Mary Spinning

Spinning project updates..

It's been a pretty productive weekend, and I'm enjoying the continuous evolution of my spinning projects, be they on the wheel or my spindles.

Currently on the wheel: This gorgeous Loop batt is being plied with a thin Corriedale/Merino cross single, which I think is coming out beautifully, and I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of finish I get after this skein has been set.



Sometimes I feel so impatient with the plying process, like once it's spun I just want to get it finished immediately, but then I remember how much of the character in the finished yarn, as well as how long it will hold up under abrasion without pilling, is determined by the degree of ply twist. Just like warping a loom, once the single is spun, I'm about halfway there.

Here's the plied yarn, sitting on the rack drying out after just having been dunked in some nice hot water.



Currently on my beloved Kundert spindle: Some lovely multicolored Corriedale top purchased on my trip to the Rhinebeck fiber festival this year.



I think I'd like to ply this with the other ball of sparkly spindle spun Loop batt once it's finished.. we'll see if I change my mind at the last minute.

More to come as new yarns make their way onto my Etsy shop...

Later.

-Me.
  • Current Music
    No Light, No Light - Florence + The Machine
Mary Spinning

Small Business Saturday thoughts..

While I completely support the idea behind Small Business Saturday, those of us out there without brick and mortar stores have a little more work to do to get the word out. If you're looking for a great gift for a knitter or crochet enthusiast in your life, check out the yarns on my Etsy shop, or email me to create a custom yarn for a specific project. Handspun helps to feed a homestead, and your purchase helps me to keep creating and teaching to forward the art of spinning.

So, today as I work on spinning projects, I've thought about the ways that I reach out and let folks have a birds' eye view of whatever I'm currently working on, and resolved to try to post a bit more often.

Here's what's currently on the bobbins:



This bobbin was filled full-to-bursting at the Old Deerfield Christmas Sampler Craft Fair last Sunday, where I was doing a spinning demonstration and vending my handspun yarns. I had a lovely day there, and enjoyed the wide variety of responses from visitors.



The fibers are from a Bullseye Batt made by Loop, and should create a lovely self-striping yarn after they've been plied and set.

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday!

Later,

-Me.
  • Current Music
    Remain Nameless - Florence + The Machine
Mary Spinning

The busy season? I'm always this busy..

So much going on in the world of fiber arts here in the woods. This season's dye experiments were lovely, and I'm looking forward to creating some incredible yarns with all the gorgeous naturally dyed wool braids taunting me from my fiber stash bins.

Made a few new yarns recently, one of which has already been sold, but I'll put up a few images anyway, though I'd hate to be accused of being a yarn tease. :)



This was a fun project, started on my drop spindle with a Loop Spontaneous Spinning Cloud, and plied with various small lengths of scrap yarn left behind from plying uneven lengths of yarn. Mostly fingering weight, it will self-stripe beautifully, and will likely end up on my Etsy shop after a bit, if no one pounces on it in the meanwhile.



This came out so lovely, one of my coworkers claimed it immediately, which is poetic, since she introduced me to Loop's lovely fibers. This started as a Loop Bullseye Bump, and was plied with some of my precious Corriedale/Merino cross fleece to preserve the long color sections. I named it "Pink and Glitter" after the Tori Amos song from Midwinter Graces, which still makes me smile. One of the things I enjoy the most about the various yarns I handle at Webs are the fun colorway names that the various yarn companies choose, and I'm the most amused by the ones with a small joke or obscure cultural reference, so I try to do the same with my work.

I've been working on a hat for Webs, which is still in progress, but I'm really enjoying the self-striping repeats in the chosen yarn, which is Schoppel Wolle's Zauberball Crazy, a lovely 2-ply sock yarn.



Hopefully it will be done soon, so I can start on a new hat for myself, now that it's getting cold again.

In other matters, I've been listening to Florence + The Machine's 2009 debut album Lungs nearly constantly since I downloaded it the other day, which reminds me how grateful I am for headphones, lest I drive my household crazy.

