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Today's crafting adventure is...

Fabric labels.

Well, OK, these have actually been a week long crafting adventure, but I finally made an acceptable set of labels today. I've been looking at them for a while on etsy, where they're offered by various sellers, but I did swear to myself that I should be able to make them, thereby preventing me from buying any. I also want my labels to be small and thin, meaning that a lot of what's out there isn't suitable for my purposes. There are a few tutorials out there about using an inkjet printer on cotton fabric and full sheet adhesive labels, but I wanted to use silk (mostly because I can't seem to find a cotton with a high enough thread count). I found one note by someone who used a laser printer on silk. Unfortunately there was no comment on fraying or washfastness, so I had to sort of wing that part.


Silk (I used both 8 mm habutae and some sort of leftover twill silk that was significantly thicker)
Disposable palette paper (I used this one from Curry's)
Laser Printer
Acrylic Gloss Top Coat (again, from Curry's)

1) Cut the palette paper to 8.5 x 11 so that it will fit into your printer.  I experimented with wax paper and with adhesive labels. To my disappointment, I discovered that wax paper doesn't actually stick when you iron it to fabric. The adhesive labels, while fine for cotton, bonded with the silk after going through the laser printer and were a waste of time.

2) Cut your fabric to 9 x 12 so that when you iron it to the palette paper the plastic from the paper does not ruin your iron.

3) Iron paper to fabric on the hottest setting possible. DO NOT USE STEAM. Trim fabric to the same size as paper.

4) Design your logo and text for your labels. My labels were 7/8 of an inch high and 2 inches wide. Fill up a sheet with these. I think I fit 48 of them on one 8.5 x 11 sheet.

5) Print the design on your fabric/palette paper. Make sure that you are printing on the side with the fabric.

After all of that, it should look like this:

6) Rip sheet off of palette paper. This can be fun.

7) Soak labels in acrylic finish solution. I used a mixture of maybe half a teaspoon of the Gloss to three cups of water. Could probably use a more concentrated solution. The idea here is to help fix the laser toner to the fabric and to hopefully retard fraying. Plus of using habutae? It dries super fast with a hair dryer.

8) Cut labels. You could do this before step 7, but I preferred the ease of handling one sheet of fabric as opposed to fifty tiny little labels. Up to you really.

9) Sew your labels on.

I think I like the habutae better, especially since it seems to produce deeper and brighter colour. I'm not sure if this is a function of the weave or some interaction of the thinner fabric with the paper and the laser toner. Down side is that habutae does fray more.

It's a go...

So, yesterday morning, instead of going to the bank like I was supposed to, I fiddled with etsy and finally opened a store to sell my weaving.

I give you:

(which realistically, is a room in my basement, but whatever).

I did get to the bank, although it was in the afternoon. I managed to buy RRSPs for the first time in my life.Then I came home, found out that my contribution limit is actually almost $30,000, and my dad started talking about adding more money to my RRSPs so that I wouldn't have to pay taxes. I think that by the end of our discussion, I had a major headache. I didn't even like Tax in law school! Why does it have to be so complicated?

I think I should mention Dine Out Vancouver for this year. I managed to squeeze in 5 restaurants into the 2 weeks of the event. First up was Kitsilano Daily Kitchen. It was SO good. We had lamb! And DEER! And chocolate torte! Definitely a repeat venue. Next was R.TL in Yaletown. I've been there before and this time did not let me down. I had lamb again and it was tender and yummy. The lobster bisque was perhaps a little too spicy for bisque, but it was good. For dessert it was chocolate terrine, and that was good. Those two restaurants were the highlights of the two weeks. Next was Five Sails in Pan Pacific. Not bad, and very obviously a fine dining establishment, but not particularly memorable. I can't even remember what main I ate. Oh, I think it was gnocchi? The dessert was disappointing, and the appetizer, a salad, was not memorable.

