Monday, 25 March 2013

Pumps and Tensioned Lazy Kates

Re-installing pump in creek
Our creek is flowing, but has not reached flood level this Wet Season. Since there is less chance at this point of our pump being swept away in a flood, Jerry placed it back in the creek and has begun the slow process of refilling water tanks while the creek continues to flow.

I'm ready to make another 3 ply cotton yarn and want to describe my lazy kate set up for the process.

Ashford lazy kate modified to have three bobbins under tension
My Ashford lazy kate holds three bobbins in vertical alignment. When I got this lazy kate, it did not have a way to tension the bobbins. In those early days of learning to spin and ply with a wheel, sometimes in the plying process, I would pause, but the untensioned bobbins would continue to unwind into tangles – and that's not good.

Anchor points for bobbin tension lines
To create bobbin tension, I modified my lazy kate by adding two small nails at the front and back of the bottom of the stand. I fastened a rubber band to smooth cotton thread, hooked the rubber band on one of the little nails at the bottom of the lazy kate, ran it over the groove of the bobbin and fastened it to another little nail at the front of the lazy kate. Sometimes I add a knot to the rubber band to shorten it. Very little tension is required. These “tension accessories” are very easy to lose, but simple to replace.

Another modification had already been made to the lazy kate when I purchased it secondhand in the early '80s. Someone had weighted the lazy kate to prevent it from falling over when in use. They screwed a plate of scrap iron onto the base of the kate. Believe me, it does not fall over. However, if you look closely, you can see the screws aren't seated flush. So, the kate rocks. Someday I may replace those screws. In the meantime I add a folded paper wedge under one corner (seen in earlier photo) to subdue the rocking. My philosophy: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Or as we say in Australia: She'll be right, mate....

Post and photos by M in JaM

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wet Season mushroom amidst the green

We continue with below average rainfall, but there has been enough rain to prompt the appearance of a mushroom or two. The top of this one is 15 cm across (6 inches). Likewise, grass has been growing and mowing has commenced. 

We aren't the only ones running short of rainfall. All of New Zealand's North Island has been declared a drought zone.

I finally replaced the little electronic scale that died and now have been able to weigh and determine the count of my handspun and plied cotton skeins.

Handspun Pima cotton, natural colours
Handspun white cotton (on left):
Count: 7/3
3900 m/kg (2000 yd/lb)
Handspun and plied on Ashford Traditional spinning wheel
Planned use of yarn: pattern weft in a crackle weave table runner.

Handspun brown cotton (on right)
Count: 5/2
4400m/kg (2200yd/lb)
Handspun and plied on Ashford Traditional spinning wheel
Planned use: weaving project.

Close-up: white 3 ply and brown 2 ply handspun Pima cotton
I could darken the skein of brown cotton by boiling it (with a dash of dish detergent), but may keep this skein's colour unchanged for weaving, just remembering to expect 15%-20% shrinkage when the woven cloth gets washed.

My next three bobbins of brown cotton singles are almost ready to be plied and I may darken the resulting skein to increase my colour range.

Recent cold mornings (down to 12.9C or 55F) remind me that winter... and my weaving season... will be here before long. Now, back to the wheel to make more yarn!   

Friday, 8 March 2013

Summer Ends and Autumn Begins

Full Moon: 26 February 2013

I awoke in time to photograph February's full moon as it was setting. The month delivered a total of 100 mm rain (4 in) which is half the normal rainfall here. March 1st marked the beginning of autumn in Australia. We expect more hot days and hope for more rain. We do appreciate the cooler conditions associated with overcast or rainy days.

Skinks continue to slink onto the kitchen counter top to look for food scraps. Insects are more abundant since we've had rain, but the skinks find it is easier to consume scraps and tidbits of canned dogfood than to catch insects. The dog frowns on the skinks' lazy habits yet she obeys our commands to leave the skinks alone. I can't tolerate rodents, while I can't help liking skinks.

This week I spent a delightful overnight helping out with the twins. At one point they were rough-housing and leaping onto one another atop one of their beds. I stood beside the bed, saying, settle down, settle down, someone is going to get hurt.... when one twin paused, held up his arms and leapt on me. We fell back onto the other bed and I began laughing. I held him in a hug as I stood up and looked over in time to see the other twin launch himself at me. Now we all three fell back onto the other bed and lay there giggling and laughing. I instantly understood how much fun rough-housing can be. And no one got hurt....

It's always lovely to get home to Jerry again. I'm surprised by how slowly I recover, but I gather that slow recovery is simply part of aging. I'm lucky to get to enjoy the rambunctious charms of grandchildren as well as the quiet serenity of living with Jerry... and the dog and the skinks.

Skink porthole
Post by M in JaM
Photos by JaM