Snowpocalypse 2010!

Here’s how the current winter storm  is playing out in the
Washington DC area:

Reporting from the LA

“As of late afternoon, a total of 32.4 inches was recorded at Dulles
International Airport outside of Washington, according to the National
Weather Service. That two-day accumulation topped the previous record,
compiled during the blizzard of January 1996, the weather service said.”

I’m “enjoying” my first business trip of the year, so I’m miles away on
a different continent.  But, here are the reports I’ve gotten from
home — snowpocalypse in evolution!

10h00 Friday, February 5, 2010 —
first flakes fly

Feb 05 2010 10h00

16h00 Friday, February 5, 2010
hunkering down

Feb 05 2010 16h00

09h00 Saturday, February 6, 2010 —

Feb 06 2010 09h00

16h00 Saturday, February 6, 2010 —
there are cars in there?

Feb 06 2010 16h00


And, weaving fun was had, for sure! 

So, the first thing off the loom is not “a piece” or really even an “FO”.  It’s just a sampler, warp that I filled with weft as I was playing around to get to know what this weaving thing is all about.  I won’t even begin to discuss the challenge that is “selvages”. 

Without further ado, here it is:

Finished sampler

Perhaps worth noting — from this perspective, I began at the right and worked my way to the left, so that the final 2 sections of plain weave were what I did to fill up the warp as much as possible (to figure out how much waste I can expect with this loom).  Not particularly visible in this photo, the selvages were becoming somewhat credible towards the end.

Per the instructions for the exercise, I put on a 2 yard (72″) warp.    Less 7 1/2″ waste (fringe, below) at the front, and 14″ waste at the back, that gave me room to weave 45″ on this warp.  (The other ~5″ were presumably lost to take up, as the warp and weft threads crossed).  Post-wash, the worked length was 43″.  I had set it for 10″ wide (120 ends, 12 dent reed).  It ranged between 8 1/4″ and 9 1/2″ wide before washing, and shrank to 8″ – 9 1/4″ after washing.  (The variations in width have to do with the different weave patterns (plain or twill), as well as the density of packing, through heavier beating).

Total time spent weaving… probably not more than a few hours.  And, it was a lot of fun — very rhythmic, when it got going.  It was easy enough with a simple treadling pattern to follow (1-2-3-4, or 1&3-2&4, for eg), but I really don’t know how I’ll do when it comes to more complex treadling.  I envision having to learn the fine art of figuring out where I’ve gotten to and having to backtrack to work out mistakes :-/  The weaving equivalent of learning how to fall, I guess.

step down

Above, from left to right — brown tightly packed (weft-dominant) 2x twill, white loose (warp-dominant) 2x twill, and some basic 2×2 twill making a herring bone pattern, followed by plain weave in various degrees of packedness (mostly intentionally πŸ™‚ ).


Closeup of plain weave — tightly packed at the right, loosely packed in the middle and left (white & brown weft, respectively).

So — there you have it:  first thing off the loom!  Next step — planning a project with a result I’ll want to keep…


Oooh, lookey!  Another weekend!  More Quality Time with the Baby Wolf.   I managed to thread the heddles on the shafts, in the appropriate order, and get the warp threads actually attached to the front and back beams. 

top down


And — treadled! 

Don’t look now, but this warp is ready to be woven!

You Sley Me!

On the weekend, I finally had the opportunity to spend some Quality Time with the Baby Wolf.  I measured 120 warp threads (in 2 colours), and got as far as getting the reed sleyed.


Still a ways to go — have to thread the heddles on the shafts, in the appropriate order, and get the warp threads actually attached to the front and back beams. 

sleyed wolf

I’m following the excellent, detailed instructions in Deborah Chandler’s “Learning to Weave”.  While it’s slow going, it’s making sense so far, and seems like the sort of thing that will get faster as you learn what you’re doing.

Of course, actual weaving may be an entirely different matter!

Mother Nature Rules…

… and don’t you ever forget it!

We were driving by Castalia Marsh at high tide, the other day, and were astonished to see that it was completely flooded.  It’s winter, high tides tend to be at their highest, and we did just have a wicked storm system come through, that did significant damage in Port Elgin, NB.  But, still — this was a couple of days later, and we’d never seen the Marsh as anything other than, well, a marsh, with small tufted islands and channels of water.

