Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Sister's observations from Scotland...

The scenery observed either from a train or bus window or from Shank's mare was new and striking whether it was a sharp cliff diving right into the sea or inland hills that were like restless seas with lots of "moutons" or sheep, according to the French appreciation of whitecaps - but in this case, the sheep were real! They were everywhere. Indeed, they have the priority of the roads on the Isle of Skye! (Apparently the naughty English tried to discourage rebellion from the islanders at an earlier epoch and displaced many of them by putting sheep on the land.) In any event, I have never rented a car with an emergency kit composed of a camera to take photos of damage in the event I hit a sheep (i.e. damage to the car; the sheep that refused to share the narrow roads with me did look as if they might walk away from the collision).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Vogue Knitting's revamped website

Here is a link to Vogue Knitting's recently revamped site. Some very beautiful patterns, great instruction, and excellent inspiration ...

Podcast Interview of My Customer, PigeonRoofStudios

One of my regular customers, Krista of PigeonRoofStudios, was interviewed by the StashandBurn podcast folks. She gave Wool2Dye4 such a nice plug (around minute 28 ... of Episode 22 ...) that I had to include the link: http://www.stashandburn.com/

It is so very much fun for me to hear my customers' voices, see them on TV, or to read about them in the interviews and shows in the media. Little by little people begin to tell me things about their personal lives and how it affects their art. I hear who just had an operation, who recently lost her mother, who moved into a better lighted space, who is pregnant, who overcame their fear of starting a business, who spoke at a big show ... on and on. It always surprises me to realize that my customers represent all ranges of the fiber arts world. AND I have to say that we are a pretty mellow and understanding group of folks.

Thank you, Krista, for the plug! Now, here's one for you:
This is a link to PigeonRoof Studios Etsy store: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=71825

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My First Natural Dye Day at Home

After that wonderful workshop at MAFA just after July 4th, I shaved the Lilly of the Valley bed and made up a dyepot. Attached is a picture of three batches which came out of the base of Lilly of the Valley. Yarns for 1, 2, and 3 were pre-mordanted with alum and cream of tartar. Batch 2 had cochineal added to it, and 3 had iron added. Some were dipped in an afterbath of ammonia, which deepened color in most cases, and turned one skein yellow.

Then, I was so happy out in my yard cooking up colorful yarn that I cast my eyes about and just couldn't picture any of my other garden plants winding up in the pot. I ran upstairs and ground up 3/4 of a pound of good Latin American coffee, and came up with some wonderful browns. Batch 4 was dipped in ammonia afterbath, and 5 was just the exhaust. You'll notice some are brighter than others, and those are superwash yarns.

I did attach a picture to the former entry where I wrote about the MAFA class with Carol Wood and Debbie McCrea. Check out the samples!

Monday, July 09, 2007

MAFA Workshop -- Natural Dye

I am back from a wonderful workshop put on by MAFA (Mid-Atlantic Fiber Arts) and held in northern Pennsylvania at Merrywood University. My teachers were Carol Wood and Debbie McCrea, and there could not have been two more talented and enthusiastic examples of dye artists.

We created 64 different colors, using 50 gram skeins. The dyestuffs were onion skins, cutch, brazilwood, osage orange, weld, logwood and indigo. Carol and Debbie had already done the mordant phase in preparation before the class began. Each of the dye pots had 3 skeins done in alum, chrome and tin, and from there the skeins went off to be overdyed in other pots, or to be dipped in either vinegar or ammonia. Without the skeins being marked with a code and matched to their chart, I can see that we seven students would have been confused easily.

Maybe that chart represented one of the valuable lessons of the workshop. Taking notes and keeping yourself organized is absolutely essential in a big experiment using so many different dye stuffs and mordants. We had each, at the instruction of our teachers, brought with us one gallon of our own tap water and did individual experiments to see the difference between our tap water vs. the use of distilled water. That was an opportunity to weigh out the tiny amounts of mordants, and I was glad to get that chance. I think that my fear of natural dyeing has always been about measuring some of the elements used in the process, but this experiment took the fear away entirely.

After all was dyed and dried, we tied samples to a tipcard so we can always see and fondle our results. The tip card, by the way, was coded to the chart used to direct the skeins to this pot or that dip in the actual dye process.

I bought copper, alum, cream of tartar and iron (as mordants). Also, sawdust from brazilwood and osage orange, cutch, cochineal to start my own experiments. Perhaps my new dyeing friend, Lara, and I will grow in our skills as Carol and Debbie did as they began to dye together. At least that's the plan!

On the last evening, our class participated in the fashion show. We all wore black and draped ourselves in the skeins and in three silk scarves which we had also dyed during the workshop. We walked up on stage and struck poses, with our backs to the audience, and on Debbie's count of three turned to face the audience and reveal the colorful splendor of our skeins and scarves. For some reason we all were working the mental image of The Supremes! What a roar of laughter and a sea of smiling faces met our performance. Lightbulbs flashed, applause spread across the room! We were a hit!

Well, Debbie and Carol were the hits. They are just terrific. I would take another class from either or both of them in a flash.

One of my classmates is sending digital pictures to all who participated, so when that arrives, I will post it with these paragraphs.