Thursday, June 30, 2011

I AM Boiling Mad!!

For years I have been weaving and dyeing and brewing.  And all this time I have been taught - don't let your water boil! It will ruin the dye / brew.  So for years I've kept my water temperature at about 180 degrees F.  Not quite at a simmer - just hot enough to see that nice little steam rising off the surface of the water.

So just before we ran off to the wilds of Washington state, I did some one pot dyeing of eucalyptus and stinging nettles.  I'm a lazy dyer and haven't made the time to mordant my yarns for dyeing at a later date.  So I fill my pot with water, dye stuff and the correct amount of Alum (usually about 1tsp) and light up the stove.

The eucalyptus leaves I have received about a year ago and the bag O' leaves have been sitting on the patio in an open bag so they were a little dried out.  Nevertheless, here are the colors I got.

The yarn on the left was in the bath 1/2 hour - the right was 1 hour.  The color is nice - a different shade of yellow with slight ornagey tones.

Then after we came back from our trip, I was at another friend's home helping her shear her sheep (I skirt the fleeces) and we got to talking about the eucalyptus.  She told me that she had heard the longer you BOIL the dyestuff they more orange (almost red) you can get.  BOIL!!!  BOIL THE WATER???!!!!

So I got fresh leaves and went home.  Four weeks later, I MAKE the time to dye and boil the leaves for 2 hours.  Here is the result -

Big change!!  So I guess there are times you should boil.  So, I had also dyed with some stinging nettles from my backyard.  I got a very pale yellow-green (sorry - no pic).  So I thought, let's boil.  So I boiled the water for 1 hour, let it cool down and then added the yarn.

The color is a lot darker then the first attempt.  So now I think when using a lot of the plant stuff, if I don't like the color - try and boil.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dyeing and Weaving - More Playtime!

OK - so I'm still catching up on my last few months.  March 19th I met a friend of mine down in Carson for the Rubber Stamp Show sponsored by Stamp in the Hand.  I have a few places I like to gather wild daisies at for dyeing, so I left home a little early and headed down to my old stomping ground.

And things have changed in the last 3 - 4 years.  Weed Abatement.  Many of the good places were gone, some had been fenced in, but I was able to get a good gallon bag of the daisy heads.  Now, the family was leaving the following Friday evening for a trip to visit family in SE Washington and I knew I had to have a dye evening otherwise the daisies would be moldy when we got back.  My family let me take over the kitchen for the next few nights to play - because I couldn't just do the 1 plant.  I also grabbed some of the stinging nettles from the backyard (ouch) and I had some old eucalyptus leaves and did 1 pot dyeing for three nights in a row.  Lets say the house had some interesting fragrances that week.  I will have to post pictures later.

When we got home from the trip I was reminded of a weaving / spinning demo I had volunteered for on April 16th.  I didn't want to warp my loom for just 1 or 2 bags, so I put on enough warp for 5 bags (about 6 1/2 yards).  Tuesday night I measured out my warp, Wednesday night I threaded the reed, Thursday night I got half of the heddles threaded and that left panic time on Friday.  Now, like most of you others, weaving time is limited and most of the time I can't start until after 8PM (family dinner, family time, etc) so Friday night was a "I'll be in when I get in" night.  And I got my little loom warped in only about 4 hours.

When I got to the park I started weaving and I wasn't sure what color weft I wanted, so I wove about 1 inch of white, then black and then grey.  Bridget and Cat Ellen thought I should continue weaving that way.

And here is a closeup picture of the cloth.

The lav / pink is a logwood exhaust, the yellow is from the daisies and the eucalyptus (it's hard to tell there are 3 shades of yellow in there).

I think I wove about 2 yards at the demo, then finished it up the following week(s) (after I repaired the loom).  Here is the cloth after a gentle wash to do a light fulling

Here is a finished product

The band is a weft faced band I woven on the loom as I am weaving for 5 bags.  If it was just 1 bag, I would have done it on an inkle loom.

Now to start planning to next group of bags.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

So how long can jute last?

