Quillin Weaving

A blog about spinning, dyeing and fiber related things.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winter Solstice when the light is most brief during the year but the promise of spring and long days are just around the corner. This is my favorite time of year when all those handwoven items come out to ward against the chill. It is the wool time of year. At dawn here there was a fluttering of snow that never quite reached the ground. The wind is blowing strong from the north and I'm debating what exciting colors to put on the loom today. Our Christmas Gallery in the mall is going well with just a few days left. It is one of our few chances during the year for the local artists to get out and meet the public and sell their wares. The world needs more of that and less of the mass produced hysteria.
May you all be well and very blessed during this sacred time of year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The word for today from Cate at Beyond the Fields We Know http://kerrdelune.blogspot.com/ is Turnings. Cate is talking about the turning of the year and the seasons and life in general. For me turnings have to do with the fibers that become the yarns I weave and knit. It is the turning of the fiber that makes it strong and hold together and not just be bits of fluff hanging around. Life is like that too because it is the change/turnings that come when we least expect them that makes our lives hold together and be stronger. In just a couple of weeks we will have the turning of the year with the Winter Solstice. The new year always brings change, some looked for and some not.

May all your turnings be toward the light.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Llano Estacado Christmas Gallery is underway here in metro Hobbs. This neat pine looking sculpture was made by my friend David Sadler who is our local stone carver. The pottery below is by a couple of different local potters: Josie Tabor from Carlsbad and Bozena Kaczan. For a small community out on the plains we have an abundance of talented artists.

November went by in a whirlwind of activity. We had 10 people to dinner on the holiday itself and an abundance of snow. There was much to be thankful for. We opened the Christmas Gallery the day after Thanksgiving and it has been humming along ever since, it will be up and running till Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Absent Friends, Memory Still Bright. All Hallows Eve is traditionally a time when the veil between the world of the living and the dead thins. We are visited by memory and spirit of times past. It is a time to look back on the accomplishments and trials of the year, time to look behind the veil for hidden messages. Weaving is my metaphor for life: disparate things collect, come together to form a new whole. This was a year of distractions as both husband and father were ill for long stretches of time. Though the weaving was slow to finish, the act of throwing the shuttle, threading the loom brought sanity to an otherwise barren place. And the absent friends? Their counsel was much missed. As the dark of the year comes upon us may you find still water in that deep well within you that reflects the face of the great goddess. Blessed Be.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The red shawl that is on the TriLoom in the previous post came out of the wash and looks great. Here is a picture on my new/old dressform. The dressform is new to me but fairly old. A good friend knew I was looking for another one and found this in the attic of a friend of hers, it became mine for $10! The body form is made of paper mache and goes from the neck to the ankles and is covered with a dark brown strechy cover. The white lines are from when the friend used it to make clothes. On the base were the words "Fashion Savings Clinic, Los Angeles, CA" I just love it and have named her Viola for the friend who found her.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It has been a glorious October here in New Mexico and out helping me photograph shawls and other items is my studio helper George. He is in charge of testing yarn for softness (Is it good to sleep on?) durability (Can I play with it and not get yelled at?) and sometimes color (Can I sit on it and not be noticed - i.e. Is it black and white?) He is actually a wonderful helper and a lot of company who is more than a bit put out this morning because I washed the red shawl in the photo below (the one on the triangle loom) and put it out to dry on the picnic table in the herb garden so it would be in the sun. This happens to be one of his favorite places also and he is not impressed with the big damp rag.

