A Lot of Random Stuff This Week

Can you believe that it is going to be over 100 degrees by the weekend …IMG_0163

…and  just four days ago it was in the 60’s-70’s with a thunderstorms…IMG_0164

…and hail?


The morning of the storm, when it was bright and sunny out I saw that a big branch of this weeping willow had broken during the night–not storm related. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but where that big space is with sun shining through–that is where the branch was.


The sheep made quick work of the leaves up to the height they could reach.


Big event–my husband retired last week. I was worried that he would wear out his end of the couch, but after getting over a bad cold, he’s been outside spending time doing Stuff That Needs Doing.IMG_0191-2

One of those things is cutting tree branches that block the view from the driveway.


In the sheep world, we’re getting ready to go to Black Sheep Gathering next week, so that means halter breaking lambs. A few Farm Club members have come over to help. That sheep is not hurt or dead. She is just protesting.


This is a blurry photo of the back of a ram lamb’s head. What it shows is two horns on the right that are growing close together. Ideally Jacob sheep have symmetrical, balanced horns. I’ll wait and see how that 5th horn is going to grow out.


I put a 40-yard warp on the Schacht loom and cut off 12 baby blankets. There are more to go but I needed to get some of these done. That reminds me I need to contact someone who ordered pink blankets.


New items in the shop and on the website soon. These just came–Schacht flick carder, tapestry beater, and weaving cards.

I wanted to finish the warp on the AVL. The computer that is attached to it decided to update itself. This is a PC and everything else I do is on a Mac. I don’t remember the PC world at all.


This message had me really frustrated. I can’t weave on that loom if I can’t get the computer and the loom to talk to each other. With trial and error I finally got it going again, but I have no faith that it will work when I turn it on the next time.


So I stayed out there at the loom until I finished that warp so that at least I have some time to work with it if there is another problem.


Spinners’ Day Out

What an inspiring day this was! We had a full house here for Spinners’ Day Out. It was cold and windy outside and somehow we all fit in the shop. Then people started pulling things out of their bags! What talent! That inspired this blog post.


Janis knit this baby hat and booties for my soon-to-be-born grandson. This is yarn she spun during our Spinzilla week. She said that this pattern was one passed down from her grandmother and the booties actually stay on babies’ feet.


Dona wove this scarf on the rigid heddle loom. It is full of wild yarn including a designer leash that I made a long time ago (note clip on the side) and a beaded necklace.alisons-scarves

Alison has been going wild on her loom, exploring weave structure and color. She has woven all these scarves in the last week or two…


…in addition to this v-shawl that she wove in a class here. (By the way, photos were a bit challenging today as there was a strong north wind. Can you tell from the movement of this shawl?)


Gail wove and dyed this beautiful shibori scarf.


Lisa showed us her mushroom dyed yarn…


…and modeled Mary’s knit cowl, as well as her own Fleece Flight shawl knitted with Jacob yarn for our ongoing KAL in Ravelry.


Mary’s daughter, Maggie wove this Jacob scarf on the rigid heddle loom as her first-ever weaving project. Look at those edges!


Dona brought her quilt that had pictures of all the goats that she used to have.


This is the back of the quilt–very cute fabric!


I just finished three black walnut-dyed shawls.

Later in the day a few of us decided it was time for the annual “dress the animals in Santa hats” but that will be for another blog post.


This is a preview.

Meow & Woof Yarn

Who could resist yarns with this theme? I couldn’t and I hope that my customers can’t. This is one of the most recent additions to the shop. The yarn is dyed to match cats and dogs and some of the proceeds are given back to animal rescue projects.DSC_4851This is a selection of the BFL yarn in fingering weight. That’s a light weight yarn often used for knitting socks. You might wonder how purple and pink fit into cat and dog colors. The purple is called “cheshire cat”. I still didn’t understand how that fit until I googled “cheshire cat” and found that Disney’s version of the cheshire cat is indeed purple.DSC_4861What about this one? It’s called Kitten Nose Pink.DSC_4839It’s easy to see the calico here.DSC_4878These yarns are Merino fingering weight. They come in the same colorways. I bought a variety of each because I couldn’t get them all.DSC_4847Here is my first project using one of the yarns. One skein will easily make a scarf.DSC_5106I also tried the Zoom Loom to see how they looked. The yarn is too thin to use singly, but doubled it’s great!

