Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It was a good day to Dye!

It was a wonderful weekend, even though it started Thursday with a migraine that lasted through Friday. However, on Sunday, LindaLou came down from Kelso to do some dyeing. Linda and I met in Reno, and then I moved. She was pissed! She grew up in Portland, and wanted to get back, and finally did about a year ago.

Preparations for dyeing were interrupted because my washer died. It’s really nice to use the washer to presoak and spin out the fiber.

Sunday, we started out by soaking the warp she bought from me when I moved up here from Reno. Its rayon and cotton mixed, and takes the fiber reactive dyes. It’s been eons since I’ve done any of that kind dyeing, so I had to read up. I found the notes and instruction sheets from a class I took many years ago in San Diego. So, carefully following the instructions, I mixed up the dye.

Then we realized that we really didn’t know how long the warp was, because it had been chained. So after we took it out of the activator soak, we measured it – 16 yards! What was I thinking! Anyway, decided it’s probably enough for 6 shawls with fringe. Because it’s boring to weave 16 yards all the same, we decided to bag up the soaked warp, and Linda would take it, the dyes and accessories home to measure out each shawl on the warp so she could dye them all different colors.

We started on some of my fiber (of which I have a lot…). I use a turkey roaster with the little chaffing trays that I’ve modified by drilling multiple 3/8 holes to make them into steaming trays (sorry no picture of that…). I got a pound and a half of the Merino/Tussah/Bamboo (MBT) done Saturday night, and some prep work done for Sunday.

Water Lilies colorway, MBT and BFL/Tussah
Sunday, we did a lot. It was such a beautiful day that we moved everything outside, and even tried to catch some rays. I finished the first colorway, on Border Leicester/Tussah (boy, does that dye well…).

In the meantime, Linda was thinking that I was wasting dye, so she brought out some mohair locks. I used them to blot the dye off of the roving, and then put it into a plastic bag to steam. It turned out really lovely.
Water Lilies in progress with mohair
Mohair "blotter"
She also does really cool scarves – nuno felted, felted and shibori. She brought some silk scarf blanks and we blotted color with them too. The one on the right is my favorite – it looks like aged copper.
Silk Blotter scarves - future shibori
The next colorway is warmer, also done on both the MBT and Border Leicester/Silk. I like the MBT better, personally, but they’re both pretty cool!

BFL/Tussah Smith Rocks Colorway 
About the time we were hanging stuff out to dry, it started clouding up. When the temp started dropping, we moved everything back inside, leaving the roaster on the covered porch. The fumes bother both Linda and I, so leaving it outside was the best option. I also moved the poles that I hang stuff on to the porch.

Relocated Drying racks (note undyed fiber - it won't last)
However, with some snow, and more rain last night, not much dried! I’ll have to bring it all inside to dry.
The good news is that I’m picking up a washer today after work, so I’ll be able to rinse everything that needs it, and spin it out, which will hasten the drying process. UPDATE: The guy's wife gave it to a co-worker, so I'm back on the hunt...  I hate going to the laundromat...

I made up a new song for farm chores (to the tune of “Singing in the rain”):
I’m feeding in the rain
I’m feeding in the rain
What a soggy old feeling
Slip sliding away
I’m slogging out the hay
Keeping the ‘pacas at bay
I’m feeding, I’m feeding in the rain.

Looks like I’ll be singing this song for the foreseeable future! I've had 52 inches of rain since the beginning of November.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hello, my name is Laura...

And I have a problem. I collect horses. I should be happy with one. But then there were two. Both are rideable, though one isn’t sure she should have to be…

FIBER NEWS: I’m gearing up to go to Fiber Market Day in Prineville on the 29th of March. I have lots and lots of fiber/yarn to dye. I’ve also been asked to do a Natural Dyeing demo, and will coordinate that with a class on Sunday. I’m really excited – I’m going to change my normal class to include a skein from each of the participants of different fiber (from their own animals). In addition to making it more personal, it will also give all the participants the chance to see that not all fibers take the dye the same way. My goal for the future is to expand this class so that people will have a sample book like the one that I did for myself a few years ago with different yarns, overdyeing, and a record of the % of dye to weight of fiber. To an extent, natural dyes are repeatable, though they’re dependent on the mineral content of the water. If you’re using well water, that is variable, depending on the time of year, just like the color content of the plants. The scientist in me loves this!

Back to the title content: When I got back into horses, my first horse was a Haflinger mare, named Honey.

Honey had been injured, and I thought that I could let her heal for 6 months to a year, and then ride her. Unfortunately, x-rays showed that her injury was much more extensive than first thought, and riding (and breeding) were out of the question. She was the blond bombshell in the pasture, until I found what I thought was the perfect home. A family had a son who didn’t want to ride, but wanted a horse to lead around, groom, and generally be a buddy with. The agreement was that she would come back to me if circumstances dictated that they needed to lighten their equine load. She didn’t. Last fall (a year later), I found an ad on CL, which from the description, was Honey. I emailed the poster, with Honey’s name in the subject line, and told them that I would pick her up on the weekend. The woman was very nice, explained how she ended up with Honey (the people lost their home, and “boarded” two of their horses with her, but never paid).

When I picked her up, it was obvious to me that she hadn’t been getting bute (horse aspirin) for a good long while, as she was quite lame. I made one of those difficult decisions, and had her put down. I kept a lock of her flowing white mane in memory of the pony who got me back into horses.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago. I was cruising CL (there should really be a 12-step program for that site!!), and found a 4 year old Haflinger mare for free. She is untrained, other than haltering and leading. I called my horse conscience, who gave me the go-ahead (she knew Honey, as well). I took the afternoon off, went home to pick up the trailer, and headed north. The mare was in far northwest Oregon, which you get to by going through Washington. I got there just after dark.

The mare had been caught, and as I walked around her in their barn, she was snuffling in my hair. She was curious, but unsure, but seemed very sweet. They called her Annie – I’ve renamed her Sweet Annie, since she has a nice golden color, which reminds me of the citrusy scent of the herb (sometimes odors have color for me).

 Ann had not been in a trailer since they picked her up as a weanling. I led her up to the trailer, she shuffled her feet for a couple of minutes, and then walked in. YAY! From there, we had a long drive home.

When I got home, it was 11 pm. She very calmly let me lead her out of the trailer, walked over a tarp like it wasn’t there, and into the barn, where Chris tried to eat her over the fence (the big turd). She was the bottom of the order at her old place, and seems to be at the bottom of the equines here, too, but over the alpacas.

Last Saturday, my farrier came out. Kiri was a poop, and had to have the stud chain to stand. She shaped up. Annie wasn’t sure about picking up her feet, but we were able to get her front feet trimmed, and her back ones picked out. I’ve been working on picking up her feet and she’s getting much better. Next weekend, I’ll have my farrier back to do her back feet, so she can be on the same schedule as everyone else.

I’ve actually put a saddle on her back – this for a mare that basically knows nothing. I didn’t have a girth on it, but she let me put it on and off.

The reasoning for this acquisition is this: I’m tired of dealing with other people’s baggage when it comes to “used” horses. I have trained a horse before, and it was the most satisfying relationship I’ve ever had with an animal. Sure, he had baggage, but it was my baggage and I knew how to deal with it. Annie will be trained my way, with my methods, and it will be all she knows. I won’t have to convince her that it’s a good idea (Kiri…) – she’ll just do it. She’s calm, accepting, curious, and will be great fun. She will be the last horse I have in my life (I hope!).

FARM UPDATE: The free chickens have turned out to be all roosters, after all. I’m able to take them back, so Monday, they will go with me to work.

I installed my new-to-me stove. My old stove's igniters quit on the right side, and then a couple of weeks ago, it started smelling like propane in the house - not good. In the process, it drained my 25 gal. tank. The new one is a 5 year old Kitchenaid, convection oven with probe, jetted for propane (this is why I like CL). There are no gas leaks, and all the burners light automatically except one, which needs a match. Hey – it’s better than nuking everything. I’ve been subsisting on Ramen and pasta (8 minutes for ramen noodles, 12 minutes for pasta). Don’t even try to do meat in a microwave…

As soon as I have some stuff dyed, I’ll post pictures. I’m always surprised at how they come out – like Sharon’s son’s comment: “Where came this?”