Thursday, July 31, 2003

The Studio

During lulls in my classwork I'm trying to get my studio together downstairs. I think I'm going to have to resort to threatening emails and voice messages to get Dan over here and do something about all of his clothes and other crap. But - I'm not letting a few piles (actually mountains) of clothes and CDs get in my way. I've started to paint. Laura and I went to HD today and bought 2 gal of their OOPS paint. We got premium grade paint for $5.00/gal. All we could see was a dot the size of a dime on the lid to tell what color it was. I think we made good choices. The pumpkin is going on the two walls that get all the sun. The studio is in the basement but I have patio doors facing south and a window facing west so I get a lot of sun. The lighter color is going on the wall with the patio door. That wall extends for the width of the house back to under the stairs where the furnace lives. The colors go together much better than the pictures show.

I painted each color on an index card so I can get fabric for curtains and JoMar (local fabric outlet) is having a 50% off sale including their drapery and upholstry fabrics. Most of the time they'll be open, but I need something to close up if we are trying on our new creations, or if company is going to use the guest room (Dan's old bedroom, which is really going to be fiber and equipment storage, but with a sofa bed in there, just in case.) Laura and I are setting the space up for both of our sewing machines and my serger too. So it will be like our own little sweatshop!

Transforming a rec room to a studio! Let me tell you that my method would drive an anal painter mad, but it's working for me. My method: Move everything away from two walls, giving just enough room to squeeze in with a paint brush or roller. Vacuum up spiders and yucky things. Spackle the gizillion holes from wannabe dart players. Paint. Let dry. Paint second coat. Let dry. Move things back and tackle next wall. Laura and I finished the first coat tonight. Oh, did I tell you Dan borrowed my roller trays and my handy dandy 5-in-1 when he was painting his new place? Didn't remember that until after I started! Luckily Josh was around and ran to HD for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Look Who's One!

Birthday Cupcake

It's been one year of blogging about my fiber exploits. I don't think I knew how much I would enjoy putting my thoughts out there to share with everyone. Thanks for listening and thanks Claudia for planting the seed!

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Schacht Tapestry

This link came on ST today. Isn't it great?

Somthing to Show

I finally got the binding sewn on and the piece hemmed for Josh's room. This is the one I twisted diagonally and poured three different colors over. A technique which worked great on a 1 yard piece did not do as well on a 6' by 9' piece of fabric. The dye didn't get into the center so there were lots of bare spots. I was going to paint on more dye, but didn't know how that would turn out, so I decided to over dye the whole thing. I wet it and spun it out in the washer. Then I smooshed it into a dishpan, poured the remaining blue over it, poured soda ash after about 30 minutes, then put the whole thing in a trash bag and waited about 8 hours. I was really pleased, because I worried that the yellow would turn green, but all was well. Josh really loves it, it's the desert colors he wanted. He came home from the shore today for a visit and he'll be taking it to his college apartment tonight.

I flicked some of the locks I dyed at Claudia's last weekend and spun it up. I was going for a really rough look since I want some texture in my felted fish. The color sure is tropical and the corrie is so soft. It should felt well.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Here are the results

Check out the gorgeous colors. The darker blues and burgundy are Sabraset and the brighter reds, yellows and turquoise are Sabracon F. I finally got the really bright yellow I needed for my felted fish.

This is the raw silk I bought from R & M last spring. I wound a three yard warp, 120 ends per bout, for a scarf. I'm going to wind another 60 ends and dye that solid violet. Then I'll place that between sections of the painted warp. I'm going to set it at 32 epi (it's 24 wpi) and use sewing thread for the weft - a la Sara Lamb.

These rovings are from the pound of Brown Sheep I bought at Maryland. The wind was starting to really kick up so I had to loop it through the drying rack. I was really pleased with these. I used a stencil brush to get a little more control, but it also helped to push the dye into the center. When I used a squirt bottle or syringe it seemed to roll off the surface a little.

I gotta get these gardens weeded, but with all of this dyed fiber and the inspiration I got from Creative Strands - well, maybe we'll get those thunder storms tomorrow thumb.gif

Sunday, July 20, 2003

What a Weekend!

