Sep 30
Thermograph finished!
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Well, the yarn spun from Spunky Eclectic’s Blue-faced Leister roving dyed in a colorway she named Thermograph is totally done, now. It clocks in at 3.7 ounces and is appriximately 214 yards. It is a three-ply yarn and is DK weight. I’m really proud of this yarn as it is the finest I have spun to date (most of what I spin comes in at worsted with only two plies). I really like the colors and think it will make something happy for someone. This is one yarn slated to go into my store, eventually, when I have enough finished items in stock to warrant having a store.

And here it is!

I am nearly finished spinning another hand-dyed roving from Spunky Eclectic called Eclipse. I should be able to finish spinning the singles tonight and begin plying them. This one will definitely be a two-ply at worsted weight as the Romney fiber didn’t want to spin as finely as the BFL did.

Once I get this spun, I have some Crosspatch Creations batts I want to spin in her colorway called Copper King. I actually have four ounces each of two different dyelots of this fiber blend, so will spin them separately, then ply them together for one cohesive yarn. The difference between the two dyelots is just enough to give the resulting yarn some depth. I like doing this because it makes the finished product far more interesting.

Also, this week, I have to warp up 5 looms for the weaving class I am teaching beginning on October 18th. It’s a good thing I don’t mind warping.

Sep 25
To whom I choose to link
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I have been collecting links to add to my website – links I enjoy reading, studying, looking at and learning from. Today, I have added several new links to this site because I think you might enjoy them as much as I do. Some of these links update nearly daily, some monthly, some whenever the owner has time or something to add. It doesn’t make any difference to me, I check them all on a regular basis and am thrilled when there is something new to experience. Many of these links give a lot to the readers. If you dig through some of them, there is a treasure trove of goodies to find.

I am a huge fan of Sylvia Jorrin’s Book, “Sylvia’s Farm.” I “won” it at the spinning retreat this past spring. I say “won” with quotes because it was just my turn to pick something off the door prize table, and I chose this book because I love journals and stories about real people written by those real people. I read this book as soon as I got home after the retreat, and I have just reread it. Usually I wait at least a year between readings on books (anything by Miss Read being the exception – I read those books almost on a continual basis), but this book called to me. She calls her farm life “simple” but it is anything but simple, it is darned hard work, but it is simple in that it is about things that really count – animals, people, land, plants, and good, clean dirt on your hands from working with them. Having grown up on a farm and around dairy cattle, I have a good understanding of what she is living, and, while I envy her in a way, I don’t want to live that life exactly. But I can read about it and remember growing up on a farm, and dream of one day being able to live a “simple” life. I’m just thrilled that she posted her recipe for her Shaker Daily Loaf that is mentioned several times in her book. I plan to bake it myself, although not on a daily basis. Maybe weekly.

Most of the rest of the links have to do with weaving, but a couple of them have copies of publications that can be downloaded for free. These are very educational and inspirational and I have them to study. The ones from Paul O’Connor’s site are going to greatly enhance my own working knowledge of weaving, and will one day be used to help me teach students. Curious Weaver has publications, articles, and videos on hers that are absolutely wonderful! And then there’s Laura Fry’s blog… Laura is just an incredible weaver and I look forward to learning more from her through her blog. Her video on loom music made my heart sing. I just love the sound of a loom in action!

Try clicking on some of the links and see where they lead you. Who knows, you just might enjoy them as much as I do.

Sep 24
Dyes for the 2008 Dye Day
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Since I am on the theme of natural dyeing and with Dye Day coming up in (EEEK!) two and a half weeks, I thought I show you some more of the results I have gotten from natural dyes.

For starters, this year’s Dye Day will have 17 dye pots. What I am doing, so people can see results of dyes using different mordants, is having multiple pots of some dyes, but with different mordants included. For instance, I’ll have a cochineal dye pot with tin added and another cochineal with copper. One will give a bright scarlet and the other a very nice purple. As much as I want people to have fun and come away with some great colors, I want to teach. Having multiple pots with different mordants will teach them about how mordants affect the colors.

The dyes I intend to have are as follows (besides cochineal which you got to see in yesterday’s blog):

Indigo (two pots – one for straight blue and one for overdyeing):

Osage Orange (one with alum and one with copper)

Brazilwood (one with alum, one with tin and one with copper)

Walnut (one with iron and one with no mordant)

Turmeric (with tin)

Alkanet root (one with tin and one with iron)

Annatto Seeds (with alum)

Copper cold dye

Copper hot dye

If you notice, I don’t have samples here of the walnut, turmeric, alkanet root, annatto seeds, and the two copper pots. Some of the sampes I do have are from my first dye day and that was when I had no idea what I was doing. I will have some after this dye day, though. I also plan to have some more samples of what you can get with indigo overdyes. I have been very lax on getting samples for my own records of late, but that is about to be remedied.

