Friday, August 28, 2009

Vacation Interrupted

All packed and nowhere to go!  It’s raining buckets here, and we thought we’d be ahead of it in Maine, but even so, arriving before the rain hits Maine doesn’t really sound appealing when we are traveling with our dog.  When we are on Pandora in rain we snuggle up down below and turn on the heat, bake some bread, or biscuits, or pie, and spend the day reading and knitting or spinning.  Having a wet dog down below, who needs to go ashore three times a day,  is much less appealing….

So today I’m using my newly found time to dye a second small skein (only 1 oz., 70 yds) in the Brazilwood pot. Yesterday’s 2 oz. skein is a wonderful color that I cannot describe well.  It’s a medium/dark shade of something between rose and terracotta.  Yes, it’s both a cool and warm shade of a complex reddish color! That’s what I love about natural dyes!  The colors are so complex I can’t find the words to properly describe them!  And monitors being what they are, I can’t even show you an accurate photo! Today’s skein will be lighter.  I could keep going with this dye bath, but I think I will discard it after this second batch. Pack rat that I am, I have saved the sawdust…

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I’m scouring my two large hanks of grey corriedale which seem to have a lot of lanolin in them.  I washed that fleece before sending it off to be processed into bumps, but oh my!  There is a lot of lanolin still in it!  I may take a skein with me to Maine to sample some lace patterns…. I’m now imagining this yarn as a lace cardigan.Aug. 09 033

This little swatch of the corrie is 6 st/in…just what I wanted! (I love using my Signature needles! I now have size 1 through 6!)


And since it’s a dark, dreary day, I will take some time today to spin the Shetland which is now my first choice for the stranded, round yoke sweater I want to make with the handpainted yarn I spun earlier this summer (the Gale Evans “grapevine”).

Our ETD is now Sunday, very early.  That means I can go to the local farmers’ market tomorrow morning.  And perhaps this evening we’ll go to a movie….

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Finishing Projects

I have been home for a little over a week, in which I’ve spent a few days with my younger son (attending the all-John Adams concert at Alice Tully Hall, seeing the Julia movie and basically relaxing!), a little time catching up with friends, and perhaps even less time attempting to finish some projects before we head back up to Maine for another couple of weeks of sailing.

Today I’m finally dyeing with the Brazilwood sawdust that I began soaking in February.  I was advised to let the sawdust soak for 6 months so this is the right time to revisit my dyepot.  I had the dye liquor covered with plastic film to prevent molding, and it seems to have worked!

My instructions (from Deb Bamford) called for heating the sawdust and soaking water together for about 30 minutes at 80C.  Alas, I inadvertently let the mixture boil, which means the color will shift to into the brown range of reds.  Frankly, the dye liquor already looked quite brown before I began heating it!  After that initial boil, I turned the heat down to a simmer and let the dye continue simmering for about 30 minutes, after which I turned off the heat.  When the dye liquor had cooled a bit I strained off the liquid into another dye pot and have saved the solids for a possible future dye.Aug. 09 024 I then put in 2 oz. of my pre-mordanted yarn (Henry’s Attic ‘’Texas,’ wool/mohair blend previously mordanted with alum and cot) which had already been wetted.  It immediately turned a medium value of dull orange.  I have been reheating the mixture more carefully now, trying not to exceed 80C, and it is now simmering at about 75C for 1/2 hour. The color on the yarn has become a deep red/brown…more red than brown! I like it very much!Aug. 09 028

The flash washed out the color quite a bit….it’s a much deeper red.  Who knows, it might be this color when rinsed, but I’m hoping for darker!

While dyeing I have also been finishing up a simple vest project that I’d like to wear in Maine on cool evenings.  It’s a vest knit entirely in stockinette from yarn that I got from DBNY (Discontinued Brand Name Yarns).  I have sewn on the zipper now and am now sewing a decorative ribbon (from LFN designs) over the zipper to add some visual interest when the vest is open.Aug. 09 020

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My dark brown/grey corriedale which I washed and sent out to be processed into bumps, and which I was spinning during out last sailing trip, is not the right color for the stranded knit sweater I have in mind for the multi-colored roving, in a colorway called “Grapevine” which I got at MDS&W from Gale Evans. Gale Evans Grapevine roving BFL  Earlier this morning I sat down to spin a little of the dark charcoal Shetland roving that I recently got from Hatchtown Farm, and it appears to be just right for the Grapevine.  I am considering doing this sweater from the Twist Collective.Aug. 09 027




I think I will use the grey/brown Corrie to make a lace cardigan sometime in the future.  It’s a dream to spin, but I will put that project aside in order to spin the Shetland for the the stranded sweater. Well, now! Aren’t I being mature?

And there was a very happy occurance in my inbox! Linda Lee has written to tell me that she will soon be dyeing my cotton sliver in her colorway “Phoenix Garden.”  I can’t wait to get back to that project!  Maybe the package will be waiting for me when I return home!Cotton spinning (1)


I’ve been thinking a lot about weaving, but not actually doing any since I returned from the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Conference in Gettysburgh, where I took a 3-day class with Jason Collingwood on 3-end block weave and shaft switching.  While I am thinking about what sampling I’d like to do on the rest of the warp from that class, I have also been thinking about future tapestries.  I have some ideas brewing….

