Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Lion brand Homespun 'Thick and Quick' on the triloom follow up

I finished up the triloom shawl tonight, and I love love LOVE the way it turned out. I have finally found the PERFECT yarn for my triloom. Before, I was using yarn that was either too thin, and the weave ended up 'sleazy' (holy and unstable, kind of like cheesecloth), or too thick and the resulting shawl didn't drape well. But this is just right. I took it off the loom and tried it on, and it was like wrapping up in your favorite cuddle blanket. I had my husband try it on, and he said it was like wearing a hug. Soft, and thick, and warm, and I am sooo making more of these for the Etsy shop because I want everyone to have one!

Yes, I like it. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lion brand Homespun yarn on the triloom for shawls

I saw today that Joanns had the sock yarn I prefer on sale, so I popped over to stock up. While I was there, I found a new-to-me yarn that looked like it would be perfect for my triloom shawl making. This is Lion brand Homespun, but in a 'thick and quick' size that is bulkier than the stuff I've used before. So I grabbed a few skeins to try out.

It is working up beautifully!!! Thick enough to be a secure weave, and soooo soft and cuddly. I'll finish this up tomorrow and run it through the wash to see how it works after wet finishing. But I think I may have found the holy grail of triloom yarn finally!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas memories

When you were a kid, did you used to scoot way underneath the Christmas tree, and gaze up at the magic view? That used to be one of my favorite things to do at this time of year.

You know what? I think it still is. The magic is still there.

Go try it and see if I'm right. :)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Pirate's Map for Textiles class

So, my last post left us here in the process of making my 3d Pirate's Map for my final project for my Textiles class this semester. I had picked up a gourd, scrubbed the waxy coating off, and iced dyed it for a subtle coloration. So far so good. Next up, I needed to felt around the gourd. Last time I tried this, I carved the gourd open first and then felted around it. But, the gourd got really waterlogged that way, and that makes for a fragile gourd. This time, I decided to do the felting first, to take advantage of the natural water resistant rind. The risk, of course, was that I would crack the gourd in the cleaning process, and waste all my work. But, that is why I bought a spare gourd!
So, I went through my stash of wool roving, and pulled out my blues and greens. I want the felt to represent water, with the top of the gourd sticking up like an island. Ready? Go!
I found a little pail, and turned the gourd upside down. Then I spread out a length of roving and laid it over the gourd. It kind of looks like hair here. I resisted the urge to draw googly eyes on it.
Instead, I kept on adding thin layers of wool roving at right angles to each other, until I had 4 layers built up. Then it was time to add wisps of the colored roving to make it look watery.
I needed to hold the wool down to the gourd so I could get the felting started. So, I cut the legs off of a pair of panty hose, and tied the remaining stubs in a knot. That left me the body part of the hose, which was just the right size to come down and around the woolly gourd. Time to soak it with hot soapy water, and get to rubbing! The fibers will velcro themselves together.
Once the fibers were holding together, I could take off the pantyhose and just work it with my hands. At this point, I cut slits in the wool. With luck, these will pull apart as the wool shrinks down into felt, creating the look of little islands around the main island.
So far so good! The gourd stood up to the hot soapy water. The slits pulled apart into openings. And the wool shrunk and velcroed itself into a nice firm felt, that is holding to the gourd without the need for glue or stitching. Time to let this dry thoroughly before I cut the top off, and clean out the insides. Crossing my fingers that I don't crack the gourd in the process.
Yay! No cracks. I cut the top off, cleaned out the insides, and sanded down the rim. Then, I drilled holes and strung the opening with a web of artificial sinew, so I could needle weave my 'X marks the spot' and compass rose.
I also took a bit of time, and hand spun some wool yarn for the coiling at the rim. I used some of the same turquoise and green roving that I used in the felt, to tie the colors together. But I also added some browns, so the coiling could represent foliage.
My needle weaving is done, and I've started coiling. Round and round I go.
I like it! The red X marks the treasure spot in the cavern, and the blue arm with the white arrow points north. I had a pendant hanging around that makes a great sample treasure coin.
Now, to add some sea foam to mark the shore of my main island. I'm making a branched fringe with glass beads, crystal tear drops, and freshwater pearls. And a cloissone fish, just because.
Done!! I added some seashells to the sea foam shoreline. And then, it was time to make my pathway that makes this actually a pirate's map. You start at the coin with the key, and follow the freshwater pearl pathway from little island to little island, collecting keys. Avoid the little islands with the skull and crossbones. Trust me on that one. When you get to shore, follow the woodburnt dotted line up the beach to the foliage, and then the garnet path will lead you up and around into the cavern. The treasure is almost yours!!

This was a fun project. The assignment was pretty open ended. Just, make a map using some of the techniques that we learned over the course of the semester. I'll turn this in tomorrow, and see what the teacher thinks!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Textiles class final project: Make a Map

I've been taking a Textiles class at the local community college this semester. We've done felting, embroidery, ice dyeing, shibori, surface embellishment, and coiling as the sections. For our final project, the assignment is to make a map of some sort, using some of the techniques we've learned over the semester.

