Monday, 20 August 2018

Felting and spinning and spinning and spinning

 It was Textile Day at Westfield yesterday.  I ran an activity for making wet felted beads.   These are the samples I made up ahead of time.  I have another container full, but it's in that super safe place and really, I didn't have the energy to dig it up.  It was easier to just make new ones.  I started decorating a couple of them just because.   Most of the kids and adults who made a bead, had a great time and were very successful. We made necklaces and bracelets with a little bit of embroidery floss.   Once people started coming in, it was non-stop beadmaking.    I haven't been that tired at the end of a Westfield day in a while.   Silly me though.  I'd brought my wheel and some cotton to spin during the down times.   I probably got 4 or 5 yards of cotton spun as there was no down time during the whole afternoon. 

Just a heads up that if you come to Westfield on Sept. 2nd, I'm currently planning to churn ice cream!   Yay!   That's a good way to end the summer. 

 When I got home, we had a campfire.  I picked some of the drying Tigerlily (those orange ditch lilies) leaves and turned them into cordage.   My sweetie thought it was a lot of work, but really, I was sitting around the campfire doing nothing otherwise.  Now I have 2 metres of cordage suitable for basketry.   I'm drying some of the still green leaves to see if they make a difference in workability.   I wonder if bull rush leaves would work as well?   There are a bunch in the ditch, up the road!
 This is some ramie I dyed when I was first playing with Fibre Reactive dyes.   It is definitely a bold colour.   The ramie sliver was pretty compacted when I was done dyeing.  I tried shaking it out,  spreading the fibres manually, carding the fibres and then finally just stripping the sliver into thin bits.   The carding worked reasonably well, but of course was extra work.  The stripping into thin bits of sliver worked the best though and was quite fast.   There was a fair bit of short bits and neps in this fibre, but it looks pretty decent despite that.

This is more ramie.  The right skein I spun up in the past two days.   It was a bit of roving which was perfect.  All long staple lengths, with no short bit or neps.  It flew out of my hands and onto the wheel.  It was a joy to spin.  The skein on the left is from a previous batch of this same colourway.  What a difference in dye lots!   Just a reminder to get enough of one dye lot if you need it for a particular project.   I didn't believe they were the same colourway at first, but I'd been storing the skeins in their original packets, and sure enough - same colourway, just a different colour.   It won't really matter for what I have in mind though, so I'm happy enough with it.

I've two projects to put on the loom, which I'd planned to do over the summer.  I guess since summer is almost over, I should get started on those.   :)

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

More Colour Experiments

I did a few more low immersion dyeing experiments last week. I had some fibre reactive dyes which needed using up.  Dyeing protein fibres with fibre reactive dyes is a similar process as using acid dyes.  Slightly different percentages, and a bit of synthropol added to the mix.  Heat is needed to set the dyes on wool, rather than time as on cellulose fibres.   This multi-coloured batch is a bit larger than the others as well, as I had about 130 g of the same blend fibre left in 2 bags, which I combined. My main worry with this batch was the fibres were a bit crowded.  I had to be quite careful that the bottom layers of fibre were dyed adequately.   It turned out quite spectacularly for a random blend of colours.

I had enough old dyes for two experiments.  Then I took the time to mix up new dyes.   This is fuchsia and  turquoise.  It is 100 g, which seems to be a good amount in my pan for this type of dyeing.   It turned out quite lovely, with the bright but not glaring colours and gentle colour transitions.  I lay the roving in the pan in a zig zag fashion, across the narrow end of the pan and back again.  I poured the dyes on in layers or in rows, from lighter to darkest, in the pan, keeping the same back and forth motion with the dye application as I'd used with laying the fibre in the pan.  This one was fun to see take up and set.

 Oh, the brightness of this one.  This is for spinning on a dull, grey, winter day.   I used yellow and fuchsia, in random splotches.  It made my day when I pulled that out of the dye pot. 

The one below used fuchsia, blue and black.  It was also with the end lot of the old dyes.   I left a bit of white fibre on purpose for mellowing down the colours.   This is a blend which I'm betting looks awesome when spun.  I love to see how some of the fibre colours appear to change once they are spun.  The blending of the colours makes a lot of difference sometimes.

