Monday, December 24, 2012

End of 2012, hooray

The year 2012 was a tough one for many friends, and ended up being challenging for me as well. I have not done much spinning, etc. for the past couple of months as I have had to take care of other matters.  So, now on Christmas Eve, it's time to post again to the blog.

Before everything hit the fan, I purchased a Russian spindle from Lisa at GrippingYarn.  I am using it with Rachel's handmade bowl which works great.  Thank you!  The spindle is a lot of fun to use and is great for the BFL roving I am using.  The plan was for me to spin in my lap while on a road trip, but the vacation was canceled.  Next time.

The Pima and brown cotton I planted last spring produced several nice bolls.  The white is particularly nice to spin.  I have a couple more bolls that are not quite ripe, and I hope they are able to mature with the damp, cool weather we are having.  Wait and see, I guess.

The cotton is so clean when it's hand picked and carded.

I did not have as much of a yield with the brown cotton.  It was in a shadier spot and took longer to flower.  Lessons learned for next time.  It's been great showing people what the cotton looks like before and after spinning.

Have a peaceful and joyful holiday and new year.  I am looking forward to the end of 2012.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Solar Dyeing in the Hot, Hot Sunshine

OK, it's been hot for two months now.  Maybe two more hot days, then Fall, please?  But, I did some solar dyeing.  It was a lot of fun.

Ah, the Turkey Red.  Don't forget to label your dye batches!

Just a little bit, let it run down the sides.  Two colors per jar, poured down opposite sides.

The dye jars are settling in for a long, hot bath. Don't disturb them!

These are the regular size Mason jars.  Each has 0.5 oz of merino roving.  The secret is, it has to be really sunny and hot, all the live long day.  It was over 100 degrees in the backyard over this particular weekend.  I put the jars out on Saturday morning, and did not bring them in until Sunday afternoon.  I let them cool off completely before I poured out the fiber.  Really nice results.  Kinda like Halloween, eh?  And zero power output.  The trick is, will the day be a hot one?  I actually missed one really hot day because it was not predicted by the NWS.  But then I dyed again the next weekend, using bigger jars that hold an ounce of roving.  Large jars purchased at North Park Hardware, where you can find anything.  Fantastic!

My latest obsession: garter stitch lace.  I am collecting patterns to make a shawl from some wool/alpaca blend I finished spinning.  It was roving from Morro Fleece Works.  What a delightful preparation.  I am practicing with some Blue Moon sock yarn (Typhoon Tina), making a scarf using a garter stitch lace pattern.  My, it takes a long time to knit a scarf with sock yarn! But it looks great on both sides.

And I am thinking about knitting a sontag from some grey/white wool blend I spun up.  That's a lot of knitting.  I have to think about that one.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cotton is Ready

I was finally able to pick a ripe white cotton boll this past week.  You can see an almost ripe boll to the left in this picture, and one in process to the right.  This is the brown cotton, which is not ready yet.

I have several on each plant, both white and brown.  This continued hot weather will help them ripen.  We had the possibility of a monsoon rainstorm last week so I picked an opened boll of the white cotton.  I let it dry for a couple of days, then picked out the few seeds and carded the fiber.

This is the Pima cotton.  It was very easy to card, no junk. You can see the empty boll to my right on the table.  I carded this right before we went to the San Diego Natural History Museum for their annual PaleoServices event.  This event celebrates the past year of paleontological exploration in our region, and the Museum provides lots of displays of materials recently recovered.  Anyway....

Here is the carded rolag, the seeds (left) and the empty boll (right).  I will spin it this weekend.  It's too hot to go to Old Town in historic attire.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Supported Spindles and Hot Weather

It's finally summer here in San Diego with the temperature in the upper 80s every day.  Great for growing cotton but not so great for weaving rebozos and spinning at the wheel.  I have one large cotton boll and a smaller one coming up, plus some flowers and buds on the plants.  The boll is the large green object in the middle of the photo.

I tried to spin some of the pulled batts that I prepared a couple of months ago, but it's just too hot to handle that much wool at the wheel. This fiber was prepared as dyed locks, which I then drum carded and pulled into roving.  It's still kind of slubby but I think it will be fine when plied.

