Jun 30

Roxie was almost as fast as Dave in getting the spinning samples done and pictures and valuation forms back to me.  Here are pictures of Roxie’s skeins, most of which are modeled most ably by one of her cats.  She said he wouldn’t leave her alone while she took pictures, so she put him to work. 


Let’s start with the one shot she was able to get without assistance.  This is Ukulele and it looks much lighter in the sunshine.  Isn’t it a lovely skein!  If you have not had the chance to spin Corriedale, you ought to try it.  Check out Roxie’s valuation sheet below to see what she thought of it.  This is the one that Roxie wants as her “Thank You” gift for doing the test spinning for me.


Next we have Roxie’s assistant showing off the skein spun from Ulf’s fiber.  Again, this is Corriedale and as you can see from our model’s reaction, the skein is light as a feather.


Here is our model wearing the Lt. Tan/Gray, mix-breed version of skein-wear.  The color contrasts nicely with the models fur and appears to be quite comfortable. 


Ahhh… Nothing like Ebony and Ivory to remind you of piano music in the park.  The model’s ease and comfort level with this mix-breed skein breaks through like show-tunes on Broadway.


The life of a skein model is hard work and this show has worn our poor assistant to a frazzle.  This medium gray skein blends in well with the fur our model is wearing and relaxes the wearer as much as it will the spinner who chooses this fiber to spin.


Let’s hear it for our wonderful model.  Let’s make sure all that hard work pays off by visiting my store and purchasing some of this wonderful roving for yourself.

Roxie’s Samples Sheet-sm 

Here is Roxie’s valuation sheet for you to read.  Thank you for doing this test spinning for me, Roxie, and sending me the wonderful pictures of the finished skeins.  I am having so much fun with these and the information I am getting from everyone is a great education for me.  They will help me chose future fleeces to process and sell.

Jun 29
Where were we?
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 06 29th, 2010| icon35 Comments »

Don’t you just love productive weekends?  For those of us with full-time jobs outside the home, having a productive weekend is wonderful! 

Sunday, after a nice, leisurely breakfast with Scott before he headed off to the art center, I went to Sandy’s house and she and I (and her 86-year-old mother, Jane) made center-pull balls out of skeins of sock yarn, then turned those balls into larger skeins (between 7 feet and 20 feet in length depending on the “run”) and I walked over 8000 steps just back and forth in their basement.  Then we made our ties for the white areas we wanted to keep, and kept this up for enough yarn for 10 pairs of socks. 

This week I get to take the sock yarn that has been soaking in the cold alum solution out to dry and I’ll put part of these new skeins into a new alum soak for dyeing next month.  Then, I need to get starting on natural dyeing the sock yarn that is ready.  Sounds like I have some busy evenings and weekends ahead of me this month.  Also, I want to get some solar dyes going.  We’ve had so much rain this past month that ideas of solar dyeing had been put on the back burner, but with sunny skies ahead of us all week, it’s time to get those jars started. 

And Sandy and I came up with a name for our naturally-dyed line of sock yarn, but I’m keeping that under my hat until it is debuted.  See, very productive!!

My current work in progress items include the Sleepy Hollow socks.  I have the first one done and am through the second repeat out of four on the leg of the second sock.  I really hope to be able to wear these before the summer is out.

While I was at the hospital last week, I decided I needed a pair of socks to knit in which I could be interrupted in the middle of a row, so I started these simple K3, P1 ribbed socks and got this far while sitting in the waiting room the various times I had to wait.  Once I get done with the Sleepy Hollow ones, I’ll finish these up.

And I am back to working on the Indigo Feather and Fan lace sweater vest.  Even though we have had temps in the upper 80’s for weeks now, autumn and winter will be here soon and I may as well be prepared.

And then, there’s this:

This basket is all naturally dyed Shetland yarn from over the years.  Remember, I already have removed three sweater vests and a large shawl of yarn from this basket and I still have this left over.  I know I still want to knit a “spring” vest out of this mess to go with the summer, fall, and winter ones.  I was thinking about using the rest of these to weave something, but those ideas are still pretty nebulous at this time.  I love the way Shetland works up.  It holds stitch definition very well, and while it isn’t next to the skin soft, I love the feel of it.

I have blue Shetland,…

…and green Shetland,…

…and yellow Shetland,…

…and orange Shetland,…

…and red Shetland in every shade and tint,…

…and purple Shetland, which completes the color wheel.

