Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Inspired by India Flint of Australia, I and a few of my friends have started a sewing circle here in South Orange County, CA. [] We had our first meeting this past Monday and had a wonderful time stitching, chatting and learning from one another. We had planned on getting together for a couple of hours and before we knew it, three and a half hours had passed. There was not a lot of "show and tell" this first day, but each person had something to contribute and share. All in our group are also handspinners and knitters; some are weavers, too.

Margie stitched with her handspun yarn on two baby sweaters she knit from wool dyed during a natural dye workshop we attended at the Golden Gate Fiber Institute.
Our youngest member, Miryha, brought a T-shirt that her late husband had worn. She sought help deconstructing the shirt to make it into a garment for herself as a rememberance. Karen helped Miryha with the deconstruction and piecing and fitting it to her.
Claudia shared some of the silk scarves and shawls she recently dyed using India Flint's eco print techniques.

I shared some of the eco prints I made the week before.
Prints on silk remnants I found on an excursion to the L.A. garment district with my son several weeks ago.

Michelle and I laid out some of our eco prints on the floor -- a bit of a collaboration. We plan to cut all of our pieces in half and share. We'll then each sew the cloths together by hand and stitch on them. I can't wait to see what each of us comes up with and how different they will be.
This is a lovely thing that India has promoted. This coming together in small groups working with your hands, stitching, carrying on these age old needle arts. It's like comfort food for the soul. And, although our small group spans several generations from the early 30's to the early 60's, age differences are not noticeable. Friendships are forged. We all feel invigorated by the exchange of ideas and thoughts -- creative juices flow.

This is how we all felt as we stitched away in the company of friends: Peaceful
Such a wonderful time was had -- we've set our next sewing circle for January 3rd -- the first Monday of the month -- the day we've chosen for our monthly get together. We await some good stitching show and tell.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

This Sunday, November 7th, is the Torrance Fiber Fest that is put on by the Southern California Handweavers' Guild. This is a great local show and well worth attending. I will again have my booth, Capistrano Fiber Arts Studio, and will be sharing with Margie "Ma Belle" Bell. The show is from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Torrance Cultural Center.

We will have lots of handpainted spinning fibers, handspun yarns, handpainted sock yarns, hand-dyed mohair curls and bags of washed fleece.

Hope to see you there. For more information and directions, check the SCHG website at:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

This was just too good to not pass on, especially for October 31st. Here is a piece of art from Ben Cuevas, who is apparently more than an amazing knitter. (In the lotus position, no less.)
For more pictures of this amazing piece of artwork, go to: to see his project "Transcending the material". This gives me goose bumplies.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Well, it's never too early to start planning your next summer. I was absolutely delighted to learn that the 2011 Black Sheep Gathering will be a little later in June. What this means is that I can once again attend one of the Shakerag workshops in Sewanee,Tennessee. I literally signed up the moment registration opened and am all set to take a felting workshop from Jeanette Sendler, a felt artist from Scotland, from June 12th-18th. Here's a picture of some of Jeanette's work from the Shakerag website.
The title of the workshop is "Hills, Heather, Lochs and Bogs". I checked out Jeanette Sendler's website: and went to the "Felt Interiors" page. There I found some pretty amazing pieces. I am hoping to gain some new knowledge on felt and texture and I'm looking forward to creating hills and bogs. Can hardly wait. I've attended Shakerag twice before and had such a good time and learned so much. Because of the conflict with Blacksheep Gathering, I was sad that I was not able to attend India Flint's workshop this past summer where I would have "dyed" and gone to heaven.

Other things to look forward to in summer 2011: I'll be a vendor at Black Sheep Gathering from June 24th - 26th in Eugene, OR, and have already made my reservations for Taos to attend the Wool Festival in early October. And, of course, I'm waiting to sign up for Golden Gate Fiber Institute's summer intensives. And then I see that India Flint is going to be at Haystack in Maine at the end of August. Whatever am I going to do!

Been working on felted pieces -- scarves and shawls -- for the upcoming Artistic License Faire (Oct. 29th and 30th). The piece below has already sold but I'll have many others.
Lots of stitching with my hand-dyed handspun yarn -- many skeins of which I will have in my booth.
Information on Artistic License can be found at
And be sure to mark your calendars for the Southern California Handweavers' Assn. annual Weaving and Fiber Festival at the Torrance Cultural Center on Sunday, November 7th. This is a great one-day show at which I will have a booth with Margie "Ma Belle" Bell. We'll have handpainted spinning fibers and yarns, handspun yarns and bags of natural colored washed fleece. This show features many vendors with weaving, spinning and knitting products. For more information on this festival, go to:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I continue to gather plants from the areas surrounding where I live and from my garden/yard. I have been using these gathered plant materials to do eco printing as talked about by India Flint in her book Eco Colour. I am fascinated by the beautiful colors that come from these plants. Here is a wool sweater.
A sleeve
The back.
Close up of front.
I have since done some hand stitching around the collar and down the button band with my hand-dyed handspun yarn.

