Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tea-time: Dyeing with Flowers from Our Dye Garden

If you have been with me for the past few months, you may remember this:

Adrienne and I planted this dye garden from seed (organic) this past Summer. I harvested flowers almost every day and filled the freezer with petals and stalks. Adrienne was taking a horticulture class at the local JC. For her final project, she decided to document the dye garden, starting from the planting of the seeds, and finishing with making tea from the flowers and dyeing wool.

Wool: Bluefaced Leicester
Qty: 2 oz per dye
Mordant: 12% Alum, 6% Cream of Tartar
Dye Qty: 2oz of dried/frozen material

First, we mordanted the wool with alum and cream of tartar for one hour. We let the wool sit in the mordant over night to cool. Then, we lightly rinsed the wool in a lukewarm bath.

We made teas out of each type of plant:

(this is making me feel like Ina Garten -- and want to speak in a hushed tone -- "come and look a little closer" -- and then the camera zooms in to see what she is cooking)
1. Edible Chrysanthemum

2. Correopsis

3. Cosmos

4. Dahlia

(this is the part in the show, where I find myself starving, and for a minute I actually think about cooking something real to eat, but instead, after exhausting myself thinking about all of the steps necessary to have such a dinner, I grab a bag of potato chips and sit back on the couch, and wish that someone else, such as Ina, could cook for me)

Round 2: For this round, we took plants growing around our house.

1. Birch

2. Chestnut Hulls

3. Eucalyptus

4. Ivy (leaves and berries)

We simmered the tea for about 1+hour. Until the dahlias lost their color, and the eucalyptus nearly asphyxiated us. Turned off the heat, allowed the tea to cool a bit.

Now, it was time for dyeing, my favorite part. We took a large canning pot, and 8 wide mouthed mason jars. Filled each jar 2/3 full with tea, and then dunked a 2oz piece of bfl wool. Placed the jar in the pot, loosely capped the jars, turned the heat onto med-low, and simmered the pot's contents for over an hour.

Our results:

From left to right: ivy, eucalyptus, dahlia, cosmos, correopsis, chrysanthemum, chestnut hulls, birch (when taking this photograph, I was having a momentary lapse of dyslexia). A lot of yellow, eh? I suppose it is amazing how many different shades and tones of a single color the human eye can see.

Next project: Over-dying with indigo. I will bring more green into my collection!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who came to the Winter Fiber Show. Thank you to everyone who helped us by telling a friend, listing this event on their blog, supporting us, etc. It was a great success. I loved meeting new people and visiting with friends. I have some great photos to share. My favorite is this one:

A DH holding his wife's fiber while she shops. He was totally great -- completely supportive of his wife's "habit". An enabler even, encouraging her to spoil herself! A prime example for DH and DW everywhere!

And, of course, photos of our offerings...fiber and yarn of course!

In other news, we had a little bit of rain here, which for us, that means "weather". It has been nice. I have been knitting. Arm warmers for my late night bike ridin' friend Meridyl.

And, while I have been doing that knitting, (time for a confession) I have been watching a very special TV show (especially trashy) called Tila Tequila: A Shot at Love. I love it (period) I hope Dani wins. Well, while we are at it, how about another confession, tonight is Project Runway. Another little addiction I have. If all of this confessing is bringing back memories for you of Catholic school, then confess away. OK, back to knitting, I came across this scarf on Knitspot the other day. Too darn cute. I almost cast-on immediately but called upon my self control. I have committed to a couple commissioned project and must/will finish them. Now, I have a reward for when I am through. What a good girl!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Winter Fiber & Yarn Show!

This weekend I am co-hosting the Winter Fiber & Yarn Show. I would love it if you stopped by to say hello, drink some cider, chat, treated yourself or a loved one with the gift of fiber and yarn.

If you are local, or know anyone who is local, if you would pass along this invitation to them -- that would be great!!

We are going to be at Glimakra Weaving Studio. This studio, in itself, is well worth the trip. Maj-Britt Mobrand, the owner, is a master weaver and can teach you possibly anything you wanted to learn about weaving and its heritage. Glimakra are a style of loom from Sweden. If you have ever been interested in learning how to weave, this would be a great time to visit the studio and meet Maj-Britt and the looms in person.

Then, of course there is Tactile Fiber Arts. They will also be there selling their beautiful natural dyed fiber and yarn, too. In other words, you will have lots of yarn and fiber to choose from!