If it's too hot at the wheel, what do we do?  I have been using handspindles quite a bit and am particularly enjoying supported spindles which can be used while lounging around in the shade.  This Russian style spindle has some Romney on it. I am temporarily storing the spun yarn near the top but will move it to the lower part of the spindle as I go.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Convergence in Long Beach, just for the day.  It was fabulous but you knew that.  I got a chance to ask the people at Ashford some questions about turbocharging my Elizabeth II.  I purchased some dyed linen sliver (from Italy!) that I can't wait to spin.  I also bought a couple of supported spindles, including this one, below.  I am using it in the spinning bowl that Jack Cheever made for me.  Again, I am spinning Romney, from Homestead Wool and Gift Farm.  This Romney preparation is very easy to spin with a long draw on the supported spindles.  

I am also spinning some white BFL roving from Tumble Creek Farm on a top whorl spindle.  I plan to dye the yarn later; it's just too hot to do any more dyeing.  Sally agrees.

It's noon here and the monsoonal rain clouds are moving in from the east.  We were in the Cuyamaca Mountains yesterday and experienced a thunderstorm; the rain felt great.  Rain here in town would be nice but I think we'll just have the humidity.  Next weekend is Twainfest in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and we need to make some more twisty sticks.  Onward and upward!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blooming Cotton, Finally

Yesterday one of the Pima cotton plants I am growing from seed opened a blossom.  Much larger and more beautiful than I had expected.

The flower has a dark red center and very ruffled petals.  This morning the flower was pink and drooping a bit.

I also planted some brown cotton separately, but it is a bit behind the Pima because I did not have it in a location that was sunny enough.  In fact, it has really only turned hot and sunny enough here in San Diego over the past two weeks to get these plants going.  I had pretty good germination for the Pima cotton; of the four seeds I planted, three sprouted.  The brown cotton, however, had to be replanted.  None of the first four seeds came up.  I replanted two more seeds and one came up.  That plant is now very vigorous and has some buds.

I had insect trouble when the plants were very small.  A dollop of soapy water administered every week cured that problem.  Now, they seem strong enough to take on anything.

Yesterday I finished this month's Blue Moon Sock Club shawl.  This was a lot of fun to knit.  I like the wave pattern and the lace really sets off the breaking waves theme.  I had some yarn left over and I could have made the shawl a little longer. However, I did not want to mess with the design, so there it is.  A bit short, but it works.  I really like the thicker texture over the shoulders.  My shoulders and back tend to get cold, so I am looking forward to wearing this in the cool office at work.

Today I am going to dye some pin drafted Merino.  I dyed some last week and I really like the colors - but it felted a little.  I started earlier today and will be more patient.  I cleaned out the garage a couple of weeks ago and made myself a work space for this hot weather.  It is really too hot to dye on the patio.  There is a nice breeze through the garage.

I am going to try some different colors than what I usually end up using (that's right, no Turkey Red).  Wish me luck.

Just for fun, here's a photo of the two buddies, Frida and Sally, relaxing on the bed.  Frida is the large white cat.  The quilt is my own design, made from Guatemalan fabrics - some of which I purchased in Guatemala while I was doing field work years ago.  I pieced the top, and it was machine quilted by the talented Nancy Zelenka.  She also added the binding.  It has cotton batting.  

Onward to the dye pot.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ladies Day in Old Town and More

There has been a lot of fiber activity in the two months since my last blog post.  I'll try to capture the highlights and end with Ladies Day in Old Town yesterday.

Earlier this spring, Rachel and I visited Dr. Ruth Baak's Beacon Hill Farm for the llama shearing.  Ruth's farm is located in beautiful Deerhorn Valley, outside the town of Jamul.  This was the first time I attended a llama shearing, and Ruth had about 60 or so on her farm.  After the last one was sheared, we helped her bag and store the fleeces.  I ended up taking home three bags full.

