Monday, July 31, 2006

My first spinning wheel

So here's a peek inside my house and a look at my first spinning wheel. It's an Ashford Elizabeth and still works 20 years later, though it could use some repairs. The chair with the curly parts was made by my partner out of manzanita and madrone wood. He made the bent wood chairs in the background also. I can't remember what kind of wood he used though.

This is where I cook up my dyes. That's a wood stove on the left. The upper oven has kerosene burners under it, and I've actually baked in it. The other little stove uses propane. There's a counter to the right of little stove that provides some work space.

This is another shot of the inside of the house that shows the 'kitchen sink' and some of the structure of the house. It looks like a big unbrella, with a tree-sized center pole and smaller ones branching out supporting the roof.

This one shows more of the 'umbrella'. The sky light in the background is at the back of the house in the sleeping area. The whole house is 40 feet in diameter and split level because it's built on an incline. So the sleeping area is on the upper level, which is about 3 -4 feet higher than the lower one. The roof boards are all redwood bought way before the current problems with clear cutting. The center pole is fir, I'm pretty sure.

This is some dyed yarn that's drying on the fence outside my door. There are strawberries and some herbs inside the fence. Once I've dyed the yarn and rinsed it in the sink, I throw the water on the strawberries so as not to waste it, and then hang the yarn out to dry in the wind. I like to use whatever local vegetation I can find for plant extract dyes, as well as some of the basics that can be found in most any kitchen - like onion skins and black tea or coffee grounds. Lichens and moss make a nice pale gray/green, as do Japanese flowering plum tree leaves. I have a couple of these trees in the front yard, and they can also be found all around the Bay Area. Another of my favorites is walnut hulls (not the shells, but the green hulls around the outside of the shells). These make a very nice, rich brown. Walnut hulls have a lot of tannin in them, so no fixing agent is needed. For the onion skins, leaves and moss a mordant is needed though. I generally use alum, tin and chrome, depending on what shade I want. Alum makes a medium bright color, tin brightens it more, and chrome dulls the color. Copper sulfate also can be used to make the color browner and darker.

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