Glimakra Weaving Studio
2728 MLK
Berkeley 94703

Email me with any questions!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 12, 2007

happy 30th techday

Try this experiment with your loved one. Describe and discuss, quite thoroughly how you perceive a website. Now make the website. And, look at the website, and wonder, did we really discuss this? I remember saying that I wanted the photos to be here, and the search bar to be there. . . and then do it again and again, and then start raising your tone of voice, and here and there start incorporating other tiffs in the house, like the time you left the dog puke on the floor instead of cleaning it up, and how that must be another example indicative of why the website looks how it does, etc. Yes, this was my household. But, now, as Adrienne and I, completely pleased with ourselves, snuggled into bed, we felt that we had left that all behind. We had finally made the switch to our new web store where all the programming would be in the hands of Yahoo. A place that I (not Adrienne and I) could simply upload new products. As I fell asleep, I smiled thinking about all of the dyeing and spinning I could now get to. The technical aspects were finally complete.

WRONG! When publishing my new store, yahoo changed the name of my blog, disabling all of the links to my blog. Nooooo, no more technical problems. No no no. And then there were the phone calls to Yahoo customer care. Let’s just say Texan accent, bad reception, code website speak, relationship politics, no dinner, late night. I think the best part of the conversation was when I was told by Yahoo “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. I restrained myself from snapping back “it’s my thirtieth birthday this week, and I don’t want to hear those words!” But I didn’t. And, I had to compromise a la a splash page. Not my first choice – but I am soooo happy to have my blog back.

So, back to business, how is everyone doing? Fall is here. I like it – very cozy feeling. Like I mentioned before, I did turn 30 on Friday. This is something I have been really looking forward to. I spent time on Friday reflecting on some of the changes that have occurred in my life over the past year. Probably the biggest change in my life was quitting my “day job”. Last year at this time, it’s pretty safe to say that I was miserable. I didn’t want to leave my job but I needed to for my physical health and wellbeing. I was pretty crispy around the edges. When I did give my notice, on January 2, I wasn’t only giving notice that I was leaving my job, I was giving notice that I was going to live my life in a completely new and different way. This sounds very corny – but I am going to say it anyway – I decided to muster up as much courage as I could and listen to my heart. This will always be a struggle for me. I like to think about “the bottom line”. I desire stability. Risk makes my chest tighten. And my heart could give a shit about those things. Little by little, I am relaxing into those feelings, and in turn they feel less threatening. Point being, I am so grateful to be back in the fiber world and doing something that I absolutely love.

On the fiber front, I picked up the Alvros Sweater – love that thing! Love it. Love the pattern, love the yarn. I even love that it’s going to be a while before I finish it. I think this my first process piece.

The Tangled Yoke on the other hand. Not so much. The pattern is fine. But I am not happy with my choice of yarn. I chose to use Silky Tweed. I will be honest (here comes the bottom line). Well, I went with the Silky Tweed to save a few dollars. I have knit the body of the sweater and it just does not have the hand that I’d like it to have. I want it to be denser, woollier, cozier. So that being said – the Tangled Yoke is at a standstill for the moment.

I am spinning (and carding). Ramboulliet from the BSG. 2 ply. I think that I am going to make my little bro, Johnny, a sweater.

Well, that’s all for now. Sorry for the lack of photos -- next time I will treat you. I hope everyone is enjoying their Autumn!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Quality Time

OK -- so what is new around The Verb for Keeping Warm house? I have not had enough quality time with Maia's drum carder. I know that for sure. This is what I have made so far:

Content: merino, bluefaced leicester, and silk. Gotta love some silk.

Stay tuned to see how it spins. Otherwise, around these parts we have been busy dyeing more yarn and fiber. We just created a new platform for averbforkeepingwarm.com store. Hopefully, this will make adding new products easier and faster. I literally have pounds of beautifully dyed fiber no one knows about. Hello? That's silly. We are going to work on the website this weekend. Fingers crossed, we will have it running by the end of next week. Let me tell you, if everything goes as planned, this change in website maintenance will eliminate hours of potential therapy Adrienne and I would have to attend under the current website circumstances.

Also, I don't think that I mentioned that I joined Etsy and started selling A Verb for Keeping Warm products there too. There platform is so damn easy and affordable. And, the other artists selling there make such beautiful things. So much creativity and good company! I have to say that Aija has had a large influence over this decision. I love her Etsy Fridays and the artists she features.