I have ordered more and wait until you see what those look like. There will be a special surprise yarn as well!



Fire & Sky in Chenille

The Artery is having a show called A Family Affair. We invited members’ family to include artwork in the January show and I invited my sons and DIL. They entered photos and I planned to weave chenille scarves to accompany the photos.

The vibrancy of the photos inspired my idea for the scarf colors. I didn’t want to just choose yarns off the shelf. For one thing I didn’t have the right colors, but the main problem was that I didn’t want stripes. I wanted to have colors that flowed in to one another over the length of the scarf. That means starting with white (usually) yarn and dyeing it.

Oops! Not enough white or off-white chenille yarn on the shelf. I had enough of that for two warps of two scarves each. That would be one warp for Chris’ fire photos and one for Matt and Kaleena’s mountain photos. I wanted more than that so that some could be “practice” warps. More about that later.

I also assumed that I had dye in the colors that I wanted because…well just because…just like I assumed that I had white chenille in the shop. I got the box out of the garage and pulled out all the containers that had yellow or orange or red (fire scarves) and blue or (mountain scarves) in their names. IMG_8048I was OK for Fire. I had wound the two white/off-white warps but wanted to start with something else to try out the colors.IMG_8051I still have some warps leftover from my Yarn from the Box project in colors that won’t sell. I used these yarns with the plan that I would eventually dye the warp. IMG_8055Now was the time. I started with yellow but it didn’t cover the colors very well so this warp went to oranges and reds.IMG_8058That was the “practice” warp. Now it was time for the “real” one and I decided to use just these colors.IMG_8056You can see the yarns that I used weren’t all the same because I didn’t have enough of any one shade. Here is where my photo documentary of the process has holes. This was a cold, damp day. I was bundled up in overalls and Carhart jacket and wool layers. I had footwarmers in my boots   but I had to keep switching from warm gloves to rubber gloves, neither of which lent themselves to taking lots of photos. And it was getting late in the day and I was starting to lose the light. So no more photos of these warps after dyeing. IMG_8060I wasn’t satisfied with the dye job on the white warp so I wound another but this time used yellow yarns because I didn’t have anymore white. I dyed this in those same colors.IMG_2895_mediumDona was at the shop the day I was trying to get these warps to dry. She took this photo of them hanging near the heater. IMG_8062Back to the dye day. These were the blues. It was getting late so not many more photos.IMG_8064Here is one of the Mountain Sky warps. 948-951 chenille scarfI wove seven Fire scarves (two were finished the night before the show so aren’t photographed here) and five Mountain Sky scarves.951-2951-1DSC_4675949-1950-2I will do another post of how the Artery show looks.

Weaving and Other Woolly Things

I’ve been  checking things off my endless list.

Make buttons. DSC_0944There are over 150 buttons here.DSC_0965Weave more products to take to Fibershed’s Grow Your Jeans event on October 3. DSC_0773This are four shawls using very soft wool from Anderson Ranch.

Deal with sheepskins. I got one batch in and one batch out. At first I got four boxes with 29 sheepskins that were not mine. Those went back to the tannery. DSC_1113Yesterday I got the boxes with my 30 sheepskins and I photographed them for my website (although they aren’t there yet). Not artsy photos, but I  need to show the size and the color and this is how it has worked best for me. In addition I shipped off 42 more sheepskins and am keeping my fingers crossed that I get them back before December. That’s a pretty big investment and I need to be able to sell them before Christmas.

Weave a blanket for a customer using her handspun yarn that she sent me last year. I hate having things hanging over my head. When I was finally ready to get to it I opened the box that I though held her wool. Nope–there was something else in that box. Then I almost panicked wondering if it was possible that her yarn had ended up out in the big yard/estate sale that I had over Labor Day. Fortunately that was not the case.

