30 March, 2010

Hey! Hi!

I've been blogging over at the official Folk School blog this week. Click on over to hear from me & Charley!

26 March, 2010

Almost a quilt...

sewing the binding

Remember this quilt-in-progress from the end of January? It has a pretty cool story to go along with it. Basically, I was working as fast as I could to get the front and back pieced together by the end of the class, but i had no idea what I was going to have to do to it next to turn it into an actual quilt. I was sort of timidly asking the ladies in class, "so how in the world does this whole thing come together?" and they were telling me that I'd pretty much need to either send it off to be quilted (which I had just learned was different from piecing) or that I'd need to purchase a fancy machine to do all the quilting myself. (Or do it by hand, at home, and have the quilt done about when I'd be expecting grandchildren. My own grandchildren.)

To my utter surprise, on the second to last day a woman who had been sitting on the opposite side of the classroom, far from my plight, came over and said that she was a professional quilter, and that as a wedding present she would like to take my front and back and quilt them for me. For free. And she would provide the batting. And it would be done before I left the Folk School. Hello, amazing!

She proved true to her word and a great quilter as well. I've had the quilt back for almost a month now, and have been working on it just here and there. I just finished hand stitching the binding last night. I'm going to gently wash it in the machine to soften it up a bit, and then I'll post the big reveal! Stay tuned!

25 March, 2010

Spinning and Dyeing

I wanted to show you the amazing colors we were able to get out of various vegetable matter last week in Martha Owen's "Sheep to Shawl" class.

Natural dying class sampler: collected for teaching purposes
(results of our dyestuffs, from the top, going clockwise: lichens, onion skins, osage orange sawdust, copper pipe in ammonia, indigo over osage, indigo over onion skin, straight indigo, indigo over cochineal, plain old cochineal, madder, walnut shells. The center is what we started with.)

I've been to various Sheep to Shawl competitions, just as a bystander, and had a general idea of the order of things before I signed up for this class. What I really wanted to get out of it was spinning experience, and luckily for me, that was one of the main focuses. Because it's still 6 weeks too early to shear here, we used several fleeces that Martha had lying around. We learned how to wash raw fleece, and pick out all the bits of hay and poop and separate the curls into fluff, and wash it again, and pick it and dry it again, and then we learned how to card and/or comb and when its appropriate to do one method as opposed to the other. Finally, I understand worsted vs. woolen spun! (Click here to see the Folk School's Official Blog posting on last week's Sheep to Shawl class.)

Here's everything I spun last week:
The most color-accurate shot I could manage. This is pretty dang close. Naturally dyed with some undyed brown Shetland mixed in.
mystery yarn from deep in my felting stash
Corriedale w/ merino: my biggest skein! (5oz.)
grey merino mini-skein
Blue & black merino handspun
grey/blue merino, closeup
I'm super proud!

One thing I thought was incredibly useful was the dyepots' flexibility as far as being used more than once. For example, check out this cochineal: the dark fuchsia was from the first bath, and then we put more wool into the spent pot and soaked up the weaker dye, and behold! Pale pink! (which I immediately threw into an indigo pot, because, you know, pink. Ugh.)
cochineal: same dye pot, different strengths

And here's lichen, first and second go 'round:
two different strengths of lichen
I think those two would be really pretty spun together.

Also fun is playing with different dyepots for overdying purposes:
osage + indigo = green
Beth brought us two bags of osage shavings from her woodturning class, and they yielded this neon YELLOW! shade that was too bright for all of us (save Elizabeth, who totally dug it). When you toss it into the indigo pot, you get green. Cool!

All in all, I loved spinning. I love that you can turn a giant pile of fluff into useable yarn, and that (in theory) you have so much control over what kind of yarn you're making. However, I do not want to be a hobby harlot, and I will forego a spinning wheel until I've at least gotten the new off of my rigid heddle loom (which at this rate, will take another three Christmases). But it's nice to know that I know how to spin, and that perhaps when I'm hanging around someone else's wheel I could use it.

22 March, 2010

Fell in love with a book

Symphony for the Sheep, cover

Martha brought a bunch of yarny books with her to spinning wheel class last week, and I feel in love at once and completely with this book, A Symphony for the Sheep.

Symphony for the Sheep, image 1
Symphony for the Sheep, image 2
Symphony for the Sheep, image 4
Symphony for the Sheep, image 5

With Mary Azarian illustrations (swoon!) and an Irish author, how can you go wrong? I ordered it at once from Amazon (there are more! Go now!), and soon it shall be mine. Look out, future children, for I shall be reading it to you for decades to come.

Time flies when you're making beads, spinning yarn, and contra dancing...

My rainbow pot/ shetland mix, 2 ply

... I am so satisfied with my life lately. Sure, I haven't yet made myself get fit or wealthy, but I'm loving the fact that Spring is inevitable and that I'm this close to having successfully completed one of the most intense (and magical) periods of my life so far. Oh, the whole truth of the hosting experience won't be evident until some time has past, but I already know that I feel so full from being here. Want to see what I've been up to?

Click on over to my Flickr page.

Last weekend Niki, Charlotte, Robin, Jackie and I drove to Charlotte for Gypsy Meltdown, an amazing contra dance weekend. It was sunny and warm (!) and we packed a picnic, hoops, and our dancing shoes. The whole weekend was spent dancing ourselves into sweaty, blissful grinning piles of tiredness. The people were fantastic, I made new friends, got to dance in my favorite ways, taught some hooping in the sun, and topped it all off with late night crashing at my Mom & Step-dad's house (including 2am soaks in the wee hot tub). Ahhh!

Kenny has agreed with me that a perfect birthday weekend could include another contra weekend, so we are officially going to Bug Stomp in Charleston! Not only will I get to relive the amazingness of this past weekend, but I'll have my sweetheart with me as well, and we get to stay with our lovely friend Lilla, whose home I have not yet seen. Oh, and it's Charleston. In April. How good can life get?!

So now I'm back, and it's cold and snowing, and I have a million things I'd like to do this week (my last week of hosting). Blogging my past few classes is one of them.

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr