Category Archives: Fiber Arts

Fabulous Fall and Fiber

Such beautiful Fall days!  The last 2 days I have relished the chance to spin in the back yard studio with the door and windows open.  The birds flit back and forth between feeders as the hum if my wheel takes me from fiber……

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To singles……

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to………

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Magic Loop Beginnings

I knit socks 2 at a time toe up on 1 long circular needle in the magic loop method.  I gave up gussets and fitted heels in the name of simplicity and meditative knitting.  I knit tube socks, easier and more relaxing. They wear better because I can turn them around when I wear them.  And I can just knit round and round on my magic loop until I feel like binding off (or have to).

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A nice way to spend an evening.

Ready to Dye

I have admired hand-dyed yarn and fiber for so long.  It’s time to take the plunge.  I finished spinning some singles of merino in a color called Ruby Twist similar to this from Copper Moose via ebay.

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Here’s the dilemma:  I only have 8 oz. of this fiber and really want to spin for something more than a scarf.  So I sorted through my fiber stash and found one lot of 8 oz. of white undyed merino and another pound of undyed merino from a different source.  I also have some bottles of acid dye I bought some time ago.

Here’s the plan:  as soon as I get some synthrapol I am going to prep and dye the 8 oz. merino batch purple to ply with the ruby twist.  Then I will dye the pound either red or purple. Or maybe red and purple……………. Voila!  Enough DK weight yarn (theoretically) for a shawl!  And, more importantly, my first foray into the world of fiber dyeing.  Fiber adventures!

In the Pink Part 2

Here is my eye candy for today: the plied yarn I posted as spun singles awhile back along with 2 other colors I also have finished. ImageI have a total of 600 yds with the hank on the right being about 400 yds.  Am thinking of knitting this yarn up as a lacy vest I found on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lace-vest.  I own the Luisa Harding book and am thinking a pink/fuchsia vest body with the other 2 variations graduating to the lavender as I knit toward the scoop neck might work.

I have been diverted by other things and have been absent from the blogosphere.  Sometimes life takes over.  But I always have to make room for craft therapy.

Our Farmers Market started last weekend and my husband sells native plants there every Saturday.  I usually hang out but get kinda antsy over the course of 5 hours.  The weather has been nice enough these first 2 Saturdays to take my spinning wheel and set it up outdoors to spin while the patrons browse through the market.  It has been fun to pass some of the market time spinning and it has been even more fun talking to the people who stop to watch and ask questions or share stories.  I think as artisans part of our work is in doing stewardship to keep interest and information about our crafts.

One more piece of eye candy to wrap up the theme for today.

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In the Pink

There is an abundance of pink in my life right now.  My latest spinning project is another step in the quest to clean up my small lots of fiber.  This fiber has been in my bins for years and as of this week is getting spun into singles so far.

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Some of the other pinks come from the numerous rhododendrons that abound this year both on our property and all over town and in the woods.  This particular rhodie once lived at my sister’s home in northern Oregon.  It was unhappy shoved in a corner of the house and they had no other home for it.  So it bravely made a 300 mile trip in the open back of a pickup truck to northern California.  Poor plant took a couple of years to recover from being wind-whipped but here she is 7 feet tall and thriving!

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And here is one of my favorites……..

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Mohair Journey

I am on a prolonged mohair journey.  It started over 2 years ago.  A friend gave me 2 black trash bags of raw mohair.

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In the photo it doesn’t look too bad.  In person you would see many many places where the fleece is very knotted and matted and also has a lot of grease despite washing.  However the staple length of the locks is an incredible 8-10 inches at its longest.

Being the novice fiber artist that I am,  I washed the fiber last summer and proceeded to card it on my drum carder.  Not good.  The locks are so long that they got hopelessly enmeshed around the feeder drum and the carding drum.  I had to resort to cutting the batt off the carder to remove it.

After consulting with a local veteran spinner I decided to have a go at just spinning the locks.

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That process is still a challenge due not only to the matting but also to small bits of vegetable matter that suddenly appear out of nowhere as I tease and comb the locks. I can only work on this fiber in small increments because it is hard on the hands.  But I finally have a rationale for having 2 spinning wheels!  These locks will take me a very long time to spin if I can persevere.  So far it makes life interesting going from the spinning of merino top on one wheel to raw mohair locks on the other wheel.  The resulting yarn is very rough and has a lot of ‘character’.

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In my mind’s eye it will make a fine rug someday maybe dyed with a natural dye bath of marigolds and calendulas that I have growing in my garden.  Ah, we fiber enthusiasts can dream!

Raised Beds

This is one of the raised beds we have in the back yard. Image  We have very poor soil with hard pan about a foot down.  The raised beds have been great.  We have been able to put good soil in them.  They are not super big so it’s easy to get to things in the middle.  We also have a HUGE problem with slugs and snails.  The raised beds give me much better control over those pests by putting Sluggo and eggshells around the periphery and putting 6 inch wide pieces of wood about 10-12 inches long on the surface of the bed.  Any slugs that make it past the periphery (few) take shelter under the boards and are easily eradicated.  This year I am going to grow marigolds, calendulas and amaranth in one of the beds and harvest them to brew up natural dye baths for some of my homespun yarn.  Have not done that before so I am really excited.

A Perfect Day

This was one of those rare perfect Spring days on the northern California coast – 80 degrees.  It was so amazing to still have enough sun and warmth to take my spinning wheel out on the back deck after dinner and spin awhile.  I swear the birds were chirping in time to the repetitive creak of my wheel.  This is my wheel.  Image

It’s a Kromski Minstrel manufactured in Poland which is fitting since I am half Polish.  I also bought it as a kit and assembled it and put a natural finish on it with Butcher’s Wax.  Somehow that made it even more mine and more cherished.  It is a perfect wheel.  It has enough of the classic old wheel look but it is small enough to be portable and take along even though It isn’t a folding wheel.  Yesterday I had trouble getting the spun yarn to draw onto the bobbin.  I may be a novice but I make regular use of youtube to watch videos of craftspeople using tools with more proficiency that I have so far.  I easily found that i needed to tighten the tension screw slightly and use a longer draw with my fiber.  Voila!  Spinning success!!  So besides my spinning,  other elements of my perfect day were giving my dogs oatmeal baths to calm their itches, practicing my tatting (I can almost make uniform picots) and a little bit of sock knitting.  Dinner done…dishes done….who could ask for more?  Oh and I forgot to mention the smell of the blooming wild azalea that wafted over the deck as I spun my wheel.  Nature’s aromatherapy.

Spinning As Meditation

I’m about to do some spinning and was just thinking once again how working with yarn and fiber keeps me sane.  I absolutely love color and texture.  The rhythm of a spinning wheel or knitting needles is meditation for me. The yarn I am spinning doesn’t look anything like what is in this picture. Image First of all I am still a novice and working to be able to control the thickness of the yarn I spin as well as the twist.  Secondly I am still using fiber from my stash purchased years ago because it was a bargain rather than because I absolutely loved the color or fiber.  Once I work my way into my stash a little more I am only going to buy fiber that I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE.  And furthermore no more “free” raw fiber.  There’s a reason that it’s free and paying for fiber properly dyed and processed is worth every penny.  These are some of the lessons I ponder as a result of being 64 years old and wanting to make the most of every precious moment.  Life is too short.

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