Madrone

(photo from archives Whisper In The Woods)

What I miss most right now,  are the madrones , Arbutus Menziesii, a unique kind of tree native to the California Coast and mountain ranges, with an interesting rusty orange bark that sheds in papery sheets…

Madrones have an indescribable color if ever you were to witness, it turning at first shed a bright green, which changes in a matter of days to a greyish orange, then to browner rust.

by the window

( photo from archives…  Gone Wild)

Among the madrones is a wonderful place to be;  hidden,  enchanting,  and ever-so-quiet, and kept company right outside of the window where I loved to write, knit, or spin.    I have tried to capture my madrones, blending color after color,  overdoing the layers, but eventually I think I found close to the indescribable.  A bit too much orange I think, but I have made notes of how to improve my next blending experiment.

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Meanwhile Emma seems to be perfectly happy in her new napping places…

Emma

I take her up nearly everyday to the woods, the place where the house was ~~ will be again~~ (which is as of last weekend a nice freshly excavated dirt area) , and she loves to sniff the air while riding in the back of the car with the windows down, and bark at the cows or horses she see’s along the way. I spoil her a lot these days, and we love our trip up the mountain to the ‘house’ …  we meander as before, and I am knit-walking again!

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Techy stuff  for Madrone …

  • Added 10g each of cinnamon, rose, and amber, layered again.
  • Lift batt, and layered again.  Too pink,  so decided to add 5g  of amber.
  • Not brown enough, so added 5g Hazelnut, and layered to have a bit of brown streaking in the spin.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Colorway of blend “Madrone”
  • Note of improvement:  Next time more red instead of the amber step, and more brown on last blend.
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chroniclesjenjoycedesign©woods

 

Spinning by a window …

jenjoycedesign© spinning by a window

Spinning by a window  …
jenjoycedesign© spinning Wild Flaxlight flooding in to  unwind my shadowy worries.

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I cast my mind to a warm landscape of wild flax …

 hoping to find the colors of the flowers in the wool blend …

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I have been doing a lot of fiber blending,  and a little spinning too, which is for now easing me slowly back into creative mood.

jenjoycedesign© spun

( and am so grateful to “L” for the gift of a beautiful Ashford Traditional spinning wheel!)

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In closing,  FEMA clean-up crews have been working rapidly in Napa & Sonoma counties since the wildfire of October, and by the end of December, maybe a clean slate for us? Impossible to forecast the rebuilding ahead,  for now I find the cozy window here my joy of the afternoon.

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Techy stuff  for my Wild Flax Blue …

  •  2 g each of primary colors (6g tot) , for a base of color-saturated neutral ,  see this post; blend thoroughly on blending board 3 times. Tot 6g.
  • 6g cornflower blue, layer very thinly one color at a time, with neutral base. Tot 12g.
  • Lift batt, layered again with 2g each of white, light green, teal. Tot 18g.

( I was trying to get more blended base, with a ‘dusting’ of brilliant blue on the last blend…)

  • Lift batt, and layered again with 2g  of cornflower blue. Tot 20g.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Colorway of blend “Wild Flax Blue”
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

Color Saturated Neutral

jenjoycedesign© spun
I have successfully made a color saturated neutral.

Nested in a mountain of other neutral tones, you don’t see it right away,

   but look at where I started …

jenjoycedesign© primary & secondary mix
Primary and secondary colors all in exact equal amounts …

carded three times on the blending board  …

then drawn out into tasty wool sausages !
jenjoycedesign© rolags

If you check out my Primary triad blend here ,  I’ll say that the secondary triad blend experiment was much the same, nearly indistinguishable from the primary , and theoretically should be the same for any color triad on the color wheel .  Tertiary triads too, and lighter values of the triads; as light blue for blue, pink for red, aqua for teal, peach for orange, etc.

In this experiment,  I used two triads together ;  primary + secondary ,  for my ultimate color-saturated neutral, and I must say this blend was really fun to spin … the colors are all there. 

jenjoycedesign© spun detail

I’ve got my color-saturated-neutral base recipe, a base for my own color palette of ‘slightly earthy heathers’ , as I’ve never been drawn to vivid hues when buying yarns.  From a color-saturated neutral I can base everything, light or dark, and with color intensity varying.  I’m looking forward to developing more recipes ~~ watch this space!

