Handdyed Fibers, Handspun Yarn & Handwovens

During the pandemic, our local art center – the Eastport Arts Center – has had to close.  The staff, volunteers, and community has shifted their skills and energy to online offerings.  I am honored to be a Board Member for the Center and was equally honored to be asked to do their first studio visit.  Given the current pandemic situation, it was a bit tricky for audio inside my actual studio with masks.  They were able to shoot some good pictures of it and some samples on my work table.  Sadly, the vibration of me beating on my floor loom did enough shaking of the camera that that footage couldn’t be used.

However, my little Louet Jane loom is highlighted as I moved her out onto our deck. It was a glorious summer day in Eastport and being outside and at least 6 feet away, the crew was able to do some filming of me discussing my work sans mask.  The focus of the visit with me was weaving, so they preferred I stay on that topic and not demonstrate any spinning or fiber blending.  Maybe I’ll have to get some courage and create my own videos of that!

I’ve done a tremendous amount of dyeing while here in Austin. I have two crock pots of my own and a dear friend loaned me two of hers to use. I ordered a lot of roving when we arrived in Austin in February, 25 pounds to be exact. All the effort was to create enough inventory for fiber shows I had scheduled while here- the Yellow Rose Fiber Producers Fiesta and the West Austin Studio Tour (WEST).

With the former behind me, having been at the end of April, I decided it was time to clean up the dye pots. After all, I have PLENTY of inventory for WEST and we are leaving in a few weeks. So after all the pots were washed I discovered three glass jars with mixed up dye “hiding” on a shelf. Too much to throw out, I decided to shove some silk and vinegar in the jars to use it up.

Solar dyeing silk

I’ve done this before, even sat the jars out in the sun on a warm day, but found the only way to really get all the dye to strike was then to empty it all into a crock pot and bring the temp up quite high. What I opted to do to keep the pots clean, is simply use one as a solar oven. The loaner pots were black and dark green, with the latter having a glass lid. For some reason that seemed better, so I simply tightened the jar lids, placed them in the bowl and put on the lid. The pot sat outside on a brick patio during two 90 degree days.

Yesterday, I opened it midday and the jars were so hot I couldn’t lift them out comfortably. Today, I checked them and the liquid seemed clear. Into the white pan I put some hot water, and then poured all the silk out. To my relief, there is no color in the water and when the picture was taken hours later, still clear. So all the dye struck.

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