New Class Schedule!

Ewephoric Fibers is teaming with Yarn Works to bring you a full schedule of classes. Visit Yarn Works’ website to register.

Note: A spinning wheel may be reserved if the student notifies us ahead of time.

Here is a list of our classes:

Spinning Beaded Yarn
August 2, 2014, 10:30 am – 3 pm
$50, materials included
Lots of us love knitting with beads. We can place the beads exactly where we want them. But if you don’t care where the beads end up, there are wonderful yarns with the beads already attached, if you are willing to pay the price! And what if you love the color of the beads or the yarn, but not both together or you want a specific yarn with beads but can’t find it. This class will teach you how to spin your own beaded yarn. We will explore two different methods for placing beads while spinning.

You must be able to spin a continuous thread and bring a spinning wheel in good working condition. Fiber, beads and written material will be provided by the instructor.

 

Spinning Silken Yarns
August 11, 2014, 5 – 8 pm
$50, materials included
So many people are intimidated by the thought of spinning silk! It is such a fabulous fiber: shiny, soft, strong, drapey. It takes dyes with a brilliance and depth rarely seen in other fibers. And it is available in a variety of different preparations which completely change the appearance of the yarn. So why are spinners so afraid of it? This class will introduce you to the two most common preparations of silk: top and hankies. You will learn how to spin them with ease and confidence! We will start with the easiest to spin, tussah, progress through Bombyx top, and finish off with hankies.

You must be able to spin a continuous thread and bring a spinning wheel in good working condition. Fiber and written material will be provided by the instructor.

 

Cool Fibers for Hot Summer Spinning
August 18 & 25, 2014, 5 – 8 pm
$60, materials included
Summers in Florida are hot, hot, hot! Even with air conditioning it’s hard to escape the heat — and spinning wool can still be less than appealing. So let’s spin some fabulous non-wool fibers that are great for summer yarns! We will spin fibers that are often thought of as being hard to spin like bamboo or cotton or just old fashioned like flax. Learn to spin beautiful, cool summer yarns that you can use for knitting, crocheting, or weaving. Imagine wearing a hand spun, hand knit shirt for work or a light weight shawl perfect for those air conditioned restaurants and movie theaters. This class will explore fibers over two weeks. We will start with flax, bamboo, and black bamboo. The second class will cover tencel, hemp and cotton.

You must be able to spin a continuous thread and bring a spinning wheel in good working condition. Fiber and written material will be provided by the instructor.

Canceled: April Communal Spinning/Crafting at Peaceful Paths

Hi Folks: We are postponing the Peaceful Paths meetups until further notice. We will have them again, as well as classes and Ewephoric Trunk Sales, and we will post here several weeks in advance so you will be able to get them into your calendar. Cheers! Jane

February Communal Spinning and Crafting at Peaceful Paths

Due to a scheduling conflict, we have decided to permanently move the spinning and communal crafting at Peaceful Paths to the third Saturday of the month. That means our next gathering is on February 15 at 1 p.m.

As it turns out, it is also the date that the Gainesville Handweavers Guild is going on a guided tour of the Kongo exhibit at the Harn. It starts at 10 a.m. and will last about an hour.

See you there!

When: February 15 at 1 p.m.
Where: Peaceful Paths
Google map: 2100 NW 53rd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32653
Communal Crafting: FREE. Please bring a donation to Peaceful Paths to help support their efforts at eliminating domestic violence. Scroll down this page to see a list of their needs. 

Bring in your spinning, knitting, crochet, or any other fiber project for a bit of show and tell (aka: inspiration).

 

Silkworm Trivia

More fun silkworm trivia from Weaving Today’s BeWeave It column!

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Imagine flowing down the aisle in a darkened room in a silk wedding dress that glows red, orange, and green under a UV light. Scientists in Japan have been experimenting with breeding mutant silkworms that produce silk that glows under a UV light.  These silkworms have had genetic material from other organisms inserted into their genomes so they produce a silk with fluorescent qualities.  The transgenic critters have a red glowing protein from Discosoma corals, orange from the Fungia concinna coral, or a green fluorescent protein from jellyfish.  Under white light the silk has a very pale color, but turn out the lights and turn on the UV light (think black lights from the 70s and 80s) and you have fabric that glows in the dark!  The fluorescence is stable and continues to glow for years.  Because the proteins are denatured with high heat scientists had to modify removing the serein from the cocoon.  Wedding dress designer, Yumi Katsura, has designed gowns incorporating the fluorescent silk.  What will the rest of the wedding party wear?!

