Monday, March 31, 2008

That's one brave Kauni knitter

I loved knitting my Kauni cardie. Kauni yarn is great. It does half the work for you by changing colour gradually as you knit. The rest you do yourself by knitting squares (or other good things) in a pattern. It's an excellent pattern for someone who wants to try knitting colour work.

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

Flax for spinning

I really enjoyed the show this weekend. I had an amazing time playing with Shelley and all of her yarn. Somehow I managed not to buy too, too much. I did bring home a bunch of goodies though. How can I resist? It IS yarn (and potential yarn) after all.

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

one day down, one left to go

I got home last night and I fell right asleep. I had dreams of vibrant coloured yarn surrounding me with some sort of tribal yarn dance. Skeins of yarn twirled and spun and jumped as they danced around the room. It was a very strange dream, but very apt considering what I did all yesterday.

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: Ranco Multy yarn and the Victoria Sewing and Craft show

Given the cold weather we have had lately, I figured that maybe I should do my part to help usher in spring. So I cast on a sock number of stitches of Ranco Multy yarn by Arucania, a hand dyed yarn from Chile. Here's what the tag says:

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.

I think the yarn has a beautiful story. I've been to Chile and this yarn reminded me of that country even before I knew where it came from. Chile is such a vibrant land full of wonderful people and knitting with this yarn brings back all sorts of memories.

I chose spring colours, because, well, we need more spring in these parts. The yarn knits up in a way that the fabric looks like you are gazing into a mountain lake, early, as you sip your cuppa tea while standing on the dock, on the first morning of your vacation. The yarn feels so soft, yet durable, just like the memory of a summer vacation.

There are some rich browns that remind me of the desert of Atacama, a place which truly has no equal to its beauty. I'm tempted to bring home some of this to knit during the summer.

Fun Knits (who is in town today and tomorrow at the Sewing and Craft show) has a whole slew of this yarn on hand in lots of lovely colours. There is a lot of things going on in the show, so many booths, so many things to see. If you get a chance, come on down.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Set up for the show

I'm very excited about the Sewing and Crafts show starting tomorrow.

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

No Snow (yet)

So far, no snow. I'm quite thankful that there wasn't any snow because, as I said before, my garden is growing and I want to eat all those little spinach plants just as soon as they are ready.

Although, my weather pixie has a scarf and gloves on...

... is she trying to tell me something?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Okay, so I'm a bit confused. The radio just advised me that there is a possibility of flurries (as in snow flurries) this morning. You know what, I'm not confused, they must be the radio people who are confused. We get a kind of snow this time of year. It's when the wind picks up and blows the petals off the trees. This looks like snow, and sometimes even makes little 'snow' drifts along the edge of the sidewalk. That must be what they mean.

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

Sewing and Crafts Show in Victoria

I'm very excited to tell you that the Sewing and Crafts show is happening in Victoria this weekend.

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

Yarn fast, where did you go?

It's not like I've bought a lot of yarn lately. But, every now and again, I have bought yarn. I've bought yarn for projects for myself and for other people. Heck, I've even bought yarn just because it was cool and made out of corn somehow. Through the totally awesome skills I've picked up while studying philosophy, I probably could justify each and every one of these yarn purchases under the conditions of my no-yarn-for-me.

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

Honeycomb by Sarah Castor

So, I've been obsessing over the pattern Honeycomb ever since it came out on Knitty. I'm such a sucker for a classic style vest that I can wear over a blouse. The stitch pattern looks like a huge amount of fun to knit. Everything about this vest is calling me to knit it.

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

I missed it

For reasons beyond my control I missed Guild last night. That's the second time in as many months and I'm disappointed that I couldn't make it as I missed out in seeing some wonderful people.

I hope that everyone else had fun.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

spinning makes yarn

There has been a bit of spinning here and there.

Mostly it happens when I get frustrated with reading Kant. He may have been a brilliant man with some amazing ideas, but oy vey, he was simply hopeless at writing. Sentences should not last more than three pages. I'm telling you, they just shouldn't.

However, the repetitive motion of my hands and the wheel going round and round are very soothing to me. It is the perfect counterbalance to my frustrations.