I have been working the heck out of my 4 harness counter balance loom.  It's a little thing so I tend to take it places when I'm doing demos and if I have a small project I will use it instead of the 54inch loom.  I just finished a 6 yard piece of cloth and have a 4 yard weft faced band on it now (more viking or messenger bags).  Now I've had this loom for a good twenty years and when I got it, I replaced most of the ropes with new.  And I used a jute rope.

Now, I need to have two bags done Saturday morning.  I've been out of town and had a few other set backs, or nights where I couldn't grab an hour or two for weaving, So i thought I'd push through tonight, I should have only about 2 yards of the weft faced band to do.  I got started about an hour ago.  So why am I here blogging. 

One of the ropes broke. <sigh>

And I can't find any of my cotton rope around <another sigh>

Is this the Gods way of telling me, it's time to slow down?  To accept that there is no way in hell I'm getting these bags done.  Poopies!

I had been thinking of blogging about the joy of working in the evening in the studio, with the big door open.  As the town quiets down for the night and the Chinese restaurant slows down, I start hearing the frogs in the river bed.  The occasional bird, or possiblyy an owl calling to it's mate. And the steady noise of the loom; change the shed, throw the shuttle, beat the cloth, repeat.  I'm glad my studio isn't in the house.  And maybe someday, my studio will be more out of town . 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meditation and Doddleing

So what to these have in common.  I can't do either.  No really.  One of the latest things to do is Zentangles.  Again - go and google it.  It's suppose to be relaxing, just let your mind go and create.

I can't - never had.  But I liked the looks of this little art form and how it's being used.  So I gave it a try.  I have a best friend who lives about an hour's drive from my house.  And after a long dry spell of not seeing each other and having a "girls day", we are trying to get together one Saturday of the month and create.  Wendy was over on a rainy, cold Saturday in February (again with February) and as she is this skinny thing with no insulation, we didn't last long in the studio.  Wendy loves doing art journals and she's a really good artist.  Some of the things she was doing were these Zentangles.  So I thought I'd give it a try.

This one piece took me the better part of an hour to do.  I just didn't know what to do in the empty spaces.  So I went back to the various websites and looked at what others were doing.  My second attempt:

One thing I noticed, I like to work around words and phrases.  Sometimes it's an idea (the mushroom in the first one, hugs and kisses in the next.  One site had the paper in grids and they filled each grid with a different technique.

I really thought the jigsaw pieces were kind of fun and then the lower left corner was "inspired" by a piece of jewelry on a Chinese statue at work.  The final (unfinished) piece is all David Bowie's fault.

I also had to add a little color to it.  After all, magic happens with red shoes.

Why I don't / can't doddle.  Most of the art I do tends to be structured.  Weaving, Spinning, dyeing, sewing, quilting . . get the picture.  Even my "random" stripes in my weavings are structured (same number of each colored yarns on each side).  I don't know how to turn off that side of my brain, or if Ieven can.  But as a decoration with some of the other paper things I do, I can incorporate parts of this art form.

Working with the Other Fiber

Another one of my past times is paper.  Tissue Paper, Rice Paper, painted, marbled, torn, wrinkled . . . .

It's all texture.

My latest "OMG" project (and again in February) is Fabric Paper.  Fabric paper is easy to make using supplies you may already have on hand. The project possibilities of this art are endless. Almost anything imaginable can be created with fabric paper: purses, art quilts, ATCs/ACEOs, postcards, bookmarks,  paper quilts, wall hangings, folders, journal covers . . . .  Just Google "fabric paper" and you have loads of other blogs and websites that have detailed instructions.  But what I did (in a nut shell);

Start off with a light weight fabric.  My first was a light muslin foundation.  I have other light weight polys with lots of bright colors that are on my list to play with next.  I bought a length of vinyl plastic table cloth material to create my paper on.  It measures 11" x 18" so I can make large pieces if I want to.  Using a glue / water mixture, I paint the muslin with the and then added old used dryer sheets that I have stamped color on.  Then that got a layer of glue on it and I smoothed it out with a fake credit card AX sent me.  I have lots of those - knew they'd come in handy some day.  I added a layer of white with gold dot tulle, torn pieces of vellum (from my wedding invites) and this was covered with a piece of white tissue paper.  It needed a little more color so I took a paint brush to some of my stamp pads and added the orange streaks.