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How about pink silkworms, cocoons, and silk!  While silk is a renewable resource, processing and dyeing it is not very environmentally friendly.  Reeling and washing silk requires a lot of water and dyeing silk, and other fibers, not only requires large amounts of water, but releases toxins into the environment as well.  In an effort to reduce both the water usage and toxic byproducts of dyeing, scientists have been looking at pre-dyeing silk by feeding the silkworms dyes that would permanently color their silk.

Biologists and engineers at the CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory in India have been experimenting with feeding silkworms mulberry leaves that had been dipped in azo dyes.  Other dyes have been used, but they are very expensive.  Several dyes were used but only one red dye succeeded in turning the caterpillars pink and infusing the final silk fiber a lovely pink.  The other dyes were metabolized out of the digestive system in different ways, mostly in the proteins surrounding the silk fiber.  The cocoons were colored but once the silk was processed the surface proteins were washed away along with the color.  Work will continue to find dyes that are not toxic to the silkworms and create silks with color that is permanent and not fugitive.

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Would you rather have your silkworms spin you a silk parasol?  Well, scientists at MIT’s Media Lab are doing just that!  A combination of 3D printing robotics and a silkworm’s need to spin silk have been combined to explore how to build architectural structures more efficiently.  A 3D printer was programmed to act like a silkworm and spread a kilometer long silk fiber along a group of panels that were then put together to form a pavilion that was hung from the ceiling.  Silkworms were then placed onto the panels and allowed to find their place and spin.  By manipulating the density of the original silk fiber, the scientists were able to create openings that allow for seasonal and daily time estimates due to the positions of the apertures.

 

So next I would like to see a 3D printer create the basic structure for the transgenic silkworms to spin me a parasol that glows in the dark, all three colors please, with a lovely pink strip from the azo dye consuming silkworms!

 

Spinning Tune Up!

Drop Spindle by Michael Wade via flickr

Drop Spindle by Michael Wade via flickr

Need a spinning basics refresher? Come join Ginger for a review of all the things you forgot from those early spinning classes or never learned as you struggled through learning on your own. She will review the basics such as the relationships between twist, treadling and the drafting triangle (remember that?). Expand your drafting technique repertoire and gain more control over the size of the yarn you are spinning. Bring your spinning problems and Ginger will help you find the solutions!

Bring: Your wheel and any fiber you have questions about
Take Home: 2 oz of Ewephoric fiber
When: 1:30 – 4 p.m., July 20, 2013
Where: Yarnworks, Gainesville, Florida
Price: $35

Email ginger (at) ewephoricfibers (dot) com if you have any questions.

Patagonia 2013

Argentina is lovely in the fall! The days were unseasonably warm at the beginning of the trip, but the nights were cool and comfortable for sleeping. Here in Florida we are in late spring but below the equator, April is early fall. The shepherds had already moved their herds of cashmere goats to the winter feeding grounds. The area was still green due to the warm weather, but it is still not a very productive landscape.image001

I was able to travel down to Patagonia on a grant from Eileen Fisher given to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to continue work with the cashmere cooperative (Grupo Cost del Rio Colorado). It has been 1.5 years since I’ve been down there. I was greeted warmly, and the shepherds were anxious to see me and show what they had done, despite some significant setbacks. When I was in Patagonia the last time, a primary topic of conversation was when to comb the goats and whether or not the areas of the goat should be separated, ie, body fiber from leg fiber. The cooperative is still figuring out where the accessible points of added value are in the process of going from fluff on the goat to a finished garment. Some questions have an obvious answer. In this country, we wash fibers before processingimage003 them. However, if you do not have water readily available, washing is not a viable option. Potable water is delivered by the government to many of the families that live in very remote areas. If a family is fortunate enough to have a puesto close enough to a river then the animals have readily accessible water. If not, then the family needs to share some of their water to keep animals alive.

So where is their value-added point? The answer is combing the fibers earlier in the season and separating the fibers based on what part of the body it came from as well as the color. This time the cooperative separated the combing times, August and September, as well as the body parts, flank (body) from legs. They did this as a result of our discussions the last time I was down and out of curiosity as to whether or not it would really make a difference. This is a significant effort on their part. Unlike our spoiled dogs and cats, these goats do not want to stand still and be groomed; they want to get out onto the pasture to eat! So a few minutes a day per animal is all the shepherds get. Eventually the animal will be fully combed out, but it is labor intensive and the shepherds are very conscious of how much time they spend combing when the animal could be out eating. Food is a very precious commodity.

image005What a difference it made! Across the board, the quality of the fiber was better and there was much less guard hair which translates to a much smaller loss during dehairing for the combings done in August and from the flank. I purchased almost all they had! I also purchased some combed in September and some leg fiber from younger animals. Colors are separated into white, beige, and gray. The grays are by far much finer than the white or beige. I think that the opposite is true here and in Asia because people breed specifically for fine white, which can then be made any color, whereas on the Steppe, they simply separate the colors. Very interesting! By the way, dyeing beige and gray produces fabulous rich, complex colors that cannot be replicated with white fiber!

