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October 4, 2015

after the surprise green silk dyed with frozen marigolds

the question arose ” would the result be different with fresh plant material?”

slight but significant differences

P1070747top three – frozen from June – September

bottom three – fresh, picked at end of season

all the same sample skeins, alum mordant

the previous strong green skein is handspun tussah silk

the small sample skeins are bombyx silk

now more questions

does the different silk result in such a difference in colour?

and – does the time of year the plant material is gathered make a difference?

but the flowers are finished for this year!

in the studio

the weaving is not going well – difficult and frustrating

I transferred the weave structure to my Fiberworks software hoping to solve the problem


but the problem was in my understanding of how the colour changes worked

and I repeated my mistake on the software

how human is that?

we get an idea firmly planted in our mind and keep repeating the same mistake

classic crackle in polychrome

P1070751success at last

it is never to late for an old weaver to learn new tricks!

 Fibreworks software is a useful tool but perhaps, if I’d been working out the pattern on graph paper

the mistake would have been obvious sooner

of course you can spend a lifetime weaving all the perfect patterns someone else has perfected

but where is the challenge in that?


October 1, 2015

it is that time of year – welcome October

Warning! –  spiders spinning


A spider lives inside my head

Who weaves a strange and wonderous web

Of silken threads and silver strings

To catch all sorts of flying things,

Like crumbs of thoughts and bits of smiles

And specks of dried up tears,

And dust of dreams that catch and cling

For years and years and years.

            Shel Silverstein

P1070707 master spinner

P1070732catching the sun

P1070722bigger and bigger

with holes to mend


they never fail to amaze!

a celebration

September 28, 2015

today is a celebration

FIVE years blogging – 788 posts!

little did I know five years ago where this would lead me


after some cloudy days and much-needed rain the sun has returned

an opportunity to cut down another small walnut tree

this time to try dyeing with the bark

P1070686after stripping the bark

P1070687chopping it (with the kitchen scissors) into 1/2 inch bits

and pouring boiling water over it

 it can sit and steep for 2-3 weeks – patience required

P1070695meanwhile, the surprise of this dye session

marigolds – frozen, not dried

(now there is space in the freezer for winter food)

P1070691it was impossible to photograph the exact colour

even the camera was shocked!

a bright, garish moss-green on handspun tussah silk

in the samples the small bombyx silk skein is a much softer colour

and the wool is a dark khaki

alum mordant used on all

at the loom – not so much a surprise as a challenge


only four harnesses – classic crackle


three colours in the weft

one colour being dropped and a new one added after every 17 thread block

after several false starts and some “un-weaving”

labels on the shuttles – but they have to change with the block change

 this is it


if there are any threading mistakes they may never be seen


the celebration is for the friends made over the internet

thank you

to all those who take the time to leave a comment

thank you

those personal connections are what make blogging worthwhile

colour my world

September 23, 2015

not all natural dyes are successful

I’ve been freezing calendula flowers all summer

when I needed the space in the freezer they went into the pot

yellow is a ubiquitous natural dye colour


 three samples on the bottom – this isn’t worth the effort

of course you can always overdye!

calendula is better enjoyed in the garden and in many herbal health products

the sample in the middle is rose/pink hollyhock top dyed with purple

much greyer than the top sample

for an eyeful of colour I finally finished winding a warp

P1070679tea towels for the November studio tour

 now all I have to do is warp the loomP1070655 veggies at the Salt Spring market  are just as colourful

P1070648and at the fair

we lived on the island for nine years in the ’80’s

it is a very special place, although not for everyone (eh Paul!)

P1070654famous for the Saturday market

while the rest of the world has moved on

P1070657it is like a trip back in time

P1070669I could happily move into this little guest cottage on the Fulford hill

but don’t think my loom would fit

a third fall fair

September 20, 2015

my third and final Fall Fair this year

P1070627judging the hand spinning on Salt Spring Island

P1070645famous for sheep

P1070628this beautiful sweater won the rosette

P1070628knit entirely from handspun

the coloured embellishment is hand embroidered on leather

the spinner has just started spinning and this is his first project

P1070636yes ladies!

Jim Erickson is the spinner, knitter and designer

I was lucky enough to speak to him the morning after judging

he consented to pose and allowed me to show it here

last year he won an award at the fair for his quilt

see it here

also a winner of an Academy Award for Best Art Direction in 2012

P1070634there were many baskets entered, this was my favorite

P1070637 a good display of quilts

these pieced and stitched panels, each done by a different person

P1070640depicting Fulford Harbor, where the ferry docks

amazing what talented people can do with fibre

(click on the picture to enlarge)

P1070639can you see the ferry in the middle panel…

P1070663and the birds on the foreshore?

P1070665the weather was overcast and grey but no rain

looking south from Fulford Harbor towards Vancouver Island

P1070675the ferry is loaded and heading out of the harbor

a few more pictures tomorrow and then it’s back to weaving

spinning to dye

September 15, 2015

mamma racoon was hiding behind the studio calling loudly


while her three offspring were climbing the Japanese plum tree

in the off-chance they are looking for winter digs

I hung out a “no vacancy” sign


the cushions are finished

they are nice with the larger rag cushions


to reduce bulk on the heavy fabric I finished the ends with handmade cotton tape

and stitched them together

30 ++ years ago, in my early spinning days

I wanted to see if I could spin yarn to do needlepoint

a fine 2 ply wool

that’s it on the right, the only work ever completed

P1070603handspun 2 ply silk

dyed with a summers worth of dark purple hollyhock flowers

(saved in the freezer)

next, rose-pink hollyhock – not worth the effort

on the bottom, the walnut leaves, left to soak for three weeks

alum mordant used for all

P1070608from the same dye baths – silk, wool and cotton samples

P1070602now spinning to dye – tussah silk

P1070601and organic cotton  just for fun


September 12, 2015

’tis the season!

for Fall Fairs

community fairs take me back to my childhood

Thursday I drove 40 miles (62 k) north to the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds

to judge weaving and spinning

on the way I stopped at Mill Bay

where, 47 years ago my ex and I had owned and operated Shoreacres Trailer Park and Marina

P1070564it was a beautiful day – that’s Mount Baker in the distance

the trailer park is gone

our beautiful old house with its interesting history

Scan_20150912the newspaper clipping states

“the 12 room house used to be a retreat for the lawyer of Chicago gangster Al Capone’

there was a room size walk in safe in the basement

sadly it has been replaced with condominiums

P1070571the fair was in the process of being set up

excited families arriving with crafts and produce and animals

P1070568inside the craft and produce building

P1070570the quilts had been judged and the veggies were arriving

P1070573I didn’t have time to look around

but this hand carved spindle whorl with a native salmon design caught my eye

one more fair to go!


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