It's hot! Even though we stay about ten degrees cooler here on the mountain than downtown Asheville, it's hot. Early mornings find me dragging 300 feet of hose up and down the slopes to give the tomatoes, peppers and potatoes a drink to carry them through the heat of the day. Then it's into air-conditioned comfort to get ready for the Friends and Fiberworks Summer Retreat coming up in two weeks. I'll be there teaching silk dyeing and small felted vessels and Kristen will be teaching a drop spindle class. I need to take that; she's a great teacher and she'll be using some of our beautiful wool batts in the class. We will also be vending. We'll have a full line of wools, silks, pre felts and supplies so stop by and see us. It's always a great fun weekend out of the heat!
Back to dreams of the cool, clear waters of Lake Superior- home of the best stones ever!
Do you know that jazz classic? I particularly like the Nina Simone version. We've been thinking about natural dyes around here, especially after we admired all of Carol Leigh's natural dyestuff at the Carolina Fiber Festival. She has Hillcreek Fiber Studio, her booth was right across from ours and Kristen and I were spending our proceeds as fast as we could make them. (That's often a pitfall of vending at good fiber shows.) In theory, I would love to make the transition to all natural dyes, especially with all of the potentially colorful vegetation around here but at this point we find that complicated and labor intensive. The colors tend to be more muted and the subtlety is part of their charm, of course, but for sharp vibrant colors acid dyes are fast and easier. That's not to say we won't persist. Kristen was only back in Atlanta for a few days before she called to say that her home was literally awash with color and she doubted her bathtub would ever be white again. She achieved some beautiful colors and I'm certain they will find their way into some of our felting and spinning batts at the Friends and Fiberworks Summer Retreat and then SAFF. The logwood is particularly intriguing.
That would be the "flower" floating on top of this concoction. Note the greenish color; things don't really turn blue until you take them out of the dye bath and the indigo oxidizes.
The other day Paddy and I decided to try our hands at indigo dyeing and we set up a giant bucket of the stuff out in the drive. Soon we were up to our elbows in blue wools and silks. Indigo has been used as a dye for two thousand years, give or take, and until the late 1800s it all came from plants. In the 1880s it was first chemically synthesized and virtually all of it is today. Plant or synthesis, it's a complex chemical process, because indigo doesn't dissolve readily and it also has to be reduced and then oxidized to get that nice strong blue color. Historically, working with indigo dye has been fraught with hazards because of the chemicals. Another way to process it is with some salt and lots and lots of stale urine. Paddy and I couldn't produce enough of that in a hurry and impatience led us to use the indigo dye kit that Dharma Trading sells.
I think we had mixed results. We had difficulty maintaining the intensity as a lot of the blue faded out during subsequent felting. I liked the shades that we did get and perhaps if we kept it in the dye bath longer or re-dyed it several times we would have gotten darker blues. In any case, Willow approved and that's pretty much what matters around here these kitten days. If you would like some indigo merino roving or indigo dyed scarves, drop me a line.
Syncronicity. Not possible at this stage of my life. I'm here, there, all over the map with some kind of attention asset disorder. Too many pretty things to attend to in life and not enough time. Looky here. I treated myself to this homegrown electric drum carder for Christmas. I heard from a friend of a friend of an acquaintance that it was lolling about in a basement out in Madison County, NC, not all that far from the mountain house. The previous owner couldn't tell me much over the phone, just that it was "homemade" by the owner previous to her and that she had used it "quite a lot" for carding her homegrown alpaca fleece and it worked great. I took a chance and went to see it, which was difficult, given the amount of alpaca clogging up the works. There were at least two, two and a half alpacas in there. And enough VM to fertilize my garden for a year.
Still. I saw the potential and plonked down a couple hundred dollars and dragged her home for a bath. Vacuum, steel wool, oil, Murpheys, polish, tweezers and voila! What a great rescue carder! An older, basic Louet- sturdy and built to last. Someone took a lot of time and care building this fantastic enclosed case and slapped on an engine strong enough to run a car, along with several automotive quality belts. Hurrah! I LOVE this machine.
