My car smells like an eucalyptus grove

While taking Penny to a doctor’s appointment last week, we pasted an arborist pruning some eucalyptus trees.  I said, “Hey! Eucalyptus is supposed to make a wonderful dye!”  After Penny stopped laughing, she told me that I should go back and get some.  (As if there was any doubt!)

After I dropped Penny off, I returned to the arborist and salvaged some branches before they were fed to the chipper.  He must have thought I was crazy.  I filled the back of the station wagon with the branches, but ran out of steam to deal with them that day.  So, the branches stayed in the wagon until the next day.  It’s been a week since I’ve removed the branches, but my car still smells like eucalyptus.  The real stuff.  Not that scent they put in stuff that’s supposed to help you breathe easier or the stuff in the natural cat/dog flea collars (which don’t work all that well, by the way).

As you can see, there are 2 different species here: one with green elliptical leaves and one with silvery round leaves.  The round leaf variety also had some berries on them.  Next step is to strip the leaves off.  I left them on the patio table to dry a bit so that they would be easier to strip.  Didn’t work.  I had to strip the leaves one by one off with my clippers.  I can only do about 60-90 minutes a day before my shoulder started screaming.  So, a week later, they look like this:

I finally finished defoliating the branches yesterday.  Just in time to get the bare branches out to curbside recycling today.

I kept the 2 different species separate because I’m interested in what colors each would generate.  I was also curious as to whether the berries would provide dye material.  Okay, I know they would, but I wasn’t sure what the color might be, and I didn’t want it to contaminate the color produced by the leaves alone, so I kept them separated.

Next up, macerate the leaves a bit and soak it overnight.

Color Gamp

Look what was in my mailbox when I returned from the South Pacific?

This is a color gamp from the various silks we dyed during our natural dye workshop in Italy during May.  Linda took all the skeins home and wove it into a color gamp and sent each of us a little piece to remember the trip by.

Linda’s got the new 2009 tour schedule up.  Go take a look.  The tour is definitely worth it.  Linda is great, as well as the people/businesses that she has set up for the tour.  She’s putting together new trips next year for language immersion as well.  She’s also added a photo album on the website.  There are even a few pictures taken by me up there!

This and That

And everything in between.

Cottage Deck

Here’s my workspace while I’m catching up. My laptop, tea, cell phone, and Kindle on the small table on my deck with the view of Admiralty Strait and Port Townsend in the distance. What more can I ask more?

Design Your Own Fair Isle Sweater

As I said in the last post, it was a great class. Janine walked us through a bit of color theory and discerning value. This was a valuable (ha ha) lesson. One inviolate rule in fair isle work is value trumps color. Repeat that mantra as you work on your design. Value trumps color.

Once we finished our value exercise, we started with our inspiration picture. I wasn’t very organized this trip. It was all I can do to pack myself, the loom and the critters into the station wagon. I didn’t have the wherewithal to pack for the class as well. So, I availed myself to Janine’s fine collection of National Geographic, and selected a photograph of a group of moss covered rocks. The rocks were blue-gray in the midst of chartreuse, plus a scattering of orange leaves on one of the rocks.

We then picked out the colors in our inspiration photo from Janine’s amazing library of yarn (entire selection of currently available color from Jamieson & Smith, Jamieson’s Spindrift, and Elemental Affects). Then without any preconceived notions, selected additional colors in the color family. Arrange the yarns in value, split it in half, then proceed to a speed swatch. From the speed swatch we can tell what colors were working, what weren’t, and what areas/values that we might be missing.

I have to say, my swatch was stupefyingly ugly. Dark browns (I was trying for the shadows), and garish oranges to capture the bright leaves. Seriously. There wasn’t many nice things other people in the class was able to say about the swatch other than “oh, that’s a nice orange…,” pointing to a single line of color, or “hmm, I like that color, I think that was what I was looking for in my swatch.” Seriously bad.

However, I was able to salvage what I had, and hard pruned my collection (from 33 colors to 15) and replaced one or two colors. Reordered them into 2 “colorways” and in arranged them in respective values. Voila! Something that was more pleasing.

Next we pored through various pattern/motif books to select our patterns. I came up with something called
“Scatness” (I kid thee not. Perhaps subconsciously naming my speed swatch.) from Postcards from Shetland by Ron Schweitzer.

May I present the my workshop results…(click for big)

Design Your Own Fair Isle Sweater samplers

Clockwise from bottom left: speed swatch, photo inspiration, Scatness chart and my color notes, and my swatch.

Not bad, if I say so myself. This is an all over pattern that I’m thinking of making in to a vest, possibly a sweater, but most likely a vest. I still want to tweak the color combinations a bit. The proportions and placement are close, but there’s a bit of finenessing still required here. I’ll get there. There’s a line of peach that I’m not fond of. I do agree that it’s necessary for the piece to pull together, but it’s where it’s place and the number of rows used that I need to tweak. Janine proposes that I call it something other than “peach”, like “Martin” to get over my dislike for the color. We’ll see.

(By the way, if you click through on Scatness, you’ll notice how different the sweater looks from my swatch.  It’s amazing the effect you’ll get just by changing the values.)

June Socks (Socks #7)

Socks 0807

My 7th pair of socks this year, using the second Flat Feet purchased at Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat, knitted toe up. I’m working on a set of footlets from the leftover yarn right now.

Dye Day

Cochineal and Indigo skeinsThis is the result of my dye day at Kathleen’s yesterday. Above is cochineal with ammonia modifier. Below is half strength indigo bath. (And that’s Ellie, inspecting the results.) I’ll write more on the dye day later.

Now, I have to finish my beet salad and head to the neighborhood potluck at the pool. I’m trying to squeeze as much into my last day on the island as I can.

I have to pack up the car tonight and close up the house in the morning. I have a reservation on the noon ferry tomorrow. I need to be there at least 30-90 minutes in advance of the ferry. I know this flies in the face of my earlier post, but this being the end of a long holiday weekend, I made a reservation and need to keep it, or I might be on the island a day longer than planned. And I have commitments back in California that I need to keep.

Ciao!