Shifting Tiles

Previously, on this blog, the La Sierra Yarn Mural was under construction. It was installed on April 1 at the La Sierra Community Center, 5215 La Sierra Ave, Riverside CA.

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It will be on display until May 18.

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On Tuesday, the 2nd of April I realized that my next deadlines until May and July (more about those later). Then I realized that it was a good time to do the reorganization I’ve been needing to do in My daughter’s old bedroom and my two studio rooms. We have three 80″ Billy bookcases filled with her books in there. I have gotten tired of having all of my books and magazines on shelves above the windows in my studio; and lately I’ve been wanting to get all  that material down where I can reach it from standing on the floor. I’ve also been wanting to start getting all of my magazines digitally, and to stop collecting all of that paper. But that may be a topic for another day.

A few months ago I ordered 5 archival, acid free boxes for Samantha’s books. So, last week I began boxing up the books. Of course, if I was going to store 5 boxes of books in the backyard shed, I needed to rearrange a few things out there to make room. Which I did, and managed to get the 5 boxes up into the loft in the shed.

At the same time, YBLA has had a slight storage crisis. Since Yarnbombing 18th became Yarnbombing Los Angeles, we have been meeting, working, and storing all our stuff in Arzu’s 18th Street studio. Arzu moved on from YBLA in January, she needed her studio space back,  and we needed to get the stuff moved. Through the course of events, this week became our deadline for moving all the stuff and finding new places to stash it. Carol took a bunch of the stuff to her grad-student studio, and I promised to take the plastic bins of extra granny squares. We went to haul stuff on Saturday, and it turns out there were 10 bins of grannies, and two more boxes of knitted pieces.

My house is like one of those little plastic puzzles we used to have as children, the ones with the little square tiles inside a frame, with one missing. The challenge was to shift the tiles right, left, up, and down into the one empty space until you got them in the right order and a picture was formed. If I was going to fit 12 more bins of  YBLA stuff into the frame, then I had to get Sammy’s books out of the “guest room.” I had my two card tables in Studio B (my son’s old room) where I had parked a bunch of books, magazines, stuff until I could move it. I have gotten most of my books and magazines into the guest room. Five boxes held 1 1/2 of the bookcases worth of books. I ordered more, and am waiting for them.

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I moved all of my bags of yarn to the shelves above the windows where to books used to be, so that only soft, lightweight stuff is up there. I folded up my card tables, and put up one of my folding work tables in their place, on the risers so that it can be work space. I was able to put all of my collection of trash art supplies under that table, finally clearing out the middle of the floor of Studio B. My photographic area is now accessible again.

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MoveDonationsBUT, none of this got me the space to store the YBLA bins. While I was organizing my personal stash of trash, I broke down all the empty boxes I wanted to keep. I keep and reuse boxes – you’re not surprised, right? This gave me the idea of breaking down all the empty boxes in the shed.

This gave me the space to shift YBLA’s leftover yarn that was in the closet in Studio B.

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So, off to Santa Monica I went to get the bins of grannies.

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And viola!

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Of course, I haven’t shown the current condition of the guest room. A few things from Studio B are currently in there (The 6′ store mannikin and the photographic lights, and – oh yeah – two big bins of thrift store sweaters), and the kids are coming home this weekend. But, its only Tuesday. . .

Into Spring

I’ve already discussed what an unreliable blogger I am, right? so,’nough said?

here is how my Fun a Day project turned out. I ended up with 27 flowers. It was actually, really lots of fun. It did jump-start my creative work for the new year.

My Fun a Day flowers.

My Fun a Day flowers.

The other benefits were the connections: I met some wonderful new people, and reconnected with some old friends.

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The opening was over two nights, February 28 & March 1.

My next fun project was a car cozy for my minivan. This was for the Santa Clarita Art Slam on the evening of March 6th.

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The next two projects to come up, and what I’m currently involved in, are public art projects with yarn. David Orozco, of Yarnbombing Los Angeles, and I created a large yarn mural for Riverside Art Make.

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The project kicked off on March 8th with a community workshop at Raincross Yarn in Riverside. The assembled group began dismantling thrift store sweaters while Ana drew a cartoon of the hills above the La Sierra neighborhood. At the second workshop on March 16, we assembled the background of the landscape.