This red vest is made from hand dyed perle cotton warp (red and purple) with a red tencel weft. It is just like the rust and blue one posted earlier. The rust and blue won a first place ribbon in our local show and made me quite happy! But this week with the holidays coming on there was a need for Red on the looms. The Christmas Gallery starts just after Thanksgiving and in addition to my regular weaving on the floor looms I hope to make a triangle shawl a week until Christmas. Next year it would be wise to start stockpiling them in July. Even the ugly black one in the previous post has sold. Oops! I know we are never supposed to say something we made is ugly, but that one was awful! The wool was scratchy and the silk noils looked like dryer lint. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is gone!
Don't forget Halloween this week -- stock up on chocolate and then forget where you hid it until all the kids are gone!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What fun would it be to go somewhere neat like the Taos Wool Festival and not come home with something new and different (if not necessarily needed). This is a picture of my new TriLoom. It is 7 feet across the top and is used to weave triangle shawls. When I was at the festival there were quite a few people selling the triangle shawls, but of course why buy a shawl when you can buy the loom? I found a nice older man who was working on a loom outside and asked him about it. He told me he made it and offered to sell me one. You can see from the picture that I took him up on it. He was very cute when I asked for the directions to put it together, he said "Oh
Honey, It only goes together one way!" And those were the only instructions it came with! He was right, it does only go together one way and I could not wait to get home and try it out. So here on the loom is the first shawl. The black yarn is wool and the white threads are silk - kind of a rough natural silk. I learned a lot just making this first shawl. For example: You had better like the color you are using because you will REALLY get tired of it otherwise. I think this got black yarn out of my system for a while. When it first comes off the loom the holes between the threads are pretty big (by my standards, I usually think in terms of 12epi).
But when it washed up the wool fulled (like magic I always think) and it came together nicely. This picture makes it look much smaller than it actually is, it still is a large shawl. I'm working on a brown one now and will post pictures of it soon.

There is a great group of people out there working on these TriLooms and they have formed a Yahoo group. Go to Yahoo Groups and put in TriLoom if you are interested in joining and knowing more. I was amazed at how inventive these people are with something that comes out basically the same size and shape every time. They make blankets, bags and even a beautiful jacket using this very loom. Their imaginations put me to shame!

Monday, October 08, 2007

You can never have too much yarn, or roving or wool in general! This past weekend was the Wool Festival in Taos, NM. There were about 60 tents with all kinds of tempting fiber treats, as you can see from the picture, I brought home as much as possible. The fiber critters were pretty interesting also and included goats, alpaca and churro sheep. The great part about going to a festival (in whatever your field is) is the chance to see what other people are doing. We are such a creative species and it does my heart good to see that we create beautiful things. I like that there are so many shades of purple in the world, it gives me hope!

I also visited the Taos Sunflower shop that is located in Arroyo Seco, NM just a few miles out of town from Taos. The town is set among a grove of Cottonwood trees that are vibrant yellow this time of year. The air was full of leaves and it was cool and inviting. This shop is worth the drive to Taos even when there is no Wool Festival going on.

It is filled with yarns and rovings and enticing magical bits of string that seem to whisper how wonderful all your weavings would be if only you had these sublime fibers at your fingertips. The ladies at Taos Sunflower http://www.taossunflower.com also hosted a workshop with Lexi Boeger, who wrote Handspun Revolution. http://www.pluckyfluff.com Their workshop space is huge and filled with light and someday I'm going back there to learn something fun with those delightful gals.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy Mabon to you all! This is the Autumnal Equinox and although it is still warm most days here in the southern part of New Mexico, the days are noticeably shorter. My favorite change in the seasons here is in the grasses. The wild grass along the roadside and trail have long seed heads that turn rust and brown as the grass leaf parts turn an old gold color. We don't have many trees and the ones we do have don't do much color dancing. Mesquite celebrates autumn quietly. In the park where I walk the Cottonwoods are a dull brown and leaves already carpet the ground, too much rain lately for a golden show. But Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year and I'll take brown leaves over green any day. It is time to celebrate the harvest and get out those great scarves and shawls to wear. Sometimes we are the colorful leaves in the gathering. Blessings to you all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Folly is defined in the dictionary as any foolish act. There is something about knowingly committing a folly that is like a daring chance -- you know it may not turn out well but it is hard to turn your back on an idea once it forms. Recently a woman approached me with an idea for a project. She had some yarn she just could not bear to throw away but she had tried knitting with it and wasn't getting very far. She warned me the yarn was old but since it was 100% wool it seemed like it might be salvageable. I agreed to look at the yarn and see what might be done. When I went to pick it up I was floored to find that this yarn is older than I am (40+ years). The little yellow sticker declares that the yarn came from Kress - a store that has been out of business for many years, but it does have a pedigree 100% Italian Mohair. It even came with the nifty free pattern shown at left - don't you love her hair??? Who could resist a challenge to finally put that yarn to use? Knowing the mohair could only be used as the weft, I choose a Donegal tweed in cream and rust for the warp. The variegation in the mohair made an interesting square type pattern once it was woven. Of course being mohair I brushed it once it was finished and the whole thing is now very fuzzy. I will present it back to her as a shawl this week and one can only hope she still likes the yarn after all these years. The mohair and wool is so warm that we will need a blizzard before she can wear it -- but hey that is all part of folly, sometimes you just have to love what comes your way.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

