Thursday, December 6, 2012

How to Make a Simple Turkish Style Drop Spindle

I never knew why Turkish Style Drop Spindles were so popular. I was amazed to find out what they do. I wrote a tutorial on how to make an easy one. This is the best spindle I've ever used.

If you haven't done much with drop spindles, here's an excellent book to help you out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to Dye Wool in a Crock Pot

I cracked my new crock pot and had to buy a new one. I use my repaired one for drying polymer clay and dyeing wool. Here's an article about it with photos. I'll be adding more when I finish with the space-dyed pictures.

If you need wool, there's some here

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Make a Toothbrush Rug

I wrote a tutorial on how I learned to do a toothbrush rug. There are many ways to to it and all are right.

It's getting harder to find the right toothbrushes these days. Here's a place to buy them. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Crafts and Your Mind, Body and Soul

Why do we do crafts and what it does for our brain and body.
Did you know that doing crafts such as knitting and weaving help the two sides of the brain communicate with each other? I've got some thoughts about that here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How to Blend Fibers for Spinning

Continuing on my wool series - I had a great time putting this together. In order to really show what I'm doing, I have to take pictures. In order to take pictures, I have to really do what I'm describing. It's a lot of work but it is fun.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to Use Viking Wool Combs

Since I had written about preparing wool for spinning and using cards, I thought it was time to mention combs. I'm really starting to like my viking combs, especially with Mohair and long Border leicester wool.

How to Use Viking Wool Combs

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lawn Grass as a Dye

This is the second time I tried using grass clippings as a dye. I found that using different mordants really makes a difference.

Lawn Grass as a Dye

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Yule Ornaments and Decorations

 I just wrote an article on ancient customs and meanings behind some of our Christmas traditions.

Yule Ornaments and Decorations

Friday, September 7, 2012

Silly Craft Projects

I found some craft sites online and was browsing when I came upon some of the silliest crafts I have ever seen. I was so amused that I wrote an article about it on Wizzley. Since I haven't done much productive in the way of crafts lately, here's a silly article on the Silliest Craft Projects.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Make Your Own Niddy Noddy

I wrote an article on Wizzley about making a niddy noddy and how to use one. Read it HERE.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Needle Felted Pumpkin

I just finished this little pumpkin today. I wrote a tutoral about needle felting on Wizzley. Have a look. It's fast and fun.

Fresh Batch of Fustic Dye

I did a fresh batch of fustic dye with just the blue vitriol this time. It came out pretty much exactly as the previous batch. I can't quite capture the color with the camera. It's a lovey green with yellow highlights.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fustic and Copper

I saved the dye bath from the last post waiting for my little package of copper, or blue vitriol, to arrive. I knew it might make the wool more green so I added about a tablespoon full to the dye bath. This was the second batch of dyeing for the bath and it already had some alum in it. I didn't know what would come out. It turned out to be more of the khaki green I had read about. It's really an interesting color. I'm spinning some up to see it in a yarn.
I'll be doing another batch with fresh ingredients so I'll report back on that soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dyeing with Fustic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               I had just about had my fill of dyeing brown. I haven't had much luck dyeing a nice dark brown or black. I decided to use up some of the fustic wood chips I've had in a bag for a while. I heard it did a really clear yellow from one source and khaki from another. I read that there is an "old" fustic from south America and a "new" fustic from somewhere else. This is the Old Fustic. Well, nothing to do but give it a go.

I soaked  the chips for a couple of days, simmered them for about an hour and let them sit overnight. I added a pinch of alum and wet yarn. I simmered again for almost an hour and let sit overnight. I was using my stainless steel pot to keep things neutral since other metals can affect the outcome.

It came out a brighter yellow and much more intense than the picture even shows. I was really pleased with the color. I got these chips from a woodworker acquantance of mine. I've read that Osage Orange is a similar dye and that tree grows everywhere down here.

I'm waiting now for my blue vitriol to arrive and I'm going to try that with the dye bath I saved. I'm hoping for an interesting green. I'll keep you posted.                                  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Zazzle Stuff

I've opened a new Zazzle store recently and started a category called "The Bare Ewe." Eventually it will be a new store in its own right, but for now, it's still in "Ragtimelil's Store."

