Oct 31

This past week has been busy getting ready for the beginning weaving workshop I am teaching next Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

One thing I have learned from previous classes is that it is much easier if each student has his or her own supplies, so I thought about what best to do.


I still want to get tape measures included, but here is what I have included so far.  Scissors is one item that no one can seem to find when it is needed, so every student has a pair all to themselves.  A shuttle and set of bobbins, a heddle hook, a ruler, a calculator, a couple of binder clips (for attaching the tape measure to the side of the woven cloth while weaving) and an ink pen are included as well.  Blank paper will be included in each folder of instructions and such, so that is taken care of for now.  But what about a sleying hook?  Well, I’ll take one, show them what it is used for and explain that with smaller looms such as these, they really aren’t needed.  I thread smaller looms by sleying the reed and threading the appropriate heddle all in one step with the heddle hook, and I teach this to my students.  I’ve had only one student decide to sley and thread is separate steps, which is fine with me.  On small looms, though, where you can easily reach all the way through with the heddle hook, I find the two-step process a waste of time.


And five, color-coordinated kits for five students.  Except there are four now due to one having to have some minor surgery this week.  That’s okay, it’s always good to have a spare.

I like the idea of the color coordination, too, because each student can keep track of their own supplies, and, when it comes to packing up after class, organization should be much easier.


Another thing I have learned is that several students sharing one or two large warping boards is not fun and slows everyone down.  So, I am using as a model an old warping board that I acquired someplace and am making each student a warping board to use.  These warping boards will perfectly do a three-yard warp and are the right size for a beginning class.  I’ll show you the pictures of them finished as soon as they are all done.


Five warps all prepared for my warping the workshop looms.  One is done, and I’ll do the other three tomorrow and get the looms all set up at the class room where I am teaching.  The 5th warp will just have to wait until the next workshop, probably in March 2010.

Susan Markle’s newly built shop for her Trading Post for Fiber Arts has a second floor that was designed for classroom space.  Nancy Bush and Judith MacKenzie-McCuin christened it this past spring, and this will be my first time getting to teach a class in it.


From stairs to the northeast corner…


…and across toward the northwest corner…


…and looking into the northwest nook…


…and looking from the northeast corner back toward the stairs.  Needless to say, this place is going to be a comfortable place to teach and learn, and if anyone needs a nap, there’s a daybed all made and ready to go.  Heh!

Actually, with its kitchen, bathroom, shower, high-speed internet connection, daybed and lots of lovely yarns, books, spinning wheels, looms and toys, many of us have asked when we can move in.  Susan just smiles at us indulgently, but she has mentioned a slumber sock-knitting party in the future, and I’m there when it happens!!!

Tomorrow will see me warping the last three looms, finishing up the individual warping boards, and getting the looms set up.  I’ll take the rest of the supplies and kits over next Thursday night and get them set up for the class.

I really am looking forward to this.  And, we even have a bonus coming with this class.  One of my students’ mom is making brunch for us all on Saturday morning!  YUM!!!!

Oct 24

This past week, I found out that local fiber artist, Bobbie Vance, is no longer weaving and wanted to sell her remaining weaving yarn stash.  Most of it is 10/2 and 8/2 cotton, but there is a cone here and there of 12/2, 14/2 and a couple cones of 8/4 carpet warp, of which I have immediate need.  Also, there are a couple of mongo cones of cotton flake that looks like lots of upcoming weaving fun.


I think it is sad that a weaver no longer weaves, but I can assure you and her, these wonderful yarns will not be wasted.  Just taking them from the boxes and stacking them to take their picture, and feeling them, and looking at the colors,…  Well, I am anxious to tie up the final loose ends of the remaining projects on my list and get something onto the looms for my weaving pleasure.

I still have not gotten the chance to get the Herald loom downstairs, but the new studio is ready for it.


Just to the right of Sir Henry, where the warping bard is currently leaning against the wall, is where the Herald will go.  The warping board will be hung on the wall above that loom so that it is out of the way in between uses.


And here is the south wall to date.  The few bags, baskets and containers still have not found their permanent home, and are now wandering around the room trying to keep out of my way.  Some contain WIP items, and some are empty.  I’m still trying to decide the best way to store my bags and other containers with handles.  I don’t know if a shelf with pegs will do the job, or if I need to find a good, wooden coat tree and stand it in a corner with everything hanging from it.


