Saturday, September 24, 2016

Natural Dye Workshop

I was back at the Retreat Center on Tuesday for the first day of a natural dye workshop.  The same workshop was offered on back-to-back days because the instructor, Francisco Bautista of the Portland Handweavers Guild, wanted to keep the class size down to ten a session.
These are skeins he brought for demonstration.
He is a third generation weaver/dyer from Oaxaca Mexico, dating back to when only men were weavers and women worked in the kitchens, though he says that has changed now.  He has woven since he was eight and his wife began weaving when she was 14. This cochineal rug is one of the sample rugs he brought.  
 He brought bins of dye stuff but we only had time for yellow onion skins, marigolds, cochineal and black walnut which he is pulling apart here.
Everything went into the pot, walnuts, stems and leaves.  He used a gallon of water to cover these plants for four ounces of wool.  He didn't premordant for this or cochineal and sometimes he said he will put premordanted and unmordanted yarns into the same dye pot to get different shades for his tapestries.
We did the same with marigolds.  He soaked the yarn for 30 minutes while preparing the next dye bath and he counted cooking time as the dye bath time.  He didn't count the cooking time of the yarn, just the soaking time.  When the dye bath had boiled for 90 minutes he removed it from the heat.  The time the yarn had been in the pot wasn't relevant since they're going to sit together for the next three days.  He calls this method fermentation and says it's the way he learned it from his grandfather. Again, no mordant.
We compared the two yarns at the end of their cooking period.  The marigold yarn is yellow and onion skins made gold.  He doesn't often use mordant, even alum, over concerns of their toxicity.  Nevertheless, he gave us a recipe for mordanting wool: use 15% alum and 5% cream of tarter, and that is percentage is calculated per weight of wool.
For cochineal his mordant is the juice of one lime and 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar for four ounces wool.
To show us how to get purple, he crushed some of the cochineal beads in his palm.
Then he added baking soda and squeezed lime juice into his palm.  That's his recipe, just keep mixing until you like the color.
Our workshop went from 9:30-4:30 and it was crammed full, every minute of it.  We poured the yarn and due liquor with plant material into large baggies for the three-day fermentation process.  To get even color he recommends stirring and turning the yarn three times a day.  Volunteers took these home to babysit.

It was a cold blustery day but we were enthralled by the easy way he approaches natural dyes.  I have always enjoyed the colors but I have never been able to think of a practical way to use the wools. And in spite of owning five books on natural dyes, I have never gotten much of any color besides yellow. Francisco also teaches a class on weaving tapestries on floor looms.  I hope our guild will bring him back for that.  I can see me doing that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Double Weave Workshop

Saturday was the first day of a two-day Double Weave workshop so I got up extra early to allow time for a morning walk, knowing I would be sitting for the next two days.  As you can see, summer is all over but the shouting.
I loaded up the car with my loom, my piano/weaving bench and the crate/loomside table and still had plenty of room to spare.
We are very fortunate to have the use of the Diocesan Retreat Center in Powell Butte for our workshops and at a very reasonable price.
The room was filled with sixteen weavers, looms and equipment and we still had room for a lecture area.  Our teacher was Patty Huffer from the Eugene Textile Center who is also our very own guild member.  We'd gather for a period of instruction, then take ourselves and the information back to our looms and work until Patty called us back for the next set of instructions.
This was my little work station, little loom, little bench, little table, big weaver!  I'm really too tall for this set-up but it's adequate for a workshop.
Only six of the looms were floor looms and the rest were table looms.  I don't know how they did it, but they stood all the while they were weaving.  Carolyn bought her table loom from Craigslist and wasn't aware it was missing a spring until she removed tension to advance her warp and it came apart and dumped her warp.  Several ends broke when they went to wind it back on but Patty managed to get it cobbled together and running. I really admire the resourcefulness of fiber artists.
Speaking of resourcefulness, Laura had a few hours to kill the other day when she was in town so stopped by for a little while.  When she saw my jumbled Altoid utility tin she suggested I put magnets in the top to hold my needles separate from the rest of the stuff.  What a great idea!  It's part of a little pouch that accompanies me whether I'm knitting, spinning or weaving.
Double weave is fascinating since it's a technique to weave two layers of cloth at a single time.  It makes interesting intricate designs and it's especially useful to weavers who want to weave wider than their looms using double weave, double width, i.e., a 24" loom can weave a 48" blanket.  What I didn't expect to love was pick-up double weave.  This is Patty's sample that she used to demonstrate for us.
She gave us sample designs and graph paper and gave us 20 minutes to create our own pattern.  This is mine and clearly I didn't get the hang of it right away, but when I finally understood it, I thought it was great fun.  I'm repeating this exercise at home and then will weave the remaining warp as double weave, double width.  I want to make sure I understand this draft without the benefit of an instructor before I cut it off my loom.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nekkid Looms

