Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I continue to work on fibery things that I have been wanting to do -- while working on getting ready for the Artistic License Fair (Oct. 23rd and 24th) and the Torrance Fiber Fest (Sunday, Nov. 1st). I have been dyeing some new fibers, including merino/yak (50-50) and some mixed Blueface Leicester wool and superwash BFL. Here's a sampling of what I'll have on hand at those shows:
Last Friday, our little spinning group met down in Encinitas at Common Threads yarn store. We had the largest turnout yet, 10 spinners. How cool is that?
A couple days before that, my friend, Miryha, and I got together to do some lichen dyeing using the lichen we collected on our way back from Oregon in June. We used some undyed Blueface Leicester yarn. One batch was simmered for about 24 hours in a crockpot.
The other batch was done on the side burner of my barbeque, since this type of dyeing seems to make quite a smell in the house.
Here is the finished yarn. The skeins on the right are from the crockpot.
In between all of my other projects, I managed to finish my "Badlands" scarf -- knit with my handspun using Rovings.com polwarth handpainted roving.
And here is another felting work in progress. This is from the hand-dyed silk chiffon that I posted a week ago.

Close up.

Here's the back.
I must like doing this felting because I ordered more silk gauze and more needle felting supplies from Dharma today.

And really good news from the weatherman -- a heat wave is on the way -- actually, it's arrived. Temps will be in the 90's and 100's. I am so ready for Fall.

The other good news I learned this week is that Morgaine has posted the dates for Golden Gate Fiber Institute for Summer 2010: August 8th through 15th. I am so there!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week of Fun
This week I have been just messing around knitting, spinning and dyeing -- doing some things I have been wanting to do and a little bit of experimentation. One thing I wanted to do was dye some of the "mixed" blueface leicester roving that arrived about a week ago. This is a mix of ecru and brown -- heather like. I am always telling my spinner friends to ply two very different colorways together to see what happens, because you might be very surprised at how beautiful the yarn turns out. So . . . . just to prove the point, I dyed two quite different rovings:
Here are the singles on separate bobbins:
And then plied --

And skeined -- wow, do those two colorways look good together. What a fabulous pair of socks this skein would make!
I had been forever eyeing a skein of Polwarth handspun that I had spun months ago from some of Francine's "Badlands" colorway (Rovings.com). I found a chevron pattern that I really liked and began knitting this scarf. I really love knitting this kind of pattern because the colors create bands that look like you have changed yarns but with the handspun, there is no need to change yarns and no ends to weave in. One of the best reasons to spin your own yarn.

Another thing on my "to do" list is to continue working on the felted vest I started at Golden Gate Fiber Institute. This is a work in progress as I continue to add top stitching with my handspun yarn. Hem stitching to clean up the raw edges:
Stitching on the back.
Full view -- front and back. Buttons and beading to come. Armholes need to be finished, too.

Another thing on my lengthy list was to break out the silk chiffon that I had in a drawer in my studio -- the same silk that Loyce Ericson dyed for us for our felting class at Golden Gate Fiber Institute. I wanted to dye the silk I have and then do another felting project using the skills I learned in Loyce's class. This, again, is an experiment and a work in progress and here's what I have so far. Silk chiffon with dye, ready to be zapped in the microwave:
Yippee! It worked -- my silk fabric drying in the sun.
Silk fabric all dry and ready to use. Here's one of my merino/bombyx silk hand-dyed rovings that I will use in this project -- probably end up being a shawl.
And did I mention that Loyce's class was one of funnest (?) classes I have ever taken. I would take any of her classes again in a heartbeat.

Pictures from Golden Gate Fiber Institute
While perusing the Carolina Homespun group on Ravelry, I saw that Heather had posted pictures she took of some of the classes and Point Bonita, many from her dyeing class with Darlene Hayes. If you missed GGFI this summer, are thinking about going in the future, want to see what it's like, check out these pictures. They give you a nice sampling of the fun to be had. I am ready to sign up for next summer.