 

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I sorted raw combed fleece and determined what I was going to buy and why. I then lined up the bags of fibers from the worst (closest) to best so they could touch and look. I answered questions about the qualities and features I was looking for and how those would impact my final product.

Then they got to see the dehaired cashmere from the last 2 years for the first time. What you see on the table is all of the dehaired fiber from the last 2 years, about 5.5 kg! A fire on the steppe eliminated much of the graze and decimated the herds. The surviving animals had to be moved much longer distances for summer grazing and there was no fiber crop that year. As the coop members were beginning to recover, one of the oil extractive companies had a major spill in the grazing area and many hundreds of goats, sheep, cattle, and horses died from poisoning by the spill. There was a very limited amount of fiber harvested this August and September. It has been a very difficult 2 years for the shepherds.

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Some of the Grupo Cost del Rio Colorado cooperative members and Ginger holding dehaired cashmere. They are seeing for the first time the fruits of their labors and Ginger is very happy to purchase those fruits! As you can see this is a harsh, albeit beautiful, environment and it is amazing that the shepherds and their animals survive, even thrive, and are able to produce such a wonderful fiber!

 

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What is life really like on the Patagonian Steppe? It is a harsh existence for the shepherds and their animals. Many of the shepherds are Mapuche Indians or descendants of the Mapuche. The families live fairly solitary lives on their puestos (ranch homes) which are often many miles apart. A family with 500 goats may need 5000 hectares (12,400 acres) to successfully graze their sheep, goats, cows, and horses. The land is very sparse and yields its resources grudgingly.

image021Lolo and Susanna’s winter home sits about half a mile from the Colorado River so they have water for their animals. However, they are also in danger of their home being washed away if flooding occurs. This is their ‘new’ home as the previous home several miles further along the river was washed away 10 yrs prior.

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Their home is built on a concrete pad so the house has a concrete floor. Inside there are two rooms, one for cooking, eating, and living and one for sleeping. They have a gas stove with an oven in the house, which is not very common. Most have a cooking pit in a covered area near the house and an adobe oven for bread baking where they cook year round. The ‘barn’ houses the saddles for the horses and a cooking area. Their house is ‘upscale’ and has a baño behind a large bush not too far from the house. The bucket of water is for ‘flushing’ although there is no scoop other than cupped hands. Lolo and Susanna have raised seven children and now grandchildren here. Lolo jokes that he and his wife have been more productive than the goats!

 

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On our way to visit another family, we needed to make a pit stop. The vista is never ending! We were driving through an area that had volcanic activity only a few thousand years ago. As a result there are large black rocks produced by the lava flows that make walking more difficult and the shrubs are not as high, a bit of a problem if you are hoping for a bit of privacy when relieving yourself!

 

This bathroom comes with a view! A large bush is behind me and this is the view in front of me. What is not apparent is that the shadow at the bottom of the picture is a drop off of several hundred feet to the bottom of the canyon floor. That is the bottom of the cut through and not a level expanse between where I’m standing and the hills opposite! The black rocks in the foreground are lava. This is an area that was created by volcanic activity.

 

 

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At the next puesto we were greeted warmly, as usual. Lunch was on the spit and roasting.

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 They sacrificed a goat kid for us, an honor. Notice the little boy, about 5 yrs old, with his asado knife in his belt. He probably helped to slaughter and skin the goat. The young lady in the background is the thirteen-year-old daughter holding a platter receiving the chunks of goat meat. She will be finishing her middle school education this year. She and the family will then decide if she will continue with her education or if she will come back to the puesto to pitch in. Education is mandatory through middle school and then is voluntary. Children from the country are sent to the closest town where they spend the school year in a boarding school and return home for the summer when all hands are needed.