Otherwise, I am in the process of receiving lots of delicious new yarn and fiber: merino/ silk blends, tussah, and yak to name a few. I was so excited to receive these that I literally fell down the stairs. Hydroplaned. I was running up to our porch to see if the package had arrived. When I saw that it had not, I ran down the stairs, hydroplaned, and before I knew it landed on my a**. Ouch. But that couldn't stop me from winding skeins and dyeing more... of course with a little lifting help from Adrienne.

I hope everyone out there is having a beautiful Autumn day!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hide your fiber!

Because I am on a rampage and may put it through my drum carder. Listen to me, calling it mine. I was at my friend, Maia's today. She is on her way to Rhinebeck and has graciously loaned me her Patrick Greene drum carder.

The Beast:

My practice batt: merino, silk, carbonized bamboo, silk noils.

Have you ever seen a drop spindle look so happy?


Knitty bo bits.

Maia better watch out I may hold this little beast for ransom until my lil' lady coughs one up! My birthday (30th) is coming up... In the meantime, thanks Maia.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Do you know what love means? Pomatomus of course!

Well, let's see where we are at with life. I shift from right to left in my chair, pull the chair a little closer to the desk, as it gently rolls back to the position it was just in, oh the pull of gravity, that's right I am on Earth. Proudly, I will announce I have been knitting. These days, although they may be full to the brim with fiber and yarn, I feel like it is as scrumptious as a dirty little secret when I get the time to sit down and knit.

I actually see the light at the end of the tunnel -- It's 2 FO's!

1. Pomatomus Socks -- I absolutely love this pattern. My brain feels like a sponge soaked with serotonin, or maybe it's more like my brain is a beach ball floating along a serotonin sea as I knit the lace pattern and watch the colors change along the strand of yarn. I literally knit in one position so long that my jaw became sore. Ah, the physical detriment of my addiction.

2. The damn Toe-Up Socks -- Again, 3/4 done with these suckers! Bored with the pattern, bored with the yarn, but oh so close!

Then there are the WIP, these have not faired as well, but will get much more love shortly:

1. Tangled Yoke Sweater -- on hold for the moment. But still as beautiful as ever.
2. Chevron Scarf -- I tell ya, this little f***er. I guess somewhere along the line, I added a stitch, because this scarf has gotten wider. I must frog and re-configure.
3. The Alvaros Sweater -- I am dying to get back to this sweater. I love this pattern, love the yarn. I miss you Alvaros!

Switching topics, on Saturday, Adrienne and I drove northeast to the Hoes Down Festival at Full Belly Farms. This is a 2 day event. And, just too much fun: farm tours, workshops on olive oils, wine, fruit trees, good soil, mushroom gardening:

3 stages with live music, bar-b-ques smoking with local food, beer, oysters, an herb yurt, a strawbale house, and tooooonnnnns of stuff for kids! Oh, and you can stay over and camp on the farm.

Here is an amazing woman, named Kathy Wallace, demonstrating her basket weaving skills:


Weaving Supplies

Probably my three highlights of the trip were:

1. Touring the strawbale house. Adrienne and I would love to build one of these in our lifetime. Complete with little strawbale cabins for our friends and family to stay in.

2. Listening to one of the owner's of Full Belly talk about how important their 200 sheep are to the livelihood and success of the farm. And, he didn't even know how fond I am of sheep and their wooly delights!

3. Learning about how the farm started, their fits and starts, and feeling completely and totally inspired to dream and create my fiber farm.

Farm tour: Who is that crazy lady holding a Pomatomus sock?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Knit me a home where the buffalos roam.

Well, I wish it wasn't but it is. This is our last night in Ashland. And we are listening to KD Lang singing covers -- playing name that tune -- trying to guess the original singer.

We've had lots of ups and downs on this trip. Which in some ways was expected. The back story: My mom, her husband, Adrienne, and myself decided that we would try to look for a farm together. Currently, my mom and her husband, Jim, live in Minnesota, where I was raised. I love Minnesota. It's beautiful, green, warm summers, and is affordable in comparison to California. Yet, I can not imagine living there now. Even as a child I felt the winter stifling and depressing. Sometimes, I tell myself that if I moved back, the close proximity to my family, and the ability to afford a home would make the cold worth it -- in my gut I know this is not exactly true.

