Thursday, August 4, 2016

"Summer Greens" Rinsing out the dyed warp

I dyed my 15 yards of cotton warp the other day, and then bundled up the yarn in cellophane to sit for a day (and a half because I got distracted) in the Arizona heat. That gave the dye time to bond to the fibers. Then, it was time to carefully unwrap the yarn, and re-chain it up so the threads didn't get tangled up. In the past, I've just unrolled the warp bundles in a long row across the length of by back yard. But, it is August in Phoenix, and it is bloody hot out there.

So instead, I decided to try chaining the whole batch at once, so I didn't have to wander all over my back yard in the heat and sun. I knew that might make a mess (gloves and an apron were a must), so I got a laundry basket and lined it with a garbage bag. I unrolled the bundle a yard or so at a time, and chained it into the basket. This worked really well, and will be the method I use from here on out.  Everything was contained, and the dogs were less likely to interfere. (I have 4 medium sized, very friendly and curious dogs, that want to "help"  me with everything.)

There is probably a better way of rinsing out the warp chains, but I find that dumping them into the shower works decently well.

I didn't get quite all the excess dye out, but it is much better. And, I'll wash the finished fabric with some Synthropol when I'm done weaving, so that will get the rest out at that point.

So now, my warp chains are hung up to dry on a laundry line over the bath tub. I don't expect I'll have time to get to warping the loom until next week, so they have plenty of time to dry.

But just look at those colors! I'm sure they'll be lighter when they're dry, but they are gorgeous. Two dark greens, one light green, and two blue-greens. I can't wait to get this on the loom. These are definitely my colors. I'm planning on weaving three ruanas. I was going to put all three of them up for sale...but I may be very tempted to keep one for myself. Luscious, luscious color!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Summer Greens" Dyeing the Warp

I've been working on getting the warp ready for a new set of woven ruanas. I had the yarn all measured out, but I had to wait until I had a chunk of about 4 hours that I could be uninterrupted...and when nobody was using the upstairs table. That took a bit of working, because with everyone home for the summer my schedule has been a bit choppy. But I managed to finagle the time tonight.

I tossed the chains in a bucket to soak while I went out and got dinner with my son, and played some Pokemon Go. Yes, I have gotten sucked in to that game. I tell myself it is so I can play with  my kids. Really. But in any case, when I got back I got all my gear together, covered the table with cellophane, and laid out my warp chains.

Then the fun part. Color!! I'm using the fiber reactive dyes from Dharma Trading Company this time around. I used two dark greens, a light green, and two blue-greens. I measured out the warp chains into three inch bouts, so I'll get variegated long stripes. I can't wait to see how it turns out! In my mind's eye, it is quite pretty.

But for now, I need to be patient. I have the yarn all dyed, and rolled up in the cellophane. Now I've got the rolls on the back patio, to sit in the Arizona heat for about 24 hours. That will give the chemical reaction time to take place, to bond the dye to the fibers. Waiting.... waiting...... I wanna see now!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Phoenix heat, socks, silk, and night photography

Yes, it is blasted hot in Phoenix this time of year. The car reading does in fact say 121F. Though I took that a few days ago. Right now it is 'only' 108F.
So what have I been doing? Trying to stay in my nice air conditioned studio during the day. I've got a couple of clients that I've been working with. The first sent me a picture of the inside of a sea shell, and asked if I could make a silk boho-kimono inspired by those colors. It took two tries, but I'm pleased with the result. She was too!
I have another client who requested a sock-of-the-month for a year. I've been having fun with that, too. I've got June & July taken care of. But, I've found that many of the sock yarns that were my go-to choices have been discontinues. Today, that got me out of resting mode, and I ordered a sample of Web's Franklin sock yarn. It is undyed, which means that I'll be able to play in the dye pots and make my own sock creations. Well, if the yarn works well in my machine, wears well, and feels good to the touch. Which is why I went with the sample, rather than the full 4 lb cone of yarn. I'm hoping it will work out, but willing to experiment with a couple of sources until I find a yarn that I really like, that is still affordable to use for sale.
So, I work in the studio by day. And, try to leave going outside for my walks and other activities to the night time, when hopefully the temperatures have dipped below triple digits. That means I've been experimenting more with night photography. I'll keep working on that, but I'm enjoying some of the results I've been getting.
Next up? A road trip to get out of the heat. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Weaving on a vintage Weave It pin loom

What a difference wet finishing makes!

