Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fiber Slutting

I was invited to spend a relaxing day at the home of someone who worked with my dear friend Laura. Her friend Sue wanted to gather some friends for a day of "Fiber Slutting". That was a new term to me! It was to be a day when we sat and worked on our crafts with no outside interferance. And it was!

We had a nice snowstorm going on outside and were entertained by a squirrel just outside the wondow trying to get into the bird feeder. Sue has two cats, one mellow fellow and a frisky kitten (who loved fiber!) They also enjoyed looking at the squirrel.

We all had different projects...wheel spinning...knitting and drop spindling. No one brought rug hooking but perhaps I will the next time! Pot luck food was in abundance and we enjoyed creamy pasta, a delicious breakfast casserole, lunch meats, fresh fruit scones and more.

Sue's kitten helped re-arrange our yarn, and her dog supervised the affair.

It was a lovely day and I made some new fiber loving friends. I also revealed to Laura that another "kidnapping" is being planned for the end of February. Once or twice a year I give her dates and tell her to reserve that time. I let her know what to bring as far as clothes, but I don't reveal where we are going until we get there, and she doesn't ask! Of course I ask her husband's permission but he always lets me kidnap her. We have enjoyed kidnappings to the Shelburne rug show, Fiber Frolic in Maine, Brimfield Antiques Festival and other fun places. She will love where I'm taking her this time! Girlfriend's Getaway!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Remember His message...

Wishing all my friends and family near and far a blessed and peaceful day. Take a moment during your celebrations with family to remember that this day is based on Christ's birth and his messages of generosity to those less fortunate, forgiveness and love for all. Try to bring the true spirit of the holiday's meaning into your life this year. God bless you and take care of you. Hugs, Lauri

The sheep in the picture was a gift from my friend Diane on Wool Snippets and it's precious! I made the "feather tree" from wool that I dyed. I am planning to spend a quiet afternoon rug hooking, and within a few days should be able to call my "Old Glory" rug complete. We shall see!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Not a creature was stirring...

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house...not a creature was stirring...except me!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snow Dye experiment I go experimenting again. I hear about snow dying, and we have an abundance of snow on the ground and a day off of work. My disclaimer? I don't know what I'm doing. So here goes...

I soaked white wool with a little dish detergent to open the fibers and get it ready to take the dye. Then I placed a piece rumpled up on the bottom of my old dying pan. I had three salt shakers in which I placed non-iodized salt, and one color of Cushings dye in each shaker. I used 4:1 ratio with salt to dye mixture. Then I sprinkled it all over! I was wearing gloves to protect the dye from getting on my skin, and was doing this on a day with no wind so I wouldn't be breathing any nasty dye.

Next I added a layer of snow, and then another piece of wet wool. Then I sprinkled the salt-dye mixture again. I did this four times with wool, dye mixture and snow layers.

I ran out of my mixture for the top layer, so it is covered with plain snow. We'll see what happens!

After a few hours in the sun the snow partially melted, and the water merged my colors together. It didn't look very impressive! But the wool had soaked up the dye and there were no areas without color.

I took the frozen mess inside and used tongs to rinse it under cool water. I rinsed off all the salt and remaining dye until the water ran rather clear.

Then I took each piece of wet wool and rolled it in plastic wrap. I microwaved it until it was hot, and then let it sit for a few hours.

I must say I was surprised by the results. The photo doesn't do it justice, but the wool is quite pretty and the colors merged beautifully for nice marbled effect. What I don't understand is why it came out so light? Nice pastel colors, but I didn't expect pastels. Perhaps the colors would have held stronger if I had heated the wool with the dye on it without rinsing? Or if I had baked the wool in the oven instead of using the microwave? I don't know, but it was a fun experiment and I have four pretty pieces of wool for another project. Is it too early to be thinking about Spring?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Colors of Fall...

Colors intrigue me. As I walked today I found colors I could not name with one color name, as the colors blended into a different color. It doesn't matter though. They are all beautiful.

Gray, white

Brown, rust, gold and cream...

Orange and yellow...

Red and burgundy...

It was a very nice walk and I thought I'd share some colors of Fall with you. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Festival begins...

The day of the NY Sheep & Wool Festival opening dawned bright and crisp. The birds at the hotel were happily feeding as I headed to my car for the drive to the show. Upon entering the fairgrounds I noticed that the bustle of the previous days activities had subsided and there was an air of anticipation about the place. The sheep were being prepared for judging and most of them seemed to be used to the idea of being shorn and washed. They felt wonderful to pet and seemed to appreciate the attention amidst all the noise of the fair and snipping clippers.

