Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Passing of a Weaving Friend

It is a fact of life that our loved ones and friends eventually pass on. It is part of life and not an uncommon event, specially if many of your friends are well into the second half of their life span. It doesn't really make it any easier to lose them though. Many of us in the Whidbey and Skagit Weavers Guilds have lost a weaving friend last Friday after a long and valiant battle with cancer. I have many pleasurable memories of chatting with her at the various guild meetings. She was one of those wonderful people who always had a smile and a kind word for you. I will treasure my memories of her and will miss her very much.
There was a small group of us who ventured out into the freezing fog and slippery roads to attend the Skagit Guild meeting December potluck and auction. We ate, got our business done, and had a small and lively auction which raised enough money to fund an evening program.
The only treasure I took home was the book, Clothing from the Hands That Weave by Anita Luvera Mayer. I must confess that I am not a fan of rectangular, loom-shaped garments, being a rather petite person who looks like a hobbit when I wear such. The book, however, is more than just an instruction book. It also contains Anita's encouraging personality. While I probably will not make a loom-shaped garment, I will make myself a garment using my handwoven fabric so I am enjoying the book.
Tomorrow I plan to get another warp on my loom. I just have to decide...
Stay tuned! -Renee

Monday, December 10, 2007

Weaving Through the Holidays

Uh oh! I am at the end of a ten yard warp on my loom and the holidays are nearly here. It is always a challenge to work on projects with the holidays descending, at least it is for me! This is my final yarn stash warp and it is....not the prettiest fabric I have woven. It gets to be quite a challenge to put together a decent fabric when you limit yourself to the last dregs in your fiber stash to use them up. The yarns I have left are for specific projects. I guess I could put one of those projects on the loom as soon as I can, that is this week, so that I can return to the loom after the holidays and have it ready to go and not standing there sad and empty. The challenge is making it a priority. You might have noticed I didn't say "finding the time". The time is there but sometimes other things take priority. All of us have this challenge, particularly women. I will keep you posted on the next warp going on the loom.
In the meantime, I went to the Whidbey Weavers Guild meeting last week. It was cold and sunny. I have the Skagit Weavers Guild to go to tonight but am a bit concerned as it is freezing out and I am looking at a fog that just rolled in. It it doesn't warm up, the fog will freeze on the road and driving will be too dangerous.
While I was at the Whidbey Weavers Guild I browsed in the guild library and found a notebook containing past episodes of podcasts from Weave Cast. I do have the link in my Fiber Links bar. Syne gave a program to the guild but I missed that meeting due to snow in my area last year. I was disappointed because I really wanted to see Syne's program. The good news is not only did I get to check the podcasts out, Syne will be coming to speak to the Skagit Guild in the spring. Something to look forward to. I have listened to one of the podcasts, number 12 with Anita Mayer. If you have a high speed connection, which I don't, check out Weave Cast, the podcasts are just wonderful!
I took some wonderful inspirational pictures while at the Whidbey Guild meeting. I will share a few and some thoughts and impressions on the podcasts I listen to. Off to look at the weather reports. Hope all are warm and dry. -Renee

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Exploring a New Spinning Technique

I am exploring a new-to-me spinning technique. To back up a bit, I ordered a "organically grown" roving to try. I ordered a pound. I like the idea but the roving is disappointing. It is full of vegetable matter (VM) and second cuts or neps. The wool fiber itself is soft but the staple length is a bit on the short side. I am spinning it using a modified long-draw technique to get a woolen yarn.* The wool is a brownish grey. With all the VM and neps, it makes for a rather scratchy yarn. I wouldn't want to use it for a garment of any kind. I decided to try spinning an encased yarn using recycled sari silk. The bright silk fibers look stunning against the neutral grey background fiber. The whole thing is bound with a copper-colored thread which you can't see in the picture due to its fineness. The yarn is horribly overspun as this was the first time I have tried this method. I am going to try again with finer chunks of the sari silk and paying closer attention to the amount of twist. I am quite pleased with the yarn otherwise. It looks far prettier in person. I am going to weave it as an accent in fabric for a purse. Something that doesn't need to be soft or next to the skin.
I am weaving a final use-the-stash-warp. My loom is being cranky, something it rarely does, so I am slowed down by having to stop and make adjustments to get it humming along again.
The dye kitchen has been dismantled and the dyepots put away for the season. I just need to organize and write up the notebooks which is another large job. I will be posting more on a regular basis as I am getting back to work here. Stay tuned! -Renee
*see glossary

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Indigo, Spin-In, Skagit Valley Weavers Guild

I am slowly getting back on track after such a major change in life. I was combing through my digital picture files to look for pictures of my weaving over the past 10 years and I made a disconcerting discovery. While I have many pictures of inspirational subjects, my pets, my husband and even members of his family, I have very few pictures of my weaving! This picture is one I snapped of one of my first tapestry weaving samples. I was using whatever yarns I had around. I actually like the way my samples turned out. I will have to get very serious about photographing my weaving from now on. It will just not do to have so few pictures!
There is a wonderful magazine called Wild Fibers. Linda Cortright is the publisher and editor of this amazing magazine. I could write several paragraphs on just how wonderful the magazine is but will place the link in my links section instead. Check it out, locate a copy and buy it. Serious fiber lovers will be hooked. The Fall 2007 issue has an article about the Miao (pronounced meow) people of China's secrets on making indigo dye. The article is titled, An Eye for Indigo and starts on page 8. The article is fascinating and I highly recommend it.
Saturday I went to a Spin-in put on by the Spindrifters spinning group up in Bellingham, WA.
It was the first spin-in they have put on and they did a wonderful job. There were two young gals highlighted in Spin-Off magazine on page 14 of the Fall 2007 issue. One of them had a booth at the spin-in. It was a treat to be able to chat a bit with her and look at her beautiful yarns. The speaker, Susan Forsyth, gave an excellent talk and demonstration on wool combing. Susan also has a feature in the same issue of Spin-Off. The spin-in was a pleasure and the Spindrifters deserve a "well done" for their hard work.
Last night was the Skagit Valley Weavers Guild meeting. Our program consisted of small presentations by two new study group leaders and a viewing of the DVD, Weaving Around the World. It is amazing how pampered we western weavers are compared to many cultures who make incredibly beautiful and intricate weaving with a few sticks or whatever materials they have on hand. I'll take the pampering though!
Well, another storm appears to be moving in and I need to turn my attention to my loom which I will be putting up for sale. In the meantime, I will haul out what weaving I haven't sold and take some pictures! -Renee