DSC_0744 I had spent a lot of time thinking about how best to use this yarn. One worry was that using yarns that are very different is likely to result in tension issues and different elasticity in the finished piece (showing up as ruffly places where it should be smooth and flat). I’m glad that I waited to plan this blanket because one of the last emails that I had from the spinner had the word “gradient” in it. That gave me the inspiration for how to wind the warp and weave it.

DSC_0761 I made a gradient from the darkest brown all the way to white in the warp and then I wove with the same pattern. This is double width so this photo shows only the half that goes from dark to mid-brown. The lighter half is underneath. After weaving and unfolding the blanket…

DSC_0887 …this is what you get. This is not a very good photo but I just don’t have a good place to take a photo of a full size blanket spread out. I am really pleased with this piece and am inspired to do some more like it.

One last thing. At Spinners Night Out one of the spinners said that her husband had made a discovery in his bowl of popcorn:popcorn sheep

Back at the Loom

It’s been awhile since I talked about weaving. There was Texas and the fair and sheep and dogs. But I have been at work in the shop. After the fair and before the shooting of the video documentary I worked for a couple of days cleaning. This was the kind of cleaning where you Throw Things Away…or at least put them in a different building (in the room of a kid who no longer lives here) with the designation to go to the upcoming Estate Sale. After all I couldn’t have a videographer in that shop where I couldn’t even get to a loom without stepping over mountains of boxes and moving piles of Stuff off the bench. Now that the space is organized I feel like my brain is a little more organized too.

One of the major accomplishments was to finish an order that has been hanging over my head for a really long time.916 Thacher queen blankets These are one full size and three queen size blankets woven out of the customer’s wool. I am anxious to get them shipped off. (And there is still one more custom order–that person may have given up on me but I will contact her this week.)929 Timm Ranch huck shawls Looking ahead to Fibershed Grow Your Jeans Event in October (same weekend as Lambtown by the way), I wove 6 shawls using wool I had spun last year from the local Timm Ranch flock. One of these will be in the fashion show and all will be for sale. The colored shawls use weft yarn dyed with osage orange, black walnut, and pomegranates. This are how the shawls look just off the loom. I still need to fringe and full them. DSC_9169This is one of the shawls after fulling.

I am teaching a class this weekend called Color on the Loom. I haven’t taught this one before and I am still working on content. I wanted to weave another sample that also included combining weave structures. This is the kind of thing I rarely take time to do. Instead I have been working to meet deadlines. The creative part of weaving (as in everything else) takes time to think, absorb, mull over ideas. This week I took that time–I think it helped that the space was clean.

930 on loom This is a warp in which stripes of wool  alternates with stripes of cotton. My idea was to purposely create a seersucker like effect. The wool is stretchy and the cotton is not. In addition wool and cotton react differently to wet finishing. I wove several samples of all different combinations of weave structure (plain weave, twill, basket weave) and cotton or wool weft. These are before and after photos of just a couple of the samples:930-E & D before finishingEach of these samples are woven the same (plain weave cotton stripes alternating with basket weave wool stripes and vice versa and the same in squares–to the left of the samples). I wove one sample with wool weft and one with cotton weft. 930-D after finishingThis is how the wool one looks after wet finishing (five minutes in the washing machine). It definitely has a different feel but isn’t all that appealing to me. 930-B before finishingThe most dramatic change and the one that I think I’d most like to repeat in a larger project is this one, the simplest. The photo above is plain weave throughout. One end is woven in wool, the other in cotton, and it’s hard to see, but in the middle wool and cotton alternate in bands–like weaving a plaid but without changing color. Take a look at this one after finishing:

930-B after finishing  This is felted (the next step past fulling). This sample had a five minute wash and then went into the dryer. I love the puckery look of where the cotton and wool alternate in the middle in both warp and weft. I think I want to weave a blanket like that. So I wove these as a color idea but love the texture most.