Today's experiment is solar dyeing.   Really, our weather in July was the prime time for solar dyeing, but I'm doing this at Westfield on Sunday, so thought a few experiments to show would be nice.  These two are using fibre reactive dyes.   I've also got food colours and the Kool-Aid powder that we found when my daughter and I were out fabric hunting in July.   I've lots of bits of fibre from random fleeces which I'm using.   
 I'll do up a post with a better explanation of the solar dyes, once I've got a few more samples.  The pink jar is leftovers from the last dye session and the multi coloured jar is just splashes of 3 different colours, applied to different areas of the fibre in the jar,  with a syringe

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Random Shots of a Summer hike

Snapshots from a very short hike when it was way too hot.

It was interesting playing around with settings with the heat and the resulting haze.  The grey sky and the background which looked misty were odd as it was fairly breezy and the sky was cloudless.
 The breeze was bending these spent flowers around like crazy!  I was happy to get to play with faster shutter speeds.

 It was too hot for any wildlife.  We saw one bird and a single butterfly.  This was the turn back point, when the heat was starting to defeat us.

 One last shot before we headed to a nearby town for wonderful ice cream.   They had a gazillion flavours to choose from, including Moose Tracks. Yum!

Friday, 3 August 2018

More summery colour

Four red and grey scarves off the loom.    I was certainly happy to get these finally done.  I'd put them on 2 months ago and just couldn't find the incentive to get them done.   I'd tied on to the last warp and I'd been a bit iffy about whether I'd liked doing that pattern or not.   By the time these were off the loom, I knew for sure I'd done enough of that pattern.   They are a wool and silk blend. I used grey and a darker shade of red for the warp and a lighter shade of red for the weft, to try to add interest to the scarves both in appearance and for weaving them.     I'm not sure that it accomplished that aim.   However, I do know that I now have an awful lot of ends to twist.
I experimented with cake dyeing, another low immersion technique.  I tried to make loose cakes, but my ball winder is old and still very efficient.  I'm not sure it could have made anything looser wind on than this.

 I soaked the cakes of yarn in water for a good part of the morning.   Having seen the results, next time I'd soak the cakes over night.  When dyeing, I also forgot to give a nod to Loki, to whom I always acknowledge when I'm dyeing, just to be on the safe side.   With all this going against me, despite the dyed balls looking promising, I ended up with this.   There is a lot of white on this yarn, which I'm not sure I like.   Luckily my not so brilliant outcomes are far less than the good ones.  

My next experiment was using only blue and yellow dye.   This is what it looked like in the pot while it was still getting started.  It took a bit to get the green bits to exhaust, but after adding a touch more vinegar and more time heating, it all came together.
 The finished roving is just lovely, with a wide range of greens, with a touch of yellow and blue.  It should spin up nicely.

I dyed these Blue Faced Leicester skeins using the same low immersion techniques, using blue, red and black dyes.   There wasn't much black left, and I wasn't in the mood to clean the jar and make a fresh stock solution, so I left it as it was.  The colours turned out perfectly and the skeins are so enticing.  I want to slap them on the loom and weaving something with them, though I'm pretty sure there is just 200 g or maybe 250, so not really enough to weave with.
I finished spinning up the last batch of blue/purple low immersion experiment roving.   It spun beautifully and the colours are lovely.  I had thought that maybe the blue and red would be a bit more purplish when plied, but I'm extremely happy with the blocking and distinctive colours which happend in the end.   To show the difference in the two techniques, I've put  kettle and low immersion pan dyed yarns side by side.  The two bottom skeins are the low immersion dye and the the upper one is the last skein of Polar Vortex which I'd kettle dyed a while ago and just finished spinning,  I like them both.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Balls Falls

 We've passed by the Balls Falls conservation area a number of times but never stopped.  Finally, this week, we chose it as our destination, packed a picnic and headed out.    It's a bit of a drive to get there, especially when the driver decides to do the back roads instead of the highway, but it was a lovely drive.    It always amazes me how different the scenery is, a mere hour or two drive away.

Balls Falls is so named after the Ball family who ran a mill along the waterway.   There are a number of historic buildings but they were all locked up, although we were told we could arrange a private tour if we wanted.   

The Bruce Trail hooks winds through part of this conservation area, but not on the main trails.   If you're looking for a long and arduous trail, this is not the place to go.  The long trail is about 40 minutes round trip and the short is maybe 20 minutes there and back.   It's fully groomed and manicured, with only a bit of rocky areas and slopes to contend with.    However, for a hot and muggy day, lugging the loaded  big girl camera bag,  and a lunch bag, this was  perfect.  