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Our last workshop was March 23 at Riverside Art Museum, where we added orange trees and other details to the mural.

 

RAM_3-24_WKSHPThe mural is scheduled to be installed on March 31.

 

 

On March 22, Yarnbombing Los Angeles launched our latest project at Manhattan Beach Creative Art Center. We will be doing a yarnbombing of many trees around the center along with a community tapestry and an exhibition of other yarn artworks in the gallery.

Our next two community workshops will be April 26, and May 3, both at 1-4 pm. We will also be working on the yarnbombing and the tapestry at our regular stitching sessions on the 3rd Saturday of the month at the Craft and Folk Art Museum.

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Helen and Tiffany working on the community tapestry.

Helen and Tiffany working on the community tapestry.

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A community tapestry woven into a beach volleyball net.

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Charlotte, Jane and Judy working on tree wrappers for the yarnbombing.

 

Thirteen Through Seventeen

it’s kinda funny to see those numbers spelled out like that isn’t it? Do you know why?

It’s because, in writing, one is only supposed to spell out numbers from one to ten. Any number higher than ten should be written in numerals. In a text, one would write 13 – 17.

flowers 13-17

flowers 13-17

And here they are: flowers 13 – 17. I got a little bit ahead last weekend when I made six flowers. But a couple of those were heavy denim from some jeans, and I made my right hand sore. So on Sunday I rested.

We had a Fun a Day meeting in the space where the exhibit will be held on Friday, February 28, and Saturday, March 1. It will be a pop-up show with opening receptions both nights. The tentative time will be 7-10 pm both nights, but that is not set in stone yet, so watch for announcements.

Here’s a note: anyone who still wants to can join in. You don’t have to have made 31 of anything; you don’t have to have worked on your project for any set amount of time. There really are no rules. It is meant to be fun; it is meant to be a jump-start to your creativity for the new year. the official descriptions talk about how Fun a Day is meant to be a fun way to be creative during the coldest, dreariest month of the winter. . . It’s really hard to say that with a straight face; and this is the time of the year when we really mustn’t gloat about the weather.

However, it may be pretty grim in parts of the Southland this evening. Some boys went and started a fire in Glendora, it’s being called the Colby Fire. For any of our non-California readers, it’s been windy, dry and hot the past few days. We were under Red Flag Warnings, which means extremely high fire danger. The fire grew very quickly, some homes have been lost, lots of people evacuated.

I went up to the Topanga library yesterday morning, and I could see the smoke in the basin, over the top of the hills. The way the air currents flow from the inland to the ocean, the wind carries the smoke into the LA basin. I remember in ’03, when I was working on the Envisioning the Future project out in Pomona, and they had some awful fires in San Bernardino and Riverside. I could smell the smoke in Mar Vista – something like 60 miles away.

oddly, the valley was crystal clear today – I mean crystal. warning: this next part may contain some cattyness. But, shhh, don’t tell. We must let the people over the hill keep their illusions of the valley. (dont’ tell them how much you paid for your house, either.)

Fun A Day Reseda

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I’m doing Fun-a-Day, Reseda as a new project for the new year. Fun-a-Day is a project that started on the East Coast a few years ago as a fun, creative, exercise for the coldest, dreariest month of the year. Chloe Cumbow, a recent refugee from there, brought Fun-a-Day to Reseda this year.

The idea is to pick a creative project – it can be visual art, writing words or music, cooking, dance, collecting something special, anything – and do it everyday in January. Then there will be a show/exhibition/presentation at the end of February. IMG_2938

there were some meetings in November and December. I’m not sure, but I think someone could still join in if they wanted to. FAD has gotten an agreement to use a space for the exhibition, and the next meeting will be this coming Thursday, the 16th at 6:15 pm; at 7143 Baird Street in Reseda. They advise to bring a chair if you don’t want to sit on the floor.

I decided to do something fiberous, of course. And crochet, because all I want to do lately is to crochet. In December I went out to Riverside to see my son and his girlfriend, Jessica. Jessica has recently learned to crochet, and she wanted a pattern for a flower. I took my copy of 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet. IMG_2950We picked out this lovely coiled rose, and it became my motif for Fun-a-Day.