Later.

-Me.
  • Current Music
    Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine
Mary Spinning

More dye results, and new handspun yarns up on Etsy!

Enjoying the continuing home dyeing experiments, this time around using Blue Face Leicester wool instead of Merino, which is more lustrous and reflects the light differently, giving slightly different color results.



From top to bottom, the braids were dyed with purple basil, which yielded a light lavender color, in the middle braid the dye pot contained zinnias, marigold, dahlia and goldenrod, which gave a deep golden yellow, and the bottom braid in the photo was dyed with both purple basil and marigolds, and I love the brilliant yellow that came out in this one.

I experimented with a recipe for dyeing with pokeberry and vinegar, and it's drying out on my rack as I write this.

Looking forward to next week's spinning events, there's so much going on! Tuesday night Webs will be open until 9 for a Spinning Open House, there will be lots of in store events, and I'll be teaching a Drafting Workshop for spinners on Thursday for just $5.. come on in and join us!

I'm also looking forward to Wednesday night's Deja Brew Spinning Night.. if you're in Western MA, come on out!

Later.

-Me.
Mary Spinning

Deja Brew Spinning Night in Wendell, MA October 5, 7-10 pm

In celebration of National Spinning and Weaving Week (October 3-9, 2011), and the weekly Wednesday Craft Night at the hidden treasure of Wendell, the Deja Brew Cafe and Pub, I will be hosting a Spinning Night there on October 5 from 7-10pm.

Bring your spindle or wheel, your fiber or yarn questions and spin in community! I'll be on hand for a Q&A, spinning instruction and raffling off a special Artemisia Ink Studio Arts door prize at 9! The event is free, but donations will be gratefully accepted.

During that same week, Webs will be hosting tons of exciting spinning events, and I'll be there until 9 on Tuesday night for a special spinning event, with workshops and events at the store throughout the week, come on out and join us!



Later,

-Me.
Mary Spinning

Dyeing in the sun..

I've been thrilled with the results of my dye experimentation this season, using what's available right outside the door and adding it as color into my fibers. Flowers, whole plant tops and fibers simmering away on the stove.



Growing marigolds this season was abundantly successful, and I'm working on another dyebath full of flowers right now as I type this, and one of purple basil as well.



Kind of like making really strong flower tea. I've also been amazed by the stages in the process, especially the way the colors change between the dye liquid and the color that actually ends up in the fiber at the end.



This is the raw fiber, laid out in the bottom of an enamel roasting pan, with marigold poured at one end, coffee drizzled in the middle and tansy on the other side. It gets put into the oven and baked for an hour or two to set the color so the fiber is minimally handled. I was amazed by the results with this batch, as the acidity from the coffee changed the ph and made the colors pop.

The fibers were dried on a rack and braided after they were thoroughly dry.



From left to right, bottom to top, the fiber braids are merino wool, the first dyed with marigold, tansy and coffee, the middle braid is marigold and tansy, the top braid is all tansy and the yarn draped across them is handspun 2-ply VT domestic wool dyed with marigold.

All fibers were mordanted with alum purchased at Southern New England Spice Company, using recipes from Wild Color by Jenny Dean.

Looking forward to turning these fibers into some amazing yarn..

Later.

-Me.
Mary Spinning

The breath of the wind..

As Irene spirals its stormy way up into Canada, the winds in her wake continue to buffet the mountaintops here in Western Massachusetts. Hunkered down in the woods all day, I've been grateful not to hear any trees going down near us, and happy to report no damage thus far.

Spent some time spinning this afternoon, working on some hand-dyed Falkland fleece from the Portland Fiber Gallery in Maine.

I have a few new yarns that should hopefully make their way onto the Etsy shop sometime in the next week or two, as soon as I can make the time to photograph them.

Later.

-Me.
Mary Spinning

Focusing on the now...

