Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Color, Color, Color

Green has been achieved!
green wool
Left: Swamp green, right, Actual Green(tm)!

This is wool for the knotted pile class at SOAR, which we have just found out is the Last SOAR ever, sad to say. So it is now shaping up to be a grand farewell party, with people coming from far and wide (as usual). Maybe this year's venue was prescient: there are lounges and bars and will be lots of places for party-goers to gather and commiserate. And plan What Next. Because I am certain there will be a Next. It's how I get through bad news: something better is coming.

More color:
pygora cashmere silk

This is serendipitous color: the pygora (on the spindle and as a cloud of fluff) was a gift from Terry at Rainbow Farms Pygora at the last SOAR, which was held in nearby Tahoe. I've been spinning it off and on this year in small moments, (that's a Spindlewood Square spindle in Amboyna Burl wood I bought at SOAR in Tahoe too, just so I could start Right Away when Terry gave me the fiber!). I had no real plans for it, and then I set it down on my worktable next to some silk/cashmere I'd purchased from Abstract Fiber (also! at a SOAR, this one in New Hampshire, 2011).

The color matched! perfectly! and so they will become one yarn: a single of pygora, plied with a single of silk cashmere. Sort or erzatz Orenburg yarn, and destined (as of now) to become a lacey shawl of some sort (not Orenburg per se, but lace, and a shawl.).

I hope you can see by the above paragraph how important SOAR has been to me, over the last 20+ years that I have attended or taught there. It will leave a hole in my Fall calendar: a place where I knew I would see friends and find lovely fiber and tools every year that I chose to go. I'm sorry, I will miss it terribly, and miss some people I will likely never see again...but life goes on and many of us hope to gather together in other places, at other times. Plans will have to be made, while crying over our beer this one. last. year...!

Also on the color front:
warp chains

Warp chains. Cotton, some painted a few weeks ago as a class demo in Walnut Creek. The top two warp chains were dyed in class, the bottom two (slightly darker colors) were dyed once I got home.

It was an experiment: every time I teach, people want to know how long the dye stock lasts in solution. The bottom two warp chains(done at home) were dyed with One Year Old Dye stock! The color is darker than the fresh dye stock because the older stuff was mixed up at a 2% solution (a darker depth of shade than the fresh stuff). But clearly: the color is still true and brilliant, even after a year as mixed up dyestock.

No guarantees, of course, that it will last that long, even if kept (as these were) in a cool, dark place (a cupboard). Just like there are no guarantees that anything will last forever: apparently SOAR included.

We can be grateful for what does last, as long as it does: dyes, gatherings, friendships and meetings with friends and colleagues: all of it is a gift as long as we have it. Enjoy it while it lasts, treasure your friends, use the tools that we have, each one teach one, make things and share in the making.

For all of that, and much more that I can never express in words: I am very, very thankful.

Friday, August 16, 2013


The week started with me sorting several Scottish Blackface fleeces and shipping them to the mill. They were a gift from a friend, and I am delighted to have them! But: they are a very coarse wool. Perfect for knotted pile, and I have classes coming up so I hope they are done in time for SOAR. I neglected to take a photo of the fleeces, but here's a pic of the Actual Sheep from my trip to Scotland two summers ago:

Scottish blackface

There was also dyeing this week and here we have the contrast:
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This is Masham, also a rug wool (and one of those colors is my pathetic attempt at green)

and then these:
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silk scarves. You can see once again my pathetic attempt at "green". ::sigh:: It just does not happen for me :).

I've been spinning silk on the spindles
(photo from last week in Carmel: imagine more silk on that spindle!)

and silk/cashmere on the wheel:
august 013

And weaving on the silk from this post (it does not look much different, there is just more of it now, so excuse the no-photo please!)

So from spinning silk, to weaving silk, to dyeing silk again, to silk and cashmere, to some of the coarsest wools we can find, back and forth from one end of the spectrum to the other. Gives one a perspective of just how broad the field of "Textiles" can be!

More gifts from friends:
thank goodness for fresh garden produce to sustain us!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

A Week Too Late

With a brief interlude for a Fairy Tale wedding in Carmel this past weekend; Progress!
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line up the warp chains in somewhat-order for sleying: 662 ends of handspun Bombyx silk.

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sley the reed: some cross over as the colors demand.

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threading the heddles: this is the weaver's-eye view as I work.

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Headdles threaded: ready to tie on the back.

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tied on, ready to wind the warp.

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Wound on the back beam: it's 20" wide, for scale, and about 4 yards on the loom.

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and the first few shots of weft... a tiny rayon weft that is giving me fits, but will be worth the trouble and time. And, of course! I wish I'd had this last week: it would have gone very nicely with the silk jacket I wore to the wedding! Isn't it always the case? Luckily, there will be more events, more places to wear this, and so I will press on :).

The Fairy Tale wedding was held at a 20,000 acre Preserve in the Carmel Valley. The wedding itself was in a grove of Redwoods, the gathering near the hacienda where the family stayed, and the reception at the Barn. The place is a frozen moment in California history: one of the old ranches that used to dot California. It was lovely to be there, and fun to be a part of a family that clearly enjoys one another.

I'm listening to Wolf Hall as I weave, and this is definitely one book I think I will have to buy in hard copy to read again: the reader is excellent, I am enjoying the story, but the writing is so lyrical! There are passages I want to remember, to underline, to quote, and I am not good at catching them on paper as I listen. So I will find a copy of the book, and perhaps listen again (it's many! hours, and my listening has been interrupted time, so the book deserves a second round). It's been a perfect contemplation of "those who mutter at success and circulate slander". Cheery! And since we all know the eventual outcome, the book really is about the way it was written, the point of view, the ideas and events whether in this century or that.

And next week? Someone has a birthday!
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and someone else is will help celebrate!
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