I decided to use up a bunch of old clothes i have had sitting around with the intentions of cutting them up someday. Knowing Irv and I were going to be gone the first 8 days of January, I started early. I had 8 flowers done by the time we left for our cruise on Dec. 29.

We got home this last Wednesday, I went to the doctor Thursday. I came home from the Caribbean with a sinus infection. On Friday I realized I was already 2 flowers behind. I cut up a bunch of jeans and t-shirts. I made two flowers Friday evening and another five yesterday, including two from blue jeans.

The first 11 flowers.

The first 11 flowers.

Today I needed to rest my hand and I decided to document the process.

In the wee hours of the morning I had the thought, “what if I kept going after January; what if I made a flower a day for a year?”

no. 12

no. 12

Here are some process pictures.

A denim pant leg

A denim pant leg

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t-shirt sleeve

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Sweet Zoe sleeps in my studio

Hello 2014

yeah, I’m really bad about updating my blog.

Let’s see how quickly I can cover the past 8 months: the dog, Zoe, sweet Zoe, turned out to be a very fearful dog with fear-aggression issues. She barked and barked at anyone who came into the house. She barked and barked and barked at the kids when they came home for a visit. She barked and barked and barked and barked at the sounds of plumbers and painters at the houses across the street. The UPS driver doesn’t want to stop at our house any more.

Doesn't she look sweet.

Doesn’t she look sweet.

The upshot is that we spent lots of money on training, and now Zoe wears a citronella anti-bark collar all the time. She has learned to not bark all the time, which keeps her calmer. I can allow her in my studio rooms (the former kids’ bedrooms on the front of the house, facing the street), and she doesn’t bark, bark, bark at the windows. She can keep quite when visitors are in the house, she can even be in the same room. But she’s still very fearful, and won’t allow anyone to touch her. She won’t make friends with anyone. She went to the kennel when hubby and I went on a cruise over New Years, and she didn’t come out of her enclosure the entire time. She wouldn’t eat breakfast, only at dinnertime. Otherwise, she’s really sweet.

i finished the window shade fabric, and if I may say so myself, it looks great.IMG_2061

The shades aren’t completed yet, as we want them to be motorized, and finding the mechanisms has proven to be a complicated process. it was late in the year when i finished weaving the fabric, then I went on my Nicaragua trip (another story i will have to come back and tell someday soon), then it was the holidays, and now suddenly it is the second week of january.

Over the summer I became more involved with Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, the perpetrators of CAFAM Grannies Squared.

Next post, a new project for the new year: FunaDay Reseda

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Romans & Grannies & Dogs – Oh My!

Whoa, it’s been almost two months since I checked in here. From where I left off last time:

I got the 45″ wide warp for the window shade fabric on the loom – not without some glitches (of which I’m just going to stop reporting all the details; since I’m afraid I’m beginning to sound incompetent). I wove a  62″ sample and cut it off the loom to show the clients. Why 62,” you might ask? Why not weave a 12″ sample and not risk wasting that much of my materials? 62″ is long enough to be a shade if it wants to be, and it gives the clients a fuller picture of what the fabric will look like. It can be difficult for non-weavers & non-fiber-people to visualize something that doesn’t exist. I threaded the loom with a 3 yard leader warp. My warp is 8 yards, of which there will be very little waste at the back end. The project requires about 4 yards, finished, for the two 42″ wide shades. If I don’t use the first 62″ sample, I’ll still have plenty of warp; and the finished fabric should have plenty of extra for wiggle room. 

first sample

Anyway, the clients put the sample up in their living room and they love it. Now all I need to do is to dye another two pounds of the cotton flake weft yarn, and 2000 more yards of fabric strips.

Oh, and weave the remaining 6+ yards of 45″ wide fabric, then tie on the 36″ wide warp and weave 16 yards of fabric.

Piece of cake.

At the same time, I have been participating in Yarn Bombing Los Angeles’ Grannies Squared project to cover the Craft and Folk Art Museum with granny squares.

