Everyone has their favorite family of colors. Mine tend to be nature based, the colors I see around me when I walk through the woods, or along a beach. Sometimes these colors remind me of far flung places I’ve been fortunate to visit.
I love, love, love the brackish coppery colors, interspersed with flashes of green that I saw on the west coast of Scotland, and on Skye. Those colors, and the memories of that place pull on my heart and mind frequently. I long to return, to soak it in, take more walks and photos. Oh those glorious colors!
Until I can return, I will satisfy my color inspirations to places around me. I live in an area with higher than average rainfall. Everything is green! Not dissimilar to western Scotland, come to think of it.
I’ve been getting up early, 4-4:30 AM and it’s been fairly nice weather, so I went for a long walk. Halfway on my route affords a nice view of both Mt. St. Helens and Mount Rainier. St. Helens was hiding, but Rainier was out in all its glory. Too bad I forgot my good camera! It was a peaceful 2 miles, giving my mind time to wander…..and a great start to my day.
I learned brioche knitting about five years ago when I took a wonderful class at The Black Sheep Gathering from J.C. Briar. I managed to knit one shawl and then I moved on. I was reveling in the amount of weaving time that retirement afforded me. I wasn’t knitting much at that time in my life.
Fast forward to this week when I found a shawl pattern that reached out through my iPad and grabbed my interest. I quickly purchased and downloaded the pattern. The linear designs that alternated between horizontal and vertical lines did me in. I’m not much for circles, but lines that run in various directions? Count me in.
I began reading the pattern and realized that at least part of it is knit using brioche stitches. Okay, I knew brioche, no big deal.
Until I realized I honestly didn’t. Know brioche stitches. I’d completely forgotten more than I knew.
I dug out a couple of worsted weight yarns to sample and refresh my brain about brioche knitting. Specifically two color brioche knitting. I found a couple of websites with fairly good tutorials and began swatching. And ripping. And re-swatching and re-ripping. I was attempting this in the evening, not my most productive time.
Fast forward to this morning. I picked up my swatch and observed it much closer. And then I knew, in order to be successful with brioche knitting, I’ve got to treat it like any other knitting. I have to learn how to read it. And there it was. I continued my little swatch without anymore ripping or line by line instruction.
I’m feeling a bit smug right now. I’ll let you know if this has truly sunk in once I begin to knit this new shawl pattern.
But first the dyeing and the spinning of the yarn for it!
On the advice of a good fiberista friend, I signed up for a mushroom dyeing class last fall. The class was taught by Alissa Allen of Mycopigments. (Thanks for the hot tip, Erin). I’ve learned much over the years with regards to natural dyeing, but I was clueless about mushrooms. We harvested morels in North Idaho when I was a child, but dye mushrooms? Who knew?!
Happily the class included a cheat sheet of dye mushroom species for my area. The botanist in me was looking for specific ecosystem info to aid in locating. Alas, the class was not helpful to me in that regard. So what to do? A bit of research is always helpful…..I made notes on my cheat sheet and read as much as I could find. There is a great resource on FB, a group for mushroom and lichen dyers. Even with all of this effort, it took awhile to locate dye mushrooms!
Also? Experimenting helped. I found other mushrooms that give dye that were not listed on my cheat sheet. I put together a mushroom field kit using an old metal lunchbox. It contains everything I need to test in the field (except the wee stove and butane cartridges). I was bit by mushroom dyeing. Hard. I love walking through the woods and this gave me another excuse to do so.
I figure it will take a few seasons to locate my own favorite mushroom locations. Mushroomers have such things and keep this info secret!
Here is my dyed wool collection for this year. I never did locate the red corts, danged it. Something for next year. My plan is to spin singles and weave this in a color and weave, herringbone twill fabric for sewing a bag of some sort.
