Friday, May 27, 2005

Spinning implements

I've been using the spinning wheel to spin my two rovings, see earlier pics called Yummy. Amazingly enough the wheel is not bothering my knee. I was greatly and pleasantly suprised by this. So the old knee problem had been fixed in surgery! Now if I can just keep the Weimeraner away from me!!!

I have several drop spindles and I take them on the road with me, someday I'll have a travelers wheel. But in all honesty I prefer my wheel to the drop spindle. It took me about a year, off and on which was more off than on, to learn to spin consistantly. Now I spin any size and style of yarn I want.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Cochineal Dyed Silk Coccoons. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Painting Interfacing

Here's Phase 2 of Meltwork, there's a before shot in the archives. I'll stitch it now, probably quite heavily, and add beads to the surface.

Meltwork Phase 2 Posted by Hello

Spinning Yummy

I've decided that the roving should definately be called Yummy. I'm spinning it now, my right elbow is giving me fits so it'll be slow going, but I plan to Navajo ply it whence I'm done. I think I'll probably use it for either couching or maybe a small tapestry, of course this means I'll have to get my loom warped.

I have a smallish Navajo loom that a very nice woman gave to me, it doesn't have a floor stand, she mounted it to the wall, that's not an option for me as wall space is at a premium in my studio. It's made of apple wood, I'll have to see what hubby has in his stash for making a stand, I'll probably use ash or oak.

Any how this roving has too much soul to use as sock yarn or something else equally unrefined. Usually I don't feel this way about my wool, but for some reason this piece, and it's sultry moody colors, demand something greater. Who knows maybe it came from a "Grand Dame" ewe with real attitude? The likes of which I've sheered once or twice in my life.

Wool Roving

Like I said the other day it pays to check your stash once in awhile! I found these two gorgeous rovings at the bottom of a rather large basket. Now to see if my knee is up to spinning. I do have a double treddle wheel so hopefully I can do this.

Yummy Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Blogs & SIlk Worms

Well for some reason my blog cannot be found today, but I still seem to be able to publish it, go figure.

Silk worms (catepillars actually), well you can wet them and use them as catfish bait. I hear they taste good deep fat fried, kinda like a toasted pecan. I don't know of any other uses, but yes that was 390 catepillars I pitched the other day. And I'm gonna do more tonight.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Silk Cocoons

I've been selling the silk cocoons like crazy lately, thanks to an article in Quilting Arts Magazine. I've also been setting the catepillars free from the cocoons, as some of my customers can't do it, hate bugs, hands can't take the strain of using scissors like that, etc...

So tonight I had a wild idea, it was a God moment actually because my wrists were killing me from cutting the catepillars out of those cocoons, use a serrated knife! I tried one and presto it worked like a charm! Praise God Almighty I say!!! I have to say if you only have scissors then go for it, but the serrated bread knife worked far better, far faster, and was safer than the scissors. I can't tell you how many times I stabbed myself with the scissors trying to poke the blade into the cocoon.

BTW Did I mention I cut open 300+ cocoons tonight? It only took me an hour, last time I cut open 90 cocoons, with the scissors, and it took me about 4 hours, like I said my hands were killing me.

Stuffed Ribbon Posted by Hello

The Stash, Dyeing and Teaching.

It pays to look through ones stash once in awhile. I found some rather yummy yarns to work with, I should have taken pics of them as well.

Right now I'm on a knitted felted handbag kick, I'm making one for myself and one for my aunt, who shares my affliction for cute handbags. I told her tonight that the reason I like them so much is that they are easier to wear than jewelry sometimes. Don't get me wrong I have jewelry, and actually wear it, but there are times when I'm not in the mood, when a really nice handbag is all I need.

Anyway I've been doodling with some new ideas, for me anway, I've been stuffing ribbon with yarns, now I will dye them and do other wild things to them. Right after I get all of my office work done of course, there's a pic of some white ribbon with purple yarn strung through it. I used a big blunt needle to pull the yarn through, mind you this really requires patience, which I seem to be short on tonight.

This week promises to be really busy as I am having our annual Surface Design Sale on my webstore, http://www.prairiefibers.com I still have tons of items I need to upload to the store, that I bought in Kansas City at the International Quilt Market. And more will be coming this week.