Monday, October 29, 2007

More Indigo Dyed Silk Fabric

This next piece of fabric was just plain fun to dye. This is silk chiffon so it is a sheer fabric. I used a Shibori method of resist to dye it. On the right is the fabric wrapped and tied around a large plastic pipe. I oriented the fabric so I would have vertical pattern along the lengthwise grain. After I wrapped and tied the fabric I scrunched it down as compactly as it would go and dipped it, pipe and all into the indigo. As you can see from this picture, I deliberately allowed shading to happen by not dipping all of it every time. I think I dipped this one 3 separate times allowing time for oxidation between each dip.

Here is the fabric after it has been dyed and opened up to dry.

And, here is a closeup of the effect. This will be a fun fabric to work into something elegant to wear. The sheerness of the fabric adds an interesting element to the pattern. I am quite pleased with the way this piece turned out.
As you can tell, I enjoy experimenting. Sometimes things don't work out the way you want them to but you always learn from what you did.
Do you enjoy experimenting or playing with the unknown? -Renee

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Indigo on Silk Fabric

After finishing up dipping the remaining yarns in Indigo, there was still plenty left in the pot. I had prepared a bit of silk yardage just in case and had it waiting ready to dip. This was the first bit of yardage. I did not want an even color. The picture on the right is what I did to achieve that. I dipped the fabric and held it for about 2 minutes. When I pulled it out I crumpled it up on my staging tarp. It was fun to watch the oxidation at work. I let it sit for an hour or two before opening it up and hanging it on the line to dry.

Below is what the fabric looks like now. There are lovely areas of mottling and color shading. It is somewhat subtle but will make a lovely background for further embellishment. The fabric here is silk charmeuse. I also dyed a silk chiffon using a shibori method. I will have the pictures of that on the next posting. Both fabrics were allowed to oxidize a full 24 hours before neutralizing. Now that I am back from our trip, I have been washing the remaining yarns and getting the tags back on. I am slowly getting back into gear to weave, spin, and do a bit of sewing in between all the other chores. Until the next post, -Renee

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On a Personal Note...

I am back from Hawaii and re-adjusting to our Pacific Northwest weather after a week of wearing shorts and swimming in a warm ocean. As I said before, I am very fortunate, I had the best Dad in the whole world. Saying goodbye so suddenly and unexpectedly is very very hard. I have a few pictures to post today from our trip and then will be back to posting about weaving, dyeing, and spinning.
To my family and friends, Aloha Nui Loa. -Renee

Friday, October 12, 2007

Triumph and Tragedy

Well, it is done. The final skein of yarn was dipped in Indigo yesterday. The dyeing process of the Whidbey Weaver's Guild Grant is finished. After a bit of a rest, I will be putting together notes and samples to present to the guild. What a journey it has been! I started working on the grant in May and spent nearly the entire time dyeing some 500 plus skeins of yarn.
I have often heard people complain that natural dyes produce disappointing colors. I am posting these pictures along with all the previous ones to show that it just isn't so. As you can see, even with my unprofessional photography, the colors just glow, and these are skeins that have been dipped in Indigo.
Unfortunately for me on the same day, along with the triumph of finally finishing this long dye process, tragedy struck. I finished my last bit of dyeing and called my parents. My father was in the hospital after suffering a very small heart attack. They pronounced him very healthy and fit and were going to release him with some medication. An hour or so after I talked to him, he was suddenly gone, the doctors puzzled as to why he suddenly died.
I am a very fortunate person. I had the best Dad in the world. The last words I heard from him were how much he loved me and my last words to him were how much I loved him.
Needless to say I will not be posting in the next week as we fly to Hawaii where my family lives to be with my Mom and brother at this time.
If it has been a while since you told your loved ones that you love them, do it now, you will never regret it.
When we return I will be working on weaving and spinning and will be posting more on those topics. In addition to the yarn, I dipped some silk fabric into the Indigo and have the results to show.
This final picture is one of the Vine Maples on our property a bit worse for wear after the fall storm but still showing its colors. A perfect setting for my feelings about now. -Renee

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Indigo Back Online!