Definitely check it out on YBLA’s Facebook page.

At some point a couple of months ago, I was at one of the Stitch & Bitch session at the museum. Someone mentioned that they were looking for some kind of crochet-related pin to give to their 100 Club, the people who had crocheted 100 or more squares. The solution was obvious to me instantly, and the wire grannies were born. They only needed 50 of them.

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Wire grannies for the 100 Club.

I have made pins, necklaces, and I’m in the process of making earrings for the CAFAM gift shop.  My wire granny jewelry will be there late next week, along with other granny square themed merchandise, in time for the opening on Saturday, May 25th, at 7 pm. YBLA will be having a Photo Op across the street in the park at 5 pm. I will be there with the wire grannies for the 100+ granny contributors. 

AND. . . somewhere in between my last post and this one, I did something really stupid. I must have had a stroke or other mental defect, because we got a

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stinky dog.

I’ve got to go crochet wire granny squares. Hopefully I’ll see you on Wilshire Boulevard, next Saturday.

More of Everything

I guess I never really did a project where I wove this much fabric, and I know I never did a project where I dyed this much of anything.

Let me run down the whole project for you. Here is my original crude sketch of the windows.

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The window shades are for a bank of windows and doors that run from the living room into the dining room. There are two windows 42″ wide, one large window 92″ wide, and a set of patio doors 32″ wide each. These are the measurements to the outside of the mouldings, the desired finished width of the roman shades.

I decided to weave the fabric in two different widths, 45″ and 36″. I know that will give me fabric that finishes 42″ and 32″ wide. img013

My original calculations for warp length told me I wanted the 45″ warp to be 4.5 yards and the 32″ fabric to be 13 yards. I don’t know if anyone can interpret my notes there, but I neglected to add loom waste. This was only the first of the many ways I underestimated what I would need for this project.

After we changed from a white-on-white to a six color palette, I decided to do the next samples at the full width of the fabric. That prompted me to review my warp calculations, and upon reflection, I decided to add three extra yards to the length of both warps. The 45″ warp will be 8 yards and the 36″ warp will be 16 yards.

Back in October when I abandoned the multi-yarn warp, I decided to go with all 5/2 Perle Cotton, and quickly realized I didn’t have near enough. I bought two cones from Village Spinning and Weaving at Weff in November. Two weeks ago I ordered another cone. 

Now here’s where I have ??? dancing around my head. Whatever was I thinking?

It came time to start dying the white fabric strips, so I went to dig in the box where I remembered having all these rolls of selvedges cut from the ends of rolls of white cotton broadcloth. There were five. I hauled out my McMorran yarn balance: about 100 yards per roll. I went to my woven samples, did more calculations – total needed for both warps, 8 yards & 16 yards= 2500 yards of fabric strips. I checked my math a couple more times. I needed 20 more rolls of fabric strips. 

The company I had gotten the selvedges from is in Pennsylvania, and it took weeks before I remembered to call before 2:00 in the afternoon. Then, they didn’t have any more of the end cuts. But they had some partial rolls of cotton broadcloth, and they were willing to cut them into 1″ strips for me.

This lead me two days ago recheck my calculations for the other weft yarns. . . and WTF??

Going back to my woven samples, I found that my initial estimate of the number of picks per inch was way low. By this time I have dye-painted three skeins of yarn and five rolls of the fabric strips. This involves a process of winding the yarn off the cones into large 1 1/4 lb skeins, dye-painting it, cold batching for two days, letting it dry, then winding it back into balls. I had one of the skeins of 5/2 perle cotton get hopelessly tangled on the squirrel cage swift. After hours of working on it, I abandoned about 200 yards of warp yarn. 

I figured out that I needed another two pounds of this cotton flake I had bought back when the fabric was still going to be white; and that I can’t use any of the yarns I bought last summer at Convergence. In my white samples, I was doing my free form zig-zag non pattern using several yarns and shuttles at the same time. As the fabric has gotten more complex, I have decided to simplify the weaving. Everything is going to be space-dyed. Any zigzagging design will come from the serendipity in the way the colors land in the cloth.  I decided to combine the yarns to make them fatter, and only use two yarns for a total of three shuttles. 

