Category Archives: dyeing fiber

Missing in Action

Yes I have been missing in action from the blogosphere of late, but I have been keeping busy.

Looking for a job of course.

Teaching Spindling Classes at the Woolpack in Acton, MA.  This has been loads of fun!  9 new spinners so far!  I just love this place!

I spent much of January and early February shoveling and battling the weekly snow storms.  But it appears that the little rodent may have been right predicting an early spring.  It’s been in the high 50Fs the past two days!  I know we will most likely still have cold snowy weather, but with the days getting longer and a bit warmer it feels like we’ve finally turned the corner of this winter.

I have been busy spinning and knitting of course.  I finished spinning the beautiful brown roving (all three pounds!)  for Cece!  It was lovely fiber to spin.  I wish we knew what it was because I would definitely get more of it!  I have also been spinning from my stash.  This was lovely merino superwash from Blue Moon. It was supposed to be socks but I wanted something more substantial, so spun it a bit on the bulky side and made hats.

This is a wonderful hat to knit and I adapted several patterns.

Simple Hand Spun Hat Pattern

I used 100 grams of my bulky/heavy worsted handspun on size 8 US – 16 inch circular needles.

Cast on 80 stitches – join being careful not to twist the stitches.

Twisted rib pattern for three inches. (K1tbl, p1 – repeat)

Knit stockinette for 6 inches.  Then do a radical decrease

K2 tog all the way around

Knit next row.

Repeat the last two rows until there are ten stitches left.   Leave about 8 inches of yarn and run it through the last 10 stitches, pull tight to close and weave in ends.

This makes a warm, comfortable, uni-sex hat.

I also finished the Arroyo Shawlette (ravelry link) from some merino superwash that I had dyed and spun into a fingering/dk weight yarn.

Cindy, Stacy and I took a trip to Pasa Yarns last month and now I have a boat load of dyeing to do.  I’m testing our some different techniques and having fun playing in the studio.

Cindy and I are building up inventory for the upcoming Andover Craft Fair on Mother’s Day.  I am also carding some lovely batts for spinning and felting.  And in response to several neo-needle felters that have dropped by the studio, I now have a big basket of my left over carding bits and dye soppers.  You can fill a bag of your picks for $1/oz.

Last night I made some Oatmeal cookies that were to die for.  I basically opened the cupboard and pulled out leftover bits that I thought would taste yummy.  They were so good I am sharing this one for prosperity.

Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix together well


1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 (approx) leftover bag of butterscotch chips

3 Tbsp chopped candied ginger

3 Tbsp chopped pitted dates

(I didn’t have any nuts, but pecans or walnuts would be good too)

Bake 375F for 9-11 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet for about 3 minutes before sliding off on to a cooling rack.  This made about 2 dozen cookies.


Time Flies…

Ok what happened to August and most of September?

I have been a very busy looking for a job, doing lots of fibery things, enjoying the summer and cooking lots of yummy things.

First the job search…  it sucks, especially when you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up.

Next Fibery Things

Andrew and the Dead Fish Hat

A few of us finally all showed up for Sunday at the Peddler’s Daughter a week ago Sunday so we presented Andrew with his new winter ski hat.  Fortunately he loved it.  For Rav readers – this is the dead fish hat, knit with various commercial and handspun yarns.

The Dead Fish Hat from the back

I also finished a shawl (no pics yet) and several pairs of socks in various stages.

I am also experimenting with shibori dyeing and felting.  I’ve rescued a few old 100% wool sweaters from my new favorite second-hand shop, Saver’s.  I then dyed the sweater a base color, then tied marbles and sewed pleats.  After that I felted the sweater and overdyed it.  Then removed the threads and marbles.  I love the effects and will cut this up and see what it wants to be.  I am thinking a bag at this point.

I have also been cooking with the harvest coming in.  Last week I picked most of the remaining concord grapes from a friends very abundant arbor.  I hoped to get enough grape juice to make a batch of jelly.  I ended up with enough for THREE!  I made two batches and froze the rest of the juice for later.   It made really yummy jelly this year.  Much better than last years batch.

Mary came down this week and we spent a couple of days making salsa.  This too came out really good.  So know we are stocked with salsa for the winter – I think we used an entire bushel of canning tomatoes from Gary’s Farm Stand and the end of the green chilis from my brother who lives in New Mexico that had been grilled, peeled seeded and frozen.  This is a good batch for sure.