September is beginning with a flourish! The temps here in Eastern NM this morning were mid 50's and I wanted to dance around and celebrate the end of hot weather. Fall can't be far behind.
A celebration of autumn oranges with undertones of blue -- this short sleeved jacket vest has a handpainted warp of pearle cotton and a weft of cayenne tencel. The tencel gives the garment beautiful drape and the hand dyed warp moves the colors subtly from burnt orange to blue and bronze. The lapel has a twisted braided fringe with bronze faceted glass beads. This will be my entry into our local art show that takes place in October.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Have you ever fallen in love with color? Maybe that is the advantage of being a fiber artist, color is all around and in a variety of sensual textures. In July I fell in love with hand-dyeing cut velvet silk scarves. They are all over my house right now as I get ready to take new inventory to the gallery that represents my work. There is something a little Arabian Nights about having scarves draped over every available surface. I feel elegant beyond my usual weaver-spinner persona.
I have been reading the new book "Foolsgold" by Susan Wooldridge who also wrote "Poemcrazy." These books are about accessing the creativity that makes life as an artist hum along like gas in the tank. While I will probably never be much of a poet, I am always interested in how other creative people tap into what they do, where their passion comes from. Surely being an artist is all about passion. These two books are lifesavers and have opened doors for me that seemed firmly closed. They gave me the desire to blog again and write on every available surface - all the ones not currently covered in silk scarves! Thank goodness for authors like Wooldridge and if you get the chance to read these please do, and then write and tell me what you think. Write and tell Susan too, I think she likes to hear from us.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A gift for a friend. Summer is underway and the show I worked on for so many months will come down this week. It is time to pay back the people who helped and supported all of us in getting things to look wonderful. This short sleeved vest/sweater is made from novelty yarn that is acrylic and has long eyelash fibers that hang out all over. It is woven in plain weave and made from two panels sewn up the back and on the sides. It is an easy way to make a garment that is forgiving to most body types. The orange/purple scarf is silk that I dropped in the dye-pot this week along with some yarn for a new warp.

Today I'm trying out the solar dyeing for wool yarn that was featured on http://knitty.com . It involves putting all the ingredients in the pot (with glass cover) out in the sun until the temp inside reaches 250. Since it is 90+ here in NM right now, it shouldn't take too long. You can find more detailed instructions from Symeon North who wrote the article and also featured it on her super website http://pippiekneesocks.com.

Summer blessings to you all!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

OK I know I am not the most intelligent person around but it has taken me several weeks to figure out why my blogger and google account were suddenly in Chinese and get it to change back. Has anyone else had this happen? What is with this crazy program???

Here is a silk recycled sari scarf that I've been working on. The colors are great. I used this image when I ordered new business cards from http://www.moo.com In case you don't know about them, they are a company in the UK who makes little cards the size of a stick of gum. You can upload your own photos to be printed and they will put your contact info on the back of the card. 100 cards for $19.95 and that includes shipping. They are great quality cards and the service is quick.