Then, in a pique of experimentation, and in a bid to finally get my mother to stop bemoaning that she never got to go there, we went to StoneGrill. I have to admit that my lawyer training reared its ugly head and got me to ask, how has this restaurant never been sued? They give you a stone platter perfectly capable of cooking an inch of meat from raw to well done and they place it right in front of you! Raised about 5 inches above the table! My brother said he almost faceplanted into his meal while trying to reach for something. Plus, you're essentially given the task of cooking your meat yourself. We like our meat very rare, so my entire family was on a race to eat our meal as fast as possible before it cooked too much. Definitely not a place to take children. Although they had this amazing apricot parfait for dessert.

And last, we went to Mistral French Bistro. And while there, I ate the most vegetarian main I have ever had the (dis)pleasure of eating. I mean, it was obviously lacking in any sort of meat taste. Or even any strong taste. AND it had no mushrooms, which usually makes vegetarian dishes pleasant for me, and no herbs for flavour. It just tasted like vegetables. Steamed, plain vegetables. A whole large plate of steamed plain vegetables. And my brother got steak and fries and nothing else. No vegetables. Talk about uneven dining. 

I've progressed to scarf #5 out of 7. It's a plain weave scarf using SweetGeorgia merino/silk lace.

I might just keep this one for myself. I do have to start warping the next few. I'm thinking a blue warp or something hand painted.


 After finally taking some really good advice from Felicia regarding lighting, I managed to take some pictures of my weaving of which I'm fairly proud. Camera + scarves + me taking over the front hall + white board + what little winter sun there is in Vancouver leads to:

Of course, this leads me to want to make more. And I can't think up a suitable name for a store to try and sell them in.


1) Materials

Clockwise from bottom right: c-clamp, 2.5 inch bolt, wooden dowel, toy car wheel, rubber bands, 1X2 wood strips, metal sewing machine bobbin, thin wooden disks, washers, wooden clock face, and yes, hockey tape. Not pictured, wooden spool and long screw.

2) Attach wooden spool handle to wooden clock face with long screw. Would be preferable if spool could turn independent of wooden clock face.

3) Make L shape with 1x2 pieces. Drill two holes, higher one for the wooden dowel, lower one for the bolt.

4) Insert wooden dowel into toy wheel, upper hole and sewing machine bobbin.

5) Glue wooden disks to clock face. Drill hole in centre and insert bolt.

6) Bolt wheel to L shape.

7) Add elastic band and clamp to table.

8) Final product.

You'll notice that in the pictures I've added hockey tape, both as a spacer on the bolt and to increase friction on the wooden dowel and sewing machine bobbin. I love hockey tape and in this case, it's WAY better than duct tape.

Weaving progress:

Almost done.


New year, same things...

To tell the truth, I really dislike social gatherings with a vengeance. So Holidays are not my favourite time of year by any stretch. However, the one redeeming quality of any holiday is that I get to break out the food preparation. Roasts, hams, cookies, cakes, desserts, etc. This Christmas/New Years has been amazing for this. And, since everyone else is putting up their markers for the year of 2010, I'll get in to the act and list my top 5 food moments of 2010 (that I remember).

1. First Prime Rib

This Christmas, for the first time ever, I made a standing rib roast. Most people who know me know that I am not a huge fan of beef because of the taste and the uncomfortable feeling I get after eating beef. However, this rib roast was so yummy that I had absolutely no issues with eating large amounts covered with mushroom gravy. Definitely revisiting this during the year.

2. Creme Brule!

After years of dessert menu torture (meaning, having to choose between creme brule and something else and choosing creme brule because I have no ability to make it) my parents FINALLY got me a creme brule torch for Christmas. Now starts the experimentation with different types of custard. New Year's Eve dessert was Grand Marnier Creme Brule, torched right before consumption. Yum.

