Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Another Jar Full of Happiness

Today, a woodturning buddy of DH's came over to borrow a chainsaw so he could cut a huge manzanita root ball into turnable chunks. As fate would have it, there was a copious supply of sawdust on the pavement where the men were working. As a dyed-in-the-wool (pun intended) lover of color and also of free stuff) I did not hesitate to gather up the sawdust and put it into a jar with alcohol. This my first time working with manzanita, which is a very hard, very beautiful red-brown wood. It's going to make seriously gorgeous color:

The photo above was taken just a short time after I poured in the alcohol; the clear liquid became colorful immediately. Just to see how it compares with the redheart chips that have been soaking for about a week (posted here), I dipped paintbrushes into the liquid in both jars, and this is the result on watercolor paper:

Color, glorious color! I'm thinking a run of scarves with an interleaved threading... I have plenty of wood-dyed yarns for weft, in lots of different hues...

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Palette is Looking Good

After steaming the shawl for several hours, and letting it sit overnight, I began unwrapping the bundle and dipping it into rinse water. Holding my breath the whole while. No fear, as you can see, the rinse water is clear! That means that I judged the acid percentage correctly, and the dye molecules all found their way to binding points on the fiber.

It's always tricky calculating the ratio of acid with shibori, because not all the fiber is going to be in close contact with the acid or the dye. So the sight of clear rinse water brought a huge sigh of relief.

The other concern with shibori is that there should be some places in the cloth that were tightly-enough bound that the dye can't penetrate. I winkled my way into the folds of the bronze section (where the rows of stitching are closest together), and again, sigh of relief, the shibori patterning is there.
Meg, I'm sorry, but this really IS a teaser, because I'm not going to pull out the shibori stitching to show the results. Connie wants to do some embellishment with the stitching in place, so there it stays. The shawl is now hanging over a drying rack on my balcony, where it will be for a few days until I think it is dry enough to ship back to Connie in Northern California.

You'll have to watch her blog for the rest of the story. I'll post a notice pointing you there when it's time.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fait Accompli

This was my day to make a colorful mess in the studio. Painting the shibori-stitched silk shawl was so much fun, however, that I didn't take time to photograph much of the actual painting process. Here's the shawl, laid out on the plastic sheeting, and mostly wrapped in cling-film. The colors are in the same order as in the palette from yesterday: from left to right, A, B, C, and D.

The blends at the intersections between colors look great. Here's A-to-B, then B-to-C, and finally C-to-D:

After another complete wrap of cling-film, the whole thing went into a steamer basket, and is steaming away happily as I write.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Clearing the Decks

I'm finally getting ready to dye-paint Connie Rose's shibori-tied silk shawl. We've been back and forth over the color palette, making sure I get (with my local water) the same hues Connie used to get with rainwater. Here's the palette, based on Connie's mix formulas:

In the first row (A through D) are the main colors. About 1/4 of the shawl will be painted in each of these colors, in order from A to D. Because Connie wants the colors to blend from one to the next, I was concerned about the transition between A and B. I mixed tiny quantities of equal parts of each of the possible blends so we could be sure the transitions would look good. So the second row are the blends, and I think A+B makes a nice (but different) brown from either D by itself or the C+D blend.

I put the shawl into a dishpan to soak in plain water, weighted with canning jars full of water. Once the shawl stayed under water without weights, I transferred it to a dyepot that contains a mixture of citric acid crystals and water (to avoid the vinegar smell...). It'll wait there until tomorrow, when the painting commences.

In the meantime, I've prepared the worktable with a sheet of heavy plastic, clothes-pinned into a series of troughs. The shawl will be laid down with about 1/4 of the length in each trough. The troughs are intended to prevent the slightly thickened dye from leaking from one part of the shawl into the others.

 More tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Jar Full of Happiness

Late last week, DH gave me a box of wood chips from a chunk of redheart he'd been working on. I put it in a 2-quart jar and covered the chips in alcohol. After just a few days, the liquid is a deep coppery orange. It will make a gorgeous peachy pink on silk (I've dyed with it before, and loved the results).


I'll leave it alone for a few weeks to extract as much color as possible from the chips, then get a hank or two of 60/2 silk into a mordant pot so they're ready to be introduced to their future color.

And it's that time of year again: the peanut cactus is blooming its little heart out in the courtyard, in a cheerful bright orange hue:

There are lots more flowers coming - the fuzzy brown balls are unopened buds.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What a Week!

Somehow, over Mother's Day weekend, I managed to scratch my right leg, just above the ankle. Instead of reacting properly to a dose of antibiotic ointment and a bandaid, it kept getting worse, more red, more swollen, and the surrounding flesh showed signs of inflammation. By Friday evening, it was quite painful and looked truly ugly. DH and I both thought "Staphylococcus" so I made the trek to the local hospital Emergency Room. They agreed it was a staph infection, gave me a strong antibiotic tablet and a prescription for more of same, and sent me home.

During the night, I developed a congested chest and terrible cough, and by 4:00am was having difficulty breathing. So back I went to the ER, where more tests were run, indicating fluid around the lungs and heart, and pointing to pneumonia. I spent last night in the hospital, and was given several doses of intravenous antibiotics to combat both infections, as well as IV diuretics to help remove the excess fluid. By late in the day, everything was back to normal, so the doctor decided to let me come home.

There was no clear diagnosis, but apparently the lungs were affected by an interaction between the antibiotic and one of the other medications I take.

In the end, all is well, but what I wonder is "why does the vampire phlebotomist always draw blood at 5:00am?"

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


On our way south to Los Angeles for Mother's Day, DH and I stopped in San Luis Obispo for his monthly woodturning club meeting. I was curious to see if their meetings had anything in common with the weaving meetings I attend. In fact, a meeting is a meeting is a meeting. The agenda would be almost word-for-word identical to a weaver's guild meeting.

They started with a short business discussion (which I knitted my way through, as their club's business is none of my business), then held a raffle. Naturally, instead of yarn, they raffled off chunks of wood - in this case, some lovely avocado, common in this area because there are many avocado orchards:

Next came Show-and-Tell. The club decides on a challenge each month for the following  month; the May challenge was spinning tops, in this case the challenge was both for skill and workmanship, and for the length of time that each top could continue to spin once started. DH's top won for duration, at 5 minutes and 20 seconds.

Of course, he had a few advantages. The 3.25-inch-diameter top uses a stick and string arrangement to start it spinning. In addition, it has a tiny point of hard acrylic on the bottom; DH used a glass platter as a spinning surface, because it's smoother (less friction) than a wood tabletop; and the top is made of laminated maple, which is very dense and heavy (more centrifugal force). (Did I say he's an engineer..?..)

 Here are a few of the other tops:

 And finally, these small ones, about 1.5 inches in diameter, were the most heavily decorated, as well as being displayed in a lovely fluted bowl made using a special kind of lathe called a rose engine: