Autumnal

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Tapestry Weaving

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Fabric, natural dyes, rust and encaustic

imageFew now are the long days of sun and warmth – those are soaked up with long exhales. Short, cool, dark, earthy. Warmth is searched for in socks, sweaters, blankets and closed windows. Indoor activities come to life again – Knitting is once again picked up, the spinning wheel hums and whirrs. Plans are made for yarn and fabric. I adjust and settle in.

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Fabric, natural dyes, paint and encaustic

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Sewn fabric, natural dyes, paint and encaustic

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Fall garden

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Hand dyed play silk

 

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The Tour de Fleece 2015

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Beginning on July 4th, I joined forces with other rookie Tour de Fleecers and committed to spinning through every stage that the Tour de France riders raced. Not the whole time, mind you, each person decides how long to spin each day and mine was 30 minutes a day. We’re on stage 14 today and I have spun approximately 13.5 ounces of fiber including braids, batts and bumps. Each fiber is prepared differently and has different qualities, so I make adjustments, draft more slowly or quickly, use different whorls, chose 2-ply or chain ply and generally learn a lot about my wheel and a ton about different fibers. Hence the word TOUR I suspect.  I’ve learned that art batts have many different length fibers in them and can be a challenge to spin consistently and that pre-drafted fiber like in the Loop bump require higher whorl ratios to get appropriate twist. I am discovering Polworth and Targhee, Falkland and Cormo, Corriedale, Rambouillet, Yak and Cheviot along with the usual suspects like Merino, Silk and Bamboo. And all of it I love! Some of the fibers I have spun or are planning to spin come from Bee Mice Elf, Countess Ablaze, Spin City UK, Hedgehog Fibers, Loop Fiber, Fat Cat Knits, Hobbledehoy, Dyebolical Yarns and Frabjous Fibers. I’m sure by the end of the Tour de Fleece I will have my favorite spins and a few not so fabulous ones, but that is the point I think, to try them all and see what happens 🙂

Kindness and Gratitude (Spinning and Knitting)

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Hanks in the Hood Spinning Batt

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Chain Ply

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Breaking in my new spinning wheel

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Caking up a big hank of Miss Babs Yowza

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Miss Babs Yowza Berlin Colorway, Susan B. Anderson’s Weigh It Shawl in progress.

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Hanging garden

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Elementary school mosaic – a simple reminder

Inspired by The Fat Squirrel’s Gratitude Spin-A-Long, I decided to pull out some stashed fiber (Hanks in the Hood) and break in my new spinning wheel. I finally got the hang of the double drive after many an ounce of un-dyed fiber spun and plied in unpredictable thicks and thins. I thought about simply having the time to refine my spinning skills and I was full of thankfulness. I am grateful for the time to feel the fiber move through my fingers, watch the colors flow by onto the bobbin and the time to let my mind empty and find a stillness that often evades me. It is a blessing to have this type of quiet, creative, meditative time, and the older I get the more I realize just how essential it is to my overall wellbeing. I hope it will become more a part of my weekly rhythm, as it soothes away the worry and makes me a kinder person to myself and the world.

I also treated myself to a skein of Miss Babs Yowza, 8 (plus) ounces of light worsted merino and found the perfect accompanying pattern, Susan B Anderson’s Yowza Weigh-It Shawl. The pattern is easy and fun and requires no counting of stitches nor any purling, a perfect break from my frustrating attempts to learn how to read and knit a lace pattern. I love both the pattern (she has three different ones) and the yarn. Can’t really go wrong there!

Garden planning is in full swing and so are thoughts of natural plant dyes. Pigeon Roof Studios has some wonderful blog posts about her natural dyeing and shows off some of the wonderful colors she has gotten while experimenting with different plants and mordants. I am excited for further adventures of my own in the dye studio this summer.

Shadow, Light & Wind – April Knitting and Unknitting and a List or Two

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Vintage Bowls in the sunshine

 

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Sandy Beach along Lake Michigan

 

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Lake Michigan View

 

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Wind blown sand

 

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Swirly shadows

 

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A whole lot of unknitting

 

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Playsilks & yarn

 

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Never have I ever – Blocking a shawl with wires and pins

I thought I’d share a few maker/knitter blogs and podcasts that I have been enjoying lately:

Maker Blogs

Clean – Down on the farm living, eating, making and parenting

Posie Gets Cosy – Gorgeous photos, dreamy colors

Tara Swiger – Explore Your Enthusiasm  – Audio Podcast (Awesome!)

Clover – Photos, knitting and books

Design Seeds – For Color Inspiration

Geninne’s Art Blog – Painting and pottery

The Twisted Yarn – Hilarious mom, obsessive knitter

 

More Knitting Video Podcasts (if you decide to go further down the rabbit hole)

Tea House Knits

Little Bobbins

Skein Yarn

Junkyarn 

The Fat Squirrel Speaks

Mandarine’s

Buckaloo View 

Stitch and Loop

A Homespun House

Happy exploring!

Color Therapy

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Allkatydup mini skeins (Alpaca/Merino)

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Basic Ribbed Socks by Kate Atherly/ Gynx Yarns Gold Saucer

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Bundle dyeing

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Making green Indigo & Fustic

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Finished Socks! Voolenvine’s Favorite Sock pattern in Sweet Georgia Yarns – Shipwreck

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Knitting up some handspun – Family Pendragon Glass Rainbow colorway

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Dye Table

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Naturally Dyed Little Leaf Playsilks

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Garter stitch scrappy throw

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Spinning on the Babe wheel

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Looking forward to lots more color this month.

Wintering

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It will be winter for a bit longer (snow is falling as I type) so I venture out in search of inspiration, energy, frozen beauty and maybe some dyestuffs too. I heap snow on silks and sprinkle bits of dye powder on and wait for it all to melt and surprise me with brilliant color. I am knitting too, as usual, and keeping warm under quilts and wrapping myself in cowls and shawls. Wool yarn moves through my fingers, my dry hands, and rows appear one after the other. Winter, you make me productive but in need of a warm, rejuvenating afternoon nap.

Indigo Vat, Silks and Podcasts

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Lots of natural dyeing going on last week, including my first batch of Indigo Dye. I had fun overdying some yellow silks with Indigo and getting a lovely sea glass green. I also used Lac, Madder, Alkanet, Cochineal and Tumeric. I have a stash of onion skins, flower petals and marigolds that I can dip into this winter while supplies of local plants are not available due to lots and lots of snow and freezing temperatures.  Some of these silks are available in the Little Leaf Fibers shop.

I also discovered a few new podcasts and my favorite this week is Woolful. Ashley has the most fantastic, thoughtful interviews with fiber artists and I’d highly recommend listening while you knit! She is also a natural dyer and created this gorgeous video about her natural dyed yarns. It is a labor of love, slow fiber created with an appreciation of the process and the natural dye materials: A Color Odyssey 

Other great podcasts:

Knitting Pipeline

Subway Knits

Knitting Butterflies 

Knitmore Girls

The Dyer’s Podcast

Commuter Knitter

Curious Handmade

I am also now active on Instagram!  So much fun, how has it taken so long to realize how awesome it it?

Have a happy and love-filled Valentine’s Day week!

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Knit One Dye Two and Three Days of Travel


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 Some progress on the Demetra, loving the cable detail.


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Lots of fiber – silk, merino and superwash yarn. Indigo and cochineal.

 

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Indigo dyed lace

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And a really short trip to Arizona

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Chilly nights

IMG_0133Ooooh! Naturally dyed yarn! So beautiful! Sonoran Desert Dyed Fibers

And now back to 20 degree weather, sigh! Thankfully I have my knitting to keep me warm.