The alpacas were also getting prettied up for the judging. Their owners don't make their money off of the fiber they produce. That money doesn't even compensate for their feed. But they make their money off of breeding good stock and selling them. Alpacas are gentle animals and not very large so can make good pets. They are also social animals who are happy when they live with a pack of two or more. They live over 20 years and cost about the same as a medium size dog to keep. They like to go for rides and will get into a minivan and lay down just like a dog!

There was a carriage on the grounds to take people around and give an old fashioned feel to the place. But the driver chatting on his cell phone banished any notion of old fashioned!

This festival was all about wool and most of the attendees were showing off items that they had made. It was cold, so there were shawls, sweaters, hand knit socks with Birkenstocks, fingerless gloves and hats. One woman was wearing this shawl and I asked if I could take a picture of it. She proudly said yes! I did notice that there was no coordination to match the items to the rest of the outfit, so you might have seen purple and green socks with a red plaid tartan skirt and a peach wool sweater. Woolie geeks!!! It was wonderful to do some people watching. Of course the husbands and sons had been coerced into wearing their hand knit garments too. It was obvious that most of the hand crafters were women. We need to work on that so men are not the minority!

Wonderful vendors were spread throughout several buildings as well as barn like structures. I didn't get to see them all. Fiber was everywhere from full fleece to rovings and batts and handspun and hand dyed fibers. Of course bolt wool was also available for penny ruggers and hooked rugs.

I mentioned in my previous post that minature punchneedle was represented, as well as several wonderful hooked rug vendors. Spinning wheels, accessories, drop spindles, looms, hooks, backings, needles for needlefelting, rug punchneedles, and everything you could possibly need for any fiber art was represented. I was surprised at the number of vendors who had hand made garments for sale such as shawls and sweaters and socks. Most were made in the USA by people like you and I, and were low priced for the work involved. For example, a delicate shawl made of hand spun and dyed wool would average about $175.00. It probably took 100 hours to make it!

Of course there were also the imports that were much lower priced and of much lesser quality. Guatemala, Peru, and Uraguay were the common countries of origin. They were still handmade and warm and lovely, although the machine knit pieces were there too.

I loved the felting that I saw displayed. This vendor had some wonderful hats that were handmade. She incorporated lace, beading, feathers and an assortment of other items into the numerous designs for adults and children. I believe you can click on any of my pictures for a closer look.

Baskets and containers were in abundance because you have to have storage to transport all of your wool goodies as you move from place to place. Some were handmade in the USA or Canada, and others were imports from South America.

This vendor brought their own yurt! It was covered with an assortment of carpets and was probably one of the warmest vendor spaces to enter, although quite small inside with their displays.

There were also the animal areas and many shows to see. The sheepdogs did herding contests which I love to view. The dogs would need to move a flock of sheep to a certain area being directed only by hand signals or low whistles from their owners. They could smoothly move the flock over obstacles and through gates with little direction from their owners. They knew their role.

There was a strong presence of 4-H, and there were sheep, llamas, angora rabbits, alpaca, and goats who presented for best fleece and best of breed.

And there was this guy...and I have no idea why he was there!!! They certainly don't produce much fiber!Perhaps it was because I had said last month that I had never seen a kangaroo in person when I was hooking a kangaroo for Mary Shepphard Burton's Ark project. His appearance was a bit late to be of any help to me!

I enjoy looking at the fleece at shows and learn a lot about the crimp, color, texture and breed of animals by looking at the winning fleece (optimum) and comparing it to what didn't win. The judges will note why a fleece didn't win, such as no luster, or too much fecal matter, or lack of crimp or softness. This was a winner:

I had to buy a fleece before I left and chose this second place mohair that is sooooo soft. I loved the color and will wash it and spin it up using the new techniques I learned in my class. If I do it right I can use it to make the fingerless lace gloves pattern that I bought at the show. I behaved myself at the vendors and actually bought very little.

I spent the night and headed home early the next morning. It was a wet and snowy drive for most of the trip turning a five hour drive into seven hours. But I'm used to driving in foul weather, and since I had new knowledge, and new wool to play with I was relaxed and happy. Now it's time to get back to reality and work.