Mini Lap Charkha and my inability to leave well-enough alone: part 2

Part 1: https://www.jmjamison.com/mini-lap-charkha-and-my-inability-to-leave-well-enough-alone/

More additions, grommets and washers.

I think I finally have it adjusted. Spinning comfortably.

UFOs (Unfinished Projects)

This one is embarrassing. About a year or so ago I received a box of heirloom cotton. The project was to gin it, spin, and do something. It sat on my desk for way to long while I’d occasionally get some of the ginning done, comb, roll some punis, spin a bit and that was about it.

Since I’ve been working from home – the faux cubicle with a view – I got on a roll hand ginning all the cotton. Unlike my backyard Pima this cotton didn’t peel easily off the seeds. I ginned through Zoom meetings, breaks, the occasional netflix movie and about two weeks into quarantine that part was finished.

Originally I learned how to spin cotton on a book charkha from Eileen Hallman / New World Textiles (https://newworldtextiles.com/). She’s a fabulous teacher and if you have the chance to take one of her workshops do so.

Ashford Charkha

Over time my cotton spinning preference has been the Ashford Charkha. I’m able to spin in a chair with the weel in my lap. Wheel base is less than a foot in length and very portable.

And recently I bought myself a GypsySpinner Mini-Lap Charkha (https://www.facebook.com/minicottonspinner/). Spins beautifully and even more portable. So I have no more excuses.

GypsySpinner Mini Lap-Charkha

On the Internet No One Knows You’re a Dog or That You’re Spinning Cotton During Zoom Meetings

GypsySpinner Mini Lap Charkha and the cotton shrub that ate my clothes line

Still working from home. This is the first time I’ve had a window in my cubicle. And I can water what’s left of the post-drought garden on my breaks.

Today, like about an hour ago my GypsySpinner Mini Lap Charkha arrived in the mail (https://www.facebook.com/minicottonspinner). Picture me happily spinning during Zoom meetings. While my co-workers assume I’m knitting another pair of socks.

I work cramped and I like fold-able and portable. This is as portable as a book charkha. When UCLA employees go back to working on campus the mini-charkha is going with me for lunch breaks.

Interminable reboots during software updates no longer irritates me. Grab a spindle or sock knitting.

Back at the home-cubicle I have a UFO (Unfinished Project, not a flying saucer) that involves cotton spinning so more on later.

Of Woad, Oxalis, and Cotton Mordanting

[Bees in the Oxalis]

About the Woad.  I haven’t written much about Woad since there hasn’t been any for awhile. Woad is not a desert plant. (Pause for a moment of duh.) My area of southern California is what some may call “reclaimed desert”. Something you can forget until the car breaks down in the San Fernando Valley in July and there is your reminder. 

Two years of drought wiped out whatever Woad I still had growing. But, I still have seeds from the last plant so I’m going to try again this year. Nothing of course can wipe out Oxalis.  And the bees like it.

My other on-going project will be mordanting cotton following the method described in John Liles ‘Art and craft of natural dyeing”.    Lots of scouring, soaking and then mordanting, more steeping, more soaking and then you get to the actual dying.  

 

Thanksgiving and first Oxalis

Earlier this week I picked the first Oxalis of it’s – the Oxalis’ season. I don’t think that this really qualifies as a “season” but what I’ve observed locally is: Fennel blooms and continues more-or-less to late Spring to Fall and Oxalis blooms late in Fall and continues to Spring. (Glove on the hand because I am a total weather-wimp.)

And since I’m writing this on the (United States) Thanksgiving Day holiday, I will note that one can always be thankful for a consistant, reliable dye plant that dyes wool, cotton and probably things I haven’t tried yet. (And the bees like it too!)

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Don’t Diss the Onions : Onion Skins as dye

Not the most exotic sounding dye material but don’t underestimate the onions or the onion skin. For me it has been a reliable, versatile dye that I can use on both protein and plant fiber. So farĀ  I’ve dyed wool, cotton, and soy silk.

Above, pre-alumed wool dyed with onion skins. The green is indigo over-dyed in the same batch. The plant:fiber ratio was .5:1 but I believe that I could have used considerably less dye stuff. The onion skins and fiber had been simmered for an hour and left to soak over night. The next day the dye still wasn’t exhausted so I over-dyed some previously indigo-dyed wool.

Copper and Iron after-baths darkened the color but ended up with similar shades. The Ammonia after-bath brightened a bit.

Onion skins are easy to save up and store. When I am shopping produce I sometimes tidy up around the onion bin.

Cats, cotton, oxalis and nice weather

Today we had the kind of weather that inspired my parents to pull up stakes from Ohio and move to California. It may start raining sometime tonight but for today it was quite lovely. Becides the cats and bees I heard then saw a humming bird in the Orange tree. Also a couple of ladybugs.

TR bee in oxalis

My cotton shrub (below) kept going all through what passes out here for winter and is currently surrronded by the Oxalis that may dye some of it.

cotton shrub and oxalis  cotton and oxalis

back yard pima cotton  back yard pima cotton

charkha 

This last rather poorly lit picture is the Charkha I use for spinning cotton. That, and a portable Akha-style spindle. I was able to take a class from Eileen Hallman (New World Textiles) and purchased a Charkha from her. (Good instructor, good class.)