Well, a lesson well learned. When using Indigo, use fresh chemicals if that is the route you are choosing. I will be talking about the different ways to make an Indigo vat soon. The Indigo pot is back up and I nearly finished the first round of the last giant bag of skeins to dip. It is good to get it going again. The fresh lye and Thiox made a huge difference. I will be at it again tomorrow to hopefully finish. The logging is done too as is the clean-up. Alas, we have a few piles to burn. We looked into chipping them but with 5 acres of slash, the cost was way beyond our means. The property doesn't look too bad. It is nice to be moving forward again on several fronts.
While I was waiting for the new chemicals to arrive the first dye batch had been curing for a week. I neutralized the skeins and thoroughly washed them. The lye is very caustic and needs to be neutralized with vinegar so the yarns won't be harmed in the long run. I will leave you with a couple of pictures of the Indigo dyed yarns. The colors are nice and bright before they go into the dye and come out muted in shades of green, blue, rusts, burgundies, and browns. Lovely. More to follow soon if all keeps going well, and a report on last night's Skagit Valley Weavers Guild meeting. -Renee

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Well, I got about half way through with the Indigo when I killed the pot. I thought I had turned off the burner but it turns out I didn't and the temperature climbed to 150 degrees F. Not good for Indigo. I tried a different approach to the Indigo pot outlined in a different book but it didn't work. So, I am waiting for a delivery of a batch of Thiox. I have fresh lye, plenty of soda ash, and tomorrow will have the Thiox. In my poor defense, I have to admit that I am dyeing in the midst of sheer chaos. We have lived on a heavily wooded 5 acre piece of land for the past 19 years. We decided to thin the trees out this year taking mostly Alder which grows like a weed. My dye kitchen is outdoors and there were chainsaws buzzing, trees falling, and tractors roaring practically in my lap for the past two weeks. It is nearly done now. Just the cleanup but the loggers are having equipment problems. Well, if you have ever experienced this kind of logging first hand, you will understand the distraction. There are many many trees still left and we will be planting 1000 cedar seedlings to take the place of the Alder.

The picture to the left is one of the side paths I took earlier and have revisited. The yarn is the Licorice Twist from Henry's Attic Yarns and I first dyed it using Madder roots. I wasn't entirely pleased with how it turned out so here it is being dyed in Cochineal. I wanted some variation so the skeins are hanging over a piece of PVC so that only part of the skein will be dyed. This yarn will be for my knitting friend, Elizabeth. Alas, I am still not happy with the color so I am going to dip it in Indigo when I get it up and running again. So very close to being through! -Renee

Friday, September 28, 2007

Seattle Weaver's Guild features Sarah Swett

Well, this is not a tapestry by Sarah Swett but my tapestry exercise from a workshop two years ago with Archie Brennan and Susan Martin Maffei. I would love to post a picture of on of Sarah's amazing tapestries but there are copyright matters to consider. Instead, I am posting Sarah's website in my Fiber Links side bar. Do yourself an incredibly inspirational favor and visit her website.
Now, the Seattle Guild program. Sarah is a very energetic and dynamic speaker. She brought several samples and gave a wonderful slideshow that used equipment from two centuries, as she sort of put it. She started out with traditional slides and ended the second half with digital slides. To use a few words to describe her program; inspirational, exciting, beautiful, spellbinding, and generous. Generous not only because she gave more than a full program but because she shared not only her triumphs, but her struggles and techniques. While tapestry is really a simple weave structure, it is anything but simple to weave. She is a storyteller. It shows in her art and in her presentation.
I have been admiring Sarah's tapestries for several years now. What a treat to finally see her in person. The bonus? She uses natural dyes, including Earthues, to dye all her tapestry yarns. I saw the same colorful, vibrant palette that I have been making over the past few months. It gave me the encouragement and inspiration I needed to run back home to my Indigo pot. Speaking of, I need to check it. Do take a look at Sarah's website, I promise you will be glad you did. -Renee

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Indigo at Last

Wow, after struggling for a couple of days I finally got the Indigo pot straightened out and going. To the right is all the skeins of yarn waiting to be dipped, soaking in water. Indigo is what is known as a substantive dye. There is no need to mordant, the color is permanent. I will go into a bit more in depth on Indigo in the next post. These yarns will be dipped once, some twice, some three times with a few being dipped more. You can see little blue squares in the pictures. That is the masking tape I used to label each skein. There is a number that corresponds to the identification tag and then there is a Roman numeral indicating the number of dips the skein will have. So far the system has worked well. The tape is folded in on itself three times for security and the info marked with a permanent Sharpie. Other than the soaking time, the skeins are not immersed in liquid for long.
I started with the lightest colored skeins so I am mainly getting blues, greens, bronzy browns, and a few purples. I am about half way through. It will take a few days to finish. I will probably do a bit more dyeing since I have the pot up and running. I am finding it fairly easy to keep it going. Today I started dipping the dark colored skeins and am getting some lovely purples. Suddenly I have seemingly endless shade of greens and blues. I like the browns so far too, they tend to be on the dark bronze side.
There are advantages and disadvantages to dyeing so many skeins in Indigo at once. I can only dip about ten skeins at a time. The advantages are that I am beginning to get a feel for the temperment of the Indigo dye process. I now can tell when I need to add more Indigo or when I need to add more chemicals. One of the disadvantages is I am doing so many skeins that quality control isn't what I would like it to be. Most are just fine but a few are dyed a bit uneven. I actually like the uneven dyes. I think it adds to the beauty of the color.
Tomorrow is the Seattle Weavers Guild meeting. I am looking forward to the program given by Sara Swett. She is one of my favorite tapestry weavers. I have a lot to go over in the next few days so hang in there. -Renee

Monday, September 24, 2007

Lessons from the Indigo Dye Pot

Well, my Indigo dyepot is still not quite ready to start dipping yet, in spite of working it all day. Here is a picture of what I am looking for. My dyepot is close but not quite there. Dark caught up with me so I will continue tomorrow.
I am at the beginning of some very big changes in my life. I love to research and read about any topic under the sun that catches my interest. Sometimes I just read a book or two, sometimes I spend years reading on a topic. Creativity and personal growth are such topics. With such big changes on the horizon I have been reading, no, devouring, a few books a week. All of them talk about slowing down and taking time to really look around and enjoy the process or journey. I have been jumping up and down with impatience for the Indigo pot to work so I can get on with the dyeing. I realized that I haven't been taking the time to enjoy the process. Indigo is not only tricky but intriguing. That is one of the fascinations. So, tomorrow I will enjoy the process. Dana left a comment about the chemicals. I realized the lye I used is old and probably not working well. I used every bit of it. I have plenty of thiox though. Lye is a challenge to find these days. I will keep adding the necessary chemicals little by little until the magic happens. I will also enjoy the challenge and the journey while I wait.
Have you taken the time to enjoy the journey in your life lately? -Renee

