Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

Month: October 2008

Knotty Girl

For the past year, a friend and I started “Nauti(cal) Girl” column and activities at the yacht club.  This past week, I became a Knotty Girl as well.  (Gee, I wonder what these words will bring via the search engines!)

I took the 3 day Contemporary Cut Pile workshop with Sara Lamb.  Whew! First, we spun the silk.  Then we proceeded to cut the silk we spun up into less than 1″ pieces.  I didn’t do a pattern like most of the other people in the class.  There were some truly beautiful pieces.  I just wanted to understand the technique, color blending, and explore how the knots of color behaved within the pile.  My piece looks mottled for all that, but I was able to finish it during the retreat!  The piece is sized for a small 4″x4″ purse with pile in the front and weft faced weave on the back.  I finished the pile during the class and the back over the weekend.

More pictures…(click for details)



Back (No, that distortion isn’t an artifact of aspect, it’s draw in.  I obviously have a lot of practicing to do.)

SOAR was incredible.  This was my third SOAR, 2nd time that I attended both the workshop and the retreat portions. Each time is better than the last. It’s like a summer camp for spinners. Even down to the camp counselors who catch you drinking and having too much fun, and tell you to keep it down and put the booze away. (Okay, this last bit wasn’t like camp.  It didn’t get confiscated.) We had to resort to drinking in the classrooms so that we wouldn’t have open containers in the common areas.  It was great to see old friend and make new ones.  The talent and energy swirling around me were just simply amazing.

Between the workshop and the retreat, Interweave arranged a little field trip to the Home Textile Tools Museum.

I love that bird nest above the sign!

What a wonderful little museum.  They opened up just for our group (season ended in September) and set up small workshops for all of us.  I took a natural dye workshop.

Look at that!  Right over an open fire.  Even I wouldn’t go quite that far.  Maybe.  (I can imagine Martin shaking his head and saying, “yeah you would.”)

I saw my first Pendulum Wheel.  Isn’t that just plain cool?

Aquilina was on hand to show us back strap loom weaving.  The yellow/green/red piece on the floor is a scaffolding piece that has been warped but not yet woven.  The piece immediately next to her is the pack that she used to carry her weaving on her back, like a backpack.  She’s also wearing a shawl that she has woven.

Close up of the piece that Aquilina is weaving.  She’s picking up the warp for the pattern.  Nilda says that they memorize the picture that needs to be woven, and everything is by memory.  They don’t work from charts.  Each village has their own distinctive weave pattern.  All threads are spindle spun and dyed with natural dyes.

Dye Day

Welcome to my dye studio — my yard with a portable propane cook top (it used to be Martin’s beer brewing cook top).  I have some cheap non-reactive pots (enamel and stainless steel) that are dedicated for dyeing.

Eucalyptus berries – 285g of assorted wool, 2 silk scarves, 1 silk hankie.  The color was a bit weak, so I added 1/2 cup of ammonia.  The water immediately had a yellow cast, but the wool took on a bit more red.  I added another 1/2 c about 30 minutes later to see if I can up the red values a bit (no). Surprisingly, the color produced by the berries are closer to the color produced by the green eucalyptus, than the silver one that the berries came off of.

Silver leaf eucalyptus – 285g of assorted wool, 2 silk scarves, 1 silk hankie.  Although my questionable scale said that I had over 1kg of leaves, this pot exhausted most quickly, leaving a very pale taupe on the fiber.  I added ammonia (see berries) to give it more of a rose tint.

Green leaf eucalyptus – same fiber as silver leaves.  This pot produced a very rich brown.  I opted not to modify it, and leave it as it.

I decided to pull the silks out and see what I’ve got…

Silk Scarves, front to back: green eucalyptus, no ammonia; silver eucalyptus, ammonia modified; eucalyptus berries, ammonia modified.

Silk Hankies, front to back: green eucalyptus, no ammonia; silver eucalyptus, ammonia modified; eucalyptus berries, ammonia modified.

There is another set of silk sheer scarves, but the colors are not as apparent on the drying rack.  I’ll take another picture after they are dried.

And I leave you with this last picture.  While brown isn’t exactly my color, it’s hard to argue with this result, isn’t it?

I’m going to let the wool cool down a bit in the pot before I rinse them.  I need to put my dye studio away before the rain starts!

Would I do this again?  Yes.  Although it didn’t provide the red-orange I was hoping for, I still like the results.  I may try and pre-mordant with alum the next time.  It should give it a brighter color.  An iron bath should deepen the brown, but I’m not interested in working with iron at this time.

Which eucalyptus material did I like the best?  The green elliptical leaves.  Although that was the most difficult to shred.  The next would be the berries from the round silver leafed eucalyptus.

Scarves anyone?  I might submit them in the next silent auction at the club.  After a show and tell at the guild, of course!

I’m cooking now!

I started to shred the eucalyptus leaves with my rose pruning shears.  After a few handfuls, I was starting to get worried.  It’s tedious work, and my mind will likely wander.  But, man, those shears can be dangerous, so close to my fingers.  I keep watching them get closer and closer to my fingers and anticipating blood.

It was then that I remembered an old desktop paper shredder that I retired (bought a new model that shredded CDs and credit cards).  And YES! It works! The downside is that it has an itty-bitty motor, and I have to stop every so often to let the motor cool down.  Two afternoons later, I have 2 buckets of shredded leaves. This little shredder is now going into my ever growing fiber tools pile.

It’s a good thing that there is construction on the house across the street.  With all that banging going on (they are still framing), no one can really notice the whine of the shredder.

The end result?

  • Silver Leaf Eucalyptus: 1.13kg
  • Berries: 350g
  • Green Leaf Eucalyptus: 710g

In retrospect, I’m not sure about the 1.13kg reading on the silver eucalyptus. The scale was going completely wacky when I was weighing the green leaves, and the readings ranged from 10g to 1.7kg, before I was able to fully clear it and get a consistent reading.  It had to do with swapping out an empty bucket and replacing it with a bucket of leaves.  I may just assume 750g of the silver eucalyptus to play it safe.

So, what’s the next step? According to Wild Color, by Jenny Dean, I need to simmer it for at least an hour and let it sit overnight before adding fiber.  No mordant is necessary to get an orange-red.  You can shift the color somewhat by either pre-mordanting it with alum (more orange), or modify it with iron afterwards (brown), or both (red-brown).  I plan on no mordants.

Wild Color also mentions that the color will be richer if I leave the dye stuff in the bath with the fiber, but I don’t think I want to deal with that right now.  I don’t want to pick leaf and berry bits out of the fiber when I’m done.  The other interesting thing is that Jenny recommends 1:1 weight of dye material to weight of fiber (wof), or a higher ratio for stronger colors.  According to my dye notebook, Ildiko normally recommends a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio.

Next decision would be what to dye.  I stopped at Thai Silk this afternoon to pick up a few pieces of silk to toss in the dye bath.  Silk always dyes up so differently than wool, that I thought it would be good to see how different it will be.  I have some plain white yarn, as well as some mohair roving.  I’d like to have some of the same stuff in each bath so I can have comparisons.

Lots of decisions before tomorrow!

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