I have this little dream of living in the country, dyeing fiber with plants out of my own garden, eating out of my garden, warming up next to a wood stove, spinning yarn, making art, sleeping under the stars, living like a recluse for a few years. Honestly, I enjoy checking out every once in a while. Allowing the world to go on without me. Giving my brain and body room to explore and expand. Yet, I freak out a little bit when thinking about leaving the city. What if I lose my grip? What if by the time I get back here, someone will have already cultivated my dream? How on earth am I going to make money living in the woods?? I live a paradox of loving the city and wanting to be in the middle of everything and checking out and living a little bit like a hermit.

Add to the equation that I really love spending time with my mom and want to live near her and her husband. So, here we are seeing if we can work out something. One by one, my mom and I eliminate potential states of residence. One of the first on the list for my mom and Jim is California. This is sad. I truly love California. Yes, as a lady born and raised in the Midwest, California can be a little kooky, a little too quirky at times. Overpriced and high maintenance. But then again, often times, I might use those descriptions to characterize myself. California's landscape is dynamic, the climate mild, the people energetic, creative, and forward thinking. All that being said, I've tried pushing but they will not budge.

Oregon (ashland)is one area that we agreed may work. Now, I have to admit, Ashland is about as California as you can get without actually being in California (sorry to any folks from Oregon who might get offended by this remark). There are a bunch of hippies, it's fairly liberal, geographically looks like CA, have good food, etc. Plus, they have the Shakespeare festival. I think that my mom and Jim like this area but I don't know that they love it. I think that they love Colorado. Looking at houses and farms, I think that we have found that we are looking for different styles of living. Adrienne and I want alternative energy, funky houses, uneven floors, crazy gardens. We did find some pretty amazing farms here that are doing just that. I guess in the end, Adrienne and I are going to push our dreams and continue our search. I want the easy answer, the straightforward path -- ha!

Anyway, I highly recommend visiting here. We went to The Tempest last night. It was amazing.

Today, we went to Crater Lake.

Cast-on: Tangled Yoke Cardigan in Silky Wool.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cleo's Garter Pup Jacket

This is Cleo.

She has a new fall jacket.

We are in Ashland, Oregon looking for a farm. More to come soon...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fiber Crazy at Camp Vejar

We've had a very exciting week over here at Camp Vejar. We built a mini-sweatshop. About two weeks ago, our friends Maia and Brooke offered us the opportunity to sell our fiber and yarn in their booth, Sincere Sheep, at California Wool and Fiber. This festival takes place in Boonville which is about 2 1/2 hours north of here. As to be expected, I was delighted and accepted their offer without much thought. Well, I have this part of my personality which goes into overdrive. Some may call it ambitious. I guess therapists may call it compulsive. Anyway, before I know it, I am in the midst of mordanting about 20 lbs of wool. The kitchen is completely trashed with dyes and pots and wet wool. The bathtub too. Adrienne is really an angel. It was kind of like camping but in our house.

The highlight of the week, after 8 days of straight dyeing, came when Adrienne took the bread out of the fridge to make toast, and said "Gee honey, there's even cochineal on the bag of bread". I, in the midst of dyeing, glance briefly over my shoulder, and say "um yeah". Thinking that it is like a drip or something and that she is overreacting. She puts the bread back in the fridge. A few minutes later I go open the fridge to look for some OJ. And, find "the accident".

I had made a titration of cochineal (beetlejuice), poured it into a Ball jar, and placed at the back of the fridge. For some strange reason, the fridge froze the cochineal, turned it into a cochineal icecube, which cracked the glass, and cochineal was _all_ over the fridge. Including in the veggie drawers, under the veggie drawers, etc. There really was cochineal all over the bread.

Point being, we accomplished alot. Here, is a glimpse of the work table.

I have to say I am really proud of our work. Michelle - thank you for helping me out!

70 Alpaca/ 30 Silk. Yarn perfect for shawl lovers. I did not want to part with this yarn.

Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in colorways Kyoto, the Revolution, and Trixie.

Bluefaced Leicester Sock Yarn -- sorry about the poor quality photo.

Wish these kids luck in the world, may they be beautiful socks, scarves, shawls, etc.

Out in the garden, we have more exciting things happening. Dye plants are growing like weeds! I love them. They are so beautiful.

Dyer's Coreopsis


Shungiku Edible Chrysanthemum

Adrienne is taking 2 horticulture classes. One of them is about building a greenhouse. And, she is going to grow another dye garden at school. Hopefully, in the next couple weeks, we will have some yarn and fiber dyed from our garden to share with you.