Here's one happy camper after getting a hair cut.  These were the sweetest, most gentle, curious, and good-natured critters I have seen in a long time.  The fleeces were super clean and soft.  I tried to drum card the fiber, but my good old Patrick Green carder, circa 1985, is great for wool but not happy with fine, soft llama fleece.  So, I used my cotton carders for two of the fleeces.  The third was from a large spotted male llama, and the fleece was a little coarser.  I blended it with washed locks of wool about 50-50 on the drum carder (using wool of the same color).  This resulted in nice batts for spinning.

I could not wait to try spinning the llama fiber.  Using my Matchless, I started with Pyro, a dark reddish llama with very fine, soft fleece.  Yes, I know it's twisted pretty tight.  The girl can't help it.

Any vegetable matter fell out either while carding or during spinning (note to self: spin outside next time).  Although I did get 3 bags of fleece, which seemed like a LOT at the time, now I wish I had grabbed a few more.  Next year.

OK, I blogged previously about making batts.  I layered those batts, Deb Menz-style, and pulled them into roving.

What fun this was to spin.  I like the way the two-ply turned out. Deb's right, you get clean, pure colors when you spin from layered batts.  Hard to see in the photo, but the colors change and shift most pleasingly.

Now for the weaving portion of the blog.  This winter, I decided that I need a rebozo to wear in Old Town during those damp, cold days.  I wish I had it yesterday.  Anyway, I raided my stash and found some cones of Harrisville Shetland in colors that would be period appropriate to Old Town.  I did a little sampling and decided the brown weft worked better than the white weft.  I used a Fibonacci series to measure the warp.  The warp stripes are not symmetrical across the fabric.  I do this on purpose to show it's a unique item.  I also think this is a more interesting way to design stripes.  I've got about 2 feet woven at this point, nice easy plain weave on my 45" Herald four-shaft floor loom, 12 epi.  I'll weave until I run out of warp, then finish with fringe.

During San Diego's very brief period of warm weather a week or two ago, I decided to make some cotton hats.  I made one with a cotton/linen blend I had in the stash (actually it was in a dishcloth kit that I raided).  I turned out nice, but a little too small to cover my ears on cooler days.  Diving into the stash again, I pulled out 6 skeins of Rowan Denim cotton yarn that I received as a gift.  I am very fond of the color indigo, so I thought this would make a lovely hat.

Oh what a delight this yarn was to knit.  I knitted from the top down so I could try it on as I went.  I used Emily Ocker's circular cast on, 8 stitches which were then divided onto four size 3 DPNs.  Tricky going for a few rounds.  I finally got it onto a 16" circ.  I increased using YO for a little lacy touch, until it was big enough.  Then straight knitting for a while.  Again, a delight.  A row of purl to create a flat band effect, a little more knitting, then another purl row to finish the band and create a "speed bump" as Meg Swansen calls it.  This stops the rolled edge from eating the hat.  I think I will make another one out of some Euroflax linen yarn I have, with the strand doubled.  

And on to Ladies Day yesterday.  It started out sunny but got cold and windy in the middle of the afternoon.  New exhibits were unveiled in Casa Estudillo, although I was too busy with park visitors to go over and check them out.  However, I was not too busy to get a Virgil's Cream Soda which was so delicious.

I enjoy talking to the international visitors who stop by to see what we are doing.  This lady was one of several French tourists in the park yesterday.

Now I am caught up.  Time to card some more llama.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Eva Salazar Baskets

Basket making is a fiber art that is part of the traditional culture of our local native people, the Kumeyaay Indians. Eva Salazar is an award-winning Kumeyaay basketmaker who happens to be working with my husband at this time.  He very kindly arranged for us to visit Eva at her wonderful home in eastern San Diego County so we could look at her baskets.

Here, Eva is showing me the plant materials that she uses to make her baskets.  She gathers and processes all the materials herself: Juncus textilis, Rhus trilobata (basketbush), and Muhlenbergia rigens (deergrass).  She has collecting permits from the necessary public agencies.  She dyes some of the juncus black using walnut shells, oak, and old metal. 

This is a very large basket that she spent many, many months working on.  