I also started dyeing fabrics again today, mainly silk cocoons, which I have lots to say about, but I will be teaching in less than two weeks and need to get my act together and quickly. That means lots of samples, dye baths that are ready to go, etc... Oh and did I mention we are vending as well? This is the Iowa Wool Festival, if I find the link I'll post it later.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Handbag with bamboo handles. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 20, 2005

Yard Sales

There's gold in them thar hills! Or at least at the garage sale there was anyway. Hubby and I went saling tonight, not the kind where you use a boat and there's water involved. I struck gold several times.

At one sale I picked up some rusty old objects, spikes, chisels and the like for my rust dyeing experiments, I also picked up two boxes of fabrics and laces for a total of three dollars at that sale. But the best find at that sale was the handbag, a very old handmade number, probably from the 70's. The bamboo handles are to die for, so I'm thinking i"ll either fix the bag to meet my expectations, there's not much wrong with it, or I'll use the handles for another bag. The bag cost me a dollar fifty total, there's no way I'd get nice bamboo handles like that for that price.

I'm thinking the bag itself, since it'll detach from the handles easily, lends itself to dyeing, painting, and all sorts of surface embellishment. It consists of a hardanger type cloth with stitching on it, white I might add. I think it's cotton and so is the lining. Who knows maybe it'll take a trip through the compost pile first.

American English

I found this link on a blog, I think it was the Crochet Guy, but I'm not sure. If you scroll down on the right side you will see a box asking you what kind of American English do you Speak?

The results sure explain why I got my butt chewed to hell and back over my misspelling of the word Grey! I was informed, both privately and publically that it was Gray and only old Brits spelt it that way! NOT!!! Guess what it's spelled both ways! And who really cares anyway, at least I can spell, and considering the mix of results on my AngloAmericano test it's probably amazing that I can spell, let alone read and write.

Now to go find my teeth, maybe they're in the cellar?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Meltwork 1, in progress. Copyright 2005 Posted by Hello

What I'm working on

Here's a scan of what I"m working on. I think it'd look much better if I had taken a digital pic instead, but my camera is downstairs and I didn't feel like going after it.

This is a piece of Kunin felt, charcoal grey, and on top of it I layered melted angelina fibers, painted & stamped wonder under, and a orange chiffon scarf. This was all ironed together. I then couched down some crocheted silk yarn. On top of this I stamped expandable puff medium. After I melted this with the heat gun, notice the lacey holes in the piece, I painted some of the puff squares. I then took my stencil brush and applied metallic waxes to the puffed squares.

I am about half way through painting the puff squares. I decided I needed to add some more stitching and surface embellishment first. I've decided I want it to enhance the lace effect once I'm done, so I will be using the soldering iron for more controlled burning. WARNING: melt this stuff out doors, it is really noxious!

The experiment has been fun and I now have ideas on how to execute a future project through this experiment.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Rust Dyeing

My article on Rust Dyeing was recently published in Turkey Red Journal. You can acquire the journal from: http://www.naturaldyes.org It's part of the membership fee.

Cochineal and Rust Dyed Doilie

The doilie is part of a collaboration project. The significance of which is noted in my journal I'm keeping for the collaboration. The silk organza pieces that are in the cochineal dye pot are for the same project. I will say that when all is said and done I will have around 6-8 pieces of sculpture.

The only other two people who know what I'm doing are my collaboration partners, we are part of a larger group of 24 international artists.

Detail of Cochineal and Rust Dyed Doilie Posted by Hello

Doilie that has been cochineal and rust dyed. Posted by Hello

Cochineal Dyebath, wool yarn, silk organza fabrics. Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Tubular Peyote. Posted by Hello

Life and Haunted Microwaves

I think I know why I've quit creating. I'm constantly being interrupted. I'm interrupted by the phone, the door bell, pets, my husband, strangers wandering into my house. You know, the usual stuff. It's a major deterant to getting anyting done. It's also an excellent training method to keep you from wanting to ever do anything.

I do believe it's called the tyranny of the urgent. I'm just about ready to kennel up the dogs, disconnect the phones and the door bell, send the hubby fishing, and well any and all unwelcomed intruders beware!

