goes on.
The second reason why I went on this yarn fasting adventure was to save money to buy certain fibre related items. In this I have been more successful. Among the items I wanted were a carder (check), a second wheel (check) and some more fleece (check). Those things I have acquired. The other thing I am saving money for is to take my Level One Masters Spinners. It's the first year of a 6 year programme put on by Olds college. This year I'll be taking it at Gibsons Landing and I'm very excited. Financially, this I'm a bit more worried about. But something will come up that will help me with this. Perhaps some (soy free) organic farm would like to hire me as a farmhand/apprentice for (at least) the summer. I sure would like that. Sigh.... but enough dreaming, I'm here to talk about yarn.
So, what about the yarn fast? Well, I do need to be saving money, so I need to spend less money on yarn and fibre. But I think I need to stop kidding myself that I will live up to my no-yarn-for-me guidelines. How about a new guideline for me and my yarn buying adventures? How about, each time I'm about to buy yarn, I stop for a moment and think to myself, "Bird," for that's what I call myself, "would you rather have this yarn, or would you rather spend this money on going to Gibsons?" Perhaps that will be enough.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
The pattern calls for Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, and although I adore this yarn, my wallet doesn't. So, I've decided to try for spinning a substitute. I have some silk alpaca I picked up in Cowichan (from the Qualicum Bay Fibre Works (one of two local fibre mills and processors in the area)) last fall that would be perfect. Only two things stand in my way. First, I have never spun a substitute successfully before and second, I only have about 8oz of this fibre which may or may not be enough for the vest.
To solve the first problem, I turn once again to knitty and an article on how to spin a substitute. I don't know if I am good enough at spinning yet to make it work, but I am going to have fun trying. This card I made up with a sample of the recommended yarn and a sample of what I need my spun yarn to be. I keep this next to me while I am spinning so that I can keep myself on track by checking my yarn against it every so often.
As for the amount of fibre, I think that it should be sufficient, but only just. I'll see how much it spins up to be, then decide if I will still knit the vest with it.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Here is part of something I wrote in response to a query about my gardening experiences. I thought you might find it interesting.
Growing my own vegetables has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, no matter the size of the yard, we have always kept a vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes. I come from a long line of English gardeners and farm hands, so most of what I know has been handed down through the generations. That said, I also adore reading gardening books. No matter how long I’ve gardened, I find that there is always something more to learn and something new to try.
For the last five-plus years I have kept an allotment garden. The small size of my plot has taught me to economize and take advantage of every inch of space so that I can get two or more crops a year from the same spot. This requires close attention to the weather cycles and quite a bit of planning ahead. It is something I’ve never done before, but in the end, it is more than worth it. Canning and preserving go hand in hand with this. When the weather is all grey and winter-like, there is something so very comforting in eating a jar of healthy canned pears you grew and processed yourself. I have found that when a garden is kept year round, which is quite easy in our climate, it requires far less time and effort to maintain.
When I was first assigned my plot, it was a dismal sight. The soil was loamy clay, and it had only the most tenacious weeds growing in it. With a bit of effort, some luck and a whole lot of love, I was able to get a marvellous crop the first year in.
I love growing anything that can be eaten, be it berry bush or vegetable, be it something that grows high up on a tree or a potato buried deep beneath the earth. Keeping a garden doesn’t take much work when you know how. It is simply a matter of knowing when to do what and how much of it. The rest, the plants take care of all on their own.
I believe that it is an important aspect to living a wholesome life to know where your food comes from. What better way to do that than to grow your own?
Today? Well, it's a lazy, tired sort of day. The cherries may be in full bloom all around town, but the sky is grey. I'm making a double batch of hot cross buns now that the recipe is finally perfected, and reading Kant. That's about it really. Oh, ofcourse, playing with yarn, but that goes without saying.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I don't know if you can tell, but I'm really passionate on that particular topic and I can, um, go on for hours if encouraged. Who am I kidding, I don't need encouragement to talk at great length on the subject. Since my post yesterday, I've written the introduction, a good chunk of the section on food and food shopping and done an in-depth outline of the rest of that section (all first draft ofcourse). The rest of that section needs some research to complete, but that I can do as I go about my daily activities over the next month or so. This book practically writes itself.
How long should it take to write a book? I think that if this was the only thing I was working on, I could have the first draft finished in just over a month. If I remain as busy as I am these days, I would have it finished by the time summer is over. My only problem is that there is so much I want to put into it, there is no way it will all fit. I'll have to leave something out for the potential sequel. But I'm not going to bore you with the details.