I was stumped. I thought for awhile that I'd make a fabric map of Snake Bay on Lake of the Woods, where I go for summer vacations. But, what I envisioned for that was going to take a lot of embroidery. And, I still really don't care for embroidery. Other techniques grab me much more. So, while I was working on my coiling project (bowl made of hand dyed wool yarn wrapped around clothes line)...
...I decided I wanted to do something more three dimensional. And, maybe not hold myself to an actual place. Wouldn't it be fun to make something like a pirate's treasure map? And my brain was off and running.

So....take a gourd. Maybe ice dye it to make island ground colors? Felt around it in water colors. Cut it open. Coil around the top, to mark the entrance to the treasure cave. And then embroider on it to make the map leading to the island. I don't think that makes sense to anyone who is not in my head, but I can almost see this one. And I am kind of excited to give it a try.

Step one was a visit to Wuertz Gourd Farm, which you can see in the picture at the top of this post. Seriously, if you can't find the gourd you're looking for there, you aren't trying. I have never seen so many gourds in one place! All sorted by type and size. So, I picked out two kettle gourds. One to work on, and one as a spare in case I screw up the first try.
I could have paid extra for a gourd that already had the waxy coating cleaned off of it, but it is easy enough to do with some water, a copper scrubbie, and some elbow grease. You can see the difference that taking that coat off makes visually!
Then I did some mad scientist art experimentation, and tried to ice dye the gourd. I couldn't find anything on line about it, just that it was possible to use Procion powder dyes to dye gourds. I wrapped the gourd in towels soaked in soda ash water to prep it, then removed the towels, buried the gourd in ice, and sprinkled the dyes on the top. 24 hours later, I rinsed off the gourd.
Hrm. I'd guess that I didn't find much on ice dyeing gourds because it doesn't work terribly well. Especially for the amount of pigment that went into the attempt. I'll keep ice dying for fabric, like in this class sample done with the same general technique:

But, the dyes did leave some subtle reds and greens, and brought out the natural variations in the gourd. I can definitely work with that for this project. I just won't try it again. (Unless someone out there has ice dyed gourds more successfully? I'd love to hear your technique!!)

Tomorrow in class, I'll attempt to felt over the gourd. I've tried this once before, and found that the felting process makes the gourd shell very delicate and apt to tear when it gets soaked. But I had already opened and cleaned that gourd, so the water was getting in to the shell and soaking from both sides. I'm hoping to avoid that this time by waiting to carve the gourd open until after the felting process, and after everything has dried back out. I've cracked several gourds in the cleaning process, so this is a risk also. Luckily, I have that spare gourd for when I screw this one up.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hand dyed sock yarn, and a shot of me with my sweeties

I had a request for a couple of pairs of socks, cranked out on my antique sock knitting machine. The blues that she wanted were easy to find in commercial sock yarn. However, she also wanted some rich earth tones with touches of brown and green. And wow, the easily available varieties of sock yarn have diminished since I started making socks. However, I did have a skein of white wool/nylon that I had been meaning to experiment with. And I had some Procion dyes. Now, those are really meant for cellulose fibers rather than protein fibers, but if you swap out the soda ash in the soak for vinegar, it works pretty well. I liked the colors that I got.

The remaining question was, was this yarn going to work in my finicky machine? It doesn't like yarn that is too thick, and commercial sock yarn is kind of a hit or miss as to whether or not it will flow through the machine. Luckily? This works!

I still need to run the resulting pair of socks through the washing machine to wet finish them, but if that turns out well I will definitely be ordering more of this yarn. And, experimenting with a few different methods of dyeing sock yarn. I'm seeing a new, product my future!

Oh...and since I know some of you were curious after my post of a couple days ago, here is a shot of me with my two sweeties.

Both of my kids and my son-in-law were in town last month, so we got our family portrait done. While we were there anyway, I grabbed a shot of the three of us just for fun. The photographer was a little puzzled, but she rolled with it very nicely.

And now, I really ought to put the yarn away and get some sleep. It is 3:30 in the morning. But I am wide awake, and I want to play in the color some more!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ice Dyeing

I'm taking a Textiles class at the local community college, and last week we tackled ice dyeing. I've done a variety of dyeing over the years, but I had missed this one. From my class notes:

Ice dyeing: Soak cotton fabric in soda ash water until saturated. (1 c soda ash to 1 gal water). Wring out your fabric, and then put it in a slotted plastic container like you get strawberries in at the grocery store. Put in the container in another plastic container to catch the drips. Cover your fabric with ice. Sprinkle small amounts of Procion dye onto the ice. Wait for the ice to melt, and carry the dye down in unpredictable ways onto the fabric. Let this all sit for 24 hours. Rinse out your fabric until the water runs clear, then wash in either Dawn or Synthropol.

I'm not entirely pleased with how my initial samples turned out, so I'm trying it again this week. But the class had their samples up on the board today, and most of them were quite gorgeous! I think I need to experiment more. (The pink and green vertical rectangles in the bottom right are mine. Boring. Do it again.)