Summer Weaving and Eagle Evenings

Aug. 16, 2013, four scarves to indigo dye on a beautiful day.

Four new woven shibori scarves were woven this past week for a small five artist/artisan show.  Using 16/2 Swedish cotton, 30 epi, advancing twill threading, freeform tie-up, each scarf was treadled differently.  Friday was a beautiful mostly sunny day, warm and a bit humid.  I set up on a table on the lakeside porch, and opened the dyepots to see how they were after weeks of very little use.  The original vat looked great, green though there were blue specks.  The vat with the lightest shade did not look good at all, and the smaller vat with a medium shade looked hopeful. 

Four scarves, gathered and tied, soaking in water before dying.

I placed the four gathered and tied scarves in water and gave them time for the water to penetrate the folds.  Meanwhile, I got online to see what I would need to do to revive the vats.  Thiox was needed, so mixing a bit at a time, I added some to each.  Only the lightest vat didn’t seem to change no matter how much I added or how long I waited. 

Left, scarves hanging on rack to begin drying; right, fabric test pieces.

 tried fabric in each vat, to check how well it would dye as well as shade.  The original vat worked well, not as dark a color as the first time, but that was fine as I didn’t want that dark of a color.  Another vat gave a light shade by a bit uneven color, the medium vat was working better than the light.  Some fabric pieces were dipped a second time to give a bit darker shade.  Once I felt confident the dying would work, the scarves were dyed, a couple of them put in the dyebath a second time very briefly.  They were each rinsed in two large buckets of water, then left to dry on the porch, but because of the humidity weren’t drying.  Needing them finished the next day, I moved the rack to an upstairs bedroom, turned a box fan on and closed the door. 

Beginning to remove pattern threads from the lightest color scarf.

Needing the scarves for Saturday, I started removing pattern threads as soon as they were partly dry.  I began with the lightest scarf, leaving the others to continue drying.  Removing the threads involves clipping the knots along one edge, sometimes a challenge when tightly knotted as you do not want to clip a warp or weft thread in the process.  My fear was having used 16/2 cotton, I might either cut a thread with scissors, or break a thread when pulling the pattern threads from the other side.  By the time I got to the last scarf, I discovered the threads pull out easier when dry (or nearly dry). 

On one scarf, I had mistakenly used a shuttle with seine twine which I had used on previous cottolin scarves.  For the next three I used a beige rug warp which though strong, was also a bit more difficult to tie tightly and hold a tight knot.  After clipping all the knots on one edge, I  turned the scarf around and began smoothing out the gathers to my left while holding the pattern thread with my right hand, approximately half the gathers, then go back to the top and start pulling the threads out, gently. 

First, a crinkly look.

After the pattern threads are removed, the fabric is crinkly, really quite a nice effect, but they still needed pressing a couple of times, and twisting of fringe.

Were the first two rinses out on the porch enough?  NO!  There is indigo inside those folds that does not rinse out until the pieces are able to be opened.  So, downstairs to a sink where they were washed with mild soap, then rinsed repeatedly until the water was clear.  Then back up the drying rack and box fan to dry them again, prior to finishing.  They were pressed while still a bit damp, allowed to dry more, fringes twisted, and a final pressing.

New scarves on Saturday, three of the four new scarves went to new homes!

I’m very pleased with the new finer threads scarves.  Did I mention this is very time-consuming?  For me, they are well worth it, and just need to take that into account in the future.

My favorite of the four!

Indigo dyed a medium+ shade, this was my favorite, and is one-of-a-kind since I treadled it randomly, and used random numbers of rows of tabby between the pattern rows, anywhere from 6-14 rows (tabby).  It was also the first scarf sold on Saturday.

It was a beautiful and fun day, I had a great time chatting with people, and was quite tired at the end of the day.  Deciding it was best to go home and rest, that is what I did, for about an hour, and then the phone rang,…

It was Wild Instincts, could I go out on an eagle rescue?  No one else was available and I was closer than the rehabber.  The eagle’s foot was in a beaver trap and it was on the ground under a tree.  If I couldn’t open the trap, just put the eagle with trap into my container and get it to the facility.  I agreed to go, moved the table from the back of my car and put my eagle bin and supply bag back in, and called to get specific directions.

I was given the specific location, and told someone would meet me at the gate.  However, the eagle was now 35+ feet in the air, the chain on the trap caught on a tree branch and the eagle hanging upside down.  Now, I’ll do a lot to try to catch an eagle or other critter, but climbing trees is not something I’m willing to do.  I immediately called the rehabber and said he would have to come and that I was on my way.  This is what I saw when I arrived…

Bald eagle, hanging upside down, trap on its foot caught in a tree branch.

There were three or four men there, one up on a 24′ ladder trimming branches away so they could get a rope over and around the branch so it could be cut and the eagle lowered.  A fire chief also arrived to help provide advice and equipment.  The sun was setting and we were losing light.  The eagle was alert and watching, but also flapping whenever a branch was cut and dropping.  I said please don’t just drop the eagle because if it can fly, it will try to get away and with the trap still on will get tangled somewhere else and die because no one will know where it is. 

A bit blurry, but you can see he trap on its left leg, and chain going up that is tangled on a branch.

Mark arrived, provided another a small saw to use (instead of the long pruner).  I don’t know if the branch broke or or if it was cut and the rope didn’t hold it, but suddenly the eagle was dropping to the ground and it immediately headed for the lake which was a few feet away down a slope.  Mark Naniot was instantly down the slope and into the water with sheet and heavy gloves and came up with the eagle in his arms, its head covered.  I followed him to the road and heard “where’s Jan?”  “I’m coming,” as I pulled on my heavy gloves on so I could hold the eagles legs while Mark opened the trap.  He then took its legs, turned it over and placed it in the eagle bin, while I slowly slid the cover on so it couldn’t try to escape again.

I called this morning, Mark said the eagle is alive, though maggots were in the wound and they’ll know in a week or two if the toe that was caught in the trap will need to be amputated.  There were also lacerations on the wings from flapping against the tree branches, but none were serious.  Praying now the eagle will survive and be able to be released back into the wild.

Wild Instincts is a wildlife rehab facility about 4.5 miles outside of Rhinelander, WI.  Mark Naniot is a licensed wildlife rehabber, and he and his wife own and run the facility, with the assistance from late spring to fall by a number of interns who are learning and gaining experience with this work.  They have quite a number of transport drivers (willing to transport critters already contained), and rescue drivers, like myself, who will not only transport, but sometimes need to catch the wildlife before transporting.  I think this was the third evening this summer I was sent out for an eagle.

Wild Instincts has a high success rate and is a blessing to the WI Northwoods.  Check out their website,; their blog,; and their Facebook page, they often post photos and video.  They are supported entirely by memberships and donations.

Today I gave myself a day to rest, some computer time, time to read, a nap, lots of rest.  Tomorrow, I need to call and order more 16/2 Swedish cotton warp, there is a warp to finish weaving off, and it’s time to begin making socks again, and an evening guild meeting.  And you never know when the phone will ring, you look at it and see the words “Wild Instincts!”  

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