Saturday, October 30, 2010

It Was a Good Day to Dye

I couldn't resist the Halloween humor, but it really was a good day to dye. The sun was out, the weather was warmer than it had been and I was able to spend some time with new friends.

I recently joined the Front Range Fiber Artisans, a group of people who work with fiber in one way or another. Knitting, crochet, weaving, embroidery, sewing, quilting, paper arts, etc.

A couple of months ago we got together on a couple of evenings to use knitting machines to knit "blanks." I knitted up about 400 yards of some of my handspun alpaca in a natural white.

Then we got together today to dye them.

The woman who hosted had dyes mixed up in bottles ready to go as well as a couple of tables. Another member of our group showed up with the steamers (giant ones she got at the local Asian market), a couple more tables, and commercial sized rolls of plastic wrap.

We laid out our blanks (soaked in water and acidic wash) and, using syringes and brushes, applied the dyes. When we had finished coloring, we wrapped each piece like a tortilla in plastic wrap and placed them in the steamer for an hour.

After pulling them out of the steamer we let them cool down, unwrapped them, rinsed out the excess dye, and squeezed out all the excess water.

This is what mine looked like after it was unwrapped. I had painted on random stripes of blue, purple, and green. In the steamer the edges blended together causing the colors to transition softly.

I took it home and unraveled the knitting when it was dry enough. A little kinky, but the colors are beautiful.

Now, what to make with it.

When I got home, my creative engine was still rev-ed up, so I decided to break out the kool-aid. I had a blast.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Coming Soon Sneek Peek

I'm working hard to get some new patterns out. I really am. I promise.

Here's a sneak peek of one.

Isn't that luscious? I can't wait to get it done.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Santa Fe and Taos: Yarn Shops and the Taos Wool Festival

My husband and I love to visit New Mexico and so we spent last weekend in Santa Fe at a book fair and in Taos at the Taos Wool Festival.

Wherever I go, I like to check out the local yarn shops and I now have a favorite in Santa Fe. It's called Tutto and it's a gem.

I first visited this shop last July. It's a cozy shop full of beautiful colors, a variety of fibers and textures, and with enough stock to purchase enough of one yarn for an entire project. Last time it was full of people there for a class. But this time it was quiet so I was able to look around in a more leisurely fashion.

One of the distinguishing features of this LYS is the button selection. WOW! If you need a special button, this is the place to go. I was also delighted to find some great yarn brands that I've not seen at the other LYS that I have visited.

An new favorite in Taos is another find from last July called Red Willow Arts and Fiber in Rancho de Taos. It's a new shop off the plaza that surrounds the San Francisco de Assis church made famous by Georgia O'Keeffe painting of the back of it.

The owner has a great selection of fibers for spinning and yarns created by the local Taos Valley Wool Mill. The fibers available include Blue Face Leicester, Churro, Alpaca, Mohair, Silk, and Milk. This visit I gave in to her suggestion to try the milk fiber in a beautiful Hawaiian blue as well as some black alpaca/silk.

Sunday morning found us at the Taos Wool Festival in Kit Carson Park and it was a beautiful day for it. There were even more vendor tents than last year and so more variety to choose from.

Taos is always a great festival for finding great yarn, fibers, dyed goods, woven products, knitted and crocheted products, and great community. I've never had a chance to take classes but have heard good reviews.

An added bonus (in my opinion) is that all the vendors are all from New Mexico, Colorado, or Texas and their fiber/animals must be raised in the same. It's all designed to promote and support the area fiber industry.

My particular goal was to find something really unique and so I was pleased to find some Paco-Vicuña fiber to spin. Pricey, but I've been wanting to try it since reading about it in SpinOff Magazine. The vendor I purchased it from was Indian Hills Handwovens from Salida, Colorado.

My last fiber stop for the weekend was La Lana Wools. I've been visiting them for several years and when I walked in this time I noticed that they have made a lot of changes. When there, I tend to look for unique things I won't find anywhere else. This time I found some beautiful reeled silk in dark green and silver. They carry an interesting selection of wool yarn and also offer fiber for spinning, although the selection wasn't as big as it has been in the past. They also carry natural dye material in bulk for those without dye gardens.

All said, it was a fast but satisfying weekend.