Funny Farm

A fearsome foray into my fiber follies. I talk about weaving, knitting, spinning and dyeing. Some chatter about the sheep, goats, pigs and chickens.

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Location: North-east PA, United States

Thursday, April 26, 2007

For Sharon

Sharon wrote and asked what it is I'm weaving and the particulars. Well, it's a shawl and perhaps the end of the warp will be a small table covering or a dish towel. Isn't cotton wonderful? You can dry your dishes while wearing a matching shawl. How cool is that?

I'm using 6/2 cotton set at 20epi. The weft is 8/2 cotton. One of these days I'm going to buy some shiny mercerized cotton. Then, when I'm really brave, buy some silk. I love the sheen of both. The unmercerized cotton is flat and probably is why I seem to go for contrast in color. I get the off white, unmercerized cotton from Webs for a song, which is probably why I've stuck with that. Perhaps I ought to mention that I had purchased about 25# of it, I think. I've used about half, not quite, but close to it.

I threaded the selveges differently this time. The last four threads at each end was threaded 1-1, 2-2, instead of doubling the threads in the heddles. I think I like this better.

I wove the shawl today and have 12" woven of the next piece. Next will be the blue/green warp that I recently dyed. I cannot wait to see what that will look like!

I hope I answered all your questions, Sharon.

Retraction with an edit in the final paragraph

The blue stripe IS purple. Of course it is. Blue + red = purple

While waiting for sleep, I was lamenting about getting true color with my camera. It really is a problem. It seems the only spot in the house where I can ~~usually~~get a good shot, is in the kitchen by the refrigerator. Such a lovely back drop! As I was drifting off, it occurred to me that the stripe would have to be purple (see above). I got out of bed and came downstairs and studied that stripe. Yes, it's purplish. It wasn't the camera, it was my denial. I could have used black for the weft, and did try it, but didn't like it.

Carol, it is a great color scheme. Thanks for agreeing! My kitchen, in fact, are these colors. I love it. All warm and comfy.

Sharon, I do design in the reed. I have threads going all over the place. I really like items that are asymmetrical, but when I try to find a pleasing composition my piece is always symmetrical. After the first half of the reed is filled, the rest of the sleying goes quickly.

Charleen, yes, I'll discuss "liquor ratio" one of these days. When I'm clear thinking. Stop laughing!

One more thing. I just edited the feta blog. For once I actually followed the recipe as "writ"....brine solution way, way too salty. Add one tablespoon at a time to the 20 oz of water, taste, add until the solution is just over your piss off line of too salty. I'd say 2T is sufficient. After brining for no more than 2 days, allow the feta to drain on a paper towel for the entire day. I then freeze the cheese unless I'm making spinach pie in the next day or two.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On The Loom

Look like a flag for a small, tropical island? NO? How about a village in South America? Ok, so villages don't have their own flag, but you never know, you know?

Stripes are really blue and not purple.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Feta Finality

....maybe. DSL has been out all day and into tonight, which is almost tomorrow! The phone was out until early afternoon.

I'm on (gasp) dial-up now, so Lordy! I have no idea how this will upload, or IF it will. I'm an old hand at dial-up and it's many idiosyncrasies. I believe I've been without DSL longer that the days I've been subscribed to this wondrous network, Verizon. I just love living in the country and being a part of the 5 subscribers that make up the Verizon DSL Family.
But let's talk cheese!

The recipe calls for 12.5% solution. Much too salty. Try adding a tablespoon at a time to the water, stirring to dissolve, until you reach a solutiona bit saltier than your taste buds can take.

...maybe. DSL has been out all day, continuing into the night.
** the brine solution (12.5%) is very salty. I use half the amount usually, however I used the entire amount of salt this time to see how the cheese tastes.
I've tried many feta recipes and I like this one the most. Very similar to the taste and texture of feta found in Greek markets. The other recipes are closer to what is found in American grocery stores. Very crumbly cheese, and I like that. However to achieve that texture, a mine full of salt is called for and renders the cheese almost inedible. And I like salt!
The pictures all uploaded but they look blurry, and no Bev, it's not from the bourbon! Damn DSL making me use dial-up! I'm not even going to try to put the text where it belongs. Be gentle on me.............I hurt very easily.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Making Feta Part II

Part III tomorrow

Making Feta Part I

What you will need:
1 gal. milk I use goat's milk because I have goats! You can use cows milk, so get thee to the store or go milk your cow.
1 stainless steel or enamel stock pot that will hold 1+gallons
rennet tablets or liquid The tablets (Junket) you can get in the pudding isle, the liquid in a health food store
yogurt, plain Dannon or homemade
cheese cloth or muslin or clean handkerchiefs
colander or strainer
plastic container or can that you can make into a cheese press

Inoculating the milk:
Pour the milk into the stainless steel/enamel pot and heat to 86 degrees. Remove from heat. Mix 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt with 1 tablespoon warmed milk. Pour into the gallon of milk. Cover the pot and let it rest for 1 hour.

At the end of the hour dissolve 1/2 rennet table (or 1tsp liquid rennet) in 1/4 C water. Add this to the milk and mix thoroughly. Place lid on the pot and cover with a towel. Let this sit overnight at room temperature.

