I was writing a post yesterday and spinning on my new spindle when I heard the neighbour’s dog growling at my kids age 8 and 5 that were getting ready for a bike ride. My bedroom window is right in the front and my window is broken and doesn’t shut properly. I got out there before this dog attacked them but they were pretty scared and I calmly despite my nerves explained when the owner came out of his house that he has to keep his dogs on leashes (I reported him to the Town about this months ago). He then called me a lazy bitch and I told the kids to go inside as this man yelled at me about what everyone in town thought of me (according to him). It was loud enough that a lady who lives down the street called to make sure I was okay. I was calling the police at this point as this dog has attacked other dogs and I am quite sure is not vaccinated against rabies not to mention was advancing and growling at my kids. The police came and explained that he must have control over his dogs at all times. Of course he went on about the state of my dog run (he is still going on about how the dog run was when the snow started melting) but the policeman said he explained that doesn’t matter to him but an aggressive dog does. I phoned the nursing station to get some advice on dog attack first aid as I don’t know much about it. Apparently the treatment for possible rabies is not very nice. If my child needed to be in a hospital they would have to be flown out which means I would have to drive to Whitehorse with the other two kids in a real hurry. We have nurses here but a doctor just comes to visit every couple of weeks. I also phoned the Town and went on about what do I have to do to get them to enforce the bylaws my neighbour is in breach of. I stated that I am beginning to think my children need to be attacked before they will do something. The worst part is that isn’t even his most aggressive dog. He has another dog that is worse according to someone who has been in his place.
So the blog post didn’t get finished and today is my spinning demo. I will try to get a post up regarding spinning with pictures soon.
I made an indigo vat today. I also made a cochineal dye bath but indigo is rather magical and much more interesting I think. To make a vat you have to go through a series of steps to make a vat of “indigo white” which is a greeny-yellow colour and when you pull out the wool or other fibre the fibre oxidizes to blue. You can keep dipping until you get a deep color. You do not mordant before dyeing with indigo. You can over-dye other colours and there is a saying in natural dyeing circles that goes something like “if you don’t like the colour just throw it into the indigo vat”. Having said this I over-dyed the orange madder fibre I had and I am not convinced on the colour yet. It might look better once it is carded up and spun. Needless to say, I put many things into the indigo vat until it started raining. Indigo stinks so I have to keep it outside. The reduction reaction in the vat means it has that rotten egg smell. I am going to rinse them out and once they are dry I will take a picture. I have a number of greens now and some blues. Green is a colour not found very often in natural dyes. It is normally achieved with over-dyeing with indigo. This is handy as yellow is the most common natural dye colour.
I watched the video download from Interweave called Color and Yarn Design for Spinners. This video is fantastic. I have watched her other video too but this one goes into colour and plying dyed yarns. I find her really inspirational how she plays with colour. I mean 12 colours in a yarn?! I would have thought the yarn would be just crazy looking but they look great.
At one point she talks about how she started to use her hand spun yarns instead of commercial yarns and how instead of several projects she would just make one a year. This is something that I get down on myself for all the time. I thought about the tapestry crochet that I adore and how I want to do a larger piece but that it would take so long. I have the socks and the blanket project. However, isn’t it much more mindful and just better if I finished just one project a year? Maybe more with a couple of pairs of socks and a blanket or tapestry crocheted piece? Would that not be so much better. I think so.
Anyways, I am going to mordant some wool I spent hours picking through and do a dye tomorrow. I am thinking madder root but I am not sure. I looked madder up in Cardon and it has such a fascinating history. It got into Turkey Red and while rather repulsive it was rather amazing the impact this had on the textile world. It is one of the oldest dyes and historically significant. I often wonder if I should do little write-ups on these dyes as I have a number of dyeing books. If any of you are interested in this kind of stuff let me know. Cardon is an expensive book being the price of a text book but full of fascinating information. I have another book completely on indigo. Actually, I have one just on madder but haven’t read it yet. I read more in the winter plowing through a book or two each week when I want to stay in the house more. Anyways, if you want I can talk about them. I am considering it anyways.
