Friday, August 27, 2010

Beginner's Luck?

This is probably a case of what you don't know can't hurt you, but since I did (you knew I would) buy the loom I went to look at, which looks just like the one in the photo so I won't bore you with a picture of MY ACTUAL loom, and the lady I bought it from had put a small warp on it I just HAD to PLAY with it even though I don't have a clue what I'm doing. So you can call it beginner's luck if you'd like because once I actually know what I'm doing I'll probably be embarrassed by these photos, but this is what I made!! The whole piece is like two feet long and I made it in about a half hour!! I don't know if that's fast or slow but it seemed like lightning speed to me. I always thought weaving was a slow process. (I know warping can take close to forever.) But heck, at this rate I could have a set of dishtowels in under an hour. Now I REALLY can't wait to take my weaving classes. Sadly I wove myself right to the end of my warp and I don't know how to do another one so unless I figure it out I think I'm going to have to wait. But my new woven angora scarf is so close I can almost feel it!

One of the upy-downy thingys on the loom was sticking so my capable husband removed it and planed it down (or some other carpenterly thing) and now it works great. It's also got an added piece on the end that is supposed to help keep the threads aligned. And since it didn't come with a shuttle I bought this one on Etsy. It's a vintage Shambow Shuttle and looks lovely. I can't wait until it arrives. I had to do my whole little trial without one. At least now I have a good appreciation for them!

Time to feed the bunnies. Next time I will try to give you an update on how the chemo projects are going.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Getting Loomy

So I saw an ad for a 4 harness Dorset loom (like this one) at Six Loose Ladies on Thursday and I've had looms on the brain since I took it in my head to learn how to weave so I could make woven angora scarves. They have the most amazing feel and drape. I saw one at the MA Sheep and Wool and have been obsessed with making one ever since. (They were selling for $120!!). And as we all know I have plenty of Angora rabbits to make them from. Speaking of which, I put Poppet's nesting box in her cage tonight. Fingers crossed we should have some babies in a couple days. I'm pacing nervously. Sheesh, you'd think I was the father.

So, anyway, long story short my friend Suzanne and I are going to take a little field trip. I'm going to help her evaluate fiddles at a violin shop and she's going to check out this loom for me. Maybe we'll both get lucky and come home with a new fiddle and loom respectively. Oh, and we're also going to take a short side trip to Delectable Mountain Cloth. Fiddles, fiber, and cloth. Field trips don't get much better than that!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Solar Dyeing

Fun in the sun probably doesn't mean the same thing to me as it does to most people. This summer my fun in the sun has been to play around with solar dyeing. Usually I dye with Country Classics, which I love, but I have to take all the normal precautions: rubber gloves, special equipment, dyeing outdoors because of fumes, careful disposal of waste water. This year I wanted to try something a bit more natural and I also wanted less work. Call me lazy.

So I collected some pickle jars and tried Wilton Icing Dyes. You can eat them so no special precautions necessary. I have had SO MUCH FUN!! I've gotten some great colors too. I've even tried painting the dye on rather than soaking it and that worked too. Fortunately for me the sun has been cooperative this year, meaning we've actually had some. Here are pix for shows some of my fawn angora in its natural state. Next to it is the same color dyed buttercup yellow. I thought it was pretty spectacular. The angora takes the dye even better than wool does.

That's my Nepalese drop spindle you see in the pic. It's a Golding Rob got it for me for my birthday this year. I've been spinning Merry up on it. The other pic shows the yarn in relation to a penny so you can judge the size better. It's not quite thread weight. I'm going to ply it to lace weight and make a shawl, I think.

This angora was shorn because I started off shearing my rabbits. But I discovered that shearing leaves a thick butt end that I don't like. It's hard to spin. Plucking, on the other hand, leaves the fiber in the perfect state to just start spinning and it spins like a dream. No prep required. Fits my lazy streak to a T. As a bonus I get to spend more time with my rabbits because plucking is time consuming. There are always one or two rabbits ready to blow their coats. I only have six right now but I pluck for an hour or more a week usually. Rob is always picking on me because I'm constantly covered in fluff. But I love it and I get to know my rabbits very well. Shearing is fast, but then there's no real need to handle the rabbits for 3-4 months.

Next year though I've decided to shear everyone no matter what state their coat is in at the beginning of the summer. (Or, rather, bribe Lucas into shearing them.) It's madness for them to carry heavy coats all summer because most of them don't pluck naked so their shortest coat is 1/2 inch or so. If they are sheared at the beginning of summer they will avoid carrying a thick coat through the summer and be much more comfortable. Then I can pluck all fall/winter/spring and still get lots of great fiber. And the shorn stuff makes lovely, soft corespun without a lot of fuss.

So, you know, just in case you were wondering about how I handle all that fiber. Yeah.