Instead (click for slightly bigger) — in the image below, you can see the picnic area almost overrun, and the remains of a couple of duck blinds poking out of the water in the distance.

flooded marsh

And, as you can see below — the causeway/breaker wall between the Bay of Fundy and the Marsh was completely overrun.  The 3 pictures below show progress along the causeway, on what used to be the access road.  It’s now strewn with football-sized rocks, tossed up by the surf at some point.  (While we were there, someone came by in their F-1Million pickup truck and tried to pick his way along — he gave up and retreated).

road to now where

4 wheelin


It always impresses me what the simple forces of nature can wreak on our carefully engineered, man-made interventions (like, say, roads).

A slightly different perspective — looking back at the exit from the picnic area parking:  the road just stops:

The water was still somewhat stormy that day — lovely winter colours.


I dug through my old photos to try to find some useful comparisons.  It seems that the things that were photogenic in the wintry, flooded, stormy state were not the same as the things I thought to snap when it was in its seasonal prime!  But, a few comparative pictures of the surrounding shorelines, below (click for bigger pics).

Before January 2010
house before house after
island before
island after
ferry before ferry after

Cats in Amsterdam

Many buildings in Amsterdam are old.  And they have a “native population”, that survives transfer of ownership.  To help deal with this, it is not unusual for restaurants to employ “peace keepers” of the four-legged sort.

I recently met Mavis:


Mavis was not above supplementing her rodent-chasing diet with handouts from the restaurant’s kitchen:

a good thing going

While I’m not naming the restaurant above, it should be noted that I have actually seen mice running across the floor in a (different) restaurant in Amsterdam, and Mavis was not the first resto-cat I’d encountered in that city.  Sometime back in 2003, I met this “greeter”:



Double-duty mouser & maitre d’? πŸ˜‰

Happy 2010!

Best wishes, from Grand Manan.

And, by request — socks in the window:

socks window

Those are, in fact, new socks (old feet).  There’ve been a few end-of-year Finished Objects here at KnitBot central, and they are duly posted up on in the KnitBot Yarn Gallery.

And, for fun — here is the year in review (all objects finished in 2009 — some were certainly started earlier).

Knitbot’s 2009 FOs Blackberry Shawl Summer Diamonds Top
Blue Diamond Socks Petra of Many Colours Blue Crochet Stole
Rainbow Baby Blanket Blue Melody Socks Grey Mouse Scarf
Black Jacket Triple L Tweed Sweater Very Pink Socks

In that, you can see that there were 7 travel projects (i.e., projects that could be worked on while in transit and/or in meetings).  That’s not too surprising, given the type of year it was…  It’s a little surprising to me that I managed to finish 4 non-travel projects in the year — the sweaters/top.  Three of them were pretty easy knits — the diamond modular top, the diagonal (Petra) sweater, and the black jacket.  The Triple L Tweed sweater was the really big project for the year — in December 2008, I was swatching with the yarn to get some ideas.  The rest of the year was about working out a plan for the whole sweater, and then constructing the various bits of it.  I might go as far as to say I think it’s my most successful sweater design yet (not that there have been many…). 

And, it’s a new year.  Not that I’m formulating any formal resolutions here, but let’s just say it would be good to see as many projects, fewer of them travel projects, this time next year.

168 hours to Play!

When looking at grey November vistas, stunning in their simple beauty…



there’s only one question:  guess who’s coming…

look who's coming

… to dinner?


And a fine dinner they were, too.

Didn’t stop me from playing with the “Duck
a la Something or Other”
recipe — browning the cabbage and onion
before adding it to the duck in the slow cooker to braise for the last

duck redux

And this year’s sauce was orange and raspberry:

duck dinner

Wanting to play with something completely different, I came across a
recipe for smoked
cheddar, spinach and sundried tomato ravioli
.  But, I thought
it would be dull to use the wonton wrappers called for — made some
fresh pasta, instead.  And, I didn’t have a ravioli form — went
with a mini-muffin tin, instead:

raviol - i


Which made yummy, if oversized, ravioli!

