Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Irony

Dear Mom,
My dining room.

The clutter mocks me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Marigolds, Merino, and Mohair

Dear Mom,
Before I cleaned up the garden, and inspired by these books, I harvested a gallon sun tea jar's worth of marigold flowers with the hopes of dying some of that lovely Merino/Mohair roving I have.

 I must confess that it took me awhile to get over some of the weights and measures and science and decide to see what happened with what I have. I pre-mordanted the fiber in Alum and prepared the dye stock by simmering the marigolds in a huge stock pot for about an hour. It was still warm outside and my windows were open. Although I did not find the smell offensive, I don't think I'd want to do this with the windows closed. In other words, this is a fair weather process.

After I strained out the plant material I gently put the roving into the steamy marigold broth. I allowed it to steep for about 45 minutes. To avoid handling the fiber, I placed it into a large mesh zippered laundry bag. I am glad I did it this way because I was able to pull the fiber out and save the broth. It took several rinses before the fiber was clear of residual dye. I spun the bag of fiber in the front loader and laid it out to finish drying.

I was very pleased with the result!

 A few days later I decided to play things fast and loose (for me) and put another batch of pre-mordanted fiber into the leftover, re-heated marigold broth. Another good result- a little paler in color, but still very pretty.

 Then I really got carried away and reused the alum mordant bath on two small bundles of roving and put the twice used marigold broth into two crockpots. I let the fiber "cook" all night.  I am sure there are good reasons (probably many of them) for these crockpots to end up at the Goodwill where I purchased them. I discovered one of the reasons for one of those crockpots had to be that it gets way too hot. When I checked on my little experiments the next morning, one of the pots was sputtering and boiling over! Yikes! I was afraid I'd find a felted blob of wool inside. Both pots yielded more pretty color, and the overheated fiber has an interesting bronze color.
Crock pot 1- "normal" heat

super hot crock pot
This next photo has all 4 rovings lined up from 1st batch on the left to the super heated batch on the right.
I've started spinning that first ball. I have a bright red felted wool coat and a navy pea coat and think this yellow wool will make a pretty scarf or maybe even a scarf and hat that will look nice with both.
In spinning this blend of fibers, it is a treat to see the shimmery mohair bits with the merino and how they've each taken up the dye differently but very subtly.
You should be able to see the slight differences in this next photo. Some of the shades are a result of the dye not being consistently absorbed throughout the roving (which I like) and some is the difference in the merino and mohair.
I won't have any more marigolds to play with until next summer. I do have other things on my dye shelf in the garage to play with though!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I did squeeze in some knitting

Dear Mom,
Until I looked back through the photos downloaded on to the computer, if you'd asked what I've been knitting I would have answered "not much".  I don't know exactly how, or when, but I did manage to start and finish a few things.
First up- The Bobby Sweater from Tadpoles and Tiddlers. I've made many sweaters from this book, multiple times.  This little gansey is for a new great-nephew.  I made the smallest size and used about 1/2 a skein of Baah's La Jolla yarn.

And then, I must have been in some time warp because I can barely remember knitting this Highland Shawl with Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool XL from the Folk Shawls book.

For the yarn shop- from one skein of Berroco sock yarn- The Ananke scarf.

Up next, and with 2 skeins of Ella Rae Lace Merino, a pattern I've had in my stash for a long time.  Finally. This is Scalene, a very clever keyhole scarf. I love the yarn combination I chose, but my expectations for how much I was going to love this scarf may have been too high. I'm not sure I like it all that much. It needs to rest in a quiet place for awhile. Maybe I'll like it better after we've had a little break from each other.

And Last, but certainly not Least. I am most proud of this one.
This is some of that beautiful angora/ merino roving, spun and knitted into an original design.
Meet Mistress Tippet.
 Spinning this yarn was a dream.
 And then watching the angora bloom after it had been knitted and blocked….magic.
 Mistress Tippet was inspired by the little pink shawl that Claire wears in Outlander during the boar hunting.
While we were watching you commented on how it would be nice to have something like that to keep the back of your neck and shoulders warm but would not get in the way. One of the reasons I have to watch these episodes multiple times is because I am dissecting the hand knits. Really. Too bad Jamie doesna wear as many as Claire does, aye?
 Ahem. Anyway. I had all that pretty hand spun- and some ideas. And Mistress Tippet was born. By the way, the definition of the word tippet is : a scarf, usually of fur or wool, for covering the neck, or the neck and shoulders, and usually having the ends hanging down in front.

But Mistress Tippet takes it a step or two further. Buttons allow you to wrap and secure the ends at your shoulders for a pretty draped cowl.
 Or, you can wrap those ends all the way around, securing them at the center back, for a snugger fit.

Pretty and warm and dressy. More details for knitting and purchasing the pattern can be found HERE.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

And Then My Head Exploded

Dear Mom,
On a recent visit to the Kansas City area to spend several blissful days with a dear friend, we gloried for hours, soaking in the inspiration of Florilegium.

beads of every shape and color imaginable

This area was off limits to customers. It is The Owner/Artist's Studio area.

