Friday, May 31, 2013

Spinning Silk Bibliography

April 2021 - I have to change many of these links (Interweave no longer exists as such but some of these might be found in Long Thread Media)

When I did the knitting with Mawata demo for my spinning group, I put together a bibliography that I thought I might as well share with all of you.  These are just the resources that I know about at this time - I'm sure there's more out there!

Spinning Silk Bibliography (with emphasis on Mawata, but a little of everything else, too)

1.  Spinning Silk: Sensous, Successful Yarns from Luxurious Silk (DVD) Sara Lamb
Great process video – she spins (and you get to watch closeups and spin along with her) the whole time she is talking about what she’s doing.  Excellent for learning/practicing.  Not a great source for mawata spinning (she even says that she doesn’t like to spin mawata) but fabulous for everything else about silk spinning.

2.  Spinning Luxury Fibers (DVD) Judith MacKenzie – 3 disc set - disc one is all about silk
Always relaxing and fun to learn from Judith (a wealth of lore and a lifetime of experience) – includes a great section on spinning mawata.

3.  Spin-Off Presents: All About Silk (eBook)
Silkworm lore (wild and cultivated), mawata spinning and dyeing, spinning fat silk singles, spinning for weaving, spinning embroidery thread

4.  A Guide to Spinning Silk Fibers + Free Knitting, Weaving, Crochet, and Embroidery Projects Using Silk Fiber (free eBook)
Spinning silk for knitting (hat project) and weaving (pillow project) in the same colorway, spinning and chain ply/Navajo ply for crochet and beaded rope (necklace/bracelet) project, spinning embroidery thread and small embroidered badge/medal project.

5.  Spinning Silk Hankies photo tutorial

7.  Spinning Silk caps (like mawata, only a different shape) tutorial

8.  Spin-Off magazine
Winter 1999 “Wild Silks Part One”
Spring 2000 “Wild Silks Part Two”
Summer 2001 “Learn to Spin Silk with Sara Lamb”

9. YouTube (only one of many available videos – this one is recommended by Blue Moon Fiber Arts and WormSpit)

10.  A great reference page on spinning all kinds of silk preparations, with info on spinning mawata (though I predraft more than they do) and links to more videos!

11.  Silkworm rancher and silk reeler/weaver – tons of info about the dear wee beasties that make silk (domestic and wild) as well as tons of info on how to process their product.

I have not used this book, nor do I have it yet, but include it because it is referenced by many who work with silk (especially dyers). 
Her current website (below) has mostly fabrics and yarns and natural dyes, including kits for dying silk, plus organically raised in the US “peace silk” cocoons (no silkworms were killed, but were instead allowed to hatch out).

Shopping: (these are just a few of my current favorites – mostly local Pacific Northwest-ish vendors, though the silk probably mostly comes from China or India)

above is the link for mawatas, but she also has lots of silk top and silk blends (below)
in lots of colorways 

Great source of silk and silk lore, plus beautiful hand-dyed colors in fibers, yarns, silk ribbon, and kits.
Also undyed silk of all kinds (Bombyx, Tussah, Eri, Muga) in different preparations (sliver, bricks, noil, laps, etc., including undyed Bombyx mawata) as well as yummy blends (with camel, cashmere, yak, etc.)

source for undyed silk hankies (mawata)
Seattle store with lots of spinning fibers including silks, blends, mawata, noil, etc. – natural and dyed

Monday, May 20, 2013

Of Swans and Springtime, of Love and Migration

Lara is gone again.
But wait, you need to hear the story from the very beginning! 
We have a swan.  

Or the swan has us, it's hard to say how these things go.  At any rate, his name is Boris, and he lives on the pond down on our wetland - he came with the property when we moved here 13 years ago (it was a condition of the sale that we take care of him - he's not a native, and so his wings are clipped and he is confined to our property - and we have to supplement his diet since he is unable to leave to look for food elsewhere).

And he is in love with a Canada Goose.
I figured this out some years ago when I saw them gently twining necks out on the pond!
Since he is Boris, we call her Lara.

He shares his food with her and he protects her while she eats (that puffed neck and head down posture is warning me to keep my distance or else!), 

he swims with her and takes romantic baths with her (splashing together in the pond),

and he walks in the orchard with her (he also has a pair of Mallard minions that follow him). 

There's only one problem - (cue up Lara's theme from Doctor Zhivago)
She migrates.
Every Spring and Fall, she stops by for a few weeks, but the urge to travel on must be strong and she always leaves.
Every Spring and Fall, when the skeins of geese fly by, he cocks his head and watches, looking for her, waiting for her.  

In the spring he builds huge nests to tempt her to stay.
He even sits on the nests to prove his willingness to co-parent with her!

but she always leaves, eventually.

People on the island have commented to me about seeing one large white goose in a flock of Canada Geese (swans and geese can produce offspring, but their offspring is infertile) and yes, we are just a little way south (80 miles or so) of a major snow goose and native swan winter habitat, so it could be a stray, but still, 
it makes us wonder.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Problem with UFO April ~or~ "What I did Instead"

Well, honestly, April was not as good for UFO's as I had hoped!  This is what happened:

1.  The sun came out.
OK folks, this is the Pacific Northwest and when the sun comes out, the siren call of the garden is irresistible.

