Saturday, November 30, 2013

Studio Tour Dec 7 & 8, 2013

This year my studio will be one of the stops on the Cast TACA holiday Studio Tour in Sewanee/Monteagle, TN. Jan Quarles and I will be showing together this year with beautiful textiles.

I'll be showing my OOAK handknits this year. This wrap is handknit in my own original design from my handspun art yarns. I will also have some beautiful naturally dyed yarns for knitters.

Jan will have her amazingly beautiful organic leaf print and shibori scarves. Her bold color sense and confident hand make these pieces truly unique.

Come join us on Saturday and Sunday, December 7 & 8, 2013. We're at the intersection of Kentucky and Tennessee Avenue in Sewanee. And we have chocolate!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Friday Savings

25% off all my patterns on Ravelry and in my Etsy Store this weekend, Nov 28-Dec 2, 2013. No coupon code required. Savings will show up at checkout. Sale includes all my new patterns.
Happy Knitting!

Also, stay tuned for updates to the Cast TACA Studio Tour page. Lots of news to come.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ooooh That Smell

Can't you smell that smell? You know the one. Vinegar.

I recently purchased a lovely yarn online (won't say which one) and it arrived smelling like a stale bag of vinegar and salt potato chips. The odor was so strong that my husband walked in my studio and asked, "What stinks? Did you spill vinegar in here?"

As a dyer, I am very curious about this. When I dye with acid dyes my yarns never vinegary after they are properly washed and rinsed. But I like to design with popular commercially available yarns so that when knitters purchase my patterns they will often be able to grab something from their stash and start knitting without hunting for yarn. Why, if my yarns don't smell, do others? Here are my thoughts. I would love to hear from the rest of you about this topic.

For one reason or another, perhaps some dyers don't rinse as much as they should. Water is expensive and rinsing takes time and energy. Usually when yarns aren't completely rinsed, there will be some color bleed when these yarns are washed. This residual dye is harmful to the knitter, as it is now in a powdered state and can rub off and be absorbed through the skin. Fine particles of residual dye can be inhaled, especially during the process of winding the skein into a ball. I can't help but wonder if some dyers may use vinegar in the final rinse as a vehicle to set any residual dye that may have not been completely rinsed out. Or they don't use any kind of soap in the rinsing process so that they don't have to rinse, wash, rinse. And perhaps the pungent smell helps to keep moths away? Who knows.

Certain colors are more prone to this bleeding, namely red, dark blue, turquoise. The skein that so offended my husband was a luscious deep blood red. So I decided to wash the skein. I filled a basin with warm water and added about 1/2 tsp of Wrapture by Eucalan (it smells so lovely...jasmine...mmmm). After soaking for about 5 minutes, there was only the slightest tinge of pink in the water...almost non-existent. And guess what? No more vinegar smell. As I hung the skein to dry I detected nothing in the way of pungency and once dry I could bury my face in the wool and only smell fiber and jasmine.

So if you want to wash those vinegary skeins before you knit, make sure that they are properly tied. Undo any ties that constrict the yarn to the point of "sausageness" and retie them. Remove labels, then soak the skeins in cool to lukewarm water with a little Eucalan or Soak. These mild soaps do not have to be rinsed and leave a lovely scent behind. Do not agitate the skeins, just gently squeeze them and allow them to become fully saturated with water. If you see any color in the wash water, then rinse again in clear water of the same temperature of your wash water. Squeeze them out and roll them in a bath towel to remove as much moisture as possible and hang them to dry. To speed drying, blot moisture from the bottom of the skein once it has had time to drain some, then move that part of the skein to the top of the hanger.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Spinning A Color Sequence

With the Sewanee Fall Craft Fair coming up next weekend, I decided to finally write a formal pattern for Kerfuffle: A Simple Fingerless Mitt with a Riotous Little Ruffle. You can purchase the pattern here.