But that’s not all!

I, also, have coral and peachy and bricky Shetland,…

…and brown Shetland in every description. 

And I still had this remaining in the basket after all of the others had been photographed.  Remember, ALL of this Shetland yarn has been dyed with natural dyes!

What do you think?  I love vests.  Should I weave some of this up into fabric for vests?  Should I make scarves out of it?  Blankets? What pattern and what colors?  8-harness or 4?  My 8-harness loom is 40 inches wide, but I have a 50” wide 4 harness, too.  There is so much to choose from here that it’s overwhelming.  And, of course, weaving will use this yarn up much faster than knitting, which is fine with me.  And I can use any thrums to knit small mitred squares and sew them together and make something out of them as well.

I’d really love your suggestions as to what I could do with all of this.  There are thousands of yards of yarn here and the basket is overflowing.  I’d love to see my stash of yarn get depleted a bit so I can actually get what I own to fit onto the shelves in my studio.

Jun 28

David Taylar Daniels was one of those willing to test spin the rovings I have for sale in my shop.  The purpose for this was two-fold – to get other spinners’ opinions on them as to spinability and such and to see if I did a good job judging the fleeces I had purchased and had processed.  I have given the test spinners a month to get it all done (5 ounces total), but Dave got his all done in less than a week.  I am impressed!

Dave will tell you more about his experiences with spinning these on his blog when he gets it posted (edited 6/29/10, they are posted here), but he kindly sent me pictures of each skein with a sample of the fluff as well as the valuation forms simplified down into an Excel spreadsheet (which I will do for the rest of them when I get them – thanks for the idea Dave!).  So, here are the pictures of what he spun.


I am really pleased with this yarn from Ulf’s fleece.  It came out a little darker spun than I thought it would, but that is fine by me.  I still think it will over-dye beautifully and intend to try doing just that later in the summer.  If you want to purchase this 100% Corriedale roving, it’s just $2.75 per ounce.  I have sold quite a bit of this one already, but I still have more than one fleece.  Dave’s spinning of it really bring out the quality of this fiber nicely.


Sandy was hoping this fleece from Ukulele would spin up nice and dark, and it did!  Both Ulf and Ukulele were coated Corriedale fleeces and we have dibs on these sheep fleeces each year.  With them being coated, they are very clean and free of vegetable matter.  Again, this roving is for sale at $2.75 per ounce.  Like Ulf above, Dave’s spinning of it shows it off to its best quality.


This mixed-breed sheep was also coated.  The Romney, Shetland and Corriedale is its genetic make up means this is a very easy spinning fiber.  According to David’s spreadsheet (see below), it has a nice halo when finished, so this would make a great sweater.  Again, this should dye up nicely and we will be testing this, too, later this summer.  This roving is for sale in the shop for $1.50 per ounce.


Another coated, mixed breed sheep of the same genetics as the one above.  This one is coarser, and I think it would be suited for sweaters or warm outer wear for the winter.  I would love to see this woven up and made into a coat or jacket.  Even with its dark color, I believe this would be lovely dyed with Indigo, and I intend to try that in a few weeks.    I have been spinning this on a medium-weight drop spindle, and I really should have used a lighter one for it.  It is spinning up very easily on the spindle.  Dave’s spinning looks wonderful!   This is for sale in the shop for $1.50 per ounce


This is the same genetic structure as the two above, although it is a finer fiber than the others and was coated as well.  Really, this is a very nice fiber and I’d love to see it knitted up into Irish Fisherman style sweaters.  Also, dying this and using it for Fair Isle would be lovely.  And look at how nice it looks with Dave’s spinning of it.  This, too, is for sale in the shop for $1.50 per ounce

Dave’s Samples Sheet-sm

Here is Dave’s valuation on these fleeces, and you all know how great of a spinner he is.  Since he is used to finer fibers such as merino and silk, the fact that he would recommend these to other spinners thrills me to no end.

Thank you Dave, and I can hardly wait to see what the other four test spinners come up with.  Since they still have over three weeks to finish them, it’ll be a while before we hear about them.  Not everyone can be Speedy Spinsters.

Jun 26

A year or so ago, there was a 36″, 4-harness LeClerc Nilus for sale at our SWIFT annual meeting.  One of my weaving students, Ann, was there and, upon my recommendation, made a bid on it and was able to purchase it.  She never got around to using it because she got bitten even harder by the spinning bug than the weaving bug, so she let me know it was for sale.