I decided to use pictures of my hand dyed roving, yarns and assorted stuff to make business cards, labels and related items. I'm collecting pictures of fiber, sheep, and anything else fiber related to make more products. I'll be adding more daily so feel free to bookmark and check back often.
Garden Hand Dyed Roving Business Card business cards                Lavender yarn business cards business cards

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pecan Dyeing Part 2

I finished dyeing with the pecan dye.It didn't seem to be doing much so I added vinegar and waited another day or two. It started to look really dark, but when I rinsed it, all the dark dye washed out. Maybe I should have used a mordant. 
I was disappointed in the results, but it is a pretty shade of orangy brown. I'll try it again later. I still have a stash of pecans.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pecan Dye

I've started an experiment - every batch of plant dye is an experiment!
I've read that pecans can be used as dyes much in the same way as black walnuts. I found some pecan trees and gathered a few nuts. It's early in the season so I didn't get many. I tried peeling off the outer green hull and ended up with a black thumbnail. The hulls DYED it.
I took a hammer and crushed the nuts and added water and left them to sit.
They've been sitting for about 3 days and have started to ferment. I'm going on a road trip for a day or two so they should be just about right when I get back.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sun Dyeing with Kool-Aid and Rit Dye

I recently did some sun dyeing with Kool-Aid and Rit dye. Both came out great. It was easy to do, and the Kool-Aid dye is safe and easy to do with kids. Both came out very rich and deep though.

I have the complete tutorial HERE.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I finished the lichen dye and dyed some wool with it. It wasn't spectacular, but it is a nice brown. I wrote an article about the details on Wizzley (Click Here). Here's what it came out like. Not bad but a lot of time and work.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lichen Dye

I started a fermentation batch of lichen dye. I read that I was supposed to let it sit for about four weeks. I'm determined to let it do its thing, but I forgot to write down when I started it. I have no idea now if it has been two weeks or four weeks. It could be six weeks for all I know. I read that most people don't let it sit long enough so I'm hanging in there as long as I can. I doubt that I'll get a real red, but the redder the better, as they say....

I tried to be careful with lichen and not gather anything that might be endangered. I stuck to the stuff that grows on branches that would blow off during a storm. I brought them in, dried them and stored them until I had enough for a batch. I might have to do a teensy bit just to see what it looks like.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Beginning with Natural Dyes - How to Dye with Tea

Natural dyeing of wool and fiber has become popular as a hobby and an art. Since two batches of the same dyestuffs can vary, each dyeing adventure produces a truly more

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Things to Consider Before Buying a Weaving Loom

Thinking of giving weaving a try? New looms can cost a great deal of money. If you're new to weaving, the price can be quite a stumbling block and the variety of looms can more

Monday, July 2, 2012

How to Buy a Spinning Wheel

Have you learned to spin or just thinking about it? Maybe it's time to look for a spinning wheel. What are the things you should think about?
If you already know how to spin, you have an advantage. If you are just a beginner there are some things you may want to more

photo source: content commons

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Fantasy

I had a fantasy about how some crafts were discovered. I wrote an article about it on my Wizzley page. You can read it HERE.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I've been experimenting with a craft called eggshell mosaics. You use actual eggshells imbedded in acrylic to produce wonderfully random patterns. I've posted instructions on Squidoo. Easy and Fun!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How to Prepare Fleece for Spinning

I just posted a tutorial about preparing fleece for spinning on I also included some YouTube videos and pictures. Check it out here. Preparing Fleece for Spinning

Friday, May 18, 2012

New Blog

I have set up a new blog for writing about my life and the dogs. This blog will remain as stuff about weaving, spinning, and general creating. I'll be posting more tutorials here as I write them, and the other blog, Lana and the Gang, will be for everything else. I'm pretty pleased with the new blog so stop by and check it out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beginning Wet Felting - Making "Snakes"

  Wet felting is the traditional way to make felt. It originated so long ago in ancient history that no one really knows how it started. Here’s a simple way to get the feel of felting.

For some reason, I dislike felting balls with the wet felting method. A lot of people like it, but I don't. I needle-felt them. But I do wet felt "snakes" that I use for various purposes including handles for my felted bags. It's a great beginner project since you can feel the skin develop on the wool. It's a great one to do with kids as well.

You'll need some hot water. Doesn't have to be so hot it burns, but very warm.
Some soap. I use glycerin hand soap that I make. I don't find that dish soap is very effective.
Some carded wool or roving. Pull off a piece to length and a little bigger than the finished piece. You'll get a feel for it with practice.
A towel.

Lay out your towel. You'll use it to roll the roving.
Dip the roving in the hot water, squeeze out the excess and rub just a bit of the soap on it. You don't want it too soapy but a little helps the water to penetrate the wool.
Lay the roving on the towel. You can twist it to make it a little easier to work. Gently start to roll it. Barely touch it at first, just enough to get it to roll. You will start to feel a skin develop as the wool felts. You can use more pressure as it hardens. Once it feels really hard, you can wad it up and roll it like a ball in your hand. This is the FULLING process. If it's really felted, it won't try to stick together much at all. Rinse with cool water with a splash of vinegar to remove the soap. Continue fulling until it feels about as hard as it's going to get. Pull it gently to straighten it and hang to dry.
If you want to make a circle, or to join pieces to make a longer one, leave tufts on the ends dry. After felting the snake, join the dry tufted ends together and gently felt that section.
Have fun and go ahead, try to felt those darn balls....

Disclaimer: There is no one right way to felt. You will find plenty of instructions that will differ from mine. This is the way I do it. Try other methods and see which you like best.
© Lana Pettey 2009

Saturday, May 12, 2012

New Blog for Me and Dog Stories

I've created a new blog dedicated to my dogs and me. I've left some here, but this blog will be about art and crafts. My struggle to create, so to speak.

For stories about the rest of my life, go to HERE.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The NH to TX Saga

First day -
I didn’t get very far, but we didn’t get on the road until .
The tires on the camper got changed ok, but the truck needed some attention too.
The speed sensor rusted away and the results were scaring me.
So we only got as farm as Bennington Vt. By I was bleary eyed and pulled off into a business strip and what should my wandering eyes behold but a Wal-Mart. And, yes, it was one that allowed overnight parking. The courtesy lady told me where to park and I pulled over and pretty much fell into bed. It was a cold night, windy and traffic noise but I slept and dreamed of an elf that was sort of like Elmer Fudd.

Another night - another Wal-Mart. I’ve said goodbye to the White Mountains, waved to the Green Mountains, crawled through the Berkshires, and Poconos. Finally in Ohio, I made good time on the flat land. We crossed the Hudson; it’s been a long time since I’ve been on a bridge that long crossing a river that wide! Holy Cow. Then the Susquehanna, the Ohio and assorted other rivers.

Pennsylvania has more road-kill laying around than any place I’ve ever been except Mexico. I drove into a town where there was a young deer laying in the gutter. Do they hit more animals there or just don’t believe in cleaning up their roads? Kentucky is the prettiest place. I know I’m headed south. I got “mam’ed” today.

Last night stopped at a truck stop. It was hairy parking in a lot crammed cheek by jowl with big rigs and when they idle, they idle for HOURS. Finally fell asleep anyway. I had to get up twice to clean the floor. Doc was seriously ill. He seems ok but I’m not feeding him today. Moss is doing fine.

Minor repair needed. I stopped to let dogs out and found that one of my chains to the camper was broken. I spotted Roger’s Muffler and full service and trundled on over. The guys not only got my chain repaired, but sympathized about my money situation and went out of their way to keep it cheap for me. This was in Winchester, Kentucky. I must remember to list them on the car talk web site too.

Doc is fine today. Moss is a touch under the weather now, but not as bad as Doc was. I think it’s the cheap food I gave them. It all got wet anyway so I’ll probably have to dump it.

We made it all the way across Tennessee and crossed the mighty Mississippi. I never realized Arkansas was so flat. I saw something I haven’t seen in YEARS. A sun sinking, not behind a mountain or to the other side of a hill, but below the horizon! And it’s getting hotter. Girls in their very short shorts. Camped in Wal-Mart of Lonoke AK. I think we gained an hour. I noticed it was still really light at .  We must have crossed a time zone somewhere. Driving has become a blur, I don’t even remember where we started this morning. Lots of birds, lots of cardinals and air in KY and TN perfumed with flowers.
Should make TX tomorrow but don’t know if I’ll have the money until Friday to pay for a camp site. I’m trying my best, but I have to buy gas or won’t get there anyway….

Friday, April 27, 2012

Boogie Back to Texas

The camper is at the garage getting new tires on. I'm at the office tying up some loose ends. Then a trip to the laundromat and I'm off. I'm not even sure what route to take, but we're going. I simply can't afford to live here anymore. I'll miss my friends and the flora and fauna I've grown to love. I'll miss the fur babies I'll leave behind. As the song goes, though, to everything there is a season.

It's a grey windy day. I'm not looking forward to the drive, but I saw a heron this morning. Good luck.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ragtime Wren - December 28, 1997 - April 21, 2012

Wren was the last of the litter to be born in the little camper. She was always a pretty girl and very talented on sheep. I didn't train her as much as I should have. She was very soft and would freeze up if she thought I was upset with her. I was working with Rueben and both of her parents at the time so she didn't go to trials with us. She was a great dog for herding demos though. When we were running a sled team, she was one of the ones who went to races. She was fast and determined.

Except for a tendency to fight with her sister, she was a sweet dog and never caused any trouble. But those two would scrabble even as they got older - until Sarah died.

This morning, we went out for our usual walk. She stopped and slowly sank to the ground. I sat beside her until it was over. It was peaceful sitting there on a beautiful spring morning. But I will miss her so much. Now that whole litter is gone. 

I can't remember how long it has been since I only had two dogs. It has its benefits. I can take the two boys with me and not worry about getting home to let anyone out. But a big part of my life is over.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Set of 2 cotton napkins

I've been adding some things to my Etsy store. I did these cotton napkins to go with the rag placemats. They are a set of two in plain weave with a twill border.

To see more of my weavings, visit my Etsy Store.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rueben's Story

December 28, 1997 -  April 2, 2012

Rueben was born in my little 17 ft camper 3 days after Christmas. He was the first of 3. He had so much white on his head I thought I could never love a dog with so much white. How wrong I was.
He grew fast and started training to herd sheep. He was very hesitant to go out to pick them up. He'd stop halfway and look at me as if to ask if I was sure this is what I wanted. I'd tell him to go ahead and he would. I didn't know what to do about his insecurity.
I took him to a trainer in Connecticut who had large fields and a large flock of light sheep. He had a great time, but still didn't look like much. The trainer said some make it and some don't. When we came home, he was a different dog. Something clicked and he started working sheep like a pro. We attended one trial that the trainer happened to be judging. Rueben placed and she asked me where I got that dog. I pointed out that he was the same dog I had brought to her and that he had changed after our workout. She was amazed.
Working with him was a delight. He was obedient and very willing to learn. I had a real herding trial potential here. Then disaster struck. I noticed something funny about his eyes. I had seen it before. He was going blind.
I worked him as long as I could, but without the pressure of training a trial dog. I started running the dogs on a sled dog team in the winter to keep them fit and occupied. He was fine for a while, but then would pull the team off the trail if a snowmobile went by. So we had two teams. The fast team and the "Old and Blind" team. 

Then, in the middle of winter I lost Rueben for 8 days. I had left him in the house. He ripped a dog door off the wall and got through 2 fences. He started to follow a pick-up truck, I'm sure thinking it was me. He followed it too far, and was out of  his home range. When I got home, I had a message on my answering machine that a Border Collie had been seen running toward town. I headed toward town, calling him and thought I could find him easily, but as it grew dark and no dog, I started to panic.
I was distraught. I bounced from wildly hopeful and determined to find him, to the depths of despair, sobbing for hours, sure I would never see him again. I spent my days in the truck, cruising the back roads, calling him and talking to everyone I met. I covered the town with flyers.
One thing I learned is that you never know from where help will come. In my floundering, I sent an email to a group that I'm a member of. Not everyone even lived in my area, but a few did. A woman I had never met, emailed me back and offered to send me some material from a woman in another state who had dedicated herself to helping people find lost dogs. With the help and support of the two of them, and our wonderful local Animal Control Officer, I managed to stay more focused and kept going even when I was in a low point and felt it was hopeless.
On the eighth day, I took out the sled team, since the trail ran right by the road where he had been spotted. I called and whistled the whole way. No sight of him. But when I got home I had a message on my answering machine that someone had just spotted him. I asked them to put out food and I rushed over. There was a dazed, starving, scruffy Border Collie wolfing down what the woman had put out for him. I called him and he slowly came to me. I collapsed in the street, hugging him to me and sobbing. The woman came out with more food that he grabbed from her her hand.
I never would have found him if it hadn't been for the help I received, from strangers, and the support of our local ACO. 

Part of losing him was the result of his growing separation anxiety. He would bark and howl when I was gone. He would dig in closets and drag everything out. Once he got on my bed and peed. Another time he got a can of paint open. (pictures of this are on Flickr Here) I couldn't crate him because he would either fight his way out, or rip up his face trying to escape.  Lately, it seemed the episodes were getting worse. We're back to camper living and I never knew what I was going to be faced with when I got home. I was ready to put him down since he was so obviously miserable. Part of me wished he would get sick so I wouldn't feel so guilty.

Rueben had a stroke Saturday night that left him unable to stand or walk. I called the vet and will take him this afternoon. I'm so sorry, Rueben. I love you so much.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


 Some pictures of a little 4 harness floor loom I have for sale. It folds up and doesn't take up much room. Weaves about 30 inches wide if I remember correctly. I'll double check that as soon as the mud allows me to make it up to the studio. It doesn't have a maker stamped on it. It might actually be homemade, but it is a sturdy little loom. I've woven rugs on it.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Woven billfolds and hats

I've been using my table loom to experiment with new (to me) patterns. The billfold was done in plain weave patterns and opposites. I loved it until I started working on the new one. Now I love the new one....It has some issues with the lining. A friend did that for me and I have to keep a rubber band around it so my pitifully few bills don't fall out, but that will be fixed in the newer model.
The hat was woven using twill patterns from a book by Leclerc that I can't remember the name of at the moment. It was fun to try some new stuff!