If you are in the area of Pendleton, Indiana, on Columbus Day, Monday, October 13th, please come to Dye Day. The information for this can be found in the right-hand sidebar. It’s a lot of fun! And it’s FREE!!! Just bring fiber, fabric or yarn and your curiosity.

Sep 23
More about cochineal
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Over the years, I have played around with natural dyeing in several different scenarios – some at different dye day events and some on my own.

I thought, since I was discussing cochineal in my last post, I would continue to talk a bit about what I have done with cochineal. In the beginning, I was invited to go to a dye day event by my weaving instructor, and I took small samples of several different fibers. I had no idea what I was doing, but the results did intrigue me enough to go back the next year.

The first year’s results:

As I continued to experiment with different dyes, I found myself becoming more and more “scientific” in my approach. I kept better notes on how I or others set up the dye pots, what pre or post mordanting I did and any modifiers that were done to the samples as well as the different fibers dyed.

The last time I did any cochineal dyeing for myself was the last year I was the apprentice for the former host of the annual Dye Day events (2005). Since I have taken over the hosting, I have had no time to do any samples myself at these events. And I have missed it.

So, beginning with this past Sunday, I am planning to do more dyeing. I found Sunday’s dye session to be both fun, relaxing and centering as I carefully set it up and watched over it as it worked its magic. I won’t get to do any dyeing every week, maybe not even once a month, but I will be doing more for myself and for friends. I have been given some white sock yarn to experiment with and see what I can do. Part of this experiment started with the cochineal pot, especially since the person giving the yarn to me wants purples in the socks, and starting with cochineal seemed like a good thing. I’ll tie off sections of it and overdye the yarn with the indigo pot, then give the yarn back to this person and see what the socks she knits up with it looks like. I’ll take pictures every step of the way and when the socks are done, I’ll write the experiment up and post it here in its entirety.

There is something in the colors produced by natural dyes that appeal to me unlike synthetic dyes. I see a warmth and richness in them that draws me to these colors. Even the pastel colors produced by weak or nearly exhausted pots seem prettier to me than those produced by synthetic dyes. Call me a dye snob (I’ve been called worse), but I’m just not fond of a lot of the colors from synthetic dyes.

One thing I want to learn is how to “paint” with natural dyes. I understand that Michelle Wipplinger teaches a class on this, so I am patiently waiting for her to come closer to my neck of the woods with this class so I can take it. Also, I want to play around with dyeing roving to spin or fleeces to comb and blend. That sounds like fun!

And lastly, here are the rinsed-out yarns I dyed on Sunday. This was, indeed, a successful dye session.

The two end skeins are commercially spun sock yarn and the three center skeins are my handspun Targhee singles. Eventually these singles will get plied once I am finished dunking the white parts in the indigo pot in a couple of weeks (in preparation for Dye Day) as well as some to be dyed solid indigo. These are slated to be woven, eventually.

Sep 22
Cochineal Dye Pot
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Yesterday, Scott and I spent part of the day helping some cousins of his pack up 40 years of antiques collecting for moving. Their new house is very nice and is built for their needs at this time in their lives. But, it is much smaller than the rambling farmhouse they have lived in since their marriage and some of the antiques are being packed for the auction house. This was hard on Cousin Tom. Some of the things he is parting with are items that have been in the family for a couple hundred years, but he and his wife have no children to pass them down to and his brother’s children don’t seem interested in them. I’d have loved to have some of it ourselves, but Scott and I are in the same boat, no children to pass things down to and we have enough of the family heirlooms to try to find homes as is. It was heart-breaking packing the items up for sale.

When we got home, I needed some centering time, so I set up a five gallon dye pot with cochineal and dyed one whole skein for my handspun Targhee singles (about 6 ounces), two half-skeins of the same (the second half will be dyed with indigo), a 100 gram skein of sock yarn (to be over dyed with indigo in spots), half a 50 gram skein of sock yarn (the second half to be dyed with indigo), and two silk scarves – one at the beginning of the dye session and one when the pot was nearing exhaustion.

