Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Still De-Stashing

Every once in a while I open a bag or box or crate or basket and there is an old fiber friend.  Not to long ago I found my journey into cotton spinning.  It was a pretty little batt called "Country Garden" and I remember loving the colors so much, I splurged and bought a full pound of it also.  In my spindle collection I inherited a high whorl that at first glance looks like a double whorl, but is in fact a small bobbin on a spindle.  I had spun at least 1 bobbin full of the cotton and had started a second.  Then I put it down - that was about 10 years ago.  I'd find the bag with the spindle, batt and ball every so often and think I really need to finish it (by now I had given the pound batt to a friend who did spin cotton).

But I am firstly a wool spinner, then my next favorite is silk.  Cotton is my least favorite.  Why is that?  Well as many of you know (those of you who spin) cotton is a short fiber.  To spin it (for me anyway) takes more concentration, it takes more twist and it didn't seem to move as easily.  BUT - I'm de-stashing and the idea is to get it spun up and used (or sold).  So I took what little I had on the spindle off and put it on the wheel - adding a little more twist in the process.  I then remembered to set my wheel to the smallest ratio, so it would add more twist.  Eventually, I was getting the hang of it and was actually able to do some long draws, letting the cotton spin itself (almost).  I think it took me about 2 - 3 evening to finsih spinning what I had and then to ply it.

A closer view

I still need to finish setting the twist, but first I need to read up on how to do that. I know it involves PVC pipe with holes drilled in it and boiling water and time.

So the other night I sat down at my wheel and proceeded to spin up some more white wool (you can never have to much white).  The bobbin is full and I just need to remove it to spin more.  Then I noticed - I hadn't changed my rtio back.  This batch of wool is a little on the fluffy side.  Oh well.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Felted Soap

Tomorrow at the Griffin Dyeworks Fall Fiber Frolic (say that 3 time quickly - OK old joke) I will be teaching a "How to Make Felted Soap" class - Also teaching "You Gotta be Warped to Weave".  But I wanted to show off some of the soap I've made this week - just brushing up on my skills.

The soap on the top is a bar of Ivory and other is a bar of Zest.  I don't think Zest works that well - Not sure if it was the shape or not enough "soap" ingredients.  I had two bars of the Zest and the second bar just would not felt.  I may have wrapped the roving around the bar to loosely, but in the felting process the wool moved around to much and left to many large holes where the soap peaked through. I used what wool I have hanging around, I've recently found more roving that I think were gifts and this last few months when I did some dyeing, I would throw in a few yards of roving in the exhaust.

Either way - go check out the Griffin Dyeworks Fall Fiber Frolic - lots of great classes at affordable prices.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Two new wheels

Gotta love estate sales.  In the last 6 months notices of 2 estates sales have come my way.  Both of them were in Long Beach, not far from my sister's house and she LOVES estate / garage sales.   Notices came my way because both of these sales had spinning wheels pictured.  The last one (in June) was at the home of a weaver who had moved and didn't take any weaving or spinning stuff with her.  Now I have two new wheels in the house.  

The first one looks like a traditional wheel - it's not an Ashford - there's no name on it.

I'm assuming that it was made in Helen Ga.  It's cute, the parts move, but it not very functional.

Mt second wheel came from the home of a weaver / spinner who has no passion for it any more.  It seems that she and her husband travelled quite a bit as they had collect things from all over.  Some of the weavings in their home were from the same weaving class I took so many years ago, so I must have had the class with them.  But her husband became ill and the last 10 years were spent caring for him.  Not only did I get one of her wheels, but I also acquired cones of linen and silk and quite a few balls of wool.  I've got plans for the linen - got it in two shades - beige and a golden beige.

This one has no identifying marks on it.  I like that it came with its own stool.  Here they are - in the place on the hearth

OK - so it's the mantle.  But aren't they cute!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

When to Weave During the Summer

As many of you know, my studio is the garage. As many garages are, especially here in Southern Calif, it is neither finished, nor is it insulated. So in the summer it is hot, in the winter, it is chilly.

I've had this project of weaving garters to match a belt I woven since this last June. When I started to gather my yarns, I didn't have enough of the proper shade of blue. I attempted to dye the shade of blue, but it was either to dark, to grey or to purple. I now have many shades of blue to work with. So I broke down and ordered the Cobalt blue from Harrisville. Got the other yarns I ordered rather quickly, but the blue was on back order. <sigh> Isn't that the way it goes.

So finally, last week I got the blue cone. And it was 100+ degrees outside. Now most of my straps I am weaving on one of the floor looms now. This way I can weave 3 - 4 straps (each being 2 1/2 yards long) at a time. Most of these are sold as belts or are used as straps for the bags I've been weaving. Anyway - I thought I'd bring my table loom in, warp it up with the 4 yards I needed and weave in the comfort of the living room. Except for whatever reason, I could not get the tension correct or tight enough to weave a good strap. Not out of wool anyway. That left the floor loom in the oven - I mean the garage.  Saturday morning I went out and warped the loom. It was only 65 ends, so I was able to get it all ready to weave on by 11AM - when it got to hot - even with the fan going (you know when you start to "glow" and the flies start buzzing around and you don't have any Yard Guard around). So I went into the house until evening.

About 8PM I went out - hoping it was cool enough but it was still in the 80s, but I was there until 10PM - got one garter woven (60 inches).

Yesterday I was out again at 8AM, put in the spacers and started weaving. Made it until 10:30AM. It was cooler then Saturday, but 97 degrees is still warm.