The vellum (dark green) pieces didn't adhere well to the rest of the fibers and parts of the final piece of tissue paper torn and peeled away in ares, but I like the effect.  This is one of the classes I will be teaching at the Griffin Dyeworks Fiber retreat in June.  I think I'll play more this weekend.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Catching up with my blog

Sometimes I wonder why I even started  a blog.  It's not like I make the time to write about the stuff I've been doing.  In fact, I've done quite a bit lately and as I don't like to blog during work hours, I'm way behind - so bear with me.  Course blogging also helps me know where I'm at in my fiber growth.

Let's go back to February:

I have a friend, Cindy, who a few years back (OK - maybe 5 - 7 years ago) asked me to help her get started on weaving.  Cindy is the type who always has to be doing something - usually it's embroidery, but she wanted a shawl.  I really don't remember her asking me what she needed, how much etc. but I supposedly told her the whats and hows of.  So Cindy went out and bought a really nice ridged heddle loom and bought two different size reeds.  Now let's jump to last year.

We get the house.  My weaving studio is the garage.  I call people who have fostered my looms for me that I now have room if they are not using them.  Cindy has my 24 inch 4 harness floor loom, so I make arrangements to pick it up (it's been sitting in her storage shed).  While I am there, she asked if I would like her ridged heddle loom (with shawl warpped), because she can't figure it out and it's a big mess.  Those who know me, know I won't turn down a loom.  So I take it and everything gets put in the garage - I mean studio.

February came and I decided it was time to look at the shawl and see what I could do.  The yarn was a nice soft, slightly fuzzy acrylic.  I don't remember ever weaving with acrylic, so this should be fun.   It was also slayed 10epi and the yarn was a thick yarn (more like 8 maybe even 6 epi), plus it was in a 24 inch reed, much to cramped.  I moved it to my large loom and went from the 24 inch wide to something more like 30 inches wide.
I tried to keep to her warp pattern, but missed a few threads in the transfer process. Weaving with acrylic is not much different then weaving with a slightly fuzzy wool.  I had no problem with fraying or pilling, the sheds separately nicer and the acrylic was not extremely stretchy.  I could only weaving on Saturdays as this time of year was a bit chilly and the studio is NOT insulated (yet).

Cindy didn't give me her weft yarn, so I got a Cafe` colored acrylic from Walmart that blended well with her shades of blue, grey, white and brown.  I thought I'd weave a twill pattern to show off her yarns better.  I finished the shawl the middle of March and didn't get a picture of it.  Oh well.  I delivered it to Cindy's house just about a week ago and talkedto her briefly.  She was surprised and said it wasn't what she envisioned, but liked it.  I invited her to come up here and really learn to weave, if she was still interested.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spinning Fat

Like many of us, after learning the techniques of spinning and then doing so for a few years, I found it difficult to spin anything but fine (not uber or ultra fine, just fine).  Then a fiber friend was doing a "sheep to shawl" type demo at a camp out event and she needed a lot of warp spin (on a drop spindle) so it could be dyed before hand.  So I gave it a shot.  What she wanted was maybe 2 or 3 times thicker than I normally do, so I had to concentrate.  And then I figured out if I split my roving down to pencil roving, I don't have to draw out my fiber.  Made things SSSSOOOOOOOO much easier.

So last week, someone contact the fiber board I'm on asking for people who could spin doll hair.  Doll hair!  I asked for so pictures to look at and what she wants is basically medium to fat singles.  I had some roving I had dyed up and thought I'd give it a try.  I wasn't happy with the first attempt, but once I split the roving down to the correct diameter, it was quite easy.  Now to see if she likes it and can work with it.

Not sure which background looks best - though I am leaning towards the black.  It shows the threads off better.  The top small skein is the first one I did and it was washed and dried while being weighted down to get a lot of the knick out.

I suppose if I'm going to take pictures of my work, I need to get a "photo booth" of some kind.  and probably a better camera.