2

The rag rug is the first of two rag rugs I wove a couple of years ago. Both are in my upstairs bathroom. I wove this rug using 25 years worth of purple and blue sewing fabric scraps, a mixture of lightweight and medium weight cottons and rayons. I save all of my fabric scraps. The warp is blue 8/4 cotton rug warp.

I found the machine knitted fair isle cotton socks for only 99 cents this week at a thrift store. Actually, I also bought a second pair that is similar, but has more turquoise than purple. Are these Lisa socks or what??? The fact that they match the rug so well is a clue.

After weaving the rag rugs I went on to weave the rep weave rag kimono sakiori jacket. The jacket post provides details on how I prepare rag strips for weaving using bias tape makers.

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4

Boynton Canyon. Another beautiful hike in the red rocks a few miles west of the Sedona/Oak Creek area in northern Arizona. The trail winds along a cliff ledge through the canyon, provided breathtaking vistas. The only thing marring this canyon is the sudden appearance of a golf resort on the floor of the canyon. The buildings and lush green golf course look like a mirage because the area seems so remote.

Sedona is just below the base of the Mogollon Rim, an escarpment  forming the boundary between the Colorado Plateau to the north, where my city of Flagstaff is located, and the Basin and Range province to the south. The many canyons along the Rim are formed by erosion into the Plateau. The red rocks of the Sedona area are eroded from a sedimentary lens of iron-rich (hematite, or rust) sandstone called the Schnebly Hill formation after Schnebly Hill Road. Schnebly Hill sandstone was deposited as sand dunes near the shore of a shallow inland sea during the Permian Era 270–275 million years ago. For millions of years, the sea expanded and retreated in what is now the Southwest and Midwest USA. Limestone layers in the Schnebly Hill formation formed during incursions of the sea over the dunes.

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4

My mom in Sedona finally finished weaving her cotton twill towel fabric. Photos two and three show the fabric unwashed.The bottom photo shows the fabric after washing.

She says, “Enough for six towels 18” x 36” cut—nice size for a good kitchen or bathroom hand towel. The material washed and dried without wrinkles beautifully; it is wonderfully hefty and soft.”

She plans to give away most of the towels as gifts. I will post about the finished towels when she is done sewing them. She has another weaving project already lined up.

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4

My magenta shawl wins a first place blue ribbon at the Coconino County Fair

Judges comments: “Fabulous work and use of color and fiber finish. Excellent execution of pattern. Design is outstanding. Spinning and weaving excellent. Gorgeous.”

I included an information sheet explaining how two of the warp yarns were handspun and dyed in cochineal by me, as well as how the weft is unraveled thrift store sweater yarn. I figured the judges would notice the Philippine edges and four strand braided fringe on their own.

Compared to the numerous categories in the knitting and crochet sections, there are a paltry number of weaving sections: clothing (any), personal accessories, and home accessories. Because my red ruana and kimono vest were entered in the personal accessories and clothing categories, I entered the shawl in home accessories, hoping that it’s cozy thickness made it passable as a “lap blanket.” Apparently, it worked. I complained last year that there were too few weaving and handspun categories. I think the entire needle and fiber arts division needs a category makeover.

See posts about earlier stages of this project here, here and here.

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5

Dyed cotton sliver for spinning into weft yarn

After I received my package of dyed combed cotton sliver from Latvia, I pulled out cotton weaving yarns from my stash to see what yarns go best with each color of sliver. I have weaving project ideas for each color, enough to keep me busy spinning and weaving for more than a year:

First photo: This is the deep red sliver I will spin as the weft yarn for my red huipil I am currently warping with the 20/2 Garnet cotton yarn pictured. The weft will be spun on my book charkha.

Second photo: I purchased the mint-colored sliver more than a month ago. As previously mentioned, my plan is to tie on the pictured mix of pastel-colored 20/2 yarns to the red huipil warp when I am finished weaving that fabric. I will use a different treadling pattern to make butterflies motifs in place of the hearts.

Third photo: One idea for the royal blue sliver is to spin it into a 2-ply yarn and use it with the pictured thicker cotton yarns in violet, blue, turquoise and aquamarine hues to weave a flowing water-themed shawl using a networked twill pattern; networked twills are especially good for creating curving, rounded and wavy patterns. More information is coming soon; I will start spinning the yarn soon on my upright charkha because it will take a while to accumulate enough singles for plying.