And, there was pasta leftover.  I cut the leftover pasta into
fettucini.  Now I know why there are those nifty holes in the
backs of chairs:

leftover pasta

And, in more discoveries… The measuring cup lurking on the stovetop
in the duck adventure?  Well, gelatinous.  And, suspiciously
like “graisse
de canard

graisse de canard!

Haven’t quite found the gumption to try a slice of this on bread…
might just sort it into duck soup (still have the bones) and keep the
fat for confit.  Who can say what the next culinary adventure will
be?  If you could, it wouldn’t be play…

Not Crying… Wolf!

Baby wolf

So, what would make you, the day after a 12 hour flight home from Japan, turn this:


Into this?:


I’d like to say something clever, like “reverse jetlag”,  or “desperately delayed burst of house pride”, but that’s hardly the case.  Rather, it took a wolf’s influence… the arrival of the Schacht Baby Wolf I’d ordered in the middle of the night from a hotel room in London, on the last day of September…


It’s a folding loom, with 26″weaving width. 


Being the sort of person I am, I blew straight past the 4-shaft phase, and straight to an 8 shaft (10 treadle) loom.  My expectation is that this will be not only my first, but my only loom.  Not everyone in the house is quite so sanguine, as our basement slowly gets devoured by my fibre-consuming toys…

partly deployed

Of course, having 8 shafts, it also came with 800 heddles to install on those glaringly empty shafts.  It occurred to me that playing with 800 fiddly, loose metal bits was not something to attempt while jetlagged and/or tired.  From experience, I can say that was the right expectation.    Sigh.  They pick up easily.

800 pieces of joy

I still don’t have the final pieces in place, not even the cords to attach the treadles to the shafts — but here’s a quick view of what it looks like with one shaft raised (which will form a shed through which one shoots the shuttle with a bobbin, once it’s all warped up and set to go).  You can see — the shaft is pushed up by the “jacks” underneath.

one shaft up

Well, lots more to learn and fiddle with.  It’ll be fun.  And take a while.

And, why, yes, that is a complete Atari 1040st system in boxes in the background above.  Complete with black and white AND colour monitors!  And a 30Mbyte hard drive.  Any takers? πŸ™‚

Travel Knitting

Every now and then, the question comes up on knitting message boards — “can I take my knitting project on the plane?”.  There is no uniform answer across the globe.  Generally speaking, knitting needles are allowed through airport security in Canada and the US, but not allowed in a number of European airports.  And, there are plenty of stories of sad knitters who have had to throw out their expensive Addi Turbos at the security checkpoint, leaving their knitting project in a tenuous state of unattached stitches.  I’ve even heard of some airports requiring people to cut the cable on their circular needle, for fear it would be used as a garrote:  safer for the knitting project than abandoning the needle, but end of useful life of the circular needle.

For myself, I really like the Denise plastic modular needle set:  the modularity is convenient.  The plastic pieces are innocuous, and may not even show up on security scans.  Sure, they are not Addi Turbos, but they are still pretty usable needles. 

Apart from that — I keep a small project (like, a sock project on 5″ wooden needles, such as Grafton Fibers’ Darn Pretty Needles, which are sturdy and sharp) just for travel.

When traveling to or through Europe, I don’t bring knitting projects on the plane — but I have a travel crochet project I bring just for the plane rides.  The theory is simple — it’s a crochet hook, not a needle.  And, if they ever give me grief and cause me to surrender the hook at security, at least I’ve just got the one loop to secure, and the project will not unravel until I have a new hook.   Yeah, I like knitting much more than crochet, but I like crochet considerably more than being BORED MINDLESS on a plane, watching movies I never wanted to see, on half-failed entertainment system (should I change airlines? πŸ™‚ ).   Knock on wood — it’s worked so far.

Of course, if you have travel knitting (or crochet, as here) — you should take it out and show it a good time, while traveling:

Crochet Stole, Eiffel Tower

This crochet stole is now finished — I’ll provide more details, gallerize it and declare it an FO when I’ve gotten it home and properly blocked (along with another lace project, finished up last month).  It’s no particular pattern — just a stitch pattern I thought looked pretty, that I did for four feet of stole, and threw an edge around πŸ™‚

See — the knitting (and crochet) continue, even if I don’t blog about it every five minutes!

One more shot of the stole — where you can see some of the detail in the patterning.

Crochet stole