This display is just small selection of the beautiful ribbons available.

Everything is displayed to perfection.

This case greets you as you step in the door.

This Enchantment is beaded embroidery on a window screen!

And one display case was filled with samples of ribbon embroidery.

In addition to the ribbons and beads I've shown here, there was roving, and wool for embroidery or needlepoint, buttons, art yarn, hand painted yarns, and thousands of ideas. Gretchen, the owner, and Cathy, her employee, were extremely generous with their time and ideas, with no hesitation to demonstrate a technique or describe a creative process. We left with our heads spinning. My only regret is that Florilegium is 9+ hours away. Lucky for ALL of us, they ship orders every day!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Estate

Dear Mom,
A long time ago, not at all very far away, a grand country home caught the eye of a curly brown haired girl, riding in the back seat, behind the driver, as her family took a Sunday drive through the country. That little girl was I.

I think the whole family loved our country drives. And probably all four of us kids were hoping with all our might that the drive might end up at Dairy Queen; but until we either returned home or pulled into the DQ parking lot, I leaned my head against the window and looked out and day dreamed.
On one of those summer Sunday drives, as we drove past a full spruce tree near the road, a remarkable number of rabbits shot out and scattered across the lawn of a large brick house. Daddy, who loved to tease, announced that this was where the Rah-bots live. The name stuck. For forty years I've thought of that house as The House Where the Rahbots Live. And for forty years I've admired that house. I still live within a few miles of that house.

The house has History. It is 150 years old and started out as the home on a 100 acre horse farm, Two Gaits Farm. Eventually, the home was donated for use as a rectory and then one of the parish priests purchased the home. The horse farm was sold off bit by bit and this grand house is now surrounded by the the newest sections of my neighborhood.

Not too long ago, as my hero and I were driving past - either heading to the hardware store or for a dinner out- I saw a For Sale By Owner sign in front of the house I've been dreaming of all these years. I grabbed paper and pen out of my purse and wrote the contact info down. I knew in my heart that this was an unrealistic dream, but I was going to make that call.
And I did. The house is way out of our price range and it needs a hefty investment of time and money to get it in shape, but in my conversation with the estate agent, I was told that there would be an estate sale to sell off the contents of the house. I noted the dates on my calendar, knowing that this may be my one and only opportunity to step inside that house.

The estate sale was impressive. I felt like I was in a museum, surrounded by fine antiques, depression glass collectibles and a barn filled with glass lamps and lamp fixtures. I didn't necessarily go there to buy anything as much as spend time in the house, satisfying so many years of dreams. I did manage to find an interesting solution for my laundry detergent. I've been wanting something prettier than the Tide box to keep the detergent in- something that would be fun and functional. What I found is absolute perfection! It is the vessel that would have once been used to empty a chamber pot!

This beauty holds a huge amount of Tide detergent and I keep a pretty little tea cup with a detergent level mark on the inside of the cup to scoop the detergent out and into the washing machine. I am thrilled with this purchase. I also found a delicate, petite-sized cake stand with a glass dome. Not necessary, but too pretty to leave behind.

What I really really REALLY wanted, but was intended for sale with the house, was this sign. I took a photo, knowing that my picture would be the next best thing to having it. I have so many childhood memories tied up in the name of this farm, and in this sign. And yes, it should stay with the house, where it belongs.
The Estate is still on the market. I won't wonder or dream about living there anymore. I am happy to stay here, in My Home, but I will be keeping an eye on The House Where The Rahbots Live, hoping that it can be a home again to someone who will love it. And maybe even to someone who dreamed all her life of living in a house just like this one.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

All That Wool

Dear Mom,
Remember last spring, when I took all that beautiful angora fiber from Duncan, your adorable rabbit, and some black alpaca that was given to me, and some gorgeous mohair (another gift) to the Fiber Event to be dropped off for processing?
Well, it's here.
And it is beautiful. 
And boyohboy do I have my spinning "work" cut out for me! (okay, we all know it isn't work.)

I chose to have half of the angora blended with some coral merino wool, and the other half blended with a teal merino wool. Both blends and 80% merino/20% angora. More angora than that and the garment would be too hot to wear. The mohair was also blended with merino, but with white merino so I can dye it if I choose, and see the shimmer of the mohair against the merino. That will be fun to play with. The black alpaca was blended with a peacock merino. The color is gorgeous. 

I've already started spinning the coral. It is a dream to spin.
This is the coral blend (obviously) with the mohair blend behind it.

And the teal in front of the peacock.
Getting an accurate color photo of these blues was tricky.
 This is the best I could do.

The heavenly mohair/merino blend

Olive says, "ACK! Where are you going to put all that stuff?!"
"Just don't block my view!"
Lots of squirrel watching out there.