Monday, September 30, 2013

GRAMKC Fall Seminar in Grand Rapids

I attended the Grand Rapids Area Machine Knitter's club fall seminar, with Carole Wurst from Rocking Horse Farm and Carol Scott from Chicago area as demonstrators.

Too much information to report all at once!  I was very inspired by the knit-woven bags that Carol Scott demonstrated. Quick and easy, and a great way to use up novelty yarns.   A tiny sample of these bags are shown below.  

Her samples were beautifully blocked and labelled.  They clearly demonstrated the difference in the neatness factor when using various techniques to finish on the wrong side of the garment.

Carole Wurst covered a variety of machine-knitting basics including G-carriage operation including  turn around cams, her versatility tuck pattern in a number of different garment designs including the ever-popular but perpetually-renamed cowl, infinity scarf, smoke ring, or hood.   I purchased a card punched with this pattern as well as a pattern for an "artistic" sweater with an asynchronous front.

Goldenrod natural dyeing

After bringing the dyestuff to a boil, then letting it cool and stew for a couple of days, I cooked several 100-yard skeins of yarn for a couple of hours in the goldenrod tea, then turned off the fire and let the skeins sit in the dyepot to cool off.   Once they were cooled off and able to be handled without burning myself, I fished them out with a bamboo spatula and hung them over the back of an aluminum-frame chair to catch the afternoon sun and breeze.   The next morning I brought them in to dry further on a rack in the laundry room, since we planned to be out of town for a few days. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Spindle and dyepot

So much has happened since my last post!  Mostly that I have been working lots of overtime at work' to the point that I made myself sick from stress and worry.  Why?  I can't answer.  I have hobbies that should keep me from stressing, I just have to remember to DO them.

For the last few weeks I have been spinning at night while watching TV.  I finally finished up the bag of teal roving I bought at Fiber Fest in Hastings several (many) years ago, and have started a new bag that is a mix of lavendar, navy and royal blue.  I love, love, love the color blend.  When I saw it in the booth at Michigan Fiber Festival in 2006, it called me across the aisle to buy it.   The roving was prepared by Ozark Carding Mill in Missouri.  I know these things because I left the receipts in the bag.  At the time I paid $3.00 per ounce for the bag of fiber.  

I received "The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes" by Sasha Duerr yesterday and looked through it last night.  She equates natural dyeing with the Slow Food Movement.  I fantasize for a moment that I could live the color-filled natural-dyed life that she describes.   The idea of taking  time to experience the natural world and the environment while going through the process of clothing my body with art producd by my own hands is infinitely more appealing that working under pressure to meet software project deadlines in a corporate setting.   I know that my coworkers appreciate my efforts and that the software project will ultimately support a more efficient manufacturing process to meet the low-price needs of the consumer - but the end result of making my own clothing is so much more immediate and gratifying, not to mention relaxing.   Is it practical? Not sure.  Do I appreciate my job? Yes! Is it hypocritical to daydream about having the luxury of time to spin, dye, knit a single garment? If I paid myself at the my hourly rate, the resulting sweater would cost thousands of dollars.  True, it would be a one-of-a kind work of art. Could I afford it, without the luxury of my corporate job? Probably NOT!

Once upon a time I caught the idea  "Start to weave, and the universe will provide the yarn." It's probably a famous quotation, but right now I can't attribute it.  I decided today that if I start to dye, the universe will provide the dyestuff.  The goldenrod has been in bloom for the last several weeks and is starting to form seedheads.  I thought today would be a great day to go and pick some for the dyepot.   I had not been in the field for more than 10 minutes when  VERY LARGE white-tail deer jumped out about 20 feet frm where I was picking and bounded across the field.  It gave me a start.  Amazing that I had not noticed it before it jumped up and leapt away.

When in the field, I found other flowers in bloom with the same color, so picked some of them as well. I'd like to identify the plant.

There were a lot of insects foraging, just like me.  I noticed honeybees, bumblebees, a wasp I had never seen before, Asian ladybugs, yellow striped beetles.  I was very careful to let these fly away before putting the flowers in my bag. 

Once I came inside, and put the flowers into the dyepot and set it to simmer, I found other hitchhikers. There were a lot of spiders and some tiny black beetles.  Maybe if I were a Buddhist I would have carefully set each one free outside my door, but I chose a more expedient method of crushing them in a paper towel as they climbed out of the water.
  I set the dyepot to simmer while using the bread machine on the counter to knead some dough for hamburger buns for dinner.

The house is filling with a pleasant herbal aroma.   I will let it simmer for several hours, then strain the resulting "tea" and use it.  In the meantime I will measure out a few 100-yard skeins of  undyed yarn using the niddy-noddy, to compare to my new yarn meter from Annie's Attic.   I measured a purchased skein earlier and noticed that the label said 99 yards, the meter measured 109 yards.  I'd prefer to use the meter instead of havng to count the rounds on the niddy noddy.