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Techy stuff …

  • Equal amounts of each of primary: red, yellow, and blue , and/or secondary: purple, orange and green.
  • Layered very thinly one color at a time, alternately.  I mean really a lot of thin layers … using  this technique,
  • Lifted batt, layered again, total of three times.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  “Color Saturated Neutral” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

The color of sea grass …

Pacific-coast-grass

I am deep into the study of color saturated neutrals.

jenjoycedesign© rolags 4

What is a color saturated neutral? Well, when I blend equal amounts of the primary colors together, the affect is at first glance, a seemingly dull clay color ,  as I posted previously about HERE.

In this experiment I added to the primary triad mix, one secondary color – green,    integrating all of the colors on the blending board with this technique ,  bringing the whole color balance leaning a little bit toward the green … a weathered sea grass green.

jenjoycedesign© primaries + green

primary colors + 1 secondary (green)

jenjoycedesign© first batt

first blended batt

jenjoycedesign© second batt

second blended batt

I then added some un-dyed natural white to give it some texture and depth.

jenjoycedesign© third batt + white

third blended batt, adding white

Colorway reminds me of the pampas grasses which grow along the Pacific coast.

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While enjoying some spinning on my Ashford Traditional wheel (( a resonating gratitude to  “L” who wishes not to be mentioned ))   I have decided that perhaps Tweed Chronicles is a new love which causes only happiness …

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And the studying of color is making me look deeper into the surface,  and imagine how the colors are found the same way in nature.

Next I am pairing primaries with secondaries, and finding super color saturation in what is an alarmingly gorgeous & complex neutral. Watch this space!

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Techy stuff …

  •  5g each of (near primary) red, yellow, and blue — plus green,  merino roving = 20g.
  • Layered very thinly one color at a time, alternately.  using this technique: Blending for tweed simplified
  • Lifted batt, layered again, total of three times. Lifted bat, and sectioned into strips of about 3.
  • With 15g white cormo roving, divided into 3 sections.
  • Layered very thinly white, then color blend, alternately.
  • Lifted batt, and layered again, loosely.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • I’m naming this colorway blend ” Pacific Coast Grass ” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

color

jenjoycedesign© tweed1

Back into Tweed Chronicles I have found once again rhythm in myself, perhaps a melody too. I have been thinking about the color wheel, and the basics I learned decades ago, and so I am applying it now to natural fiber ~~~ easy enough!

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In fact, my whole color blending Tweed Chronicles has little to do with wool breeds and fibers,  almost nothing to do with spinning technique ( I am only a fair spinner)  …  but nearly all pure color theory, and blending technique.   I am a colorist perhaps, above all.

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I am merely attempting to relive the high points of discovery that must have happened with folk centuries ago in the tweed mills, of a bygone era. I am all about the bygone era I think, feeling that deep tap root into human creativity that runs timeless and wild.

jenjoycedesign© tweed spun

Putting the primary colors together in a kind of color triad, is something that normally I would never do, for I am not in the least fond of primary colors, or even secondary.  But the complex blends of colors are made of of the basic colors, and so I am working with the  primaries & secondaries in a tweed experiment that I hope works just as I am conceiving it in my mind, as I lose myself to sleep at night, dreaming the magic of heathered tones.

jenjoycedesign© tweed spun 3 detail

The best time of day is when the sun shines through the window bright enough to bring to life the best work of my imagination. Couple that with a delicious cup of coffee, and who would want anything more of the morning?

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Well now, its off to the charity shops to see if I can find some good chairs!   Aside from this recent color blending euphoria, I am feeling a bit too tender and not wanting to cooperate with the holidays this year.   Scotty, beam me to January.

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Techy stuff of what I did …

  •  5g each of (near primary) red, yellow, and blue dyed merino roving = 15g.
  • Layered on blending board very thinly one color at a time, alternately.  I mean really a lot of thin layers … using technique Blending for tweed simplified.
  • Lifted batt, layered again a second time, then a third. Lifted bat, and sectioned into strips of about 5 or 6.
  • With 15g white cormo roving, divided in as many sections as the color blend.
  • Layered very thinly white, then color blend, alternately.
  • Lifted batt, and layered again twice.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • I’m naming this colorway blend ” Primary Triad + white”.
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

Lingering question of the day:  Which one of you generous people sent me all of the Cormo wool? Was it Laurie? Rose? Adele? Lynette? (I am so sorry I lost track, but I’ve been rather hollow in my head!) From the bottom of my heart~~ thank you~~ it is absolutely dreamy!!!!