My favorite version of this pattern is one I knit from my handspun. It's classic Lynne Vogel, this one, from a technique I teach in my color classes of predrafting a color sequence to lengthen the colorband placement in the yarn. This roving is LV ltd for Three Waters Farm BFL in "Sepiatone Rosalie".

the entire 4 oz roving laid out in repeats
 This colorway is laid out in thirds, so there are three distinct repeats in it's entire length, plus a nice bit of orchid on one end. In a 4 ounce hank there is more than enough for these mitts (yardage approx 110 yds per pair) spun in a short draw worsted weight singles. It takes approx 48 yds for each mitt body and 12 for each ruffle depending on your row gauge.
two identical repeats and one orchid end
one repeat predrafted prior to spinning
I divided the roving into thirds following the repeat patterns, then chose two to spin for my mitts. I saved the piece with the orchid end for the ruffle, splitting it in half lengthwise before spinning so as to have two shorter identical bits. I predrafted each piece keeping the colors of the fibers in alignment and spun both on separate bobbins working from the same end of the color repeat, doing the same for the ruffle. This meant that the fibers were going one way for one repeat and another for the next, but with blueface leicester this really doesn't matter much. It's more critical for a finer fiber such as merino, so take that into consideration if you want to try this technique with that fiber. I finished the yarn by washing and setting the twist before I knit.

In Honor of a Soulmate

Monk aka Rasta Monkeyman of Neely Ranch: April 30, 1999 - August 27, 2013

one picture is worth a thousand words

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

So much happening

So much is happening! It's almost fall (well, it feels like it at least). Knitters and spinners are coming out of the woodworks looking for yarn, fiber, patterns, inspiration. I've added an event calender to the sidebar so you can stay updated on my fall/winter schedule of appearances.

I just released two new knitting patterns. Keats & Shelley Poets' Gloves and Lucia Cottage Garden Wristers. Both patterns feature fingering weight singles yarns like the ones that I'll be offering for sale at the Sewanee Arts and Crafts Fair on Oct 12, 2013. Both patterns also look amazing in madelinetosh merino light, a yarn everyone should have in their stash (and so many already do).

After the Crafts Fair comes Fiber in the Boro. This year will be particularly exciting. Instead of teaching a typical class, I will have a booth next to Daily Fibers where you can schedule a free 20 minute one on one session with me. This is the first time we've offered this, and we've been developing it on short notice so it's not on the Fiber in the Boro website quite yet. But I'm excited about it! I"ll post more about it when the time draws near.

Then in December it's the CAST TACA Studio Tour in Sewanee. I will be opening my studio with my wearable items, yarn, patterns plus Jan Quarles gorgeous eco dyed scarves and fabric. More on this as it nears as well. I'm sorry I don't have a link at this time. 2013 CAST TACA page isn't up yet, but when it is, you'll hear more from me.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


The finished fabric
 I am loving the results. I even love the wrinkly squigglies of the unironed fabric. And it's really thrilling to get something besides beige, tan and yellow, which are the predominant local colors at this time of year here in Tennessee. They are beautiful but hard for me to wear and the purples are just better.

I pulled out some other silks that I've dyed lately. All these are on silk Habotai of varying weights. The logwood pot of a few weeks ago yielded many treasures and this particular piece of shibori looks smashing with the new cabbage piece.

cabbage left, logwood shibori right
Here is the cabbage piece with a lovely violet green eco print from the new leaves of dark red maples. These are the big leaf maples, not smaller japanese maples. The piece on the right is a twisted and wrapped shibori piece similar to the logwood one above. It is walnuts and quebracho red, though it looks like logwood seeped in there somehow as well. The q red left an almost metallic surface on the silk. These three pieces are all the same value and look great together. I really love the combination of eco prints with traditional natural dyes. As the summer progresses there will be many plants to explore here, both on the surface and in the immersion bath.
cabbage left, red maple & logwood center, walnut and quebracho right

The Unveiling

the innards sans lettuce
 Well, I started thinking about the red lettuce leaves in this bundle. We all know how quickly red lettuce breaks down. It's always the first to go in bagged salad mixes. So I decided to peek and peeking led to untying and untying to unrolling. So sue me, I'm only human.