And, then there is my weaving yarn stash at the moment – wool on the right hand shelving unit and cottons on the left hand unit and on the floor in front of it.  Needless to say, I have far more cotton yarns than wool, so I will be having fun weaving towels and table runners this next year.

The weather here in central Indiana has cooled off quite a bit this past week.  The peak autumn tree color was last weekend, and, now after the rains, a lot of the leaves are on the ground.  Still, there is color here and there in the more protected areas, and driving through the Geist area to Bobbie’s house today, I realized that the colors I saw were the same colors you get when using native, Indiana dye plants.  Lots of yellows, golds, soft yellow-greens, oranges, russets and browns of all sorts were still left and they are so pretty.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and a little warmer and I hope to mow my yard for the last time this season.  Luckily for us, since we live on the prairie, we never have to rake the leaves.  The wind blows them into the fields around us and the leaves become the food for next year’s crops.

Already, when I go outside to my car in the mornings to go to work, I can smell the wood smoke from my neighbors’ houses from their fireplaces and stoves.  Gosh, I love that smell!  We heated with wood when I was growing up, and there is no warmth like that of a good wood fire.  Once we had our chores done after school and work, and supper and dishes were done for the night, one or more of my family could be found lying on the living room floor, feet propped up on the hearth, asleep with our toes toasting in the heat.  Pure comfort!

Oct 22
November Weaving Workshop
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 10 22nd, 2009| icon32 Comments »

The November 6-8th weaving workshop is officially full.  If you are interested in the next workshop, it, probably, will be in later part of March, 2010.  I’ll post the schedule on my side bar as soon as it has been finalized.

Also, we are discussing the possibility of a couple of natural dye workshops – one geared to home-schooled kids ages 10-16 and one geared toward adults.  One, most likely, will be in April with the other probably being in May.  Unlike Dye Day, this will be an actual class and will cover color theory as well as actual dyeing.  At this time, I’m thinking one full day will be devoted to indigo.  Like I said, we are just beginning discussions about this.  I will let you know more as I know.

If you have a group or guild who would be interested in hearing me speak about natural dyeing (with TONS of samples), please contact me via the comments and I will get back in touch with you.  I am beginning to get my 2010 schedule going and you might want to get your group on the list before I get too full.

Oct 20

Well, I discussed with Scott the fact that I have outgrown my studio space, and his comment was “You went into that studio already having out grown it.”  So, I will be taking over the sitting area, which is the old dining area of the house back when the dining room table was actually used to eat on rather than to hold my dyeing center in my studio.  This will be handy because it is next to my studio and, because of the double sized entry between it and the old dining area, really will be like one big T-shaped room.


This is not nearly to scale, but this gives you an idea of the areas I am talking about.  The red outline will constitute the totality of my studio once it is all done.  It will be very nice having everything in one area.  Actually, having the sewing area slightly separate from the weaving area makes sense and it will give me a better chance to organize things.

Before we can get to that, though, we have to finish Scott’s room/den, which includes replacing the carpet with linoleum and painting the room, then moving him back in and moving the sitting room furniture into the media room.  Once we have that done, it’s back to working on Scott’s studio getting it ready so he can go back to painting pictures for sale.

You know, I actually can see the light appearing at the end of the tunnel on this whole remodel/reorganization project with the house.  Whew!

Oct 18
2009 Dye Day – Part II
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 10 18th, 2009| icon32 Comments »

I finally got around to scanning in the results from the dye pots for this year’s Dye Day.

If you’ll remember, I stuck in two samples in each pot – one natural Shetland and one dyed indigo first.  So here are the results from each of this year’s dye pots along with a sample of the indigo before it was put in the pots for comparison.


Also, do you remember me telling you about two young ladies dyeing white on white printed cotton?  Well, here is the final rinsed samples of what they got.


Did they get the prettiest cloth?  Kaitlyn told me it took a while for the pink and the purple to rinse out, but she is very happy with the results.  We are considering doing a natural dye workshop next spring, and cotton fabric is something I will be including for sure.  What a sweet quilt these would make.

Today, I have been working on my studio, and, for the most part, it is back to the way it was before I destroyed it setting up for dye day and reupholstering the chair.  Right now, I am preparing the Herald loom for its (final!) trip downstairs to my studio.  I still have plenty of work to do before this will happen, but it is my goal to have him moved into his new spot tonight.  I will not promise he will be reassembled tonight, but getting him moved will be a huge step in the right direction.

