Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving and a Finished Object


Handspun, handknit scarf from River Oaks Lucy's lamb fleece and a big ball of handspun alpaca laceweight.
 I had a great Thanksgiving.  Stan had to work, so I went down to my mom's with homemade pumpkin pie and fruit salad in hand. Our two boys came separately since they live in the cities.

Most of the family was there except for Dad and my youngest brother.  My sister had chopped off her hair earlier in the week so she wore a secondhand store wig to cover it up. The wig didn't stay on real well and it became the object of much laughter and photo taking as the men had a blast trying it on and feeling 25 years younger with a full head of hair again.

I was glad I didn't have to hurry home to close up the chickens or feed the sheep. We worked on a puzzle  and went to check out my brother's rental space that he's making into an art studio and gallery.

The space used to be the hardware store in our small town. Going back in there brought back so many memories!  My earliest memory of that store was of the time I was about four or five years old, my younger brother was three or four. We were there with dad who was busy talking when we found some really cool cowboy hats. We just went back out to the station wagon (there were 8 kids in our family) and dad didn't even notice the cowboy hats when he came out.  But Mom sure did when we got home!  Back we went to return the hats and appologize to Mr. Fortin. That was 50 years ago.

Back to Thanksgiving, my younger brother of the cowboy hat caper was in Peru this past year and brought back 11 ounces of handspun lace weight alpaca singles and the wooden spindle in the photo above.  I find it curious that there is no hook on the spindle, don't they need a hook on their spindles in Peru?  It's got a nice weight to it, but I am all thumbs when it comes to spindle spinning even with the luxury of a hook attached.
Just imagine how big of a pi shawl I can make with 11 ounces of laceweight alpaca! I would say there's at least 1200 yards there.

My Black Friday shopping consisted of buying stamps while shipping out a hat and then heading to the "One More Time" store in search of a wig for my mannequin head. Seeing no wigs on display I asked the ladies at the counter and out came a box full of wigs and hair extensions. Low and behold, there was a Daniel Boone style fake fur raccoonskin hat I had made for my son when he was little!  I made it the year that John Lennon was killed.  I remember I was in the midst of sewing all kinds of clothes for Christmas that year when I heard the awful news.  Anyway, I donated that hat years ago, and it was fun to see it again - maybe I should have bought it back.  But I didn't, I bought two wigs for my mannequin instead.  It really makes a difference now that she has hair -- I think my hats look more elegant on her without the hair...

The scarf in the photo above was finished yesterday morning. It's made from River Oaks Lucy's lamb fleece.  Lucy is a grey katmoget (some would say black katmoget because she's not Ag grey).  She lives with Garret now. Anyway, I handcombed some drumcarded batts of her lamb fleece and spun up about 1 3/4 ounces of it into a springy super soft yarn years ago. I've been waiting for the right project to use it on and I think I found it in this Easy Leaves Scarf pattern from www.krazyawesome.com/knitmonster .  There was enough yarn to make this scarf about 45" long after blocking.  I like all the variations in color that came from all the hand processing and the fact that Lucy retained a lot of color in her fleece. I'm glad to finally have a new handknit handspun scarf to replace the one I lost last winter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dyed Batts and BFL/Tencel Fabric

I've been dyeing again.  I love taking the wool out of the crock pot and seeing what has happened to it.  I love the unexpected colorways that are created when colors "split".

This is the BFL/Tencel blend felted into a lightweight sheer fabric, it's soft enough for scarves, but I may make another length of matching fabric so I can try making a flowing jacket from this. I love the luster!



These are both 9 1/4 oz batts of Shetland Mule fiber (50/50 BFL and Shetland).  The teal on right is much prettier than the photo suggests, it reminds me of northern lights. The multi-colored on on the left was just an attempt to use up the leftover dye in two crockpots (as is the fabric at the top of this post).  It's very pretty in real life too.  These Mule batts were a bit coarser than my other batts and I had planned to use them for bags, hats, slippers,etc.

I may start selling some of the dyed batts.  They are super easy to felt.  I was going to keep them all for felting myself, but I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the fiber on hand these days.

And I've still got several pounds of Shetland wool to be sent in for processing.  I'll probably just go with roving rather than more felting batts. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Felting Video from Sticks and Stones

Finally!  I can link you all to a video of my felting demo at Sticks and Stones this past September.
My son is a videographer.  He filmed my booth the first day of the festival and condensed it down into this short video...
http://www.youtube.com/mattutecht#p/u/3/Up0isWBOCOg

I think it's so cool to see the variety of people and ages working side by side experiencing the magic of making felt!

I got 26 pounds of wool batts back from Zeilinger's last week.  They did an excellent job as usual. I've been dyeing Finn top in the crock pots (above) and today I'm felting a Bluefaced Leicester/Tencel blend.  The Vikings are just too hard to watch this year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Living in a Small Town

Who would have thought that bringing my husband into the hospital for a colonoscopy yesterday would have brought in some extra money?

First of all, one of the workers in the surgery department bought a tanned pelt from me at the craft fair this past weekend and after getting it home she decided she wanted the more expensive full fleece pelt instead. So I brought it in for her when I came back to pick up Stan. 

Then when I went into the recovery area to get Stan, a nurse stopped me in the hall and forced $20 into my hand - saying that years ago (probably around 2004?), she had been undercharged for some Ukrainian egg decorating supplies by my friend's daughter who was minding the  little shop we had in town back then.  Oh my gosh, isn't that amazing??? 

