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Homespun Living in a New England

I got some (drum) carding done!

Monday, July 30, 2012

On the bobbins...

Saturday, July 21, 2012
Merino single...
plied with gray lambswool. 

Some more thread resurrection

Friday, July 20, 2012
I started with this thrifted sweater,
unraveled it...
and over-dyed it in greens, black, purple and red.

 Unfortunately, this particular sweater was kind of a bastard--everything stuck together tighter than I would have liked--so I probably ended up with a lot less yarn than I might have, and these skeins have more knots than usual. So! This batch of hand-dyed will be for personal use, not for sale.

But, on the plus side: the texture of this wool is really interesting, with lots of little nubbly bits that will look great knit up, especially newly colorized. The sweater was 100% wool, Eddie Bauer, from the Goodwill by the pound. I'd estimate that I ended up with around 600 yards.

I'm gonna let this batch hibernate for a bit, since I'm pretty deep into other projects at this precise moment. But I'm thinking this would make a really nice edging for a solid colored sweater. Perhaps. Or, maybe, thick and squishy boot socks? Time will tell.

On the needles...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

is yet another hat! The top will be respun recycled and hand dyed cashmere/wool; the lower level is white merino plied with crazy carded purple, green and black, with sparkly angelina.

Handspun Yarn: A Sunny Day

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Two skeins of handspun blue and yellow yarn, with flecks of black and pink. It's quite bulky, and dramatically thick 'n thin.

Materials include mohair, wool, uncarded locks and merino.  Everything is hand dyed and hand carded, and soft and squishy. I'm very happy with how this batch came out--my goal was to create something bright, sunny and happy, and I feel like that came through well!

In total, there are 100 yards and 6.1 ounces. It's listed over in my Etsy Shop, too.

Places I Have Been: Iguazu Falls, Argentina

In February of 2010, as part of a larger trip of South America, my friends and I visited an awesome-in the literal sense-place. We went to Iguazu Falls, in northern Argentina. The falls are, by some measurements, the second largest in the world, after only Africa's Victoria Falls. They border Argentina and Brazil.

The visiting experience, while tourist-streamlined, was still absolutely transporting. The falls are massive and loud, and they kick up a tremendous amount of mist. The great advantage of the latter is that when sun hits, there is an absurd abundance of rainbows. Couple this with the fact that there are butterflies everywhere, and all the place needs is some My Little Ponies to be just like that one dream I had when I was five. 

By the time we reached Puerto Iguazu, our gateway town to the national park where the falls are, my friends and I had reached a rough point in the trip. I had, idiotically, allowed myself to be sunburned so badly that walking hurt; Becky had tripped and twisted her ankle a few days before. We were tired, and pretty sad looking. But it all fell away when we finally got to the falls. 

Man: I would love to go back there. It's definitely one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. 

Electric Bread!

Lookit what I made. 

I have a longstanding fondness for bread machines--I feel like maybe I'm a holdout here, like they had their moment, and it is now past. At least, I base this assessment on how very readily one can find a new/near new machine at thrift stores across this great land of ours. 

A fine 5$ bread machine; An excellent set of recipes (both easily thriftable)
Foolishness. A bread machine is a great cheater's way to have fresh baked goods, which means: to save money, to have your house smell awesome, and to feel more proud of yourself than you have a right to. Also, homemade pizza. 

I think I've made my point.

Oh! But the main trick is, don't actually bake the bread in the machine, if you can help it. It comes out much better from the oven (nicer crust, no weird hole in the bottom of the loaf from where the mixing paddle sticks up). 

Oregon Country Fair

Monday, July 16, 2012
Well, we went went to the Fair! This was my first experience with the wacky, fun, arts and crafts and woods and expression that this event embodies, and brings out in its attendees. It's a three day festival, held outside of Eugene, OR--but we only went for the day on Sunday (there's been a decent amount of running around lately, and there will be more soon!). Still, I feel that we got a pretty good basic understanding of the festivities. I will definitely check it out again next year. 

Over and over again, people at the fair describe the experience of it with the same word: magical. 
I can see their point. Outlandishly attired people are everywhere, and the woods setting makes the whole place feel so much more organic than you'd think. It's much like stumbling on a different civilization--one that has decided to approach a lot of lifestyle choices (clothes, entertainment, shopping, architecture) in a way nothing like the mainstream. It's part circus, part encampment, and part summer camp.

It's a really fun place to get lost in for a while.


We actually went to the Fair, primarily, to see my amazing friend Samantha and her partner James perform--check out their circusy, clowning, puppetry awesomeness here. It was so wonderful to see their show! I've been away from Philly so long, this is the first chance I've gotten to see it in its entirety.

Resonate, Combobulate! James and Samantha

A little bit of freshly dyed merino roving

Sunday, July 15, 2012
Just as the title says, this is about four ounces of newly kettle-dyed merino wool. These are more muted shades than I typically tend to use, but I'm happy with how it came out. I will report back, perhaps, after I spin this sucker up. 


Saturday, July 14, 2012
I've been searching el Internet for some low-key, instant(er) gratification projects. I don't do that much with altered art and paper crafts, but I do collect a lot of random ephemera. It would be great to put some of these on display, and I see some fun potential in these projects. And, it's nice to see that there are options out there outside of full on scrapbooking.*

How to alter an Altoids Tin **

Use recycled paper to make envelopes **

Magazine pages make decorative bits for picture frames, bowls, magnets...**

Make your own iphone case **

*Not there is anything wrong with scrapbooking--I have seen some beautiful work done in that medium. But the term tends to make me think of overpriced stickers and doodads, and, of course, Arrested Development.

Classic scrapbooker.

Random collage, take three

Friday, July 13, 2012

I have, of course, been knitting hats

Woolen hat, knit with my handspun: coils, carded bits; thread plied. This one is slouchy and a just a little out there, but still pretty wearable. It's also very lightweight.

Ribbed hat, knit with my recycled hand dyed yarn. I love the way this color way turned out! Super girly.

Side note--I definitely need a new mannequin head. Her styrofoam got pretty banged up during the move to Portland. Poor, poor lady.

Recent metals experimentations...

Thursday, July 12, 2012
From top left: 1. Materials to play around with, 2. dinos ready to etch, 3. toolbox!, 4. Metalwork is hell on a manicure
My most exciting metals experimentation, recently, has been working with etching designs into copper. The method I used was similar to this one.  I've done this in the past, but never went too far with it. Back in school, I was learning so many techniques, in so short a time, that a lot of things didn't really have a chance to stick.

Now that I have the luxury to explore different skill sets independently, there's a lot more room to play around. I haven't gotten back to the studio to turn these copper pieces to finished jewelry yet, but I'm excited about the potential. I did some simple dinosaur silhouettes, plus a portrait of Gene Wilder, and some radial line designs. It's a whole different way of playing with texture.

I'm thinking that an etched dino cocktail ring would be pretty spectacular, no?

I also made this layered pendant, using a strawberry wooden bead (sawn in half). The metals are copper and sterling, patina-ed.

On missing Beijing food

Chao Bing--flatbread noodles, refried with egg, cabbage and delicious (Source)
Multicolored, multi-filling-ed dumplings, from Baoyuan Jiaozi Wu

What is there to say, except that: Man, I miss the Chinese food I ate on a regular basis while living in Beijing. Not so surprising.

Most especially, I miss Chinese food not so readily available in North America.  These dishes include: hand-drawn noodles, fried bread dishes of many different varieties, smoked bean curd, egg and tomato soups, stewed vegetables from street vendors, and preserved eggs (I assure you, that last is better than it sounds!).

But there is hope for me! For example, there is the Richmond Public Market, outside of Vancouver, BC. Oh, my. Yes.

Canada, not China. Could have fooled me. 

I just really love/fear this picture

Empire State building, NYC, this past winter--Killer pigeon may destroy us all. Stay tuned.

Some recycled, hand dyed yarn, of late

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I've been working on taking some photos of my hand-dyed, recycled yarns. These are incredibly fun to make, and I'm excited to offer them over at my shop. They are dyed with professional quality acid dyes, and I only use super high quality fibers. Hand dyed yarn is always a treat, no? 

Alpaca and cotton, dk weight
100% wool, worsted
Wool and nylon, bulky
Lambswool, heavy worsted
100% Cashmere, lace weight 
100% Cashmere, lace weight 
100% wool, heavy worsted weight