Saturday, May 19, 2007

Maryland Sheep and Wool, Mother's Day and Cochineal

May is just zooming by.

May 4-7: We went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival--it was wonderful, of course. Some day I'll go just as a normal fiber person and not have to work in the booth and then I'll get to see everything and even buy some stuff. Kelly and Hannah came along on this trip--it was great to have them there. Hannah does a great impression of a sheep. She really likes the sheepies, as she calls them.

So do I!

We visited my Aunt Debby and Uncle Jerzy who live in Delaware on Sunday night (and Monday morning before our flight). It was great to see them even briefly. My aunt is an amazing quilter and her house is so arty and serene. I love visiting. I visited them when I was 14--and Debby was pregnant with her daughter Gena who is now working on her graduate degree at Harvard. I guess that was a long time ago--it sure goes by quickly.

So when I got back from MDS&W we had a visiting artist from Cuzco, Peru in the office--Jenny

CallaƱaupa Huarhua. She did a cochineal workshop on a Thursday night after work.

May 9th: Wednesday night I stayed up until 11 pm spinning--this is really late for me. I'm often up at 4 or 5 and I really function better on a full night sleep--though I don't often get it.

May 11th: I didn't finish spinning my yarn that I wanted to dye at the Cochineal workshop. So I took my wheel to work and worked on it during meetings and then Andean plied it.

Well. Maybe that wasn't such a great decision. Let me tell you a bit about this yarn. It is the Shetland fleece that I received as a gift last spring from Carol Rhoades--I had washed locks in the sink and hand carded them and filled about half a bobbin before other things intervened and it sat on my bobbin for a year. Yikes. I had also taken a small portion of this fleece to try out the instructions in Spin to Knit for washing a fleece in the washing machine. I have to admit that I didn't think it would work. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be--though it isn't my prefered way to wash a fleece--it does have advantages for speed. I carded that fiber on the Patrick Green carder that I received for Christmas from Kelly. A wonderful gift. I had that batt just waiting to be spun up--so that's what I spun on Wednesday night. It was not as clean as the fiber I had scoured lock by lock in the sink. I spun the two batches of fiber on the same bobbin--that's why I chose to Andean ply them....can you see the slippery slope of bad decisions? So I wound off my Andean plied yarn onto my niddy noddy and was dismayed that it looked so bad. Well, Maggie Casey was in the basement at work shooting photos for her upcoming book (it's going to be great!). I went back and forth--do I take my terrible yarn downstairs? Will she laugh at me? Will she look at me in disbelief? There is an expectation that the editor of Spin-Off is an excellent spinner even though the reality is that the editor doesn't get as much time as she'd like to actually I shatter that image?

I read my horoscope. It was very helpful--the gist was to be brave, face fears. So I took my pathetic skein to the basement and confessed my sins to Maggie. Not only was she totally wonderful, gracious, and kind--all the things that Maggie alway is! But she was also delighted. I had arrived at just the right moment--she was about to spin a yarn just like mine to demonstrate how to repair a mistake and instead she was able to use my sad yarn to demonstrate that all is not lost.

So Ann Swanson photographed my yarn and Maggie diagnosed it as needing more twist in the ply. I found a swift and a ballwinder in the Knits office and wound my yarn into a ball, then fetched my wheel from the fourth floor (no elevator=good excercise) and added more twist to my yarn (a little too much, ah well). And then Ann shot the after shot and I was set. Profoundly thankful, I rushed off to the Cochineal workshop to dye my yarn.

Jenny speaks English really well--she's working on a project for the Centro de Textiles Traditionales del Cusco and is in the U.S. gathering information for a series of books the center wants to publish to preserve the traditional textiles of the Andes. She spent a week in Loveland learning about book publishing.

I brought fiber to dye as well. We stood around on Linda Ligon's amazing back porch watching pelicans (yep, pelicans) fly by against a backdrop of Colorado mountains and learned about Cochineal and how it is used in the Andes to dye yarns.
We also drank beers and ate peanuts.

I took my yarn and fiber home and rinsed it over the next couple of days (it needed a lot of rinsing). The fiber was a Merino top that I had purchased at the Recycled Lamb. It is pretty felted--not completely, but pretty darn close. The process used for dyeing with cochineal was better suited to yarn than fiber. I was able to card the fiber and spin it, but the fiber is getting torn up in the process--so it is a lot shorter fiber lengths. I may do something else with it.

The yarn turned out beautifully for all the trauma it went through.

And in the morning, I'm making waffles!

We had a mother's day celebration on May 13th. We made waffles, eggs, and bacon in the morning for my family who came over for brunch and then in the evening, Kelly's family came over for dinner and we had kabobs. The celebration included a trip to a local nursery for flowers--Hannah found some that had fallen from plants to play with.