Happy weaving!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Today is the full moon of April and things around town are as strange as it often seems to be when the moon is full. It is like our emotions are plugged into some extra energy source and things come out that never should be said! This scarf was made for a friend of mine who needed something to wear to an upcoming opening with a turquoise blouse and a multicolored skirt. I tried to match the colors with the novelty yarns and then wove them using the 6 dent reed on a four harness loom. The scarf has very nice drape and looks snazzy even though the yarn was not all that expensive and came from Hobby Lobby. Don't you just love their yarn? I love their sales!
This one turned out well enough to inspire me to do some more for the upcoming show.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This blog has been silent for several weeks. My apologies to all of you who keep up with my ramblings, fiber and otherwise. While I have enjoyed having a husband at home instead of overseas, it has created claims on my time that did not used to exist. He will be leaving again to go off and do corporate things and I will soon have more time.

This red yarn was four skeins that I spun and then hand dyed in reds and browns for a shawl that played in my mind for several weeks before it became a reality. In one of the skeins is a mystery fiber that I could tell when I picked it up with the rest was not quite the same. Not having crossed that bridge before, I spun it into the wool and went on my way. It dyed up just fine but the disaster occurred when the shawl was complete. I put the entire yardage into the water to soak with the Eucalon and when it came out that little bit of fiber did not shrink the same as the rest of the wool. I had a space about two inches wide that ran the width of the shawl. Over a week of effort nullified quickly. Of course, I did not realize how bad it was at first and attempted to repair the area by reweaving into it with yarn and needle, but it is clearly not the same. A difficult lesson and the shawl is otherwise very beautiful. Not to be daunted I have begun another one in blues/greens/browns. There is something so wonderful about making a shawl from the handspun yarn. I never know exactly what something will come out looking like and so far I have been thrilled with all the colors.

It is good to be back at this. Happy weaving to you all!

Friday, March 09, 2007

One of the great things about learning to spin is that you can make yarn in any color scheme
your mind can think up. I love the colors of the Southwest and have wanted to make something that seemed very New Mexico. I spun this single from domestic wool roving and dyed it. Then I had the idea that I wanted to weave with my own handspun. The warp I used was a shetland in green, blue and rust and the pattern is a twill with a basketweave stripe (the rust). It all seems very NM now that it is finished and drying over the gate in the backyard. I'm planning to sew it into a vest to wear to an art opening this weekend at the local Center for the Arts in greater downtown Hobbs.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

March has blown in here on the plains like the proverbial lion. Our little town had 65mph wind yesterday and only a little less today. No sitting out on the porch spinning at this point or the yarn would be highly textured with tumbleweeds and sand.
This single is handspun domestic wool dyed in lilac and chestnut. Sometimes the oddest combinations come out very interesting. Skeins of yarn are beginning to take over my weaving room. I have all kinds of colors in baskets just waiting for the next show and it is hard to leave it alone. I gave in the other day and began my first ever vest out of some red that was calling my name. I'm only a fair knitter and don't have a clue if the vest will ever be finished or not but I'm working on it in the evenings after weaving and spinning.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sometimes in February here we get these perfect days when there is no wind (a rare thing) and the temperature is in the upper 70's. I've been sitting out on the back porch in the sun spinning wool for several hours. If there is a better way to spend time I don't know what it is.

The yarn on the left was spun first and then dyed and the yarn on the right was dyed as roving and then spun. The difference is subtle. I like the way yarn looks when it is dyed as roving first but sometimes the roving is so fragile that I end up felting it instead of dyeing it, hence the yarn on the left. I have read recently a lot about people dyeing roving in their dishwashers. I just use a heavy bottom canning pot on the top of the stove. If any of you out there have done both and would like to share the pros and cons with me I would like to hear it.

I'm just about to start the weaving on a shawl that will have all handspun natural browns for the weft. I'm cheating a little and using shetland for the warp.

Whatever you do with yarn I hope you are enjoying it!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Art yarn from yesterday's post, finished and dried. It is wool, cotton and rayon, 116 yards.