I was honored to be there, and she is the most kind, pleasant, and cheerful person I have met.  She loves to weave baskets, and it shows in the detail and quality of her work.  As they say, how you do something is how you do everything, and her work demonstrates her to be a careful, thoughtful person who uses traditional materials in traditional ways to create her baskets.  Thank you, Eva!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Drum Carding

Today I carded a bunch of BFL roving that I dyed about 3 years ago.  I bought the roving online, it came, it was beautiful, but very thin.  So, when I dyed it, there was a felting issue.  It was challenging to draft.  I put it away.  I really liked how the dyeing came out, but it would just not spin unless I really worked at it.

Fast forward to today.  I found the bag with the roving in my stash, and decided to try carding it on my Patrick Green drum carder (c. 1987).  I have only had to replace the band once in all those years, by the way.

You can see how thin the roving is.  But how great the color and quality of the BFL is.  So, on I went.  I did four batches. Look how nice the blue turned out.

Here is the reddish one.

There were four colorways.  The dye work was good, but the rovings were just so thin, they felted a bit to the point where they would not draft.  I am very optimistic that the batts I carded will be great to spin. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Old Town in Seeley Stables

The Fiber Arts Guild was in Seeley Stables again last week.  I cleverly positioned myself in front of a horse cut-out instead of the sign.

I got all set up to spin, and was working away at some Homestead Farms gray roving that I overdyed, when I heard a noise that sounded like my wheel needed oil.  Creak, creak.  So I stopped, oiled it, and tried again.  Still the noise.  I stopped again and looked at the wheel closely.  Where was it rubbing?  Then I heard the noise again, except that I was not using the wheel.  Well, it was people walking on the wooden floor at the stables.  It almost fooled me again later on.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Failure to Post Photos of New Dress Addressed

Well, those photos my spouse took of me in my new historic attire did not turn out too well.  First, it was a rainy day in San Diego on that third Saturday of January.  So we were relocated into Seeley Stable, a restored historic building containing carriages and equestrian-related equipment.  And rather dark inside.  In fact, very dark inside but with a large, open barn door.  So a whole lot of photographs came out way too dark or way too fuzzy (a little fuzzy is OK but not blurry).

The second issue was unanticipated.  The spot where I chose to sit and spin, unfortunately, was right in front of a sign that said "At Home in the Stable".  The juxtaposition was most unfortunate.  I guess I could edit the sign out of the photos if I had Photoshop or a similar program.  But the sign is right there, in all the photos.  Right behind me.

So, today being the third Saturday, we are off to Old Town again, with a hope for better results.  Stay tuned. In the meantime, here is a photo of spinning wheels on display at La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, which we visited in late January.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Historic Attire is Coming

SDFA has made a new dress for 2012.  At the end of 2011, I was wearing my working dress in Old Town.

I have a wonderful new "in town" dress for 2012 that I look forward to wearing this month.  We had a great 2011 and I look forward to many days spinning and sharing with visitors in 2012.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

SDFA has been very busy the past week or so celebrating the holidays by going on lots of hikes.  We in San Diego were very fortunate that our weather has been fantastic for the past couple of weeks.  Today it was in the mid-70s here, great for a bike ride.  This year seemed odd with two New Year's Days.  Today was the Rose Parade, and the Rose Bowl.  But yesterday was January 1.  I guess some things are beyond explanation.

I only dyed once during the holiday break.  Five ounces of naturally gray Jacob roving from Homestead Farm.  The roving is so lively and springy, it has been a pleasure to dye.  I dyed it in the enamel roaster, with blue, purple, and rose.  I was afraid it would all blend into purple but it did not.

It is darker than the photo, but the natural gray color stayed through the dye process.  I can't wait to spin this roving!

I have also been spinning llama roving.  I have one ounce of white two ply done.  I was practicing really fast long draw on the Elizabeth.  That wheel likes to go fast and the llama fiber, from Specialty Yarn and Llamas in Wynola, is well prepared so it is easy to spin quickly.  I have some other one ounce samples of llama that I look forward to spinning soon.