And, I think I’m about to outgrow my studio.  I have no place to easily set up the sewing center, soooo…  I’m going to try buttering Scott up into letting me have part of the room at the top of the stairs as a sewing room.  The treadmill can be on one side and my sewing supplies and equipment can be on the other.  A point in my favor for this is that I can be nearby him when I’m sewing and he can talk with me while in his studio (next room over).  I’ll let you know what he says about this.  It’s either that or me taking over the dining room (now a sitting area) and making that my sewing center.  I wonder if we can get the loveseat into the media room…

Oct 17
The Chair is DONE!!!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 10 17th, 2009| icon32 Comments »

Today I finished Paul’s chair and it’s going home next week when he gets the chance to pick it up from me at work.  So, here are the three steps of reupholstering a chair.


Old cover.


No cover.


New cover.

Yes, that was all there was to it – three easy steps and you, too, can learn this simple task in just 15 minutes!


Tomorrow, I’ll reclean my studio after Dye Day and getting all the stuff ready for that event.  Then, I have a weaving workshop to prepare for, including measure out the sampler warps and getting the various looms warped.  As of right now, I have four students, and as many floor looms.

I have the opportunity to borrow another floor loom, but if the friend who owns this loom is unable to get the current project off of it in time, then I still have two table top looms we can use – one that is mine and one that belongs to Susan.  A four-harness loom is a four harness loom whether you change the shed with your fingers using levers or your feet using treadles.  So, if you are interested in taking this workshop, I still have a couple of spots open.

The workshop is Friday, November 6th, through Sunday, November 8th, at The Trading Post for Fiber Arts in Pendleton, Indiana.

Oct 16
And the winner is…
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 10 16th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

All the votes have been for the 9-patch version of the quilt.  Now to start dyeing some greens and oranges and stay away from pinks and purples for a while.

Thank you, everyone!  As this project continues, I’ll keep you posted!

Have a lovely weekend!

Oct 13
I would like your opinion
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 10 13th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

Over the past several years, I have been containing the dyestuffs in my pots in 100% cotton, white, men’s handkerchiefs.  As I have been collecting them, I have been thinking about what to do with them, and I hit upon the idea, last year, of making a quilt out of them.  I don’t quite have enough, yet, to make a twin-sized quilt top, but I wanted to look over what I have to see what colors I need.

When I scanned the hankies in, I realized I had no greens, and I had an abundance of purples and pinks.  The oranges I currently have are annatto seeds, and they will fade pretty quickly, so, I need to come up with some fast orange dyes to replace these.  One thought for this was yellow onion skins and the 1st soaking from my madder pots, which are good, fast oranges.

The greens will have to be overdyes of indigo with various yellows, rather easy to do and I can’t think why I haven’t done this yet.  Still, this is as good a time as any to begin correcting these problems.

With this in mind, I played around in Photoshop (have I ever mentioned how much I appreciate having a professional artist as a husband and getting to play with his tools, too?) and came up with a couple of quilt ideas.  When I talked with some of the guests at Dye Day yesterday, I had it split down the middle on which idea they liked the most.

The first idea is this:


Please bear in mind that the greens in here are totally bogus at this point, but the rest are what I currently have, using the annatto seeds as the oranges for now and duplicating some of the others to complete the plan.

This uses all the hankies “as is” to show off the patterns of how they were dyed.  Because of using string ties or rubber bands to enclose the “bags”, there are quite a few stunning and interesting tie dye effects that I’d rather not lose.  But, on the other hand, there are some pretty plain and boring ones as well.

Which leads us to idea number 2:


This would mean cutting up some of the tie dyed ones to intersperse with the plains ones, and would mean quite a bit more work for me.  I don’t mind the work, but I’m not sure about losing some of the circle effects of the ties.

So, here is where I could use an opinion from you.

Oct 12


Okay, I’ve gotten that out of my system.  We were blessed with wonderful weather, rather cool in the morning, but great for starting fires…


…and getting the pots filled and onto the fires…


…and getting the whole line of fires and pots going for the day.


We ended up with 15 pots going (combined the indigo into the indigo overdyes later in the day and forgot to bring a pot for the copper).



And I have to give a special thanks to two of our helpers this morning, Ryan, who helped with the fires and kept them going nicely all day…


…and his sister, Sarah, who helped me with the indigo pots, filling pots with water and helping to explain things to people who were there for the first time.