Fourth photo: Another idea for the royal blue sliver is to use it as weft with this cone of blue and green tencel. The mint sliver would also work well with the tencel.

Fifth photo: I am planning on tying on some of the yarn from my last cone of 20/2 UKI lavender yarn to the purple blouse warp. Instead of spinning the deep purple cotton sliver I’ll spin the lavender sliver and use a different treadling pattern to create a “rose” pattern instead of a “star” pattern.

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3

My four ply yarn is finished (check out all three links to previous posts on this yarn). Finally. It took almost a month to finish spinning the singles and five days or so to ply.The yarn ended up on the heavy side of worsted weight/light side of chunky, although because I spun it worsted style (notice the two different uses of the word “worsted”: one for knitters and one for spinners), it visually looks like a finer worsted weight yarn.

After plying 1,600 yards with one singles from each of the four colorways (“Chapel of Love” Merino and ruby Merino top on the left bobbin photo and Mountain Colors “Lupine” in the right photo; the other two colorways were purple/violet/blue variations) I became bored. I decided to ply the rest into different color mixtures. The yarn on the left is what the 1,600 yards looks like. The next 775 yards are the middle grape color. The final 136 yards was the Mountain Colors “Lupine” plied with one strand of olive green Merino top left over from a couple of years ago (I never get rid of left over singles from plying). “Lupine” has olive green and forest green in it, so the resulting yarn is quite harmonious.

I like all three color combos. I like to make socks with different-colored cuffs, legs, heels, feet and toes, so these yarns will work very well for that purpose. The blue-green yarn would look lovely in a pair of sturdy fingerless mitts. I hope to knit a sweater mostly in the more reddish-purple yarn, which actually looks like eggplant purple when viewed from a few yards away, which is great because the main “neutral” color in my wardrobe is eggplant purple. I plan to use a kimono sweater pattern, so the kimono collar could be done in the grape colorway.

I did not weight the skeins as they dried, which is why the yarn looks a bit kinky. I find that a little kinkiness doesn’t affect my knitting, and the kinkiness disappears after an item is knitted, washed and blocked. Worsted spun items do not pill. I have Merino socks that are in large part knit from the olive green yarn I mentioned above. The socks are two years old. I am wearing them right now. I wear them a lot. They are my everyday house sock slippers. They have no pilling, yet remain super soft against my skin (I sewed soles on them because worsted-spun Merino is still not especially resistant to direct abrasion).

Adding up all the skeins = approximately 2,500 yards of yarn, which means I spun more than 10,000 yards of singles (the singles are arranged in spirals in the plied yarn, which makes the plied yarn shorter in length than the each of the singles). 10,000 yards is more than 5.5 miles of very fine, highly-twisted yarn!!! No wonder it took me more than six months to finish.

I left a little of the ruby colorway unplied. I have 4 oz of unspun ruby top left. I’ve decided to spin it at a later date and then ply it with the left over singles to make a ruby/garnet/magenta yarn. But not now. I’m tired.

My next spinning project will involve thick, softly-twisted semi-woolen-spun Merino singles for weaving cloth that is to be fulled (partially felted after weaving)—-a huge difference in spinning styles.

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9

Real solar dyeing with food coloring & vinegar

This is my first experiment with solar dyeing. Most of the books and websites that discuss “solar dyeing” are really talking about sun tea-like steeping in large glass jars. That process does not produce enough heat to fully set most dyes. You need temperatures of 180–190°F / 82–88°C to set most dyes, especially acid dyes for protein fibers and many natural plant and insect dyes for cellulose and protein fibers.

Adapted from The Sunny Side of Cooking: Solar cooking and other ecologically friendly cooking methods for the 21st century:

I want to use solar cookers to replace stovetop steaming, oven steaming and crockpot dyeing methods. As I mentioned in post a few days ago, solar panel cookers have cooking temperatures of 200–300°F / 93–149°C. Because I used food coloring as the dye and white distilled vinegar as the mordant, I used a three liter solar cooking roaster and my CooKit™ panel cooker.

I decided to dye a thrift store skein of white wool. It weighs 2.35 oz/67 g. I presoaked it in a stainless steel bowl for 45 minutes in a solution of water and a couple of cups of vinegar. I spun it out in a salad spinner, also from a thrift store, so that the fiber would be damp, but not wet. I spread out a piece of newspaper and a layer of white paper towels. This turned out to be inadequate to catch all the water in the dye solutions. I have some old bath towels I use for wet felting, but they are forest green. I will buy some white towels the next time I go to a thrift store (I want to be able to see the dye mess).

