Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Savannah's Silk History and Working with Cocoons and Silk Lap

In early America, it was thought that silk might be a good crop in the colonies and a sericulture  (silk) industry was attempted in the south. Eliza Lucas Pinckney attempted sericulture in South Carolina.

I was on a hop-on-hop-off tour in Savannah a few weeks ago and we passed a site that I did not know about, on West Broad Street, which was the original west border of Savannah. 

A little research revealed that my photo shows part of  the Trustees' Garden. Between 1733 and 1748, this  was a site where various crops were attempted, including  rice, cotton, hemp. flax, and mulberry trees for sericulture.  The garden was more extensive than the photo above.   It is still retained as a garden and a destination in Savannah. 

Here is some history on silk in Georgia:

General James Oglethorpe was an MP in England, and the founder  of the colony of Georgia, which was intended to be a place to resettle the poor and those from debtors prisons. The charter to found the colony was given to him by King George II, for whom Georgia is named, in 1732.  General Oglethorpe sailed for the colony in 1732, and imported 500 white mulberry trees to Fort Frederica in 1733. This Fort is on St. Simon's Island south of Savannah.  The highest quality silk is produced from worms grown on white mulberry; not native to the US.

Apparently there was a  wee bit of luck with silk, as they bothered to build a silk winding facility called a "filature" in Savannah. The filature building was built in 1752 but no longer exists, it was on St. Julian St., very close to the Trustees' garden. At the time it was the largest building in Savannah.  A gown was made for Queen Caroline, the wife of George II,  was fashioned from silk from Savannah.

William Bartram  was an early traveler and botanist and published his book "Travels" in 1773. He  noted as he travelled through the south "every landowner  was required by law to grow silkworms and produce silk, but only a colony of Germans at Ebenezer...were successful with this crop".  Bartram found mulberry trees (morus rubra) near Wrightsville GA west of Augusta, and in Jacksonburg SC  he noted (p. 306)  "at plantations I observed a large orchard of the European Mulberry tree, (morus alba), some of which were grafted on stocks of the native Mulberry (morus rubra); these trees were cultivated for the purpose of feeding silk-worms (phalaena bombyx)".  

(above from: https://www.tytyga.com/History-of-Mulberry-Trees-a/373.htm)

A week after my tour, I attended a workshop with Camille Hulbert, who has a studio on West Broad. She is, among other things, working to bring mulberry trees back to the Trustees' garden. The workshop was about doing nuno felting with silk lap (a large piece of stretched out silk fibers).  

We learned how to make a cocoon into a silk hankie, first you soak the dried cocoon

Then (after removing the worm which is of course dead) you gently tease it apart into a square or another shape and you can put it on a frame

 Camille will often use spray or dry paint to color the silk at this point

Here is a pot of "mulberry yellow," the soaking water from the coccoons which can be used itself as a dye...

We then did some nuno'ing onto silk lap which Camille had imported from Thailand.

Camille does source her cocoons from a farm in Georgia, however.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Natural Dyed Wool: Coreopsis with some Carrot tops thrown in...

A friend of a friend was given some yarn by a wise (that means old enough to know something) lady, in her 90's.  This wise woman at some point  had attended a dyeing seminar or workshop. The wise lady gave the yarn to the friend who was not a wool person, who then gave it to my friend J, a wool person. All the samples were labelled. As wool goes, they are a wee bit brittle and aged. I have no idea when this dyeing happened. 

At any rate, J brought the samples to my house. I excitedly photo'd them all with my phone. Months later I've gotten around to making a photo collage at some miscellaneous website. 

You will have difficulty reading the labels so here are the dyes and modifiers, left to right and top to bottom
1) Coreopsis, alum, iron, sodium carbonate
2) Coreopsis, sodium carbonate, no mordant
3) Coreopsis, alum, sodium carbonate
4) Alum, carrot tops
5) Coreopsis, chrome, iron, sodium carbonate
6) Coreopsis, alum, iron
7)  Coreopsis, alum
8) Coreopsis, chrome, iron
9) Coreopsis, chrome, sodium bicarbonate

Of course, the color representation is likely inaccurate on your moniter/my phone, etc etc, plus the colors are likely faded after some years.  

There was another sample...wonder if it was more carrot tops.  It's my favorite, and it is labelled "Candide," one of the first wool yarns that I spent much time knitting, long ago...

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Nova Scotia part one...The Hooked Rug Museum of North America

I have been very lucky to travel with friends this year. After my trip to Bogata Colombia with Celia, I visited Nova Scotia with Barb. We had luxurious time to drive around with no particular plan other than enjoy the views, the walks, the fiber experiences.  

I love this photo. Barb is working on minutes from the Danish Canadia Museum Meeting, and I am working on minutes from the Fiber Guild of the Savannahs...

Sunset from Peggy's Cove. We stayed here at an air bnb owned by Barb's family friend Beth. Highly recommended!

A view from the table...with some spinning and knitting

Peggy's Cove

A great visit to the Hooked Rug Museum of North America. I am not a rug hooker, but I would be if I lived in a drafty cabin in the maritimes 100 years ago and had cold feet (or my children did...)

Of course, they had other wool working tools ...  you had to spin the wool before weaving it; then sew into clothing which wore out before cutting into strips to make rugs...right?  

Can't resist a photo of an old Singer cabinet...

A lovely old reel 

Fabulous photo of Barb in a room devoted to old rugs

The collection included all sorts of fiber prep materials, including the hackle-that-can-also-be-used- as-a-weapon

And then there was this...huge, 5 feet tall or so...I think it's a printer for hooked rug designs. If you know be in touch!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Laurel Burch's Legacy at my house

Laurel Burch has been gone for 10 years this year, but her images are everywhere. Her studio is still alive and active!

I have a number of her cat earrings (acquired long before I had cats), and now that I have cats I have cat dishes featuring her designs. About 10 years ago I found her mermaid fabrics and bought a bunch. I was planning a quilt that never happened (or at least not yet).  I fell in love with a largish panel with a mermaid and friends (I have a mermaid themed bathroom). 

Last week I was informed that a co-worker was having a baby, and the baby's room theme is mermaids. A work baby shower gift was required. Well, I pulled out one of the mermaid panels, washed it up, and found a blank canvas pillow at Michael's. The whole panel does not fit but enough of it does.  Too cute!

While I was working on it, Louis enjoyed a snack next to a Laurel kitty placemat...yep, he found his way in after clawing open a hole, guess the cat food dish wasn't full enough!

Now, where did I put that Laurel Burch gift wrap?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

I love my drum carder

I got my drum carder several years ago for a song. I didn't realize how much of a song it was until I got home and priced them.  Mine does not have the manufacturer label except for a part that says "made in Canada".

Several members of my Guild, the Fiber Guild of the Savannahs (we have a beautiful new website, I'm happy to show it off), have been active in Tour de Fleece this year. It seems appropriate to blog about it today as it is the final day of the Tour de France for 2018 today, therefore the end of the Tour de Fleece. I often do better finishing a project with deadlines so I got some serious spinning done!

When I first got my carder, I was thinking that is was mostly for prep for raw fiber. Then I went to a workshop at SAFF with Esther Rodgers and learned a bit more.

Having some dyed roving around, it seemed appropriate to blend with the carder. I do find that spinning blended colors is a little more interesting...
Here are some process and results photos

Here is the resulting yarn. I'm not sure what type of wool it is, but it's pretty soft. I got the roving as color samples and used the "cool" side of the color wheel all  together.  It's pretty soft though. Spun on my Ashford Traditional and plied on my Louet. I use my Louet s15 mostly for plying but I should use it more for spinning. It has a very sturdy feel to it. 

Here is another yarn finished for the "Tour."  This is merino plus silk done in a single. Obviously, this is the other side of the colorway! You can see bits of turquoise silk noile.  Diana Twiss taught me to use the silk noile in handspun last year at Olds College Fibre Week. (She also helped me use the color wheel to think about my blending process). I can't wait to use this yarn for a shawl.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Llanas Casa Rosada in Bogota

Naturally, in visiting Bogata in January I needed to find what might be a "local yarn store." Celia and I tramped through downtown Bogata and off of Septima, the major city thoroughfare, we found this lovely spot,  Llanas Casa Rosada

Here I am with my spoils...actually there was another bag as well...

Cotton yarns

Disregard the sign, these are dyed wool rovings

cotton fibers

beautiful woven tapestries

fique (sissal) fibers here mixed with cotton

 and these...squirrel tails; something I've never seen before in a yarn store, although this was really a fiber store

I loved this creative use of a tire rim to make a yarn winder...

 There was natural sheeps wool as well, I asked what kind of sheep, the shop owner whose English was limited joked and said "Colombian sheep," but here is a link for more information.

http://www.uncovercolombia.com/en/item/traveller-s-guide-towns-boyaca-colombia where the sheep are

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Sewing Adventure...Alabama Chanin

I went to a friend's house on Saturday evening. This is the same friend I mentioned in my last post. She had another acquaintance there who was transporting antique spinning wheels (Don't worry, it wasn't between state lines...OK that was a spinning wheel collector joke).  Anyway, we had grand fun.

I got to spin on a 200 year old great wheel from the Shakers in New Hampshire. This was pretty exciting because as I mentioned in a previous post, I am a descendent of New Hampshire Shakers.  There was also a Lyle Wheeler wheel that I got to try. Mind you, my one handed drafting skills required for the great wheel is basically absent so it was mostly "park and draft."

Anyway, we wound up the evening watching Craftsy and I was very taken with Natalie Chanin's swing skirt class.  Have a look at her website,  very exciting, wonderful making ideas

I have done little knitting since then, and have been practicing applique and embroidery on old tee shirts. For this one I used a stencil to paint the gingko leaves on a red tee shirt with SetaColor Opaque then stitch onto an orange one, then do "reverse negative applique" cutting away the red fabric. (I love this).

Anyway, the above was done in  anticipation of receiving this in the mail

Here, our new addition Louis helps me wait till the fabric is done in the washer...