Since purchasing the property, we have had lots of time to think about what type of house we would build. We started out thinking about a house in the Ontario Farmhouse style, then possibly a log house, then relocating an old log house that was built in the Ontario Farmhouse style.
But traditional house plans did not offer the layout I was looking for. This house was going to have a small footprint, too many rooms would make it feel small and choppy, so it had to have an open concept. We have, what I think, is a lovely view to the south, a rolling field that heads down to the cedar bush, and I wanted to bring as much of that view into the house as possible. We wanted the house to be cost efficient to build, as well as heat and cool.
So what did we choose? We have chosen to build a passive house. A simple rectangular house with extra thick walls and a large expanse of windows on the south side. A wood stove in the middle of the house will heat it nicely on really cold days. Our house was designed by Mike Cooke of Resilient Works. I supplied Mike with some pictures and drawings and a list of what I was looking for and he went from there.
Before purchasing our property, we had only been to McDonalds Corners once before, 25 years ago, when looking to buy a wood stove for our first house. Wood ‘N Energy was there and they sold Vermont Casting stoves. The store was located in an old wood framed building that is still standing, looking at it now, I’m not sure how it never burned down.
The village has general store with post office, a church, an agricultural society that hosts a fall fair; bird auctions twice a year; and this year The Festival of Small Halls. It is also home to the Lanark Highlands Basketry Museum run by Ankaret Dean. Close by is the Purdon Conservation Area, known for its display of lady slipper orchids. Just 15 minutes away is Back Forty Artisan Cheese and their handcrafted cheeses (I like their Bonnechere). But my main interest was in an organization called the McDonalds Corners/Elphin Recreation and Arts (MERA for short). I was just a knitter when I first heard of MERA and knew they had an active knitting group. By the time we bought our property and I joined MERA, I had begun weaving and discovered what an active weaving group they had. I have learned a lot from this group of weavers, but more importantly, I have made some lovely dear friends.
MERA offers more than just knitting and weaving. A weekly Farmer’s Market runs from May through October, workshops taught by some of the many talented people in the area, a pottery group, quilting group, visual arts group and a book group, plus music concerts and more.
Now, if someone were to open a pub, the village would be complete.
A couple of years ago my husband and I began thinking about a move back to the country. We live in a quiet rural subdivision with a large 2+ acre lot close to schools, a hospital and shopping – perfect for raising two little boys who were then just 3 and 5 years of age.
But as our sons entered high school, and with the reality that they would eventually leave home, we thought a change might be good for us as well. A small acreage with room for sheep, chickens and a studio/shop for yarns and my handwoven items seemed liked a good idea, and the search was on for the perfect property.
There was a small list of criteria that had to be met, namely commuting distance to work, and though wanting to be rural, we didn’t want to be in an area where we felt isolated. Searching real estate listings on-line, we found one that sounded promising, located outside of McDonalds Corners in the beautiful Lanark Highlands. With address in hand and permission to walk the property, we headed out. The instant I saw it, I was in love, it was perfect. We walked silently through the fields and down to the cedar bush where a creek runs through, its burbling almost lulling us to sleep as we sat and listened. After a while my husband asked “well?”, wondering what I thought of the property, I answered back with the same question, hoping he liked as much as I did, and he did.
After some negotiating back and forth, we had our dream property.
I thought that the modified star motif in the dishtowels I recently wove resembled more of a snowflake than a star, so with that in mind, and with the popularity of Christmas in July (although not with me), decided to weave a set of classic red and white towels.
I had the best intentions of having these towels done in July, and they were woven in July, however the hemming only just got done, oh well. I ended up with three towels that are 19″ x 29″ and one generous bread basket size. I do love the contrast between the red and white.
I have long admired the beauty of a Canadian Production Wheel (CPW). Long before I became a spinner, I would see them at antique and flea markets and wish I had one, if nothing more than something beautiful to look at. However, my practical nature always kicked in, nothing is just to look at, it had to be useful too.
Fast forward a few years and I had finally learned to spin. Searching on Kijiji I found a working CPW in the Cobourg, Ontario area that eventually made it’s way to me (see here and here for more info). But last year, while participating as a vendor at Fibrefest (of which I will be again this year), another vendor close to me was spinning on a double treadle CPW, and it seemed magical, and I wanted one.