Well off to get the kids ready for bed and maybe I will pick some more fleece. That is such a time consuming job. Picking fleece just in case you don’t know is going through the fleece and manually picking out all the tiny pieces of hay and vegetable matter out. It gets caught in the wool and commercially they use caustic chemicals to dissolve the vegetable matter (vm for short) and leave the wool. Obviously, when scouring the fleece by hand I don’t use that sort of thing and therefore I have to pick it out by hand. There are pickers you can buy but apparently they don’t really do things that much better. They cost quite a bit of money too. It takes me hours to pick through enough to make a pair of socks. That is before I dye them or card it up let alone spin it. No wonder the Industrial Revolution had a lot to do with the textile industry. Note how recently synthetic dyes came along. Dyeing textiles has been done for a very long time yet synthetics are a rather recent invention. I find it all rather fascinating.
Today, I washed some Icelandic fleece I got from a Yukon shepherd. I also finally pulled the Leicester roving out of the dye baths and disposed of them. I had everything nicely drying when I heard thunder but luckily it passed around us and the fibre was safe.
I am going to dye this fleece and card it up and have it for sale this weekend if all goes well. I am doing a spinning demo and thought it would be nice to have some fibre if people wanted to buy it. There is a mini-arts festival next Saturday. I am doing a demo from 1 to 3 pm behind the Interpretive Centre. I guess now that I have announced it on here I really have to dye the fleece and card it up. Anything I have after will go in my Etsy shop. I have never sold anything in my Etsy shop in case you are wondering why you haven’t heard me mention it.
I hope this weather stays sunny like it is right now so my wool dries faster. That would help out a lot.
I follow Carol Ventura’s blog about tapestry crochet. A few years ago she posted about this lady. I was remembering it and went back to find it and was again inspired. You see, I don’t really knit or weave but do love to crochet. I have this idea in my head about combining spinning, natural dyeing and tapestry crochet into something. I am currently slowly (very slowly) working on a tapestry crocheted bag in a little design I charted out from a Turkish sock knitting book. Anyways, I thought I would share this as I find Esther’s crocheting very inspiring. She uses cotton but I would use wool. In fact, I have those Yukon raised, Icelandic fleeces in the basement and I am wondering if I should experiment with separating the coats and trying tapestry crochet with the the tog dyed by me. Perhaps just blending the tog and thel would be okay too. I see some experimenting in the future. I was reading Sarah Swett’s website and love her tapestry weaving too which is what made me think of Carol’s post on Esther. However, I am not really a weaver. Anyways, if this inspiration does actually lead into something I thought I would start to document it.
Now I want to try doodling some ideas. This is one advantage crochet has in that it is much easier to modify and change as you go than other crafts. I think that is why I love it.
My Turkish spindle from IST Crafts arrived this morning. It is a birthday present from my kids. It is so dainty. The arms are loose but once you wrap a couple of rounds of singles on them it spins so well and is so beautiful:
My dog Pippa had a vet appointment in the end of June and because it had been over a year since she had one of her injections she needed to have a booster. I brought the booster home (put it in the fridge until now) and gave it to her this afternoon. I have never given a dog a vaccination before (one time I had to give myself Heparin but that’s it) and it went okay. I mixed it and then switched to the smaller needle like the vet told me to. The first poke she felt and she flinched and moved slightly out of the way. The second time was better and I got it into her. She has black fur and is a Husky X so it was a little hard to tell the first time. She didn’t seem upset with me or anything. James, my other dog has a vet appointment this week. A clinic in Whitehorse was convinced to do a couple of days here in town now that the mobile vet moved to another province. I guess they had so many calls they said they will come back another time and weren’t doing surgeries this time. My dogs are both fixed so that was okay. Mainly, they need their rabies certificates for their dog tags.