I have to say, it's really nice to live in a small town with good people. 

Oh, and to top it all off, Stan's colon was clean as a whistle and he's good to go another 10 years! :-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Lady Slipper Orchid on a Snowy Day

Yesterday I did the Holly Fair art & craft show in Mora.  It was my first time as a vendor.  Yes, there was a winter storm warning with 6-11" of snowfall expected in 24 hours, but that didn't stop the craft fair.  Thankfully it was close to home for me and the roads were just wet going in, but slippery and slushy coming home.

The hardest thing about doing craft fairs is not buying a lot of other people's stuff.  I just couldn't resist this Lady Slipper orchid -
I hope I can keep it alive, the guy said a cool windowsill on the north side of the house and let it dry out well between waterings.  He also said there's a little side shoot coming along that should bloom in February.  That funny looking plant on the left of it is a Pregnant Onion that I cut back because it was growing crooked.  I got its parent plant years ago for $1.  I gave the original plant away, but I found this little bulb growing in some old potting soil this summer.  So I guess I was destined to have another pregnant onion plant.

But back to the orchids, it sounds like they can be as addictive as the Shetland sheep, so many different colors and textures, you can't have just one.  But the first step is to see if I can keep it alive.  I just love it!

I also got the cutest little egg cup scented candle.  After my recent night without electricity, I appreciate candles more. Plus, I figured once the candle is gone I can display one of my eggs in it. I also got a local author's signed book, "True Tall Tales from the Land of Sky Blue Waters" and some homemade candies from another vendor.
After the craft show I had to buy groceries -- my least favorite thing to do. But when you're out of milk and bread, you'd better stop.  The orchid is in the car and it's cold out.  So I quickly grabbed the essentials and tried not to talk too long to anyone, and then the check out lines are all winding around the front of the store. Just my luck!  Okay, so I drive slowly home through the slush and the sheep greet me with HUNGRY bellows.  Unload the orchid, groceries, and the craft show stuff and head out to feed the sheep.  Snow from the roof of the pole building piled up about 3', and it's very wet, compacted, and heavy. Sticks to the shovel.  Okay, fed those sheep and head over to the Shetlands.  Big armload of hay for their feeder only to find they had tipped over said feeder.  Dang! I hate when that happens. I tossed a flake off to one side to get them away from my legs and tried to right the feeder with my free arm.  I think we'll pound some T-posts to tie up that feeder so no one gets hurt.

Inside the little red barn, I see the little Buff Chantecler hen who has just recently started laying.  She's settling in a corner of the barn, hollowing out a nest spot for her next egg.  She's picking up bedding with her beak and tossing it over her back.  Oh, so cute. But I was too just tired to wait for the egg's arrival...hopefully I'll find it this morning.  I've got to get out and take photos of the snow covered landscape. Yeah, snow! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My New Ram/A Spinning Lesson

Life has been so busy lately.  Two art shows to submit work to in six days. Writing another grant application, and a new polled Shetland ram! 
Last Friday LeeAnne came over for a spinning lesson on the new Louet S17 she bought.  I was really happy that her wheel was so easy to spin on, perfect for a beginning spinner and with the big Louet bobbins, great for anyone who wants to make big skeins.  Before long she was plying her very first skein from a center-pull ball like an old pro. And look at how balanced that very first skein turned out!  So exciting to see a spinner in the making.

On Sunday I traveled over the river and through the woods (a national forest in fact) to pick up my new polled ram lamb, Sommarang Hansel.  I am very happy with him and excited to see his lambs next spring.

That's him in the back and River Oaks Pepper in the front. She's Ag grey carrying brown, he's registered as a grey gulmoget, but he carries brown and looks more like a fawn or emsket to me. Breeding him to three gulmoget yearling ewes should give me lots of gulmoget lambs in the spring. Hopefully some full polled ram lambs.

Today I finished up a grant application and got it submitted.  Now I'm getting ready for the Holly Fair in Mora on Saturday.  I wish I had more scarves done.  I might have to do a scarf-making marathon  tomorrow.  I wonder how many I could make in one day...

But the thing that really topped off my day was finding an egg in the chicken pen tonight. I'm not sure if it's from my old hens or the 6 month old Buff Chantecler hens. The old girls haven't laid an egg in several weeks and I just can't bring myself to buy another dozen eggs at the grocery store. I hope this is the start of lots more eggs coming my way.  My neighbor is really anxious to get them again too.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

FeltUnited 2010 Exhibit

The FeltUnited 2010 exhibit is now online!  Check out the website, http://www.feltunited.com/  to see all the creative and inspiring work that felters around the world did for the 2nd International Day of Felt.  If you look hard enough, you might see some of mine in there too.

And while you're on the FeltUnited homepage, you may want to take note of FeltUnited Day 2011 and start thinking about what you're going to do that day (if you're a felter). The color scheme for next year is blue, purple, red.  I love blue and purple and I can't wait to get started!

Here are a couple hats I made the other day.  Still experimenting...

This is a Finn wool hat embellished with silk.  I love the Finn wool for felting! It makes a sturdy hat that holds its form well. The neck tie is made from the brim trimmings. 

Oh darn, blogspot won't let me upload the Black Iset Shetland wool hat.  I'll save that for another day. It's very thin, only two layers of Shetland.  The beautiful lilac Romney/Targhee roving I had planned as the outside layer didn't want to felt so I ripped it off.  That's what I love about felting, you can always change your mind and go with the direction it takes you.