Saturday, June 20, 2009

Playing with raw wool...

I have been busy with wool as usual. I finished my bee skep and it turned out cute. I'm glad I chose to weight it with a stone inside wrapped with strips of a sheet surrounded by fiberfill. It feels plump and solid.I purchased a raw fleece awhile back because I knew I wanted to seriously try spinning this summer. I love my rug hooking, but it gets too hot to sit with a rug on your lap. I washed the wool, which was a bit of a challenge for me as you cannot agitate it or it will felt. Here are some of the billowy puffs drying in the sun. I ended up with 7 full big baskets from one fleece.I returned to the home that had had the wool yard sale, and purchased their drum carder. I have never used one, so I searched the internet and found some wonderful spinners with blogs full of information. My house needs dusting and cleaning, but this is more fun!I had some silver gray angora...very soft. I dyed some of the wool with a light wash of silver gray and blue to get close to the color. The angora is on the right.After the fiber was dry I carded them together, and made my first batt! This picture doesn't do justice to the color, which is a soft gray that has sparkles of white and blue. I was amazed at how a batt grows and expands when you take it off the drum carder. I have spun two batts of this and am getting better at spinning. It is still lumpy bumpy and uneven so I will not show it to you yet, but it is sooooo soft! I believe they call it designer yarn when it has such an uneven texture? I will ply my singles together and see how they turn out. Today I dyed more of the wool. I was pleased that even after washing and dying the wool it still had it's nice crimp. This is obviously the red batch. Since you cannot move or agitate the fiber when it is wet the dye is uneven. But I believe this will spin into a pretty yarn. Perhaps a scarf or a pair of mittens? I am often inspired by nature, and in looking at my gardens I found my peonies and lupine blooming.Ane here is the wool that I dyed while attempting to match the pretty colors of the flowers. I made this by putting wet fiber in a pot, then poured the dye over it in 1/3 segments. I used Cushings plum, royal blue and red grape. I didn't touch the wool, but then simmered it covered for 1/2 hour with vinegar and let it cool down all day before moving it. I love it!
Tomorrow I will get some housekeeping done, but have planned a few hours to practice my spinning. I will also pull out a hooked rug that has been hidden away and begin to work on it again. After all, even in the heat of summer you need to have something on your frame! May your coming week be full of fiber and creativity!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Frolicking with Fiber

This was a beautiful day to head to the Maine Fiber Frolic in Windsor. Fiber enthusiasts from all over New England gathered for a relaxing day of petting bunnies, hooking on rugs, spinning under shady trees, shopping and enjoying workshops.It was all about texture, and everywhere there were bins, bags and baskets of fiber. Sheep fleece in all colors was available, and you could buy angora rabbit, goat and alpaca fiber too. I learned a lot from the vendors and exhibitors about the quality of fleece, lanolin content and staple length for spinning.There were demonstrations of shearing, sheep dogs in action, and everywhere there were artists relaxing with friends creating beautiful things. Many animals were exhibited for the show and many were for sale from the vendors. Anyone want to buy a llama or alpaca?Or perhaps an angora rabbit? They were soooooo soft and sweet to cuddle. Their fur was white, black, chocolate and tan. Many were being trimmed for spinning, or shorn for either felting the fiber or spinning the locks. Toenails were cut too. They didn't seem to mind the spa treatment.There were many breeds of goat and some had curly hair, some straight, and some were just for milking. Lots of kids around, both two and four legged!My friend Laura almost brought home a sheep herding pup, but since she doesn't own sheep I couldn't let her. What would her hubby say!!!One vendor had some large wool felted rugs and mats and I found this one quite pretty. This rug hooked rabbit was quite clever and well made. She was sitting in an antique crib along with a basket of hooked mats and pillows.If you are not motivated to knit your own socks there were several vendors who offered numerous styles you could choose from. Most of them had spun and dyed the wool from their own flock of animals.There were some cotton rag rugs and they would be soft and durable.Most people were making things by totally hand, but there were some knitting machines around too.There were amazing displays of hand spun yarn in glorious colors. I refrained from purchasing any, as I attended the Fiber Frolic to take a workshop on hand carding so that I can spin and dye my wool fiber. But it certainly was tempting, and I gathered a lot of business cards for future reference.