This week, this lovely came home with me.
Upon first inspection I couldn’t find any identifying marks to indicate who the maker might be. But when I took it outside for these pictures, a shadowy mark on the table became visible. I searched on-line and Ravelry, and with almost certainty I will say that it is a Phillias Cadorette, mose likely made in the early 1900’s. This wheel appears to be original except for the hooks on the flyer, which are made from bent nails, we will have to fix that.
Along with the wheel came two bags of carded batts in a blend of alpaca, merino and mohair in a colourway called “Fire & Brimstone”, as well as a bag of mohair/wool roving.
And if that isn’t to my liking, I always have this,
bags of wool and alpaca roving processed at Noble Fibre Mill (sorry, I don’t have a web page link for them) from various fleeces we had.
A few years ago my husband and I purchased a piece of property outside of McDonald Corners, Ontario (that we are now getting ready to start building on). One of the things that drew us there (at least for me) is an organization called MERA (McDonalds Corners-Elphin Recreation and Arts).
From May to October there is a lovely farmer’s market with live entertainment. An artist is featured artist every month in the Dean Hall (and this area has a lot of talented artists). There are workshops (stained glass, basket making, felting to name a few), music concerts and much more, but it was the Schoolhouse Weavers that I was most interested in. I have learned a lot from this group, it has given me more confidence and allowed me to progress with my own weaving.
The MERA Schoolhouse Weavers would like to make more progress too, by purchasing more equipment, such as an 8-harness loom. To help achieve this goal they are selling raffle tickets. First price is an antique coverlet woven by A. MacGillivray Grant in 1912 (currently on display in the Dean Hall). Second price is a multi-coloured rug woven by Ankaret Dean, a schoolhouse weaver. Third price is a silk scarf woven by Lise Loader, also a schoolhouse weaver. The draw will be held on November 18, 2017 at the annual MERA Christmas sale.
As these items cannot be shipped, ticket sales are limited to the Ottawa area, and members will be located at various events to sell tickets. If you are interested in purchasing a ticket, please let me know.
close-up of coverlet
Angus MacGillivray Grant, Weaver
I like to go to the Leclerc website every so often to see what new free weaving drafts they may have posted and was intrigued with the October 2016 project, Huckaback Scarves.
The picture provided didn’t show a lot of detail, but I decided to give it a try. I used 2/8 tencel from Brassards, the colour code on the label is 11646, but I can’t seem to match it up with what is currently available.
The only modification I made was to the length. It states a finished length of 50″ plus fringe, I prefer some much longer and made a 4 yard warp. I also made sure to weave a 1″ border on each end in plain weave to match the edges of the scarf and to give it some stability. I used just under one spool for this scarf.
Below, the colour of the scarf closely resembles the colour of my husbands tractor in the background, completely unintentional.
Below is the scarf with what remains on the spool.
Life seems to be busy right now, but I have managed to weave a couple of towels in a draft call Modified Star. A point twill threading and treadling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2) makes these towels a breeze to weave (when compared to something like overshot).
As usual, I used Venne 2/8 organic cotton for the warp and weft, but used 2/16 for the borders. The warp colour is Royal Blue and white for the stripes, the weft was white as well.
2/8 organic cotton- royal blue and white
warp on the loom and weaving progressing
finished towels showing stripes
Some time ago I came upon this blog and the beautiful scarf, which I new I had to weave, and now finally have. It is woven in a 2/8 Tencel, the warp is silver and the weft is midnight blue. On the loom the width was 8″, off the loom it is just under 7″. The finished length is about 70″, not including the fringe. I am always amazed how much Tencel changes with wet finishing, from stiff and almost board like, to soft and drapey with a beautiful sheen.
A quick shop update.
Now available Cottage Sock Yarn from Fleece Artist, colours currently in stock:
Also new, Handmaiden’s Marrakesh and Sea Lace available in 600g cones. While it may seem indulgent, buying yarn on cones allows you to wind off exactly what you need for your weaving or knitting projects, meaning much less waste of those valuable silks. Create individual hand-dyed warp chains in your desired length for sectional beaming.
Happy knitting and weaving,