931 cotton scarves As an immediate follow-up to that experiment I used the same cotton yarns as in the samples and wove three scarves using the combination of plain weave and huck. I didn’t like that so much in the wool/cotton samples but I love the look in these scarves. These are also “samples” as they each use a different color weft (subtle difference) and are woven at two different setts (the number of warp threads in an inch). So I’ll use them as samples in the class and then they’ll be at the Artery for sale.

932 Huck scarf I  hosted a field trip of Japanese agriculture students on Monday. They have been in this country for several months staying on different farms but have now come together for some class time at UC Davis. We spent most of the time in the barn but I also wanted to show them how I combine my weaving business with farming. I quickly put a scarf warp on this loom and wove and finished a sample to show what the scarves would look like after fulling. Isn’t that difference amazing? I have now finished the scarves. Wait until you see them!loom with trapezeAlso this week I asked my husband to help me figure out a “warping trapeze”. No I won’t be swinging from the ceiling but my yarn will. I have been wanting to do this for a long time.  The idea is that you hang weights off the warp and wind it on smoothly under even tension.loom with trapeze (1) The tricky thing is that I need to get the warp yarns to go through a raddle to help keep them spaced properly. In most of the warping trapeze photos I see on-line the warp goes through the loom from the front. That won’t work here so I’m working on other configurations. I think this will work out OK. This warp is for more shawls using more local wool yarn (Anderson Ranch). I may use the same pattern as those scarves I just wove. wolf lichen dye potWell, this post just keeps going on and on. I also uploaded this photo. Thinking of what weft I’ll use for the shawl warp in the photo above I got out the dye pot and the wolf lichen that I collected while at Lake Tahoe a couple of months ago. I kept thinking that something smelled funny but I was at the computer and forgot that I had something on the stove. Oops. Fortunately the yarn wasn’t in the pot yet.

One last thing. This magazine came a couple of weeks ago.IMG_5721 I knew that my contest entry was in the magazine but I didn’t know that I had made the cover!

Close to Home…Post #10 – Sincere Sheep

One of the first yarns I used when weaving for Close to Home was Targhee wool sold by Sincere Sheep.

Story:  Brooke Sinnes of Napa began Sincere Sheep in 2003 and focused on natural dyeing yarn sourced from local wool. Since that time she has included other lines of yarn sourced farther from home.
Sincere Sheep’s Bannock yarn is a 3-ply worsted weight yarn that features 100% Targhee wool from Montana and the Dakotas that is milled in North Carolina and spun in Maine.
The Targhee sheep is named after the Targhee National Forest near where the breed was developed beginning in the 1920’s. The goal of the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Idaho was to develop sheep with uniformly heavy fleshing and high quality fine wool that was adapted to rugged conditions of the Western range. Developed by crossing Rambouillet, Corriedale, and Lincoln sheep at the Experiment Station, the Targhee breed was expanded by selection of “Targhee type” ewes from large bands of range ewes crossed with Targhee rams. The flock book was closed in 1966.
Targhee sheep produce 10-12 pound fleeces with very soft, bright white fiber that measures 21-25 microns. Sincere Sheep’s Bannock yarn was named for a Targhee Native American Chief.IMG_1290This is one of only two yarns in this show that are not grown in Solano or Marin Counties but I included it because of the variety of colors, naturally dyed, and the quality of the yarn,  and it is grown in the Pacific Northwest, which is Closer to Home than many places where wool is grown.  Sincere Sheep I love the color variation in this yarn…Sincere Sheep …and the variety of designs that you can get on one warp.DSC_4153Sincere Sheep Sincere Sheep blanketsThat means that each of the blankets above was woven on the same warp threading in white yarn, but the patterns change by varying the treading and, of course, the color of the weft.Sincere Sheep yarn, Artery 2014 Another series of blankets.878-2, 878-3 And another.Sincere Sheep TargheeAt the end of the warp I just wove in white instead of making it plaid and then I felted the fabric. That made great fabric for pillows.Sincere SheepI also wove a series of blankets on a rusty red warp with a white weft

Sincere Sheep Targhee  Targhee yarn is very soft and perfect for scarves as well. After the Artery show whatever items are left will be for sale on my website.