Monday, January 26, 2009

Fiber-in-Form Class : Adding Color

I know the class has been over for weeks already, but I'm still puttering away at the lessons.
I finally broke down and bought some of these Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints everyone was raving about. There were a bit pricey, but I have to say : Now I know how Lynda and Carol get some of the wonderful results they get. It's these magic paints!

The beauty of these paints is that you can layer them one on top of the other and they still let the "deeper" colors show throgh. Does that mean they're transluscent/transparent? The paints do all the work. They also stay fluid at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (which is the current temperature in my basement wet studio).

Here's what I did with them (These are all postcard-size samples.):

Gauze, PVA glue on canvas with Golden Fluid Acrylic paints. The interference Oxide Green gives it the BLING as the top coat. It seems to be a bronze base paint with some kind of iridescence in it. Very nice!

Wallpaper scraps, gauze, PVA Glue and paints.

Wallpaper scraps, Gauze, PVA Glue, paint on canvas.

Wallpaper scraps, Gauze, PVA Glue, paint on canvas.

Molding paste on canvas, Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints

Wallpaper scraps, gauze, PVA glue, ink, acrylic paint (NOT Golden Gluid Acrylics this time)

Wallpaper scraps, Gauze, PVA Glue, paint on canvas.

Wallpaper scraps, Gauze, PVA Glue, paint on canvas.

Wallpaper scraps, Gauze, PVA Glue, paint on canvas.

Molding paste through a stencil on canvas, Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints.

Molding Paste pressed and pulled on canvas, Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints.

Molding Paste pressed and pulled on canvas, Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints.

Molding Paste pressed and pulled on canvas, Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints.

Molding paste on canvas, ink, Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints

Molding Paste on canvas, Golden Fluid Acrylic paints.

Snow Dyeing Winter 2009

With all the snow this year, I just had to take the opportunity to do some snow dyeing.
I was once again inspired by Bunk's Blog. Take a look at some of her snow dyes.

Here is the soda-ash soaked muslin rumpled lumpy pancake style in the bin.

Here, the snow has been piled on top of the prepared fabric. The dye has been poured on top of the snow in swirls. We'll see what I get!

After 90 minutes, the dye is already starting to soak through the snow ...

24 hours later, I still have snow. My basement is only 40 degrees this time of year. At this point, I removed the remaining snow and rinsed out the fabric.

Here's what I ended up with :

Mulberry and Ice Blue.

I should have taken better notes on the colors I mixed up that day, and what got poured where, but I wasn't that organized that day ...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Comparative Worlds : Spaghetti & Looms

Don't you think THIS (above) looks a lot like THIS (below) ?

The first picture is my little table loom.
The second picture is homemade noodles drying on a wrack.

4-Patch Posey Block Layouts

Just when you thought I had given up sewing ... I'm working on yet another 4-patch stacked posey quilt-top. I just LOVE the many ways these blocks come together!

Here is 1 set of blocks with the 4 kaleidescope layout options.
Which one do you like best?





Here's another set of possible layouts.
Which one do you like best?





Fireside Project : Crocheted Rag Rug

Continuing with the theme of recycling, I decided to use up a large piece of this rayon fabric (left-over from my dress-making days) on a crocheted rag rug. For some reason, I always thought these were woven, or knotted, or something other than crocheted. When I realized it was just crocheted, I thought, "I can do that!"

It's a very heavy project. I'm using a Size-N crochet needle. I can make about 2 passes before I have to give my hands a break.

1 strip of the torn fabric goes about the length of the rug.

Here are the 1-1/2-inch strips ready to be strung together into the ball of rag "yarn."

I have a few yards of blue flowery rayon, too. I think I'll have to add that as bands on wither side of the green ...

Antique Thread Caddy

Someone bequeathed me with this antique, home-made thread caddy. (Funny how us sewers seem to be magnets for this kind of stuff!)

And here I thought I needed one of those fancy wooden thread racks from June Taylor--I could have made myself one of these (a simple board with nails in it) for little or no cost!

It's a nice reminder that we can still do with home-made solutions--especially in these hard economic times. Do we really need the latest and greatest?

Granted, I did try a project on my treadle sewing machine, and I am most grateful for my modern-day sewing machines! We have made progress ...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Washing Wool--Fresh off the Sheep

A few months ago, I promised to post what I did with all that raw fiber I purchased at the WI Spin-In last fall.

Why bother washing and processing raw wool? Some people don't want to bother with it--They just want to spin and knit. Here are some reasons to consider washing your own raw wool :

* It's about 1/2 the price of washed and carded roving.
* I get a lot of satisfaction out of taking the wool from sheep to finished yarn.
* It's a chance to get to know the sheep farmers, too.
* Some people prefer to "spin in the grease" as it makes their hands soft.
* The smell of raw wool is earthy and "clean"
* It makes me feel closer to the earth (I grew up on a farm, but now I'm a city-dweller.)

What is "the grease?" I've heard some people describe it as sheep sweat. It's really lanolin exuded by the sheep, that gets onto the wool. It can make your hands nice and soft as you spin ... The washed and carded wool is rather dry, but it's clean.

This is a photo of wool locks. The ones on the left past the center are clean and dry. The siny, crimped locks on the right are still "in the grease." This gives an idea of the color the lanolin adds to the raw fleece. It's kind of golden and shiny--a nice luster. This can be deceiving, as it will wash out.

I asked my friend and Fiber Artist, Lynda Collins, for her favorite method of washing raw wool, without felting it. Here's what she recommended (with my photos, comments, and suggestions) :

Lynda : "As for washing wool, I would be very careful about using the washing machine. If the washer fills with water or in any way sprays water on the wool, it will felt. This is what I do to wash wool ":

Step 1
Lynda : Fill a large basin ( I use my bathtub. It is easy to drain and rinse out afterward) with warm soapy water.
Michele : I used my washing machine, despite Lynda's warning above. I let the empty tub fill with water. I have NOT added the wool yet.

Lynda : Use a mild soap.
Michele : My preference is for Dawn Dishwashing Liquid. It's gentle enough to use with your bare hands, and it lives up to the slogan : "tough on grease."

I used about 2-3 Tablespoons for about 3 pounds of raw wool (I was starting with relatively clean wool, so you may need more or less depending on your circumstances).

Other gentle soap options might be Orvus Quilt Soap or Orvus WA Paste that can be purchased at a farm supply store. This is wool from sheep, a farm animal, after all. Let us know what you like to use ...

Step 2
Lynda : Spread out a fairly large piece (compared to the wool to be washed) of loosely woven fabric (gauze, organza, etc.)
Michele : I'm using a piece of scrim, because that's what I had on hand.

Step 3
Lynda : Place the wool in the center of the fabric.
Michele : I used about 1 pound of raw wool in this bundle.

Lynda : Gather the corners of the fabric and secure them.
Michele : I tied a knot and made a sort of hobo-bundle.

Michele : Here's the under-side of the hobo-bundle :

Step 4
Lynda : Lower the bundle into the warm water. You may have to press the wool into the water to get it wet, but after that, DO NOT TOUCH the wool. Walk away and let it soak for 20 minutes or until you remember to get it, whichever is longer.

Michele : This is the color of the water after about 10 minutes of soaking in the warm soapy water.

Michele : This is the water after soaking for 2 hours. I elected to repeat the soapy wash.

I know you're thinking "Ewe! [pun intended] It's not really muddy water--remember, these were tidy fleeces from sheep who wore jackets. Most of this "mud" is the lanolin.

Michele : This is after the 2nd soapy soak.

Step 5 - Change the wash water.
Lynda : Pick up the four corners of the cloth and raise the wool out of the water in the tub, basin [or washing machine]. If the water is really dirty, gently lower the wool bundle into a bucket to get your hands free. Drain the wash water and refill the basin with new clean, warm soapy water without moving or touching the wool. Move the wet wool bundles back into the warm soapy water. Repeat the soak.

Step 6 - Rinse
Lynda : When the wash water looks reasonably clean, remove the wool, drain the wash water and refill the basin with warm rinse water. Repeat the soak, taking care not to move or touch the wool, or it will felt.

Michele : This is the water after the rinse cycle. Much better, I'd say!

Step 7 - Spin Dry
Lynda : After the rinse, take the wool out of the water using the corners of the fabric again. Hold a bucket under the bundle and take it to the washing machine. Gently lower the bundle into the washing machine and put it on spin dry.


Michele : I took the bundles out off the washing machine, let the water drain, then put the bundles back in for the spin-dry cycle. This way, the water rushing through the bundle on the spin cycle was limited, which in theory limits possible felting.

Step 8
Lynda : Once the spin cycle is over, take the wool bundle out of the washer and spread it out on an absorbant surface like a towel, ironing board, sweater drying rack, whatever you have ...

If the wool has bunched up, gently tese the wool out to be loose and fluffy. Handle the wool as little as possible. COme back the next day and you should have clean, dry wool. I have used this technique on very fine, easily felted wool with good results. I get very little if any damage to the fibers.

Michele : I spread my clean wet wool out on a window screen so that air could circulate on the underside and help in the drying process. This screen is set over the bathtub to allow for air circulation on top and bottom.

Drying times may vary. It's winter in Wisconsin, now, so the air is dry and cold. If the racks are by the wood fire, they dry rather quickly in a day. In the bathroom, where it's cold, it might take longer. In a humid summer, it might take days to dry.

Look, Ma! No felt! Just clean, dry fluffy wool!

This fleece lost about 1-1/2 pounds in lanolin after washing. I started with 6 pounds of wool. Now I have about 4-1/2 pounds of clean and washed wool.

Stay tuned for the carding process ... aonther day.