 The upper falls is the longer trail and it was simply lovely under the green canopy.  We ambled along the trail, enjoying the views.   The stream was cut down into the rock, so  you looked down on the water.  The slope down was quite steep though people had cut a little trail right along the bank of the stream.   I didn't think I wanted to deal with that, so I took the high road and the easy trail.

This time of year, the water coming from the falls is groundwater.   The volume is quite amazing to see.   I think being able to see the run off, over the rocky ledge, in the spring time, would be quite awesome.

We took the alternate route back, but missed the switchback cut,  and ended up heading right back to the building at the gate.  We got to take the first part of the trail twice as we cut across a lawn to get to the little picnic area where the second trail begins.

It was a really nice couple of hours.   The trails are beautifully maintained.  The bathrooms are clean and bright.  This was a lovely place for our picnic.    Erm, also The Fibre Garden  is about 7 minutes away, so we had to stop there.  It is a great fibre supply store, with fabulous service.   It is way too difficult not to spend too much money in there.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

More colour!

 It was a bit cooler on Saturday, so we revisited the same hiking trail that we'd hiked in June.   Oh so different now!   The swaths of Queen Anne's Lace were now just green and brown seed heads.There was hardly any colour other than shades of green and brown.  In two different places on the trail, a single stalk each of these lilies grew.  It was a shock of bright orange popping up in a sea of monotone.   It was both unexpected and simply stunning.

I've started spinning the last batch of low immersion experiments.    It is destined to become either shawl or sock yarn, so I'm spinning it finely.   It would be suitable to weave with as well.   The singles are lovely, with good colour definition but I think that might be lost when I ply them.   This is the first bobbin though, so it could be a while before I get to that point.   Until then, I'm enjoying how lovely this fibre spins and how pretty it is.
We've had some volunteer raspberry plants come up.  The raspberry bushes around the huge maple tree and heavily bearing, but also almost bare as the birds are eating them.  However the red raspberries by the garage seem to be out of sight of the birds.   There are black raspberries by the barn and in the middle of the gooseberry bush.  The latter one is a double prickle, since both the gooseberry and the black raspberry bushes have a goodly amount of thorns.   If I pick what I have every day or two, and pop them in the freezer, we'll have enough for something yummy.  The alternative is just eating them right away, which is also a good use for these.
The difference between black raspberries and blackberries is the core and the ripening time.  Blackberries have a core which stays with the berry, while black raspberries are hollow, like red raspberries.   Blackberries ripen later in the summer and black raspberries ripen now! 

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Red Currants and Green Gooseberries.

The currants are ripening daily.   In just a few days I've got 800 g in the freezer.   It's been too hot to use the currants to make jam or bake anything with them for that matter.    This way, I just clean them up, pop them in the freezer and use them when the weather cools.    These are from a very old currant bush.  It's probably some common old fashioned variety, with smaller, tart berries.  I keep thinking I should dig it up and plant a modern cultivar but I never to, and it keeps on giving, with little pruning or care for that matter.

As well, the gooseberries are ripening.  It's hard to tell because these are one of the old hard green common gooseberry bushes.  I bet the bush is 30 years old.  The berries are small and really tart.  They only seem to turn red or ripen when they get eaten by the gooseberry fruit worms.  They take forever to be topped and tailed - you have to snip the blossom and stem ends off before you use them.  Despite this, they make the absolute best jam.   It is soooo good.  

I 've been thinking though that I'd like to take a cutting and plant it elsewhere, then replace this bush with a newer cultivar that has larger, sweeter fruit.     But then I wonder if I just pick half the berries off when it first starts fruiting, if I'd get larger fruit with less effort.    Still, it would be nice to have sweeter berries and maybe more edible with less sugar.  Does anyone know of good, reliable, hardy gooseberry cultivars?

We're still eating salads from the garden, although the spinach has gone to seed with the stinking hot weather we've had recently.    The pumpkins and cucumbers are doing well.  The powdery mildew seems to be held at bay with several sprinklings of sulfur and a change in weather.    I've been spot watering them directly at the roots every day.  They're growing and there are some tiny fruit on one of the pumpkin plants.   The cucumber plants are flowering, the zucchini plants are about to flower and the beans plants are huge and this morning, the little buds finally opened.    That means beans soon too.   If we get some rain here soon, the potatoes will be happy.  It rained on Friday, everywhere but here it seems.