I've been trying to think of another hand work project that is more or less portable. So much of what I do these days relies on my studio set up, but I like to keep my hands busy when I'm out and about too.

So this week I dug out my vintage 'Weave-it' pin loom, and experimented with the tail ends of  yarn that are left after my sock making forays. In this case I'm using Deborah Norville 'Serenity' sock yarn, which is a merino/bamboo/nylon mix. On the left is a square in progress on the 4" loom. In the middle is a square right after it is taken off of the loom. The fabric is 'sleazy' at this point. Yes, that is a weaving term, meaning kind of loosely woven and gauzy and full of holes. But the square on the right is what happens after I wash a square on hot with high agitation in the washing machine, and toss it in the dryer. It has shrunk from a 4" to a 3" square, and become a soft and stable fabric. Now, that I can work with!

I'll make a bunch of squares, and then decide how I'm going to join them together. I'm thinking patchwork looking blankets for starters. And I've seen some cute Christmas ornament ideas. But for now, I'm enjoying just weaving for the sake of weaving, and learning a new skill. Not everything needs to be high tech. Sometimes, the simple tools are still lots of fun.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Flagstaff Fiber Festival, and escaping the heat

I had a great time this afternoon, wandering around the Flagstaff, AZ Fiber Festival with my sweetie. We went a couple of years ago, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the event had about doubled in size from then. There were all sorts of vendors, selling everything from roving to handspun yarn to finished objects of art.

I enjoyed seeing some of the native arts from the area represented as well.

And then there were the critters. Most of them were sporting their lovely coats, showing what our fiber looked like on the hoof.

A few of them got to get their coats sheared off though. They looked much happier once they were cooler! And they were surprisingly calm during the procedure. The shearer was quite skilled and quick.

When we were done at the festival, my sweetie and I drove further up the mountain to the Snowbowl ski resort. It is pretty lovely in the summer time. And much cooler! Phoenix was about 115F today. Flagstaff was in the 90's. And up here in the pines and aspens, it was down in the low 80's. I'll take it.

All in all, quite a lovely way to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

May socks, and my studio floof

What with the studio re-flooring after our flood, I just today finished up May's sock-of-the-month offerings. But I got it done! This month, the colorway was 'Surf', from the Deborah Norville Serenity sock yarn collection. It is 50% merino wool, 25% rayon bamboo, and 25% nylon. I like the way this yarn feels and wears, and it slides through my old cranky machine like butter. Except I don't want to wear butter on my feet, and I do want to wear these socks. 

Here's the finished socks, shown on my nice new studio floor. I'm super pleased with both. Now, to figure out what next month's colorway is going to be.
Maybe I'll get my new Studio Floof to help me decide. The stray that moved in a week or so ago seems to be making herself right at home, no? She still wanders in and out (after all, she has a whole neighborhood to run), but as it heats up here in Phoenix she seems to be enjoying the comfort of my computer chair more and more often.

Friday, May 6, 2016

12 shaft cotton hand towels from the dobby loom: Done!

I'm calling this project done! These are the cotton hand towels that I made to experiment with using all 12 shafts on my dobby loom. I got the pattern from this blog: I treadled it tromp as writ, to make this lovely almost Renaissance looking pattern. I used 8/2 UKI unmercerized cotton for the warp, and 10/2 Valley mercerized cotton for the weft, which gives a nice subtle contrast in sheen between the light and dark yarns.

Each towel is a different color, so everybody in the family can have one that is uniquely their own. Also? It gave me a chance to try the different color combinations for future reference. I can't actually decide which version I like the best. Not pictured are two rusty brown ones, that I already gave to my mother for her birthday. Now I just have to convince her to actually use them! I can always get more yarn and make more if she wears them out. She'll use the woven napkins I gave her, but the thought of using hand woven as towels set her aback. But I've been using earlier versions of my woven towels for a couple of years now as bathroom hand towels, and I love them.

I will probably use this pattern again. However, next time I'll remember to use floating selvedges. There are some floats on the edges that I'm afraid might catch and pull and make loops. But overall, I'm really pleased. They washed up to a just slightly rough texture that will be great for their intended purpose. I also have about a yard and a half of the blue left over, that I'm going to use as yardage for some future sewing project. A messenger bag? The front of a vest? I'm not sure yet. I'm putting it away for when inspiration strikes. (You have any ideas? I'd love to hear them.)