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Caro, a WCS veterinarian, is standing in front of a typical house. It is built of adobe type brick from mud and straw. The floors are dirt. To the far right is the ‘kitchen,’ the fire pit where the goat was cooked. The long area of the house with the green door, the only door in the house, is the sleeping area. The whole family sleeps and generally lives in that section. On the left is the eating and cooking area. You can see the table in the doorway. There is a cloth on the table in our honor. This is where the family gathers to prepare foods for cooking, eating and to greet visitors. There is a very small gas stove in the back corner of the room that is used to cook fried bread and boil water for mate. The baño is whatever bush you are comfortable using. There is no running water, electricity, or heat. This family has lived here for many years, perhaps multiple generations. The government has recently made small solar panels available to the country people. It is sufficient to power one light for several hours at night.

It is quite arid, so the skin from the goat that was slaughtered in the morning and eaten at lunch was already mostly dry. Flies are not a problem, as things dry so quickly they don’t get much of a chance to lay eggs on fresh meat. The black circular thing is the fire pit where the goat was roasted.

image031The little boys, about five and seven yrs old, entertained themselves riding their stick horses and practicing swinging and tossing their boleadoras. This will be a vital skill when they are older and riding out to wrangle cattle, sheep, and goats. In the meantime being able to take aim and ‘capture’ the post will have to do.

I returned with half of all the dehaired cashmere and about 3 kg of raw cashmere. I’ll combine the raw cashmere fluff from the first trip with the fluff from this trip for the dehairing process. I’ll get a much better yield than if I had processed them separately. Once back in the states, I was fortunate enough to be able to sell about half of the dehaired cashmere that I returned with before I even got home! I have made arrangements to get the rest of the dehaired fiber in September.

Ewephoric Fibers now has enough raw cashmere to be able to plan some unique blends with fine wool and silk. These will be proprietary blends that will be available only through the shop so stay tuned and be one of the first to buy some of this luxurious fiber! A portion of every sale will go into a fund that will go back to the cooperative to facilitate continued production of Patagonian cashmere.

Nerd Corner: Wool Carder Bees

I was scanning through scientific literature looking for something specific and became totally distracted when I saw an article about wool carder bees.  Naturally, being a spinner, I had to check it out!  European wool carder bees, Anthidium manicatum, are in the family Megachilidae which is home to leaf-cutter bees also known as mason bees. Although originally from Europe, they are well traveled and have been introduced to such varied places as the Canary Islands and several countries in South America.  They arrived on our shores sometime before 1963, where they were found in New York State.  Since then, they have spread across the U.S.  and were documented in California in 2007.  They may also have been intentionally brought to the U.S. for their pollenating ability.  No consensus on whether the European wool carder bee was accidentally introduced or if it was a government sanctioned attempt at taking over the pollenating duties of the native honey bee (http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/species-of-invasive-bee-leaves-carnage-in-its-wake.html), you will have to decide that for yourself.  In their native Europe, wool carder bees are found primarily in gardens in England and are in fact the only Anthidium in England where they consume pollen like other bees, preferring long throated blue flowers of Old World origin.  There are also native species, A. maculosum and A. palliventre which live their lives in a similar manner, supporting the theory that was an accidental introduction.

wool bee on yellow flower

wool bee on yellow flower

wool bee on purple flower

wool bee on purple flower

The wool carder bees are a small yellow and black bee and true to their family, they cut bits of leaves and flowers from such plants as roses, azaleas, red buds and bougainvillea to use in constructing their nests.  The males aggressively defend their territory and their females from any other insect that enters that space, including honey bees.  They are not ‘little terrorists’ as are their African counterparts.  They are just pollinators going about the business of pollinating, something they do very well.  According to an article from UC Davis (http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/24881) they do not have 5 stingers or go to war with honey bees.  The males do have five small appendages on the end of the abdomen that they use for defense and they are very aggressive about defending their territory.

male wool carder bee butt

male wool carder bee butt

But it is the females that earned the name ‘wool carder’ for the species.  The female bees will find hirsute (hairy) leaves, such as lamb’s ears, and scrape the fuzz off the surface.  She will bundle it against her abdomen and fly back to her nest where she will use it to line the nest for her offspring.  She selects a cavity or hole and uses that to line her nest where she will lay her eggs.  This is a solitary bee and does not form hives like the honey bees that many of us are familiar with.

bee with fluff

bee with fluff

harvested leaves

harvested leaves

wool carder bee nest

wool carder bee nest

A wool carding bee…now how cool is that?!?

I don’t remember if I ever found what I was originally looking for, I found something much better!

For more information:

http://www.honeybeesuite.com/native-pollinator-wool-carder-bee/

http://www.fws.gov/humboldtbay/beeguide/wool-carderbee.html

Spinning Lessons Resume

drop spindles for sale

drop spindles for sale

Ewephoric Fibers will once again be teaching spinning lessons!