I finally finished piecing together the eco print shawl I worked on during my trip to the Taos Wool Festival.
I constructed this shawl using many different sized pieces of silk charmeuse and wool crepe that I had eco printed. Although the silk charmeuse was recently purchased, the wool crepe was formerly a skirt (from my days as a lawyer) that has been redeployed into this shawl so there's a part of my past in this project.
This shawl was all put together by hand stitching. Then, I took strips of silk charmeuse and used them as an edging, sewing them by hand all around the edge of the shawl.
This is still a work in progress as I plan to do more top stitching on it. I may try some embroidery.
We have had wild thunderstorms starting about 4:30 a.m. this morning when the power went out for the first of five times today. Much lightning and thundering -- something we don't often see here in Southern California. And hoards of rain, hail too. We definitely welcome this precipitation. And, now, I am hunkered down for the evening, with a glass of merlot and my stitching to keep me warm and content. (My husband is at a conference in Dallas, Texas, where it is 85 degrees.)

Friday, October 08, 2010

My friend, Michelle Hoffee, and I attended the Taos Wool Festival this year (Oct. 2nd and 3rd). I have been twice before and love this event. The vendors must be from New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas so there are booths here that I don't see at other shows. And there are many small cottage industry vendors who are raising their own animals, making things with their hands, etc. I love to patronize people who are raising their own flocks and working so hard to bring beautiful fibers to the handspinning world.

We started our trip in Chimayo, a small weaving community about halfway between Santa Fe and Taos, and spent the night in a wonderful B&B called Casa Escondidas. This is alovely little inn about a mile on a dirt road off the main highway.
Next to Casa Escondidas is a winery. This beautiful yellow plant, Chamisa, proved to be the bane of the trip. A good dye plant, thousands of them blooming along the road and in the hills, but a cause of much sinus distress to my travelmate.
On the way out of Chimayo, we stopped in to Centinela Weavers, the business of of Irvin and Lisa Trujillo, famous local weavers who have won many, many awards for their weaving. Their work is amazingly beautiful. To my delight, we were able to see Lisa weaving a beautiful blanket and had a great talk with her.

Next stop on the way to Taos was a visit to the Espanola Valley Arts Center, just down the road and over the Rio Grande River from Chimayo. We bought an assortment of dye stuffs and I bought a book on the Colcha embroidery.
On the road to Taos, we made two stops for New Mexico red chili powder and some Hatch chilis and chili powder. Many people had their chili roasters going. Guess this was the season. I went for medium hot and Michelle got extra hot. Oh, boy! Here's a shot of the Taos Guesthouse with the afternoon thunderheads looming in the distance. Although it threatened rain every afternoon, we only had a few drops one day.
Here we are on our way to the wool festival, walking up the quaint New Mexican streets of Taos. Our B&B was up this road, Kit Carson Road, about a mile.
This was the front of a small museum.

The road to the middle of town -- looking the other way up Kit Carson Road.
Here we are at the festival, which is held outside in Kit Carson Park.
One of the many fiber booths.
Another booth with lots of fleeces and fibers.
The first morning was our time for "serious" shopping as we sought out our three favorite vendors: Kai Mohair, Anniroonz, and Rocky Mountain Colored Sheep Breeders co-op booth.
On the right at the Anniroonz booth is Myrtle Dow -- Mama Sheep (Black Pines Sheep) -- who has been instrumental in breeding some of the most lovely award-winning fleeces. To the left is Nancy Irlbeck from Anniroonz Ranch and Ann Morrison from Wind Dance Ranch. Michelle bought a few fleeces: a jet black Wensleydale, a white Teeswater and a white Wensleydale, a very curly white Wensleydale lamb, and we split a beautiful white Wensleydale with a staple length of about 5-6 inches. At the Colored Sheep Breeders booth, we split a cocoa brown fleece of CVM, Cotswold and Corriedale.

Our first stop, though, was Kai Mohair, owned by Lisa Shell from Texas. She has the most gorgeous mohair. Both Michelle and I bought tons of Lisa's solar-dyed kid mohair rovings and mohair curls. All of her fibers are very soft and beautiful and we'll use them for spinning and other fiber arts projects.
Here is Michelle showing Lisa a skein of art yarn she spun using some Kai kid mohair and curls.
Some of my stash from the Kai Mohair booth. Luscious colors.
Here are some sheep that are waiting to be sheared and some that have already lost their fleeces. There's always a sheep shearing demo.
After attending the wool festival, we meandered around some of the shops in Taos. LaLana Wools (owned by Luisa Gelenter) is a must -- beautiful naturally-dyed yarns, handspun yarns and sample garments of the many patterns they offer. I love this very artsy shop. We also stopped in at Weaving Southwest, now in a new larger space.
Weaving Southwest has stunning weavings, art to wear, hand-dyed yarns and weaving and spinning supplies. Another must on a trip to Taos.
And we happened upon an absolutely fabulous fabric store -- Common Threads -- where we bought buttons, ribbons, fabric and silk scarves. If we only had such a treasure in our area.
Had to have our picture taken in the fabric store. We had many nice comments on our felted pieces that we were wearing.
Last stop on our trip to Taos was a drive out over the Rio Grande River Gorge and a visit to the famous Earthships. These are ecologically friendly houses that are built into the ground using all manner of recycled materials. A little eerie out there, but very interesting.
Michelle at the entrance to the visitors' center.
A close up of the spire with recycled bottles.
A new structure that is being built -- using old tires and cans.
A beautiful wall using recycled cans and colorful bottles -- the afternoon sun shining through.
Well, it was a more than wonderful trip and I've reserved my room for next year. Lots of trips and adventures to look forward to in 2011.