on the crafty side of things…

First of all, it is a ridiculously gorgeous day here.

The end of May/beginning of June brings a new tradition to our house, one we’ve learned from our Canadian neighbours: porch baskets.

Houses all over the Greater Toronto Area are sporting huge blooming baskets hanging from porches and roof corners. Businesses have big free-standing buckets of flowers everywhere. It’s a lovely way to welcome the sunshine which we all missed so desperately throughout this long grey winter.

While I’ve been telling you all tales of our adventures in Vermont, I’ve also been doing a lot of crafting here at home. In addition to my writing and other work, I’ve been trying to make progress on all sorts of projects around the house.

There are now almost two dishtowels on my loom, the first, lavender, the second, green.

This weaving project has been plagued by Warp Drama. I’ve already broken two warp threads, which is something that never has happened to me before. Then, the tension is abyssmal across the width of the warp, enough so that I’ve had to wrap little rolls of paper in rubber matting and insert them between warp and back beam.

I thought I’d done a good job of warping this project. It’s just ordinary coned 8/2 cotton, but it seems very fragile to me. It is pretty well-aged in my stash, at least ten years, so I wonder if the fibres weaken after prolonged storage. Any gurus have any input on this? Why else would so many threads be breaking and stretching when this has never happened to me before on any other project?

Lovely, lovely fleecey bits

The past two days have been such lovely warm weather that I have been washing fleece bits.

I’m going to go out on a limb right now and say I passionately adore washing fleece bits.

These particular bits are Bond locks, purchased as part of a sampler from Beth at the Spinning Loft. If you like fleeces, and you don’t know Beth…you need to know Beth. Beth has a WALL O’ FLEECE and that is not an exaggeration. I think she may have two walls o’ fleece in her new shop (I haven’t seen the new shop yet, sob) plus back stock in a guarded cave somewhere in the hills. Beth has EVERYTHING. And knows everything about breeds, processing, spinning, you name it.

If you want to try little bits of fleece, just to sample them, Beth sells sampler packs. You can either order the sampler packs she puts together, or you can ask her to put together a custom sampler pack for you. That’s what I did a few months back.

That’s Cormo on the left, and the Bond on the right. Also in the sampler were Merino, CVM, and Finn.

Here’s where the story gets a little sad: Because of various Life Circumstances, I never washed the raw samples; I just left them in their little box for months. Then, this past week as the weather warmed up, I found little winged nightmares flying around in my TV room.

I don’t keep my fleeces in my TV room. I have a few shelves with a few bits of yarn and fibres on them, but no fleeces, so I was really puzzled…until I saw the little sampler box sitting on a top shelf. Booooo.

I managed to salvage the Merino, the CVM, the Cormo, and the Bond. The Finn was so full of the little nightmares and their eggses that I just threw it out (in a sealed bag, straight into the trash outside). Booooooooooooo.

Suitably chastened, I immediately set about washing up the other four samples. I am getting combs for my upcoming birthday from Nicholas The Wonderful (well, I am picking them up from Morgaine when I go to Black Sheep Gathering in ten days, but Nicholas is designating them as my birthday gift), so I wanted to wash these little samples in a way that preserves lock formation.

I don’t have any mesh or tulle around the house, which is what one normally uses to keep the locks tidy, so I’ve been using old lace tablecloths and curtains.

I lay the locks out on the lace.

Then I make a burrito.

Then it goes into my beloved Phil tub (from the clever folks at SOAK) with plenty of hot water and, in this case, Dawn detergent.

Two washes, two rinses, no agitation, just soaking in the tub each time, a glug of vinegar in the final rinse water. Then it’s off for a little quality time on the porch on the drying racks.

I keep the fleece bits covered by the lace, because we have squirrels and birds who would just love the nice fluffy stuff as nest material. I also use clothespins to clip the lace closed and to clip the entire package to the drying racks.

I learned a lot from hearing about Stephanie‘s squirrel battles, and there’s no reason that poor woman should have suffered and lost all those fleeces in vain. At least she can take some comfort in the fact that we, her sister fleece-washers, are now better armed against the rodent armies due to her selfless sharing of her mishaps.

Anyway, the CVM, the Bond, and the Merino are all now having lovely porch time, and the Cormo is only waiting for a drying rack to be freed up.

Lesson learned. Wash fleece soon after buying. Do not let dirty fleeces sit around and attract little winged nightmares.


Yes, I still knit.

I’ve been working on a new design with a tight deadline, so have been a bit obsessed. This is the beginnings of Demeter.

Here’s more of Demeter:

The yarn is Jennifer’s laceweight, hand-dyed in the colourway Demeter (I think that is what she is calling it). This colour is being released in July, along with the pattern for my shawl, as part of the Holiday Yarns Mythical Lace Club.

This is my very first attempt at designing a circular shawl. It pretty much had to be circular, as our girl Demeter is in charge of the wheel of the seasons. I started playing with a central sunflower motif used by Eugene Beugler, in honour of his place as sort of one of the grandfathers of modern lace knitting. I modified it, rotating the leaves around so that they radiate from a different place on the central flower, in order to make room for the next section: rays of yarnovers and decreases that will (I hope) call to mind furrows in the field, another symbol of our gal Demeter.

The actual colours are just a bit darker than shown here, but not much

After that, it will be sheaves of wheat and the final border.

Along the way there will be golden beads. That is, there will be beads if Canada Post ever starts delivering things to me again. We shall see.

I’ve also managed a ton of spinning, more knitting, and even (gasp!) some house-cleaning.

And of course, my tiara table has been quite a busy place.

Bluebell Tiara, in my Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shop/wisesparrow)

Tim keeps quite a close eye on me throughout all these various activities.

I’ve also been petting a certain skein of lovely yarn I was given at Massachusetts Sheep & Wool…except the generous donor did not give it to me to keep, but to give away to one of you nice folks. Stay tuned for photos of this lovely yarn and we’ll do some more giveaways over the next couple of weeks.

Of course, given the postal strike, I suppose we’ll all just have to be patient about the actual shipping and delivery of the goodies. But at least we can do the fun part of giving stuff away, strike or no.


Wise words from a smart woman: 
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

This Makes Me Go “Oh, Really?” Illegal for Kids to Play Outside?

Need a fun geekatroid project? Knit your very own sonic screwdriver.

Last but never least: Choppers the cat sports a meowhawk.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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8 Responses to on the crafty side of things…

  1. Seanna Lea says:

    Oh no! I have a bit of prepared fleece (batts and the like) which were cleaned before they got to me, but my heart still skipped a beat at the idea of all of the moths. So yuck!

    I will need to knit a sonic screwdriver for one of my friends. He is a major Dr. Who fan.


  2. Naomi says:

    Please tell me that that pattern will eventually be available to the public. (I can wait a year, no problem. Existing shawl WIPs will last at least that long.)


  3. Lisa says:

    The bluebell tiara is a masterpiece!! Gorgeous!


  4. Barbara says:

    your towels looks fabulous and broken warp threads are nothing to worry about – easily dealt with.


  5. InJuneau says:

    I believe I’ve heard rumor (rumour for you, I suppose) that Beth now has a ROOM O’ FLEECE!


  6. Suze says:

    Love the tiara. Too bad I’m not really a Tiara Girl. Your blog makes me smile smile smile! And occasionally laugh.


  7. btownknitter says:

    Love the tiara! I’m trying to think up a good reason why I need one because it’s gorgeous!


  8. Pat says:

    Wow! You’ve been busy!


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