I need to leave some time today for packing since we are leaving tomorrow morning!  I hope this weekend’s storm is the only difficult weather we experience during this sailing trip!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Clifton Arts Center

Clifton Postcard front

Clifton Postcard back

Well, I guess these aren’t the clearest photos.  I have not got these postcards in hand yet, just the digital file with poorer resolution than hoped!

The Details:  Tapestry: Ancient Art for Modern Times
                   Clifton Arts Center Gallery
                   900 Clifton Avenue
                   Clifton, NJ  07013

              September 23 – October 31
              Gallery hours: 1pm – 4pm, Wed. thru Sat.

Okay, I posted this because I’m tooting my own horn.  How shameless!  Out of the 16 images on this card, four of them are mine!  This has never happened to me before so I’m reveling a bit!

Here are the image credits:
Top row: Helen Gold, Alta Turner, Helen Gold, Don Burns (all works from ‘Not Gone for Baroque’ collaborative piece)
2nd row: Alta Turner, AnnaByrd Mays, Don Burns, Brenda Osborn (moi!) (again, these works are from ‘Not Gone for Baroque’ collaborative piece)
3rd row: AnnaByrd Mays, Brenda Osborn, Susan Martin Maffei, and Barbara Burns (all individual works)
Title row:  Brenda Osborn (my Stone Buddha!)
Bottom row: Carol Bitner, Annelise DeCoursin, Brenda Osborn

Now…back to my regular life of chores…..

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Maine Fiberarts Open Studios Tour 2009

Visit the website and their real home, with gallery, in Topsham, Maine, if you possible can!

JoAnn and Wayne Myers.

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Left: field of heirloom plants, where JoAnn gave me copious woad seeds!  Right: three Leicester Longwool ewes stampeding to greet us!

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Beau-Chemin Farm, Leicester Longwool ewe with nursing lamb and Leicester Longwool ewe in the pasture.

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Left: Soay ewe at Beau-Chemin Farm. Right: owner JoAnn Myers telling me about her work in preserving heirloom livestock breeds and heirloom flowers and vegetables.

Wendy Pieh

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Maine August 2009 154 Male kids rushing to greet us!

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Maine August 2009 164 Tyler, the male kid, with his adorable bangs and goatee!

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Left:Owner Wendy talking about her goats.  Right: Donkey guarding the rams.

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Maine August 2009 180 Maine August 2009 179 Ewes, who are guarded by a Great White Pyrenees whom I did not photograph!

I also visited two fiber artists, but did not get photos.  In Rockland I stopped by Maine Island Rag Rugs, where weaver Mary Ann  Small has a wonderful fairytale studio with her loom and a display of colorful rag rugs sits in a beautiful shed built by her husband and surrounded by lovely gardens.

Last stop of the day was Botanical Shades, where Jodie McKenzie dyes some wonderful hues on beautiful wool and wool/mohair blend yarns that are stunning!  She is in between homes right now so I cannot give her address!  Hopefully she’ll be settled soon!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Something to Say

I’ve been away from blog writing for some time now….too long!  And almost everyday I’m writing blog entries in my head, but not at the computer. 

But hasn’t it been a glorious summer!  Since I’m not a fan of hot weather, I have loved the lush, cool days with or without rain.

I am spending most of the August on board Pandora (where you can see our sailing adventures in Maine), with lots of knitting and spinning projects. Yesterday was a glorious day, part of an exciting weekend of open studios of members of the Maine Fiber Arts Association!  I only managed to visit four of the 80+ listings for this event, but I made really good choices!  I must make this annual event a priority in future!  I will post photos of that next!

Before arriving in Maine on Aug. 3rd, I spent a long weekend in Gettysburg, attending the biennial Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association Conference which was held at Gettysburg College.  It was an awesome weekend!  Attendees took one 2 1/2 day class from a stellar line up of choices:  Sharon Alderman, Inge Dam, Su Butler, Jason Collingwood (to name only a few).  I was so engrossed in my class that I neglected to take the photos I should have!  It was a terrific event, with late night shopping at The Mannings nearby and  Just Our Yarn, Serendipity Farm and Lunatic Fringe in the vendor hall (again, I’ve only named a few!).  There was a Saturday evening impromptu fashion show, the second annual one, where you just show up in your creation and walk the runway.  This unplanned, un-rehearsed event has worked very well and is a highlight of the weekend! I wish I’d taken a photo of Karen Donde’s wonderful ruana.  It defies words, so hopefully I’ll get a photo from a friend shortly and post it.  MAFA Aug. 09 009

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Left: Students admiring Inge Dam’s work. Right: Susan Wilson displaying her crackle samples.

I took a class with Jason Collingwood on 3-end block weave and shaft switching which was completely enthralling to me!  I’m inspired by the freedom of design, the simplicity of the shaft switching technique, and Jason’s affable teaching style!  I hope to christen my Toika loom this fall with a rug!

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MAFA Aug. 09 007 One of Peter’s  design samples and one of Jason’s.

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Jason demonstrating weft clasping.





The photos I didn’t take:  The vendor hall where several bags of corriedale fleece from Ruppert’s Farm sang enticingly to me (I brought that on board to spin!), the three friends of mine who shared my dorm suite and kept me up ‘til 2 am three nights in a row!…the open studio evening where we visited other classes and saw their work.  And I wish I had more photos of Jason teaching us, but I was busy writing notes and weaving samples!  Hopefully something very fruitful will come of that!