But this now means that each yarn must cover half the picks for both warps. I have less than 1800 yards of each of the yarns I got last year at Convergence, and more of them is not available – that’s the reason I switched to Perle cotton for the warp. I no longer want to use a little of this and a little of that; I want to use the same yarns all the way through. My new math tells me that I need almost 5000 yards of each yarn. That meant I needed two additional pounds of the cotton flake, needed to skein, dye, then wind it back into balls. Plus I would need yarn to combine with the flake.IMG_1768

This was two days ago, as I said. This was after I struggled for hours with the tangled yarn. I dyed three large skeins of yarn today, I have one more in the garage that I have already soda-soaked. I’ll have to dye-paint two more pounds of cotton flake to plus 20 rolls of fabric strips. I couldn’t face any more dying. I ordered some 3/2 Perle cotton in beige, it matches the Chamois in my palette; and some carpet warp that matches the Terracotta.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered more urea. I got two pounds and as soon as it arrived I knew I needed to get another 5 lbs.

At the same time I started moving stuff out of Michael’s room so I can get all my stuff out of Samantha’s room, and turn that into a guest room in time Michael to use it when he comes home on Monday. 

And today I ran out of Terracotta dye. . .

Spring Forward

Spring is three days away. The smell of flowers blooming is in the air. We have already set the clocks ahead, and went around all last week feeling like we lost an hour somewhere. Today is St. Patrick’s Day, the LA Marathon was run this morning,  and it’s another one of those perfect days in LA. Of course, true to our wonderful weather: yesterday it was foggy in the Valley in the morning; then it was sunny and almost hot Downtown at noon, and by the time I left the Yarnbombing Granny Squares sewing party at the Craft and Folk Art Museum at 5, it was completely overcast and cool. As I wound my way up Laurel Canyon, over Mulholland, and dropped back down into the Valley, I drove into a hazy sunshine. The morning fog had never really lifted. I think it created an inversion layer, keeping it slightly hazy all day. As I headed west on the 101, I could see over the top of the hills, the heavy cloud cover sitting in the Basin.

DTLA, Saturday afternoon

DTLA, Saturday afternoon

But that was yesterday. Today it’s windy, clear and warm. Our orange tree, which wasn’t blooming three days ago, is in full bloom today.

Since returning from Stitches, progress on the window shade fabric has been slow. I had one week where I had four medical appointments over at UCLA and in Santa Monica – this was all follow-up on my thyroid surgery three years ago; and all the tests came out fine. But each trip over there takes a huge chunk out of the day.

I lead a twill weaving workshop for my guild, Southern California Handweavers. it was a great group, and we all had a wonderful time.

Weavers from L to R: Melissa, Elbert, Pat, 7 Myrna.

Weavers from L to R: Melissa, Elbert, Pat, & Myrna.

Carolyn Sell weaving on Elbert's loom in the Twill workshop.

Carolyn Sell weaving on Elbert’s loom in the twill workshop.

During these past few weeks I have been beginning to dye the 5/2 Perle cotton for the warp of the window shades and some to the fabric strips for the weft.

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But now, I’ve got to start cranking on this project if I ever want to get it done in this lifetime. The picture shows a small portion of the yarn and fabric strips I’ll need to dye.

Coming up: I’m going to Vogue Knitting Live in Bellevue, Washington April 5-7. I’ll be in the Art Gallery portion of the Marketplace with my smaller coiled baskets and jewelry for sale.

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I’m working on a new group of jewelry designs involving wire granny squares.

grannies1 The time has come for me to take over Michael’s bedroom – all of it, not just the half that serves as my photography studio. It is also time to pack up Samantha’s things and turn her bedroom into a guest room – so Michael has some place to sleep when he comes home from school.

Stay tuned.

February Wanderings

February was a lovely month here in Southern California. I made a couple of trips that took me from   Escondido to San Francisco to Big Sur and home again (though not all in the same trip).

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Somewhere along the Central California Coast.

I gave a presentation and half day workshop for the Palomar Handweavers Guild in Escondido. The subject was working with reused materials, so I took a whole load of junk and we all had some fun in the afternoon.

