Friday, January 30, 2009

Pink Alpaca

Here are some of the colours I have been natural dyeing this week. The yarn is from white alpaca that I spun. I washed the fiber several times before I spun it and washed again afterwards. Then I simmered it in an alum and cream of tartar mordant bath. This helps the dye adhere to the fiber. The yarn pictured (top left) was dyed with madder. The lovely green came from goldenrod with an indigo overdye. I extracted the goldenrod in the fall, and stored the dye in plastic milk jugs. The pink is from cochineal. There is purple someplace too, from overdyeing the pink with blue. After the yarns dry I will put them back through the spinning wheel to ply them together to make unusual multi colour yarns.

A special thank you to the lovely Lucy Lane who, through her kind words, has encouraged me to perservere with my hat. It is looking better. More to come on that next week! In the meantime I made two more alpaca felt hats but broke my plastic bucket while doing the last one. That is the end of hats until I can find another form to work on. The two new ones are much thicker, sturdier and 'hat like'. Now the real fun begins, decorating them!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chocolate and Peanut Butter

I spun a spool of Catawissa's lovely brown fiber and then carded some together with fawn alpaca. I just finished plying the two singles together and the colour looks so much like a peanut butter cup that it is making hungry! I will ply the second spool now. I am working next to the coal stove where it is wonderfully warm. We managed to keep the fire going all night, more than 24 hours at this point. The temperature was in single digits again last night with a light coating of fresh snow.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Alpaca Hat

I have never seen anyone felt a hat, but I read about it on the internet! This is my first effort made with fiber from my alpaca "Catawissa" and some from "Boo" that I dyed pink with cochineal. No one will ever wear this one because it is a bit too thin. Next time I will make the layers thicker and have a better idea about how to handle the brim. I certainly have enough fiber to try another! Today I am multitasking as usual: washing alapca, washing sheeps wool, cleaning rabbit coops, carding alpaca...later I will sit still and spin for awhile.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spinning Rabbit

This morning I just finished spinning the fiber from my English angora rabbit, Blimunda, that I harvested last week. I blended her wool with some targhee (a type of sheep's wool) that I had previously cleaned. The result is a lovely heathered soft gray, but I will most likely overdye it. The heather will create wonderful tonals within the dye colour.

I usually cry at weddings, births, funerals... Yesterday was the first time I cried watching an inauguration. They were tears of joy on a day filled with hope. I don't have television service so I invited myself to my parents house for the momentus event. There was not a dry eye in the kitchen. So much possibility, so much resting on the shoulders of an eloquent and capable young man. For the first time in a very long time, I feel proud to be an American.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Deep Freeze

Cold, cold COLD! All I could think of was the Little Feat song... Frozen pipes (that were supposed to be producing heat), burst in two places. Icicles were hanging in the house. Of course I was not the only one. My brother Jon fixed me up, and the coal stove kept the rest of the house from freezing solid. On Saturday I did manage to get some of my new work to ArtSpace Gallery before the reception on Saturday night. Adding to the stress level, my computer had frozen too. New day, new week and as of yesterday Marks' son Andy and wife April have a new baby. Welcome Brayden!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

River Sunset

The actual painting is quite a bit brighter than my photo. Next time I will improve lighting (which means I will do something) since doing nothing didn't work so great. I just realized I didn't sign it yet. I have another painting underway.
Last night was our monthly meeting at ArtSpace Cooperative Gallery in Bloomsburg. It was snowing heavily when I left the house, the beautiful kind of snow that coats every branch. At the gallery a crew spackled and touched up the myriad of holes we made over the course of the past year. We hung our show which opens on Thursday with a reception on Saturday. After the meeting I sat in for a few minutes at the River Poets monthly gathering in a building around the corner, a thoroughly enjoyable event.
Update on the rabbit; she looks better without a fur tutu, but her mane still needs some work. I simply ran out of time. Harvesting fiber from a bunny cannot be rushed!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Painting in the Making

Here it is in the middle of construction. I had fun doing the colour washes, now is the tedious part. About half of the weft painting strips are in place. After it is fully assembled I'll tack all the edges and then use acrylic medium to 'glue' it down.
I discovered I can't purchase the dip I wanted to print on fabric until the weather warms up. It can't freeze and temps across the country are heading sub zero for the next little while. Patience Linda! In the meantime I've ordered some prepared sheets to try.
Last night I started painting on fabrics that I natural dyed with marigolds and brazilwood. I've been planning this project for so long I can't believe I'm finally doing it. At some point I must pause the painting and finish shearing Blimunda (English angora rabbit) She is almost done but looks like she is wearing a skirt at the moment. Don't worry, the little darling is snug and warm even without her angora coat. She has the electric radiator that is usually in my room. I have to count on the cats to keep my feet warm at night for awhile!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Me and my Sisters

On Saturday I brought along a photo album with shots of the fab five from diapers on up. Left is Anita, Juliet, moi and Kathy on the right. Brother Jon had been shoveling all afternoon and had already gone home. It was so great they all braved the snow to join me in kicking off another decade. The food was excellent. Mom made my favorite Hungarian meal, csirke paprikas and I had birthday apple pie instead of cake.
The snowfall prevented the Susquehanna Valley Spinners and Weavers Guild meeting from happening, so my presentation will be rescheduled. I used the 'free time' to start a new painting, sunset on the river. It felt good to break out some bright colours on a dreary day. I will continue working on it today.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Happy Birthday to me, well tomorrow actually, but my dear siblings are making the trip to see me today. It is January and therefore snowing, excitement that we didn't really need. Wish for safe travels to all.
I hooked up an ink jet printer to my PC this morning in preparation for printing some of my art onto fabric. I still need to order the special fabric dip so I can't get any further on that project today. Yesterday I washed some white and cream alpaca and I am waiting for it to dry so I can card it.
If the weather eases up in time I'll be the presenter at the Susquehanna Valley Spinners and Weavers Guild meeting in Lewisburg tomorrow afternoon. This was my first foray into power point, and my first ever blog in the same week! I must not be too far over the hill yet. Must bake some cookies now as I am bringing refreshments too.