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Indigo Blues

Ok, got the yarns labeled (all 310 of them), sorted and soaking. Everything was staged in the dyeing area. I carefully measured out Indigo and appropriate chemicals to make my Indigo stock solution and....nothing. It just sat there being blue. This is actually a picture from a previous workshop. Dana may recognize it, we had a perfect Indigo pot. This is what the solution is supposed to look like. For those who aren't sure what they are supposed to be seeing, the solution is actually a greenish yellow with a coppery blue scum on the top. Mine just sat there and stayed opaque blue. Ok, no problem, I thought, I will just add more chemicals like the book said to do and wait another 15 minutes. It worked for me before. This isn't the first time I have done this but. alas, nothing I did worked, and I worked and worked for a few hours. So I am leaving it to sit overnight. I have drained the skeins and put them in giant Ziplock bags to keep them damp and will try again in the morning. To say that I am frustrated and disappointed is putting it mildly. I could have been through with the dyeing today. It would have been perfect as tomorrow will be a much more challenging day. Ah well, that is the way life works isn't it! Now that I have had my whinge, I will admit it really isn't a terribly big deal. I am most fortunate and appreciative to have the chance to do this. Sigh, stay tuned, if I don't burn the lot, I will have Indigo yet. -Renee

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Final Color Mix

Here is the final Color Mix batch. It looks much pinker in the photo than in real life. The color is more of a rusty red. It is the recipe for True Red using Madder and Cochineal BUT I used cream of tartar with the mordant* and it shifted the color. A nice trick to know.
I am busy labeling each skein with its own number and number of dips it will get into the Indigo. I will have a final count of the number of skeins I have at the end. I am figuring out the most efficient way to dye this amount of skeins in Indigo and not lose track of how many dips and what the original color is. I have a method and will be letting everyone know how it works.
Last night was the Skagit Valley Weavers Guild meeting with JoAnne Hall finishing up the workshop she gave the guild with a program. The program was pretty much on rug weaving with people bringing a wonderful variety of handwoven rugs to be discussed.
Back to labeling! -Renee
*see glossary

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Glowing Yarns

To get my photos to my blog I run them through my i-photo, then Photoshop Elements to tweak them and save them to my desktop in the appropriate size and format for uploading. I give them quick descriptive file names so I can find them easily such as Lac, Madder, etc. This one I just called "glow" because these truly do glow in the light. From left to right is "Deep Orchid" which consists of Lac and Cochineal. In the center is Osage Orange. I will be dipping all of these in Indigo. On the left is "Garret Rose" which consists of Lac and Fustic. After consulting my notes, I realized that I got ahead of myself. The Madder combinations in the previous post used a mordant*of alum with the addition on cream of tartar. These dyebaths just used a mordant of plain alum sulfate. I have one more picture to post of the final dye batch in the Color Mixes category.
Skagit Guild meets tomorrow night so hopefully I will have a few things to post from the meeting as well. Stay tuned! -Renee
*see glossary

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Madder Mixtures

Oh boy! The Color Mixture category is officially finished. As I mentioned before, I will be labeling all the skeins in preparation for the Indigo dyeing. It might take a day or two to get the task done and the Indigo set up.
Here are three Madder mixtures. From left to right is Madder and Cutch, Madder and Fustic, and Madder and Cochineal. I have two more color mix dye batches to share. The mordant* is slightly different for the remaining batches. I used alum sulfate with the addition of cream of tartar. It shifted the colors slightly and was interesting to see. I will post them over the next couple of days while I am getting prepped for the Indigo. Colorfully yours, -Renee.
*see glossary

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The End is Near...Sort of

I am down to odd batches to try to replicate some of the color recipes in the dye book I am using. From left to right there is Rosy Beige, Old Gold, and Raisin. The Raisin color looks a lot greyer and bluer in the picture. It didn't have the brown caste to it as a previous batch I had done. What I like about the Raisin color is that when you dip it enough times in Indigo it makes the most stunning black. We will see how it does. The Rosy Beige is lovely and the picture here does not do it justice. The Old Gold is a bit oranger than I thought it should be. I am sure I could adjust the amounts to get the color right. Just goes to show you the value of sampling.
The colors in this next photo from left to right are Rouge, Poppy, and Wasabi. I wish the Wasabi came out more true to life than in the photo. It is the prettiest shade of green and uses Osage Orange and Logwood Grey in the mix. The Poppy was a bit too red I thought. To get Poppy I used Madder and Osage Orange. It is a lovely combination though. The Rouge is a lovely color too and I used Quebracho Red and Cochineal to get it.
A note about the Osage Orange. I really debated about using it in this project. It is no longer included in the Earthues kit because it has become so expensive. It isn't as lightfast as other yellows either. I used it because I had it from a previous kit I had purchased. I wanted to see how it interacted. I did do a straight single mix with Osage and it looks a lot like the Quecitron and Weld mix I did in terms of color. It is a lovely shade of yellow. I will be dipping it in Indigo to get (yellow plus blue =...) spruce, or green.
Now for the exciting news, in 20 minutes I will be turning off the final Color Mix category dye pot!!! I will be going on to the final category, Indigo. All of the colors I have dyed over the past 4 months will be dipped to see how they turn out. First I will have to label them so that I will know who is who and how dippy they are. That is, so that I will know what the original color is and how many dips into the Indigo bath it has had.
I am not sure how long it will take me but once all is labeled and the pot going I think it will go pretty fast. We shall see. I still have a few more skeins to post so check in over the next few days! -Renee