All of sudden I had three undressed looms and so I undertook them in the order of business with Dora the Explora' my Dorset workshop loom being most urgent.  I'm attending a two-day Double Weave workshop this weekend.  Also it's my least favorite to warp so I wanted to get that behind me.
It's folded up and ready to travel but I'm not going to lash onto the front beam until I get there.  I've learned the hard way that I have tension problems when I fold it up with the warp in place so I'll just plan to arrive early.
Next came Arthur, after having just cut off that frightfully ill conceived warp.  The is the same draft but this time I'm using 3/2 perle cotton set at 12 epi and it's working up really well.
Several years ago I bought this  3 1/2 pound cone from the mill-end club of Yarn Barn of Kansas.  I didn't know what to do with it at the time but it seemed too good to pass up at $8 a pound.  I have other cones I bought thinking the same thing and they're still gathering dust, waiting for inspiration.
Last came Maudie Mae and that's because I've struggled with which colors to use for my Carnival color way.
Again, this is my inspiration photo.
But after I wound the first three bouts and could see that I was way off the mark.
I dumped the Nassau Blue and swapped in Old Gold.  To be continued.
I've finished knitting my great grandson's Baby Surprise Jacket but still have run it through a wash and dry cycle.  The yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash.
I'd like to knit a big sister version for Olivia using these colors but first have to write out the pattern for her size.  I'm having a hard time reading the instructions that come with the Ravelry version.  I am uber math challenged and those instructions are torture.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Falling into Fall

Ian's niece Allison and her husband Jason are finally settled into Tacoma after living in North Carolina for the past six years while Jason completed his PhD.  He'll be teaching at Pierce College and Alli is working at Fort Nasquale and we're excited to have them so close to us.  They came to visit on the Labor Day weekend but Alli had to work Saturday so they didn't arrive until 9:00.  With beautiful weather on Sunday McKay and Gus found all kinds of fun hidie places in our yard.
Allison has worked in a number of museums over the years including Ellis Island and has heard nothing but good things about the High Desert Museum so that was our Sunday plan.  You should see the patina on this antlered beast from all the loving attention it gets from kids - and adults.
We watched the otters cavort in their newly remodeled enclosure and followed that with a visit to the simulated village which is manned by volunteers.  That was McKay's favorite part of the whole experience.  The volunteer helped her pump her own water.
She carefully carried the very full watering can to the garden and gave each of the plants a little drink.  Gus was more enamored with the snakes and turtles.
For $3 each we gained admission to the raptor show, an overwhelming display of trained raptors. Allison and I had read H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald earlier this year which brought an extra dimension to the show.  We all sat on the ground and were warned to keep our hands down and not to put children on our shoulders.  As advertised the birds skimmed from point to point just above our heads.  Several birds were on display after the show including this massive owl.  Spectacular!  We ate lunch at Wild Rose, our favorite Thai place, and then walked around downtown and along the river which pretty much used up Sunday.
Early Monday morning we drove to Newberry Caldera National Monument and took the bus to the top of Lava Butte for a panorama of the massive lava flows that dominate this area.  Behind Jason, Alli and the kids you can see the peaks of former volcanoes but Newberry is the only one now active, though you can certainly smell sulphur on the half-mile walk around the butte.  Gus said it smelled like rotten eggs.
The plan was to have lunch with Josh and Missy but instead of meeting them somewhere, the kids wanted to get a tour of their house and see their beautiful yard where Matt and Julia were married.  We took two cars to lunch and afterwards ended up at Crux Fermentation Project which has a huge lawn.  We had chairs in the car and Alli brought out the umbrella and blanket from their car so we commenced visiting and the kids instantly made new friends.  Live music was starting and the crowd was getting crowded - time to go!
I drove up to Redmond yesterday and picked up my fair entries.  Think of it!  This blue ribbon represents the result of a state-wide contest in a state with lots of other weavers.  I am overwhelmed because I know there were a lot of beautiful things entered.  She took away a point for my ugly hems but gave me two points for my original design.  Wow!
I entered three things and got two ribbons.  The yarn in this scarf is from fiber I blended on my drum carder and then spun.  The judge said that my edges were fluted but it was very pebbly and soft.  I made one like this for me and it's my favorite to wear in the winter which made this ribbon very special to me.  It more than made up for my disappointment at cutting off that dog warp.  I took the one blanket that I completed to our weave/study group on Wednesday as a show-don't-do and one of the ladies took it saying she'd make a pillow out of it, so not all of it ended up in the garbage.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Labor Day Weekend