I made up four dye solutions, the first one in a glass jar, the rest in specially-made dye squeeze bottles with tight caps and small orifices:

  • 25 drops each regular green and neon blue + 1 1/2 cups of water (my main dye solution)
  • 10 drops neon purple + 1/4 cup water
  • 10 drops neon blue (plain blue) + 1/4 cup water
  • 10 drops regular green (green + a little blue) + 1/4 cup water

I could have also used drink mixes like Kool-Aid, which also contain their own mordant, citric acid.

I wanted to use the main aquamarine color for most of the skein. I first tried using an eye dropper to apply the main dye color, but it seemed too slow so I switched to dip dyeing sections of the skein into the jar and squeezing it out (while wearing rubber gloves). I then layed the skein on the towels. I applied the three accent colors to the white areas left on the skein. I finally added some yellow stripes directly out of a food coloring bottle on top of a couple of green areas. I had just enough squeeze bottle dye, but twice as much of the main dye solution as I needed, so I screwed on a lid, applied a label that says, “food coloring dye” and put it in the refrigerator.

I put 1/4 cup of water in the bottom of the roaster and then a metal trivet. I didn’t want the metal to affect the final yarn colors so I added a layer of parchment paper on top. I gently squeezed out excess moisture from the skein, being careful not to let colors bleed into one another too much. I folded the skein in two and layed it in the roaster with the two purple areas together (to prevent color bleeding into adjacent aquamarine areas).

I set up the CooKit™ on my driveway just like I did the other day to cook rice at 12:30 p.m. The books and websites I had consulted beforehand said to steam hand painted skeins for 45 minutes. Because there were a few clouds on a mostly sunny day, I left the pot in the cooker for two hours. Solar cookers require adding a heat up time to the steaming time.

I removed the pot, brought it upstairs and left it to sit four hours. Then I rinsed the yarn in a soap solution. I spun out the water in the salad spinner. The rinse water was almost completely clear, with just a trace of yellow. I hung up the skein to dry overnight. I am very happy with the colors.

The purple turned out really well. I had heard that purple food coloring easily separates into its constituent red and blue pigments because their uptake times differ, but I think my cold application method and steaming method (as opposed to immersion dyeing) prevented too much color separation. I liked the purple so much that I went online and bought some specialty AmeriColor™ food coloring gels in shades of fuchsia/magenta/maroon, royal purple/violet/neon purple and turquoise/jade greens from the Layer Cake Shop.

Now I really want to build a large solar panel cooker so I can dye skeins without lying sections on top of each other, dye larger amounts of fiber/yarn at once, do solar immersion dyeing with cochineal, and dye with non-food safe dyes like Procion MX for cotton. I need to do some research on my options. I have some ideas about panel materials.

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5

Upper photos: The finished back and sides of my thrift store, solar dyed granny square kimono sweater as seen from the “wrong” side of the fabric. It’s reminding me of when I sewed together my felted sweater squares blanket, also a checkerboard pattern. I decided to use the purple Harrisville yarn that I also used for many of the squares’ warps. The yarn is only half as thick as most of the yarns I used for wefts and some warps, which means it vanishes into the background and does not distract from the hand painted, solar dyed weft patterns turned vertical in the sweater. I am using a simple whip stitch to lace the edge loops together on the squares. The most tedious part of the project: weaving in all the ends; hundreds of them!

Bottom photo: the “right” side of the finished fabric.

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Traditional Romanian folk costumes from Transylvania

This is my sister (upper left) and two cousins standing outside their house in the small, rural village of Gherta Mare, county of Satu Mare, Romania. When my sister, mother, grandmother and I arrived, the family was dressed in their modern “Sunday best” clothing. The women decided get out their dressy ethnic clothing to show us. My sister agreed to let them dress her in a traditional peasant dress from this part of Romania. The costumes are hand sewn. You also can see a couple of typical Transylvanian haystacks across the street. The Carpathian Mountains loom in the background. I have a blog post from last fall showing the older girl wearing her costume while weaving on her family’s 100-year-old hand-carved wooden loom.