Here are the two scarves in comparison – close up:

I love both colors! I think the darker one is going to get scrunch-dyed in the indigo vat, but the salmon colored one I may leave as a solid. It is such a lovely color that I’m afraid of ruining it with any overdyeing. IF I were to overdye it, I would use a nice brown like cutch and either do a scrunch dye or a shibori type of tie before overdyeing. Hmmm… I may be talking myself into doing just that. We’ll see.

Here is what the first silk scarf looked like straight out of the dye pot after a bit of rinsing. What a beautiful color!

Here is a picture of the yarn and silk scarf in the fresh dye pot. The color was very intense!

And here is the nearly exhausted dye pot with the second silk scarf in it. See, you can see the bottom of the dye pot!

And here is the still wet wool yarn as I took it out of the dye pot to cool. I haven’t rinsed any of this out, yet because I wanted to let it set for a day or two to cure before rinsing it. I’ll do that tomorrow night and see how much color I get out of it before letting it dry.

And, one last picture. This is the Sandlewood merino that I have spun recently, plied and having the twist set. I am very happy with this yarn and, once I have taken a break to spin up some yarn for sale, I’ll get back to the merino.

I am on the last third of the 4 ounces of the Thermograph colorway on Blue-faced Leister by Spunky Eclectic. This has been a fun yarn to spin, although the colors are a bit bright for my personal taste. Parts of it remind me of the taffy found at the State Fair – all colorful and happy. Once I have this third spun up, I’ll ply the three singles together and set the twist. I’m very curious as to what this will look like once it is finished. With any luck, I’ll get the remaining third spun up tomorrow evening after lettering some comic pages and before rinsing out the cochineal dyed yarn. If I’m lucky, I can ply it on Thursday night.

I still have the weed-dyed Shetland setting out in Studio B. No, I haven’t forgotten it and plan to spend part of my day on Saturday winding the warp and getting the rest numbered so I know what order to weave the fabric. This is going to take some real organization on my part to keep this straight. There are 36 different yarn colors involved with this project.

One a different note, last night Scott and I were part of a live podcast from TGT Webcomics. It was a lot of fun and the hosts asked some very good questions. I believe I may be joining their forum for reviewing other webcomics for them, and I’ll post these reviews on the Johnny Saturn website as well. I love being able to help promote other peoples’ webcomics. Helping other webcomics get their name known and help them gain more of a following helps all webcomics. We are such a relatively new industry that by promoting other webcomics than just our own helps the entire industry. So if you enjoyed comic books as a kid, enjoy them now, or just want the opportunity to read interesting, original and fresh stories, go to Frumph and look at the long list of those available. Oh yes! And vote for Johnny Saturn as your favorite!

Sep 18
Madder Experiments
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A couple of summers ago, I found an article about dyeing with madder that really intrigued me. It talked about how to do madder without heating it over a fire or stove. And it showed it as a gradation dye, which always grabs my attention. So, I thought I’d give it a try myself.

First I started with soaking my samples in a solution of 25% WOG (weight of goods) of alum for 28 days. I had enough samples for 16 gradation dyes, some larger samples for just a select few of the colors and some for a secondary experiment with the madder that I’ll explain in a bit.

The article I found is here. I can share this, because it was specifically meant to be shared, which I am glad. I love sharing the results of my experiments, and will be showing you more of what I have done in the future.

The article showed samples that started with 30 minutes soaking, but I thought I’d start with 15 minutes soaking because I wanted to see if I could come up with something lighter than the 30 minutes shown in the article.

I began the experiment at 6:00 on a Sunday morning. Since I needed to be there to take samples out at regular intervals that first day, and each day there after, that was the best time for my schedule. Before I plunged the samples into the huge glass jars I had prepared for the experiment, I soaked the madder overnight. The water from this first soaking contains most of the yellow pigment leaving the reds for the actual dyeing. I had read to discard this first soaking, but I am one who hates to waste anything that could be usable, so I had decided I was going to do a secondary experiment with this first soak water and see what color I got from it. I am glad I did, too!

I added boiling water to the cold water and madder (chopped up pretty good and in pantyhose), and anxiously wait the fifteen minutes before pulling out the first sample. I quickly hauled it upstairs (I did this experiment from the garage) to my bathroom (this tub is used to getting bleached out on a regular basis because I hang my dyed yarn here to dry), labeled it as the 15 minute sample from jar #1 (the full gradation experiment) and hung it. Then I headed down to the garage to wait for the 30 minute sample to come out. Once the sun was up in full force, I moved the experiments outside in the sun to use the sun’s energy to heat the water in the glass jars up.