We had a fun and relaxing day and I gathered a lot of information that connected little bits of knowledge that I had in my brain about fiber. I'm off to play and see if I can do some of the things that I learned about. If I'm successful you'll see another post from me soon about blending and carding wool!

Monday, June 1, 2009

An All Wool Yard Sale???

My dear friends have been growling at me because it had been so long since I have posted to my blog. I'm sorry. I've been quite busy at work and at home, and although I could have posted... you know that I always like to add some photos so that you can actually see what I have been doing.

This week we have some friends visiting us from Tennessee. On Saturday Rosie and headed off for my favorite auction house in lieu of hitting yard sales. The men headed in another direction to tour the scenic Maine coast on Harleys. About 15 minutes from my house we decided to stop at one...just one yard sale. For those of you who know was a treasure sale!

An elderly couple resided in the home and they have both apparently spend their adult lives spinning yarn, weaving, hooking and braiding rugs. They are in their late 80's, and the wife is almost blind, cannot walk and can no longer make the things she loves. Their large old home is stuffed to the rafters with wool and they decided to downsize. I helped!
Their driveway and garage were covered with items. They did not have anything out that was not wool craft related. I made my pile, which quickly grew to include bags of clean roving ready to spin and bags of washed fleece ready to card. The pictures show about half of my purchases. I have three bags of handspun yarn in balls, and a conewinder and a nice needlepunch set with all the needles. I filled two large bags with nice worsted and sock weight cones of wool yarn. And yes Laura Lee, the purple is for you! They had yards and bolts of wool, and I added about 8 yards to my pile along with a big box of wide strips perfect for hooking. Some bolt wool was too heavy for rug hooking, and I seldom braid rugs. Everything was clean and smells fine. They have 2 room size looms and one 4' wide...and will probably sell them soon. They are holding a nice drum carder for me until later in the week and were encouraging me to buy their "picker" too...for a price far too low to consider passing up. When we left my large station wagon was totally stuffed. The price? Only twenty dollars. Tee hee!!! Rosie and I had to drive back to the house to unload before we again headed on the hour drive to the auction.We had a great time at the auction and I came home with a beautiful antique chair that is recently upholstered. This is my new crafting chair in the living room. Rosie bought about 80 wonderful salt & pepper shakers, as she had to purchase little items that would fit into their car on the trip home later in the week.
Here is another of the projects that took up some time recently. I had purchased an old hutch at a yard sale for $10. last year, and finally had the time to sand it down and paint it gloss black. This hutch is my studio and contains my active projects and tools.
I have also been spending a lot of time outdoors in the gardens. Although they always need weeding, you can get an idea of how much time I spend with my plants when I get home from work and on weekends. I have a vegetable garden back in the field, but the black flies are ferocious tonight so I don't have a picture. I call the above garden my shade garden. The garden below looks messy now but it's still early here, and when it blooms with peonies, purple phlox, lupine and many perennials it's quite pretty.
This garden is behind the house and has a lot of lavender and strawberries, as well as pepper plants and sunflowers. And our cat Rascal!This little garden has the prettiest lilies, and coriopsis, purple coneflower and a few other things. Notice the pile of wood in the background? That was one of the trees that came down in the ice storm. The chainsaw has been busy while I'm at work. My job is to split it, and the splitter is under the blue tarp. This garden we call "Pee pee's" garden because of the statue. It is actually a fountain and when the water is running it appears to be a little boy...well...whizzing on the plants.
This garden is the first one you see when you drive down our driveway. It will be quite colorful in another month!

We have some plants that just show up, and our yard has chives, oregano, peppermint, rasberries and blueberries all over the place.
So as you can see I've been busy. I have also been spending time on the computer of course, and much of it has been working on the Wool Snippets rug hooking group that I co-manage with JoJo. We have made a lot of positive changes in the past few months so if you are a "woolie", please stop by and check it out. You have to become a member to view the current posts. There is also a Works in Progress site at Hopefully this long post will appease those who like to see me post more often. You never know when I'll feel talkative!