Today is a day for reading Kant, planting beets in the allotment garden while checking on how everything else is growing, eating this yummy chicken noodle soup I've made from scratch (so good, and to think by making it this way I can feed up to 10 people for less than $3 total using top quality organic ingredients and it's healthier than store bought, prefab stuff too), and knit Clessidra:
Coming along nicely I think. I especially enjoy knitting with the stitch markers that Y made for me. Thank you again Y.
Friday, March 14, 2008
I'm not talking about your 19th Century ideal of an angel in the house, nor even the 50's ideal of a stay at home mom who spends every hour of the day preparing the house for when her husband comes home from work. I'm talking about reclaiming the word homemaking so that it becomes a non-gender-specific term to describe the process of simple every day living.
Look. If you have a roof over your head, by my standards, you have a home. Quite often, the people you love most share this place with you. It doesn't matter if you are male or female, single or married, a single parent taking care of a child, or a single child trying to take care of your parents. How you care for them, how you care for yourself and how you care for your home, speak volumes about your life. Your choice of food, how you cook it, how you clean up afterwards, &c.. All these things and more are a statement of who you are. It's about taking pride in where you live. It's about empowering the individual with the knowledge of how to live well. This is homemaking.
About a year ago I read an article in the local paper. It said that in our city, the average four person household requires over 60 hours of labour at just under double minimum wage (so that would be 100 hours at minimum wage) to provide the basic necessities of life. These necessities are things like rent, clothing, and food, but didn't include such luxuries as TV or bus-fare. That's a lot of work for such a small return. I thought certainly they must have got their numbers wrong, so I read on. Apparently, most of the money went into food, then rent, then clothing, cleaning supplies, and so on down the line. But, what really astounded me was how much these people (as it was an actual survey of people living just above the poverty line) were spending on all these items. They were spending more than three times the amount of money it actually costs to eat and up to ten times the actual cost of cleaning supplies. Were they exaggerating what they spent? I don't think so. What they were doing was wasting money by buying the wrong things. They were doing things such as buying ready made meals at, say, $6 a plate instead of cooking a nice oven roast at $2 a plate. For four people, that's a waste of $16 for just one meal. Multiply that by three meals (one day) and you get a waste of almost $50 a day. Not only that, but by buying prefabricated food, they are hurting both their health and the environment.
I wondered, do people do this because they are working too hard to prepare a proper meal? Maybe they just don't have enough time? Then again it takes as much effort to make an oven roast or a slow cooker meal as it does to make a prefab meal. Even less effort with the slow cooker as it is ready to eat as soon as you get home from work. So why then would the average working class Jo or Joanne waste that much money on something so damaging to their health?
Then, someone mentioned to me, maybe people don't know how to make food. Maybe their mothers (or fathers, or uncles, or aunts, or grandparents, neighbours, &c.) never taught them how to roughly chop some vegetables to make a soup in a slow cooker or how make leftovers yummy instead of depressing. Maybe they never learnt to buy vegetables when they were in season so as to get the best value and the highest nutrient content. Maybe they don't know what the best cut of meat is or how to cook it.
Just think what a family of four could do with 50 extra dollars a day. They could buy some of those little luxuries like bus-fare. Or perhaps, even better, they could work less. And that's just food. Imagine what could be accomplished by saving money on all other aspects of homemaking.
Perhaps, a person would say, that it takes too much time to live this way. It doesn't. If you can afford the time to eat at a restaurant or to open a packet of food and stick in the oven, then you have enough time to keep a good home. Not to mention, with the money you save by proper homemaking, you can work less and thus have more time for yourself.
Perhaps you think that helping the environment and saving money just don't go together. That's just not true. You can save money, help your health and help the environment. This is the trifecto. These three things go hand in hand. And they can be customized for vegetarians, vegans, omnivores, meat eaters, raw fooders, anything. Homemaking is just learning how to live the way you want to, only to do it smart.
Homemaking is old fashioned. No! And yes, people have been homemaking since the first shelter was built. This is not something that goes out of fashion. It is not something that is restricted to the middle-class stay-at-home-soccer-mom. Homemaking is empowering. It is taking back your life from the clutches of big businesses. It is "sticking it to da man". It is a powerful way to do your part for the environment and for yourself, and in my book, that never goes out of style.
So, why the big long rant? Well, if you are still with me after such a long blog post, maybe it was interesting.