This past weekend was Lowell Open Studios, so things were busy around Western Avenue Studios.  Some of the lovely people that did a dye workshop with me last week stopped by.  It was really nice to see you all again.  I hope we can do some dyeing again soon.

So as you can see I have been very busy, I almost don’t know when I had time to work.  But I really do need to find a job… soon!  So keep me in your thoughts and burn some green candles for me.

Oh and next Saturday is Open Studio again, so I have to get busy dyeing this week!


I was already to dye my Citron Shawl lemon drop yellow, but then the Watermelon caught my eye…

I also made some funky batts

Memorial Day

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since Dad passed away.

This past week, Mom and I drove down to Greene, NY to check the headstone and to put some flowers on Dad’s and my grandparents grave site.  It was a beautiful day.

We then headed down towards Binghamton.  (waving hi to Gayze as I passed her exit).

The ride from Afton to Chenango Bridge down Rte. 7 was spectacular.  The wild phlox (white and purple) we in full bloom everywhere!  We followed the lush, green ribbon of fertile farm land down the Susquehanna River.   Once again up over Beldon Hill where we spend the summer from hell in the Shasta trailer.  Poor MOM!  three kids, (me a teenager, my sister and my baby (toddler) brother, all of us living in this trailer on the top of Beldon Hill.  I still have nightmares.

We took a little detour drive through Hillcrest and by the house that we lived in when  I was between the ages of 4 to 6 or 7.

I had Mrs. Ames for kindergarten there and Miss Curley for 1st grade.  She wore the reddest lipstick!  The memories flooded back.

We then met up with some long time friends for dinner. SPEIDIES!!! and Lots of laughs and old stories.

The next day we headed home, but we did stop by the ‘extended’ family camp in Mount Upton on Buttermilk Creek.

Then we headed up I-88 towards home.  Mom and I talked about all the family secrets, disFUNction, and the entire cast of characters.

Oh ya knitting and spinning…

I finished knitting the Citron Shawl in the Alpaca lace from Peru 🙂  I am heading over to the studio later to dye it Lemon Drop Yellow.

I have been spinning – AND (exciting news!) making some gorgeous Batts – Black wool base, handpainted Faux Cashmere in lovely vibrant colors, and tossing in a bit O’Sparkle.  NICE and fun to spin.

-again no pics right now-

Off to do some dyeing in the studio today.  Don’t forget First Saturday Open Studio is going to happen next weekend (June 5th) – Stop by and check out the new stuff.


Open Studios this past Saturday was great!  Lots of new faces brought in by the Chronicle piece a few weeks ago.  If you haven’t seen the segment on Western Avenue Studios click here.

Cindy and I have been busy bees dyeing lots of the Romney Yarn with Natural Dyes.  Cochineal, Turmeric, Indigo, Brazilwood, Onion Skins, using lots of different mordants.  Gorgeous stuff.



Indigo and Over-dyed Turmeric

On the way out Saturday, one of the other fiber artist invited me to do a sculptural piece for an upcoming ALL (Arts League of Lowell) Show in August.  I said I hadn’t really thought of doing anything sculptural but I would think about it and get back to her.

Think about it I did…  I recently picked up this book

What a great book for sparking some inspiration.

So I’ve been playing with some of the techniques in the book, wire, feathers, lumpy bumpy yarns and loving it.  This has now triggered my new obsession… Nests…

Here are some samples that I made this past Monday.  So much fun!

Today was Mordant Yarn Tuesday.  So far,  6 skeins of Copper, 6 skeins of Chrome, 6 skeins of Iron, and 6 skeins of Tin.  Dye day coming soon!

Two more sleeps!

And then we are on our way to Rhinebeck!  I keep checking the weather reports and it is going to be cold, cold, cold.  But now it’s saying that there might be snow on Friday.   I really don’t want to tow the camper and set up in snow so I would appreciate anything my weather witchy friends could do to ‘adjust’ the weather. 🙂

Last Saturday I was heading over to my studio to do some more dyeing of our misc. skeins for the sale bin.  I decided to swing by GrotonFest to see my friends whose daughter had a booth there to sell her tissue paper flowers.  When I called she said she was located next to the alpaca I practically ran.

Next to her was St. Isidore’s Alpaca Farm from Lunenburg, MA – OMG! They were so cute – sorry no pics I forgot my camera.  I asked what then did with all their fleece and they send it out and have it processed and spun into yarns.  They had lots of beautiful alpaca yarns for sale, but then out of the corner of my eye at the end of their table….  white fluff in a basket?  Is this Cria?  Yes it is!  Quickly I checked my wallet to see how much cash I had on me.  I managed to scrape up enough to purchase 4 oz. of this.


When I got home later I picked it (little or no VM) and separated the longer (3-4″) locks from the shorter (1-2″) ones and picked out a few second cuts.  Then I wrapped the longer locks in mesh and set them to soak in soapy (Unicorn Fiber Wash) warm water for about an hour, then rinsed and laid them out to dry.

It feels like cashmere or Angora… it’s that fluffy.  I am thinking of blending this with some other luxury fibers (cashmere, yak down, baby camel) that I have in my stash.

Now my mission at Rhinebeck is to find the perfect spindle to spin this on.

Some other stuff I have been up to.


Mary, Laural and I had our annual Salsa Canning Weekend.  We used 40 pounds of tomatoes in the process.

chili fix'ins

Along with red and Vidalia onions, limes, garlic, poblano and jalapeno chilies.

I think this was our best batch of Salsa yet.  We got about 25 pints total out of this and more than enough for us to “taste test”.

As I mentioned before we had Lowell Open Studios and I did get the wall outside the studio lettered and painted.  It’s a little ‘off’ but it works.

Studio Wall

There were a ton of people who came by to check out the studio, sit and knit, and eat lots of the food too.  It was a great weekend followed by the regularly scheduled Saturday Open Studio the next weekend.  Cindy and I finally made rent for the first time!  YAY!  Which is why I was back in the studio dyeing to replenish the stock for the upcoming Holiday Weekends and an Artisan Holiday Fair I’ve signed up to do on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Westford.   So stay tuned for those announcements as I get more details.

Back to the grind now…

Perfect Weekend

What a glorious weekend! The weather was perfect – for summer that is. It hit 90F! I got a little color in spite of the SPF 55 I put on my face and arms.  And my boys, the Red Sox kicked Yankee butt all weekend in some really great games.

I really should have been doing house stuff but instead, Lucia and I went to Connecticut for the 2009 Sheep and Wool Festival.  I love this one, it’s small and intimate and the weather is usually decent.  In general it’s a great way to kick off the sheep and wool festival season.


These were the poor sheeps that were awaiting their turn with the shearer.  Aren’t they cute?


There is no dignity in getting sheared.  But this sheep didn’t seem to mind too much.


After the shearing – it’s off to the skirting table.


See all the yummy bags of fleece for sale.  I know I wasn’t planning on getting a fleece, but alas there were a few that were already scoured and read to card, so how can a girl resist that!?

I brought home 2.5 lbs. of scoured Border Leicester in a lovely light grey.  I’m thinking I just might spin this up to knit something for me.  I didn’t get a picture of the fleece, but I did card some up Sunday to test out.

Check out this batt of loveliness.



Of course where there are sheep you might find a couple of llamas.  Aren’t they handsome?


And here is Lucia demonstrating her prowess at Navajo plying.  I really wanted to see the demo of cable plying but alas they were not prepared to show that.  I did ask a lot of questions and was told to really over ply one of the two plys and underply the other set before cable plying them.  So when I got home I finished spinning some of the yummy alpaca/silk roving that I got at Halcyon when we went to NETA Spa in February and decided to give the cable plying a shot.


Not too bad eh?  I might want to try this again soon on some hand-dyed stuff just to see what it does with the colors.  It does however halve your yardage but it does make for a very nice and firm yarn.

Sunday it was over to the studio to dye some ‘sale basket’ skeins of yarn.   Gun Metal, Cranberry, or Salmon as over dyes can make any yucky yarn really nice.

Then after the studio it was off to my sister’s to say hi and give her the belated birthday card and yummy sock yarn I got her at the festival.  We sat out on her back deck drinking lemonade, she knit while I got her Wee Pippin Wheel going again.  It has been sadly neglected for years and was covered in dust, needed a good oiling and a new drive band.  But now she will have no excuses not to start spinning again.

Then it was home to clean off the grill for the start of grillin’ season.  Marinated chicken, burgers, asparagus, all grilled with a fresh garden salad – topped off with another Red Sox kick Yankee butt game.  Does it get any better?

I guess this is my definition of the perfect weekend.