Monday, September 10, 2007

Madder and Cochineal

Oh how I wish the camera could accurately portray the colors. These are actually three very distinct shades of a combination of Madder and Cochineal. They are quiet lovely. I got another round of dyeing in today. I do believe that this is the last week I will be dyeing the color mixes. Next week Indigo. The mornings are definitely getting chilly but we are having some beautiful end of the summer days. It isn't quite fall yet but the Equinox is coming. I have several skeins to post so stay tuned. -Renee

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Small Breather

I have four batches of yarn to share but I don't have the pictures yet. I was out longer than planned today and ran out of the proper light to take the pictures. I will do my best to get them taken tomorrow but will be out most of the day then too. In the meantime, I thought people would enjoy a picture taken from the top of the bluff in Coupeville. This is where I get to go for the Whidbey Guild meeting. The scenery is worth the long drive for me. I thought I would also take a minute to add three more links. Two are in the Fiber Links and one is in the Personal Links. The first is WeaversHand. It is a wonderful website bursting with information for weavers done by my fellow guild member, Janis. She also has BraidersHand which goes into more detail on Japanese style braiding. Both are great sites to explore so please check out the links. The third link I am posting in the Personal Links is related to my commitment to empowering women. It is A Call to Power: The Grandmothers Speak. I highly recommend reading this book and checking out the link. It has enriched my life as a woman and weaver tremendously.
Please take time to check out the links. I love sharing them with everyone.
Joyfully yours, -Renee

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Logwood Grey and Cutch

This was a strange combination. With the one on the right I should have got coffee bean brown. It is brown but more of a latte brown. The others are mainly grey with a brownish undertone. I ran out of Cutch and have had to use Cutch that was not from Earthues. I haven't had a chance to get more and I needed to go on. The Cutch I purchased doesn't look as nicely prepared and I don't know the concentration of it. From these examples, I am thinking I may need to add more Cutch!
Today was the Whidbey Weavers Guild meeting. It is the first of the guild meetings starting up after the summer break. I packed up my dog and went off to the meeting. It was a stunningly beautiful day today. It makes for a lovely drive but it turned out to be just too hot for the dog to stay in the car for long. It wasn't a very hot day, in the 70's I believe, but it doesn't take long for a car to heat up, even a SUV with the windows generously cracked. I didn't stay long at the meeting but did take advantage of being on the island and went to my favorite beach. I will have to post one of the pictures I took. The views were breathtaking.
I had brought the latest dye batch for show and tell but did not get to show them. I will show them here tomorrow! -Renee

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Log Grey and Cochineal

This is a lovely greyed lavender dye combination. Logwood Grey and Cochineal both go a long way in the dyebath. Very small amounts are used to get rich colors. It is a good thing that a little Cochineal goes a long way as it is an expensive dye. Not surprising considering each tiny bug that must be harvested by hand and then processed. It takes a lot of bugs to make a little dye.
I am out of water again so I only got one dye session in today. I will have plenty to post as I push for the end. Stay tuned! -Renee

Monday, September 3, 2007

Madder and Cutch

Here is Madder and Cutch. They seem to appear more on the pink side than in the picture I took and certainly more pink than in real life. The colors are much richer but I think you can get the idea. Madder has yet to disappoint me. I have a few more dye batches to post but I will string them out a bit. Today I dyed with Madder and Cochineal. I really like this combination. It seems to bring out the best of both dyes. I am hoping the picture will do it justice.
That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. I should be through with all the Color Mix category this week and, if all goes well, I will get the Indigo category finished in a week. More skeins coming this way! -Renee

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Fustic and Logwood

The skeins on the left were dyed with a Fustic and Logwood Grey combination. They look very green in real life but the colors didn't register well in the picture. I like the greens, they are olive greens to mossy greyed greens. It will be interesting to see how fugitive the colors are with the Logwood Grey being a component.
Dana left a question about the Quecitron on a previous post that I thought I would answer here. She asked about the proportions of the Quecitron. Quecitron is not listed in the dyebook like most of the others. I have been treating it much like Madder Root in preparation and proportion. I simmer the Quecitron saw dust, steep it overnight, and strain it out and add it to the dyepot. I use a percentage of the Weight of Goods to determine how much. In the case of Quecitron, I used 90% 50% and 25% WOG to determine the amount of sawdust. With the small amounts I am dyeing it doesn't amount to a lot. It would be interesting to do a dye sample using a range of percentages from 1 to 100 in increments of 5. That would give me 20 dye samples ranging from pale yellow to deep yellow. I would also be able to pin point the best percentage to get the color I want. There are times when I deviate from the dye book due to experience. I already know when the percentage listed will not give the rich DOS I am looking for. Most of the time I stick to the book. I have also found out the hard way that the book is right where I want to be most of the time. That is part of the learning experience. If I didn't venture from the tried and true path, I would never know. I keep notes and everything is meticulously labeled. This way I will be able to go back and either duplicate the color or decide it is not dark enough or light enough. I am really just scratching the surface here with this project. It will be a good jumping off spot, and totally fun of course!
I have Cutch and Log Grey, and Cutch and Cochineal and Log Grey drying on the line. I am about to go rinse the Cutch and Madder out and another batch is mordanting. Two more mordant baths to go! -Renee

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fustic, Cochineal, Weld, and Quecitron

I have noticed that some colors I can photograph with ease with my digital camera and others like the colors in the next two pictures, just cannot seem to be captured properly. The picture on the right is Fustic and Cochineal. I don't really like the combination. The two dyes seem to fight one another. It could be something I am doing incorrectly though.
The skeins on the left are the Weld and Quecitron mixture. I wish I could capture the beautiful glowing yellows with the camera. They look quite anemic here. I might just have to try to take the pictures again.
I really like the Quecitron/Weld mixture. The yellow/green of the Weld and the golden yellow of the Quecitron blend into a lovely vibrant butter yellow.
The next few dyepots are various combinations using Logwood Grey. Logwood Grey and Fustic make lovely olive greens. Pictures will be coming soon. -Renee

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fustic and Madder

This picture was taken in direct sunlight so the colors are a bit bright. Fustic and Madder is very close to Quecitron and Madder. I like the Quecitron mixture better but I think I could come pretty close to it with Fustic with a few adjustments. Fustic is less expensive and easier to come by than Quecitron. Both are more golden yellows as compared to Weld which produces a more greeny yellow.
Today I mixed Quecitron with Weld flowers to see what kind of yellow I would get. I should have the results soon. I have Cochineal and Fustic drying and will post it tomorrow. I got another batch of skeins mordanted today as well. I am excited because I have three more batches of 36 skeins to mordant and dye and then all the yarn will have been dyed and the Color Mix category will be done. From there I will move to the final and most challenging category, Indigo. It will also be the most fun and interesting to me. I have already figured out a method to keep track of all the dyed skeins that will be dipped in indigo. I will reveal the method when the time comes. It is simple and that is usually the best. More dyeing tomorrow. -Renee

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sumptuous Color

Sumptuous, sensuous, sustainable color. Those three "s" words are my new design motto. It is a plus that I get to use them here with the Quecitron and Madder color combination. The colors glow with a life all their own. I do believe this is one of my favorite dye batches. These skeins will be fun to pull out on a cold, grey winter day. I am planning to weave myself a meditation shawl. It is my birthday present to myself. My birthday was a few months ago but it is next in line to go on the loom. I have been waiting to see the results of some of the dyeing before making my final choice. The yarn is a silk/wool blend, undyed of course. I wanted a wrap that was warm and luscious. I would also like to experiment with woven shibori. I am thinking I will dye the yarns a lighter color over all and then overdye the darker using the shibori. I am also thinking of dyeing several sections in these colors, gathering the shibori threads, then overdyeing with Indigo. That will be a long process but it would be interesting to do.
I dyed three batches of dye today, the Quecitron and Madder, Madder and Fustic, and Cochineal and Fustic. Tomorrow I will mix two yellows, Quecitron and Fustic. I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of yellow I could get.
I have a question today, Do you have words, mottos, or phrases, that you use for inspiration? If so what are they and why? I have decided the three words I mentioned are ones I want my weaving and fiber art to strive for. In fact, it wouldn't hurt to shape my life to fit those words! -Renee

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yarn Stash Challenge Final

Way in the beginning when I started this blog, I mentioned my Great Yarn Stash Challenge. I was trying to weave up my yarn stash. I have officially declared it finished. The remaining yarn is designated for specific projects. I have no more odd cones of yarn. I saved all the empty cones of yarn for fun. I snapped a quick picture of the cones before putting them in the recycling bin. Not all the yarn was on cones but this is close enough. Nyx the cat popped into the picture just as I took it. She was curious, naturally!
I have the next batch of yarns mordanted and Quecitron is steeping for tomorrow's dye session with Madder and Quecitron. What do you bet that the color is another variation on pink? I will not be mixing all the reds with Quecitron as originally planned as I get the picture now! I will be posting the results when they are ready. Here's to a colorful week...-Renee

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rest and Recreation

This isn't weaving, spinning, dyeing, or fiber related but is a picture of a mother bear and her cubs. We "met" her while hiking in Whistler, B.C.. It is a little closer than I like to get to bears but she didn't give us much of a choice! I have been off with my husband and dear friends taking a much needed break and vacation. It was wonderful to get out into the wilderness and hike, bike, and climb then come back to spend the evenings with friends and good food.
Now I am ready for the final push of dyeing. I have all of the remaining wool yarn to be dyed skeined and ready to process. I have the last half of the Color Mixes category and the Indigo category to go.
Summer is slipping by so it is time to hit the dyepots hard again. Tomorrow is a mordanting day and then the dyeing begins....Stay tuned! -Renee

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer fun

First things first, this is the Lac and Fustic color mix. The right skein used a light DOS* for Lac and dark DOS for Fustic. I have found that Fustic is a rather greedy dye and seems to strike before some of the other dyes. There wasn't enough Lac in the light DOS to compete with the strong Fustic so the color kind of got elbowed out. The middle and left skein have a medium and dark DOS of Lac respectively.
We have been taking advantage of cool but dry summer days to get the house painting done and other dry season chores before the wet settles back in. The dyeing has slowed way down and we are about to leave for another short trip. I didn't want to have skeins sitting in a mordant bath while we are away so I have just been skeining and washing yarn so I can go for the final push when we return. I am on the last 5 cones of yarn. The light is starting to shine at the end of the tunnel. Still a ways to go though and Indigo yet to come. It may be a week or so until the next post. I will be gathering inspiration on our trip.
Enjoy the summer! -Renee
*see glossary

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Weld Flowers and Lac

What do you get when you mix Lac and Weld? More pink! I remember the birthday party for my 5th or 6th birthday, my mother decided on a pink and orange theme. Have I mentioned enough times that I really don't like pink? I feel like I am back at that birthday party with all the pink and orange I have been dying lately. Dana left a comment on one of the recent posts that Fustic and Lac make wonderful pinks. She usually dyes on cotton. I couldn't resist finding out for myself how it goes on wool so I made the next dyepot with Fustic and Lac. The skeins are drying so the results should be posted soon.
On the home front, we finished the second and final coat of paint on our two story house today. I need a good soak in the bathtub to recover! I am starting to think about how I will tackle the indigo dyeing and keeping track of the vast amounts of colored skeins I will be dipping. I have a plan......
-Colorfully yours, -Renee

