Thursday, December 17, 2015

Getting a Start on 2016 Goals

First, I wanted to thank everyone who attended the Holiday Artisan Faire at Chemers Gallery on December 5th.  It was a fabulous event and very successful.  I had a wonderful time and so happy to have been included as one of the artists.  It was the icing on the cake of a great 2015.  Now I am on to fulfilling my 2016 goals, one of which is to knit some super cute sweaters, dresses and other things for my first grand baby who is due to arrive on February 22nd.  Here's her first sweater.  This is the Babies and Bears pattern.  I have knit this a dozen times, and it is fun every time.

Another goal that I have set for 2016 is to start dyeing sock weight yarn again.  I have been on a sort of hiatus from sock yarn for the past couple of years but this past week, I got my dyeing mojo on again and began working on that goal -- only a few colorways so far, but here are the results.  I will be selling my sock yarns in my Etsy shop in the very near future.  

So once I get a good inventory of sock yarn, I will photograph and get them listed in my Etsy shop.  Phew, a jump on 2016 goals.  I'm on track for a great year.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Holiday Faire

Last year, I participated in the Holiday Artisan Faire at Chemers Galley in Tustin and had a great time.  The gallery was packed with art lovers and holiday shoppers.  I am so honored to have been asked to be a part of their holiday faire again this year.  It will take place on December 5th from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. There are some wonderful artists who will be there with their work so I hope you'll stop by, enjoy the festivities, and take home some very special holiday gifts.  Check out the Chemers Gallery Facebook page to see the work of some of the artists who will be there.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Fall in New Mexico

This past week, I journeyed to New Mexico with my good friends, Michelle and Janet, for our annual Fall retreat to Chimayo, Santa Fe and Taos.  It's a week of girlfriend time, relaxing, stitching, knitting, exploring and taking in the Taos Wool Festival. This year we  invited two friends to join us, Dinah and Lorraine, and we think they had as great a time as we did. They got a real education in fiber.  Our first nights are spent at Casa Escondida in Chimayo, an out of the way little B&B -- that's after we stop at Maria's in Santa Fe for enchiladas "Christmas" style on the way up.

We spend a day in Santa Fe, shopping for fabrics, beads, Indian fetishes and just generally poking around until it's time for lunch at one of our favorite places, Il Piatto.  

Then off we go to Taos for four nights, on the way into town looking for a special purveyor of dried green Hatch chilis being sold out of the back of her truck.  We never know where she's going to be and unfortunately, this trip, we couldn't find her anywhere.  Where were you?

Lots of relaxing in Taos at the Old Taos Guesthouse, and then the weekend is full with exploring the Taos Wool Festival. Our girl, Michelle, received a Grand Champion award and silver medallion for her felted dress that she entered in the fiber arts competition, using predominantly raw wool she bought at the Wool Festival, processed herself and then dyed with natural plant materials. The mama bears (me and Janet) were so proud. (That's not the winning dress she's wearing but another one of her beautiful creations.)

We were very fortunate to have been able to watch Patricia Quintana judge the fleece competition.  Because it's such a small venue, we were able to get an up close and personal education on judging a fleece. Patricia has a small sheep ranch down the road from where we stay in Taos -- Rancho La Fina. 

And it wouldn't be the Wool Festival if we didn't come home with piles of wool.  I distinctly remember the conversation before our trip -- we don't need any more fleeces. We're not going to buy any fleeces. Yeah . . .  okay . . . .  Well, I thought I came home with more, but then again, I think I agreed to split a couple of fleeces, too. It is very hard to walk away from the extremely clean, beautiful fleeces at the Taos Wool Festival. 

Wensleydale/CVM/Cotswold/Bond cross (2.9 lb.) -- How can you possibly turn this down?

2.2 pounds of the Grand Champion fleece (one quarter of the whole fleece) -- gotta have it!  Lincoln/Cotswold/CVM.  This is a variegated gray that runs from light gray to charcoal.

OMG!  A Blueface Leicester/Wensleydale lamb fleece.  Only half a pound.  Is this sweet or what?  

A 2.6 lb. Blueface Leicester fleece -- white.  Oh this is so beautiful. It's gonna wash up white, white, white. 

And a 2nd place from a 3-year old colored Blueface Leicester, 2.6 lb.  Had to jump on this before someone else got it.

I guess there are a lot of people out there who don't get what the hubbub is about, but I think my spinning peeps totally get it and that's what counts.  I also made a few purchases of handspun yarn. Even though I spin my own yarn, I like to buy yarn from other spinners when I see something that is exceptional, like these:

Handspun angora from Sharon Dalrymple of Woodlake Woolies (Elbert, CO).  She does an amazing job of spinning the fiber from the angora rabbits that she raises.

And a lovely skein of handspun Wensleydale and Teeswater lamb from Wendy Luna Clarke of Animal Spirit (San Cristobal, NM).  

And no trip to the Taos Wool Festival would be complete without a trip to the colorful mohair curls salad bar at Lisa Shell's Kai Mohair booth. What an amazing color sense Lisa has.  It doesn't get better than this. 

So now it's back to work and prep for Artistic License and the Torrance Fiber Fest, but the warm feeling for New Mexico and the time spent with friends remains. And in the back of my mind, there's something to look forward to next Fall.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Late Summer Playtime

I've always got a knitting project(s) on the needles, especially with all the traveling I have been doing this summer.  I can't imagine sitting in the airport or on the plane staring into space.  So here are a few of things I knit up during the summer while sitting around waiting in various airports.