I still have that fibre in the dye baths. I might pull it out tonight and lay it out to dry. I did some plying today and it went a little wrong with using plying balls and the CPW. There was a bit of tangling and so forth but it was my first time plying on the CPW. I really can’t wait for my weaving bobbin winder and weaving bobbins to show up as I think that might help. I was plying a Corriedale, Dyakcraft batt as a 3ply for socks. I am going to crochet them and actually try to write down the pattern.
I was a little upset with my laziness this morning. Yarrow grows across the street every year and this morning I woke up to the town mowing it down which they do every year. I knew they would and kept putting it off so it is my fault. I checked on the goldenrod bath and it is really pale. I might over dye it with one of the red dye baths. There is a lot of goldenrod growing right now but it is the type where all the flowers are on the main stem (my old botany instructor would cringe that I have forgotten the terminology) and I think I need a lot more of it than I originally thought. They sometimes mow the one area where a bunch of goldenrod is growing so I guess I better get it harvested before that is mowed.
My newest project on the wheel is a progression hand-painted top from Spunky Eclectic. I split the progression into 3 and am spinning a 3ply. I am considering doing a cushion cover expanding a motif to fit one of the numerous unmatched cushions I have.. It is very neutral colourway. I spun 1 part and have 2 parts left to spin.
Anyways, I have to go do my chores and then maybe pull that fibre out of the dye baths.
Okay, the sun came out and I was able to get some pictures of what I have been dyeing recently.
Romney in cochineal:
Leicester in lac with a white vinegar modifier:
Romney in onion skin:
Cochineal, onion skin and lac:
It is raining so I can’t really take pictures but I pulled three sets of fibre out of the dye baths. The cochineal was as I expected and just like last time. I pulled the fibre out of the lac dye bath and gasped it was so beautiful. It came out a dark cherry red and I rinsed and rinsed and then gave up after getting a faint pink tinge and put it on the drying rack. The onion skin is a dark golden yellow. At the rate I am going I will probably start selling some dyed stuff as I have quite a bit of it. I only have so much room and so much time to use it up myself.
I got my new Inside Crochet magazine today. I swear I have some masochistic love of motif afghans and/or shawls. Every time I make an afghan I say it will be the last one and then I start another one. I think I love motifs. I keep looking at them in my magazines. I start garments and then frog them (frog = rip them out: rip it rip it sounds like ribbit). I think I should face facts and admit I am a afghan lover. Fit is not an issue and if you really are sick of doing it anymore you can make a small afghan or even a cushion cover. Shawls are the same and I don’t wear them very much but often the ones I like could easily become afghans of some type.
As I was chopping ginger for the dehydrator today (I only am doing one tray because I find it so tedious to peel ginger root) I thought about this whole problem with afghans. I think the main problem I have is that I don’t buy fibre (or yarn back when I was buying yarn) with afghans in mind. I love making socks too and really I should start getting a bit more organized with my purchasing. I stopped buying yarn 3 years ago except one skein from my friend Jodi who was sells hand dyed yarn. I have stopped buying commercially dyed fibre pretty much too. I have a number of fleeces to wash and 4 of them are Icelandic bought in the Yukon. I think I might just stick with the Icelandic until I run down the enormous amount of stash I already have. Buying fleece in person is so much fun. I have a lot of 4 oz quantities that will supply me with colourful socks for quite a while and a lot of fleeces I can dye in different colours and make afghans with. Sure an afghan takes a lot of yarn but if I do it in squares I don’t have to spin everything at once. I think this will be my goal for the time being.