Some of my other Transylvanian posts from the last year:

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6

Adapted from The Natural Canning Resource Book: A guide to home canning with locally-grown, sustainably-produced and fair trade foods:

My canned salsa with added garlic, hot chile pepper flakes, and chives, cilantro and ripe tomatoes from our garden. Fresh oregano or basil are excellent addition, too. The mixture is stored in the refrigerator for up to one week as the added ingredients make the salsa low acid. The pungent flavors of garlic, cilantro and many other herbs disappear when subjected to the heat of canning, so it makes more sense to add them after a jar is opened. This is the case with many herbs. Don’t bother canning them. Add fresh, dried or frozen herbs to canned foods when you are ready to serve them.

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8

Adapted from Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains: A guide to high-altitude, semi-arid home permaculture gardens:

I took these photos a couple of days ago at Juniper Street Community Garden and Community Compost Center, which I used to coordinate. Typical Flagstaff late summer garden beds: a lot of leafy greens like chard and kale, summer squash and tomatoes, herbs like basil and dill. One person is growing butternut squash. These winter squash take a long time to mature compared to our short growing season length. The squash look they need a few more weeks to mature at this elevation; they might have just enough time before our first frost. Nighttime lows in the upper 40s to low 50s depending on whether the skies are clear or cloudy (clouds act as an insulating blanket).

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6

I crossed off a small sewing project on my sewing backlog list. The seat cushion fabric is cotton with fossil ammonite shells that I bought on Spoonflower. I used a section of a thick wool thrift store sweater that I felted in my washing machine. The side seam of the sweater forms the front edge of the cushion. The black cotton straps came from another dissembled thrift shop item. I also put in a thrift store zipper so the cushion cover can be washed separately from the wool felt.

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Thrift store hot pink fake fur, $3. Thrift store magenta cashmere sweater, $1.

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10

My handwoven ruana with mirror embroidery & macramé fringe

It’s finally finished! I started this project in September 2013. The ruana includes the following elements:

  • The fabric is an eight shaft diamond twill woven with 3/2 pearl cotton and stripes of hand dyed rayon bouclé and mohair yarns.
  • I hemstitched the bottom of the back panel on the loom.
  • I wove a row of Spanish lace at the bottom of the front panels.
  • I knotted a Philippine edge on the front panels.
  • I created lacy triangles with macramé square knots.
  • I plied the fringe by hand (I don’t have a fringe twister).
  • Additional fringe elements include cowrie shells and tassels.
  • The inserted back “V” panel includes shisha mirror embroidery using buttonhole stitch, chain stitch and other stitches.
  • I braided colored yarns and used couching stitch to sew them around the neckline.
  • I made a beaded button using some of my cochineal-dyed felt as the bead backing to attach the two front sides together using a loop of braided yarn.

I created numerous blog posts on the warping, weaving and embellishment process. Here are links to the previous posts, from the most recent posts back to earlier posts:

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Adapted from Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains: A guide to high-altitude, semi-arid home permaculture gardens:

My first ripe fig! The rest of the figs look like they new a couple more weeks to ripen at least. I’ve had the tree for a year. Fresh figs taste very different than dried figs: mildly sweet and moist; I like it. Very exciting.

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5

New project: A handwoven backstrap loom, rigid heddle scarf

Now that I am no longer weaving the kimono sweater (just spending hours and hours lacing it together and weaving in hundreds of ends) I have begun a new weaving project. It’s a rainbow-colored scarf using dark red eyelash yarn in the warp along with the rainbow-hued wool yarn, and dark red cotton yarn for the weft (the two dark red yarns are on the right in the bottom photo). I have designed the scarf to coordinate with my red ruana (which I wove with the same red cotton) so that I can wear the ruana in colder weather when my neck needs to be covered. Because I want eyelash yarn in the warp, and because my other looms already have warps on them, I have decided to make an impromptu backstrap loom using three pieces of rigid heddle held together with tape, popsicle sticks and office clip binders, plus two pieces of wooden dowel for the front and back rods.

Much of the warp is Harrisville Designs wool yarn from a pre-chained warp I bought at a thrift store for $3; the warp was part of a kit they used to sell with their Easy Weaver child’s rigid heddle loom. Some of the yarns had been accidentally cut, likely by a child, and probably why the warp was donated. I added other stash yarns to fill in the gaps and create a more complex color spectrum. Some of that wool yarn is from thrift stores and one is handspun and hand dyed (I dyed roving for the fuchsia yarn in cochineal extract). I don’t like the spring green yarn that was in the warp chain, so I’m substituting some green thrift store yarn that I plan to dye a little darker with blue food coloring to make a deeper jade green.