The yarns shown are spun on my Quebec wheel. The white yarn is two ply wool (from the free fleece) and the red yarn I spun from a wool silk blend from Twist of Fate. I made it a woolen spun, single (unplyed yarn) because I wanted to see what it would be like to knit socks with it. It's not the most even yarn in the world, but I think the texture shall make it even more enjoyable to knit.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Spring

So you are probably sick of me talking about spring. Too bad. The sunshine is warm, the birds are singing, and the baby bunnies are almost all grown up, bless them.

These two bunnies are just slightly larger than my hand. So darn cute. Even I was moved to pet them.

The trees are starting to put on their display.

And my first lot of spinach has made an appearance.

I'm so excited, they will be ready to eat in just a few weeks. The rhubarb is really coming along as well.

And this house always makes me smile. What a fun front yarn.


Question: What's the one (okay, you can put more than one) thing you hate (or if you love leftovers, love) most about leftovers and what is your favorite thing to do with leftover food to make it more appetizing?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

ten a week

Ten minutes at the garden was all it took this week. We realized that the soil was still to wet for beet seeds,(hopefully) squirrel proofed the onion sets, set out some more home made, organic, slug bate, and stood around admiring all the things that were already growing. I'm always a bit disappointed that it takes so little time to maintain the garden. I love being out there with the birds and the plants. But there is only so many weeds that need pulling.

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

mmm... soup.

So, um, sorry about the really long post yesterday. If you did manage to read the whole thing, you are a saint.

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

Happy Home Maker

Over the last few weeks, I have had a similar kind of conversation with several different people. It's about what can I do with my life; how can I take my new chemical sensitivities and make something positive from them? I tell you, it's a pretty difficult topic. There is a reoccurring theme and it has come up over, and over, and over again. It is Domesticity.

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

It's been a slow, rainy kind of a day

It's been a slow, rainy kind of a day.

Even so, I got quite a bit accomplished today. I washed some more fleece, I candied some citrus peal (to make more hot cross buns with this weekend as I gave all mine away to Y), I baked mince meat tarts (it was so cold and damp out, I felt winter had come back to torture me, so I needed some make-winter-feel-better food), read some Kant, started knitting Clessidra with some yarn from my stash (kudos to me for using stash yarn and not buying new stuff), vacuumed the house and got Jenshine's present ready to go as it is her birthday today!

I think that this is the last knitting I'm doing for someone else for quite some time. It's been over a year of knitting projects for others (remember the wedding gift?), and as wonderful as that might be, I really want some me knitting time this year. I'm so caught up in the anxiety of whether the recipient will like it, that knitting just isn't fun any more. I've lost my knitting mojo and I want it back. That's what these Clessidra socks are for - a nice textured knit that I can knit just for myself. I don't begrudge knitting for others, in fact I quite enjoy giving them something I made, something that is purely unique, something that is just for them. It's just, well, I've had enough of it right now and I really want to be selfish for a while. I hope that being selfish in this way doesn't make me a bad friend. I'll have to buy them some extra nice chocolate to make up for it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

stain get out!

Well, it finally arrived and sending white powder across the boarder didn't cause as much of a stir as expected.

Thanks Nat for sending this my way.

I figure this is the strongest of the wonderful solutions offered by some wonderful readers for recovering my poor sweater, so I thought I would give it a go first. Now, I have to soak my poor sweater in the stuff and see if it won't fix the stain. If it doesn't work, I suppose I could dye the entire thing red. The stupid thing about this whole affair is that those socks were suppose to be colourfast. Stupid red socks.

And with the powder came a good luck charm.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not yet yarn

It's been a funny sort of day: a typical Tuesday really. The type of day where everything feels slightly off as if you slipped slightly to the left of reality when you got out of bed this morning. It's been that kind of a day.

To make the day a little bit more manageable, allow me to show you all the new yarn I was given:

Okay, I know, it's not yarn yet, but it will be. At the moment it's one humongous garbage bag brimming over with fleece. see....

Very, very dirty fleece. It even smells like farm. That's what makes it so wonderful. It smells like a sheep (in all it's glory). A sheep that lived a happy life outdoors and played in the mud when it wanted to. A real live, albeit somewhat dirty, sheep.

And it was a gift. A gift of free fleece from curlysalamander.

I washed some up and carded it up this morning. What I thought was going to be strange brown-yellow fleece ended up being white. WHITE! I have fleece.

okay, calm down. deep breaths.