I gathered some goldenrod yesterday and made a dye bath. It is a little weak so the yellow will be pale. I have left it in the dye bath and hope a few days in there will make the colour a little stronger. Today, I did another cochineal dye bath using the method Jenny Dean mentions which is to steep, simmer, strain off 3 times mixing the 3 extractions in one dye bath. It looks nice and strong although dyeing fleece never gets really saturated colours. I had a bag of onion skins that I decided to simmer and they are right now. I have mordanted some more fibre. The fibre I am using is roving from Custom Woolen Mills but I will just re-card it when I use it. I am considering doing lac after the onion as I have never tried that. Maiwa is having a sale right now and I ordered some more dyes. I won’t be able to dye in my garage after September until about May so I guess it is good I get a bunch done now and then I have lots of fibre to work with over the winter.
I found a washed fleece yesterday. Yes, the stash is a little big that fleeces can go missing. It is a Suffolk that I bought just when I started buying fleeces. It was from a meat sheep that was kept as a meat sheep. It is white but I am still glad I bought the 2 white Icelandics. I am going to wash them after I get my floors done. I can’t have too much craziness going on at once. Fleeces take up so much room when they are drying. Not to mention I have ordered a bunch of Orvus Paste from Maiwa to wash them and I want to wait for that. I can’t seem to find Power Scour in Canada and am not in need of anything from any place that carries it in the US. Orvus Paste works with my water too.
This is onion skin. I use an alum mordant but am debating about adding some iron as I love that olive green you get when you add iron to an onion skin dye bath. It also makes it more fast. I just don’t like the feeling yarn feels like after it has been in iron but maybe it will be better with dyeing fibre and not yarn.
The summer always just flies by. Living in the Yukon means that summer is rather short and winter is rather long. My mom came to visit last week and she wouldn’t stop cleaning. It does mean my house is a little cleaner. We also got a little more wood stacked. It was mostly me operating the splitter and she was stacking as I had popped a rib out and my back was killing me. It popped back in place on it’s own and is much better now.
So since I last posted I got my CPW or Canadian Production Wheel. She is a refurbished wheel which many CPW owners refer to as frankenwheels. I have named her Mary Shelley. The joke is a little lost on anyone else but she is a beautiful wheel. My mom brought her up. She was a gift actually and I still cannot believe Cheryl arranged the whole thing. She is amazing. I will post a picture up when I find my camera.
I also got this amazing new book by Beverley Gray called “The Boreal Herbal”. This book is amazing. It is about wild food and medicine plants of the north and the author lives in Whitehorse. I think it will compliment my natural dyeing quite well. I haven’t got the stove or plug-in switched over yet but hopefully this weekend. Maiwa (maiwa.com) is having a sale right now and I bought some more dyeing stuff. I think I will include some foraging posts on my blog as I go along. I have done a little of it and an old friend of mine used to be really into urban foraging. I lost touch with him so maybe he still does it. I am glad she mentions leaving at least one petal behind on rose flowers and things like that. Some people can be so stupid and just strip everything bare not realizing that there is a delicate balance in the wild. I saw some goldenrod growing down the street and I am sure they will mow it down soon so I will collect that for dyeing. I am also collecting my marigold flowers as they die off and drying them for dyeing too. I dried some mint in my dehydrator and today I am dehydrating some celery that I needed to use up or somehow preserve. I have to pick up my produce box for today actually. My fridge will be stuffed for a few days until I either dry or eat up produce.
On top of that I am also laying some new flooring down on my main floor. It is just vinyl tile as that is all I can afford right now but the old tile from 1970 is really getting worn out. The carpet was ripped out after I moved in here. It was not in very good condition and the tile was easier to clean. My new tile is black and white and the kids love the checkerboard pattern I am laying. It will take me a while to get it all done. I have to unload and move book cases etc. I still am not sure what I will do about the wood stove. I am hoping I can slide it once I take the bricks out of it. That thing is super heavy. I won’t need it for another month at least so if I can’t move it after disconnecting it and taking the bricks out I still have a few weeks to find someone to help.
Anyways, I better go and get that produce box from the nursing station and do some spinning and fold some laundry.