Friday, July 23, 2010

Ever since I knit my first handspun sweater, my Jacob's Windows sweater, I have been wanting to knit it again in a longer version. At that time, I only had part of a gray Jacob lamb fleece -- not enough for a whole sweater. Working with the amount I had, I supplemented with other handspuns in my stash to finish the sweater. That sweater and pattern was featured in The Twisted Sisters Knit Sweater book (p. 68-74). I have always loved the idea of using a natural colored fleece/yarn as a backdrop for designs in colorful handspun yarns.

Since those first days, my spinning has improved greatly so I wanted to revisit this sweater. With this project in mind, I sought out a gray CVM fleece at the Taos Wool Festival in October 2008. I bought a beautiful variegated gray fleece from Dawn and Mike DeFreese of Windy Hill Farms of Casper, WY. Once home, I washed, carded and spun the fleece. Finally, in late 2009, I cast on and because things just happen, it has taken me until yesterday to finally finish. I can't be more pleased with the results.
This time around, I made the body of the sweater somewhat longer and then I added a 6.5" shawl collar. My alterations to the original pattern were easily made using Lynne Vogel's "Fitter List" and schematic in her Twisted Sisters Knit Sweater book. This is a soft and comfy kimono type sweater with the fronts crossing over and buttoning.
The chartreuse green yarn is an alpaca/merino/silk yarn that I spun and then dyed in a workshop with Darlene Hayes at Golden Gate Fiber Institute, using mullein and then indigo.
The gold/yellow yarn is also alpaca/merino/silk and was dyed using coreopsis flower tops from my garden.
I spun the white yarn from a cormo wool/silk roving I purchased at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival from Barbara Parry of Foxfire Fibers.
The other varigated yarns were spun from my handpainted rovings and are merino, cashmere, and blueface leicester wool. This sweater should keep me quite warm and cozy out on Point Bonita at Golden Gate Fiber Institute in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I am loving my continuing experimentations with India Flint's eco print process. In between things I must do, I have my rolled up bundles simmering in the dyepot and I am really testing my ability to be patient. I know I can do better on that score, but it is, oh, so hard, to stop myself from opening up the bundle to see what magic might have happened. A couple of experiments -- a silk camisole.

Close up.
The back.
A silk tank top -- the back.
I am also working on a sweater knit with my handspun yarns -- the background of the sweater is knit with a gray CVM fleece I purchased at Taos Wool Festival last year and washed, carded and spun. Here's a teaser of the sleeve. I have about four rows to go on the collar and then I'll be done. Yahoo!! I'll be able to wear it at Taos this year.
Summer camp at Golden Gate Fiber Institute in coming up in about two weeks. I am more than excited to be taking drop spindling with Abby Franquemont and spinning art yarns with Jacey Boggs. What a "grand" time we will have, as Judith M would say.

Freezing our butts here in So.Cal. -- just heard we have had some of the coldest July temps on record. Of course, last week, we were in the low 100's and having heat stroke. Can't we just have some regular summer weather??

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A couple of years ago I bought an amazing book from Australian fiber artist, India Flint -- "Eco Colour". It wasn't available in the U.S., until recently, so I bought it through an Australian textile association. Since reading her book, I have been totally intrigued with the idea of using plant materials and other things to print on fabric.
Then I found out that India Flint was going to do week-long intensive classes at the Shakerag Workshops in Tennessee this summer. (I've been to Shakerag twice before.) I was so excited, only to find out the classes fell at the same time as the Black Sheep Gathering. Drat! Well, I have been able to vicariously experience India's workshop through my friend, Michelle, who was able to get into one of the workshops in June. When I saw what Michelle accomplished during her class and afterwards, I was awestruck -----

I have now read India's book cover-to-cover again and parts of it several times and have been doing my own experiments. To say that I am obsessed is an understatement, and at this rate, my garden is going to be decimated. Here are a few experiments.
Scented geraniums.
Eucalyptus leaves.

Madder root on silk.
Fresh and windfallen eucaplytus leaves.

The experiments continue!!