Friday, November 16, 2007

I have been spending entirely too much time on Ravelry and I have to agree with my friend, Sheree, it really sucks up your time. But it's fun. So, here are some of the things I've been working on in the past week. I bought this lovely yarn last February at Stitches West from Michele Camacho of Toots LeBlanc & Co. The natural gray yarn in these hats is a 60/40 blend of angora rabbit and Rambouillet wool. It blooms beautifully as you work with it. And I used some of my handspun yarn for flowers. The pattern is Toots LeBlanc's "Celtic Bunny Hat".

I loved the cabling on the top of the hat so much that I decided to use that cabling for a child's cap. And here's the result.

I have also been doing A LOT of spinning (my most favorite thing to do). Here is a skein spun from fiber I bought at Rhinebeck from Roclans Farm of PA. This is a 50-50 blend of kid mohair and Rambouillet wool. The taupey silver color is the natural color of the fibers.

This is a skein I spun from my randomly handpainted rovings. I plied a merino/kid mohair (70/30) blend with a merino/cashmere (80/20) blend. This skein will make a pair of lovely socks.

Here are two bobbins which I am in the process of plying together.
And here's the finished skein alongside my "Etoile" roving (a blend of merino/angora/silk) and "Johnny Jumpups" (superfine merino). I am going to spin more of this and probably use it in a shawl, using some 100% angora as accents.
So, now the fun begins!! Margie, my partner in fiberness, came over on Thursday. We had purchased nuno felt scarf kits at Rhinebeck and wanted to make them. It's a labor intensive endeavor, but in a nutshell, the project involves taking a gauzy woven fabric as a base and laying out roving on top of the fabric, drizzling soapy water on the whole thing and then applying pressure and agitation so that the fibers felt and become enmeshed in the woven gauze -- making a felted piece of fabric. Here are some pictures of Margie's project laid out and wet.

You can see the gauzy fabric and the opaque areas where white merino wool was laid down in a trellis design.
Pieces of colored rovings were used to make the flowers and leaves and vines.

This long piece is wrapped in bubble wrap around a PVC pipe or a rolling pin and rolled until the fabric begins to felt. When the piece has felted somewhat, you then take your piece and bunch it up and throw it (yes, I'm not kidding) on the table many times. Believe it or not, slamming this bunched up wet piece of fabric actually causes it to shrink and felt even more right before your eyes. This whole process requires a good deal of elbow grease and is not for weaklings. This is my piece in the process of being tortured.

Here are some pictures of our felted scarves drying out on the rack. Margie's is the one that looks like poinsettias. You can see how the base fabric became crepey looking.

Here are some pictures of mine.

Well, I had so much fun on Thursday, I just had to try it again on Friday. So here are some pictures of what I did yesterday. I can see all kinds of possibilities with this process. Here's my project laid out and wet.

Here's the finished piece. Dang! this is fun.

Needless to say, I have been enjoying all this creativity. So, you ask, what am I going to be doing this weekend? I think I may be slamming a bunch of wet wool on the table until my arms finally give out. I have a couple of very cool Japanese books on felting and I may try some projects from those books. I can't read the Japanese but the pictures are pretty explanatory.
And finally, I am so excited. I have been working so hard lately that I decided to reward myself with a new fiber bus -- actually it's a VW Eurovan -- that I picked up on Thursday. It's the perfect vehicle to haul all my fiber stuff around in.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I was up at 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning readying myself for the Torrance Fiber Festival and was on the road at 5:15 a.m. to pick up Margie. We have a tradition of starting the day with a latte from Starbucks in Laguna and ending the day with a latte at Starbucks in Torrance -- we need caffeine for the road, coming and going. And Sunday was no different. We had a phenomenal day at Torrance -- frenzied at times -- we could barely catch our breath. Everyone who attended said that this was the largest turnout ever. We were stoked, to say the least. It was great to see so many of our fiber friends and to meet new friends, too. Thank you so much everyone for stopping by. I took some pictures of our booth. Of course, Margie and I are biased, but we think we have one of the most colorful booths. Here's the rack of my handpainted rovings:

Margie had lots of handspun yarn, lots of washed wool and hand-dyed mohair locks, and many skeins of her yarn handspun from mohair locks (a big hit with the knitters).

Margie finally gets to come up for air and take a break during the fashion show lull. She's wearing a vest that she handknit from her hand-dyed, handspun yarn.

My handpainted sock yarn (variegateds and solids) were a big hit.

I was also fortunate to have some lovely handcrafted niddy noddies from Blarney Yarn (a local OC artisan) as well as handcrafted drop spindles from Cascade Spindle Co. from Washington. Both of these artisans use exotic woods in their spinning tools. Not only are they beautiful to look at, they feel wonderful working in your hands.

Here are a couple more pictures -- skeins of our handspun yarns, bags of silk and cashmere rovings and patterns.

On the way home, we were exhausted, but with lattes in hand, we headed down the freeway elated, having had one of the best days ever at the Southern California Handweavers Fiber Festival. The SCH Guild should be commended for the great job they do of putting the show together every year.
And a big surprise in the mail yesterday -- my copy of Linda LaBelle's book: The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing. What a wonderful book. Linda did a great job! It has lots of tips on dyeing, and it also gives you a peek into the lives and dyeing studios of Koigu, Treenway Silks, Hand Jive, 13 Mile Farm, Schaefer Yarns, Chasing Rainbows and my Capistrano Fibers Arts Studio. This book will make you want to run away to the country and have a farm and alpacas and sheep.

So, now it's time to catch my breath, relax, spin and get creative. Yesterday, I broke into some of the exquisitely lovely fibers I bought at Rhinebeck -- some merino/angora/silk roving -- from a small farm that raises angora rabbits. Here's the result:

This whole week is going to be a treat to myself -- spinning, spinning, spinning -- one of my most favorite things to do. And an outing for lunch with a friend. As my friend Jerry says, life is good.