Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Site!!!!!

Hello Everyone! Great news! We've got an all new Website with the blog and the shop and everything all attached. it's beautiful and easy to use! Go see it here:

Monday, October 31, 2011


 Yep. It's here. The day of the year that I hate the most. Too scary. I don;t like it. But I sprayed the kid's hair black cause Harry Potter has black hair you know. I took the photos and went up to hide in my room while Lousmith takes the kids out to beg for candy and Chelsea hands out the treats.
 Ryan is Harry Potter and Maggie is Luna Lovegood.
 This is Maggie's pumpkin. Two faces and a bit of yarn hair.
 It looks like Ryan had a bit of help carving his face.
Aren't they cute?
Now bring on November 1.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weaving with Sara Lamb

I've been taking weaving classes off and on for the last 5 years. I began because when I bought the Spinning Loft I became a seller of looms so I thought it would be a good idea to know how to use them. 

My first project was warped in a twill with black Louet Gems Merino which is a lovely yarn. The weft was some recycled sari yarn that I beat too hard. So the two scarves I warped for were like boards.

Next was an overshot shawl which was beautiful but the yarn was 5/2 mercerized cotton so I thought it was too heavy and didn't have the drape I wanted it to have. 

Next I did a little sampler of Huck Lace from 20/2 white cotton. I loved it but didn't pursue it any further. I really wanted to work with silk...

There were some towels and things through all of this that were gifts and were fine but I wasn't dancing with joy.

In May of 2010 Denny came and helped me wind a warp on the back beam of my Baby Wolf. it took 8 hours. The yarn was Alpaca and it was very sticky and difficult. You can look at it here. It took many months for me to get it threaded after that and then when I began to weave, the threads began to break. I didn't have enough experience or confidence to figure out what was going on. I asked a few people and seveeral of them said the yarn wasn't good for weaving. I tried lots of things to fix it but was never completely successful. The loom spent many months folded with stuff piled on top.

Then Sara Lamb came to town.

That's the sample I took off the loom. It's about a yard long. I had woven about a half yard before she came and it made me cry. It took me months to weave that 1/2 yard. On Saturday I wove another half yard in just a couple of hours. I hem stitched one end of it and cut it off to look at it and finish it. That fabric above is exactly what I wanted! Drapey and soft and warm and a bit fuzzy.

I retied the rest of the warp and fixed some mistakes, figured out that the reason threads were breaking was because of twisted threads and threading mistakes. I'm cruising along very nicely now.
My edges are pretty nice, my weaving is pretty even, the twill is lovely. I'm a happy weaver.
In the midst of all this I learned a lot about yarn and what kind of yarns I want to spin for weaving.  I am most interested in fine fabrics which drape beautifully that I can use to make clothing. I have plans now.

So while all of this was going on there was actually a class that I wasn't participating in very well. It was about painted warps and weaving for clothing. 

This is the table with the class materials. The colors!

And check out these looms!
That belongs to Wayne

And Sara brought lots of samples for us to touch and look at and think about.
There are a ton of different materials and textures there.

Everybody made a ton of progress in the class.

Valerie ran into a lot of obstacles. You can read about her adventures here.

In the midst of all this I spun eight ounces of Lincoln singles for an upcoming project.
Denny and Sara entertained Maggie and Ryan at the hotel pool
Ryan slept late the next day.
Denny was cute as always....and bossy
And Sara...was Sara. Delightful and fun and full of information and knowledge that she shares freely with everyone who asks questions. If Sara Lamb comes to town, hurry and sign up for here class. No matter what the topic. You won't regret it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

SOAR 2011

 On October 1 I left for New Hampshire to go see friends I don't get to see very often and learn some new things and also meet new friends.  This year was different because this year I was a mentor at SOAR.

I began to prepare for SOAR all the way back in January.  That's when I got the email saying my proposal had been selected. After I took a moment trying to believe it was true then I began doing calculations about how much wool would be needed for the classes I had proposed. Then i talked to Carol about possibly working one day a week to help me wash the wool because it seemed an overwhelming thing...especially since I had been asked to also supply wool for Deb Robson's classes.

There is a three day class and we were going to cover 17 breeds.  There are 16 students in the 3 day. that is more than 16 pounds clean right there (that would be about 24 pounds of unwashed fleece).  There were also the retreat sessions. Each class had 18 students and there were 4 of those so 74 students and 4 breeds.  That's another almost 20 pounds of clean fleece.

There was the washing and the packaging and the labeling oh my! And then it was time to leave and I was a bit nervous.

The great thing was that as soon as I got there and saw that the 4 boxes I had shipped had arrived safely and I could set up my classroom I felt a lot better.