This evening I've been knitting. This seems such a decadent pastime to me as I always feel like I should be spinning or weaving. However, my house is full of this beautiful hand dyed, hand spun yarn and my fingers just itch to get into some of it and make something before it flies out the door. I am making a hat. It is orange and olive greens and much nicer color combination than it sounds like it would be. Autumn is my favorite time of the year and this yarn is like having Fall in my hands. Of course where I live it was in the 70's today and not very Fall like, but I'm an optimist and I'm hoping someone will see the hat and decide they want to make one of their own, using my handspun preferably. I love to see people wearing hand made hats, or really hand made anything because I think things made by hand are a thousand times better than stuff made on machines or by slave labor overseas. I believe all gifts should be hand made! Let's start a revolution!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Don't you just love toys? The next best thing after yarn is new toys to make yarn! I love my Ashford Joy spinning wheel, but the orifice is just a little too small for all the stuff I want to add in to my art yarns - and the bobbin is too small to hold enough yarn once the plying begins. So I ordered a Country Spinner from Ashford. It came a week ago and I spent most of those days since staining and varnishing it. This morning my husband and I put it together and I got out the yarn. No time to waste, get busy!!! It works so differently from the little Ashford Joy that it took me some time just to figure out how to get the fly wheel to move freely and twist the yarn, then I had to get used to the slower pace. A couple of hours later and I think I get how it works and how best to use it. I can't imagine having this as the only spinning wheel in the house because it doesn't make small yarn, but it is great for plying and that huge bobbin will hold 2.5lbs of yarn. This terrible picture is of the yarn I worked on today.
It is a gold and purple with eyelash and cotton boucle all twisted around an antique gold colored thread. Will try to post better pictures soon but it is now drying in the bathroom.

We had a wind storm out here in Eastern New Mexico today. The wind got up around 65 mph this morning with lots of dust in the air. It was a good day for staying in and working with wool.

If any of you have experience working with the Country Spinner I would love to hear what you think about it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Joy of Art Yarn

The only thing more exciting than spinning up beautiful singles from hand dyed wool is making it into fun art yarn. The yarn on the left is a single in pinks, reds and purples that I call Heart's Desire and the one on the right is Pink Party Yarn, that includes wool, eyelash and small pom poms all coiled around gold lame thread. While I like them both there is definitely more going on with the yarn on the right. Art yarns are taking off all over. I was in London in January and saw people everywhere wearing scarves made from hand spun wool with all kinds of stuff woven in. I think an accessory item knitted up with art yarn is just the thing to chase off the winter blahs. Look for both of these new yarns on my website: http://www.quillinfiberarts.com .

Also for all of you who emailed me about not posting more, I will try to mend my slothly ways. After four years working overseas my husband returned home this past weekend. While he is trying to decide what to do next I am working on building inventory for the show in June and spinning as much yarn as my fingers can! It is great to have him home.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Candlemas to you all! This is the day in the old pagan calendar when people would celebrate the return of light. The days were perceptibly longer and there was new hope for spring to come. The goddess who had been featured as an old crone at the end of the year has changed herself into the young girl in white emerging from the woods. A lovely image to begin the new year. With new things in mind I am beginning the update of my website http://quillinfiberarts.com with the addition of a page for my yarns. I'll start by posting them six at a time and should anyone want one, emailing or calling me would be best, to make sure they are still available. This yarn is a single ply in Romney in spring green and violet, there are 143 yards, so enough for a hat or other smallish project.

Warm thoughts of spring to you all!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What to do with all that hand spun yarn? I've been spinning for quite a while but with little to show for it besides a lot of yarn in hanks or skeins. So this little project came out of Spin to Knit, by Shannon Okey. I was curious about how much yarn it takes to make something like this and it took about 50 yards. So much of the hand spun yarn I see on the internet is sold in small skeins of less than 100 yards and I've wondered who would use just a little yarn. Now I realize that a hat or a small scarf (just finished one of those too) are perfect for a small bit of special yarn. I always think in terms of a sweater or an afghan or something woven. For one of my short jackets it would take at least 500 yards of handspun in this sport weight to make up. Soon that will be my project, to show some garments made entirely (or at least the weft) from handspun hand-dyed yarn. I have to admit that this project was very satisfying in that it let me handle and work directly with the yarn. In weaving the yarn goes on the bobbin in the shuttle and doesn't pass through the weaver's hands like it does in knitting -- and with handspun I really wanted to touch it all I could.