I grabbed an hour this morning and finished the last garter. Tomorrow I'll cut them off and finish them. Then off to the new owner.

I am hem stitching both ends of the garter.

So here you are - "inkle" straps on a 4 harness floor loom.  Next up are the remaining straps for the 6 bags I have waiting.

P.S.  I have an electric heater that I aim at my feet for the winter time and I have the garage door closed.  So far, so good even if the hours are kept short.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I'm showing my age

So I have this great backyard with a fruitless mullberry and an English Walnut tree for shade.  During a lot of the spring thru fall, I would spin or weave under the trees in the afternoon.  And sometimes I'd just read.  I'd think to myself - I need a lounge chair out here so I can relax and nap.  At least once a month I'd say that to myself.  So I final bought one - a nice bright green one and this past Sunday I opened it up, took my Kindle and my glass of Kool-Aid out and flopped down on it.  And read until dinner was ready.

Then the dilemma - I couldn't get up out of the chair.  It was to low to the ground and my knees and hips couldn't push me up.  Darn I hate getting old!  So here I am - trying to roll off the chair onto the patio so I can get my feet under me and stand up - and I'm laughing at myself.  So what has any of this got to do with fibers?

Well - as many other people seem to be doing, I am going through my Stash 'O Fibers and what do I find - Dryer Lint!!!

You remember Dryer Lint!  About the early - mid 90's when the hand spinners were getting a little bored with the "all one fiber, all one color" spinning batts and roving, there appeared a spinning batt that was usually 1 color, but it had texture to it by blending in other fibers.  I happened to find a 4oz bag of lavender wool with Bombex and Tussah silk.

I don't usually care for lavender - purple, yes but as I bought this back in the 90's sometime - I'm sure I liked it.  Spun up it is even more interesting

It is spinning up nicely and by it's nature has a lot of thick / thin areas.  I was thinking of plying it with a white silk into a boucle type yarn - We'll see.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Secret Stash Contest - thanks Spin Artiste

This last weekend was the 8th annually Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat held at Verdugo Oaks Boy Scout Camp in Castaic, CA.  This is where a group of fiber geeks (male and female) get together to spin, dye, weave, knit, crochet, learn and teach fiber.  Fiber in the morning, fiber after lunch and fiber into the WEE hours of the morning.  We don't have big name teachers (although this year we were able to have Barbara and Linda Teller - Navajo weavers) and the weekend doesn't cost that much (compared to some weaving conferences or Convegence).  This year we had 6 dye classes alone.  This was natural dyes (indigo, logwood) a tie dye class and other dyeing techniques.  There was Tunisian Crochet, spinning and fiber processing, color blending and even some copper etching classes.

Over the years Griffin Dyeworks have offered scholarships to people who can't afford the cost.   The way teh money is raised is through a raffle or the Scholar-sheep table (bring something you don't want any more and if you take something, feed the sheep).  This year I sponsered a "Secret Stash" spinning contest.

I got the idea from another blog a read - Spin Artiste.  Every month or so, she gathers up fibers and stuff and then you not only spin up the fibers but you have 1 month to create something with it.  One month she included paper cranes, more recently a doll's head.

So I did the same.  I gathered white and yellow dyed Corridale, white mohair, red and blue hand dyed pima cotton (that my brother sent me from Arizona and then I dyed), some grey / purple silk cap, about 1 yard of a black / silver eyelash yarn and then a copper metallic fiber and a good piece of white Starfire.  I had 10 packets and they went quickly Friday afternoon.  They had until Sunday morning at 10AM to spin the fibers and get them to me.

Each one came back totally different and it was very hard to pick a winner - so with some help fro Ercil, I picked 2.  Each lady got about 4 ozs of white Merino Mix and 4 ozs of Black Welsh Mountain roving.  Here is a picture of all the yarns - sorry it's not that great.

I want to thank all the spinners - you all made the decision really difficult.

Thank you Ercil for helping me pick the winners.

Thank you Griffin Dyeworks for putting on this retreat and to all the teachers who GIVE of their time and knowledge.

And thank you Spin Artiste - for the idea.  Next year I'll have 20 packets and I'll be looking for something - unique to add to the fiber.  Bwhaahaahaaha

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Still catching up

First - OMG!!!  It's been June since last I wrote.  That's not to say I haven't thought of things to post, nor have I been just sitting around playing games on FaceBook (OK - so maybe a little).  I finally buckled down and said "I can sell my stuff".  At first, it was "I'll get an Etsy store going".  then it was, I'll tag with my sister's store.  But after spinning up a lot of my fibers, marking them, pricing them, weaving bags and stuff (and marking / pricing them) I thought "I really don't have that much stuff".

In Janurary I opened shop at Queen's Champion / Angel's Melee.  I did quite well.  Paid for ga, site fee and made a little (to buy more fiber of course).  It was funny.  I wasn't getting any foot traffic and then all of a sudden - BAM!  People noticed what I had. 

Also at the last Griffin Dye Works Fiber retreat (last June) I taught a class on warping your loom and Woody and I did just that on my small loom.

This is the tangled mess I had at one point.

It soon became this;

I warped enough for 5 bags.  I've also started weaving the straps on my floor loom.  I goes much faster then each strap woven on the inkle loom, but I need to remember to pull the weft tighter so it's a warp face cloth and not a even tabby. (sorry no pic of the strap.  I have to remeber to take a pic).

More soon (I hope)