I had a plan. It seemed quite sound at the time, I formulated said plan while I was still working. It was a simple plan, actually: grow my tiny fiber business once I retired from my day job. I had some ideas about how I was going to proceed. Fast forward as it’s nearly been a year since I retired. I’ve not updated my out of date website, I’ve not started the list I had made to grow my business. I’ve done much soul searching to discover that growing my small business is not what I wish to do. That was a bit of a surprise!
This revelation was following by a second thought: what the heck is it that I wish to do? I’m still a bit uncertain about this. I’m not shutting down my small business…I will do some shows next year, but perhaps not as many. I feel it’s time to change my focus. I’ve been working exclusively with Pygora fiber since about 2002. I love the fiber and those adorable goats! But it’s time for me to stretch and grow. What is my true passion? I do love weaving and am already falling down that rabbit hole…..and will continue to wallow for years in that rabbit hole…..but dyeing is my favorite. Dyeing fiber, yarn or fabric…..it makes no matter. I love dyeing with both synthetic and natural dyes.
So you will see Rainbow Farms Pygora around, but it will be a smaller percentage of my business. The larger portion will now be Magpie Dye Studio. I’m not certain which roads I will travel here, but I am certain it will be filled with much color!
I started out today at the Delta, my Louet loom. I dressed the loom in a combination of two very different colored yarns I hand dyed specifically for this purpose. The design is a dead simple Fibonacci combo of three and uses the also super simple plain weave. The star of this piece is the dyed warp….the cloth will be woven warp-faced to take advantage. This piece will act as a test run for color placement. I’m thinking hard about creating yarns like this to sell….mostly for warp purposes.
This warp is very bright so I will use a dark gray weft to tone it down. I left some tiny resist areas in the weft yarn during dyeing. This gives interesting little blips in the cloth…I like them!
So that was my morning….not quite done with the scarf…..sigh…..and Spinzilla starts tomorrow!
I took an afternoon hike foraging for dye mushrooms. I found a smallish dyers polypore
And the boletes are coming up! Both the boletes and the polypore give nice yellow colors.
I am still searching for the red corts, danged it!
Color, color, everywhere….
Now that my free-wheeling spring and summer are over, it’s time to buckle down (in a creative way) and focus on what I wish to work on. Sure, there is the Scottish tweed yardage…..but what else? My brain keeps tossing about all kinds of things in one large jumble. I’m struggling to focus and I’m not certain why. It’s frustrating. I need to identify my rabbit hole and begin to delve in….is it natural dyeing? Painting warps? Eco dye combined with natural dyeing? Weaving yardage? Surface design in fabric for sewing? Maybe I need to fiddle about with each of these and find which one calls my name. Ugh, super frustrated!
I subscribe to VAV weaving magazine and a couple of issues back they published several articles about Scottish tweeds. The timing of this issue could not have been better as I was waist-deep in planning a three week journey to the highlands of Scotland with me mum. As much as I would’ve liked, I could not squeeze Lewis and Harris into our itinerary. The Isle of Skye, however, was another matter. This was exciting because of all the tweeds photographed for the VAV articles, I fell in love with the photo of a single tweed swatch. Actually not only the photo, but I fell in love with the swatch. I just HAD to get this yardage, or even a wee sample. This glorious swatch was created by Andrea and Roger of Skye Weavers. Holy warp, I could visit them! They weave in a small cottage up in the northwest bit of Skye.
Suddenly I had this Idea bubbling in my head: I’ve a beautiful Cheviot fleece from WA state that I could dye using natural dyes. I could spin fine singles. Cheviot is a Scottish breed of sheep! And I could create my own yardage…not exactly the Skye design because that is theirs…..but I could produce my own, very similar fabric.
I think I’ve finished pounding out the design using a combination of I-weaveit and Fiberworks. I feel a bit cross eyed now, but I’m fairly certain I’ve a design that I like. Each weft pick will be a different color, involving 5 colors. Gulp. I may fiddle this down to four colors…a bit more manageable.