Thursday, June 27, 2013

Harris Tweed Making a Comeback

Harris Tweed is making a resurgence.

What is Harris Tweed?  Wikipedia says
Harris Tweed is a cloth that has been handwoven by islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides. 
Harris Tweed is protected by the Harris Tweed Act of Parliament 1993,[1] which strictly outlines the conditions in which the cloth can genuinely be made. 
Authentic Harris Tweed is issued with the Harris Tweed Orb Mark, the United Kingdom's oldest registered trademark,[2] after inspection by the Harris Tweed Authority, the industry's governing body.
There is a link to a BBC video that was of great interest to me because 20 fiber enthusiasts (including moi) will be there in just two weeks to visit at least one weaver's shop, that of Donald John Mackay.

Go HERE to see the video (no embedding, with just a short commercial prior to the video). This is a picture of weaver Donald Mackay at work, NOT a live link:

and another picture on the island of Harris, with Mr. Mackay's weaving shed in the background: so picturesque!

Joyce James, the tour guide for our trip to the Scottish Isles, says about this video:
 It was good to see weaver, Donald John Mackay, at his loom in his weaving shed overlooking Luskentyre Beach. We'll be visiting Donald John next month as part of the 2013 Scottish Skeins tour. Travellers from past tours have thoroughly this stop. In fact, it's been difficult to get them to leave his shed and little shop.
Despite tough economic times, the Harris tweed industry is proving as resilient as the cloth which takes its name.

It has been making a big impact in global fashion, and recently took home two prizes from the UK Fashion and Textiles Awards.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Soysilk Fiber: a Cowl with Drape

When I opened up my package of soysilk yarn, I really did not know the makeup of this fiber.  From reading others' remarks about the cowl that looked good in the pictures on Ravelry, it was necessary to knit up this cowl shell with a yarn that had lots of drape.  Silk and silk blends were mentioned, but the designer of the Cowl Shell (Myrna Batten) used Oasis brand, a 100% soysilk fiber.

South West Trading Company says
SOYSILK® brand fiber is made from the residue of soybeans from tofu manufacturing.  This process is 100-percent natural and free of any petrochemicals, making it an extremely environmentally friendly product.  Soy is a completely renewable resource – coming from the earth and being wholly biodegradable.   As early as the 1940s, textile experts dreamed of a fiber made from soy.  (In fact, Henry Ford had a suit made of soy as an early prototype.)  SOYSILK® brand fiber offers superior moisture absorption and ventilation properties along with beautiful draping, softness and warmth.
It took two weeks to knit this up and I am very pleased with the cowl.  And it is environmentally green as it contains natural anti-bacterial agents which can restrain the growth of certain types of bacteria and is therefore considered a very sanitary fiber.

It has the softness and smoothness of cashmere but isn’t hazardous to the environment. The fiber also has the same moisture absorption as cotton but with better moisture transmission, making it more comfortable and sanitary (from here).
The soysilk fiber (actually 100% soy) drapes nicely.  Now I'm on to knitting up another one in this variegated color:

 This is on my Works in Progress for Wednesday.  Go here to see others' projects that Tami hosts!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Checking In with Finished Objects Friday

Since it is Friday and after 9 AM with nothing to show for the day yet except for having finished off refrigerator left overs for breakfast, I'll post on Finished Objects Friday at Tami's.  (I had the last of a batch of gazpacho and some chicken salad.)  Go on over there to see what others are doing.

This pattern by Tin Can Knits, published by Handmade in the UK, is VIVID, a blanket pattern.

It is written for three weights of yarn.  I used a sport weight and a sock weight yarn and made these as samples.

These samples will be used for coasters during the summer.  When cool weather rolls round again, it might be time to go ahead and knit up 20 squares in various colors and make a blanket from the squares.  It is a fun pattern and a square can be knit in a few hours.

And from the garden, our first bloom from our newly planted Rose of Sharon bush and hollyhocks:

Happy Friday!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fires; Trashcan Cooking over wood

Colorado has had terrible fires this week, both near Colorado Springs and closer to our home, about 60 miles away, the Black Forest fire.  Almost 38,000 people in 13,000 homes have been affected by the Black Forest fire, Fox News reported.

The UK Daily Mail showed this picture and also reported that this is the worst fire in the history of Colorado with close to 500 properties already destroyed.  Three houses were miraculously left standing.

Please pray for all affected.

Being careful of fire and using appropriate measures, the husband cooked out down in our lower area and smoked a chicken for our dinner last night.  He smoked it in his home-made trashcan cooker.

The bottom of the trash can was placed inside an existing fire pit and the old fire pit  grill and cover were repurposed for cooking over coals.

The chicken was seasoned and smoked 1.5 hours, and was turned every quarter hour.  It turned out to be a masterpiece, even without sauce.  Delicious!

Happy Fathers' Day to all.  Prayers for all affected by the fires in Colorado.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Morning Tea and a Game for Boys

What fun to share time with friends on a beautiful almost-summer morning.  Gal friends gathered in our back yard today for cold drinks and cucumber sandwiches and good conversation.

The little finger bites of vegetables and bread and butter were quite good; the picture above shows it made 24, less one previously consumed for quality assurance purposes.  Here is the recipe used for the cucumber sandwiches:

And I should have made a double batch.  Next time.

One momma brought her boys after swimming class to join us. Are they not just darling?  And smart, to boot!

The boys were offered 10 cents each for every "face" they could find in the garden.  The husband and I made a game of it last night while sitting outside and we found 39 faces in the garden. The boys came up with 40!

 Here are a few of the faces found in the garden:

Thanks, friends, for a fun time!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hello, June

We've been saying hello to spring. Sprucing up. Painting. Gardening.

(in process, but now painted)

The master bathroom has been painted white the entire time we have lived here, so it was only appropriate to welcome in spring with a bit of a face lift and a few new accessories for the necessary room.  The picture above is a "before" one of the east window.  Indulgent Mocha from Behr over builders' white paint is now its cover.  A new clock on another bathroom wall to let us know how long it takes to brush teeth.

And I whipped up a new valence for that east window.  Seems it always gets hot in mid morning from that direct sun, so perhaps this fabric will shield some of that sun while taking showers.

Gardening!  Our wildflower garden planted last spring is doing nicely, thank you.  But the bluebells did not make it over the winter.  It was just too darned cold for their survival.  But the penstemon did VERY well.

Welcome to my garden with purple and yellow columbines...

honeysuckle that opened up this morning with a heavenly smell...

and welcome also to the prayer garden in the back that is filling in nicely with ground cover, iris, chives, mums and natural tall grasses, along with a few other bulbs.

And then it was time to whip up a few new dishcloths (the eLoomanator and Grandma's Favorite Dishcloth held with triple strands of cotton yarn to make a couple of fiesta potholders.

Sadly, my husband the chef said that three strands of cotton was not enough thickness to keep his hands from a burn.  So these fiesta cloths might have to go into the facecloth pile in the closet. Sigh.  
For lunch, my favorite chicken salad recipe found here by Emeril.  It uses fresh tarragon, of which there is an abundance in the herb area.   I use more than Emeril says, and we seem to never have an apple on hand, but it is good enough even without the apple.   Next time a picture; this time I forgot to snap a picture of the herbs, and the salad is not yet made.
How are you welcoming June?