Sunday, July 25, 2010

July is almost over and it has been so full!

I cannot believe that this month is almost over and I have so much to share and so much to do - yikes!!! I will try to bring the last two weeks up to date - I believe solar dyeing and spinning were my topics. The wool was dyed and the colours are very subtle, but next to the original colour (I used Eastwin Farm mohair/wool), they were quite striking. The surprise colour was bracken fern - there is almost a mauve-y pink tinge to it. I didn't use very much and feel if I cooked the normal way, the colours may have been darker.

The market continued until this last week when we decided to stop and wait until next year and hopefully begin with a bigger vendor base. It was magical while it lasted and I really do think that it will be successful. We will work through the year to make sure of that. There were so many great positive comments and that will inspire us to work towards a great market for 2011. Thank you all for participating and supporting all of the vendors and enjoying the 'hidden jewel' of the courtyard. We will still continue to meet in front of Leola's Studio to knit and spin and whatever you would like to do, on Sundays. My Cowichan Knitting Sisters will be there too.

The Studio continues to be very busy and full of stimulating conversation and creative people. My friend Karen brought in some beautiful boas that seem to be quite popular already.

The wrap that it is resting on is woven with a cotton warp and the weft is Merino Stripes, one of my favourite wefts - Annie helped me weave it and it is quite a classy little piece, if I don't say so myself! Sure does look pretty with the boa, but the boa sold of course! The boas have gone to Kelowna and one to Newfoundland. I love the image of beautiful fibres travelling throughout the world.

Dyeing seems to be the July activity. My friend Ann came to the studio with a project that we felt we needed to do as we had been talking about it for months - cotton dyeing. I had my wonderful young Chloe (mommy to the beautiful sweet sheep that came visiting a week or so ago!), who tie dyed while we made skein after skein of cotton, linen, cotton chenille and cotton bias tape - which was gorgeous and oh yes, a small ikat warp (another resist method, the warp tied with plastic strips to resist the dye, then when warped on the loom these resisted areas will form a pattern - a pattern we worked on for hours - not!!

We stirred and tied throughout the day, and a young woman from Courtenay way dropped in to bring a book back about resist dyeing etc., and joined in the fun, so she went away with a bit of fabric tie dyed. One has to wait with tie dye for the colour to cure - so I didn't get to see how they looked. We did the ikat the discharge method as well.

The warping mill in action - I can hardly wait to see the warp - Ann took all the dyeing home to warp - so I have to wait. She is very busy too, so I will be patient, but maybe I will phone......the ikat will have cured by now. Our favourite colour was the ecru and lemon yellow together. We are using Procion MX dyes that are amazing in their intensity and I usually get them from Maiwa in Vancouver.

The ikat we made just a little darker, so one part more of ecru. The other colour was aquamarine and the last dye was 2 parts olive green and one of lemon yellow.

The finished 'nests' - I am so excited. It was so much fun and we were quite tired from the stimulation - the more we saw the fibre changing and becoming new fibre, the more we drooled and dreamt of all the things we could do.

So I thought Friday was stimulating...........the next day, whilst working at the Loom with Karen, our order that she and I worked hard on a week or so ago, came in. Gaye with her new hip drove to the store, picked me up and drove to the post office where we picked up the order, dashed back to the Loom and then Karen and I took it out back to the Studio and began to sort and more drooling ocurred...........cottons, linens, cottolin, hemp ..... what can I say?
And so some tea towels waiting for sister tea towels to be woven with the new beautiful colours.
So now we have dreams of tea towels , and sauna towels and runners and lovely shawls mixed maybe with some mohair or cashmere. Yes we fibre addicts can dream about tea towels - such a satisfying project, and especially if they are woven with some linen, they are pretty much guaranteed to last 100 years......

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I love Lucy!!

It has been some time since I wrote only because I have been so busy - and I am having a wonderful time being busy I must say. I will try to bring my blog up-to-date, so it may be somewhat longwinded.
I have been doing a fair amount of spinning and teaching spinning. The fleece I have been spinning most recently is Shetland and I am in love with Lucy's fleece. My friend Alberta, one of the best shepherds I know, has wonderful sheep with wonderful fleece. I have been spinning in the grease and it is like one long staple - it just doesn't end.

I plied it into a boucle and it looks very pretty - stockpiling for a future project. I have been combing different fibres together and getting some interesting yarns - will have to take some pictures.....

Then of course I have been talking about doing some natural dyeing, so I thought I had better stop talking about it and do solar dyeing came to mind, much like sun tea. I used to do it many many years ago, so now in the day where everything seems to be eco minded, I thought it would be fun. I picked St. John's Wort, bracken fern, yellow dock and sow thistle and put them in jars with water and let the sun do its work.
Ever the educator, I labeled and put examples of the plants next to the jars. I left them for about 5 days and then yesterday strained and put back into the jars along with some mohair/wool from Eastwin Farm. I used alum for them all and put some pennies into the dock and wort....they are quite beautiful already - lovely shades of green.

St. John's Wort - it looks yellow but it is quite green unless it changes tomorrow!!!

And Yellow Dock - which is my favourite - a lovely celery green. A fellow spinner came by and told me about buddlia being a great dyeing plant - so save your spent blooms for me!
Then there are marigolds, coreopsis, St. Anne's Lace, tansy, goldenrod, and on and on, never mind all the seaweeds and lichens - it is never ending and I want to dye it all. I have to look for my copy of natural dyeing by Jane Patrick - a very old publication that I contributed to, and it was full of different dyeplants that were tested for light and colourfastness.

Every day is rich with activity at the Studio and I meet many extraordinary people. Well I also meet other 'people'. I had a student of mine come by The Loom where I was working today and said she had to show me something...................

Yes, a couple of very pretty sheep came to visit - Clune Forest lambs all groomed and behaved as they had been at a 4H workshop for showing sheep. I did keep an eye on my roses that Karen gave me.....
One of the wonderful parts of my daily life at Whippletree is having coffee and goodies from Black Coffee - the best coffee on the island. And their soups are wonderful. My camera is always at the ready and I couldn't resist taking the following picture - Creamy carrot soup in the courtyard - nothing better under the cedar trees where so much happens on a daily basis - whether it be my Cowichan knitting sisters knitting on a Sunday, cool on a hot day because of the trees, to my spinning classes spinning in the rain but very dry under these dear cedars.