We had snow this evening. We have had more so far this winter than in the last couple of winters combined. It is pretty neat. The dog had to go in the backyard and check it out. I really think she just likes to be dried off with the towel when she comes in!

Happy spinning to you all!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Weaving on the four harness Harrisville. This shawl is a twill mixed with basketweave. To emphasize the basketweave I've made the stripes a variegated color in the warp while the twill warp is solid blue. The weft for this piece is kid mohair from Brooks Farm http://www.brooksfarmyarn.com These people had a booth at the Taos Wool Festival last October and I indulged in some fantastic yarn. Their colors are subtle and their yarn is of the finest quality. This shawl is the first weaving project that I'm making for an upcoming show in June here in Hobbs, NM. I will be showing with two good friends who are also members of our local Llano Estacado Art Association. The show will be called Earth, Fiber and Color. The other two artists are John Lathrop, professor of ceramics at NMJC and Carrie Swenson, pastelist and oil painter. I want to make some really fun things for this show that use my skills and imagination because my fellow artists produce such high quality work. Now that the holidays are over I can focus on building the inventory back and getting ready to show my work.

Thanks to everyone who emailed me about the Sock of Happiness. The spaniel herself is doing just fine, currently laying upside down on the couch with her feet in the air. She has a hard life.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The sock of Happiness....

Late yesterday afternoon my friend Frisbee, the English Cocker Spaniel was laying on her favorite large chair in the room where I work. She had herself flung across the chair and every so often a dramatic sigh would come from her direction. It was almost time for dinner, but not quite yet. I was spinning and trying to ignore her when I finally gave in (not that she is spoiled or anything) and went to cut up some chicken to put on her dry kibble for dinner. I put her bowl on the floor in the kitchen and went back to the spinning wheel. A few minutes later I saw her parading happily around the house tail up, head held high, with yes, a sock in her mouth! She danced around the house then asked to be let out. I stood in the doorway and watched as she pranced around the yard, the Sock of Happiness held in her mouth. She brought it back in and layed it on the youngest of the cats, Murphy who was trying to sleep. He raised his head to look at the sock that had been layed across his body and went back to sleep. At some point in the evening I returned the sock to the laundry hamper but I noticed that after her noontime snack (not spoiled) it has been retrieved and sits now, an offering of happiness at my feet.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

As a single.
Plied with itself.
This is the latest spinning project. A lot of gold, yellows rusts and reds went into this skein. It is a mix of domestic and UK Corriedale wools and there are actually two skeins for a total of a little over 200 yards of this that I will call sunset. It took forever to spin the singles but plying them went faster, as it always does.

The dyepots have been in constant use for the past couple of days and there are new rovings drying, so more yarn to be born soon. The website has been made obsolete by the holidays and everything on it was sold and then some. It will take some time to make more of the kind of things I would like to show on there, and in the meantime I hope to have an update by the end of the week with a few new things and a new page that will have yarns on it.

The snow was beautiful around here, we got a couple of inches and it stayed on the ground longer than I thought it would but it is melting fast today.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Home from London to the snowy plains of New Mexico. England is a magical place and for a couple of weeks my better half and I saw all the artwork we could and listened to as many symphonies as possible. We walked miles in the rain to find a little weaving shop way out in the burbs that had the most wonderful fibers I've seen. The weather was fine most of the time and considerably warmer than back here in New Mexico. But it is marvelous and fantastic to be back home again. The dog is recovering from her depression over being left at home and the cats, well you know how cats are. The dyepots are back on the stove and my fingers cannot spin fast enough to make up for lost time. Today the world is white outside, it is a perfect day for spinning. William Ackerman's Conferring with the Moon is on the CD player, the candles are lit and all the animals are snuggled up for a nap. It is good to be home.