Refusing to be overwhelmed by fear in fear-filled times is a revolutionary act. My yoga training reminds me that I am responsible for the contents of my mind, and that I can use the tools I've gathered to reinforce my calm center. As I spin, tend the garden, feed the chickens and knit away on seemingly endless pairs of socks, I am using a tangible craft to remind myself that "this too shall pass."

The moments of fleeting peace remain sweet, but my goal is to carry that peace with me in my pocket, so that I can be calm and patient in the midst of chaotic moments, when I feel the least peaceful.

Summer chugs along on its way towards fall, and I'm looking forward to dyepot experiments in the next few weeks as more dyestuff ends up in my drying basket.

Later.

-Me.
  • Current Music
    It's Raining - Richard Cocciante
Mary Spinning

Wind in the trees, chickens in the yard.. fiber on the table.



Spring is poking its collective head up here in the mountains of Massachusetts, and I'm loving the incredible biodiversity present in the forest and where its edges meet the lawn. So many medicinal and edible plants are naturally part of this ecosystem, and I enjoy watching the plants in all the different stages of growth. The coltsfoot flowers that come up early, only to be replaced by broad leaves later in the summer, mint leaves unfurling to shoot up high on woody stalks to flower in delicate purples as fall threatens her riotous color display as the summer tries to hold out a few last weeks.

I'm raising a few dyeplants this season, and reading my Peterson's guides to local medicinals, and I'll take walks with my gathering basket and sustainably harvest for both the teapot and the dyepot this year as I notice the natural abundance all around me. I just read through Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess and was inspired to find the color in the landscape of northwestern MA and ways that I can beneficially interact with my forest environment and interweave that with my fiber work and the nourishment I take in from the plants themselves. It's also fascinating to learn which plants that I can eat or make tea with are also sources of beautiful dyes, and vice-versa, plants I may have learned to avoid due to toxicity may make fantastic additions to the dyepot.

I'd love to find a cast-iron tripod thingy to go over my firepit, so I could hang a dutch oven-style iron pot directly over an outdoor fire and work with that kind of summer dyeing space.. I might experiment with some solar techniques, too.. so many possibilities, and such a busy summer ahead.

Today I'm at the drum carder, going through my considerable fiber stash to create some amazing art batts of spinning fiber for other spinners to peruse at the Fleece Market, which is coming up this Saturday.

Back to the creative process..

Later.

-Me.
  • Current Music
    Roads - Portishead
Spring Goddess

Spring plantings and simple joys..



My sister gave me this wonderful ceramic turtle for Xmas this past year, and he's found a home in my garden bed, peering out at the chickens as they roam the yard looking for tasty things to eat. They bring me smiles as I watch them, and they come over often to investigate what I'm doing, hoping for handouts.

This afternoon I was able to transplant the new arugula sprouts out of their starter tray and into the garden bed by the door, and get another set of seeds into the open spots in the tray. Once the sprouts are large enough to plant, they'll go into the garden, and I'll have a fresh supply of new plants as I pick the grown ones for salads.

Many yarn projects in the works as I get ready to vend my handspun yarns at the Fleece Market during Webs' annual Tent Sale on Saturday, May 14th. The past few weeks I've been plying finished singles, bringing all the yarns out and repricing them, setting and tagging finished yarns and making new art batts of spinning fiber for other handspinners. Looking forward to a crazy day, and I'm glad I'll have some help manning my booth. Come out if you can, peruse the past few years' worth of my spinning and say hi!

Knitting projects are sort of in limbo, though I do pick one or another up and make a bit of progress from time to time. The angora/wool socks I'm working on two-at-a-time for my mom have just passed the heel turn, and the Blue Moon Drucilla socks have passed the first sock and made it a few inches into the cuff of the second sock.

I've enjoyed trying out the new Blackthorn double-pointed needles made of carbon fiber, and I'm pleased to report that the strange scrapy noise they make at first goes away, and as they absorb the oils of one's hands, they get smoother. I like not having to worry about bending my needles, and they're really lightweight.

More later.

-Me.
  • Current Music
    Perform This Way (Parody of "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga) - "Weird Al" Yankovic