I'm very excited about my fleece. I don't know what kind it is except to say it is from a sheep and it was going to be tossed away before curlysalamander rescued it for me. It's soft and very fine. Much finer than my Romney fleece. It cards and spins far easier than my Romney as well. I'm in love with it.

There is a lot of farm left in the wool. But that's not so bad because with every bit of grass or grain I pluck from the fleece, I imagine what sort of adventure this adorable little creator of wool might have got up to in order to bury this bit of vegetation so deep into his coat.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Grow grain

Here is something for all you grain lovers with yards. What a great idea. Now, I just need a yard.

Hot Cross Buns

Since Easter is almost upon us I made some Hot Cross Buns with some delicious white wheat given to me by the ever-generous curlysalamander.

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

The great walking wheel

The last of the items we brought home is very large. It is a walking wheel.

As I expressed earlier, this is not the easiest thing in the world to photograph. My first attempt went something like this...

(yep, I'm not exactly good with those photo editing programs)

It's a great old wheel. I'm told it is several hundred years old and I can believe it. All the original bits and parts are hand worked. There are some additional elements added later on such as replacement spokes and a shiny new wheel axle, but that just adds to the charm. It's in near working condition and with a tiny bit of love and attention will be fully up and running in no time.

I like the motion of spinning on this wheel better than any other. It involves the entire body to make make yarn. The arms stretch wide and it makes the chest feel very open. The motion is very peaceful and requires very little effort to make lots of yarn. I think it should be named a dancing wheel, not a walking wheel. I really love it.

Just look at all my wheels. I'm crazy.

Some videos for you:


And if that didn't convince you that sheep are cute, here is a flash game to take up your afternoon.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I'm in love

How do you take photos of something that is considerably larger than yourself when you are inside and haven't enough room to back up so as to get the entire object in the shot?

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


I have some questions, perhaps some of you wonderful people can help me out.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Is it possible to get a rash from carding too much wool?
  4. 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?
  5. Does it make me a bad knitter that I'm board of knitting light grey socks in simple stst?

Flour Mill or grinder

The third thing we brought home last Saturday is a Flour Mill.

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

How to use a drum carder

I just had to laugh. These have to be some of the most enthusiastic instructional videos I have ever seen, and it tell you how to use a drum carder. Even if you don't spin, have a look, I think it will make you smile and give you a new appreciation of how enthusiastic fibre people can be.

Oh, and to that poor person I scared at work today by saying "I know you on Ravelry" at you, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you like that, I was just so excited to see a real live Ravelry person, I didn't think before I spoke. I do really like your blog by the way, I think it's off to a great start and I hope you get a new footman for your wheel soon (if not, message me on Ravelry and I can set you up with a couple of people here in town that can help with that).

ETA: here is the link for the second part of the video.


Spring is officially here!

I met with one of my oldest (known the longest, not age-wise) friends on the weekend for a walk in the park and to give her this:

Some very, fine silk handspun single that I haven't found a use for or anything to ply with. So I figured it might be appropriate to sew or embroider with, and since my friend does cross stitch and embroidery, I thought she should have it.

She gave me some gifts as well, including a gift certificate to buy yarn at the Beehive. Yeah for YARN!

After picking up some tea and coffee we wondered into Beacon Hill Park.

The crocuses provide a colourful carpet between the trees...

...the mallards were preparing to make those cute little ducklings...

...and some of the rhododendrons (looks like Christmas Cheer) were in full splendor.

It was a lovely walk in the sunshine and a lovely talk with an old friend that I don't see anywhere near often enough. There is still a bit of a nip in the air, but that doesn't matter, spring is finally here (albeit, later than usual, but that's due to climate change I'm sure).

With spring so hard upon us, I went to my allotment garden yesterday to ensure everything was ready for growing. I was delighted to see that my attempts to lure insect eating birds with rendered suet worked. A pair of bush tits expressed their delight with the suet and paid no mind to the fact that I was gardening less that two feet away. Hopefully they will nest and stick around all summer, eating up those nasty bugs that try to invade my garden so I don't have to deal with them.

I planted some peas, spinach and more onions. The rhubarb, garlic, winter onions are growing, and even the potatoes have breached the ground.

It's so satisfying to see this life that I nurtured start to grow.