3. Most fortuitous fish catch so far

Everyone who has asked for this year's fish story has gotten the same thing: the story about the suicidal (or might as well be) fish. Our smallest catch of this year was a 6 pound pink salmon that I caught pretty much single-handed up in Haida Gwaii on our annual fishing trip. My dad and I saw hits on our rods and both reeled up the line. Neither line had a fish on it, but as I was reeling in I saw a fish following the bait, so I sloshed the bait around a bit in the water. Fish took a run at the bait, hit it, and the bait fell off. I thought that was the end of it and that I'd need to put on new bait, but the the fish started running with the line. Pulled it back towards the boat, then got it in the net really fast, at which point the hook fell out of the fish. Luckily it was in the net and we got it in the boat. Easiest catch of the trip.

We just recently ate this fish and he tasted so good.

Mr. Fishie, with hollandaise and toast in the background.

4. Bread Bible

I love bread. But baking bread is a bit of a precise science, at least until you've sussed out all the nuances and can wing it on experience. So getting the Bread Bible from Mimi meant that I could follow the recipes and bake some yummy yummy bread. I can't really describe how happy I am with that gift, so I'll let some pictures do the talking.

First loaf ever

Gooey monkey bread

Dinner rolls, now a staple for western style dinners in our house


5. Spot Prawn

Speaking of bounty of the sea, this has been the first year that we've caught local spot prawns on our own boat. And boy, do these prawns live up to all the hype. They're yummy and juicy and so very very good steamed and dipped in soy sauce. They're a bit finicky to catch, but oh so worth it.

Actually, this year we've phased out many of the bad for the environment commercially caught fish and replaced it with our yearly haul from Haida Gwaii and supplemented with our catch from our own boat. Since everything is handline caught, we manage to minimize the damage to the environment. Sure, we do unfortunately still eat rock cod and red snapper, but at least we're limited in number and we aren't trawling the life out of the bottom of the ocean.

Special Mention: Dining Out

This year was the year of dining out at yummy places. From Pied-a-Terre to The Teahouse to multiple applications of Guu, this year was for trying new places and revisiting old favourites. I ate well in many places. Current favourite is still the Teahouse. They have the best creme brule!



Well, as usual, Boxing Day has produced a large amount of unwise purchasing. Whoops. To take my mind off of that, I give you the improved version of the homemade bobbin winder:


First thing, I guess since Felicia's announced it in the news email, I can mention here that after quitting my job, I found a new one right away working part time with her in the SweetGeorgia studio! My duties involve packaging and shipping, so I get to feel all the yarn and fibre before it goes out. SO MUCH MORE RELAXING than any job I've ever had, especially since the only things I can complain about are that I dislike tying little knots in the string that holds the labels on and it's a pain to measure out fibre when it's hot and I have a dark shirt on (and everyone knows that I complain about jobs like nobody's business). But, seriously, surrounded by wool and colour? No need to deal with people in a professional capacity? Great working environment? Sticking labels on cards? I'm so in.

Working part time also means that I've now got time to pursue my favourite hobbies again. That includes weaving and dyeing yarn for weaving. (Sorry if the following pictures are a little blurry, I'm still crap with the camera)

As you may or may not know, I have a tendency to suddenly decide to do unwise things in weaving. Not unwise as in neon yellow unwise, but more along the lines of things that I'll get into and then say "Why did I ever decide to do this???" things. For example, the baby blanket that I made for a friend's new baby, or the silver and black scarf for my mom, shown here:

All of these things are great in theory, but about half way through, I realize that I must have been seriously impaired to have decided to do it. Mostly because something goes wrong or I get impatient.

One aspect of working around yarn and fibre as a day job is that we're always trying to think up ways to use said fibre and yarn. I'm trying to get going with weaving again, with lots of prodding from Felicia, maybe see if I can produce things that are suitable for sale. As such, I got it into my head that a massive 14 yard (7 scarf) warp in 50/50 silk/wool 30/3 would be a good idea. Let me tell you that while it looks good, in practice such a warp falls into the "ARGH" category of ideas. Why? 50/50 silk/wool likes to pill, and it has 14 YARDS to work its merry pilling magic. I also neglected to realize that 14 yards of warp is a good long time for there to be massive tension problems. And finally, I didn't realize that there wasn't that much paper for winding anywhere in the house.