The idea is that I would love to write a book about this. A book that would take what I have learned from 19th Century domestic manuals and make it applicable for people who live in the world today. I want to write something that would empower individuals to take back their lives by learning about good homemaking. I want to abolish the stereotype that a homemaker is chained to the stove, barefoot and pregnant.
When I think about the books that have changed my life more than anything else, I think of Frugal Indulgence and The Fabulous Girls Guide to Decorum. I want to write something like these, and when it comes to what I know best, it's homemaking.
Now, do I pitch this to a publisher first, or do I just start writing it? I've already made an outline.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
I am very proud of these as I made every bit from scratch including candying the citrus peal.
That seems like a lot of effort, even for someone who loves the domestic arts as much as I do. And it is a lot of work. But the only way I seem able to manage my health is to go to the extreme of preparing from absolute scratch every morsel of food that enters my mouth. It's frustrating and tiresome to put this much effort into food, especially since we don't know what the cause of my illness. But then again, I do get to learn new things such as how to candy lemon peal or to make hot cross buns. These are skills I might not have bothered to learn otherwise.
I guess I'm saying I'm conflicted. I hate being ill, but I love expanding my culinary talents.
Now that I have more energy I can do more cooking (and even cleaning) which will give me more energy, &c.. It's great when I'm on the upward circle towards good health. Now I know what I have to do to get there and to stay there, provided nothing else goes drastically wrong.
I feel so good about what I accomplished making these hot cross buns. It's such a simple item, but being successful at creating it makes me feel hopeful.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Saturday, March 08, 2008
This is a puzzle I've been working on all week.
When I confess the fourth and final object I brought home a week ago, you are going to think I'm insane. "What were you thinking?" you will ask me, "You live in an apartment, which is full of lots of thing already, important things like furniture, you simply don't have room for something that large." This is why I like you people, you are very smart.
No matter how much we attempt to divest ourselves of stuff we don't use (anyone want to buy a large quantity of shamrock pattern Denby Wear or to pay good money for 10, ops make that 11 boxes of books?), there is still only a finite amount of space in the apartment.
But I couldn't say no. It's such a wonderful object. I'm in love. When you see it you will know why I couldn't resist.
Maybe I'll attempt to take it to a park somewhere to take some photos for you. Although it is unlikely that it will fit through the doorway now that it’s been reassembled. I'm not going to tell you what it is until I have the photos to show it off, I'm just that selfish.
Friday, March 07, 2008
- Anyone have a good Hot Cross Bun recipe? It's gotta be one of my most favorite baked goods, but since I cannot eat any bakery made goods anymore, I have to make my own. Yes, I can Google it, but I would much rather bake from a recipe that someone has actually tried and knows to be yummy.
- Well we are thinking about baking, any good cracker recipes out there? I have such a craving for savoury, crunchy snack food. The only kicker is that it cannot have any dairy or soy in it.
- Is it possible to get a rash from carding too much wool?
- What sort of qualities do people look for in embroidery thread? Do you think it would be possible to hand spin a collection of thread for a birthday gift?
- Does it make me a bad knitter that I'm board of knitting light grey socks in simple stst?
Actually, I'm not certain if we are suppose to call this a mill or a grinder, but I'm going to stick with mill as it has two stones that rub together in a circle so it seems very mill-ish to me.
This was a birthday gift from my father and I think it is really going to change the way I bake. In fact, this year has been a year of changing my entire diet and eating habits. I think it's funny that I should receive a new mill the same week that the ever-graceful Curlysalamander got her very own nutrimill. I haven't bought myself a large amount of grains yet as I'm waiting for some more medical results that will tell me if wheat is okay for me to eat or not. I hope it is because that white wheat that Kitten and Mr. Kitten gave me was so delicious. I think I would be more than satisfied living off of white wheat.
We gave the grinder a try with some organic rye bought in the bulk food section of the local market. It appears to work marvelously well. So, I'll use up the different flours I have in the home, then it's only self milled flour from here on in.
It is suddenly convenient that most of the baking recipes I have list the dry ingredients by weight. That way I can weight it out, then grind it.
Thank you Dad for such a wonderful birthday gift.
As for university, by some mericle, I've finished most of my Kant essay early. I still have quite a bit of editing to do, especially since I've exceeded my word count and I still have one part of the question left to talk about. I'll be very happy when It's finished and handed in as, I suspect, Kant is not beneficial to my health.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
She gave me some gifts as well, including a gift certificate to buy yarn at the Beehive. Yeah for YARN!