summer flowers

summer flowers

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Driving the Mirror Lake Highway

Mirror Lake Highway opened Friday before Memorial Day.  This is unusual, most years it is not open until around July 4th.  We had a low snow year and the road was able to be cleared.  My DS and I wanted to see it in a different time of year, so we drove up.

Driving up the canyon past Park City was beautiful.  The hills were deep green, once the grasses ripen in early summer, the hills are more gray-green and brown, so the hills seemed so spring like and fresh.  

We stopped at the Kamas market for drinks and snacks and started up the road toward the Unita Mountains.  These mountains are the highest mountains in the US that are running east/west.  They are greener in the summer and have interesting plants.  I have been driving through them and camping there since is was a child.  My Dad always loved camping and fishing up here.

We got to Soapstone Basin and the Aspen trees were starting to leaf out already.  They were a beautiful yellow green against the evergreen trees.
Green Grass and Aspens
The Provo River was running fast and I am sure it was cold, I did not want to test it and so I just took pictures of it.
Provo River at Soapstone Basin
Soapstone Basin is where the road is usually blocked off for the winter.  Last year we were up here in June and were not able to drive up the road...we drove up a little way, but there was too much snow to continue.

On this trip, we stopped at several overlooks to see the views.  Here the river was down below us and we are starting to get into the snow patch areas.
Just to the right in the picture, there is a little patch of white, that was a large snow patch.  The rapids are rushing down the river.  I love the look of the white water.

We stopped at the Upper Provo River Falls, like we always do.  This was the highest and fastest I have ever seen the river and the falls.

Usually, my DS will climb down by the falls, and you can usually see the stair step stones that form the cascade that we call the falls.
Here's a view from 2010
The rock on the right side of the picture from 2010 is the same one that is on the upper third of the picture from 2013.  There is a lot more water coming down from the snow melt this time of year!

I also got to take some pictures of the flowers.  There were Dog Tooth Violets and the Mountain Spring Beauty that I love so much.
Mountain Spring Beauty
These flowers come up in early spring, and are only 1/2 to 3/4 inches across.  I did not see them for several years, because by time I got up in the mountains, they were gone for the season.  It was great to see them this year and enjoy their beauty.

Driving past Lily Lake and Teapot Lake, they were about half covered with ice.  The reservoir at Lost Creek Campground was full.  We always refer to this as Lost Lake...I don't know if that is the real name.  
Lost Lake in September
Here is a picture from the fall.  All the brown on the right side of the picture was under water this weekend.  It was fun to see the lake that full.  There were fishermen trying to catch their fish dinner.  It really looked like a fun day for them.

By time we got to the summit, the snow was about three feet deep at the sides of the road, and not many of the trail heads and camp grounds were open.
Snow along the highway
We drove all the way to Mirror Lake, but that road was under snow.  But through the trees, we could see that the lake was frozen over.  It would have been fun to get closer, but that was about a mile through three foot deep snow, and were were not dressed to do that.

We stopped back at the summit to get some pictures.   The cornice on Mt. Baldy looked like it was  twelve to eighteen feet.  It is hard to tell through a camera lens.

Cornice on the mountain

Here's a little closer view

I loved the way the snow had melted to form "snow Hoodoos".  We see redrock hoodoos all over southern Utah, but these were just melted snow.
Snow Hoodoo
Where the snow had been plowed up along the side of the road, I guess the rocks heated differently than the road, so we got these great shapes several places along the road.

DS taking pictures of the view
Every where you looked, there were beautiful views of trees, snow and sky.  It was a great Sunday drive and fun to see the area at a different time of year.  I felt like I drove from Summer in the valley through Spring in Park City & Kamas and into Winter in the mountains. 
I read in the Sunday newspaper, that another person driving up there decided to come back with his snow board to enjoy the snow that is left up there.  With the temperature in the 60's during the day, he had better hurry before the snow is gone.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spinning, Knitting and Some Weaving

I feel like I have not got anything done.  Then I look at the things around me.  

I have been having fun spinning.  It started with the dehairing of some qiviut.  I had about 4 and a half ounces of down, I think it was partially dehaired.  
After the dehairing machine
A friend has a dehairing machine and I ran it through five times.  It got out almost all the really coarse hair and the dandruff.  And I had three ounces left to be able to spin.  That should make a nice project...should I ply it on itself or with silk?

Waste from machine

I wanted to spin it quite fine, so I decided to practice on some other fiber first.  I bought some roving that was dyed to give a gradiance of color from green to rust-red.  I got two rovings to spin for a shawl.  I wanted to keep the color change, so Navajo three ply is needed and I need to spin it very fine to get a fingering or light sport weight yarn.
You can see some of the color change of green to red
It was good practice and I finished both rovings.  Above you can see the singles on the first roving.  Below is the first bobbin three plyed  As you can see, I am auditioning for needle size.  (When did we start saying "auditioning" instead of sampling?)
Here you can see the green
I wound the ball with the red in the center, it will be fun to knit and see the color change.  I want the shawl to have green on the two ends and the red in the center.  It will be a rectangular shawl, with some lace stripes in it.  

This served as a good practice for the qiviut.  But I had a small bag, about 2 ounces of an alpaca and flash blend.  Since the spinning wheel was out and available and since it was such a small amount...I spun it up.  I wound it in a center pull ball and plyed it, but it looks like I did not ply it enough...maybe I will run it through the plying wheel again.  I will spend some time with that wheel, because I need to 3 ply the second bobbin of the gradiance dyed roving also.
not plyed enough, and what will I use it for
So now I have practiced and am ready to spin the qiviut.  I tried carding it on cotton carders, but I found that just taking a handful from the bag of down spun as well and as easily as the carded down.
Getting started with the yarn
As I was spinning, I noticed a few dark hairs, so I decided to start the spinning process by first taking out any the additional hairs by hand.  This is a job for early in the day and over a white surface so that I can see the hairs.
Here's what I took out of the first handful
There are several types of hair, the really heavy long ones, about 6 to 10 inches long.  A couple of them are here and most of them came out in the dehairing machine.  Then the heavy short hairs, they are darker than the down and straighter, so they show up well.  Then there are the finer more kinky hairs.  These are harder to find, I take out as much of them as I can easily see and just try to forget about the rest.  I place the remaining down in a bag for spinning later in the day.  I am sure that the yarn will be soft and I will enjoy it.  I am really not sure what I want to make out of it.  It probably is best for knitting, and three ounces gives me some possibilities.

I have also been doing some knitting.  I had a couple of ounces of fine cobweb weight yarn that Jim at Spinderella did.  It is wonderful...I think a cashmere, wool, maybe silk blend.
Here is the yarn
Since I only had a small amount, I started a triangle shawl.  I decided I would just knit until I ran out of yarn.  I figured I would have a small shoulder shawl for those cool evenings.  The pictures show it before and after blocking, you can see the yard stick for comparison. 
I knit it up on size 5 needles and it is very light and airy.  I am really pleased with it and now I can start the handspun 3 ply above.
Yes, delicate as morning dew

My weaving at home is at a stand still.  I have done nothing...maybe since we are not traveling for the holiday week-end, I can kick start it and get something done again.

I have been getting some weaving done at the looms at The Pioneer Craft House.  I put on a 12 yard warp for some cotton/rayon scarves on the Gilmore X.  I think they will work great for summer.  They are light and airy.  (Is that the code word for this blog today?)  
Plain weave with a twill inlay
I only have the two colors and this is a mill end yarn that I bought some time ago and just found during a cleaning.  (You know, "what is in this box, and why am I holding on to it?)  I think that I want to do a blue series, too.  These are fun to weave and they also weave up pretty fast.  I wound the full 12 yards on the loom without paper to test the length that I could put on this loom.  Yeah, 12 yards is too long.  I need to either find the pegs that were taken out of the sectional beam or add paper when I put on a warp this long.  I had no trouble when I put on a linen warp five yards long, but 12 yards, even with this open sett, builds up too much.  Oh well, I will weave the scarves, and I have learned another trick to remember with this loom.

I also put a small warp on the Hammett for some rag bags.  It looks like I should have allowed more for take-up and shrink.  The next warp will be an inch wider.  I got some more practice with the AVL warping wheel though.
How do you like my peg covers?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Natural Dyes

I have not done a lot of natural dyeing for several years.  About twenty years ago, I did lots.  It was fun to go out into the fields or mountains and collect plants, then come home and see what colors I got.  I got lots of gold, brown and blah beige.  I ordered some plant and insect materials and got brighter and more exciting colors.  

A couple of years ago, I took a class and did mud dyes and stenciled and stamped with natural dyes.  We were using dye extracts and got great colors.  In some cases I put more layers on the fabric than I should of and ended up with mud... but there were some fun samples, too.
Here is the scarf I did in that workshop

This spring at TPCH, the gardening instructor suggested a combined class; planning and planting a dye garden and using the plants for dyes.  I was teaching the second class with using the plants for dyes.  Unfortunately, our dye garden was torn up for new sidewalks last fall and we are just getting plants back into the new I needed to collect something for the class and this is early in the year to find much.  I ended up gathering dandelion blossoms for the first bath, the wood worker gave me paduak sawdust for the second dye bath and I found a jar of Brazil Cherry sawdust that had been soaking in alcohol for a year.  (It had been left by the previous textile instructor.)  

I decided to do the dyes in a canning pot so I set up two jars of each dye bath for the student's yarn samples.

Bottles ready for yarn to be added then processed.
The first two bottles are from the dandelion (greener than I expected, I just steeped the blossoms), the next two are from the paduak soaked in water for 2 weeks, the fifth bottle is from paduak soaked 1 week in alcohol (I expected a red color from the paduak, so tried soaking in alcohol to get a deeper, redder color)  the last two bottles are from the cherry.

The yarns I used were some knitting weight wool yarns and they ended up looking great!
Cherry, paduak in alcohol, paduak in water, dandelion
Unfortunately,  I had not tested the hot plates that we have at the class and they did not work.  After three hours on high, I could still stick my hand in the water.  I took the dye baths home and simmered the jars for 60 minutes.  I still had some color left in the dye bath, so I added some more yarn (all of the yarn was pre-mordanted with alum).  I also had some left over dye bath that didn't fit in the original jars so I added that and got some exhaust colors.

I had a fun time in the class, the class members got some great colors and I guess I will weave a scarf or something with some great color stripes...or I could knit a hat.