Wednesday, October 27, 2004

a poncho "fo"

I finished this gift set for a friend of mine, whose daughter just recently had a baby girl. The poncho was constructed on the 3foot triloom. I wove two tri's together, that I had spun out of merino/mohair (50-50). I had purchased the roving last Feb. from Countrywool, and had just enough left to complete this small project. I plied the mohair blend together with some light pink lambswool stash that I had left over from ...well...I can't remember when. I knit the hat and booties from the lambswool, and trimmed them out with the plied mohair. This project did not take all that long to accomplish. The "time factor" is one of the biggest things I like about weaving on the triangle loom. It took less than 2 hours to weave that little poncho, and if I had been knitting it, I imagine it would have taken me at least 2 days.

Don't for get to check out the moon tonight, should be a nice show.....

Saturday, October 23, 2004

and the winner is...

Nameless, and I do apologize for the fact that I cannot give credit to the creator of this beautiful needle felting project. To see a picture of it is nothing at all like seeing it in person. The use of color with wool was simply perfect. I have seen many needle felted projects, but this one was truly unique. It was hanging in the exhibit barn at the festival.

I am very glad that I was able to attend the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck NY last weekend. We had a wonderful time. We combined our "business" trip with a family visit, so that made for twice the fun. This was my first visit to the festival, and I now know why this event is touted as one of the best assemblies of "wool minded' people on the east coast. There was so much to see, and it was a banquet for the eyes. There were so many different colors and textures of fibers, that everywhere I looked I was inspired. I didn't know what to look at more, the vendors offerings, or the people and the fiberworks they displayed on themselves. So much variety! Some of the things people make! Just spectacular...from the very simplistic to the most intricate of patterns, it was all there.

I saw many vendors that I had only seen on-line. There is a big difference in looking at fiber on a monitor, and seeing the real thing. The colors translate pretty good, but the real texture of the yarns is something that I think one can only truly absorb from seeing the actual 3 Dimensional object.

I purchased some yarn from Autumn House, some beautiful Wensleydale from Barneswallow Farm, and some Tussah Silk from The Copper Moth. I plan to combine the Wensleydale with the silk, and knit a scarf on the bias with some really big needles. I also purchased a shed stick and two needles from the exotic wood guy from New Mexico...(sorry, I did not get his name). The needles are wonderful to use. I have already used up half the yarn from Autumn house on the 3ft triloom. One of the biggest highlights of the day was seeing Carol Leigh of Hillcreek Fiber Studios in action. She was weaving on a large square loom. There was a crowd around her, and her booth was so full I could not even wade in! What a great weekend!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

a festivus we will go

Well, I am packed and about to embark on the journey to Rhinebeck. We will be staying with Mr. D's cousins, who have graciously invited us into their home for a visit while we are in the area. I am looking forward to a wonderful weekend. The color is just about peak around here, so I think it will be a beautiful drive. I have my shopping list and my weekend project (mittens) tucked inside my felted bag...and I am ready! The excitement builds!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

hope for the hopi red dye

I have been trying to have some success with the Hopi Red Amaranth Dye from the Amaranth Plants that I grew this past summer. After 3 tries, I am producing 2 shades of yellow, and one of salmon. The plant is beautiful. At full height, it measures in at a good 5-6 feet. The plant seed heads are heavy, and I would advise anyone who grows this to provide support in the way of steaks or cages. The seed for the Hopi Red Amaranth is very small. Actually, they are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. It is amazing to me to hold this seed in the palm of my hand, and know that there is a beautiful 6 foot plant that waits to be, "unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see".

The Hopi Indians use this seed to make a ceremonial corn bread that takes on the red color of the plant. I used the entire plant, seed head-leaves-stems, to make a dye bath for my wool. The above picture show the 3 different colors I was able to achieve. As you can see, none of them are really RED. I am still trying to get a red yarn from the dye. I think I am getting close. It is difficult to find information on how to prepare a dye bath for this plant. I tried making a tea by simmering the plant pieces in water for about an hour. I strained off the vegetation, and added the wool and continued to simmer on low heat for about an hour. Then, I took it off the heat and set it aside for several days. The dye bath and the wool looked to be a beautiful red color, but after rinsing and washing, it turned a nice shade of yellow...sort of a mustard yellow. A nice color, but not what I was after. So I tried again.

The second dye bath, I prepared the same way, only this time I added a pre-mordant wool (from alum). This gave me a nice light yellow. Again, pretty, but still not red. I tried one more time, using a post mordant of vinegar. This time, I got a soft salmon I am getting close.

I have been searching books and the internet for information on how to get this plant to make a red dye. I have found one piece of what I hope to be useful information...this being the suggestion to make a sun tea from the amaranth, and to use lots and lots of vinegar. Well, the weather has turned a bit cool up here in the mountains, so I have resorted to making Amaranth Sun tea next to the wood stove. I will strain this tea off and try one more time to make a red yarn.

Monday, October 04, 2004

ursus americanus

I almost walked right into this bear the other morning, as I was heading to the hen house to let the girls out for the day. I turned the corner of the house, and came face to, well, butt of this black bear! He/she turned and looked at me over his shoulder, and I turned around and ran inside my house. I fumbled for the camera, and snapped this shot from the window. I must remember to whistle or make lots of noise when I go outside now. The bears are trying to beef up for winter now...they need to feed almost constantly...up to 20 hours a day. I have to post a picture of a bear on the front door to remind everyone to check before going outside. I am learning to respect the fact that they are here. I may even be forced to call the game commission to ask for help getting rid of them.

One of the women who comes to our spinning group, has spun Bear Hair before. She says the undercoat is similar to that of a dog. It is short, between one and two inches long, and she sometimes blends it with wool. My neighbor hunts bear, and if he gets one this year, I am going to ask for some of the "undercoat".

Saturday, October 02, 2004


or "a goody".

This is Jack's first offspring. We have decided to name her (pretty sure it is a her) "Chance". The pattern of the coloring on Chance is called Agouti. This is the same pattern that is found in wild rabbits, and most likely what they have all descended from. Domestic rabbits have several variations of this pattern, that are caused by combinations of genes and modifiers. The Agouti pattern that Chance exhibits (I think) is referred to as a Chestnut Agouti. The fur has 3 bands of color, with the fur closest to the skin being grey, followed by a tan or caramel color, and being tipped with black. She also shows white around her eyes and nostrils and inner ears. The outer ear is outlined in black. Her eyes are still a blue grey.

I am trying to determine if the Agouti pattern gene was inherited from Jack. Judging from his papers, there was a Chocolate Agouti named "Betty Boop" in his lineage, but I do not know for sure if this rabbit has anything to do with the appearance of Chance. Genetics are difficult for me because I do not have a very clear understanding of the whole "allele/locus" thing...but I am learning.

In the big picture, it really doesn't matter. I was trying to breed for nice little fiber bunnies, and I think that is exactly what I have been gifted with. She is a her daddy. It is fun spending time with her, getting her used to being handled, and watching her grow. I am already planning projects for the beautiful Angora fiber that I know she will produce.

Look how she grows...

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