The microwave keeps turning itself on. I'm not really sure why either. I think I will look later to see if there are any recalls on microwaves. Sure hubby threw the box away last week, it's a year old now, and now it starts to act up. But the whole turning on by itself thing is not cool.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Catacombs of Hell. In Progress.  Posted by Hello

Catacombs of Hell Detail 2 Posted by Hello

Catacombs of Hell Detail 1 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Spring Cleaning

Well one of the perks of PMS (for me anyway) is an unusally high envergy level. I usually use this excess of enegry for the betterment of mankind. I clean. Today I started in on my wet studio, it was so bad I didn't even have a chair to sit on at my work table!

I'll take pics once it's clean, honestly it's the only way you'd ever be able to see anything. It's stacked pretty high and deep right now.

So I finally rearranged some shelves so my antique Hobart scale would have a place to live, and not on my chair anymore. I also have access to 50+ pounds of beeswax that had been hiding for the better part of year. This mess has impeded my efforts to create beautiful pieces of art, or so I'd like to think. I really need to clean my design studio again, it never ceases to amaze me how fast the clutter builds up.

Well I'd better go close some windows, the radar is telling me a gully washer is approaching, again.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Crazy Bird

This morning there was a really weird bird outside in the tree, and it's pretty annoying at that. Did I mention it was "really" early in the morning! I didn't see what it looked like but when it first started singing it sounded like a bird, then it sounded like power steering unit, on a car, going out. It squawled like you would not believe and then it ended it's song tweeting like a bird again. It did this for the better part of two hours. Really annoying.

There was a Blue Jay outside this morning, in our tree trying to rescue it's nest, but I don't think it was the Jay. Anyway... I could really use some sleep.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Red Quills.  Posted by Hello

Red Quills

Well I have red quills, I have them in the oven, no heat, drying off. They are not as intense as I would like them to be. At this point I'd be glad if I didn't overheat them, I don't think I did but the cochineal pot was near boiling when I came into the house. So I strained the quills and cooled them off with cold tap water. They didn't seem mushy or anything. We'll see later tonight.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Porkie Quills

Well I have some porkie quills on to soak in a cochineal dyebath. Hopefully they will be red tomorrow. I added alum and cream of tartar to the bath so my red would be more to the orange side of the spectrum.

The last pic is blurry and I"m not sure why. Maybe I was too close, the digital camera is really picky.

Liquid from First Staining of Cochineal Bugs. Posted by Hello

Strained Cochineal Bugs. Ready for Second Soaking. Posted by Hello

Clean and Dried Porcupine Quills Posted by Hello

Clean Quills going into the Cochineal Bath Posted by Hello

Porcupine Qiulls Soaking in Cochineal.  Posted by Hello

Cochineal & Multiple Extractions

I am asked this question so many times I decided to post this on my blog. Hopefully dyers out there searching the web will find this information useful. You can see some of the pics, either above or below this posting of what I'm talking about.

You can perform multiple dye extractions with cochineal bugs. What I did for this demo was to weigh out two ounces of the bugs, cover them in water, then heat them to near boiling. I then turn off the heat and let them sit overnight, in the same pan. (one these days I need to buy another one of these pans as it is my favorite).

Day two I strain the bugs in a hand held sieve, into a much bigger stainless steel pan (about 8 quarts I guess). I then place the bugs back into my smaller pan, cover with water and reheat them to near boiling. I then turn off the heat and let them sit overnight. The next day I strain them again, placing the dye liquor into the previous days extraction. I repeat this process upwards of 20 times.

You will need to heat the dye liquor every few days or so to prevent mold from forming on the dye extractant. When you are done it will be blackish in color. This dye liquor is a super concentrated cochineal dye bath.

When you are ready to dye just remove a smallish amount, about one quarters cup worth, from the dye liquor and place it into your dye bath water. If it's still blackish just add a smidge of Alum and it'll redden right up. I do this all of the time.

This is an excellent way to get the most bang for your dye resources. I do this all of the time with cochineal and other dye materials. Most dye materials lend themselves to only one or two extractions, beyond the original dye extraction.

Wood chips however can be pushed, Osage Orange is one such woody material. I soak it upwards of 3-4 weeks before I use it as my dyebath. I then take my chips and lay them out in a thin layer, so they don't get moldy, and dry them out. Once thoroughly dried they can be resoaked for a lighter dye extraction.

Also it should be noted that most woody dye material colors are extracted better if the dye materials are soaked in pure alcohol. I use Everclear for the best results. Dye materials that are fugative, such as Alkanet, are less inclined to fade if they are soaked in alcohol first.

