Monday, November 14, 2011

More New Mexico

Thought I would add a few more pictures of the trip Michelle and I took to New Mexico.  These are balls of churro yarn that I bought at the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center.  These were dyed with natural dyes by a local woman, Glenna Dean, who is from Abiquiu.  She used madder root, brazilwood, black walnuts, cottonwood catkins and cota (aka Navajo tea).  These were spun very thin and are used in the native Colcha embroidery.  I plan on using them for stitching and bought a book on Colcha.
This is Michelle adding some fringe to a beautiful felted piece she was working at our B&B in Chimayo.  She included a little Lincoln lamb pelt in the piece.  
While I did some decorative stitching on one of my eco print shawls.
One of our first stops as we pulled into Taos was a beautiful fabric store that we love -- Common Thread.  This is hands down one of the best fabric stores ever.  We bought loads of beautiful silks, cashmere and silk shawls, buttons and ribbons.   

 After spending the night in Santa Fe, our last day took us on a smaller road down through the old silver mining town of Madrid.  It is now a community of artists and is very quaint. Lots of little shops to wander around in.

Since we were on our way to the airport in Albuquerque, and loathed the idea of eating airport food, we stopped at wonderful little Mama Lisa's Cafe, all good freshly homemade food. And, of course, my last opportunity to have New Mexico enchiladas.  

We ate our lunch out on the front patio and enjoyed the pleasant weather.  
As we pulled out of Madrid and started our journey to Albuquerque, a few raindrops began falling and within about 15 minutes we were in a torrential rainstorm, driving through the mountains until we descended into to Albuquerque.  No more exploring -- we went straight to the airport, which turned out to be a wise choice.

I am now in the process of washing the next fleece we bought at the Taos Wool Festival.  This is another CVM/Wensleydale cross and it is jet black.  More pictures when it's done.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blogging Again!

Deep into autumn -- travels over and shows done -- I'm ready to tackle blogging again.  Started out fall with a very relaxing trip to Northern New Mexico with my friend, Michelle.  This was our second year attending the Taos Wool Festival. It's hard not to go because we have such a great time. And we actually reserved rooms for next year. We started out with two nights at the Casa Escondida B&B in Chimayo, a very quaint weaving community about halfway between Santa Fe and Taos. We explored around the area, visited the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center, ate good food, drank wine and spent some relaxing days knitting and stitching on our deck and the front porch.
The view from our deck was spectacular and we had perfect weather.

Can you imagine a more idyllic spot? Night time brought a million stars and even the Milky Way. 

The next stop on our adventure was The Old Taos Guesthouse in Taos, of course.  I have stayed here many times and Tim and Leslie, the owners, make this a more than special play to stay. One night, we even had a "camp fire" in the fire pit out back with many of the guests sitting around chatting and enjoying a glass of wine.

A nice cup of tea and knitting in the afternoon with a view out over Taos.

Onto the Taos Wool Festival for much shopping and visiting with people we have met along the way.  We bought fleeces at Black Pines Sheep booth.
We also bought fleeces from one of my favorite booths at the wool festival -- The Rocky Mountain Natural Colored Sheep Breeders -- three that we couldn't resist -- a cocoa brown, variegated gray and a black one.  We split those between us.  
The wool show is outside on the grass at Kit Carson Park in the heart of Taos.  
After four days in Taos and serious damage to our pocketbooks, we spent a night in Santa Fe -- much more commercial/touristy atmosphere than in the little town of Taos, but it was still fun and we had great New Mexican food.  Oh, I do miss those enchiladas.  

This week, I finally found time to start processing the fleeces I bought in Taos.  This one is a CVM/Wensleydale cross, and believe it or not, this fleece has all of these fabulous colors in it.  I can hardly wait to start spinning it so that I can knit with it.

Now that I actually posted something on my blog -- yes, I'm going to try to keep this up on a regular basis.  Fingers are crossed!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Taos Sweater Finished!

Last October, my friend Michelle and I purchased a chocolate brown fleece at the Taos Wool Festival.  It was a CVM/cotswold/corriedale fleece. When I returned home, I washed, carded and spun my half into yarn with the idea of knitting a sweater to enter in the fiber arts show at Taos this year.  I also spun white cormo wool/silk and merino/angora yarns so that I could dye them in pastel colors to use in the sweater.  Over the weekend, I finished my project and I am very pleased with the outcome.  I saw Michelle today and asked her to model it for me.  

That's it for today.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Fun

Last week I got an email from Robina Koenig of Tumble Creek Farm up in the Pacific Northwest letting me know that her Fall shearing was done and she had some fleeces up for sale.  I had seen Robina's fiber at Black Sheep Gathering in June and asked to be on her email list.  I immediately opted for a small two-pound BFL lamb fleece.  It arrived yesterday so quickly.  Gorgeous little fleece, to say the least.

I kept looking at that fleece and knew there was no way I was going to be able to sleep unless I soaked a part of that fleece overnight, so that I could wash it today.  Here's the fleece drying out in the sun.  Very yummy.  Can't wait to spin it.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The other day, my friend Margie came over for a playdate and we made nuno felt with the idea of eco printing the pieces we made.  After a morning of feltmaking and lunch, we were off to forage along the local San Juan creek area.  We found some wonderful plant materials, one of which was a downed branch of eucalyptus, which had been laying in the middle of a field, hot sun mostly likely beating on it for at least a few weeks.  It was so dried up, we were skeptical but we collected some of the dried leafy branches as an experiment.  I still had a big pot of the golden liquid from the rabbit brush a few days before, so we used that dye bath as the liquid in our new dyepot.  After hours of simmering and then cooling down overnight, we had some very successful results.