I have no photos of my classes. I'm not good at that. When I begin to teach, that is my focus and I forget about the fact that I have a blog.  I did get some pictures from the Workshop Review which is always fun. It's when we get the opportunity to see what all of the other classes were working on. So here are some photos of friends that were the least blurry since I was laughing and couldn't manage to keep the camera still.
 Deb Menz, Jacey Boggs and Sarah Wroot who brought me some British Wensleydale!
 Stephenie Gaustad who is coming to teach in June and Sara Lamb who is coming to teach this week!
 Michelle Boyd who is one of the great instructors at the Olds College Master Spinners Program and Jacey again.
 Amy King and Evil Michelle!
 Evil again and my favorite Bug Girl and some nutty person.
 Gord Lendrum, who I spent a lot of time sucking up to, and Barry Schacht who already loves me and that Jacey again. (She was my room mate by the way)
 Richard Ashford with Michelle Boyd spinning on the 30" Elizabeth.
 Dave Van Stralen from Louet
 Jonathan Bosworth talking about his Chinese style reproduction wheel.
 Kelly Rota spinning two threads at the same time on that wheel.
 Barry Schacht checking out a Sidekick in the Spunky Eclectic booth.
Barry and Dave Paul from the Merlin Tree who is a fantastic wheel builder and the man I send all the people to when they need repairs or a new flyer or a reproduction Canadian Production wheel.

After all of these photos I was back to work singing lovely things about hand combing and longwools and so the picture taking stopped.

It was a fantastic time and though a little bit of nervous is a good thing I think, I was happy with how everything went and I hope that all of the people in my classes were happy and learned something new and maybe will begin to branch out in the types of wools they choose for projects.

Saturday night I missed the spin in because I accidentally fell asleep and didn't wake up until it was over. Also, Saturday afternoon a reptile show was moving into the hotel. There were plenty of aquariums with snakes and lizards and turtles. I couldn't check out fast enough on Sunday. I had a lot of terrible visions of snakes loose and lost in the hotel.

On Sunday I got in a car with Linda Ligon and Anita Osterhaug  to take a drive to Connecticut for a meeting with the Andean Textile Arts Board. which happened all day Monday.  We ate a lot of delicious food in Connecticut including some really really good pizza. Tuesday back to New Hampshire and flying home.

This church is in New Haven Connecticut on the edge of the Yale Campus. I dream of someday living in a beautiful church like this. Someday I'll tell you about it.

Anyway, on Wednesday I did nothing. On Thursday I went to the shop and did almost nothing. I feel like I'm still trying to recover! But it was a wonderful time and I would definitely do it again and again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Many Photos

 I really wanted to tell you all what's going on around here before I run off to SOAR at the end of the week. Don't let that stop you from coming in though.  Carol will be in the shop and she is much nicer than me.

 School is progressing.  Maggie has been working so hard this year and even choosing to do some of the optional projects in her curriculum. She did a study of bird beaks and how to tell what kind of food they eat by the shape of their beak. And there was a project she could choose which was to make a bird feeder.  I thought she'd want to do something out of wood but one morning I came down to her cutting up 2 liter bottles. She came up with this design all on her own. The cap on the upper one is holding all of the strings in place and also serves to keep the squirrels out of the feeder.  I thought it was pretty clever.

Two weeks ago we got in 3 wheels from the Bluebonnet Spinning Wheel Company located in Texas.  I wanted to carry these wheels because they are very pretty and also they have a wide range of prices to suit any budget.
 This first one is their most basic model called the Honey Bee.  The treadles fold up and it gets pretty flat.
 It's very sturdy and solid. Sells for $299.95.  This is a great place to begin if you don;t have a bunch of money to invest but want a wood wheel.  It's solid Oak or Maple.  I wouldn't say this is a great travel option due to its weight but I would say it will go easily to guild meetings and classes that you will be driving to.
 It's Scotch Tension and comes with ratio sizes with more available when you want them.
 As you can see, it's pretty basic but it feels good to spin on.
 Next up is the Shamrock wheel. See that cute little shamrock on top?  It's just for pretty and it does its job.
 This is another very affordable wheel with lovely wood.  It's a great option if you have a limited budget but want something that looks beautiful.

 And then the one I was dying to play with.  This is the Thimble Wheel and more specifically the Fairy Thimble.  There are many models of Thimble wheels but I loved the cut outs on this one.
 This wheel does fold.
 I think it's a tiny bit vibraty when spinning but I'm also pretty picky.
 Another interesting thing about these wheels is that the bobbins have bearings in them.  the spinning is smooth.
 Next on my list of things to talk about is the class that just happened this weekend.  Amy King of Spunky Eclectic and Spin Control Fame was here all weekend.  Friday night we learned Nuno Felting. I was prepeared to be annoyed by it but I actually liked doing it.  i made an orange scarf. Also, forgot to take photos.  I was very busy.
 Saturday was a class about how to analyze those mill spun yarns you've been wanting to make.  We learned a huge amount about yarn construction, twist and how to reproduce it.
Sunday was weaving with handspun.  We learned a lot about how to know if the yarns you have are appropriate for warps and how to make yarns - even singles - work in your weaving projects.  We also learned about how different kinds of looms will make a difference in what yarns you can use.

Then Amy went back to Spunky land to prepare for SOAR... which brings me to my next topic.
I'm getting ready to go to SOAR too.  This box had all of the little business card size labels I had printed. Each student in my 3 day class will get 3 cards for each breed.
Those three cards went into a page protector with a sheet of cardstock.  The cardstock is color coded by the wool category. So each student will have 17 sheets, one for each breed, 5 colors for the 5 categories we will cover. 
All of it is already on its way to New Hampshire.  I shipped the wool and handouts yesterday.
My plans for this afternoon include packing my clothes and seeing what I need to wash.  My hand tools and wool for day one are already in another suitcase that I will carry with me and my samples will be in my carry on.
I'm almost ready to go...I just need some snacks!