Just back from a whirlwind trip to the Boston area for Claudia's Dye Day. It was a beautiful day, lots of great people, beautiful fiber, and buckets of color! We had a blast. See for yourself. I dyed a pound of Brown Sheep roving that I picked up at Maryland, about 12 ounces of corrie fleece, and a raw silk warp. I just finished rinsing everything, so I'll take some pictures of the finished fiber tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Oh, Good Lord!

This class is driving me absolutely crazy. No, I take that back, I'm driving myself crazy. What happened to that cavalier attitude I had 30 years ago?? Now it's write, rewrite, rewrite, write, repeat..... you get the picture.

Now, back to icing my wrists, so I can type some more. And all that beautiful stuff I just acquired is taunting me.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Pictures Are Up

As promised, here are the pictures from Creative Strands.

On the left are 20 cones of Tubular Spectrum yarn from Lunatic Fringe for a color gamp. The middle has Summer Meadow, a 75% Border Leicester 25% kid mohair blend, from Maple Row Stock Farm in Michigan. On the right is some cotton from New World. Don't ask me why I bought cotton - I'll never be able to spin it and I don't like to knit it.

I got some really pretty tussah top from Shadeyside Farms in NY. The picture doesn't do it justice. After Sara's class I should have the skills to do a decent job on it. The pretty green bump is CVM naturally dyed with fustic and indigo. That was from Stefania. On the right is a 70% wool 30% hemp blend from Gurdy Run Farm. I think the hemp will give a nice texture to the yarn.

Some more from Gurdy Farm. It's 75% wool 25% mohair. I'm thinking both of these yarns for a patterned yoke with the brown corrie I'm spinning now. The inkle woven band in the center is pretty dorky, but I think I'd like it for decorative trim in perle cotton or some tightly twisted silk. The two samples are from Sara Lamb's silk class. That's tussah on the left - it includes the part where I was swearing mightily so it's not real even. The bombyx is on the right - that will just soak up the dye.

I also stocked up on some back issues of Weavers and bought Madelyn van der Hoogt's Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers.

Oh, and after I've told about how Kate has been waxing poetic over her sample card I thought I share this picture of her lusting over her spinning samples. She must have 25 cards filled with samples and all dutifully noted.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Creative Strands

What a great conference. I'm exhausted, but I'm so energized by everything I learned this past week. First was the 12 hour preconference class. With Patsy Z's help, I finally experienced the long draw. I'm not saying I'm an expert after just a few days, but I understand the technique and am now able to do it. One of her suggestions for troublesome techniques was to set a timer for 10 minutes and really focus on the new method. When the timer goes off, take off the bobbin, put it away until the next day and go back to your familiar spinning. I'm going to try that in my quest for a softly spun, thick yarn. Ask Kate to see her sample cards. She was in Virgo heaven. Oh, and also ask her about that heart shaped hole punch :-)

I took a 3 hour class with Daryl Lancaster on the inkle loom. She showed samples of her work. Remember the Sept/Oct 02 Handwoven with her article about weaving from your stash? She should us the duster she made with the inkle woven trim down the front. It was really beautiful. I'm not sure how much I'll use it, but I can see possibilities.

Saturday morning I took a rep weave class with Bettes Silver-Schack. For the first fifteen or twenty minutes my head was spinning. Then she used markers and colored in her diagram. duh, NOW I get it. It didn't hurt that Carolyn had just given Kate and me a mini lesson in profile drafts and blocks the night before. Nothing like setting the stage for the lesson. I will definetely be using rep weave for placemats or rugs.

I didn't have a class Saturday afternoon, so I got to spend some time shopping. I'll take pictures and go into more detail tomorrow. One of the vendors had a used picker and supercarder. Oy vey, such decisions! I went back and forth, back and forth, but I finally decided I couldn't really justify it right now. (not that I wouldn't WANT it)

Sunday was Silk Spinning with Sara Lamb. She showed us the gorgeous warp-faced scarves she wove. Many of them are in Handwoven's Design Collection 19. Her kimonos were magnificent and the painted warps inspiring. I had borrowed three high speed whorls (I only have the two that came with the wheel) and two high speed bobbins for the class. No luck, the whorls would not fit my flyer. I had to use the fast whorl (15.5:1) but after about 30 minutes of swearing and tussah silk being either kinked up or ripped out of my hands, it began to make sense. I was able to spin a consistent yarn, not quite as fine as I had hoped (4400 ypp) but considering my rocky start I was happy. The bombyx was much easier, Sara says that's why she made us spin the tussah first. I think with practice and a faster whorl I should be able to spin silk successfully.

