Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tahkli Spindle Cup

My friend's father, Jack, made me a beautiful cup to use when I spin on the tahkli.

It's made out of olive wood.  Clever how he made it tall and narrow so that the spindle would be better supported.  I asked him to leave the bottom a little rough so the tip of the spindle could grab it.  He made the smaller bowl holding the cotton sliver, also.  Thanks, Jack!

I finished spinning singles from the gory looking red fiber I dyed a couple of weeks ago (see previous blog below).  This was spun on a Kromski Mazurka while in Old Town.  I will ply it over Christmas.

I am making some mittens for my husband out of Targhee top from Mountain Colors.  This is yarn I made a while ago.  It has been waiting for the perfect project.

I've got the thumb in now, and am finishing up the top.  I decided to add the thumb and then have him try them on for the length.  I might be able to finish one tonight and get the second cast on.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Old Town San Diego Holiday Event

This weekend Old Town San Diego is hosting a holiday event that included the Fiber Arts Guild.  Our group participated by spinning, weaving, and knitting in the plaza.  The weather was warmer than expected, with only light wind.  Perfect for the Old Town Santa Pub Crawl.

There might not have been 100 participants, but it was close.  There were Santas, Mrs. Santas, elves, and reindeer.  By the time Santa's Little Helpers reached the Fiber Arts Guild activity area, they were in a holiday mood.

You can see in the picture that members of the Guild were happy to add some Old Town flavor to the holiday event.  I have been busy knitting like crazy, trying to get some holiday projects done.  And then the new Sock Club project arrived in the mail yesterday.  I am completely derailed now.  The yarn is so charming and the projects are perfect.  I know, I'll just wind the skein into a ball.  I won't cast on......I won't........

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend

The best laid plans...We had all sorts of great ideas about how to spend this weekend.  Instead, we have been home dealing with a broken pipe under the house - and the subsequent flooding.  It was one of the original 1939 cast iron pipes, a crack developed and it started spilling water.  By the time we figured it out, we had a little swamp under there.  So, bring on the plumbers, the remediation guys, and the inevitable blowers to dry things out.  Oh, and by the way, don't use the bathrooms.  Or the laundry, or the kitchen.  After tense negotiations, the plumber agreed that one of the bathrooms was OK to use, since it connects below the break.  Whew.  Otherwise we would have had to buy a really big litterbox.....

My solution to the situation was to knit, and knit some more, and dye.  My shoulders and back get really cold at this time of year, but a sweater is really too much, and a shawl is hard to keep on when you are doing things.  I have knitted shrugs, and capelets, etc.  But at the San Diego Museum of Man Rock Art Symposium, I saw Jan wearing what I thought would be perfect for me.  She said she made it in a workshop.  I took a close look at it, decided how to make it a little better for me, and set to knitting.  A couple of years ago when I first started learning to dye, I practiced on some white Condon yarn that I purchased in the mid-1980s.  I dyed it with food coloring, Easter egg dyes, crazy color combos.  Then I set it aside.  I almost gave it away a few times.  But a couple of weeks ago, I pulled it out - five skeins.  One of them I liked.  The other four were like the proverbial clown barf.  It being the holiday season, I decided to overdye the skeins with reds and red-browns.  I did two at first - and I loved the result.  Some of the crazy color remained, but muted and with added depth.  So I cast on one of the skeins for my Rock Art capelet.  I did not want it to be snug around the, ahem, front so I cast on a goodly number (after first checking GAUGE), and knitted an inch or so in seed stitch.  Then I knitted a little more, then went down a needle size, decreased, knit a while, decreased, then tried it on.  More knitting, then four raglan type decreases for the shoulders, using EPS.  I like rolled collars, so I did a double welt neck - open enough to wear with a t-shirt if I want to.  And so I cast off today, and blocked it.  Done on Sunday.  Just in time for San Diego's 85 degree weather. But it's cool at night.

 I like the way it turned out.  And it is very nice and warm.  I ended up using one entire skein, and some of the second one I dyed.  To blend the colors, I alternated rounds until I used up the first skein.  You can see that towards the neck, there is more copper or bronze color.  But I think it blends nicely.

