Thursday, July 29, 2010


For those of you who don't like talk of mayhem concerning bugs....look away. Nothing for you here folks. Move along.

For the rest of you, I purchased some silk cocoons a couple of months ago. I got a kilogram. I know it would be a lot, but I didn't realise that it would be about two grocery bags full! I now have a lot of cocoons to experiment with! I gave a few away to one of the graduating students that expressed an interest in them but still have plenty left.
Last month I led a silk scarf dyeing workshop for which I mixed the dyes ahead of time. I wasn't sure which colours people would like, and I knew that I had at least 9 people and I wanted to make sure that no one ran out. I mixed way too much dye. There was a lot left over.
So dyed some warps and wefts. Enough for 16 scarves. And still there was dye left over!
I dyed some soy silk  and still there was dye left over!
So I searched around for something else to dye and found my cocoons! I dumped them straight in the bottles of dyes and added some of the dye fixative and shook. No pictures of this because my gloves were covered in dye by this time. The silk scarves need to sit for 5 days. I let my cocoons sit for 2 before realizing that they looked really dark. It was hard to distinguish the black from the green from the purple. The red was easy too pick out. I dried them out and they sat.
Then I did my residency in the very humid museum where I had my cocoons on display. Then I packed them up is a Ziploc bag and came home.
Bad idea as it turned out.
About a week later I was digging through my stuff and found my bag of cocoons. And they were MOLDY! ARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH! I brought them out side, washed them in the bag with the hose several times and decided that they must be dealt with right away. Grrrrrr.
Into the dye pot they went with some sythropol and baking soda. And they simmered for a while. And it smelled kind of gross.
Cocoons being rinse. they smell much better now.
But the good news was that all that boiling pulled a little of the dye out and I was able to distinguish the colours. Sort of.

They little pupa that did all the work. In the you tube videos I watched, the people giving the tours said that you could eat these guys. they were good and full of protein. I think I'll pass.
I guess that boiling them for a while wasn't quite long enough because I didn't managed to boil all of the sericin out of them. As a result, Mira, who helped with the stretching, and I managed to pull them into some pretty interesting shapes with interesting little lumps and bumps in them. I was amazed at how firm they still were and how had you had to pull them in order to stretch them out.
We pulled about 5 or 6 trays worth. She has already used some of hers in a small felt dress for a felted alien that she is making. Mine are still languishing waiting for me to put on my felting cap again. I am busy weaving and trying to breath in all this heat and humidity.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blanket weaving 2010

Last week I was fortunate to be able to conduct a workshop through EdVentures. EdVentures is a series of summer workshops that are run through tourism Fredericton. They are a half day to five days long and cover a huge variety of disciplines and interests.  Go check it out, I'll be here when you get back.

I taught a five day blanket weaving workshop geared towards beginner weavers. No previous knowledge necessary. I had only three students so it was easy to give them all individual attention.

We went over the basic parts of a loom and a quick word on the difference between plain weave and twill, point twill and straight draw. We did up warp calculation sheets and then ran down to the store to buy yarn. We started making warps that afternoon and finished Tuesday. I know how much time designing takes so I did up about a dozen designs on the computer and had the students chose which ones they liked the best.

Joanne like the plaid. She chose colours that were her daughters favorite with the intention of giving her the blanket when she was finished. She was rethinking her generous offer by the time that she actually started weaving.

Lise came from Quebec. Her sister lives in town and had told her about the EdVentures program and weaving was something that she had always wanted to try. She chose what I called a progression design. It started with one colour and gradually blends into a second colour before shifting into a third. Lise chose a dark blue, light blue, and white as here three colours.

Angela chose a point twill with different colour stripes at each of the different points. It took her the longest to warp because she had so many colour changes.

I told my students on Monday that I was going to work them hard. It is possible to weave a blanket in a week and that I knew that they could do it but that it was going to be a lot of work. And they all managed to cut off by 3:00 on Friday. It was a little tighter than I would have liked but we still had an hour to go over sewing in ends, fringing and washing.