These are the bundles fresh out of the dyepot.

My felted pieces drying.
And these are my eco prints on nuno felt. Some of the strongest rusty oranges, we obtained from the dried up eucalyptus branches.

Margie's bundles had to sit for a couple of days unwrapped and she got some very intense prints -- could be that the extra time in the bundle helped. A silk blouse.

 Her nuno felted pieces.

Margie also brought some plant materials from her garden:  sunflower leaves, avocado leaves, amaranth, and a few sunflowers.
Needless to say, we were pretty happy with our day of experimenting. 

And I have been making progress on a sweater I started knitting in January. This is my own design.
I purchased a small fleece at the Taos Wool Festival last October from Sheepfeathers Farm of Lafayette, CO.  This was a dark chocolate CVM/Cotswold/Corriedale cross which I processed and spun. The other handspuns are fibers I bought and spun from Toots Le Blanc and from Foxfire Fibers and then dyed in various pastel colors to go with the brown fleece. 

I am hoping to finish this sweater so I can wear it this year at the Taos Wool  Festival.  One sleeve and the collar to go.

On a Sunday, a dyepot of mullein is simmering on the barby.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

After cooling down and sitting in the dyepot overnight, my bundles were ready to be unrolled. There's always anticipation (and excitement) as I undo each bundle.
This bundle was wrapped around a copper pipe and was a piece of lightweight wool.
Nice clean prints.
Interesting greens from the copper pipe, I think.
The next few pieces were dyed using the nuno felt pieces that I made.
Lovely eucalytus -- vibrant rusty orange prints.
More eucalyptus -- greens and golds.
Love these prints -- various eucalypts and many colors.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I am finally emerging from my summer "cave" -- my self-imposed exile from the blogosphere. I was pretty much burned out after two back-to-back trips in June.

First, I attended a weeklong felting workshop at Shakerag (Sewanee, TN) taught by Jeanette Sendler and Allison Mountain from Scotland. This was one of the best workshops I have ever taken and I (along with many of my classmates) was in the workroom until midnight every night -- so excited and inspired by our teachers. And then back in my room, knitting, reading or whatever until 2:00 a.m. I could not turn off the mind. Suffice it to say, I was exhausted after a week of getting about 4 hours of sleep a night. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

In fact . . . I have already signed up for Shakerag 2012. It is one of the all around best workshop venues. All inclusive and they feed you the most wonderful gourmet healthy food -- breakfast, lunch and dinner. I will either take natural dyeing with Michel Garcia from France or wearable art with Jean Cacicedo, an amazing artist from Berkeley. I am leaning toward Jean. I took her class at Shakerag in 2006 and loved every minute of it.

As soon as I arrived home from Shakerag -- and running on empty -- I had to pack my van for another weeklong trip heading up to Eugene, OR, for the Black Sheep Gathering with my friend, Miryha, of Blarney Yarn. We had a wonderful week and a very successful show but by the time we got home, I dropped into my big cushy chair to catch my breath and get recentered. Just couldn't bring myself to do anything but relax and spin and knit, and knit and spin -- some sewing, too -- well into July and August.

August took our family, both sons, one girlfriend, and my husband and myself, up to the June Lake area of the Sierras. One day we took a ten-mile hike in Yosemite through Tuolumne Meadows up Tuolumne Falls. This is a glorious hike, fairly easy, and the scenery is to die for -- as is most of Yosemite.
At the falls, more water this year because of all the rain and snowpack.
Upon returning from the Sierras, all relaxed, I was ready to start doing some dyeing again. I made my rounds to the various places in and around my neighborhood and collected some eucalyptus and other leaves, and raided my garden. I then made up some bundles for the dyepot. Here are some of the results.

Close up -- you can see prints of the black sunflowers from my garden.
Windfall dried eucalyptus leaves.
Windfall oak leaves that I collected in Tennessee, yellow coreopsis from my garden.
After this dyeing venture with eco printing, my dyebath was still a vibrant rusty orange. I just hated the thought of wasting it, so I poured the liquid into two big pickle jars and put some alpaca/silk yarn into each jar -- no mordant. I set these in the sun for four days and was pleasantly surprised at the lovely color the skeins absorbed from the dyebath.
When I was in the Sierras, I collected some plant material for dyeing. Here are some of the dyepots and the results. The first is white sage -- no mordant.

Yarn simmering.
This dyebath rendered a beautiful beige -- again the alpaca/silk.
The next dyepot is rabbit brush.
These two skeins of alpaca/silk were in the same dye bath. The top skein had no mordant and came out a pale yellow. The skein below was pale yellow and then was placed in an ammonia afterbath, which made the skein brighten up, almost to a maize color.
My rabbit brush dyebath was still quite vibrant, and again, I didn't want to waste the color, so I rooted around and found some pieces of silk and wool and placed them in the dyepot. After simmering for a couple of hours, this is the result. I am letting the pot sit overnight to see if the fabrics will absorb more color.
And while all this was going on, I made some panels of white nuno felt so that I could do some eco printing on felt. These have just gone into the dyepot, will simmer, and then cool down overnight. Oh, surprises in the morning!!
So, all my friends out there who have been wondering, "What the . . . ?" I am ready to get back to it after a summer of lots and lots of playing around -- mostly with my fibery stuff.

Next trip up: Taos Wool Festival at the end of September -- a week in northern New Mexico with my friend, Michelle. This is just fun and relaxation. I can hardly wait.