I also dyed the other 2 skeins today.  One was super bright: yellow, pink, and hot pink.  The other was more purples.  I overdyed both with reds and a little brown.  I am really happy with these two skeins also.

The goofy colors are muted, and I have some nice reds and wine colors. Condon is a two ply, and not next-to-the-skin soft (for most people; I don't mind it but I know I am weird).  Thus with my overdyeing, I rescued some odd colored yarn and made four skeins of very nice yarn that blend together well.  I highly encourage this activity.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Loom

In 1983, I decided to start weaving after finishing my formal education.  I purchased a table loom, wove a bunch of stuff, then decided I wanted a floor loom.  (Note: this table loom is now used in Old Town).  In 1984, I bought a used Herald 4-shaft 6-treadle loom.  I bought it from a lady who had decided that a 45" floor loom did not fit into her small condo bedroom.  I got a pretty good deal on it, considering what looms that size cost today.  She threw in all her weaving stuff.  I supplemented it over the years with a warping mill and other equipment from house sales.  None of it purchased new.

Look how beautiful it is.  I have some hand spun singles on the loom today.  I will weave a nice scarf, then I want to put some cotton on.  Over the years, I have woven many blankets, ponchos, placemats, table runners, on and on.  I dearly love my loom, but what happened to Herald Looms?

So, at my job, some of the people were working out in the back country, and told me they had found a loom, and that I should go look at it.  It was destined to be hauled off as garbage.  A loom!  Abandoned in the back country!  Co-worker who is also a weaver and I took a short field trip out to look at the loom.

OK, it is not a loom.  In fact, we don't know what it is.  I think it has something to do with egg sorting.  But, definitely not a loom.  I love my coworkers, and the fact that more than one of them excitedly brought this to my attention?  how cool is that.  But folks, it's not a loom.  Love ya, but not a loom.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rainy Day Dye Work

I squeezed in some dye work this morning before the rain hit.  I wanted to overdye a couple of skeins of white yarn that I dyed last year; it came out way too pastel for my taste, and I almost got rid of it.  So I decided to try overdyeing instead.

I overdyed the yarn with Turkey Red and Spice Brown (Cushing dyes). See above, much better.  Then, I dyed 2 2-ounce lots of Romney roving from Yolo Wool Works.



I know, it looks gross but it came out nice.  It has Wine as the dominant color.  The second batch was more  red. 

Again, kind of gross looking but it came out fine. I just hope the second batch is not a little felted since it was starting to sprinkle. I finished the dye work minutes before the rain started.  It's still raining, but my yarn and roving are drying nicely in the garage.  I am going to spin the two 2-ounce batches and ply them.  

Also today, I finished the last of the dyed cotton from Cotton Clouds.  I want to ply it tonight.  And, I tried out my new cotton cards on some ginned Pima cotton.  It came out great, and was super easy to spin as a carded rolag.  I am inspired to purchase some ginned cotton.  I just love rainy days!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holiday Season

Halloween is the official start of the Holiday Season.  We begin with Halloween itself, nearly 500 Trick or Treat visitors to our humble home.  Yes, that's right.  Well prepared, we had about 25 treats left over (considering poaching by elderly mother who loves Snickers, and #1 son).  SDFA dressed as a witch while handing out treats.  And was puzzled by a question from a parent, "What are you supposed to be?"  Check out the pointy hat.  The next night, SDFA and spouse went to the Dia de los Muertos event in Old Town San Diego.  What a great event.  November 1 and 2.  We dressed for the occasion.  Or I did, anyway.

Today I received a shipment from Sally Fox, of green cotton and black Merino.  She treats her Merino sheep well, and I applaud her for this.  I can't wait to start spinning this wonderful fiber.  What a pioneer in fiber she is, and creative as well.  I hope to do justice to these fibers.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Celia Quinn Workshop

Last weekend, I attended a three-day Celia Quinn comprehensive spinning workshop.  Twenty very lucky spinners enjoyed working with about 80 different fibers, ranging from types of wool, to rabbit, to cashmere, to goat (!), flax, cotton, hemp, and silk and silk blends.  She started us out on a twisty stick, and we learned to use a tahkli spindle for cotton.  Celia showed us how to dress a distaff with flax.