Warping board with part of massive 14 yard warp

Massive warp, ready to be put into the raddle

Warped, with first two inches of weaving

Close up, yeah!

An amazingly frustrating 5 hours of my life, but it's finally warped, and I've started weaving the first scarf. The weft is misti alapca lace, done it in point twill to get the great diamond shapes. Of course, the next hurdle is the question as to whether I have enough of this particular weft. I do have plans for the rest of the warp, including more silk, some cashmere silk, and some amazing BFL lace.

It's almost Christmas again, so that means that I'll be undertaking the task of cooking Christmas dinner for my family. Normally this involves cooking a ham or a chicken. This year we're kind of going overboard since I have time and I don't have to work. We're having three days of food, the 24th, 25th and 31st, with chicken, prime rib and ham, respectively. Plus all the fixings. Plus tiramisu and creme brule So much weight gain this year. I'll leave off now with photos of Christmas cookies:

Almond cookies!

Ginger cookies!


This may very well be the last week I will ever write on anything law related. At least I can hope. I am again quitting. And hoping to go off into some other profession that doesn't involve the yelling and the crazy clients that you can't get rid of.

I haven't actually posted anything on this job here, probably because I've been telling people about in RL instead. I supposed that there isn't any better way to describe this than to note here the problems that my soon-to-be-former boss has run into while attempting to hire a conveyancer and a new secretary at the same time. And sanginmychains I'm pretty sure this is going to make you laugh just a little...

First, his wife usually does the conveyancing for the firm. But she's pregnant and needs to get on maternity leave. So he has to hire a conveyancer. Second, my dear ms. Kwan, the secretary over at the other office, wants to quit because it takes her 2+ hours each way to commute to work each day and she doesn't get paid enough to make it worth that aggravation. Third, I haven't had a secretary since early March. We went through four, but one I hated, one couldn't do the work and two didn't like working with the boss. I liked both of them immensely, and one of them I believe was willing to stay until she spent a week at the other office.

Ms. Kwan actually gave notice at the beginning of September. He notice period is two weeks. She's still here and it looks like she will be here for a while yet. They tried to hire two different people to replace her. Neither of them lasted more than three days. They also tried to hire a conveyancer. She was here for about a week. There was also another secretary at some point over at the other office, but that one left too.

You'd think that after going through so many people and only being able to retain myself and one other, both of us who are probably the most nonchalant workers ever (and yet we still want to quit), that something would click at some point. But nope, hasn't happened.

On a related note, I've applied for classes at VCC, but don't have a start date yet. I got a nice offer for one part time job, but am always open to more. Any ideas?

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I am not Canada's Worst Handyman...

Yes, there has been a spate of handiness that sort of absorbed my last week of freedom before starting work. Which was pushed back a week, but no worries. I've already mentioned that I made a raddle and my own warping board. Well, I now am also the proud owner of a table loom floor stand with treadles, which effectively makes my table loom a floor loom. Have a look-see:

The treadles are a little tight on the left side because of the way it's tied up and it requires a bit more effort to get a clean shed, but overall very functional. It should serve me until I save enough money and clear enough space to buy this puppy.

Of course, after getting that done, I just had to start weaving with it. Unfortunately I finished the bobbin pretty quickly. I had modified a power drill to serve as a bobbin winder since winding lace by hand is a pain. The problem is that constant running of the drill burns out the motor and requires a bit of power.

