Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Yarns

I have new yarns posted on the website and in the Artfire store. These are luscious yarns in silk and wool with novelty characteristics, shimmer, shine, colour and texture. Each is one of a kind.

I love spinning novelty yarns. It takes more work since each has to go through the wheel 5 to 7 times to make a balanced, stable yarn. But the effect is worth the extra effort. Cabled yarns are exquisite to weave with and to knit with.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Natural Dye Kitchen

I dye daily. So having an outdoor kitchen, separate from our household kitchen has been on my wish list for a long time. This summer we found the perfect solution at Canadian Tire -- a combination outdoor sink and breakfast barbeque with a propane powered flame burner and a barbecue grill. Two large dye pots fit comfortably on it.

The sink attaches to a garden hose and the drain runs into a bucket under the sink. The grey water can be used to water flowers.

We use mostly natural dyes here at Joybilee Farm. So this set up allows us to brew the dye plants outdoors with excellent ventilation -- while still being protected from wind and rain.

It is all stainless steel so it cleans up beautifully after a week of dyeing. Under the stove and the sink there is an enclosed cupboard for storing dye mordants, washing soda, vinegar and other dye assists.

Its the perfect situation for production dyeing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Joybilee Farm is a WWOOF host farm specializing in fiber art and fiber farming. We have our second wwoofer with us now. WWOOF stands for "world wide opportunities on Organic Farms". It works like this: A host farm signs up with WWOOF Canada and their farm is listed on the WWOOF Canada site with a description of the farm and the expectations of the host family. WWOOFers looking for a farm placement can search for the criteria that are most important to them -- vegetarian ok -- sheep -- gardens. When a WWOOFer finds a host farm that looks appealing, they contact the host and see if there is an opening at a time that's convenient for the WWOOFer. If there is a match, the host has a WWOOFer coming.

Once the WWOOfer arrives, the host family picks them up at the bus depot, provides them with accommodation and meals in exchange for 6 hours of work 5 1/2 days a week. And the WWOOFer learns by doing things around the farm -- in our case that means caring for fiber animals and dye plants, plus using our extensive fiberarts library, videos and hands on fiber learning.

Our first wwoofer, Jessica, left on Saturday, after helping us set up for an artisan market in Grand Forks. We miss you, Jessica.

Jessica is at the end of her second year, med school and a knitter. She came to Joybilee Farm to learn more about spinning, dyeing and raising fiber animals.

She saw a new born, still wet, cria. She learned to sort fleece, how to tell a good fleece from a weak fleece, how to wash a fleece, how to spindle spin and how to spin on a spinning wheel. Plus lots about woad and natural indigo. Jessica was my assistant at the indigo dye workshop with the Rumpelstiltskin guild a week ago.

While she was here she spun 2 skeins of yarn and plied them. She dyed roving with natural indigo and created a shibori picture. Plus she helped me weed willows and garden beds, she helped me skirt fleece. She helped clean out the rabbit barn. And she explained covalent bonds to Sarah and helped her understand why reduced indigo has a negative charge on the Oxygen atom.

I am still seeing things around the farm that she did without waiting to be asked. I noticed this morning that she started mulching around the apple trees -- my job for today. Thanks, Jessica for all your hard work and cheerfulness. We hope you come back some day.

Kati is here now, from Mexico. Kati is a graduate of Emily Carr in Vancouver with an emphasis in Fiber Art. She is more interested in natural dyes than in spinning. Kati has been weeding the linen plot this week and caring for the angora rabbits. Yesterday she learned how to pluck an angora bunny and watched the Maiwa video "In Search of Lost Colour". Kati will have a successful career in the fiberarts. Her plans are to go back to her family home in Mexico and begin growing natural dyes, including cochineal. Awesome!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Natural Indigo Dye Workshop

On Wednesday there was a natural indigo dye workshop at Joybilee Farm. The Rumpelstiltskin Guild from Rock Creek came for some blue magic with the natural indigo vat. 6 ladies came for the informative 1/2 day workshop.

They learned some background about natural indigo and had an introduction in indigo botany. They toured the natural dye garden and saw woad plants in flower and in the rosette stage. They received recipes for a natural indigo fermentation vat and a thiox vat. We did a thiox vat and had fun playing with different folding, clamping resist techniques.

The guild is doing more quilting than spinning and weaving lately, so we dyed two cotton fabrics and one silk scarf. Yarn was also dyed in the vat as a demonstration.

It was a wonderful time. The workshop takes place in our outdoor dye kitchen -- as the fragrance of the vat is a little overpowering indoors -- just ask the Grand Forks Art Gallery!

We are going to do it all over again on July 25th at the 2nd Annual Indigo Dye Demonstration at Joybilee Farm. This is a Year of Natural Fibre Special event. Its part of a special weekend in Grand Forks, B.C. that begins on July 24th with a year of Natural Fibre Farmer's Market in the morning, a Joybilee Farm Angora spinning workshop in the afternoon and a fiberartist lecturing at the GF Art Gallery on Friday night.

Then join us for the Indigo Dye Day at the farm on Saturday, all day. It will be a blast. Now if I could just find a blues band to round out the lineup.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane

Today we made the 3 hour trip to Kelowna with two breeding pairs of rabbits. One pair was bound for Edmonton and the other bound for Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, both via Air Canada.

This is our first time shipping live animals by Air Canada and we were very pleased with the service from this end. The service rep on the other end of the telephone was very patient and helpful walking me through the various flight options to find the best fit. And Bob, at the Kelowna Air Canada Cargo office was wonderful, working out how to use the Kennels that we purchased at

The kennels were a hassle. They were the right size and got to Joybilee Farm on time. However, although they were advertised as airline approved -- they didn't meet the specifications for live animal shipments because they had plastic doors.

Air Canada was not going to take them -- after I prebooked them and drove 3 hours to the airport, early in the morning. Then Bob, thought about what could be done and zap-strapped the doors more securely. Bless Bob! I couldn't face a 3 hour drive home, only to have to do it again in a couple of days with a modified kennel.

So if you want to ship bunnies on an airline, make sure your kennel has a wire door. Not the plastic door that comes on the small Costco kennels. I checked out Kennels in Canadian Tire, while we were in Kelowna. They have Kennels with wire doors at a reasonable price so next time I'll go to Canadian Tire first.

I'm still waiting to hear that the bunnies arrived at their destinations safely. I hope no news is good news.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Introducing Amaretto's cria....

Latte was born 4 hours ago. Its almost dark and chores are done. Latte is safe with her Mom Amaretto and the other llamas.

Another female cria. Wow! Laddie has only given us females so far -- 5 in 5 years.

Isn't she gorgeous?

Our wwoofer, Jessica, was with us when we found her in the field with her Mom this evening. Amaretto was waiting for Robin, the shepherd, to carry baby Latte up the hill to the safety of the paddock. Lots of humming -- normal humming for us and high pitched humming for Latte.

Jessica has been here since Monday, helping with weeding the garden, planting vegetables, and mulching garden beds. She's been a tremendous help. On Tuesday she learned how to spin on a drop spindle. This afternoon she learned how to sort a fleece, how to tell a good fleece from a bad fleece, a fine, soft fleece from a strong lustre fleece, a male fleece from a female fleece. Now she's seen a new born cria. Tomorrow we are setting up a natural indigo vat.

Today she started spinning on a Kiwi wheel.