 And then she spun from the distaff.  Is there anything that Celia cannot do?  I don't think so.  No matter what kind of wheel, she is proficient with it.  A book charkha?  No problem.  Three spinners brought electric spinners.  Celia adjusted them to work more effectively.  She asked me to remind Margaret to have her bring the Hochberg notes on handspindles and distaves next time.  I can't wait!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Alpaca Mitts

Just in time for a heat wave, I finished my husband's alpaca mitts.  I spun the alpaca on my Ashford Elizabeth 2, and plied it as 2-ply.  I used some odds and ends from spinning class plus some white and black alpaca roving purchased from Specialty Yarns and Llamas, in Wynola.  I used my somewhat standard fingerless mitt pattern, customized for hubby.  I wanted to make sure the cuffs are long enough to bridge that gap between the hand and sweater.  Now that it is cooling off again, he may actually get to wear them before Halloween.

I made the right hand one a little larger than the left hand one - since he, and most people, has one hand slightly larger than the other.  I hope this was not a mistake.  They look fine on his hands and fit well.

I also finished some more cotton spinning.  This is dyed cotton roving from Cotton Clouds.  You are looking at 0.5 ounce.  No, I don't have a Majacraft spinning wheel.  I bought two Majacraft bobbins to use when I am boiling the cotton yarn to finish it.

I will start the other 0.5 ounce of cotton fiber maybe tonight, when we get back from Old Town.

Monday, October 10, 2011

More Vacation Updates: the Nugget

A highlight of any trip to the Gold County is visiting the 44-pound Nugget at Ironstone Winery.

The Nugget is available for viewing at the winery.  I do not intend to bore any one reading these posts with our vacation ephemera.  Rather, let's look at some gourds and pumpkins.

All are edible and we purchased several to cook in our Dutch Oven outdoors this fall.  Cider doughnuts are made to order at Rainbow Orchards.  The bonus is that they can tell you which winter squash is the one you want for various cooking applications.  We like to cook outside, so we purchased squash adapted to that function.  Ate one already.  Fantastic!  I am now making paper flowers for my La Catrina costume, for Day of the Dead.  More to come.

San Diego Electric Railway Association

This event was in National City.  SD Fiber Artist and other members of the crew attended.

This event was at the historic National City depot, 1885, on Sunday, October 9. Who says San Diego does not have history?  In this picture, the Blacksmith is holding forth with Opinions.  The ladies listen politely.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vacation Time

We just returned from a wonderful vacation.  Actually, we have been back for a week but I had to attend a work-related conference last week so I am just posting about the vacation now.  Here's the vacation summary:
Sunday - Drove up to Solvang, visited Village Spinning and Weaving.  Did I buy anything?  Hmmm, what do you think???  We drove up to Los Alamos, and attended the Olden Days event.  I purchased an old spinning wheel (more later).  That night, we walked out of Solvang a bit and saw the Milky Way on a moonless night.
Monday - Up to Sonora, we made it in time to stop off at Columbia State Historic Park.  Spouse got some Period Attire for our Old Town volunteer activities.
Tuesday - Most of the day at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, where we got a behind the scenes tour of the roundhouse, turn table, mechanic's shop, and other rail features. On to Murphys and music at Alchemie.
Wednesday - visited Stephenie Gaustad and Alden Amos.  Stephenie generously let me try out a Great Wheel.  Alden customized a hand spindle for my spouse, who is learning to spin. These two people are so wonderful and kind, I can't thank them enough for hosting us that morning.  Then on Indian Grinding Rocks State Park.
Thursday - Hiked Indian Grinding Rocks trails, drove up to El Dorado County, bought apples and winter squash,  and met Lexi Boeger at her workshop.  What a wonderful and talented artist!  We ate dinner at Taste, which is a wonderful restaurant not only because they have a vegetarian menu.
Friday - Hiked Calaveras Big Trees trails, and visited Murphys.  Drove to Modesto via Knights Ferry covered bridge and historic buildings.  Ate a fabulous Italian meal at our favorite restaurant in Modesto and danced to street music. I love Modesto!
Saturday - Drove home, made it through LA with few traffic problems but hit a big jam up around Camp Pendleton.  Took forever to get through San Diego County.  Oh, and Caltrans has every rest stop in California closed.  So plan ahead. is photo of the old spinning wheel I bought in Los Alamos.