Phew, that was a long-winded report - pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Spinning away

Patsy Z's class is great! So far we've gone over the basics, like how to evaluate a fleece and how to wash it. She told about her visit to a commercial wool mill - Patsy can really tell a story. It must be the kindergarten teacher in her. I felt like I saw those pitch fork conveyor belts, moving the fleece down the line without agitating it!

I've tried old skills, but with a new twist, like using my super mini-combs on my lap, instead of clamping them on a table, then spinning right off the comb. I liked doing it that way - just hope I don't pierce my breast (but I guess I could just get a ring and I'd be right in style) She also showed us her way of holding the cards to keep your wrists on a even line. It seemd so effortless. I could really get used to carding and combing myself (but that doesn't mean I don't still lust over a supercarder).

I've taken some pictures, but can't download them. Check Kate's blog. She brought a laptop and card reader.

This afternoon - the long draw. Maybe this will be the time it takes. There's always hope........

Sunday, July 06, 2003

All My Bags Are Packed,

I'm ready to go. Well, more like my lists are made, I'll be packed when Dan returns my suitcases. I need to pick up a luggage cart and some bungee cords tomorrow. One of my classmates at Rita's workshop in MD had a plastic container with all of her tools, accessories, etc. and her wheel on top, all bungeed together on a cart and it looked so convenient. Another woman put her wheel inside a new wheeled plastic trash can. Then she put all her bags around it. Cool idea, but I might fall in if something dropped to the bottom. Can you picture stubby legs flailing above a dull grey can? I thought so, that's why I'm going for the former setup.

I wanted to get everything off my bobbins so I could take them all to Creative Strands. I've got a 12 hour workshop with Patsy Z. and a six hour silk spinning class with Sara Lamb, so I need all the bobbins empty. Plyed up about 700 yds of the brown romney/merino cross. It's a nice springy, soft yarn, but just plain brown. When I get back I'll spin up two more bobbins - that will give me another 700 yds. then I'll play with blending some colors with the brown. Maybe a patterned yoke would be enough to perk up the brown.

Thursday, July 03, 2003


I've always been fascinated by Sarah Swett's work. Zoom in on the details - just hover your mouse over the tapestry until the cursor changes to a finger pointing. How many frogs can you find? Why do I suddenly want to play Carole King?

New Fleece

I washed up the new Mary Pratt romney yesterday. Who knew it was going to rain all day? So here it is propped up and drying in the family room. Tomorrow is supposed to be really hot, so it should finish up outside - gee, I hope it doesn't end up smelling like barbequed ribs! I combed a lock with a dog comb and spun it from the fold. It's lusterous, but with a nice bloom. I was thinking of a rug, but I was looking at one of my tapestry books this morning and I'm thinking of trying a small one. I have a rigid heddle loom and one of those Schacht school looms which would be good for a tapestry. I have Nancy Harvey's book and I was looking at some of her work. Her flowers are sensational.

Oh yeah, those bags on the fireplace? That's my youngest son's job. He cuts samples for Benner's Gardens, they make deer fencing. It also makes great fleece dryers!

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Late Bloomers

Thanks to our cool, wet spring my daylilies are very late in blooming. That's fine with me, because it's giving me time to get the garden cleaned up and weeded before they are in their prime. I finished this week's class assignments and can get into the garden tomorrow with a clear conscience.

Moving Mountains

I finally moved the last of the mulch pile. After sweeping off the driveway, then hosing it down, I opened up another parking space. That's important when you live on a cul-de-sac with no street parking and four kids, each with their own car, (one full-time, three part-time residents), and a '68 Cadillac permanently parked in one corner. (that's a whole 'nother story)

My Mary Pratt fleece came today and I already have it washed and drying. I'm sending the two corries to Ohio Valley tomorrow, but I think I may keep this one home and work on it myself.

I want to sit back, watch a movie and work on Sheepy, but I have homework. For some odd reason I didn't think I had enough to do this summer so I'm starting a masters program in Instructional Technology. It looks like I'll be able to take all of the classes necessary through Penn State's World Campus, with maybe a few visits to my advisor at a nearby satellite campus.