Tweed Chronicles

jenjoycedesign© spinning tweed

I can’t stay away from the blending board…

jenjoycedesign© colors to blend

 nor can I stop testing my instincts about color,

and layering them ever so finer … and finer …. and even finer…

jenjoycedesign© 1st batt

1st batt, 1st carding

 just to see how the colors will work together.

jenjoycedesign© tweedy 3

Because perhaps I am just ridiculous!

jenjoycedesign© detail

rolags from 2nd batt, second carding, and wonderfully oceanic!

So I have decided to make a new category  ~~  Tweed Chronicles ~~ wherein I can post my tweed yarn making refinements, as I explore both predictable as well as the unpredictable color combinations (maybe especially the unpredictable),  my learned improvements of technique, and so on.

jenjoycedesign© tweed 9

Techy stuff 

  •  20g of white undyed roving I acquired decades ago, the tweedy “nepps” from the slubby roving are excellent for tweed, 20g of mixed Shetland I over-dyed with color peacock, 10g of Corriedale  aqua, and 10g of Corriedale dark denim.
  • Layered very thinly … I mean really a lot of thin layers… using technique: Blending for tweed simplified. 
  • Lifted batt, layered again a second time.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Total of only two “cardings”.

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I have found another gem in the “Hands” series I’ve been watching countless times over the last month, while I learn the technique of long-draw tweed spinning on my little wheel, and learn the art of color in fiber.  And because I have always been so deeply inspired from nostalgia, this one is my new favorite.  Enjoy!

Blending for tweed simplified.

jenjoycedesign© rolags!

I have been refining my technique of tweed color blending on my blending board.

jenjoycedesign© rolags 2

I think of this fiber blending process as a micro wool mill, it is basically achieving the same thing in my mind, that the big wool mills do, the ones which card together whole dyed fleeces of wool and put through massive carding machines to make incredibly rich heathered blends for “tweed” yarn.  Furthermore, I’ve been inspired to simplify the process as much as possible, and with as few tools as possible, in what I call ‘micro batches’ of around 30 – 50g.

jenjoycedesign© 1st batt

First batt

In this post I show the different stages of each carding, and with only three times loading the blending board, I almost completely homogenized four separate colors!

An improvement on the last post  in which I talk about my fiber blending recipe #3, this demonstration is ever so much easier, showing finer, wispier layers. Fine layering is key I think, to fewer cardings, meaning faster results.

jenjoycedesign© 2nd batt

Second batt

I’d like to add that the only equipment other than the blending board needed is some sort of apparatus to spin the fiber  with; this can be a spinning wheel, or a rudimentary drop spindle, nothing fancy is needed, in fact, my wheel is very tiny and almost insignificant — I bought it for $250 brand new in 1987, and although there have been times I’ve wanted to upgrade to a big wheel, I resisted the expense, and was determined to do more with less. Thus, making my blending board was a very resonating positive instead of buying a very  expensive drum carder, and I’ve learned that one can really have their own micro wool mill, with very little ~~ so empower yourself, and make some tweed yarn!

A retrospective thought: In carding the colors together three times, each time hemongenizing the colors into each other significantly more,  I must say, I almost wished I’d spun it from just the first batt, as those colors looked so delicious so fresh and softly vibrant!

jenjoycedesign© tweed 8

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And now the technical stuff…

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Corriedale roving: salmon, fuscia, amber, and ruby.

In this blend, I’ve used only colored Corriedale solid roving, no undyed or other fiber. The steps are illustrated with a slideshow at bottom of post, and they are:

  1. Lay the colors in extremely thin wispy layers (as shown in slideshow) It will take a lot of layers to get through all of your fiber, but this is part of the carding process. I’ve used Corriedale roving in; 20g salmon, 10g fuscia, 10g amber, 10g ruby.
  2. Comb down as needed until teeth are full and all your fiber layered. You can see this above, photo captioned “first batt” , and you can draw off into rolags straight from this step if you want a lesser homogenized look, or even just spin from the batt itself , sectioned into strips and coiled up.
  3. With strips of first batt, layer into teeth again, just as thinly as you have been, because again, this a part of the homogenization process.
  4. Lift batt and either spin  from this, or layer once more into a third batt.
  5. Lastly draw off into rolags.

Now, after all this playing with fiber blending on the thing which is called a “blending board” I would like to link to a few of my favorite sources online, all where a spinner/felter can purchase blending boards & fiber additionally, if a nifty fiber & spinning shop is nowhere near you to be found.  (These are of course, USA sourced, but I am confident these can be found probably most anywhere, or available at shops which sell spinning equipment & tools.)

