Thursday, September 11, 2008

Well, my Fuji apples are almost ready to be harvested. This is the fourth year and we finally have a decent crop. The real trick is to let them ripen on the tree and pick them before the racoons get to them. We have had the unfortunate experience of having every single apple disappear from the tree overnight -- not a core or seed to be found -- as if they were abducted by aliens!

Russian sage -- one of my most favorite garden plants -- is in full bloom.

I have been hard at work putting together a sock yarn order which will wing its way to The Yarn Tree in Brooklyn, New York, this coming Monday. So all of you sock knitters who frequent The Yarn Tree (and who read my blog) should pop into Linda's store next weekend. Here's a sampling of some of what I've been working on drying on the rack.

And when I need a break from several hours of dyeing in my studio -- referred to affectionately by me as "the sweat shop" -- here's where I cool off. A nice little swim sure clears the head and makes life a little easier. And . . . yes . . . I know . . . I'm lucky.

I continue to knit and weave and spin, getting ready for the Artistic License Fair in Costa Mesa, October 24th and 25th. Here's a scarf knit from my handspun yarn. I spun two rovings I handpainted first and then plied together -- one is baby camel and silk and the other is merino and cashmere. I just love knitting with varigated handspun because the journey of color is different each time.

Here's a lacey scarf I just started, using the Old Shale pattern. This scarf is knit stranding two yarns from Habu Textiles which I handpainted. One is a silk boucle and the other is a silk/kid mohair laceweight yarn.

And here are some handspun yarns I've been working on.

After taking spinning with Judith MacKenzie McCuin at Golden Gate Fiber Institute this summer, I stepped out of my spinning box, so to speak, and tried my hand at some chunkier yarns. And, guess what! I like what I've done and it's fun.

Speaking of the Golden Gate Fiber Institute, I just sent in my registration form this week for the Winter Intensives (Jan. 5th through 11th). I had so much fun at the Summer Intensives, I couldn't wait to sign up again. This time I'm taking knitting with Kathryn Alexander, who is so full of energy and color, color, color is her forte. And I am also taking garment design with Jeane deCoster, who is a delight and full of creativity and ideas. Six days of classes, mornings and afternoons. Food prepared by a Culinary Institute chef. Gourmet coffee in the morning. Spinning in the evenings. It just can't be passed up. For information on GGFI, go to:

TAOS WOOL FESTIVAL This year, I am foregoing my annual trip to Rhinebeck -- the New York Sheep and Wool Festival -- in favor of a trip to the Taos Wool Festival in Northern New Mexico. My husband and I wanted an adventure, so this sounded great. We're taking a train to Albuquerque and we can get on board right here in San Juan Capistrano and change trains at Union Station in L.A. We'll have a night in a B&B near Santa Fe at a glass art school, two nights in Chimayo at a B&B called Casa Escondidas, and four nights at the Taos Guest House B&B. We've never been to the wool festival at Taos so it should be a new and fun excursion. And we'll have days to explore all of the fiber and weaving and historical spots in the area. I might even come back with another fleece or some Texas mohair.

All for now -- down to the beach -- watch the sunset while wolfing down a fish taco!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Okay, okay -- so blogging seems to have taken a back seat to enjoying late summer in Southern California where I live. It's been a while since I blogged, but oh, well! High on my list is enjoying the beach as often as possible by taking a picnic dinner down to the sand to watch the sunset. And since it was Labor Day yesterday -- the official last day of summer -- the crowds have thinned, I say with my fingers crossed.

My garden abounds with gold finches, little twitter birds (?), Monarch butterflies as well as Swallowtails. My tomato bushes are in their last stages of producing lovely fruit. We have tomatoes in just about anything and everything we can put them in. Eating homegrown tomatoes spoils you.

And with the Artistic License arts and crafts show fast approaching, I dusted off my loom, warped it up and wove a couple of scarves this past week. This is one of my favorite patterns, Star Twill, woven with laceweight yarns from Toots LeBlanc. The white is a merino wool/angora blend and the brown is a pygora/blueface leicester blend.

And I so loved the Morning Surf scarf that I knit a couple months ago, I decided to knit another one. Like the last time, I used my hand-dyed handspun yarn which seems to knit up so beautifully in this pattern. The fiber blend here is a superfine merino wool with tussah silk.

The other fun thing that has been occupying a good deal of my time lately is natural dyeing. Shortly after I returned from Golden Gate Fiber Institute, a wonderful book arrived from Australia: "Eco Colour" by fiber artist, India Flint. Unfortunately, this book is not available in the US (yet). If you want to read more about India, visit her blog and her website: and

This is an absolutely great book. India got me motivated to go out and forage around the area where I live and collect some eucalyptus leaves for dyeing. I tried both windfallen dried leaves and leaves right off the tree. I also had been collecting the coreopsis flower tops from my garden all summer, so they went into a dyepot. Here is the outcome of a day's worth of dyeing. Most of these were done in the coreopsis pot. The two skeins on the top and middle right were from eucalyptus brewed up by my friend, Karen.

These little exemplar skeins are from fiber I dyed with coreopsis. The two middle skeins were put in the coreopsis dyepot, one full strength, and one diluted a bit. The butter yellow was from the same dyepot after vinegar was added -- it turned the dyebath yellow. The bottom skein is from Karen's eucalyptus dyebath.

Here are some pretty skeins of the natural dyed yarn, half with coreopsis and half with the eucalyptus I foraged. These are for my own consumption since I am not sure how light fast these colors will be. They are gorgeous and I can't wait to knit or weave with them.

Friday, September 19th: Spinning at Common Threads in Encinitas.
Friday/Saturday, October 24th and 25th: Artistic License Fair at Estancia Park in Costa Mesa. I will have a booth with my handwovens, handknits, beautiful hand-dyed yarns and handspun yarns.
Sunday, November 2nd: The Torrance Fiber Fest put on by the Southern California Handweavers Guild. I will have a booth with my hand-dyed yarns and handpainted spinning fibers.
March, 2009: Assn. of Southern California Handweavers conference in Riverside, CA. For more information and registration, visit: