Category Archives: Wild Instincts

October is Nearly Over?

October is nearly over?  Where did the month (and Autumn) go?

2 Ply Handspun Coopworth.

While spinning the first two bobbins of Coopworth roving, 3 weeks ago or so, I recalled that I do not like small skeins of handspun yarns.  What could I do except go online to The Woolerly and order the plying head/kit for my folding Lendrum double treadle wheel.  It arrived with no instructions, so I headed to YouTube to find a video to show me how to change the original spinning head to the plying head, and in particular, how to change the drive band.  After watching a short video by Paradise Fibers, I had everything changed over in short order and could proceed with plying.  Two original bobbins equaled one full plying bobbin!  I skeined if off with the Ashford (floor) skein winder and could get a quick photo.  There is a lot more Coopworth to spin up, I’m looking forward to hours of pleasant spinning, then knitting it all into a warm winter cardigan.

Early in October, I was able to be at a bear “cub” release with Wild Instincts.  They raised five bear cubs since spring, bearing hunting season is over, and now they could be placed back into the wild.  First they were tranquilized so they could be transported, then tagged (FDA requirement), placed in critter carriers for the ride, given a shot to wake them, then we waited for them to wake up enough so move off on their own. 

Tranquilized bear cubs.
Tagged, and trying to wake up.
The last one, going off to his new life.

It has been snowing nearly every day.  The next two photos were taken this morning (Thursday), and it has snowed more or less most of the day.  I’m looking for a couple bit warmer days with a some sun so I can fill those wood racks in the garage, and get wood under tarp into the woodshed.

From my bedroom window, leaves still on the lilac, now snow-covered.
My summer “dye studio,” now winter scene.

Needless to say, my winter dye studio will be either in my somewhat heated garage, in my kitchen, or the dyeing will just have to wait until late spring/early summer, not my first preference.  I’ll make something work!

The night before my flights, I suddenly decided to apply to be on the 2014 Northwoods Art Tour again, and dropped my application, check, and nine photos (weaving, socks, studio) into the mail on my way out of town.  It will likely be a couple weeks before I hear if I was selected, but I am hoping.

Meanwhile, I have been coming up with new ideas to try with woven shibori, and with a few yards left on my loom, I can now begin trying them out and see if I can make them work.  I’m learning to keep a notepad and/or sketchbook nearby, even when travelling.

Now that I’ve had time to rest after my travels (a ridiculous amount of walking!), I’m looking forward to weaving, experimenting, and keeping good notes!

Life’s Little Interruptions

No, I didn’t forget about my blog!  I had family visiting here for five days, took a couple days to just chill, and then my annual infection in a tooth enjoying a slow death decided this was the time to complicate life.  I’m halfway through the antibiotic, have been able to cut back on number of Ibuprophin I’m taking, and finally gotten back to working with fibers again.

Handspun from Coopworth roving.

Three or four years ago, I brought home two large bags of Coopworth roving from the WI Sheep & Wool Festival, one bag of this beautiful natural brown roving, the other, white.  An invite to participate in the first annual Spinzilla arrived, but a realistic look at my schedule and a couple commitments clearly showed I could not take an entire week in October and do nothing but spin 24/7.  Hopefully next year, I must remember to mark that on my calendar.

So while enduring a fair amount of pain over the past five days, I decided to do a little spinning when Ibuprophin had taken the edge off things.  I am spinning this on my double treadle folding Lendrum wheel, and now have two full bobbins.  I really dislike tiny little skeins of yarn, and am now waiting for the plying head kit for this wheel to arrive from The Woolery, along with a new drive band (original band is now about 7 years old).  As soon as it arrives I’ll ply the two together, and then I can spin up more, hoping for enough for a sweater. 

I am currently working on more woven shibori scarves, the next blog post will have photos of the new scarves.

Small Red-Tail Hawk, during its exam, upon arrival at Wild Instincts.

My most recent wildlife run for Wild Instincts was to transport an injured Red-Tail Hawk.  It was examined, given subcutaneous fluids, tube fed, then ate a small fish on its own after being settled into a recovery area.  Tags on it showed it is part of a study from the Chicago O’Hare Airport area.  Hoping for recovery and release.

Now, back to my loom, it’s nearly Oct. 5th and I am not finished! 

Northwoods Life, In and Out of the Studio

Woven shibori scarf.

