Monday, April 20, 2015

 I think I'm getting the hang of blue. I've read that tropical indigo is easier to work with than woad or japanese indigo and I don't know if that is true or if I was just less anxious about it this time around. It did seem to turn the fibers a more dramatic shade on the first dip, though. And it smells less rotty.
My sister sent along her Lendrum wheel and some other fun stuff with my parents when they came up to see the kids' play. I've been using it to spin up a few more batches for the farmer's market this weekend (eek). The bobbins are so much smaller, but it's also sturdier and faster than my wobbly Louet.
Anais already claimed one of these pots of salve. Scrawled her name on the lid with a sharpie and ran off with it. I wanted to add something small and not made of fluff to my line. A nice, melty all salve seemed like a good fit. The base is olive and sunflower oil solar infused with calendula, rosehips, comfrey and cardamom. Then I added st. john's wort oil, honey, vetiver, orange oil and just enough raw beeswax to firm it up. With this formula it's good for everything from dry skin and lips to small scrapes and bruises.

Friday, April 10, 2015

catkins, cat eggs, averting catastrophe

I can see signs of things waking up, even up here at 9000'. The aspens are spreading out their catkins, robins are starting to give the jays hell. We experimented with plant dyes on easter eggs this year. The kids especially loved how bright pink cabbage juice makes for blue and green. I wondered how much better they'd absorb dye if you hollowed them out and soaked them in vinegar or alum first.

Sometimes I take the scenic route when working with dyestuff. A while back my aunt and uncle
obliged my request for a few boxes of pruning leavings from the fruit trees in their orchard. After soaking this pot-full of the fruit wood twigs for a week I set them on the stove to steam one day and added yarn to the pot the next.  After a cold soak over another day or two I put it back on the stove and repeated the steaming. What had been a decent pale yellow deepened into an almost rusty ochre.

 And then I thought about adding iron water. So I did. Looking back now I wish I had left this first batch alone. But the resulting cool medium gray that developed on those middle skeins of silk is a color I've never gotten before. I keep thinking of things I'd like to knit them up as. With the weather warming I keep thinking of camping, fishing in the early morning hours and the perfect hiking hat. Maybe this one, or this?

Friday, March 27, 2015


The only thing I have to show for myself this week is a new Sukoshi. In my defense, it is spring break and there is a new addition to the menagerie. This batch is called Thessalonica. I have a habit of reading sci-fi and fantasy before bed and I couldn't get the catchy title out of my brain.

As for the growing number of fauna around here...this is Jasmine. While the kids were at their grandma's down in Denver, Gerry and I decided to go "window shopping" at the animal shelter. We got one of our cats there a few years ago and ever since moving into the house we've been flirting with the idea of finally getting a dog. So much for window shopping. She's either a Catahoula or a Plott Hound mix. Either way the consensus around here is she's a keeper.

I got to do some swapping this week, too. One of the other moms at school makes awesome outdoors-inspired jewelry. I picked out these two pieces, she wanted a woven cowl I had just finished. Remember when Etsy was a place for trading, too? When I first set up my shop I'd swap yarn for tote bags and schmancy lip gloss. I do trades at craft shows, too, but it's not something everybody incorporates into their business model. In case its not obvious by now, I emphatically do. I love it.

Friday, March 20, 2015


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.