Monthly Archives: August 2011

New one-day class!

New one-day class for the rigid heddle weaver: RH107 Queen Anne’s Lace Dish Towel. Bring your own loom and learn how to weave a multi-colored, striped, cotton dish towel using a slub yarn for the weft. Contact us for more details.

New Rigid Heddle Classes!

Announcing an exciting new series of half-day classes for the rigid heddle weaver! At the request of our students, we are introducing a new mini-series for beginning rigid heddle weavers. To take these classes, all you need is the experience gained in RH100 (introductory class). This series of half-day classes will assist you to develop the skills introduced in the rigid heddle introductory class and will teach you a variety of skills and patterns that you will use in weaving attractive scarves – perfect for the fall and Christmas season. The classes will be on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00.

RH101 Buffalo check scarf, Sept. 24, 2011;

RH102 Houndstooth scarf, October 8, 2011;

RH103 Brooks Bouquet scarf, October 15, 2011;

RH104 Chenille scarf, October 29, 2011;

RH105 Simple Pick-Up Stick Pattern scarf, November 5, 2011;

RH106 Spot Weave lace scarf, December 10, 2011.

Cost for each class will be $50 for tuition plus materials fee. You will bring your own loom so that you can finish your projects at home. (These projects require different sized reeds. You will need to check each class description to see what size reed you will need. If you do not have the particular sized reed for the project, you can purchase at the time of class but please let us know ahead of time that you wish to do so.)  If you do not own a loom, then you can use one of ours and you will take home whatever you have completed by the end of class but you may not finish the full-length scarf. If you wish to use one of our looms, please let us know when you sign up for the class. For full description of these new classes, send us your email address and we will email information to you. Contact sue@sustainlife.org or call School of Fiber Crafts 254-754-9680 and we can mail you the information. Better still, come by and see us and we will give you the details! We look forward to seeing you soon.

New multi-colored yarn!

Also, we will soon have a variety of vibrant new colors in Mochi and Taos multi-colored, self-striping yarn in stock. We are excited to see that this yarn weaves up into beautiful scarves when you use different colored warps. The finished fabric appears to have complex patterns even though it is a simple plain weave project. Come and check out the yarns and see the scarves we have woven!

Notes from our dyers

Today we’re preparing to natural dye our merino/alpaca yarn. We are mordanting the yarn, then weighing and preparing the dye to use tomorrow. We are soaking and simmering cochineal, madder roots and osage orange to make the dye liquid. Tomorrow is the fun part when we will use the dye liquid we made today to create rich, heathered colors from our gray yarn.

1st, 2nd & 3rd Place at the American Cheese Society Conference!

Last night was the awards ceremony at the 28th annual American Cheese Society Conference in Montreal, Quebec. Brazos Valley Cheese is presenting there and won 1st place in the Brie category for their Eden (Brie with a line of vegetable ash in the center and wrapped with fig leaves), and 2nd place for their plain Brie. In the bandaged-wrapped Cheddar category they won third place.

Here’s Rebeccah with her ribbons!

New Cottlin Hand Towels!

At the end of August look for our new fingertip towels for sale in the shop and in the gift barn. Woven in earth tones with a Cottlin warp and Cottlin boucle weft, with a touch of Dara’s hand-spun pima cotton for the borders, these make very attractive and absorbent hand towels.

Natural Dyes

Dara and Nicole have started overdying our own grey alpaca/merino blend wool with natural dyes producing lovely heathered jewel-tone colors. Next week we will have photos of their work in progress. We are hoping to have our natural dye class ready for this fall. Keep watching our website for more details.

Our New Underground Cheese Cave

An underground cave for aging cheese is the dream of most cheese makers. And so it was for us at Brazos Valley Cheese.  We have talked over the years about building a cheese cave with an old-world flavor that we could age our artisan cheeses in. Finally, last year, we began work on a new shop and cave, but the cave part was the first to be built since more aging space was our immediate need. Up to this time we have aged our twenty or so different varieties of hard and soft cheeses in walk-in coolers. Aging cheese in Texas can be a real challenge especially in the summer when daytime high temperatures typically peak over 100 degrees, sometimes for weeks on end. Unlike building a cave at a more northern latitude, our ground temperature never gets low enough through the year to allow for a cave without supplementary refrigeration. But still, the advantages of a cave, versus a walk-in cooler, led us to break ground in November 2010 on the new cave. Though we researched other cave designs, we were somewhat on uncharted territory in a climate this warm, and knew that we would have to pay careful attention to insulation.

The cave is basically a cement slab floor with cement block walls and an arched poured-concrete roof. This entire room was encased in a coating of closed cell spray foam with a vapor barrier covering it, along with French drains at the base and then back-filled and landscaped over. The interior measures 6,000 cubic feet and the interior walls have a stucco finish.The pine shelves in the cave hold 3,000 ten-to-twelve pound wheels of hard cheese.Thankfully, the temperature stays a constant 50 degrees with a rather moderately worked 2 ton cooler unit. And that’s in the heat of a Texas summer. 

The cave will be accessible by an elevator inside the shop, in which we can lower carts of cheese.

We will also have a brass fireman’s pole alongside the elevator to allow for a quick descent to the cave, instead of a walk-around to the stairs! For the public we have an insulated observation window at the bottom of the stairs, accessed from the outside of the shop.

We topped the whole project off with a five-inch-thick insulated castle like door with its own skeleton key and wrought iron hinges that never fail to amuse visitors.