Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fuzz Festival

Yesterday I met up with some friends to attend the first (and hopefully annual) Fuzz Festival in Exeter, New Hampshire. The event was sponsored by the 212 year old Exeter Congregational church. They put the word out that they were looking for fiber artists to demonstrate their art, and they could sell their merchandise. And fiber artists came. This gentleman was showing how you can spin angora right off of the bunny, and the bunny was enjoying all the attention.
I had planned to attend the Annual Hook In held in Eliot Maine, but decided to support this new event. It appeared that they had a great attendance and had a nice variety of demonstrators. Rug Hooking was noticably absent, but possibly due to the hook-in. One woman was demonstrating the many things that can be crocheted, including plastic bags, string, cotton fabric and tulle netting. She also showed how old patterns are perfectly suitable for today.
Since I love antiques I was fascinated by this old knitting machine. It would knit fine yarn or thread into a cylinder or tube. It still worked efficiently and was quite fast. She said it was probably from the 1920's or 1930's era.
Several vendors were selling their wares, and there was a nice variety of fleece and fibers for spinning and weaving enthusiasts. This basket of silk cocoons caught my eye, and although I am enjoying spinning I would have no idea how to get the fibers off of those little balls. I'm sure the vendor would have instructed me had I spent more time with her.
Weaving was beautifully exhibited, and anyone could work on a small loom if they chose to try. Items such as beautiful vests, jackets, tablecloths and eyeglass cases were available. There were also demonstrations of loom dressing, a Scandanavian tape loom, an artisan carving canes, wheel spinning, drop spindles and needlefelting.
One vendor took her scraps of fuzz, yarns, ribbons and fibers and formed them into large balls. The balls are to be hung outside so when birds are building their nests they have a nice source of soft fibers to pick from. Wouldn't it be lovely to see bits of fibers from your projects woven into nature by birds in your yard? Every nest should have a bit of purple and red, don't you agree?

Many vendors had varieties of fleece to spin...batts...balls...dyed and natural. I purchased a fleece for my favorite crafting chair to make it even more inviting and comfortable.
This vendor had beautiful turned wood items. I purchased a wood necklace scissor holder that is magnetized. I can wear my scissors close at hand in a beautiful turned holder. Cynthia's website is  She might begin making rug hooks and other items, but for now is focused on crochet hooks and other tools.

There was a "human loom" demonstration where people were working with strings to weave a mat as a group. Notice how everyone is bundled up? It was 8 degrees outside when we arrived...chilly!
Another artist was demonstrating making baskets. I enjoy making baskets and it reminded me that I should pull out my reed. I have so many interests that although I spend many of my non-working hours on my crafting I don't have time for it all. I am currently focused on rug hooking and spinning, but when the seasons change again perhaps my focus will also change.
I was pleasantly surprised and the nice variety of demonstrators, and it seemed that they had great attendance. I am sure that there are many people who now have a new appreciation for fiber arts, and have possibly found a new addiction. Surrounding yourself with fiber is a great way to spend time on a chilly winter day.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Binding and completing...

I am almost completed with my holiday tasks. The tree and decorations have been cleaned. and safely stored for next year. My handwritten thank you notes have been sent, although I will admit that I don't do as many as I should. I have eaten most of the chocolate and delectables that people gave us. Such a chore!

Several friends sent beautiful handmade gifts to me and I wanted to share some special ones with you. The punchneedle bird pillow is precious, and was gifted to me by Debbie St. Germain. It has a special place on my craft hutch in front of my antler handled awls I use for making baskets and proddy tools I made from a moose rack. It is very special and was the perfect gift for my tastes. Thank you Debbie!

This hooked snowman was gifted to me by Diane Tanerello as part of the Secret Santa swap on the Wool Snippets group. I love the wool scarf and he will be able to "hang out" for the rest of the winter. I enjoy seasonal gifts as they can be on display much longer than the month of December. Winter is 4 months of snow and cold up here! Thank you so much Diane, I love him!

My friend Laura recently learned to knit, and has been learning quickly and her needles are flying every evening. She made me a special pair of butter soft socks in my favorite colors. I am saving them for when I go to spinning group, because when you spin on the wheel you never wear shoes. It will be a perfect time to show off Laura's skill as a knitter. Thank youLaura!

My next hooking project was begun at the N.Y. Sheep and Wool festival in a class. One of many UFO's (unfinished objects). I wanted to practice my circles so am doing the body in a circular pattern with gently mottled tan wool. Currently the background is a large void, and I want to add something but am not sure what it will be. Perhaps a tree, or a design within the background wool. I plan to complete the sheep and see where my mind takes me with the background.

The border on the Old Glory rug is completed, and it is hanging on the wall behind my hooking/ crafting chair. I will show you the steps I took to make my binding, but have found that there are many ways to do it. Since this was to be hung on a wall I decided to put cording within the binding. I have heard that if you put cording in the binding of a floor rug it will wear faster as the cording takes a lot of wear. Others say the cording protects the loops from wear and takes the brunt of traffic abuse. Different schools of thought.

I had zig zagged the edge on my sewing machine, trimmed it and folded the backing over the cording towards the back ot the rug. Then I pinned it with long quilting pins all around the rug, taking special care to miter the corners on the back as I pinned them.

I used Candide yarn doubled and a large curved needle. Holding the binding tape right up against the loops, I inserted the threaded needle through the backing, behind the cording, and brought the needle back out through the binding tape. I pulled the tape away from the loops in the picture above so you could see how close I was getting to the loops. I did not stitch through the binding tape on the loop side (right side) because it is secured when I bring the yarn through it on the left, and also by the wrapover of yarn as I bind. With each stitch I made sure that the yarn did not twist, and did not pull tight, just gently snugged. When I have pulled the loops tightly in the past I seem to have an uneven edge.

Before I do corners I make sure the backing and binding are both pinned nicely before I get to the corner. I am able to hold the binding tape in place with my hand on a straight area, but not on a corner. On corners I use almose twice as many stitches in order to cover the curve and am very attentive to not crossing the yarn. Sorry, I didn't get a photo of the corner or back. I bought myself a new camera and was challenged a bit at getting photo's on here today! After I bound with yarn, I basted the loose edge of the binding tape to the backing with heavy thread on the back side of the rug. I don't mind using the yarn and find it relaxing. But basting without catching the loops is tedious for me. If you catch the loops they will pull out. You want to only catch the backing threads as you baste.

Although I am still new at binding a rug I find that if I take my time and pay attention, it all works out just fine. I know that with time and more experience my bindings will be even better. Hope you have a wonderful day! Happy hooking!

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Old Glory

I finally finished pulling the loops on this rug! The pattern is by Monika Jones of Folk Art Landing. This is 32" x 32", cuts 6 - 9 and done in hand dyed wools. I added the wavy border which is done in re-cycled wool. The eagle was a challenge for me, particularly the neck feathers as they kept coming out square. I consulted the Rug Hookers Bible and found a lesson on "fingering" which helped a lot. Thanks Gene and Jane! On my monitor I can see many things I should change but I'm always learning and expect my next rug to be better. Don't we all expect that? Just don't examine my loopy loops too closely! And to bind it!