I was like a little kid in a candy store! At the end of each interval, I could be found anxiously waiting to pull out the next sample. 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours and I had 8 out of 16 samples completed. The rest would come out each morning at 6:00 through the next Sunday for a total of 16 samples from this jar. You never saw someone bounce out of bed so eagerly each of those mornings to see what color I had gotten! It was like a solid week of Christmas. Each morning, I would move the jars out into the sun, and each night I would bring them back in again to protect them from bugs and raccoons. The temperatures of the water in the jars reached a bit over 100 degrees each day. I lucked out that week as the high temperatures each day was over 90 degrees and the sky was cloudless.

And the color of each sample got progressively darker each day. Some days it was hard to tell, but compared with two or three samples either way and the difference became obvious. I let the samples dry completely and cure for about a week after the experiment was over before rinsing them out. I was surprised how little color was lost in the rinsing process.

One of the other two experiments was simply a jar with the larger samples in it taken out at 1 day, 2 days, 4 days and 8 days. The third jar was with the first soaking’s water in it and samples. I took these out when I felt like it and the colors in this were more orangey, but I liked them and I’m glad I didn’t waste this yellow-pigmented madder dye.

So, here is what I got with the gradation dyeing – all 16 colors.

And here is what I got with the first soaking water. See, great colors! It would have been a shame to waste them.

I wanted to make something that showcased the gradation experiment, so I am knitting a Prairie Shawl from the Folk Shawls book by Cheryle Oberle. I have started with the 8 day soak and am working my way up the 15 minute soak. After the 7 day soak, I skipped to the 3 day soak, and will go up from there rather than use the 4, 5 and 6 day soaks. The colors were so close that it looked like there were no changes, and I was afraid the shawl would end up too big to display.

When I get the shawl completed and blocked, I’ll take a picture of it and show it to you.

Madder is a wonderful dye and one of the oldest ones ever used – there have been examples of madder dyed fabric found in ancient Egypt tombs! This experiment was a resounding success and I am looking forward to trying this same type of experiment with other dyes.

Sep 17
Ike in Indiana
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I know that Indiana is, basically, a land-locked state (except for that itsy bit of Lake Michigan in the northwest corner of the state) and that hurricanes aren’t usually a problem here, but we got the tail end of Hurricane Ike through here on Sunday, and part of the state is still without power.

We were lucky at my house. We lost power sometime Sunday afternoon while we were at the Indianapolis Art Center and got it back at about 11:45 Sunday night. Unfortunately, I also lost a redbud tree (it snapped off about 3 feet up), and we lost several large limbs that had to be cleaned up.

The area of the city that my office is in didn’t fare as well, as it was about noon on Monday by the time the power came back on, and we kept having flickers the rest of the day. The phones were in a worse state because AT&T had sent most of their generators to Texas. I didn’t get as much done as I was hoping to in the afternoon, but I managed to not get any further behind, so that is good.

That being said, I had meant to begin warping the Harold loom this week, but that is going to have to wait for a few days. We have some work being done to the house on Saturday, then the art center again on Sunday. Also, on Sunday, in the evening, Scott and I are being interviewed for a Podcast concerning Johnny Saturn.

On the bright side, I have managed to get the heel flap of my second sock done yesterday while waiting for Scott at a doctor appointment, so not all is lost on the creative side.

Keep your fingers crossed that I get to begin measuring off the warp on Saturday after the workers are gone. I also need to warp up the two four-harness looms in my possession for the class starting in a month. It’s coming up quickly!

Sep 13
Designing a new project
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I have been thinking about the next project I am going to weave. This one will be on the 40″ wide, 8-harness Harold Loom and I want something that will use some of the naturally dyed Shetland yarn that was dyed with plants found within a two-mile radius of my home. Since these yarns are in the brown, green, yellow, and orange ranges, and there are a lot of colors, I want something that will show these colors to the best extent, be fun to weave and in my current study area, and be interesting to those looking at it.

In Carol Strickler’s “A Weaver’s Book fo 8-Shaft Patterns,” I found something that I believe fits all my requirements. On page 207, pattern #678 by Karen Evanson is described as “Color & Weave effect “houndstooth” huck from a Marjorie O’Shaughnessy workshop.” The pattern makes use of dark, medium and light sections of yarns that create a tartan-like plaid, but uses huck lace in each square for texture and visual interest.

Taking this concept, and looking over the yarns I dyed (and realizing that I don’t have much yardage of any one color because I wasn’t dyeing these to make anything out of but for samples, classes and fun), I decided to take the dark, medium and light concept used in the sample in the book one step further and gradate the colors from the darkest of the sets of colors to the lightest. So, in essense, I’ve add the element of a color gamp to it.

