There will always be stunning inspiration from nature. Take dirt, for example. More precisely, take soil. Clearly the folks at Three Waters Farm are inspired by soil. At the time their newsletter came across my inbox I was sure the last thing I needed was more fiber to spin. We were still in temporary quarters and I had packed more spinning fiber than three people could spin in three months. But I could not resist their beautiful colorway “Good Brown Dirt” on Targhee.
Aside from being a beautiful colorway and that I enjoy spinning Targhee, my oldest friend, Paula, is an Agronomist. A doctor of soil. Now retired, Paula spent a very productive career teaching college students about Agronomy and research. Paula is passionate about good brown dirt and has always been as passionate about her family, her students, and her work.
A year and a half earlier I knitted a wrap/blanket for Paula after her daughter contacted me to request a special blanket for her mom who was having great difficult with cancer treatment. Paula had been living with cancer for ten years by then. It was fun putting together the project with Paula’s daughter. Of course, soil was important. Prairie and ocean were Paula’s other inspirations.
Using Malabrigo Rios and a pattern that I modified, a big, soft, cuddly wrap was completed faster than anything I had ever knit. About the time Paula received the blanket, I received the painful news that all treatment was being stopped. The great news is that, although she has challenges, Paula has been living and enjoying friends and family and she continues to do so today. When working out on my elliptical I think of all the challenges Paula has overcome and I keep on track, listening to the Grateful Dead music we shared throughout the years.
Starting in late April I began spinning Good Brown Dirt with the intention of creating something for Paula’s birthday in early October. It was a fun spin, and I produced a two-ply fingering weight yarn. Paula is not a fancy person, so I chose to knit a scarf in the well-known Old Shale pattern. What better pattern to use for Good Brown Dirt?
About the time I finished spinning the Good Brown Dirt, I walked on the beach near my new home with a friend from my old home who now lives one mile from me. How great is that? We did not plan that one but as fate or luck or whatever would have it, we both left California about the same time and ended up with new homes a mile apart.
On that beach walk with my friend, I found an amazing rock. I guess I was rather taken with the rock because I found two weaving drafts and planned some projects. Of course, everything was taking way more time than usual because we were still unpacking and setting up our home. Using stash for two colors of green warp in 8/2 Tencel sett at 36 ends per inch, and weft of 20/2 cotton in black, I selected an echo threading from Marian Stubinitsky on Handweaving.net and started weaving a small scarf.
The rock was captured well enough, but for a variety of reasons, my selvedges were terrible. I used two strands of 8/2 black Tencel for floating selvedges, which I think was too thick for the weft, and the scarf was too narrow for my shortest temple. Close attention to the selvedges was paid while weaving but I decided to consider it a sample and it lives in my drawer full of samples. I will return to the rock and next will try a network twill from Handweaving.net. Meanwhile, a new opportunity was being presented and I decided to leap into a new project.
At the start of the pandemic when I was power walking my old neighborhood instead of going to the gym, I came across an iris of what struck me as exquisite color. As happens, I took photos and figured someday I would use this inspiration in my fiber work. This past summer, thanks to my friend from the beach walk, I finally had the opportunity to play with hand painting (some would say hand dyeing) Tencel warps.
Jan has done quite a bit of dyeing and we planned some projects. One was to dye warp for the iris photo. Thanks to Jan, we had fun and I learned a great deal. It took me two attempts, but I like what we came up with.
In late 2020 I had stored a network till draft on my laptop but, unfortunately, I did not store information on where I found the draft. My bad; I really wish I had.
I used some stash Tencel for accent warp and for weft and I enjoyed weaving this scarf. Thanks to TempoTreadle, keeping track of treadling is a breeze. I used a sett of 24 ends per inch. And, unlike the rock scarf, my selvedges are decent. The hand is nice, too.
Have I mentioned how much I value all my fiber friends and guild mates, both here in Washington and in California? To say nothing of the few non-fiber friends who have blessed my life for decades, such as Paula.
I have been enjoying meeting members of the Whidbey Weavers Guild and having fun with another fiber friend here, also named Donna. Like Jan and I, Donna moved here recently and we share a dear mutual fiber friend from California. Sharing knitting, spinning, and weaving with other equally passionate fiber folks enriches my life and my journey into the fiber arts in so many ways.
I have hand painted warps for two other nature inspired projects and I have been working on several other knitting, spinning, and weaving projects.
Throughout the autumn I kept taking pictures of a certain seaweed I would see on the beach here. Someday that will become something, too.
But Finn is ready for his afternoon constitutional and I’ll save those projects for another post.
Until then, sing praises, enjoy your friends, let them know that you appreciate them, and walk in balance.