As we were hauling So. Much. Stuff. to St. Petersburg I loaded up the carder (she needs a name!) and today, New Years Day, I spent a lovely relaxed morning out on the porch making batts for the Winter Retreat back in Asheville in 2 weeks. You coming? You signed up for classes? You want a discount coupon for some beautiful batts? Check in...
The reason I had time to drum card this morning was directly linked to getting this tiny winter studio organized. Rich helped out; we went to IKEA and got some much needed new storage. This is, after all, a tiny winter bungalow for us but it was amazing the difference once he assembled three 100.00 dressers. Yeah! IKEA. (Remind me to post the video where IKEA turns several hundred cats loose in one of their main stores for a night. Very funny and sweet.)
Now I at least know where everything is. I like this photo. Let's see. Abby and Daniel photos as tots. 100+ year old world globes. Field guides. Wool. Middle-aged pin cushion. Long horn steer pin cushion. birdhouse waiting to be finished. Newly carded batts. Hat made by a BFF out of yarn spun by a different BFF, both from BCMA. My USB powered mini fiber optic Christmas tree...yup. Feeling settled in.
That means it's time for...OPEN STUDIO FLORIDA! (Sorry, Paddy, Kit , Debra and Rebecca. Carpool- it's only 11 hours!) Click for details and watch for an e-mail if you're registered here on the site. Can't wait to see you later this week!
Back in sunny St. Petersburg after a lovely Spring, summer and autumn in Asheville at the mountain house. It was good to get classes and open studio up and running there, to settle in to the house and garden and to survive the first EAST tour and then SAFF. SAFF was an exciting whirlwind of classes and vending! We made so many new friends and said hello to familiar fiber-y faces. In the middle of that I also spent a week at Creative Felt Gathering- what a hoot that was! I loved getting to know Pamela McGregor and spending more time with Chad Alice Hagan and Jone Rakoski as well as many other talented and knowledgable felters and teachers.
Later than I would have liked I mailed off a box to Florida Craftsman Gallery of hats, scarves, birdhouses, pin cushions, sewing books...I'll swing by there later today to say hello. We arrived here with a car full of wool and a sulky cat just two days before Christmas so it's been nothing but family and feasting since then.
It's good to be back in the warmth, it's good to see the Coopers hawk, Hannibal, up in the tree out front tidying up his nest in preparation for the return of Mrs. Hannibal and it's great to be gearing up to start felting again next week. A trip to IKEA- utter madness- yesterday to buy some cubicles to sort out ALL THIS WOOL!
Oh, say! Guess what Santa brought? A new old sturdy modified Louet electric drum carder! It's quite a contraption, makes beautiful batts and is sturdy enough to let students give it a whirl. We're going to have great fun mixing it up this winter! Come join us!
It's the first of October and here we are our home, in the mountains of Asheville, home of Thomas Wolfe, home of great artists and beautiful sunsets and today! home to our new website! Welcome to our home. It's often a problem when right-brained people who can be happy playing with colors and fondling wool try to go all high-tech nerd but Kristen and I are determined to have a website that we can manage ourselves, even if it ends up tangled up. Please persevere.
In the last months, as I have been conspicuously absent in terms of blog posts, I've been busier and happier than ever working at feltmaking. Now, this month, Kristen and I will be busy fiber bees with shows, fiber fairs, workshops and demos. Keep an eye on the homepage and the workshop/class page for updates about where we are, when. We would love to have you join us! Be sure and read on as I'm about to post updates about my week at Creative Felt Gathering in Michigan, new links and so forth. I'll also try to import some of the content from the previous site although that requires many, many calls to "Peggy" and after too much of that I wander off to card a batt or two...Finally, let me say that I did gather up everyone's e-mail from the other site and I plan to send out an announcement- any minute now (breathe)- to all of you so you can find us here, where all things point to home.
October 1- we launch the new website!