Friday, January 31, 2014

Counting My Blessings

My knee surgery went well and now I'm doing physical therapy. I have to admit that I think of the women that I'm working with as the "mean girls". I know that they are doing their jobs, but yikes, after an hour of them working my quads and stretching, I can hardly walk! They are helping me stretch out my leg in order to straighten it and I'm a motivated patient as I'm ready to start cycling again-soon, sooner, soonest. Thanks for all of the prayers and well wishes. They meant so much to me. I'm humbled that I received emails from women that I've never met, telling me that they were praying for me after Mildred posted about my surgery. How cool is that? It just uplifted me, that's for sure. So, again, thanks so much. I've met the neatest people through blogging.

Counting my blessings. I found out from my surgeon that I have lost 50% of the meniscus in my right knee. So okay, I can't do anything about that. But I do have so much to be thankful for, and that's what I'm going to focus on.

When I was combing through the cormo fleeces that I had bought from Dan I discovered a bag of kid mohair that was a nice find. I like working with mohair as it has a nice sheen to it and the curls can be fun to play with. I don't know if you've worked with kid mohair, but it's so soft it makes lovely scarves. I dyed some of it using a cherry drink mix in various strengths, gently carded it on my hand cards, and then spun it into a thin singles on my canary wood spindle with the ebony shaft that my husband made for me. It's a delight to spin with.

I've started knitting the handspun mohair using a lace pattern to make an open scarf:

I like it so well, I decided to dye more of it, this time using a brilliant blue to go with one of my winter jackets.

I've been doing some simple tapestry work, reacquainting myself with the techniques. I did a little coneflower:

The other day my husband and I went for a walk along the Boise River and we noticed a couple of guys fishing while enjoying the sunshine. I wonder if they caught anything? I think that it's time to renew my fishing license....

Here's hoping that you have time for fiber/fabric today,

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Being Creative in Idaho

It's been wonderful seeing snow on the mountains again. The weather has been rather strange this year-one week it will be snowy and cold, then the next week it is almost 50 (10C)! I'll take the snow and cold any day, that's for sure.
One of my goals this year is to explore rug weaving and tapestry more. To that end I found a washed Lincoln fleece that had been in my attic and I'm currently spinning that into a thick singles that will be dyed.
This fleece had been stored for years and was rather compacted. Months ago I had asked Marshall if he could make me a wool picker, which opens up the fiber and helps get rid of vegetable matter. He built me a prototype box style picker, which works quite well.

This picker took a matted fleece and opened it up to fluffy Lincoln wool that will be a breeze to process. Thanks, Marshall, for once again creating something that makes working with fiber that much easier.

I took advantage of the warmer weather the other day to have a dye day on my back patio. I dyed half of my BFL top in bright red, orange and yellow.

The other half I dyed using burnt orange dye solution and orange drink mix, pouring it full strength in areas, then diluting it by half and then by half again for a mottled result.

I thought that I'd use the light mushroom spindle that Marshall created for me to spin sock yarn out of the BFL since it turns the fastest and it will make it that much easier to put a bit more spin on my yarn. I'm excited to see how the two singles blend with each other!

Back to tapestry weaving, I tried a couple of small samples at first and I simply sewed the ends to finish these samples.

Then I decided to put a long warp on my Harrisville Model A loom to give myself a chance to practice tapestry techniques and also rug techniques. I'm allowing myself more room between samples to that I can knot the warp ends and turn these into useable mug rugs. I'm using two books for inspiration: Tapestry Weaving by Kirsten Glasbrook; and Rug Weaving Techniques Beyond the Basics by Peter Collingwood. This sample was taken directly from Peter's book, which is an outstanding book to have-

Then I decided to play with it a bit-
On quilting news, I've been stuck on a quilt, with the pieces cut out on my sewing table, not knowing really how I wanted to proceed. So while I'm vacuuming or walking my dogs, I'm puzzling over the quilt or weaving issues, trying to figure out the direction that I want to go. Do you find yourself doing that? More on that quilt later.

On another day I pulled out my textile paints to recreate some Idaho scenery from one day of walking my dogs.

I think that I'll cut these apart to maybe create embroidered textile postcards. I carved a potato stamp to recreate the pod.

There's something quite inspiring about going on walks here in Idaho, and being able to explore the beauty of an Idaho winter.

Thanks for those of you who have helped me through the past several months after I tore my meniscus in my right knee while hiking with my dogs in late October. Thanks for letting me whine on about my injury and not being able to cycle/ski! Sometimes it's rather easy to drone on about health issues, so another huge thanks for listening. Since being injured I've learned to not take good health for granted, that's for sure. Thanks, too, for good doctors who listen to you when you say that you're hurting and they actually do something about making it better-caring medical people are truly a blessing! I have a surgery date for next Tuesday, so hopefully this injury will be fixed and I'll be able to get back to doing most of the things that I love. Not skiing this year, but there's always next year to dream of....


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lovely Fiber Equipment or Life With a Generous Woodworker

Sharing my life with another creative spirit has been such a grand adventure for us both over the years as we've pursued our various hobbies. I'm truly blessed to share my life with a woodworker who enjoys making fiber tools for me to use. Marshall just finished turning a couple of high whorl drop spindles for me to spin with. For the first spindle the whorl is created from canary wood and the shaft is gaboon ebony. I've never seen anything made with canary wood so this was quite special to see finished. I really like the high contrast between the two woods. It weighs in at 1 3/8 ounces (38g)-

I'll be spinning with it for the first time this morning:-)

Thanks so much, Marshall!

Another spindle that Marshall just finished is made out of black walnut for the whorl and hickory for the shaft. This spindle weighs in at one ounce (30g)-

Isn't that a cool design?

Marshall loves to bake (bad, bad, bad for the waistline), and this past weekend he made some raisin bread by hand. So delicious to eat just out of the oven....

A few months ago my husband discovered an embroidery frame at a local thrift shop. He modified it slightly so that I could use it for small tapestry pieces which was serendipitous timing as I'd been thinking/dreaming about tapestry. The creative freedom of tapestry appeals to me as a nice counterpoint to the linear quality of weaving. Last night I started a couple of small pieces just to review some of the tapestry techniques that I had learned years before.

Marshall created a walnut tapestry beater for me along with some turned tapestry bobbins to wind my wool yarn on. I have bits and balls of leftover wool in baskets all around my house. I think I know how to use some of them now!

I'll leave you with a couple of photos of hemmed hats that I just finished knitting. One in blues and grays for my youngest son, Seb, who has a blue/gray ski jacket. He's worn it almost non-stop since I gave it to him :-) Now this is a much different result than I envisioned when I painted the Merino roving weeks ago using various blues and different values of black. I plied that singles with a variegated gray Merino singles and it created spots of color that float all over the hat.

I made another hemmed hat for my husband using the handspun alpaca/Merino/Rambouillet yarn in forest green, medium brown, tan, and spruce green that I had just finished spinning on a handspindle. This was plied on a wheel using a Merino singles that I had dyed in three different colors of green. It goes nicely with his forest green down jacket. Don't you just love the unusual texture and colors of handspun yarn? It makes a one of a kind hat that's so rewarding to knit.

Here's hoping that you have time for fiber/fabric today,