This is what it will look like the next morning.

Take a knife and cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes. Cut straight down to the bottom of the pot and all the way across. Now turn the pan and cut again.

Let the curds rest for 15 minutes

Line the colander with cheese cloth, or cloth of choice, and pour the curds into the colander

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Why? I not knitting or spinning? I'm not bored with either one, but in the evening, when I once did one or the other, or sometimes both (not at the same time), I just sit in my chair now and watch TV. While I'm watching whatever, I feel like I am wasting time, and I am. I continue to half listen to TV and half listen to my nagging inner voice.

I can't find a chair I'm really comfortable in for spinning. I have a spinners chair which I was so excited to get, but I'm not comfortable in it. The closest I've come to finding the "perfect" chair is one of those canvas fold-up camping chairs. It's perfect for this height-challenged body but a bit too low for my wheel. There is no place in the small living room for the chair except in front of the fire place. Then I have to set up a table for "my stuff". Once all that is done no one can walk because the dogs have the rest of the floor space.

Then there is the knitting. I have a sweater that has been going on for a year. I have a sock aging only for a month, but still....


Thursday, April 19, 2007

I cry, "FOWL"

but saved by the pig
Feel free to send me chickens and roosters and turkey stuff. Quality only, please!

Painted Warp

Light bulb moment yesterday, but more on that later. Originally this was to be a red project but I found the red was leaning too far to the orange side. The painted warp, as usual not really looking quite like the photo, was fine to my eye but the solid warp (to the right) and the ikat were pinky/orangey red. I threw it into a pot of gold and voila! The blue, ahh, the lovely blue. I have finally arrived. In it's first life it was a very pretty medium blue, but I wanted a knock your socks off violet blue. (It really is, but again, not with this camera.) I sat myself down with a cuppa, pulled out the Knutson book and reread....................oh. my. gawd! I've been screwing up with the liquor ratio! Now I can't wait to wind another warp and try the reds again. By George, she's got it!


The lowly half apron, gathered on the sewing machine. This apron must have a higher polyester content than the other aprons as the dye wash out is quite evident.
It was repainted, but I used too much dye so it became muddy. So I poured bleach here and there. I should have plunged it into the neutralizing solution more quickly. Another blah piece.

Freshly redyed. This photo shows the dye freshly applied and prior to batching. Oh, if only it would have kept the intense colors, but alas.
The final piece washed and dryed but not ironed. I had hoped the stitching would have been more pronounced. Because the fabric is so thick, I should have only folded it once and stitched. When I look at "real" shibori, the fabric is finer with wonderful drape. This is almost as heavy and stiff as a light weight canvas. I have no idea how these colors came from what was poured on, but at least it's no longer "mud".
Since I was in the dye kitchen, with a mess already made, it was time I redyed my Island Girls mobile. A friend had brought this back for me from ???some remote island. They were dyed in vibrant colors which, with the passage of time, have been bleached from the sun. I find that interesting since my loom room is at the north east end of the house and I don't get any sun in here.
Ahh, a total make-over. They are quite happy now and are dancing/swinging in the breeze. They hang right over the loom
I have dyed, batched, washed and rinsed another group of bouts for another project. Those photos and comments will come next. Then I have other fun pictures I want to post, just because I can!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

free association or thoughts on dyes*

4 layers of heavy fabric, stitched and gathered....must use too much dye to go through all layers, even when flipped. Over compensation? Next time, yeah right, fold over only once if using heavy (impenetrable) fabric.

Good colors turn to mud if blotting (heavily) a saturated piece of fabric.

Will let piece batch a few hours, rinse out and then discharge. It's only a lowly HALF apron, no matter what Sylvia says. I wear aprons, but WHOLE aprons, not the "lowly" HALF apron.

Back to discharging (ahem): I have the paste but won't use it for 37.2 reasons. I will use (gasp) bleach because this is a lowly HALF apron. Must find out how much vinegar to use to neutralize. It's in one of my notes somewhere organized (not) in my dye information box.

I'm searching for the perfect copper color. I've been playing with dye combinations and I'm afraid I'm going to have to use the (final "ahem") Trichromatic color mixing system based on ten parts.**

I'm working on a dye recipe book and have just completed the two color combinations. Well, perhaps not all possible combinations, but I have hundreds and that is enough for today.

I've used up my allotment of parenthesis. I will not use any for the next week.

*Mr Moore, aka Mother Moore, my English teacher during my sophomore year is rolling over in his grave. I should say, thoughts "about" dyes. You cannot put a thought "on" something.

**from Synthetic Dyes/Natural Fibers by Linda Knutson, page 132 Now go and put a cool cloth on your head while you have a lie down.

Friday, April 13, 2007

What if I.....

Here is one of the aprons I talked about in a previous entry. I had stamped chefs and chef hats all over a very boring white apron. It remained boring. I decided to paint dye over the dried apron which still had soda ash in the fiber. The apron was wrapped in plastic and tossed willy nilly into the roaster oven and batched for three days. The stamping all but disappeared.