I cleaned it up and then put some oil finish on it.  When I bought it, it was very dirty but all the pieces were there.  When we visited Stephenie and Alden, my spouse hauled it out of the car for Alden to look at.  He identified it as a c. 1880s Germanic or Swiss wheel.  It uses wooden pegs (which Alden made for me) instead of hooks on the flyer.  The drive band and tension band are flax, as is the string holding the footman to the treadle.  

You can see where her heel and foot rested on the frame and treadle.  The legs are sticks.  Alden identified the wood as beech.  There is some beetle damage to the wood.  I have it in quarantine to make sure the beetles are no longer active.  

OK, then I spent last week in Palm Springs at a conference.  I knitted a bit but was really too busy at the conference to do any serious fiber art.  Tomorrow, spinning at National City Rail Depot. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fiestas Patrias - Old Town

Last Saturday was Fiestas Patrias in Old Town - or Mexican Independence Day.  Complete with a parade, dancers, activities, food, plays, and of course - Fiber Arts.

Nothing says festive like a parade with horses.  And beautiful ladies on horses is just about perfection.  We greatly admired their dresses.  One of these ladies had her little boy riding with her; what a memory he will have.  Best comment of the day:  After watching me on my driven-spindle wheel for a while, a man looked at me in amazement and said, "You're really doing that, aren't you?".  I said, yes I am.  So many people have never seen someone spinning on a wheel, what a great learning opportunity.  SD Fiber was well represented on the porch at the Robinson Rose house, even providing a hand spindle lesson to our dear interpreter.

A star is born.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Birds

Inspired by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (check out their video on Acorn Woodpeckers), I took a break from plying yesterday and photographed some birds at our back yard feeders.  I heard unusual calls over the past couple of days, so I wanted to see if the same birds would come back.  Turns out I caught two adult and one juvenile Nutmeg Mannikins in our yard. The two adults are at middle level on the red feeder, and the juvenile is at the seed tray of the green feeder.  Thanks to Marty for identifying these!

Check out the Cornell program and videos.  Their journal, Living Bird, is full of beautiful and inspiring photographs and articles.  I support them because (1) I am interested in birds and wildlife; and (2) my father attended Cornell University on the GI Bill after WWII and received a degree in Electrical Engineering.  This led to his career in the U.S. space program in the 1960s and 1970s - which led to an abiding interest in science in our family.  Go Cornell!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rainy Day in San Diego

We have had the most peculiar weather here today.  It has been cloudy (no, real clouds not "overcast"), with some sprinkles before dawn, one moderate rain with thunder, and additional large drops.  Completely not predicted by the weather forecast.  This is one thing that puzzles me about San Diego weather - the forecast is so frequently wrong.  How complicated could it be?  Maybe I am missing something that makes our weather so very difficult to predict reliably.

Well, I spent a good part of the morning spinning alpaca roving from Specialty Yarn and Llamas (  We were up in Wynola on Saturday and I bought some black, tan, and creamy white roving.  This is all for hubby's fingerless gloves, which will be knitted from the different colors of alpaca plus the seafoam green I spun on the quill spindle.

I draped the black and tan unfinished, plied skeins over the distaff for the photo.  The creamy white is on the distaff and I have some on the bobbin.  Nice!  My only bungle was to ply the singles on the Joy using the bulky flyer set-up.  This was a struggle and quite unnecessary.  I should have plied it on the Elizabeth; even plied, the yarn is DK weight at the most.  The skeins came out fine, but I had to fight with the Joy and risked breaking the singles yarn.  I was lucky that none broke.  I washed the skeins in warm to hot soapy water, and have set them out to drip.  Uh oh, now it really is starting to rain here!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quill Spindle

My old Traveller wheel does not get much use these days, unless I have a "guest" spinner over to visit.  I fitted it with a double treadle a few years ago but otherwise it's the same as when I purchased it in the mid-1980s.  After using the Alden Amos T frame wheel to spin cotton for a few weeks, I got curious about driven spindle wheels.  So I purchased the Ashford quill spindle attachment and put it on the Traveller.  Wow, what fun I am having!

This attachment has three pulley speeds and they are really fast.  I've got it on the middle one.  The brake band tension is completely released.  The instruction sheet says that, with practice, you can keep spinning and winding on without stopping.  After almost a week, I can do it although I have to use my hand to get the wheel going in the right direction again - but I don't stop spinning.  I think I have more control of the wheel direction with the double treadle set up.  I am practicing with this nice wool roving, which drafts quite easily in long draw.  I use my right hand to control the movement of the twist while drafting with my left hand.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

TwainFest 2011

Yesterday was TwainFest in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  A very long day for spinning - we got to the park by 10:30 and worked consistently until a little after 4:00.  Instead of spinning inside the Estudillo House, we sat on the porch of the Robinson-Rose building, which is the Visitors Center for the park.  As you can imagine, I got a lot of spinning done and answered a lot of questions.

TwainFest featured a performance of Hamlet by two actors.  They played all the parts.

There was banjo and guitar music all day, featuring folk and popular songs from Mark Twain's era.  And drinks and snacks afterwards at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  What fun! Today I am winding off my full bobbins and the niddy noddy because I have much to ply.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mittens in August

Who would knit a pair of wool mittens in August?  San Diego Fiber Artist, that's who.  I wanted to prepare a project for our Old Town spinning demonstrations that was hand-dyed, hand spun, and knitted into something useful.  I figured that mittens would be a good project, and would be quick to knit up in time for TwainFest, on August 20.  So I picked some yarn from my stash.  The fiber is BFL, and it was a dye job that did not turn out the way I wanted.  I thought the colors were too washed out and pale looking.  I spun and plied the yarn quite a while ago, and then parked it a basket - not very happy with it.  Oh well.

But as I was looking for some of my yarn that would be suitable for mittens, the skein caught my eye.  Then I started to knit and the yarn redeemed itself.  I like the way it striped and I think it is light colored enough to show the cuff patterning.  I knitted the first mitten over a weekend, and the second one by the end of the week - very fun.  The moral of the story: for every yarn, there is a purpose.

Full Moon over Volcan Mountain

We spent most of the day in the mountains yesterday.  I had the opportunity to visit the new yarn and fiber store, Specialty Yarn and Llamas, located in the Wynola Farms Marketplace.  Open Thurs-Sun, the store is in the same building as the Orfila wine tasting room.  And across the driveway from the Country Cellars wine tasting room.  Specialty has bags and bags of beautiful natural-colored alpaca roving.

Well you didn't think I just went to look, did you???  Eight ounces of this rich brown roving, from an alpaca named Rita, will make a perfect knitted wrap.  The shop also has lots of skeins of yarn, including some wonderful lace-weight tweed yarn that I managed to resist.  Only because I have so much sock yarn.

Speaking of which, I started some easy toe-up socks with Footscray sock yarn that I dyed a couple of months ago.  I have some Blue Moon club socks on the needles but I like to have an easy project ready to go for car travel, etc.  I worked on this project in the car as we drove up to the mountains.

The colors range from caramel brown to reddish pink to deep red.  Size 1 needles, crochet invisible cast-on.  I have not decided what, if any, pattern I will use for the legs.  We'll see how the color works its way out.

After dinner, we drove down Wynola Road to the base of Volcan Mountain.  We had just enough time for a short hike.  I was glad I had my drop spindle with me, and it was fun to spin and hike - until it got too dark and we had to turn back.  As we were walking back, owls started flying over the hills as the stars came out, a few at a time.  A bright spot behind Volcan Mountain indicated where the full moon would rise.  When it came up, the light flowed like the tide over the landscape until everything was illuminated and glowing.  We drove home under the moon light.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Week of Cotton

I spent almost all of my spinning time this past week working cotton sliver spun on the T-Frame wheel.  I completed two bobbins of singles, plied them, and finished a skein by boiling it.  I was pleased with how it came out although I think I should have plied it more firmly.