You could use wood alcohol but it tends to make protien fibers brittle, and the colors are not as brillaint. You could also use 90 proof Vodka, but again the colors are not as brilliant.

You don't need much Everclear to extract the dye color from the woody materials, just enough to cover the chips or sawdust.

Insanity

I found this on a chat list, in someones signature line. Looks like I'm a strong contender. If at first you don't succeed, fail, fail, again . (Well you know I meant try try again, or did I?) ;-)

The definition of insanity: Doing the exact same thing over again and expecting a different result!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Wet Fabric

Well the fabric I posted on my blog earlier today is out on the frame still, sagging like crazy. I"m debating whether or not I want to go take it off of the frame and hang it on the clothes line. This way I know it won't rip from too much stretching. The best scenerio, if I don't go out to rescue it, is that the push pins will pop off the frame from too much stress and the fabric will just flop around on the ground.

Naaaaaaaaaaah surely Murphy's Law has to kick in here somewhere.

Rain - The Ants were Right

Or should I say deluge! The ants were right, it was a doosey! It's supposed to rain off and on for the next week, so I can see why they moved their aphid farm to higher ground. I wonder if they managed to stay dry? They probably sealed themselves in with some sort of waxy spit like material.

We had a real gully washer tonight, the lightening was horrific. And it looks like it was even worse north of here. At one point we heard, saw, a huge flash and I thought it brought one of our trees down, nope. Hubby thought it was lightening sizzling the air, could have been. I don't know what happened but it brought the shelf down on my wall in my studio. thankfully all of the pets were in our room with us, that's a lot of books to crash land onto someone.

So I'll be off to the big box store tomorrow to get more brackets and much much longer screws to reinforce the shelf. Well hubby will do the work but I will go shopping with him.

Ants and Aphids Again

The ants must have been prepping a place for the aphids this morning, when I saw them marching up and down the hackberry tree. Now they are carrying the aphids up the tree. I've never noticed them do this when we've had light rains, so we must be in for a doosey of a storm.

What I've been up to this afternoon. Posted by Hello

An impending project. Posted by Hello

Ants herding aphids. Posted by Hello

Thread Painting

The thread painting of Cardine is on cotton canvas, I scanned the piece in so you can't see the rest of the fabric. The canvas is painted with acrylic paints, to look like the Plains. I should really take a digital of this piece. The whole piece measures 18.25 l x 13.75 w (inches) The image of the horse is approximately 6"h x 10"w.

The piece will be finished soon and framed, hopefully.

Cardine

Cardine is a free hand thread painting, using 68 colors of thread. He's an Arabian, or so I was told. I did the work on my sewing machine, none of it was computer programmed or generated.

Cardine Posted by Hello

Cardine

Here's a pic of a thread painting I made in 2001. It needs some eyelashes, a touch up on the mane. And the fence rail needs some lichens and gunk on it still.

Ants and Aphids

Well I took the dogs out for their nature call, under their favorite tree the hackberry. And low and behold an army of ants was marching up and down the tree. Their prediciting rain, the weather forecasters, and guess so now are the ants. We must be on the verge of a gully washer or something.

Ants will move aphids to higher ground, when bad weather is impending, so as to proctect them. Which is really truly odd because I thought they were doing the aphids in, but not so, just the opposite.

What I wish I had now as a cherry picker so I could get up to the crotch in the tree, a mere 20+ feet in the air, and spy on the aphids. I wanna know what color they are, I didn't get close enough to the ants, due to being attached to two dogs, to find out. But apparently aphids, if they are the right colors, will yeild dye colors. Carol Lee, from Sheep Shed Studios, does a lot of dyeing with aphids, and mushrooms.

I'll have to see what I can come up with. The 40 foot ladder is too heavy to handle by myself, hopefully it won't be raining when hubby gets home this afternoon.

Well I"m off to dye fibers and fill orders.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

One of those days

I've managed to get some knitting done this week, for a piece I'm planning to felt. In fact I may bind it off in a bit and felt it just to see what happens.

I found some really cool old cards, that were not mine or anybodies I know, at a thrift shop, I plan to alter them tonight. They are floral cards, some of the post cards are beautiful, from the very early 1900's, but the messages on the back are way cryptic. They are more like an on going converstation or something. I"ll probably scan them into my computer before I alter them, just in case I want to use the images again.