(please ignore the hundreds of volunteer kale plants that are about to smother everyone else.  They are destined for the salad bowl.)

2.  Hung out with the barn beasts.  And everyone.
It got too warm for the alpaca boys, so spent some time cooling them off.  

And collected brambles for the goats.  And took walks with the kitty.  And looked for tadpoles in the pond (still too early).  And did some birdwatching.
( a flock of 15 crossbills stopped by for a snack on their way to wherever they were going)

3.  Hurt my back.
Well, I thought I was taking it easy on the gardening, but there was a lot of remedial weeding (garden never got tucked in last fall, so the weeds took over) and I guess I overdid a bit (resulting in not being able to do the slightest bending, reaching, or twisting for about a week).  All better now.  I hope.

4.  Played guitar and banjo.
My dear husband and I are planning to attend a music retreat and I have not been playing much, so really had to put more time in (and get my calluses back!).

5.  Practiced spindling.
Thinking about going to the retreat made me look for extremely portable fiber projects to take along, and though I'm pretty confident on my spinning wheel, it's too much to bring to camp, and since I'm not very proficient with spindles, I watched Abby Franqemont's "Respect the Spindle: The Video" (Interweave Press) and played a little.  (the spindles are all Ed Jenkins Turkish Spindles)

The small spindle is 28 grams, Burmese Rosewood, with some 70/30 finewool/tussah from the Spinning Ewe (got it at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival).  A challenge to spin with irregular silk noils and cut silk strands - some long and some short - but it makes a fun little yarn.

The larger spindle is 53 grams, Honduras Rosewood, with some of Fantasy Fibers Naturale "mystery" roving (OK, we all know that it is random leftovers from the carder, all smooshed together in one new blend, but it's fun and pretty) (also from OFFF).

6.  Wove some on my Rigid Heddle Loom.
Continued the unbalanced weaves study for my Rigid Heddle Study Group with a little weft faced "mug rug" (weft is wool, mostly Cascade 220, warp is 8/4 cotton carpet warp, reed is 8 dent):
This first one is just one of the patterns that's in that little project book that comes with a Cricket loom, but I've got lots of plans for this little warp - tapestry, knotted pile, soumak, twining, and more!
Definitions for the weavers here:

warp emphasis - warp sett slightly closer than usual and paired with a smaller/thinner weft, lightly placed - to emphasize the beauty of the warp yarn 

weft emphasis - warp sett slightly farther apart than usual and paired with a bigger/thicker weft - to emphasize the beauty of the weft 

warp faced - warp sett much closer than usual and paired with a smaller/thinner weft to hide the weft completely and only show the warp yarn or with a fat weft/alternating with a thin weft and the warp sett so close that it still completely covers the weft (like Rep weave)

weft faced - warp sett much farther apart than usual and paired with a bigger/thicker weft - to completely hide the warp and only show the weft (tapestry is an example)

7.  Gave a silk demo to my spinning group.
We cooked cocoons (used baking soda to soften the seracin - it worked great), opened and stretched cocoons over a frame to make mawata (silk hankies), stretched commercial mawata one by one and knitted them without spinning, and had some fun.  Here's our stack of handmade stretched cocoons (photo is before washing - they're whiter and softer now).
and here are my unspun mawata mittens  - the dye work is my own, from the Knot Hysteria silk retreat several years ago - the pattern is the generic mitten pattern from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd (Interweave Press).

They are soft and silky and warm and yummy!

8. Went to see Seattle Shakespeare Company production of "The Taming of the Shrew"
This is not really one of my favorite plays (in fact, some of the scenes make me grind my teeth) but the SSC is such an excellent group that I took a chance, and their trailer park interpretation was such a clever, wild, and fun way to tell the story, that all is forgiven.

9.  Found some beautiful yarn when I was in Seattle, and started knitting.
Wait a minute - getting this yarn was one of my April goals!  Yeah!  There's one finish!

yarn is Classic Elite wool/bamboo (a little splitty, but lovely soft and a rich color)
pattern is "Wyvern Wrap" by Angela Hahn

10.  Started another pair of socks for dear husband.
Look, he loves the first pair so much that he washes them by hand and lays them out flat to dry.  Such diligence must be rewarded.

Pattern is "Chevvy" by Jody Pirrello from Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn (Interweave Press).
Yarn is Malabrigo Sock in the Arbol colorway.

11.  Finished the fingerless mitts and delivered them to my friend.  She liked them. 
(sorry, forgot to take a "finished" photo before they left for their new home).
OK, that was one of my April goals, so I guess that makes 2 finishes!

12.  Did 8 of the quilt pieces for the challenge quilt (not quite my April goal).
Since I need at least 12 in order to have a finished piece, and the quilt is due at the guild meeting next week, there's no hope of finishing in time, so it looks like I will be bailing out of this challenge.  But I'm having fun with the color study I'm working on, so will keep puttering away at this in my own time.

And since absolutely nothing got done on the giant flower quilt this month, that will be my only UFO goal for May and June (months that are congested with other distractions, from weaving conferences to birthdays to more gardening)!