Beet Juice Dye

When boiling beets for canning or pickling about 3/4 of the beets are covered with water and boiled until they are tender.  Yesterday it required over an hour of boiling.  This produces a rich red juice.  Draining this from the stock pot we were able to bottles 6 wine bottles of scalding hot juice for future use in fibre dyeing.  Old wine bottles work well – they are free, resilient to temperature, and are easily sealed and stored.  We recycle old corks for this and use a mechanical corker.


Re-Sealing Fleece Bin

This former grain bin hopper has been sealed with silicone to make it insect proof and waterproof.  Following a wind storm we had to re-seal one of our fleece storage bins.  Heavy gauge plastic is topped by a fitted plywood cap, which has plastic sheeting placed on top of it, and is then battened down with a heavy tarp.  Moth balls are placed inside the bin.



Wool Fleece Storage

Yesterday we had a wind storm…90 kph/55mph winds that ripped the roofs off of two of our sheds and lifted the lid on one of our fleece storage containers.  Sealed with plastic, plywood, and a tarp, I was pleased today to find that in its three years it has not moulded or experienced insect damage.  I will seal it again tomorrow…

Chokecherry Dye

DSC00101A week ago I harvested two gallons of chokecherries from a massive hedge that we originally planted fifteen years ago and which now shelters a very productive give-away garden.  The fruit hangs heavy this year; picking was a delight!

Yesterday I added the berries to a kettle and covered them with water, bringing them to a boil, and then simmering them for an hour.  I crushed these and put them through a colander, collecting the juice.  Steaming small sized wine bottles with their corks I then bottled the juice and will experiment with it for dyeing wool later this winter.  It would have been easy to make more but until I know what it does it’s just best to not be too greedy.

Haskap Still On The Bushes



Friends far to the south of us have told me that they have only a couple of weeks to harvest their haskap orchard before the berries begin to shrivel.  A couple of days ago I took these photos in our orchard.  We have several hundred plants which have not been harvested.  While the berries do not have the same firmness as when they were first ripe, they are still juicy and flavourful and awaiting our final harvest and will be boiled down, perhaps even in the field, for dyeing wool later in the winter.


We also harvested a great amount of dwarf sour cherries and are interested in seeing how colour-fast these will be as well…

…great fun!

Yarn Storage

…is always a monster with which to deal.  The more you weave, the more yarn you need, or at least seem to accumulate!  Yesterday we got up a stairway to the storage area located above our weaving shop.  It was a long and hard day to get the landing built and stairs put up.  But this will make access to our yarn stored above the shop much easier!


Weaving Shop Update

Building a weaving shop inside a shed provides storage above the shop.  Over 1″ lumber I applied rolled roofing and sealed the seams.  Wool and cotton are already stored there, but will be more easily accessed with stairs.  And a laminated maple top rescued while on its way to the dump and restored is now a workbench that will serve as a place for planing and finer loom-related projects…

Cotton Yarn Storage

These bins will hold 10, 4# cones of 8/4 spun cotton yarn…or 40#’s.  They measure 29 x 20 x 15 inches and hold 102 litres.  They cost $12/ea.

This is the pattern of how we stack the cones inside the bins.


We could use mothballs.  It is toxic to both insects…and humans.  But cotton is not susceptible to attack by moths.  There may be other reasons to use it such as its repellence to mice.  Mothballs need to be used in air tight containers and containers need to be stored in a location outside of human occupation.  We will keep an eye on our containers and see if we need to use them, although we doubt it.


I’m unloading the back of my truck today directly into these bins and then these will be hauled to the back of our shed and await placement in our weaving shop once it’s completed.

4,400 Miles For Cotton Yarn (…And A Dog)

It started two months ago and about a dog.  A three year old yellow lab had been bounced between homes.  I have trained labrador retrievers to hunt test standards since 1992 – junior, senior, and master levels.  My teacher, knowing that my current retriever is 12 years old asked if I wanted to take this one?  Now a professional field trailer he thought that my manner would bring the best out of him.  I said, Sure.  After that I started phoning cotton mills in the Carolinas.  One of them had what I was looking for, 4/8 / 8/4 warping fibre.  And what a surprise at its cost.  In the end I bought four cartons, amounting to ~700#.  In Canada this would cost me $7,350; in the US at the mill it cost me $1,500.  Even with the monetary conversion ($2,000), GST, and diesel fuel for my pickup ($400), it was less than 1/4th the price as here, by the time I would have added GST and shipping in Canada!  (And my first $800 was non-taxable since I had been out of the country for 12 days.)


I drove through the Dakotas, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, and the Carolinas.  The Great Smokey Mountains were shrouded in mist and mystery.  I stayed in friends’ homes all along my route and meandered…they are each tremendous people.


These were great people with whom to deal.  The yarn is on 4# cones and is great quality.  As I write my wife is on the way home with 16 large bins in which we will store this treasure.  And from it we will weave 400 – 500 blankets, much of which is for free distribution to homeless and those who have less access to the necessities of life.  It filled the back of my truck.

And I also came home with a free, handsome, homeless dog that shows tremendous tractability and field potential, and has already become tremendously loyal to me.  Of what more could I ask.  I feel truly blessed.


Flying Shuttle

A friend learned of my wanting to build a flying shuttle on our Leclerc Nilart weaving loom and gave us a flying shuttle that she had…




This is the shuttle after a light sanding with fine sandpaper and then a coat of boiled linseed oil…we do not know its manufacturer…


…we are very thankful!