And here we all are with our blankets! Because there were only three students, I though that I would have enough time to weave on too. I chose a point twill pattern and used some brown yarns from my stash. I have enough two ply worsted wool to weave another 20 blankets so didn't want to  buy any more. I also knew that if I didn't finish it would be easy for me to go back the next week and finish weaving it.
On Thursday afternoon, all of the people from the different workshops went around the school and talked about what they had done. Most of the other classes talked about the great music and conversations that they had been enjoying. I felt bad for my students because there was very little conversation and no music. We were all counting and didn't want to be distracted. First counting the warp colour changes, then counting the heddles while threading, and then counting treddles and/or colour changes while weaving. After everyone cut off, they all started laughing and talking and I felt much better.  And everyone was pleased. It was a successful week!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Remember ......


This past weekend we went to the lake. While picking up provisions at the grocery store, it was impossible to miss that watermelon were on sale.
And seeing as we had a watermelon.......
And seeing as it was a hot day.....
And seeing as the desired wardrobe was bathing suits.....
And seeing as there was a large body of water nearby.....
I was the first
Liam quickly followed and did his best to look goofy. 12 year old boys are a strange thing.
Simon loved the helmet and wore it often for the remainder of the weekend.
The true ham in the family.
Here she is singing in to the "microphone"
I'm cute and I'm not afraid to use it!

Mira wanted nothing to do with the melon helmet. Instead she covered herself in mud.

Poor Bill. His head was too big to get into the melon helmet so he had to content himself with stripping paint off the porch. We were having a wee contest to see who could peel the biggest swath of paint off and I think  that this monster will be a hard one to beat!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I feel like I should be posting

And really I probably should. I have been doing things. All sorts of things. I just haven't felt much like writing about them. A lot of them should have been photographed, but that really didn't happen either.
In sort of the right order.......
I have been to Liam's year end review. He was in Cadets this year and he really enjoyed it.

We planted the garden. Mostly the same stuff as always with the addition of brussel sprouts. Or brussel stench as Mira calls them. There is a lot of weeding to be done, but that is also nothing new.

I attended the Craft College graduation cerimonies. Where Rachel, Celine, Katie, and Jessica all marched up in their caps and gowns and were presented with  their Diplomas. Congradulations all! I am so proud of you!

I did a stint as an artist in residence. It was in a different location than last year and I didn't like it nearly as much. Thankfully the renovations that caused the move are going to be complete and we will be back in the regular spot next year.

I heard Nicole's choir sing at the retirement party for her school principal. They all performed really well and we were able to duck out before the speeches began. Sorry for the blurry photo but with other peoples kids I think blurry is better.
I taught a silk scarf dyeing workshop for my weaving group. We all had a great time but I didn't take any pictures. (slaps own hand)

UPDATE: I had forgotten that I had dyed a scarf myself at the workshop! I found it in it's hiding place and rinsed it out and here it is! Still wet. It was a quick pattern (simple knots) with different greens on each segment. I am rather pleased at how it turned out.

Before I finished work for the summer, I took advantage of the nice warping mill at the school and made up about 6 warps. With some of the dye left over from the workshop, I dyed some of them and some will wait until later. The dyes that we used are fibre reactive dyes that only last a very short time once they are mixed up.
And I also dyed some some soya silk sliver. It looks and feels like silk so we will see how it spins up.
 One of the reasons that I have been neglegent about posting is that I have been suffering from sinus problems for more than a year. I have some good days and some bad days. On the bad days, I feel like my brain is full of fluff and I have sinus pressure. On the good days, I feel almost normal. I have tried two different courses of antibiotics, and various types of nose sprays as well as allergy medications and x-rays to see if there were any strange growths in there. Nope. I am now waiting to see an EMT.  Here's hoping that I get the call soon.

I am weaving a series of 4 silk noil scarves right now. I am finding it hard to find the time to do much weaving because there is always so many other things that are clammoring to be done first. I am not selling anything anywhere this summer so my first big show is Labour Day weekend, and then nothing until November and December, so I guess that the weaving isn't really yelling all that loudly at this point.