Woven shibori has turned out to be a fascinating weaving technique, and my experimenting with weave structures and tie-ups continues.  The scarf above is the last from the most recent warp.  16/2 Bockens cotton sett at 30 epi, advancing twill threading and freeform tie-up.  A new warp is on the loom, and though the tie-up will remain the same (perhaps one or two treadles changed a bit), the threading is another advancing twill and I’m looking forward to seeing the differences.  I need to update my records before I start forgetting details.

A bit closer look.

The dyeing on the scarf is actually fairly even, but the photos appear lighter on the top than the bottom.  The photos were taken outdoors early this afternoon, on the lakeside porch, and I believe the porch roof is giving a shaded or shadow effect. 

Later in October, I’m looking forward to being able to branch out into larger works, as well as try one or two wearable pieces.  It’s always good to have new learning and challenges to look forward to! 

Norwegian coverlet book.

A few days ago I was looking at the 2014 class schedule on the VavStuga website, and saw mention of a Norwegian coverlet book, “Om fellen kunne fortelle… akletradisjon til inspirasion” by Randi Breiset ($44.00 US).  It was originally published in 2001, and perhaps has been reprinted.  The book is being carried again in the VavStuga shop.  Of course, I sent an immediate email asking a copy be sent to me.  What a treat!  Beautiful photos, a bit of history about each, and drafts and weaving information provided.  There is also an abbreviated English supplement in the book. 

I am looking forward to the coming winter and continuing my woven shibori studies, and attempting a small version of a Norwegian coverlet.

If you read this blog you are probably aware I am a volunteer rescue driver for Wild Instincts, a wildlife rehab facility here in the WI Northwoods.  After doing this volunteer work for 12+ years, it has been a real treat to be able to be present at the release of a few of them.  If you’ve ever wondered what the release of fawns was like, the following photos will show you!

Don’t worry, they are alive.

The previous day, five fawns were released; on this day, the last six were going to their new location.  The fawns were tranquilized, carried over near the transport vehicle and laid on the ground, where Sharon tagged them (required by State of WI).

Four of the six fawns ready to go.

After being tagged they were each placed in the vehicle.  Ken is one of many volunteers for Wild Instincts.

After arriving, the fawns were again placed on the ground.

Mark gives each an antidote to help them wake up.

One by one, heads started to raise, and when ready they were helped to their feet.

This fawn laid down again, wanting more rest.

They still have their spots.

Fawns were moved off into their new lives, back in the wild.

Next month,… I hope to be there for release of five bear cubs.  Stay tuned!

And now, back to the weaving studio, where another 12 yards of warp for more woven shibori scarves awaits me, and three or so sock orders, and getting ready for the Oct. 5 art show/sale.  Yes, I’m back to cranking socks again,… cooler autumn temps and another winter are on the way!

Spring Activites at the Studio


“Lammskinn” and “Skinnfeller.”

The second book I sent for, on working with sheepskins arrived, “Lammskinn.”  This is the book mentioned in a previous post that I’d seen in issue 1/2013 of VAV Magazine.  “Lammskinn” is in Swedish, and appears to focus more on items to wear.  “Skinnfeller” is in Norwegian, and is more functional items, along with the stamping done on the leather, an old art in Norway I am told.  I am just beginning to translate them, using Google Translate along with a little help when needed, when I need clarification or something doesn’t make sense.  I am doing this for my own learning.  Photos are wonderful, but I want information, too.  Why did I order these?  I wanted to know how sheepskins are stitched to woven coverlets, and though I could just put it together, I wanted to know how it is done in those countries where this type of coverlet is a long tradition.  Thankfully, “Lammskinn” has a couple photos with diagram of how to stitch the two together.  A lot to spend for that bit of information, yes, but there is so much more contained in these books and I want to learn.

First woven shibori scarf, in progress.

After weaving ten samples, most on the 10 shaft twill threading, and a couple on Monk’s Belt, I re-warped the loom with enough warp for two or three scarves, the photo above is of the first, in progress.  This will be a scarf with woven shibori border at each end. 

Scarf (far left) and ten samples, ready to be dyed.

On the left, above is the scarf with woven shibori border at each end, and the ten samples.  Such a tangle of threads!  Laying horizontally across the top is a sample with the gathering threads trimmed.  I want to be sure things are tight enough before trimming the rest as it will be easier to tighten and tie with the longer threads. 

Woven shibori is an interesting process, full of possibilities.  You weave with white, warp and weft, and the gathering thread.  Off the loom, you gather from one side, tie tightly, then gather and really tighten things up from the other side.  Most of the samples were 8″ wide at the reed, and the scarf was 10″ wide at the reed.  After gathering tightly, they are now perhaps 1 1/8″ to 1 1/4″ wide.

