Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yesterday, the guild that I belong to -- South Coast Weavers and Spinners Guild -- had an all-day workshop on Indigo dyeing. It was held in the backyard of one of our members and John Pitblado from Los Angeles came down and taught the class. John was a great teacher and we all had the most fabulous time. Here are some of the participants getting their items ready to go into the dye bath.

Here is one of the "dye pots" that John has prepared. We had five dye vats going for most of the workshop. John had blank silk scarves and cotton muslin for the group to dye. Some people brought handspun yarn to dye also. The amazing thing about indigo is that when your piece comes out of the dyepot, it is green and as the oxygen hits the fabric it begins to oxidize and turns blue right before your eyes.

Here's a picture of the group hard at work over the dye vats which were basically tall plasctic kitchen trash cans. You can see that some items have already been dyed and are hanging on the clothesline.

Almost everyone used some sort of "resist" on their scarves and muslin. We used stones, pebbles, beads and buttons and tied them into the cloth with rubberbands and twine. Some people used clamps and clothespins. Where the tie or the clamp was very tight, the dye couldn't get to the cloth and white spots were left, so we got some very nice designs. Here are close ups of some of the pieces dyed.

Here are a couple pictures showing the array of creativity that was generated by this workshop. It was awesome to see how everyone did something different.

Here is some handspun yarn that I put into the dye vat. The yarn on the left is pygora; the yarn in the middle is a cormo/tussah silk blend, and the skein on the right is alpaca.

We look forward to getting John out to our guild again for another workshop in the future. He's a great teacher and really allowed everyone to just go in his/her own direction. We had the best time ever on a Saturday in Laguna!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Just a reminder that tomorrow -- Friday, April 18th -- there will be a spinning group meeting at Common Threads in Encinitas from 10:00 a.m. until about 3:00 p.m. (This is not a class, not an organized group, but just a social meet up for spinners to get together.) The address is 466 Coast Highway in Encinitas. We're trying to do this once a month on the third Friday, and the next meet up will be on May 16th.
Last Friday, I took a drive down to Escondido to visit my friend, Michelle, for some hiking and spinning. Turns out it was 92 degrees, so we decided against the hiking but had a great time spinning. She has turned the old one car garage at the back of her property into an artist's studio and I am so in love with it. Here are some pictures. It's an idyllic setting and Michelle has a green thumb. Her garden is so lovely.

Here are a couple of things I've been working on of late. These are some socks I'm knitting using a Fiber Trends pattern called "Fidalgo Feet". Looks complicated, but the pattern uses a mock cable that is more than easy. The yarn is "Somoko" from Fleece Artist.

Here is a shawl I'm knitting using a Toots LeBlanc & Co. pattern called "Love is a Wild and Crazy Thing" Shawl. I'm using the Toots LeBlanc fingering weight 60% merino/40% angora yarn, which is one of my most favorite yarns to knit with. It has a very handspun look and the angora blooms as you use the yarn.

Just another reminder that the Black Sheep Gathering is coming up soon. This is a great fiber, wool festival, with many fiber related vendors, lots of great classes, hundreds of fleeces for sale, and sheep and alpacas on display and for judging. The BSG is held at the Eugene, Oregon fairgrounds. Hope to see some of my fiber friends there.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


These Dutch irises just looked so beautiful in my front courtyard that I had to snap a picture of them. On a recent trip up Hwy 101 to the Bay Area, it was Springtime all over. North of Santa Barbara, for miles and miles, the hills were velvety green with huge patches of purple lupines, orange California poppies and yellow mustard. We were just awed by the beauty. And all this while I hear other parts of the country were still under snow. We are truly spoiled!
My ETSY shop has been doing well. I have had orders from all parts of the US, from Canada and the other day, I had an order from the Netherlands. Thank you so much to everyone who has been supporting my shop, spinning my fibers and knitting with my yarns. And, the best part is that everyone I have had the pleasure of meeting on ETSY has been more than friendly and positive. It's a great online community to put together small craftsmen with customers who want to support the little guys.

Wanted to report on the spinning group that has started at Common Threads shop in Encinitas. We've been meeting thus far on the third Friday of each month (Feb and Mar) from about 10:00 a.m. until about 3:00 p.m. In March, it was such a surprise to see Jerry and Debbie walk in from OC. I will be heading down to CT again next Friday, April 18th, and then again on Friday, May 16th. So anyone interested in joining a group of spinners for the day, please come on down. (Especially anyone who wants to see what spinning is about!) For more info, you can call Nancy or Carolyn at CT (760) 436-6119. Also, at the end of this week, CT will be carrying some of my Capistrano Fiber Arts sock yarn.

Besides taking a few trips in the past couple of months, I have been doing quite a bit of spinning and knitting (along with my dyeing). Here are some gauntlets that I knit from yarn I spun out of roving dyed by Sandy Sitzman, who I will be sharing a booth with at Black Sheep Gathering this year. I used a mock cable on these.

At Stitches West in February, I bought two rovings dyed by Elff from Redfish Dyeworks of Acton, CA. One was a blend of baby camel/silk (50-50) and the other was a blend of merino/bombyx silk (50-50). I spun them and plied them together into a fingering weight yarn. I am using them in the lace vest below (pattern from LaLana Wools, Taos). I love the pattern (English Mesh Lace) and the subtle way the colors of the handspun knit up. Knit on US4 circulars.

When I was last down at Common Threads, a box of Targhee wool rovings had just arrived from Mountain Colors. The colors were way bright -- so Karen and I picked out some rovings with lots and lots of red. I was thinking socks. Here's the chunky monkey skein I spun (602 yd and 5.2 oz). I have enough for socks, a hat, maybe a vest; to be decided at a later date.

And here are some rovings I dyed recently and spun up. The first is a blend of merino wool/cashmere/angora. I plied two different colorways: "Wine Country" and "Wine Country Marl". One roving was painted with more solid colors and the other, I left white spaces in between the solid colors for a more heathered effect. This skein has 674 yd. and weighs 7.7 oz.

And lastly, I painted this roving the other day. It is superfine merino wool and I wasn't sure about the colors, since they were not calling to me. I was conflicted and thought I better spin a couple of ounces just to see what might happen. Yesterday, I spun two bobbins and plied the colorway on itself. It spoke to me. Wow! I love it. I think I need to do more of this colorway, which I have now named "Sevilla".

So all week I have been calling the court on a daily basis to see if I had to report for jury duty. As of 11:00 a.m. today, I have skated by and haven't had to trek up to Santa Ana. I've got my fingers crossed that they won't need me up there. I hear you can't bring knitting needles. Oh, no!