Friday, March 20, 2015

unsweatering


It was warm enough the other day to open the window and let Angie scheme about what she would do when she escaped to the outside again. When we first moved here last spring she managed to scramble up our bed and slipped out the broken screen. I had no idea until we ran into each other on the back porch. Ever since that day she's known she's being kept from all the fun and longs for a ferret ladder to an open window.









I'm toying with the notion of adding reclaimed, plant dyed yarn to the farmer's market booth. I keep an eye out for not-acrylic sweaters when we go thrift store shopping. It's a cheap, if labor-intensive way to add 1,000 yards to your stash. I've deconstructed a few this week and realized that they all seem to have a chirality to them, a handedness to the direction in which each garment was seamed together. Once I caught on to it I was able to break them down much faster and with less fear of wasting yarn by cutting the wrong bit.










 I love the range of colors you can get from rubia tinctorum, from pink to purple and even yellow. But, the next round of madder I buy is going to be chopped and not powder. It's such a pain in the dye bath. Either you let it free and it gets all over the fiber or you have to use a tea towel to strain it because anything with a looser weave will let it get all over everything anyway. If I had more patience it probably wouldn't even be an issue. This dye bath gave my a nice purple with pink highlights on a wool and cotton blend. The leftover bath is cold processing some lambswool skeins in a tucked away corner of the kitchen. So far they're a pale orangey pink.

Friday, March 13, 2015

the yay..uh oh


I felt pretty smug at the beginning of the week when I took this shot. My out box is nearly full, ready to deliver to shops and be listed on Etsy. Then I found out I had made it into the Longmont Farmer's Market this season. They do an art market add-on every fourth Saturday. I'm so excited to be a part of it. Doing a regular market has been one of my goals. But...suddenly my box felt kind of small. Really small, actually. I've been busy making ever since. Carding, spinning and weaving. I do love a deadline and the first market is at the end of April. 

Weaving may be my new favorite thing to do. It's soothingly meditative and goes by relatively quickly compared to knitting. The best part though, is that I feel like I've found an ideal way to show off the colors and textures in my handspun. It's kind of like creating a canvas and a painting at the same time. One of my goals is to have a pile of these for the first market.







 I don't want to get out of the habit of stocking my online shop, so I'm still going to list things on Etsy as I make them. One question that gets asked a lot is whether a given item on my table can be found elsewhere and generally I always mean to list things when I get home but rarely get around to it in a timely fashion. No more of that. This week I have batts, yarn and a woven scarf.

Friday, February 27, 2015

hawks & socks




















A red tailed hawk was hanging out on top of the pole in our backyard for almost an hour last weekend. Things like this (and the moose that ambled through a few weeks ago) make me wish I had a telephoto lens. This week has been a getting things wrapped up kind of week. I finished off not one but two pairs of socks/slippers. I thrummed the slippers with about two batts worth of these. The socks just barely fit Toby. I tucked in the multitudinous ends of my first official woven scarf and rewarpped the loom for the next round. There was coffee with montessori moms that resulted in a tiny revolution. And, while I may not have anything to add to the shop I do have a lot of spinning to do after a marathon carding session.

Friday, February 20, 2015

almost not winter


Since last weekend I've mostly been starting seeds, tending the kombucha (its lavender blueberry this time), spinning and knitting. Around the house kinds of stuff. We recently got a foot or so of snow and I've been reluctant to wade out to the studio to do more weaving. My test project is off the loom so I need to rewarp it and start a new project, probably something wide with the chunky reclaimed cashmere yarn I dyed with woad this fall. I can see it as a soft cowl, maybe with leather closures.


 My first big order of seeds came in the mail. I'm trying to focus on perennials this year. Or at least things that will either reseed or overwinter. And more flowers. There were patches of toadflax around the backyard this summer so I'm going to try some heirloom linaria. It's basically the same plant, but in lots of colors. I've also got pansies and hollyhock and cosmos. The kids picked seeds out, too. They started a plot of their own down in the northwest corner of the yard. Anais wants to try white strawberries, litchi tomatoes and dragonfruit. That last one will probably be more of a houseplant, but it should like hanging out in the kitchen well enough.

All that puttering resulted in something to show for myself. I finished up three pairs of fingerless gloves and reserved four batts from a personal batch I made over the holidays. It has tons of yak and silk and when I soaked the first round of yarn it smelled like aspen leaves. All that means really, is that I finally have a proper shop update this week with knits and fiber batts.

Friday, February 13, 2015

weaving





I've had a floor/table loom for years. It belonged to Gerry's grandma and weaving has always seemed like such a good idea. The next logical step in my fiber craft education. But, between the hinky jargon and the misunderstood notion that it takes two people to warp one of these things, its mostly just sat around. Until last weekend. After watching a bunch of video tutorials and one adorable grandpa making rag rugs I finally set up the loom. I'm just doing plain weave and I put the floor treadle...things away because setting up the table loom side seemed easier to rig up. But I love it! I'm definitely going to be adding bigger woven items to the shop soon. Right now I'm doing what will probably become a mobius scarf out of some reserve Eat Agar that I've been holding on to for years now.
When I was still spinning OOAK skeins I would save ten or so yards from each for my own self. I could never find a project that seemed right for the 500 yards I ended up with. Weaving it all into one long, saori-esk scarf is what I was waiting for. It looks pretty amazing.

In order to feel like I was geeting more than just personal projects
done I simultaneously washed some wool and mixed up a few more Sukoshi batches. The jacob and merino wool turned out super soft. The suffolk got a wee bit felted as I was impatient toward the end and tossed in the dryer. It was set to cool, but the agitation did it in. It's salvageable but I'm probably going to save it for a dye day to redeem it a little. Spot's jacob went in with a bunch of woad dyed silk and alpaca along with teal and undyed hemp, auburn huayaca alpaca, a handful of yak and blue sparkle. Emma's merino became the base for alkanet dyed alpaca, seafoam bamboo and aspen dyed silk. There's some purple sparkle and yellow and plum flax in there, too. I'll be spinning up one or both batches this week.


 In unfibery news, I scored a broken birdfeeder at Home Depot for a penny (hooray for cashiers who take pity). Someone had dropped it, but all it needed was some glue and tape. I hung it out on the front porch, where the wind doesn't get too crazy and the chickadees found it a few days later.
I got this year's seed order done, too. It includes trees! Lots of trees! Trees for fruit and trees for chickens and trees for wind breaks and wildlife. It also includes a soil blocker, a toy I've been wanting to play with for a while now. And there are garlic sprouts in the cold frame, some of them are four inches tall and reaching up through their leafy blanket.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

intentions

     The month of January was for me time. Selfish knitting, a beer class with my mister, kombucha making, and generally hanging out around the house without the guilt of a to do list hanging over my head. It went by fast but toward the end I was missing the routine of work.
     Even though my stay-cation had a few days left last week, I started binge listening to indie biz podcasts like AIM and Tara Swiger's Explore Your Enthusiasm. It was so inspiring I ended up breaking out paper and pens to plan out my goals for the upcoming year. There's something about writing it all down that makes it real, attainable. Starting with the big stuff and breaking those down into 'actionable steps' transforms the conceptual into to doable. For me, anyway.

Here are my big goals for 2015:
~ take better care of my vendors. 
~ focus on what sells
~ experiment with a few others.
~ find a regular market to sell at
~ teach 
~ create a look book
~ publish something

personal goals:
~ 50 pairs of socks
~ yoga & archery

      I also wrote out my production timeline, the steps I take to get from raw fiber to finished object. Even though it lives in my head, it's a chattering beast. I have a habit of trying to do all the tihngs all at once which usually results in getting very little actually finished. I'm hoping that having it in hardcopy form will help me avoid vapor lock and stay on track. Structure = good.
    

Thursday, November 20, 2014

skillsharing

 This is the time of year I find myself knitting and knitting and knitting for craft shows. My goal is to have ten pairs of fingerless gloves on my table, among other things like hats and spinning kits and yarn. I just finished these gloves last night. They're extra long and all handspun. I'm tempted to keep them for myself, I like them so much. But then I'd have to make one more pair to meet my self-imposed quota. Meh.
 I decided to try and overwiner our tuscan blue rosemary. I'm not sure if it could have hacked the minus whatever-it-gets-to-here nights. It's flowering now and that generally makes me wonder if I'm making it happy or stressing out so bad that its making itself pretty in a desperate attempt at reproducing before it dies on me. I might try cutting it back a bit and making starts from the cuttings. I got the idea from this Juniper Moon Farms blog post.

 I've been making time to play with natural dyes lately, too. I'm brushing up because I'm teaching a yarn dyeing workshop with the Living Arts School on December 7th. The focus is on locally available dyestuffs, plants you could find growing wild plus a few you could easily incorporate in your own garden here in Colorado. I'll have a mix of prepared and whole plants and go over the various ways to tweak a dye bath to get more than one color/shade from each plant.

By way of example, here are some examples of a few of the dyes we'll be playing with. The browns are from black walnut hulls gathered in Wash Park in Denver. From left to right its been dyed onto tussah silk, hemp and alpaca. The pink(hemp) and orange(silk) are from the same bath of safflower petals. You can get a yellow from the same dye pot, too. The nice thing about safflower is that you can do the whole process cold.



This is from an indigo vat I've stashed in a corner by the stove. The fiber is silk that has been sitting in situ as the vat ferments and the gray-blue color has touches of red where the madder root took hold of the fiber, too. It's back in the vat and hopefully it'll get blue-er. I like the storm cloud quality of this stage too, though. The blue we will explore in the class will be more traditional, from woad and should produce a truer blue than this one.



 The jar is full of alkanet root that's been soaking in some Everclear that I found in the cupboard when we moved in. Alkanet isn't water soluble but alcohol will draw it out and create a deep purple/red color. This one doesn't exactly fit into the "local" rubric, but I'll probably bring some to the class anyway in case someone wants to try it. It gets used in natural cosmetics commercially and grows wild in Europe. It's a lot harder to find seeds for it here but I've seen them on Etsy now and again. This batch is currently evaporating out as I add snow to it so I can dye fiber in it without turning it into alkanet flambe.