A future student of mine told me she’d like to purhcase a loom, so I hooked these two people up and now Kristy is the very proud owner of this loom.  The loom needed a bit of work and finish setting up, so I volunteered to go to Kristy’s to get it up and ready to warp.  That is what I did today.

Let me start out saying that Kristy and her husband, David, are two of the nicest, most positive people you ever want to meet.  When I rang the doorbell, Kristy opened the door and embrassed me in a tight hug.  What a great way to start our little task together.

She had already bought some white duck cloth and had it prewashed and ready to make new aprons for the loom, and I quickly went over the loom marveling in what great shape it was in considering it hadn’t been used for several years.  I went over the parts of the loom with Kristy, and set to work.  We went through a basket of goodies that came with the loom and discovered a stick shuttle with the name Mueller on it.  Mueller is a good German name and this area is a very predominate Germananic conclave, so this name didn’t surprise me.  Then we found the name Anne Mueller written elsewhere and we named the loom Anne on the spot.  It had come through the hands of two Ann(e)s before Kristy, so it seemed like fate.  Anne she is.

Since Kristy will be learning to weave on a 4-harness, direct tie-up loom in the workshop, I set her loom up the same way (yes, after we had made the aprons).

While I did it, I showed her what the other opportunities were with the tie-ups for later down the line.  I like using Overshot patterns as a good example for this using four treadles for the pattern and two for the tabby.

Also, we made two aprons for the loom.  While Kristy sewed, I measured and cut.

Then when they were ready. I tacked each onto the beams.

Once the apron rods were slid into place, Kristy’s new loom was ready to use.

But there were a few supplies that she still needed, like a warping board, weaving bench, shuttles, bobbins and more heddles.  This loom had been used as a rug loom and there weren’t enough heddles already on it to do what Kristy wants to do.  So…

About 40 minutes down the interstate toward Cincinaati from there is a weaving shop.  Kristy was thrilled to find out about that, so after a quick bite of lunch, the three of us (David included) drove down to The Weaver’s Loft owned and run by Barb Gallagher.  Let me tell you about this shop.  It is full of the most delicious weaving yarns you can imagine.  If you are ever in the area between Cincinnati and Indianapolis, give Barb a call to make an appointment to see her shop.  Kristy walked out with heddles, two shuttles and a dozen bobbins.  The bench and warping board will wait a little, but she is so excited she can hardly wait for the next workshop.

Speaking of the next workshop, there is another beginning weaving workshop on July 23, 24 and 25 at The Trading Post for Fiber Arts in Pendleton, Indiana.  If you have always wanted to learn how to weave, here is your chance, so come out and join the rest of us and have some fun.

One last thing.  As I was leaving my house to drive to Kristy’s, I saw this:

This isn’t the greatest picture in the world because it was very hazy and the balloon was due east of me and I had to take the picture looking into the sun, but I was enthralled.  I cannot wait for our balloon trip this fall.

And one more thing.  These are the last pictures my poor old camera will ever take.  In fact, I had several pictures of Kristy sitting at her loom, but they just came out blank, which is how the screen looked when I tried to take the shots.  I am now taking over Scott’s old camera and mine is going to that great camera graveyard.  I’m rather sad.  I have had this camera for nearly 8 years and it has gone with me so many places.  But the last time it was dropped seemed to do some damage to it, and it finally gave up the ghost.

Jun 25
A New Business to Dye For!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Did you Know? | icon4 06 25th, 2010| icon32 Comments »

As you know, even though I’ve been dabbling in synthetic dyes, I am primarily a natural dyer.  I have taught several classes on natural dyes and have traveled all over Indiana giving lectures on the subject.  In fact, there are a lot of people who just call me “The Dye Lady.”

For several decades now, natural dyes have been for home and hobby use almost exclusively.  There are a few of us who sell naturally dyed fibers, yarns and fabrics, but really no major places do so.

Until now!

Noon Solar is doing what I’ve been dreaming of for a long time.  I am very excited about this and I wish them all the best of luck.  Check out what they do!

Jun 24
Roxie’s Shirt
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 06 24th, 2010| icon32 Comments »

Knowing I still owed Roxie a pink shirt with “I Spin, I Weave, I Dye” on it was weighing on me.  The first shirt I tried for her was a miserable failure, so Monday night, I gathered my equipment and tried it again. 