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7

Blue ribbon veggies grown by others, Coconino County Fair, Arizona

Adapted from Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains: A guide to high-altitude, semi-arid home permaculture gardens:

I have never entered any vegetables in the fair because they are so precious. When I have a bunch of beautiful tomatoes, sugar peas or anything else, I want to eat them, not let them wilt for six days in a windowless room (you should have seen the terrible condition of the once-attractive leafy greens). I also noticed how so many fewer people are entering vegetables, herbs and fruit in the fair. Moreover, the labels used to have location and variety information, but no longer do. Coconino County is the largest county in the U.S. There is a wide range of altitudes here. The people who live at lower elevations have a much easier time growing most warm season crops than those of us who live in Flagstaff at 7,000 feet do, assuming they have access to ample water for their garden. Dan suggested that that the fair ought to have separate categories for different elevation ranges.

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7

Spinning for the public at the Flagstaff Community Market

My friends and me doing a spinning demonstration at this past Sunday Market at Master Dyer Zuni Ishikawa’s booth. Many people walked towards the back of the booth to watch us spin, ask us questions, and take photos and movies of us. We all liked that we were spinning with three very different types of spinning wheels and spindles.

Top two photos: Lauren spinning on her bobbin-lead wheel handmade by a woodworker in Cottonwood, Arizona. Zuni’s Navajo Churro rovings and yarn she hand dyed with natural plant dyes and cochineal are in the background.

Third & fourth photos: Me spinning more purple cotton on my book charkha for my handwoven purple blouse. People always wonder what I am going to do with such fine “thread” and I explain that I am a weaver and that I consider this to be yarn, not thread.

Fifth photo: Mary, co-owner of the Etsy shop Cozy Hollow Farm, spinning Shetland wool from her family’s farm on a Lendrum spinning wheel.

Bottom photos: Zuni spinning on a Navajo spindle, which is the tallest supported spindle in the world. I took a video of her spinning technique which I will post tomorrow.

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6

Arizona black walnuts for eating & natural dyeing

Adapted from Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains:  A guide to high-altitude, semi-arid home permaculture gardens:

An urban Arizona black walnut tree dropping ripe nuts all over the sidewalk, driveway, and street. While I wouldn’t collect the fallen nuts for eating, Flagstaff Master Dyer Zuni Ishikawa collects the fallen nuts from this tree for dyeing Navajo-Churro wool a beautiful reddish brown color; the green hulls are the dye source. I purchased the nuts in the bottom photo from ThunderfooT at the Flagstaff Community Market. Black walnuts are also tasty and nutritious, provide shade, wind protection and habitat for songbirds, among other yields. This is a great multiple function tree for permaculture food forests.

Arizona black walnuts are a native species that grows in riparian (stream side) habitats in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. They are planted as landscape trees in Flagstaff. Arizona black walnuts bloom much later than cultivated walnuts do. They are they only walnut / pecan / butternut species that will actually produce nuts at my elevation. The eastern black walnut thrives in most of eastern North America, from southern Canada to northern Florida and west into Texas.

Black walnut tree roots produce the chemical juglone that inhibits the growth of many other plant species. In Permaculture Activist magazine #68, Rob Scott and William C. Sullivan, who live east of the Mississippi, report on their tests of successful guild plants for eastern black walnuts: 

  • Young black walnuts: (10–15 years old) are compatible with cereal crops, onions, parsnips, sugar beets, Jerusalem artichoke, and wax beans.
  • 15–30 year-old trees: fescue grass, clover, currant, raspberry, elderberry and mulberry.
  • 30+ year-old trees: log culture of cultivated mushrooms in the shade.

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3

Adapted from Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains: A guide to high-altitude, semi-arid home permaculture gardens:

I moved my fig tree to the upstairs balcony for a few weeks. Next to the driveway, the wild sunflowers were obscuring it from view, and I was forgetting to water it. The monsoon winds are still here, but are lessening in strength, leading to a drying out of the weather, so hand watering the small fig container is very important right now. I have 20 figs, my first fig harvest. They are starting to ripen. When the first freeze comes, I’ll bring the tree indoors for the winter.

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