 I am now moving on to some brown cotton sliver from Cotton Clouds .  I have had this for a while, but was not ready to try it until now.  It spins so easily that I have gone through quite a bit already.

One problem I had was finding something to wind the plied cotton on so that I could boil it.  Try finding a plastic cone or bobbin that does not have yarn on it.  I have several in my stash but they all have lots of yarn still on them.  Old fashion hair curlers (the large plastic ones from the 70s)?  They seem too short.  I ended up winding the plied yarn onto a glass bottle to boil it.  It worked OK but I got another idea: what about a metal niddy noddy?  Well, one day at work I was talking to Rachel and noticed a metal book holder hanging on her partition wall.  We took off the legs, and ended up with a metal frame just the size for putting in a pot with yarn wound around it.  This will work until I can find the plastic cones or bobbins.  

The other spinning I did this week was on the Navajo spindle.  This was the first time I have tried using it.  It was great fun and a good outdoors activity for a warm evening.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spinning Cotton in Hot Weather

I have been practicing daily on my new Alden Amos driven spindle wheel, learning to spin cotton.

This picture is right after I opened the package and assembled the wheel, I am getting the hang of it with some wool roving.  Now, I am spinning cotton sliver I purchased from Yolo Wool Mill in the spring.  It spins like a dream, so easy to make wonderful cotton yarn.  My plan is to spin a few bobbins of it, ply it, then move on to colored cotton.  Here in San Diego, cotton in the summer seems like a 'must' do.

Today Rachel and I practiced the long draw in the back yard.  We are getting a little weather from a hurricane in Mexico and actually had a few raindrops.  I finished one mitten from some hand-dyed handspun I thought I did not like; but it turned out OK!  It's BFL, so how bad could it be?  I want to be able to show the mittens at Twainfest in Old Town San Diego in August.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Women and the West

Yesterday's event in Old Town was called Women and the West.  We had weaving, quilting, spinning, soap making, doing the laundry, lace making, and cooking.

There was plenty of public interest in the Fiber Arts activities.  And the Sleeping Beauty question came up more times than I have ever heard it.  Plus a bonus, someone knew the Rumplestiltskin story in detail - a treat.

Donna and Michelle demonstrated the inkle loom, Rachel and I spun, and Susan continued on her quilt repair project.  I forgot to mention that the blacksmiths were blowing up anvils again.  This time, with extra loud charges.  We had the hand spindles out, and provided instruction on using them to children and interested adults.  Next month, Twain Fest.  In the meantime, I will working on learning how to use my new driven spindle wheel to spin cotton.  Talk about Sleeping Beauty....that spindle is pointy!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July Fourth 2011 in Old Town San Diego

By all estimates, there were five times as many people in Old Town yesterday for the Fourth of July event as there were in 2010.  We had two tents for spinning and weaving.  I spun the Romney roving that I had dyed on Saturday.

Unlike last Fourth of July, which was cool and cloudy, it was hot, humid, and sunny yesterday.  The weather did not stop everyone from having an active day. To start things off, there was a parade around the plaza, with public participation.  State Parks offered dancing, pie-eating, sack racing, a cake walk, and other games and diversions.  Children made hats and dolls.  The blacksmiths blew up anvils, sending them into the air with an explosive charge.

In terms of public inquiries, we had four Sleeping Beauty questions, one Rumpelstiltskin question (a first!), and one person who thought I was making fluff from string (there's always one).  The winner for the oddest question was a lady who watched us for several minutes, and then asked why we were not wearing lipstick.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Last Dye Day?

As the temperature nears 90 degrees, we wonder if it is the last dye day for the season.  To prepare for a full day of spinning in Old Town tomorrow, July Fourth, I dyed some reds and a bit of yellow.  This is Pin-drafted roving from Morro Fleece Works.  Eight ounces.  It came out great and I can't wait to spin it long draw.

I am hoping it is completely dry by tomorrow morning.  By the way, here is a photo of Frida for those who have been asking.

Yes, she was another stray.  Came to us half-starved and filthy.  A young cat full of energy and curiosity.  A unique individual, as are the others.  The Fiber Artist will be in Old Town tomorrow all day, new bonnet and all.  Have a safe and sane Fourth of July.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Pelerine. And spinning cotton. And gourds.