I have asked Sarah if she is interested in being my apprentice with the natural dyeing, and she has gladly agreed.  Susan and I have begun to discuss the idea of hosting a two-day natural dyeing workshop next spring geared mostly toward the home-schooled kids in the area, and I’ll have Sarah help set it up and work with me during it.

Both of these kids are impressive.  I had the chance to work with them some at the Huddleston House this past July, and I would be willing to work with them at any time.  Thank you Sherri for bringing them, and for all your help getting all the dyestuffs ready for the pots and for making the coffee.  You guys made today run so much smoother than if Scott and I had had to do it all alone and we are extremely grateful for all your help.

And it went better than any year since I have taken over the annual dye days.  This is my fourth year doing this since inheriting it from Marsha, and each year I learn how to do it better.  Of course, the best thing this year was the weather.  My first year it was in the 70’s; the second, it hit 91 degrees and we all about melted away working over the open fires; last year was in the low 80’s, and while an improvement over the year before, it was still too hot to be dealing with open fires and pots of boiling liquid.

Today, it started out cloudy and very cool, it sprinkled a couple of times (just enough for people to look up and say, “It’s sprinkling,” then go back to what they were doing), then the sun came out and I think it had to reach near 60 degrees.  Lovely!


Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, happily playing in the pots,…


…we had a bit of half-time entertainment courtesy of Sarah and Carley, the two Great Pyranees,…



…and then this talented group of people pulled out various projects and relaxed, talked, and created!



And one talented person in a different way, but still with colors.


And then, what we were all there for…


The colors!!!





We had four incredible indigo pots (a light one, a dark one, and two overdye ones) that started early and didn’t give out until the end of the day.  The blues were better than I could have wished for for everyone, and the overdyed colors interesting, varied and intense.

Two young ladies, for example, brought several pieces of cotton cloth, some plain, but some with a white on white print.  The printed part stayed white and the background dyed and the effects they got were truly beautiful!

Another lady brought a linen cloth that had a metallic thread woven into it, and we had lots of fun dyeing and overdyeing it, and that metallic thread just sparkled!

We had pieces of silk that nearly glowed with the intensity of the colors, and there was handspun llama knitted up into a baby hat and booties that were dyed pink and purple, wool yarn and roving in every shade dyed the most wonderful colors.

Sarah is taking my weaving workshop in November, and I believe some of the wool yarn she dyed is destined to become her scarf in that class.  Now, how cool is that?!

I have to repeat it.  We had FUN today, and I can’t wait until next year to do it all again.  Our turnout this year broke records for us and we could not be more pleased with how it went.

Thank you, everyone, for coming!  And thank you Usha, for the hat.  As soon as I get the information on it from you, I want to show it to everyone, but I will give them this hint.  All the stitching on it was done by hand by some very talented ladies from Usha’s native India.  I’m sad that you are going back to India next month, and I hope that one day we can meet again!

And thank you, Indianapolis Chapter of the Embroiderer’s Guild of America for coming today.  What lovely ladies you all are and what fun we had!

Yes, I have much to be thankful and grateful for today!  And I had FUN!!!

Oct 11
Dye Day Prep for Me, Part II
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 10 11th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

As of right now, I am 99% ready for Dye Day.  All I lack are putting together my own samples for the pots, and I will have that done before I go to bed.

I started the day cooking down the yellow onion skins that I had been collecting all year.


And we will have a lovely, deep color to start the pot off with tomorrow.  And the house smell like French onion soup.


Remember that cotton yarn I overdyed with indigo yesterday?  Well, it dried totally different…


…and is now a pinky-gray.  YUK!  I will be overdyeing it again, but I’m not sure what with this time.  I may wait until next weekend and make a very strong indigo pot and see what that looks like.  I still like the idea of the indigo to go with the terra cotta color for a rug.

And last thing…


…I stuck a tied up T-shirt into the indigo pot at the end to soak up the rest of the indigo.  I’ll add some more ties to it and redye it with indigo, then retie it again and maybe dye it in Brazilwood with copper or something.  Whatever I do, I want a wild looking shirt when I’m done.

Well, I’m off to do my own samples.  It sounds as though we are going to have a wonderful turn-out for tomorrow.  The more the merrier!!  Just in case, I am taking extra Osage Orange and Cochineal, plus I have enough madder soaking to do at least two pots of the red.

For all of you planning to be there tomorrow, see you at 10:00!!!

« Previous Entries