Actually, I'm really delighted with the results. I am more of an abstract expressionist than a literalist at heart anyway, so I am really happy with amorphous shapes of color. And that is what I got. When I looked at the bundle I could already see the color on the silk, and since it was reasonably brilliant, I untied and unrolled a little. You can see the lettuce under the top layer of silk where it is sandwiched in. What's a sandwich without lettuce anyway? Next you can see what it looked like with the top layer of silk peeled back and the sandwich innards still in place. The large photo at the top of the page shows the same spot without the lettuce. It left a ghost image of peach perhaps? Hard to tell. Further and further down, you see the silk with most the innards removed. Carrots didn't do diddly, really, but may have added to the peachy glow that comes mostly from the coffee grounds, I think. I wonder if the tannins in the java helped to extract or intensify some of the other colors.
I rinsed it just enough to remove the residual veggies and hung it to dry. Will get a photo when it's good and dry, then will hang this scarf for a good while before I actually wash it with soap. In fact, I probably won't really wash it until I want to use the fabric or store it. For now it will hang proudly in my studio as this week's inspiration.

peel back the top layer...

most of the innards removed

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Baptism by Mandoline

Sarah, meet India; India, Sarah.

my flavor base
One of my morning rituals is watching Sarah Carey's Everyday Food video that comes via email. I love her fresh, shoot from the hip style of cooking easy elegant meals and it inspires me to cook delicious food even when I've used most of my creative juices elsewhere. Today I started a pot of green lentils and as I peeled my red onion and carrots I realized they were both candidates for eco dye (that's where you come in, India). oooh! Food and color, color and food. Sarah talks about building a flavor base, so I grabbed a silk scarf and started building...first the red onion and carrot (skins and peels), a salad (deep red lettuce leaves from Carlene and Byron Mayes' garden...they call me "Lady Dye", and  purple slaw shavings from a hapless cabbage) and finally a beverage (freshly ground coffee beans). It was after I shaved the lovely purply cabbagy thingies onto the silk that I saw the nubbin from the carrot. Mandoline in hand I sliced one too many slices off the nubbin. I mean, everybody eventually does it, right? The skin graft of the thumb I mean. So as I'm arranging and rolling another organic colorant found its way into the piece. Blud. Everyone is always trying to get blood out of fabric, so why not put it in? That's what makes it art, right? A little of one's lifeblood.
close up of cabbage, beans and lifeblood

As I bundled, I mulled over how to apply heat. Realizing that everything in the bundle was on our daily menu, I decided to put it in the microwave...not my dye nuker out in the shed

but the actual kitchen wave. I hit the 30 second button and let it sit for a minute as I was watching my lentils come to a boil (ABP, right Sarah), felt for temp and repeated four more times with resting periods in between. Now my lentils were happily boiling, so I wrapped the bundle of silk and veggies in plastic wrap, gave it one more zap and carried it out to my studio thinking it might smell kind of funny in the house. But no. In fact, it smelled so good that I thought Sarah had followed me to the studio. As the fragrance wafted towards Monk, he started to get up for his morning meal, checking me out to see if I was now serving in the studio instead of his usual place in kitchen.

I'm posting this on Tuesday. How long do you think I can wait till I unwrap? Hopefully I'll forget about it for the rest of the week. Yeah, right. Stay tuned.
gud enuf 2 eet

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Are You Going to Maryland Sheep and Wool this Weekend?

Are you lucky enough to be going to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend? If so, you absolutely must check out Three Waters Farm, booth B23 in the Main Exhibition Hall, right where it's been for 10 consecutive years now. Mary Ann has outdone herself this year. Such beautiful rovings and Superfluity many amazing new colorways, too many to count. I especially love this one called "Frost".

If you are a Raveler and don't already belong to Three Waters Farm group, go there. It's happening.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I haven't posted in so long, so it's only fitting that I return with a shot of color. I've spent a lot of time on Pinterest love love...and one of my many boards is Carousels and Ferris Wheels. Imagine my delight to find this little carnival setting up in Chattanooga yesterday! I hopped out of the car and snapped away with my phone (my new fave camera...nothing captures images quite the same), so here are two of the best.