Since I'd switched to a cordless drill (not pictured), the batteries kept running out and the motor put out funny smells. So I caved and started thinking about buying a bobbin winder. I looked around at the one from Woolhouse Tools and considered buying a Schacht one from Felicia, but while trying to decide I noticed that a bobbin winder is really just four main pieces: clamp, base, disk and a spindly stick. So I thought I'd try making one. This is what I came up with:

It's sort of cobbled together from leftover pieces from making the loom stand. The wood is scrap from the frame, the wheels and little spools used to hold the top stick and as a handle were rejected, also from the loom stand. The large circle/disk was something I'd made in anticipation of making a book charka (abandoned because seriously, when am I going to spin cotton?). It works quite well, except for the fact that I can't drill straight and therefore the large disk is wobbly because the hole through it is not straight. Just a minor problem. This thing cost me less than $10 and works perfectly well. A bobbin winder is about $100.

Next purchases for the loom will be a new reed, either 8 or 10 dent, cords to tie the treadles up better, and proper pins to hold the tie up. Right now I'm just using leftover bolts. And I need an open bottomed boat shuttle. Even I'm not nuts enough to try and make one of those.


Frantic weaving...

The last two weeks have been full of fibre.

I took a three day trip up to visit Gwil in Armstrong, driving up on Monday, April 6, and driving back down on Wednesday, April 8. Gwil and I managed to fit in some koolaid dyeing in between me going to Salmon Arm for a job interview and walking the dog and shopping for really good food in Armstrong. We dyed some corriedale in gorgeous shades of purple and some silk and lambswool in funky, bright reds and greens.

Funniest thing to happen? Getting a call from my now employer, who I'd interviewed with on Saturday, while I was driving the Coquihalla back down to Vancouver. Yes, I have accepted a job in Vancouver with a nice firm (at least I hope it's nice and that's my current impression) with an office in the West End and an office in Sinclair Centre. First time I've had to say: "I'm not really able to talk, going 110 km/hr on a mountain highway."

After coming back down, I got to participate in a colour class put on by Felicia Lo of SweetGeorgia on Saturday. It was amazing. We got to experiment with different plying (first time I've been able to najavo ply and preserve my colour changes!), combination drafting (which I no longer hate), drum carding and fractal spinning. I loved it. My spinning is largely self-taught, so I've never sat in a room full of people spinning and participated. Felicia is a great teacher, so if you ever have the chance to learn from her, go for it! I am definitely anticipating taking a natural dyeing class with her, as soon as my schedule allows.She's posted pictures on her flickr here. Great aerial shots of drum carders.

Was dead tired afterwards, but still drove out to Maple Ridge to eat dinner at Martin's. We also watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Slumdog Millionaire. Both are very good movies; both contain very gross scenes.

Since then I've been frantically weaving at Felicia's because the aforementioned job starts next week. I had an extra long warp on the loom so that I could weave two scarves while warping only once. The first scarf is for me. It's a gorgeous blue uneven spun silk weft, woven plain weave with the absolutely gorgeous handpainted (by Felicia) magenta, purple and pale violet spun silk warp (both of these are pictured in my last post). Felicia took pictures of that too.

The warp chain.

In the raddle, getting ready to warp.

Still on the loom.

Off the loom and washed.
You can see in the picture that the scarf has this gorgeous uneven quality to it because the weft itself is spun tight in some places and loose in others. Sort of hides my uneven beating. I love the scarf, despite my whining about hating plain weave. It's so soft and drapey and has the characteristic silk sheen.

After that was done, Felicia suggested that I use a gorgeous skein of CashSilk lace as weft for the second scarf. I had been considering using a bamboo/silk weft, but that yarn is so fine, I doubt I'd ever finish the scarf. Well, the cashmere silk weft is absolutely to die for.

Just amazing...
I've worked as hard as possible for some semblance of even beating and it's paying off. I threaded the warp in a way that, with the correct treadling pattern, comes up with these cute little diamond shapes. It's so engaging, if a little dizzying when I'm weaving. I can't wait to finish it and fondle it. I'm already planning the next three in a similar style. She has some other pics from the weaving studio class here.

Unfortunately, I think this will be my last scarf woven at Felicia's studio. I can't make it there during the week any more, since I'll be working, and she won't be open in the evenings or the weekends. I might be able to pop in after work, but that will likely just be me making unwise but utterly stunning purchases.