While a T-shirt was washing in hot water, I mixed up a half-batch of Hot Pink Dye and used part of that to make a medium-dilution of the same color.  Then I mixed up a quarter solution of the soda ash solution, washed out a dye box and was ready to go.

 Let me show you how to fold a T-shirt for the V-dye. 

First you turn the wet shirt wrong side out and spread it front upwards on a table that has been protected with plastic.

Then you fold it in half with the front now sandwiched in the middle.  Make sure there are no wrinkles along the fold inside and smooth out all other wrinkles along the shirt.

Once this is done, you need to mark your guide lines for folding.  Use a washable marker (I use the ones for kids because they are inexpensive) and mark 45 degree lines with the lowest point of the line being the folded middle of the shirt.  Mark as many of these as you need or one about every 2-3 inches apart.  Then mark one 45 degree line perpendicular to these.  This last line is where you will begin your fold.

As you fold, you will use the parallel lines as guides to make sure you are folding it evenly.

Once it is completely folded and ready for dyeing, it will look like this.

Then place the folded shirt into your dye box, and pour the soda ash solution over the shirt until it is saturated (please wear rubber or vinyl gloves).  Let this soak about 15-20 minutes, then tip the dye box so that the excess soda ash solution runs away from the shirt and to a corner.  There you can either gently tip the box and drain the excess soda ash solution into a container or sop it up with rags.  Remember to always wear gloves with working with soda ash as it is pretty caustic to the skin.

 At this time you are ready to dye the shirt.  Squirt the darkest dye on the underneath side of the folded shirt by tilting it up against the side of the box to expose the under side of the folded shirt..  Once that is done, then have fun with the top side.  Since Roxie wanted just pink, I completely covered the top with the medium dilution, then squirted the remaining darker dye over that.  When you have all the dye on the shirt that you want, again tilt the box and let the excess dye drain away from the shirt and either soak it up with old rags or use a wet/dry vac to suck the dye liquid out.

 When you are finished with that, put the lid on the box and place it someplace where it can be at least 70 degrees for 24 hours.  At the end of the 24 hours, wash the shirt in hot water with about a Tablespoon of Synthrapol, dry it, rewash it with about 2 cups of vinegar for a full load and dry the shirt again.  At this time, the shirt is done and the dye is set.

When I had the shirt dried for the second time, I carefully applied the image to the front of the shirt.  It went out in last night’s mail to Roxie and she should get it Saturday.  I can hardly wait to hear what she thinks of it.

With all of this in mind, I will be adding the opportunity of purchasing dyed shirts to my store in a variety of patterns and colors, and some of the images I have created will be able to be placed on these shirts.  I hope to have these new T-shirt options up sometime this weekend and will let you know when they are ready.

Jun 22

We have had severe thunderstorms with torrential rain nearly every night for over two weeks.  The fields are flooded, the roads are flooded, my yard is flooded, and we are expecting more storms this week and the beginning of next.  Really, these storms need to lay off and give us a break.  I need to pick up limbs in my yard and mow, which is in its third week of not getting done.  I’m almost to the point where I can bale it, and I’m not exagerating.

Those people who make their living with garden produce are hurting.  Those who got their seeds in early are fighting the mud to get some of them harvested, some of the later ones are watching their seeds either rot or are watching the tender young plants going down for the third time.  I think the only thing enjoying this weather are the weeds!

And, on top of that, temps have been in the upper 80’s and 90’s all this time, which means it is hot as well as muggy, which makes being outside for any length of time just miserable.  I watch the poor highway crews wallowing in the mud as they sweat out their shirts before 8 in the morning, and I feel for them heartedly.

So, what is it like in your area of the planet?

Jun 21

I have added a new skein of Superwash Blue-Faced Leicester to the store.


Please check out this yarn and the others, plus the roving, handwoven fabric, and T-shirts I have for sale in my shop.  Thank you!

Jun 20

First I want to start off by saying that Paige did indeed finish weaving her scarf last night and washed it.  It is beautiful!

This is simple hopsack pattern, but the contrast between the green and the purple are wonderful.  The feel of the scarf was soft, yet firm and it will keep her neck warm this next winter.