If all goes well, I hope to make up my first indigo dyepot tomorrow, and will test if the vat is working, and depth of color, with a small piece or two of PFD cotton, then try one of the woven samples.  After they are wet, and the first sample dyed, I will probably open it up to see if the tightened pattern threads kept the dye out, or not.  If not, I’ll have to open up and tighten all the threads on all the samples and scarf, then proceed.  I’ll be taking photos during the process, and of the results afterward. 

I kept hoping for spring and warmer temps, and late in April we did have a couple warm days, then it went back to cold, freezing rain, sleet, and even a bit of snow early in May.  Tomorrow should be 64 or so, warmer would be better, as I want to do the dyeing outside on the lakeside porch, close to water source, and stove, or hotplate or something if I need to warm the vat a bit.  Also, I can tie clothesline between the house, a pine tree, and a fence post to have a place to hang the samples and scarves.  I’d really prefer to not have indigo soaking into pine floors.

I had hoped to possibly start the dyeing this morning, but then the phone rang…  it was Wild Instincts (I am a rescue driver for them).  Could I go out and get a loon that had landed on a road?  Yes.  So put bin, bag with heavy gloves, etc. in the back of my vehicle and was on my way.  Arrived, no loon, no people, checked my phone, they had called back, the loon had been taken to an animal hospital, so turn around and head down the highway. 

I put the box the loon was in into my large bin as I didn’t want it deciding to try and escape or get injured further.  All was well until I reached Rhinelander when there was a fair amount of thumping going on in back.  I pulled off the road and sure enough, the loon had had enough and was trying to get out of the box.  No choice, but to put the lid on the bin (there are lots of airholes) for the last 10 minutes of the ride.  I’d left it off as I didn’t want the loon to overheat.  When I arrived and took the lid off, the loon was, of course, still in the bin, but no longer in the box!  An intern examined the loon and found scapes on the bottom of both feet and one “toe” was a bit split.  Injuries were sprayed with appropriate meds and it was determined the loon could be released right away.  So back into the bin, I drove the intern a mile or so down the road, and she was able to release the loon onto a now ice-free lake.  That was one happy loon!  The three photos below are from early this afternoon.  I’ve been doing this rescue driver work for perhaps twelve years, and this was the first time I was there to witness a release.  What a joy!

Common Loon, after treatment, back in bin for ride to a lake.
Wild Instincts intern releasing the loon at a northwoods lake.


The loon immediately swam away, and began diving.  A very happy ending!

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Black Bear cub at Wild Instincts, Rhinelander, WI.

A little catching up,… I am a volunteer for Wild Instincts, Rhinelander, WI, a wildlife rehab facility.  As a rescue driver for them, I rarely get a call, in winter, to go out and bring in wildlife in winter, so knowing they were working hard to get their new building ready for the spring “deluge,” I went over to help paint walls for a day in January, and again in February.  While there, it was time for Mark Naniot, registered rehabber, to feed two baby black bears.  After he fed the first one, he asked if I’d like to hold it while he fed the second.  A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, I happily held the now contented baby for a few minutes.  Of course while holding him, he peed on me, so I spent the afternoon smelling like baby bear urine, and yes, I tossed my clothes when I arrived home.  A month later, I was able to hold him again, this time I had a paper towel under his little bottom, and thankfully, no “accident.”  I am happy to report the two cubs were placed in a den with a mom and her two cubs. 

To read more about these and other black bears, go to the Wild Instincts blog,  There are some amazing videos there!

WI Northwoods, Autumn 2012.

We had quite a beautiful autumn this year, good color as we’d had more rain than we’ve had over the past few years. 

Milo, watching me work outdoors.

Sock machine demo on Oct. 6, 2012.

On Saturday, October 6th, the Lake Country Weavers had their fiber arts demonstrations and sale in Eagle River, WI.  As I am currently the only sock-cranker in the group, and the sock machine is more portable than my looms, that is what I usually demonstrate on.  Then a call came from an area gallery, would I like to have my socks in their gallery for November, so I got busy cranking again to have socks to take over.

A few of the socks made in October.

Detail of “School Days Plaid” socks.

Cranking socks on an sunny autumn day.

Socks at the gallery.

Time to get back to my sketchbooks.

It feels like I’ve been doing the same kind of weaving for far too long.  I’ve been thinking and asking myself for the past year, “what is it I really want to weave?”  I finally came up with answers, and bit by bit, pieces of it have been falling into place.  

So, with the new year it almost here, I have a lot of learning and exploring to do at Shuttle Works Studio!

Shuttle Works Studio on an early winter morning.