Sunday, August 5, 2007

House Dyeing and Lessons Learned

Well, we are not technically dyeing our house of course, just painting it. We still are applying pigment to a porous surface, in this case a cellulose in the form of wood. We have the first coat on and then there is the trim and doors....
In spite of painting today, I managed to squeeze in a dyepot. I used Weld flowers and Lac. More variations on orange and pinks. I will have a picture for the next post. As I am sure many of you who paint their own houses know, a lot of thoughts go through your head while you are painting. Today I was thinking of what I have learned so far at this point in my dyeing project. So here are some of the things I have learned in no particular order:
If the yarn is already mordanted, I can get a dyepot going in less than 5 minutes. That is dye measured, water added, mordanted skeins prepared, thermometer clipped on, and burner going.
I can tell the temperature of the dyepot by looking at it. I know just when it is at the perfect temperature to hold. I still use the thermometers though. I found out I could tell the temperature by looking at the dyepot when I forgot to put the thermometer on and didn't realize it until well into the process. Seems kind of funny I know, but when you dye day after day these things happen.
I know I need to double and triple check that I have turned off all the burners and that they are turned off all the way!
I am getting pretty good at predicting the colors I will get when combining dyes.
I have memorized by accident, some of the dye amounts I need for certain WOG* and DOS.
I am learning when to deviate from the book and break the rules and when to know the book is right on.
I am learning to follow my curiosity off the determined path.
I learn a great deal from my mistakes!
With the exception of the yarn burnt to a crisp, everything is usable.
Skeining yarn is not my favorite part of the project but it goes a bit easier with comedy on DVD borrowed from the library.
Well, those are some of the things I have learned so far. I hope to post tomorrow but cannot guarantee it until we are finished painting the house.
Hope summer is going well for all. -Renee
*see glossary

Monday, July 30, 2007

Faulty Phone Lines and Distractions

There is something wrong with our phone line and service comes and goes. As a result, I am not able to get online as often and sometimes am forcibly ejected when the phone goes out. In addition to this challenge, we have also started painting our house. I didn't get to do any dyeing today as my dye kitchen got moved away from the house to paint. That said, I do have two new dye batches to share.

Both of the batches used yarn mordanted* with alum sulfate. The first batch is Cochineal and Weld. Somewhat different than the batch mordanted with alum and Cream of Tartar. I really like the bronzed purples I got with this combination. The Cochineal/Weld with the Cream of Tartar is pinker. That seems to be consistent with my results for Cochineal in general.

This batch is Madder and Weld. The colors are exquisite. The orange is a rich beautiful orange with the other two skeins being more red/orange. Again, slightly different than the Madder/Weld batch with the Cream of Tartar.
I am out of Weld extract so the next batch will be Lac and Weld flowers. Stay tuned for more oranges golds, red/oranges, and bronzed purples.
Posting will be a bit sporatic this week but the dyeing will continue! -Renee
*see glossary

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lac + Weld

I am about in the middle of the dyeing process for this project. The middle can be challenging as the excitement of the beginning has worn off and the end is still a ways away. This is where I need to really lay on the rewards and incentives. I must admit I am more than ready to see some blues and greens too. Ah well, I will get there, I promise. This is Lac and Weld. They appear more toward the Burgundy color, with a slight brown undertone, than what appears in this picture. Again, the camera has evened out the shades. Even though I do my best to adjust it in Photoshop there is only so much that can be done quickly. Tomorrow will be a day of washing and mordanting the next batch of yarn. I am slowly getting down to the end of all the skeining. The long term rewards of this project will be great, I know. In the meantime, I need to figure out a short term reward. Stay tuned!
I will ask you all the following question today; What rewards and incentives do you give yourself to keep yourself moving when in the middle of a long and consuming project? -Renee

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Madder + Weld

Fiery, No? Madder is a nice warm orange-red to start with. Add a yellow, even a cool yellow/green like Weld and you get glowing red/oranges. There are actually three lovely shades in this picture. Unfortunately the digital camera evens them out. So why try Weld with all the reds like Cochineal, Lac, and Madder when I know I will get orange or red/orange? Just as when you mix cool yellows with cool reds and cool yellows with warm reds to get different shades and tones of color, mixing these different reds gives you different shades. The differences are distinctive and I find that exciting. I could happily spend another couple of years getting all the different shades.
Today I dyed with Lac and Weld. I am getting yet another shade of red/orange. Definitely more on the cool side as both Lac and Weld yield cool colors. Tomorrow I need to replenish my water and propane supply before washing and mordanting the next batch. Remember, all the color mixes I have done so far are with yarns mordanted in alum sulfate plus Cream of Tartar. The next batch will be mordanted in just alum sulfate and I will try the different colors again as long as my Weld holds out. It will be interesting to see the differences. Can you see why it would take a few years to try out all the possibilities? Years actually. This project will merely give my a starting point. It will be an excellent base to draw from. Now to get another section threaded on the loom. -Renee

Monday, July 23, 2007

Weld + Cochineal

Here are the results from the two dyepots that didn't burn the other day. This is Weld/Cochineal color mix. I got a lovely burnished copper and an orangy-pink that looks like it could be from India. The dyebath that burnt was the dark DOS* Cochineal and light DOS Weld. I will have to repeat that one. Today I used Weld and Madder. I am liking what I see so far. I have already said several times that Madder is one of my favorite red dyes and it hasn't disappointed me yet.
I am almost through getting the next warp on the loom. It is the last warp in my Great Yarn Stash Challenge and it has been a problem to get on the loom. I have set a date for getting back to sewing and I have several spinning projects lined up. It is time to get busy to finish items for all the guild sales. July is almost gone! -Renee
*see glosssary

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dye Disaster!