Paradise Fibers Blending Board for $175, comes with board, blending brushes, dowels

Laughing Lamb Blending Board for $185, comes with board, blending brush, dowels

The Woolery a whole selection of blending boards, starting at $149

Oh, and in case you’re still unsure of what a blending board actually does, I’ve searched YouTube for you , all ready to surf through the fun blending videos… HERE 

What I use: I’d like to say that even though I made my own from a 24″x12″ piece of carding cloth (read in this post)  that it would be a lot easier to purchase a regular 12″x12″ blending board already made up, in a kit with brushes & dowels.  However, carding cloth is available by the foot if making one’s own is preferred.  Additionally, although many people use blending boards on their lap, I find it much better to use on a table top, secure & flat, with the foot of the board hooked on the edge of surface so I can pull the fiber into the teeth and pull the needles toward me when drawing off rolags — not away from me, or sideways.   I have found that large slippery metal knitting needles work better than dowels, and use a pair of my mother’s old aluminum ones, size US 13- 9mm.  Lastly, the only other tool I use, other than the needles and blending board itself, is a paintbrush comb, which can be found at a hardware store, something like this  with rigid teeth and very sharp points, to lift the fiber off of the carding board.   I use the palm of my left hand to gently and carefully hold the fiber against the teeth as my right hand pulls the fiber along the carding surface. That is all I use; carding board, needles, and comb.

All my posts related to blending boards in this category.

And now …. here’s the show!

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Fiber Blending Recipe 3 – Carded

jenjoycedesign© carded mix rolags

Tweedy mossy wool sausages are the most recent in my string of obsessive experiments in color blending, and this time in which I am basically carding by using the blending board alone! I lay down the layers, and lifting the batt after teeth are full, section out the batt and with little pieces I pull down into the teeth again and again and again. This process doesn’t need hand carders, I am able to homogenize colors & fibers with the blending board as the only carding tool!

jenjoycedesign© carded rolags detal

The depth of color created from blending many colors together create a stunning result! Compare to the original solid dyed olive roving, to the tweedy rolags with a prism of colors hazing into each other, all together making a very similar green. (I will show spun yarn photos later, for I have notes on actual spinning that I want to go into a little depth about)

jenjoycedesign© carded mix with original olive roving

I am documenting my tweed yarn making process, hoping that I will arrive with a few tested methods which I can use as recipes in future to refine my own tweed color palette. I am inspired now, to do it all with only my blending board , because there is such freedom unfolding ahead of me, in discovering I can perfectly well make my own personal tweed colorway from an array of solids in the fiber of my choice  ~~ making the vertical hand-made experience all that much more in depth & customized.  I feel like I am my own micro wool mill, and I am unstoppable.  

Meanwhile, I hope all of this fiber tech stuff does not bore the socks off of you ~~ if so, I promise, this will be a string of a few more posts, then I will move on to my usual philosophical banter about life on the mountain.

jenjoycedesign© tweed 7

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Now back to the techy stuff…

Edit In: I have posted HERE a final best method of my Fiber Blending Recipe #3.

Notes on Blending Recipe 3: For the best homogenization of color I have used only wool fibers, they are: undyed fawn Shetland, olive Corriedale, mallard (dark teal) Corriedale, and amber corriedale.  Here is what I am doing , as illustrated by a photo slideshow at the bottom of the post.  In case you want to make more than one micro batch, a good idea to write down weights of each color, so you can repeat process.

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  1. Portion out the fiber I want to mix, weighing if possible.
  2. One at a time, ​thinly layer each color into the teeth of the blending board, combing down the fiber between each layer, until all the fiber is loaded onto the board and the teeth are full.
  3. ​With comb lift whole batt off of teeth.
  4. ​Divide batt now into small sections, and again thinly layer into teeth, pulling and drafting & “carding” as you thinly layer again. You are essentially carding using your hands to pull fiber along one carding surface.
  5.  Repeat this process until the fibers and colors are fully homogenized, or as desired.
  6. Draw fiber out into rolags!

You can find all of my experiments in blending & Fiber Blending Recipes HERE

Okay then, here’s the show!

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The color of sea shells…

 

jenjoycedesign© sea shell rolags

I am back at my fiber blending board, trying out more fiber mixing!

I am striving to achieve the colors in shells, particular the conch shells like these…
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I believe it to be a color match success!

jenjoycedesign© conch shell rolags

All the colors in the shell, these rolags are wonderful colorways for a future spin.

jenjoycedesign© seashell rolags 3

The end whorls of soft downy ultrafine merino are a lovely woolly confection!

jenjoycedesign© seashell rolags 2

The white base fiber is Ultrafine Merino top, and I swear, it is almost exactly like the suri alpaca that I have, extremely soft & silky!

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I like to change fiber texture in the layers, between base fiber and secondary colors, so the salmon & fushcia pinks are a different grade of Merino top, and the shimmering gold is bamboo. Okay, here’s the show!

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Main Fiber = Paradise Fibers Ultrafine Merino Top (white); layered between everything.

Secondary Fibers = Paradise Fibers Solid Merino Top; layered thinly, salmon first, then fuscia.

Accent Fiber= Paradise Fibers Bamboo Top (topaz); layered last, in scant stripes.

Two repeats of sequence.

A fiber blending color trick….

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Gorgeous pearlescence like beach shells…

jenjoycedesign© pearlescence.JPG

Made from nice combed top roving,  so there’ll be no bumps and slubby bits in this batch, and the amazing thing is that all the color in these rolags are from combing tips of stash yarn!

During my last blending post, I discovered a “yarn brush” technique, and having invented this for myself, I feel like I should explain how I do it.  From doing a few times I think it is easiest to to cut a handful of the yarn, in lengths about 4 to 6 inches, loop around and hold the ‘brush’ firmly in the middle. I am using my paintbrush comb, but you can use hand carders or a fine tooth comb, and comb the ends of the yarn to loosen up and fray the plies, which then you can then push into the carding teeth…

jenjoycedesign© yarn combing

I’ve found that most of the looser plied fluffy yarns, like some Berocco  Inca Tweed I had handy, work best, and certainly any of the single ply yarns work beautifully without the combing the tip, they just brush off into the carding cloth easily.  In the slideshow, if you hold your mouse over the images, the text will explain what I’m doing.

jenjoycedesign© tweed 3

Okay,  here’s the show!

 

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Carding & Blending

jenjoycedesign© rolags

I’ve been lured into somewhat of a trend. The trend is carding & blending boards!  Such a beautiful tool are the ones purchased by Ashford, etc, and I was so excited to buy one, but I resisted knowing that I was perfectly able to make my own. So with Jeff’s help, I did…

005I bought  24″ of  very expensive 12″ carding cloth, but still less expensive than a new 12×12″ board.  We cut some plywood to size, and after a quick glue & nailing down the carding cloth, added a footing to the head, and a handle, and ended up with double the size of the regular blending boards available. Not bad!  I then spent hours practicing on some old weedy raw fleece I had hidden away, found my old carders, and had a go with some alpaca.

jenjoycedesign© carding alpaca

Mixing first by hand, then carding three times on the board,

it eventually looked like this…

jenjoycedesign© carding alpaca 5

Then I drew the 3x carded alpaca back on to the board, caught the tips in between two dowels, then began to pull out, roll, pull out & drafted it rolling into rolags…

jenjoycedesign© making rolags

Eventually I got through all 240 grams of it and made finally into some nifty rolags ready to spin, after a heck of a lot of work …
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Honestly folks, do you have any idea how much work goes into making a simple 100g ball of yarn from raw fleece?   I’m sure there are some of you out there who do.

Which brings me back to the carding & blending board. I did say that it is a bit of a trend, I mean, just look at the process of making art rolags…

The video shows really what the blending board is all about.  I was actually using it in my above photos as a carding board for raw fleece, now I think I’ll go clean up the weeds and fluff that has spread all about my loft, because I am actually waiting for some combed top roving to show up in the mail.

Its such a strange modern era.  I feel that I have shifted from wanting to create from the roughest and unrefined of raw materials ~~ my old self ~~ into craving the ease of beautiful prepared combed top roving to spin from, or with which to create those beautiful blend rolags ~~ my new self.  I think I have worked something through here, and am considering offering to the wild all that old coarse wool from my earlier spinning days, and face a future of pleasure spinning clean exotic selection of fibers, as there is just so much available now.  I have definitely reaffirmed my respect for those who spin from animal-to-yarn, I just can’t seem to be one to run with the flock anymore, but that is okay.

I do feel the urge to spin yarn again, after a long hiatus.  I am very excited to come back and show off some really artful blended rolags from my plus size blending board, as well as the yarn spun from them!