The “summer shades” blanket is almost complete. There are only about two inches left to weave and after that there is the finishing work (tying the fringes, trimming, pressing and the like). It should be a good day for that type of activity. While it is bright,  sunny and warm at the loom, it is cold outside. A couple of nights ago the temperature got down to -12.5 F (24.7C) and today is not getting much warmer. We are coping well, as are the sheep. It is relatively warm in the barn (20F) with no major drafts. The sheep are fully fleeced and are quite comfortable as long as they have plenty of clean bedding, they stay dry and have a bit more than usual to eat.

While it is cold, there is plenty of good snow for cross country skiing and snow shoeing. More snow and more moderate temperatures are also on the way. Four of the state parks in the county have groomed cross country ski trails. In late January and through February there will be special candle-lit trails for night skiing in the parks. The first evening is schedule for the 31st of January at Whitefish Dunes State Park, just down the road from us. Check on the park’s website for details and current ski conditions.

With an emphasis for us on indoor activity, it is time to think about the next project for the loom. Gretchen has dyed a good collection of wool in blue, red and violet shades using natural dyes from indigo, cochineal and logwood. Those dyed yarns plus some of our naturally colored gray yarns will most likely be the source for the next blanket.

Just down the road is another dye project. Over the last six months we have saved and frozen all of the peels and pits from the avocados which we have consumed. A couple of weeks ago it was time to make room in the freezer and thus time to make use of the avocado remnants. The peels and pits were rinsed and dried. Once dry, we ran them through a food processor. The resulting small chunks have now been “fermenting” in water in large glass jars, one each for pits and peels. Every couple of days we have brought the solution close to a boil to stop any mold from developing. The resulting liquids are currently a lovely, intense shade of red (from the pits) and a more subdued red/brown (form the peels).Avocado dye

Sometime this coming week we will get a couple of skeins of white yarn dyed using each of the two solutions. We also will probably dye some light gray raw wool. Once the first dying is complete for each set of yarn and the wool we will assess the remaining liquid and perhaps do a second set of skeins in the diluted solutions. The result should be light shades of the same colors. Interestingly the color of the solution does not always translate into the same color that is permanently dyed into the fiber. We will post an update and photos once the yarn has been dyed.

Once we have separated the dye bath from the solids, we will try grinding the chunks of peel and pits down to a finer consistency. At that point we will try replicating the “fermentation” process again to see if we can extract any further dyes.

Lastly, we have again started saving peels and pits for another session either next summer or winter.