Monday, February 20, 2012

The Origins of the Fiber

Ever wondered how that gorgeous bit of fluff, that you're going to spin into yarn to make your favorite (fill in the blank here) started?  Well, here it is.  Wool in the flesh and fresh out of Mum's tummy. 

Baa Baa Black sheep, yes there are 2 of them at my friends little ranch in the valley.  Yesterday, I got to help give those little lambs some bling.  Blue ear tags - right ear for boys; left ear and pink for the girls. I got to catch them and hold them while Lora did the deed.  First couple were easy to catch, then the word got around. 

Ooo...they're so soft and warm, and that wool will be dynamite when they're ready to shear.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's a Good Day

You know it's a good day when....

You get new fiber to spin.
Wooley Wonka fibers. This one is Galadriel Roving, Extra Fine Alpaca (70%), Silk (18%), and Glitz (2%).  Sooooo soft! and the color is yummy.

And from the Cupcake Fiber Company, Blue Face Leicester and silk in soft gradient greens.  Another softie.

I've never ordered from these companies before, but I'm truly pleased with the feel and the colors.  I think I'll keep them on my list.

Can't wait to start spinning. Six oz of each. Should I start the blue or the greens....Oh Dear! Choices!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's Not JUST About the Socks.

Yes, Virginia, there is life other than knitting.  I have kept a separate blog about my dog life and have decided that it's time to merge the two.  After all, I do knit when I'm at a dog trial (insert big grin here).  However, I must say, I don't work dogs when I go to a spinning workshop - although I do miss them.

So, inserted below, you will find some edited versions of the old Dog Blog - my life with two Corgis and a Border Collie.  Beau and Jill are my constant companions in my studio. They hang out with me while I try to figure out what went wrong with a pattern and Jill is very curious about the spinning wheel.

Mostly, though, it's their quiet time.  For me, my studio is my place to reflect, to zone out, to get grounded after a frazzled day, to just hang out and look at new knitting patterns and to sit back with a cuppa' and read some of my favorite Blogs.

Welcome to my world.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Garden to Dye For

This year, I have decided to grow my own plants for dyeing my handspun.  Having never dyed before, this will be a fun exercise.  There are so many plants to choose from; although they all seem to produce mostly soft yellows, golden browns and heather greens.  Which are all my favorite colors anyway.

I also want the garden to look pretty, smell nice and not get too over grown, so I need to stay away from the 'weed-type' plants.  Dahlias and Cosmos are a must, as those are my most favorite plants. But Coreopsis and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans); Chamomile and Yarrow are all in the list too.  Hollyhocks are a fav also, but for some reason, I have trouble growing them.  Purple Basil and Marjoram for scent.  Nix the Bronze fennel - it runs rampant and is hard to control, even in a pot!  Indego is out as we can't grow it here in the Northwest; and Tansy, Goldenrod and a few others are so weedy that I can just go picking along the roadsides.

I just bought a book called "A Dyer's Garden" by Rita Buchanan. It's a lovely book filled with all kinds of natural plantings and a page for each plant as to how it dyes up with different fibers and mordants.  She even has garden plans; spacing and yield of each plant; equipment necessary and mordants.

Mordants:  What the heck is a mordant anyway??!!  I still have a lot to learn.  Mordants keep the dyes from fading and help in the dye process.  They are usually metals, but I learned from my spinning workshop with Judith MacKenzie, that the centipede from the Chola plant will give a brilliant raspberry color.  Go figure! A bug!

Since my plants will be ready in the summer, the best place to work my dye pots will be outside.  The little area under the side porch is a great place.  I'll have hubby, David, fix me up some work tables (old doors on saw horses) and a hot plate or two; some drying racks out of PVC piping and I'm good to go.  Nice ventilation, sun, fresh air, water and hose and I'll rig up some fencing so the dogs don't get in the way.  So it's off to Good Will to pick up some old enamel pots, maybe a hot burner or two.

Can't wait to get started.  Just a bit too early to plant, even though we've had wonderful sunny weather these past few days.  I can spend the waiting time, planning out the garden - what flowers, how many.  This will be such fun!