Packing it all up.

Packing it all up.

Once I decided to go hiking and gave up all pretense of finishing an online course and half of a tapestry before I leave, I was able to dig into the planning.

My little spinning/weaving kit is ready. I've made some rolags at home as I can't bring the big hand cards (obviously too heavy). I'll bring this little flick carder which I can use as a lock carder or as a comb and hopefully will even be able to diz off short lengths of fiber. The goal is to weave a few tiny tapestries on the Hokett loom so I don't need long lengths of yarn, just a variety of colors and enough fiber to make me happy with the spinning. I have already spun some base colors on the spindle (the Olympics helped with that) so have some larger bits of yarn that have been washed and balled.

A little handspun for tapestry

I never thought I would consider handspun that I made my very self for tapestry. Heck, I never thought I would be a spinner. I avoided all things spinning for about a decade. I was too busy with the actual weaving. And honestly, I thought my tendency toward OCD would kick in big time with a task like spinning. It is kind of true as is evidenced by last week's five day spinning bonanza.

It turns out that spinning is a fantastic way to learn about fiber. I have learned more in the last six months about how different fibers act than in the rest of my fibery life.

I had a little time in the mountains last week. And I took my new Turkish spindle. I love it more than I ever thought possible. In fact, I did little else besides spin and play with these urchins.

This particular get-up was my favorite. The backpack was mandatory and she was the one who wanted the hat backwards. And her favorite sandals with socks of course.

My niece and I are making willow weavings. This first one was for her Mom. For three and a half, she did a great job with the knots.
We took a couple hikes. I was pretty impressed these littles could hike a couple miles. The youngest is 19 months!

I took the spindle on the hikes of course. How could I not?

I even finished these little weavings from our last backpacking trip in preparation for doing a mini-tapestry with the handspun.
As soon as I can find some time on the deck with a Hokett loom, I'll start!

After five days of spindle spinning, I can definitely say that I'm getting better. I had a lot more trouble spinning the CVM roving (the brown) than the unidentified Brown Sheep Mill end roving (the blue) I think because the staple length of the CVM was much shorter and I had more trouble controlling the drafting with it. But I'm getting better and soon I'll have a little brown and blue tapestry to show for it.
Spending time with kids is a good way to remember this. A piece of bark was never so exciting as through the eyes of a toddler.

A world of possibilities in a dye pot and a spinning wheel...

I made it to six beginning spinning classes without the weather fouling it up... skidding home on the last day literally in a blazing snowstorm, gunning the Volks up the driveway into the garage (why didn't I just get out and shovel those 5 inches?). Whew! I was pretty glad my most excellent mechanic just replaced a bunch of rubbery gaskety parts in my engine.*

Round two starts March 12. What are the chances I can make it to Boulder and back 4 more times at night in the winter? It is worth a shot anyway.

Yesterday we dyed some handspun. Being something of a veteran synthetic dyer, a natural dye class is always fun. It seems so unscientific and just like playing with plants. We did use mordants and we didn't have a lot of time. So mostly we got a spectacular selection of beige with a little purple thrown in thanks to cochineal.

We used ebony, onion skins, cochineal and walnut hulls. We pre-mordanted the yarn in copper, iron, and alum so each dye bath yielded three different colors.

We also rainbow dyed part of a fleece using synthetic dyes.

And here are the resulting yarns and fleece. The fiber is polworth combed top (which moves so fast!).
What could be more fun than playing with fiber and color?
The next questions seem to be, can I learn to spin well enough to spin tapestry yarn, would I want to, and how can I put the incredible possibilities of dyeing and spinning my own yarn to the best use in making art?

If you missed my prior posts on this subject, here they are:
I couldn't put it off any longer: a date with Maggie Casey and company...
Beginner's mind... or daring to try something new

*King's Auto Center in Fort Collins is really outstanding. I have never had such good service anywhere and basically I'm driving a heap held together with bumper stickers and duct tape. I'm pretty sure with this shop standing behind me I might make it to 300,000 miles. Just don't look too closely at the "paint".