Spinning at Common Threads - Aug. 21st
Just a reminder that a few of us spinners will be meeting at Common Threads in Encinitas this coming Friday, August 21st, from about 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Anyone who wants to join us with their wheel is welcome.

Sunday afternoon -- gotta go have some more fun!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I saw these pictures on someone's blog today and just had to share. Is this the handspinner's dream wedding? Apparently this bride made her wedding dress using fleece and locks from her own award winning handspinner's flock of rare Lincoln Longwool sheep -- she's from the UK. I think this is one of the best wedding dresses I have ever seen.

Speaking of fleece, I have made a significant dent in the washed fleeces I have piled up around here. My goal is to card all of my fleeces (all five) before I go to the Taos Wool Festival in early October so I can justify buying more. This is a charcoal gray CVM that I bought from Windy Hill Farms (Dawn and Mike DeFreece) of Casper, Wyoming. A lovely fleece with only a few pieces of grass -- so, so nice -- about 2 1/2 pounds worth.
As you can see, I have started spinning this up. I have another two full bobbins on the lazy kate waiting to be plied. This is going to be a sweater, probably with cables and horn buttons.
I came home from Golden Gate Fiber Institute to find that my tomato bushes had gone berserk -- all tomatoes ripening at once. I have three more BIG bowls of these beauties, ready to be made into marinara sauce. I so love homegrown tomatoes and once you grow your own, you can never eat another pale pink store bought tomato.
A beautiful palm down at the beach. I love the lacey fronds of flowers hanging down.
And here's why I love living in South Orange County. Yes, there is traffic, lots of people, but in 10 minutes, every summer evening, we can be down at the shore eating our dinner on the beach and watching the sun go down. Yes, it would be hard to beat this.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