On June 22 at 1 p.m. we will meet at the Peaceful Paths conference room for lessons and communal spinning. It’s a large room, so we will teaching spinning only on one side of the room. Which means the other side of the room is free to folks who would just like to come sit and spin, knit, crochet, or follow their muse in whatever way they choose! Our plan is to do this on a monthly basis so don’t miss out on the very first gathering!

As you gain skills you can join the communal spinners on the other side of the room!

Drop Spindle Group Instruction: $30 per person. Includes one hour of instruction, one of Jane’s painted spindles (pictured in this post), and 2 oz of fiber to get started.

Wheel Spinning Group Instruction: $35 per person. Includes one hour of instruction, use of one of Ginger’s wheels, and 2 oz of fiber to get you started. Ginger will bring wheels each month when we meet so that you will be able to try out different styles of wheels.

Communal Crafting: FREE. Please bring a donation to Peaceful Paths to help support their efforts at eliminating domestic violence. Scroll down this page to see a list of their needs.

Lessons are limited to four (4) people at a time, so it will be first come, first served! Email us to let us know to save you a spot: www-at-ewephoricfibers-dot-com.

We are also available to schedule additional one-on-one lessons. Email www-at-ewephoricfibers-dot-com to make arrangements.

Peaceful Paths is located at 2100 NW 53rd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32653 (link goes to a Google Map).

 

Nerd Corner: The Golden Orb Shawl

Ginger writes:
A spider in my house is perfectly safe. This has nothing to do with a love of spiders, or an eco-friendly need to spare bug eating predators, or even a Buddha-like moral sense. No. I have such a phobia of spiders that I can’t stay in the same room or calmly comment about a spider’s presence so someone else can deal with the “emergency.” They are perfectly safe because I can’t get close enough to sweep one out the door — never mind kill one.

Spider Silk Textile

Spider Silk Textile Panel (Lamba Akotifahana), 2008. Madagascar. Seven panels joined: spider silk, plain weave with supplementary brocading wefts and patterning warps. Source: Art Institute of Chicago.

Picture, if you will, a large spider innocently walking across a room, blocking the only exit. And then picture a woman standing on a step stool (spider might run across the floor in her direction) with a broom to keep said spider at bay and wearing dishwashing gloves (spider might actually touch the broom). Her heart is pounding; she is sweating profusely. My son was amused, especially since his mother squealed like a little girl as he scooped up the spider and took it outside. I was decidedly NOT amused!

Now imagine the mix of fascination and revulsion I felt when I read about a piece of fabric woven from golden orb spiders’ webs! (Read some amazing exhibition notes from The Art Institute of Chicago and The American Museum of Natural History and the Victoria and Albert Museum on their spider silk textiles.) I had to read the articles and then look at the pictures of the fabric. It is an amazing golden color that shimmers and has a brilliant visual texture. It is absolutely stunning. Simply, wordlessly stunning! Who did it and how? Here’s a link to a high-res photo of the spider itself.

Detail of embroidered cape made of spider silk, made by Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley, 2011

Detail of an embroidered cape made of spider silk, made by Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley, 2011. Source: Victoria and Albert Museum.

A spider’s web is a sticky net in which it snares its supper. And the golden orb spider (Nephila spp.) spins one  that can span 15-20 feet, or more! Their webs are elastic and amazingly tough, and yes, they are golden in color. I live in Florida where golden orb spiders are ubiquitous. Here they are called banana spiders because of their large yellow abdomens. The spider that lives in that web is HUGE!

I will never weave a fabric made from the filaments of any spider web. I can’t touch it or even begin to imagine collecting the raw material! But I’m grateful that some else can. I’d love to see the shawl in person but I don’t think I could ever actually touch it. So spiders and their webs are perfectly safe from me…give me a venomous reptile any time!

Ewephoric Spinning Academy

Wild Roving, Tamed

Wild Roving, Tamed

Join Ewephoric Fibers for an informative and fun-filled day of spinning. In the morning portion of the workshop, we will spin wild roving and batts. In the afternoon, we will work on plying to make the best possible yarns. While we are learning about wonderful fibers, we will also be helping a most worthy cause, Peaceful Paths. This non-profit group assists women moving out of abusive situations into a position of self-sufficiency and strength. Ten percent of every workshop fee will go to Peaceful Paths. Feel free to bring a non-perishable food donation for their food pantry. Details after the jump…

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