And the lovely Miss Paige wearing her scarf.  She said her roommate was stunned last night that she was wearing a wool scarf and kept saying, “Paige!  It’s 85 degrees outside.”  Awesome!

Paige actually put another warp on a loom today and wove a second scarf, this time in a bricky-red and black houndstooth.  After Janet’s houndstooth yesterday, she just had to make one for herself.

Speaking of Janet’s houndstooth…

This picture just says it all.  Look at the look on her face as she hugs her scarf.  That right there is why I teach.  That face of sheer joy of creating something new makes all the hard work so worth it.

The next person to finish was Peg.  Remember I said that she took yarn and dyed to it look more like she wanted it to look?

Well the skeins are what she bought, but after a bit of over dyeing, look at what she came up with and wove with?

I told Peg that it reminds me of the Caribbean – of the aqua blue of the water, of the sun, of the waves coming into to the beach.  What a joy this scarf is, and yet…  I have the feeling that it isn’t going to remain a scarf.  Knowing Peg as I do, it will become something else and live a very happy, fun life.

There was a battle to the finish between the last two scarves in which who would finish first.  Kathy barely finished before Nancy and here is what Kathy wove, both the front and the back.

The front of the scarf is on the left and the back is on the right.  As per my usual, I like the back best.

Nancy veered a little with her scarf in that she wove it with recycled sari silk and wool.

Now tell me that you think that is a lovely scarf!  It’s like jewels and gold – very rich indeed!

Everyone has been asked to send me pictures of their finished scarves and I will post them as soon as I get them all.

And here is my whole class, garbed in their new finery, standing in front of the shop.  I am so proud of all of them.  They made something beautiful with their own hands.  All are as unique as their creators and I love them all.

In another month I have another weaving workshop scheduled, this one being the 23, 24 and 25 of July.  If you live in east central Indiana and want to join us, please contact me to reserve your place.  It’s lots of fun and look what you get to go home with when you are finished.

Jun 19

Today, everyone got to warp their own looms and one thing Scott and I have done to make measuring out the warps easier for everyone is to make small, individual sized, 3 yard warping boards.  They can sit them on their laps if they want to, and two people did while three sat on the floor to measure out their warps.

Having each student with their own boards speeds things up and is easier for them to understand what they are doing.

It took them until about quarter after 1 to get their looms warped completely and ready to weave.  Before too long, there was silence except for the clacking on the looms.

This is the pattern Janet chose to weave for her scarf.  We all went nuts over this one.  Janet is just a wee bit from having her scarf done, and she is intending to weave a second scarf tomorrow.

Peg chose her yarns when she was here on the 6th, but the yarns she showed up with today were rather different.  These were the colors she wanted, but the only thing in the shop these colors were superwash wool, so she bought a blue and an yellow and overdyed the yellow (and I believe some of the blue) to get the color scheme she wanted in the first place.  Gotta love the creative energy in someone like Peg.

Kathy chose a wonderful broken twill pattern in which the weft color shows up the most on one side and the warp on the other.  I really like this pattern and she’s going to have a lovely scarf.

Paige’s eye-popping colors are going to make a cool scarf.  I can hardly wait to see how this is going to look once it has been fulled.  Also, she took the table top loom home with her tonight to finish this scarf because she wants to weave a hound’s tooth like Janet’s, only in different colors tomorrow.  Go Paige!!!  If both she and Janet weave a second scarf tomorrow, and I don’t see any reason why they can’t, then this will be the first class I have taught where I have had students have time to weave a second project of their own – and I will have two doing it!

Nancy is using a combination of wool and sari silk in her scarf and I am loving how it is coming out.  This just looks rich!  It’s like something out of Arabian Nights.

It never fails to amaze me how differently people chose to weave their first scarves.  The colors, the patterns, even sometimes the choices of fiber are so different from one another.  I love walking around and watching the creations being made and marveling over them.  There isn’t one I don’t like.  I am in awe of my students.

I am one tuckered teacher tonight, though.  The several bad storms that wandered through here last night did not make for good sleeping and I started the day not fully rested.  Once I get a load of laundry moved from the washer to the drier, I am going to bed.  Tomorrow is the last day, and tomorrow five newly graduated weavers will walk out of that shop and on to their own lives of weaving.  I know the four that don’t have looms already are looking for them, and I have two of them both staring at the same loom for sale on eBay.  Good luck to them both!

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