On Saturday, July 25th, I headed up to the SFO Bay Area to attend week-long workshops at the Golden Gate Fiber Institute -- the brainchild of Morgaine Wilder (Carolina Homespun) and Judith MacKenzie McCuin. My husband came along for the ride up and our first stop was the Los Olivos Grocery in the heart of Santa Barbara County wine country for a great breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. This little grocery is a very laid back stop for relaxing with an awesome view of the blue skies, vineyards and surrounding hills.
I could definitely get serious about this area.
And here I am arriving a the Point Bonita YMCA camp, the location of GGFI workshops. This is a rare sunny day with a view back to the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. Point Bonita sticks out in the ocean on the ocean side of the bridge, is quite isolated, and a wonderful place to just focus energies on creativity. And they feed us, too, so we don't have to think about anything but our classes.
For most of the week, we were hunkered down in our warm clothes, handknit socks, scarves, hats, gloves as the fog came in and receded by the hour. Pretty drizzly, cold and clammy for much of the week. A view looking the other way towards the headlands and the ocean.
Donna - a hardy spinner sitting outside our spinning room.
Spinning class with Judith. The focus of this class was spinning yarn for weaving. Theresa is seated at her rigid heddle loom (before breakfast no less) and has begun her weaving.
My felting instructor, Loyce, was in my spinning class spinning on her Lendrum wheel, which she dyed a beautiful green. I had never seen a green spinning wheel before. It was just lovely and it was so Loyce.
Judith shared her wonderful spindle whorl collection with us. These were primitive, carved and spin as well today and the day they were made. She has collected these during her travels all over the "whorled". Most of these fit in the palm of your hand.
Judith also brought along her little handmade Royal Rat, who was our mascot during the class.
Here is my project from the spinning class. I spun a fingering weight two-ply yarn for use in both my warp and weft -- handpainted merino/silk/angora. The sett was 12 ends per inch, 9 inches wide, and I combined my handspun with Habu silk and stainless steel laceweight.
Here is the finished scarf after it was fulled and shrunk. I lost about 40% in width but not too much in length. A grand experiment that went right. I am ready to do this again!!
Close up -- see the little windows of silk and stainless steel.
On to felting class with Loyce Ericson. The focus of this class was to design and make a felted vest out of strips of felt. My pictures will hopefully show some of the steps along the way from the beginning of laying out the fiber to the finished felted product. Here Theresa has begun to lay out three layers of wool. Many of our pieces were laid out on a length of very thin silk chiffon onto which the fibers fused.
The next step is to wet the fibers, roll them up into a piece of matting, and start to slowly roll the matting until the fibers start to come together and do not pull apart. This is pre-felting and we did this with each of the strips to go into the vest. Here is Theresa's piece after it has been assembled and it is ready for the final felting process.
Here are a couple of Dixie's pre-felted strips.
A few of Dixie's felted strips. She decided to assemble the pieces after the final felting process was complete.
Marta decided to do a shawl rather than a vest. This is her pre-felted piece.
Marta's felted shawl after finishing the felted process. [Sorry I cut off half your head.] Sheila is holding her pre-felted vest in luscious fuschia colors.
Here is Barbara working on felting her vest. One step requires bunching up the wet garment and slamming it onto the table numerous times. You can let out your aggressions on the wool because the process requires you to really beat up your project, but it works to bring the garment together and to create felt from those loose fibers.
This is Christine's "tide pool" colored pre-felted garment. The colors were scrumptious.
Here Pam is using a tool with needles to do some needle felting onto her vest before she does the final felting process.
Brenda is using a steam iron to stretch and smooth out some of the places in her vest.
Brenda's vest is almost done. She included pockets and side ties.
Ann is trying on her damp vest and Loyce is helping with the fit.
Below, Loyce is stretching the edges of Ann's vest to accentuate the ruffled edging.
The back of Ann's vest.
My vest project is below. I ended up using seven strips. Three for the back and two for each side of the front. Here I have started to lay out layers of merino wool onto the matting for one of my strips.
Here is the back after pre-felting. I stitched the three strips together by hand and then needle felted over the seam areas to hold them down and to prevent them from curling up during the final felting process.
A close up -- still loose and not felt yet.
This is the pre-felted front. Again, the panels are stitched together as the back and needle felted -- the fiber is still loose and the garment has not shrunk to size. I laid across a couple of grid panels that I felted to perhaps include as part of the vest. Still thinking that through.
Here is my vest after the final felting process. First the front.
A close up.
The finished felted back. And the garment is now ready for embellishing -- embroidery, beads, buttons and such.
I am sorry I didn't get a lot of pictures of the other classes but there was a horoscope weaving class with Bonnie Tarses. Believe it or not, some of the weavers managed to weave 5 yards of gorgeous fabric. Jean DeCoster taught a class on designing and sizing a garment to fit.

Darlene Hayes taught natural dyeing and included in the class was lichen dyeing in the crockpot and some dyeing with natural materials on silk scarves. Here are some of Heather's skeins hanging to dry and her indigo dyed rubber gloves.
Aside from the amazing classes at GGFI, Morgaine had her Carolina Homespun store set up with lots and lots of fibery goodies. And after dinner every evening, we all assembled in the "big" room for announcements, show and tell, and door prizes. There were door prizes galore and I think almost everyone won at least two or three. What marvelous fun!! Then we all retired to our various classrooms for spinning, felting or weaving until late into the night. I think I managed 5 hours sleep a night and it's going to take a few days to catch up.

During my stay at Golden Gate Fiber Institute, I managed to finish a knitting project I started the day before leaving. I aptly named this scarf the Bonita Headlands Scarf since it is reminiscent of the colors of the natural foilage on the headlands. I used my handpaints, handspun alpaca/merino/silk yarn for this scarf.
Teary eyed was I as I drove along the little road out of Point Bonita back to civilization -- leaving a little piece of heaven behind. I was jarred back to reality as I merged onto the 101 freeway south. It was slow going over the Golden Gate Bridge, but the perk was the awesome view over the railing. So seldom do I get to look out over the bridge when the traffic is speeding along. Bumper to bumper on the Golden Gate is a treat.

I am already thinking about and looking forward to Summer 2010 at Golden Gate Fiber Institute. It can hardly get better so I won't miss it.