In case you are wondering what you are looking at, you are looking at a burnt-to-a-crisp dye bath. Sigh, well there is a first time for everything. I am usually very attentive to the dyepots. I keep a timer clipped to me at all times and it goes off every 10 minutes. I call it my beeper. I had finished the dyeing and turned off all the burners to let the yarn sit over night, or so I thought. Apparently in my haste, I did not turn one of the burners off all the way. I went out before bed to make sure the propane tanks were closed off and that I didn't leave anything important out when I was confronted with an ominous stench. Stench it was too. The smell of burnt wool, cochineal, and weld was hideous. Needless to say the yarn is ruined and hopefully my pot is not. This was sort of a freak accident but you can bet on it that I will double check the burners next time I turn them off! Tomorrow I will be starting a new color combo and will have what is left of the current color combo posted. -Renee

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cutch plus Cochineal

Here is the first color mix and, as usual, it is a challenge to get the colors right. One of these days I will have to find where I put my camera manual to see if there is anything I can do about it. Starting with the skeins of the left, I used a dark DOS* for Cutch and a light DOS for Cochineal. The middle skeins are both medium DOS, and the dark pink skein on the far right used a light DOS for Cutch and a dark DOS for Cochineal. The pinks I got with this mix have a lovely brown undertone. I just finished another dye batch today that used Cochineal and Weld. I had planned to continue with the Cutch mixtures but I am low on Cutch and will need to get some more.
I must confess I am quite tired of the pinks. The blues and greens won't be coming until I do the next and final section, Indigo. I am pleased with all the variations I am getting. I also can see that I could spend another year creating colors!
Tomorrow I will not be dyeing as I am a hard-core Harry Potter fan and the final book comes out. I will be spending most of the day with my nose in the book. I will post the Cochineal and Weld photo this weekend. I will be back to the dyepots on Monday. -Renee
*see glossary

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Revising the Storyboard

I took a good long look at the storyboard and decided to revise it a bit. Now that I have some dye experience under my belt I can tell what will be a bit more realistic and what is more likely to work the best. I took out a couple of the single colors with the alum mordant plus Cream of Tartar due to the fact that those particular dyes are low and I want to same them for the Color Mixes and I have plenty of Single Color skeins. So, yesterday I started the Color Mixes section! I am excited, this is where the real fun begins. The Single Color section was a good warm up. Yesterday I dyed with a mix of Cutch and Cochineal extract using the alum plus C of T mordanted yarns. Here is where I did another revision, I streamlined each color mix so that I am dyeing a Cutch/Cochineal ratio of light/dark; medium/medium; and dark/light DOS*. I realized that I could easily spend another three months exploring all of the DOS ratios for each combination. I don't have the time or the yarn supply and the ratios I decided to use will suit the purpose well. So, what do you get when you mix Cutch and Cochineal? Pictures tomorrow but here is a preview; Cutch is a brown dye and Cochineal when combined with the Cream of Tartar is pink. I got a beautiful rose color that is slightly on the brown side. I would call it rosehip. I will be combining Cutch with madder next. Check back tomorrow evening for pictures of the Cutch and Cochineal combo. -Renee
*see glossary

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cranking Up the Dye Kitchen

I forgot that getting the dye kitchen back up and running takes a day or two. I got another batch of skeins wound, using the Dream Skeinwinder of course, washed, and am now mordanting*. I like to let the yarn soak in the mordant bath overnight so I won't be getting to the actual dyeing until tomorrow. Once I get it up and running it is easy to keep it going so that I usually can dye every day. I have just three dyepots left of the Single Color category which I should get done this week, then on to the Color Mixes. This week I have had a guild board meeting and then there is the Whidbey Weavers Guild picnic on Thursday. This in between all the other things we are trying to catch up on after being gone for a few days. Thank goodness the summer days are long. Back to the dyepots! -Renee
*see glossary

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Highland Games

Today I spent the day in the Weaver and Spinner's booth at the Highland Games in Mt. Vernon WA. We had the best spot as we could see the main stage and the Games, as well as being just a step away from the Beer Garden. It was a bit hot and dusty but, as always, it is a wonderfully wild time.
Here is just a sampling of what was going on in our booth. We had fiber preparation with wool combs...

Spinning, this was Llama wool...
And weaving. I finished spinning and plying my Potluck roving that was mentioned in a previous post. I am glad I got it finished as I just received a pound of roving from a Full Belly Farm (see Fiber Links) which raises organically grown sheep. The sheep are not dosed with antibiotics or other drugs, are humanely raised, and the fiber is processed using environmentally friendly techniques. I thought I would try it out. It is a bit expensive, which I expected, and is a brown/grey color which will be hard to dye if I choose to. I am looking forward to trying it out.
Tomorrow is the sheep to shawl demonstration. Those of you who have participated in such an event know how popular it is. It is always a good day of hard work and answering lots of questions. Alas, I will not be able to attend tomorrow. I think it is the first time I have missed it. I certainly enjoyed the day today with my fiber friends and the Games.
Tomorrow is a day of rest and catching up on my thoughts which have been in quite a whirl with all that has been going on. Monday it is back to the dye kitchen. It will take a day or two to start cranking out the dyed skeins as the yarn needs to be washed and mordanted but, hang in there, I will be moving into the Color Mixes category by the end of the week! -Renee