In this picture I'm beginning to pleat the fabric. After the pleating I tied kitchen string up the pleated sausage. I injected dye into each segment, again wrapped in plastic and "carefully" placed into the roaster. I didn't want to *iss off the dye faeries.

The individual segments aren't showing up all that well in this picture, but you get the idea. It looks much better. The pleating is very vague, but I like the overall look. The camp counsellors will love the colors. We all know that happy camp counselors make for happy campers. I feel a song coming on.............

Wow! I wish these were the real colors on apron number two, but alas it is not. This was another failed attempt to paint on dry fabric "What If" test. I folded the apron in quarters and stitched the fabric in a star burst.

Then I pulled up the stitching, breaking a few of the threads, and restitched in four areas.

Tomorrow I'll decide what colors to use. I may just throw it in black....or perhaps simply squirt dye along the stitching lines. I'm not sure. But I am sure that this will be the last time anything gets done to this piece. That is a lot of work for a lowly apron. Oh, and this is only a half apron that I'll probably make into a "real" apron. It is a rectangle with ties attached to the center of two sides so that it makes a double half apron. How boring is THAT? I cut the ties off and saved until the apron is remade. Once dyed/washed and dried, I'll draw out the apron shape, then cut and sew. Such genius!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A room with a view: The Still

or "Still" life in the greenhouse

by Robin Stansbury

Mama said the government was bad.
The damned revenuers done took all that Papa had,
And the cotton wouldn't grow,
But the corn did, dontcha know.
The cotton gins once made this place boom,
But the government paid the farmers for their doom,
And now the cotton doesn't grow,
And neither does the corn, dontcha know.
Then, came the gas wells, again the boom was on,
But the gas well exploded tonight, and now the gas is gone,
And the farmer is paid not to plant crops,
While people starve until the last man drops.
Mama said the government was bad.
The damned revenuers done took all that Papa had.

The Moonshiners

What not to do when dyeing

When dyeing the aprons I played "what if" with two of them. Picasso had his "blue period" and I am going through my "what if" period. Charleen had asked what the fabric looked like. The first photo shows the piece a bit brighter than it really is. It is very flat and boring. It is dull and uninspiring.

The second and third photos are of the same apron. I had stamped the apron using black Jacquard Textile Color prior to dyeing. I had not planned on dyeing or painting this apron, however it was very boring. The stamps are little chefs and chef hats. Very cute, but without color, an otherwise boring composition. I followed the directions on the bottle and allowed the paint to dry for 24 hours followed by ironing the apron on both sides. I called Dharma and said "what if" I paint the apron over the stamping. Answer: dunno! After all, the paint had been allowed to cure and was set using heat. The stuff is suppose to be washable and dryable. What happens is the print blurs and in some cases almost vanishes. I imagine it's the soda ash interacting with the textile paint. You can see in the third photo that there is enough left to see, kind of, but didn't disappear enough to simply restamp.

Look to the left, near the curved area and you'll see a partial chef hat. Click to enlarge.

I think I'll retie, resoak and dye a dark color. The other apron, which is one of those small fold over half apron I may stamp. It's not an apron that will get much use because it doesn't have an upper part. And if you're going to wear an apron, damnit! wear a "whole" apron!

These have been fun. I am fascinated with what many of the quilters are doing with surface design, layering colors and designs, and I can't really figure out their process. They seem to do a lot of painting, steaming, stamping, overdyeing and they don't lose their color or stamping. I'd buy "a" book to get started, but I am particular about what books I buy. I've already been through the "must have every book on the subject" phase and now only want books that just give me the facts, mam, only the facts. Cutesy I don't need. I've googled and asked Jeeves, Licos, and all the search engines, but I'm unable to find the information I'm really looking for. But then it's hard to ask a question when you don't really know the subject! I bought some sodium alginate, asked for directions to be sent with says to add water until the thickness desired is reached. Okay, makes sense if you know what thickness you want. I'll have to just play. My friend Trisha bought some water soluble gutta and was able to "play" with it yesterday. She called me and said, "it's blobbing"! She had watered it down, but like me, doesn't have a clue at what point you stop adding water (ok, we all know when we've gone TOO flippin' far). Now this is a person with her BFA, a "real" artist, and has done some of this back in her college days, but like me, has a problem with remembering yesterday. There are no books in our library to borrow on the subject, can't even find any books through inter-library loan. It would help to have someone guide us in the right direction. Nothing like living in the arm pit of Fiber Void. Anyone know of a Surface Design 101 book? Basics, just the basics.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Newest Project

This is the best I could capture the colors. The painted warp bouts show true color. The ikat is much too pale in the photo and the solid looks a bit more sedate than it really is. The ikat should have been a deep evergreen. Where did I go wrong? I could have over dyed but decided my muse tricked me for a reason. Who am I to argue?
I'm still not sure what this will be when it grows up, but my default plan is shawl or dish towels. Or a TV cozy.
Next warp will be in reds (I hope) and oranges and golds. That's my plan. My plan sometimes works and sometimes goes kerplunk. Kerplunk can be good. I do weigh and measure and keep copious notes. The rest is left to the Universe. Somewhere between my scale and end product there is interference by some entity.
That's my story.

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