So the darkest to the near middle of the colors I have set up…(Don’t you just love some of my “cones”?)

To the lightest of the colors I have set up. Notice, there are lines of dark yarn, medium yarn and light yarn in each, but that the value of each line gets lighter and lighter for all three. Also, I have used the browns for the darkest values, oranges and yellows for the medium values and greens and yellows for the light values.

Then there are those colors not chosen for this project, but that will definitely be making their way into something in the future. Why let these wonderful colors just sit in the cabinet, hidden away, and not use them? I did these to share, and, while I have samples in a binder that I show at classes and Dye Day events, the real impacts of some of these colors need to be seen as well.

Now to consider the actual set up of the project. For this, I will be using the Weave-It Pro software I have on my laptop. I know my loom has a 40″ weaving width, so the length of the weaving on the loom should also be 40″, but how much do I want to sample and play with before doing the actual “real” weaving? This loom has a waste amount of about one yard, so I need to think about that as well, and what will I do with all the thrums? Since I took the time to dye all this yarn, I sure as heck am not going to waste any of it!

So, that is where I currently stand with this project. Next, to plan, measure, cut and warp. Definitely need to use stick shuttles in this project… There are a LOT of colors being used.

Sep 9
Done and Done!
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Okay, this is the last time I should be mentioning the Happy Blanket and the painted warp towels I just wove. At this point, they are done. Just a couple of final pictures on the subjects.

First, the Happy Blanket where it is supposed to be – wrapped around the person it was made for, my husband, Scott. This is him at the art table pretending it is below freezing outside. Please ignore the fact that is is wearing shorts.

This is the final towel that I have named the Rainbow towel. Here is the front – Doesn’t it look much better after being washed? I love the texture on these towels!

And back:

And the one I named the Wine Spill towel. I’m going to show you the front only because the back colors in the lace part blends so well with the rest of the colors, that even scanning doesn’t show them very well.

The shrinkage after washing brought the finished cloth from 88″ X 19″ to 77.5″ X 16″. Still nice sized towels so I am happy.

As I look at my calendar and realize how little time I have to prepare for Dye Day and the weaving class, I may not get to rewarp the Harrisville loom, but I can do something larger and warp the Harold, which you have not seen, yet.

I dyed several pounds of Shetland fingering weight yarn a few years ago using only plants found within a 2 mile radius of my house and I have many lovely shades of yellows, browns, greens and oranges. One of the things I have been wanting to do is a random color warp using these yarns to create and warm, heathery, earthy fabric. It won’t be exactly easy planning the warp and weft for this, and I think I may have to resort to stick shuttles because of all the warp colors I will be using, but I think it will be an interesting experiment and the resulting fabric should be interesting as least.

So, I think that on Thursday night, I’ll pull all those skeins out and begin looking at a way of achieving something visually interesting as well as fun to do. With 8 harnesses available to me, I might even attempt some blocks of color…. I’ll play around with it and let you know how things progress as they do.

Sep 8
Bronson lace off the loom
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Well, I finished weaving the third piece from the painted warp/bronson lace project. All said and done, I had only about 18″ of loom waste from this. The finished dimensions of the woven surface ended up to be 88″ X 19″ off the loom. I’ve zig-zagged the ends and it is now in the washing machine.

Before I began washing it, though, I scanned in the three sections so you can see them. It’s amazing! On the loom it was about 20.5″ wide. Just taking it off the loom reduced the width by an inch and a half and the lace pattern immediately began to become apparent.

This first picture is the front of my favorite part, and, ultimately the towel being gifted as a thank you to someone.

And here is the back of the same piece.

The second towel is the part that you saw on the loom from Saturday. This one I will keep for my own record and for future classes I plan to teach on woven laces.

And back of the same towel. This one I could use in my kitchen because it looks like wine has already been spilled all over it.

The small, center section will be used for the live sample inthe November issue of SWIFT News, so any of you SWIFT members, here’s a heads up on what you’ll be getting.

Unfortunately, I now need to measure off a new warp and rewarp the loom. I already know what my next project is going to be, and all I can say is “Thanks” to Syne Mitchell for this. If you go to this issue of Weavezine and take the survey, you, too, will get a copy of this beautiful pattern to weave for yourself. I think this is going to be a five yard warp, so I can weave it off with enough time to warp the five to seven looms needed for the class I am teaching beginning October 18th. YIKES! That’s a lot of looms to warp!

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