Mimi making a basket from plastic bag yarn (Plarn) and cardboard packing material.

Mimi making a basket from plastic bag yarn (Plarn) and cardboard packing material.

Last weekend I went to the Stitches conference in Santa Clara, CA. Over the last few months, my daughter,Samantha, and I had been discussing me making a visit to the Bay Area to see an exhibition of the Terracotta Warriors at  The Asian Art Museum. It opened during the weekend of Stitches, which I have been wanting to check out. Sam wanted to go with me to the Friday evening fashion show, so my Bay Area trip came together.IMG_1716

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Since I’ve been home, I have picked up the window shade project. Just before the Stitches trip, I created a color pallete for C & A.

The new color pallete and a dyed skein of fabric strips on top of the original white woven sample.

The new color pallete and a dyed skein of fabric strips on top of the original white woven sample.

I now need to dye all of the white yarn and fabric strips to prepare them for weaving.  One of the first things I’ll need to do is to wind skeins for dying. The next parts of the process are to scour and soda soak the skeins of yarn and fabric strips.

Skeins of white fabric strips.

Skeins of white fabric strips.

Dying Time Again

Since my last post, the window shade project has taken a turn. We went over to Candy & Adam’s house with the samples and had a long discussion of what they liked and didn’t. I came home with some notes and plans to refine the patterns and make some new samples. I had left some of the sample warp on the loom so I could do further samples.

I left the samples taped to the windows at the house. I told Candy & Adam that they needed see them in different lights, at different times of the day. I got a call a few days later: the white fabric didn’t work at night. It looked washed out and boring. In hindsight I realized, of course, there’s a reason no one puts white drapes on white walls. Door Sample

We discussed the color palette and I decided to dye the yarn and fabric strips I already have. This way I’ll be able to use the yarns I’ve already acquired for the project, and get the palette exactly as I want it. So I ordered some fiber reactive dyes from Dharma and now I’m in the process of doing color tests.

I have started with each color straight from the jar. I like the soda soak & cold batch method for dying. I’ll be painting the dye onto the yarn and fabric strips, so this method is appropriate. I prepared small samples of the yarns and fabric strips, and mixed all of the colors the same strength. I want to be very systematic about it, so I can recreate the results when I get the palette I like. I’ll need to dye a couple thousand yards of yarn and fabric strips.

The first group of samples came out very dark, too dark. Yesterday I mixed the dyes at half and quarter strength. Cold batch means that you leave the dyed material wet for 24 – 48 hours to set the dye. Since I left the first round of sample setting for 48 hours, I will leave all the second set for the same amount of time. I was tempted to take out the quarter strength samples after 24 hours because I’m trying to get some pale shades, but then decided against it in order to keep my tests consistent.  If you only change one variable with each test, then you know what caused the results. Tomorrow I’ll rinse out the samples, then wash and dry them. After that, I’ll move on to adjusting the colors.DyeTests

Of course, I have other projects going at the same time. I have an 8 harness point twill warp on my 24″ Dorothy table loom that I’m weaving off. The results will be additional samples to help inform my Exploring Twills workshop for the Southern California Handweavers Guild, coming up next month, March 9 & 10. I have decided to de-acquire my 24″ wide, 8 harness Dorothy table loom. As soon as I get this warp woven off , I will list it on Craig’s List or something.

Next Monday, February 11, I’m speaking at the Palomar Handweavers Guild and leading a half-day workshop on using recycled materials in fiber art.

TopDownTI’m about ready to finish a knitted t-shirt for myself.  This is a rather unusual occurrence. As much as I love to knit, I have made very few garments over the years, only three things for myself. This is a top-down t-shirt I started almost a year ago. It’s an original pattern developed by Suzanne at Unwind in Burbank. I bought the yarn and signed up for the class to learn the pattern during last year’s LA Yarn Crawl.

I pitched in a donation and made some granny squares for Yarnbombing Los Angeles’s latest project to cover the Craft and Folk Art Museum with crochet.

I haven’t touched my Designing Weavers annual project for a couple of months. The past few years it’s been a Springtime mystery whether I will or won’t get my project done by May. Stay tuned to see what happens with that.

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