This is the huck lace draft and incarnations of it that I developed as part of Reno Fiber Guild's yearlong study of profile drafts and block weaves.  I worked at it from time to time and I don't remember why or when I reversed the treadles, but I did.  So after threading and doing the tie-up with the green copy, I couldn't find it when it came time to weave so grabbed the blue copy instead and treadled according to those instructions.  Wrong wrong wrong.  And that was only the beginning.
I finally muscled my way through a baby blanket in spite of the sett being too tight.  I had used the McMoran Yarn Balance and Ashenhurt's formula from Peggy Osterkamp's book to calculate the sett and I still got it wrong.  I showed it to Laura when she was here yesterday and she gave me all the reasons why I should cut it off and they're things I had already considered. 
I had to sleep on it overnight but this morning the dog came off and my loom is free again.  I had misgivings from the get go and should have listened to myself.
And not that it has anything to do with anything, but if you have a lawn and a female dog, you know what her urine does to your grass.  We replace dog rocks in Sammie's water bowl every two months and today's the day.  I don't know why it works but it works, just a fyi.
I looked out the kitchen window yesterday afternoon and found this cheerful face, at least it was cheerful to me.  I had spent the morning replanting things that I planted three months ago in full sun before the trees had fully leafed out and I realized a while ago that they're not in full sun anymore and they're not thriving. This way they'll be ready to grow come next spring.  I was tired, sad about my warp and happy for his company.
And speaking of cheerful, the Salt Water Sandals that I ordered online were just delivered.  My navy blue pair are 25 years old and while I know that summer has just a few weeks left, I saw a vendor at Art in the High Desert with these and I succumbed to lust.

These are my very precious great grand babies, a picture taken by their mom.  If you have read my blog for a while, you'll remember that they're the children of the son my daughter gave up for adoption when she was 16 and who came back into our lives about eight years ago, thanks to his wonderful parents.  I have knitted for all the babies but when Owen was born, I wove a blanket and now it's time for that sweater.
I pulled out all my balls of Cascade 220 Superwash and put them in a basket.  I'm following Laura's lead here as she is knitting a Baby Surprise Jacket for a soon-to-be new grandson.
You would think that knitting a sweater in garter stitch would be easy and actually it is, but the pattern is demented, convoluted and complicated.  I've ripped out as much as I have knitted.  Laura has finished hers so helped me figure out the parts of the pattern I was missing.  I don't know how to make this without counting and so it's not something to knit in front of our nightly hour of TV.  
A friend posted this picture on Facebook the other day and I saved the photo for color inspiration.  I think these Carnival colors would make great towels.
Since I have a free loom it seemed like the right time to pull some cones and think about them for a couple of days.  We have company over Labor Day so nothing will get done until next week.