It occurred to me as I sat in my pelerine by the fire outside, I need another one.  A more colorful one to wear in my "real" life.  So I started to search through the stash.  At first, I thought I would use some of my handspun and vary the colors between yellow, reds, purples, etc.  in the rows.  Then I saw some yarn I dyed last year.  I bought four skeins of undyed yarn from Powell Sheep Ranch in Ramona.  Loraine had it mill spun into a worsted weight yarn, and I dyed 3 of the four skeins.  I was not in love with the way they turned out, so I stuck them back in the stash to ferment.  Now, they seemed perfect for the pelerine. And when I turned them into balls and started knitting - just what I wanted!

I started with the most purple and will then go to the one with some purple and red, and end with the blue.  Below the started project are my written notes on the knitting, which I am amending constantly.

OK, what else did I do this weekend?  After FINALLY watching Stephenie Gaustad's video on Spinning Cotton, I pulled out my cotton sliver and tried it on flyer wheels.  The Elizabeth 2 was too grabby.  I went to the Matchless, put it on the smallest pulley, and reduced the brake to zero.  Stephenie recommends using a double drive set up but being lazy I did not.  After a couple of tries, I came up with an OK yarn.

The lumpy bits on the left are actually the fat leader yarn.  The right is what I was down to.  Definitely need more practice, but I am getting there!

What else?  Well I added a collar to my costume in honor of the Fourth of July in Old Town.

Festive.  I also hope to be wearing my new straw bonnet, courtesy of Carol Haven at JustTwoTailors.  What a nice lady!  I also ordered a hat for my spouse to wear.

What else?  Oh yes, I have my first gourd on the plant.  Future rattle.  Although I have grown plenty of gourds, none are the perfect rattle.  I am ever hopeful.  As I am of completing my monograph.

Enjoy the week, stay calm, and carry on.  Read the latest edition of American Scientist if you want some perspective on Life on Earth.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pelerine Done, Old Town San Diego SHP Spinning Day

I finished the pelerine in time to wear it to Old Town today.  June can be very cool near the coast, although today was warmer than I had expected.  I cast off last night, having finished the knitting while we were enjoying an outdoor fire in our firepit.  I blocked it this morning, and sewed on the buttons.

Looks a little like a Bertha collar!  I already have some ideas about a more colorful looking one from my dyed fibers.  Things seemed a bit slower in Old Town today.  Still plenty of tourists, but we did not get the huge mobs we have seen in past months.  One Sleeping Beauty question.

This was about the average crowd.  Frances has her beautiful quilt blocks on a felt board, at the back of the photo.  Rachel is spinning some of her hand-dyed fiber.  Nicole was there but she must have gone somewhere briefly; I think this is when she went to get her day cap and bonnet.  We are looking forward to spinning on the Fourth of July.  By the way, Nicole, I never got over to the Cosmo to look at the plaques.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dye Day

Sunday, I dyed.  I dyed all the extra white fiber that I received as a member of the spinning class.  Most importantly, I washed and dyed some fleece that Margaret gave a few of us on Wednesday.  On Saturday, I washed the fleece.  Then the fleece dried overnight.  I ended up with a laundry basket of clean fleece.

Nice.  A few dirty ends, and some short cuts, but nice.  I then ran the lot through my Patrick Green drum carder.  The result: three white batts.  In the meantime, I was dyeing some random pieces of top and one strip of roving, in the usual way.  Nothing to report.  But the batts: I had never dyed batts before.  I chose the turkey pan method, and applied color.

That's three normal sized batts, squooze down into the pan.  It sat in the sun for a while.  Then onto the hot plate for a cook.

Looking good.  But will it felt?  I let it cool of its own free will while I took care of the top and roving.  By mid afternoon, I had my batch out to dry in the shade.

I was pretty happy with the results.  The three batts looked interesting.  Some of the darker color pooled in the bottom of the pan.  But very little color ran out of the bath.  I chose blues for dyeing since it was good blue color weather: cool and overcast clearing late, but not too hot.  The fibers are not dry yet, but should be good to go by Wednesday.