I love this pattern I found on Ravelry, called the Swiss Cheese scarf.  What a great way to use up a lot of those small but precious balls of left over handspun yarn from other projects.

And a pair of socks on the needles is a must have.  A nice little project to take along - fits easily into the purse.

And upon returning from Pam De Groot's class at the Eugene Textile Center, I scoured my local environs for plant materials to do some experimenting with a few of the things I learned in my workshop. I thought I was done with that eco-printing but I'm having some fun.

We have been having brutal weather here in Southern California -- 90's seem to be the new norm around here -- and frankly, I've had it, so I am off to New Mexico next week -- Santa Fe, Chimayo and Taos -- with my special peeps for our annual girls retreat for a week of relaxation, bonding, conversation, wine, roasted chilis, fine dining, knitting and stitching and, of course, the Taos Wool Festival.  The weather report promises 70's but we'll see.  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Freedom Construction

Two weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of taking a workshop from Australian felt artist, Pam de Groot, "Freedom Construction". The class was held at the Eugene (Oregon) Textile Center and was one of the highlights of my summer.  Not only is Pam an amazing artist, she is also a wonderful and patient teacher and a delightful person.  Here is what I brought for my class, my suitcase stuffed to the gills with my "raw" materials.
After two days of work, I had a ginormous garment hanging from the ceiling to the floor, ready to be felted to a garment that actually fits.

After another two days of felting, fitting and dyeing -- the finished garment -- Ta Da!

During the workshop, we created fabric (nuno felt), then constructed a garment, a tunic or dress. The garment was felted to a desired size and then dyed and eco printed.  Natural dyes were used in the class.  We had a dyepot of onion skins, another one with logwood and one with black walnut.   I dyed my tunic in the black walnut dyepot.

I feel so lucky to have seen the advertisement for Pam de Groot's class and then to have signed up immediately.  And I hope that some time in the future, I will again be lucky enough to take another class with Pam.

The week before I went to Eugene, OR, for the workshop with Pam, I had made a short tunic, using my own felt techniques. I was not happy with the results and almost threw it in the trash.  However, upon returning home, I used some of what I learned in Pam's workshop to complete, fit and dye the tunic.  I now feel like I turned a lemon into some lemonade.  


In another week, I will be winging my way to New Mexico where I will meet three of my peeps for our annual week of relaxation in Chimayo and Taos.  While there, we will also attend the Taos Wool Festival.

And in between travels, I will complete my preparation for the Artistic License Fair that will be held on Friday, October 23rd, and Saturday, October 24th, at Estancia Park in Costa Mesa.  

Also on tap is the Weaving and Fiber Festival (also known as the Torrance Show) sponsored by the Southern California Handweavers Guild.  The Torrance show will be held on Sunday, November 1st, at the Torrance Cultural Center.  My Capistrano Fiber Arts Studio will be a vendor at this show.

And finally, I have been invited back to participate in the holiday fair at the Chemers Art Gallery in Tustin on Saturday, December 5th.  This is a beautiful art gallery with many great artists and is well worth attending.  Many of the artists will be at this holiday fair and will be showing and talking about their work.  

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Eco dyeing fun

I've signed up for a four-day felting class with Pam De Groot in September at the Eugene Textile Center. []  It's called "Freedom Construction".  Here's the description of the class:

"We will produce prefelt yardage to create garments with twist, pocketing and swales using minimal patterns. We will exploit the amazing properties of felt for garment creation.  Once finished, we will naturally print the pieces.  This course challenges the maker to trust the process of discovery and let their creativity run free.  Be prepared for a roller coaster ride! 4 days."

In preparation for my class, I decided to do a little eco-printing yesterday just to see if I still have the basics.  Both of these were done on silk scarves/shawls.

Can't wait to get on the roller coaster ride and learn more about garment construction from Pam De Groot and then to see what comes out of the class.  It's always so much fun to see the variations in creativity of the finished work of each participant.  This is a class I just could not pass up.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Indigo in July

A couple of Sundays ago, July 19th to be exact, I participated in a Bandhani workshop with some of the members of the South Coast Weavers and Spinners Guild.  We traveled to Cameron Taylor Brown's "Arts Garage" in Los Angeles for the workshop, and it was a wonderful day.  Bandhani is the Indian way of shibori and the class was taught by several men from India.  One of the pieces I did was a silk scarf that was dyed in indigo.

This workshop got me all excited about dyeing with indigo again so the following week, I set about making a new indigo vat, using Michel Garcia's 1-2-3 method that I had learned from Yoshiko Wada at her Shakerag workshop in 2014.  

My first attempts were a little light and then after the pot sat around and was tweaked for a few of days, I started to get more medium colors.  For experiment purposes, I bought some cotton napkins and am dyeing a set for my son and his wife, both of whom love indigo. 

After I felt confident that my indigo vat was working as it should, I decided I would try dyeing the silk piece I had stenciled with a rice paste resist in Akemi Cohn's Katazome workshop at Shakerag this past June.  I am very happy at how crisp my stencils turned out.  I dipped this piece four times in the indigo vat. Because I did not want to disturb the rice paste resist and have it begin to deteriorate, each dip lasted only about 15 to 20 seconds.  Then it was left to dry thoroughly before the next dip.

One of the skills we learned in the Katazome workshop was drawing and cutting our own stencils using a smoked mulberry paper. It's a very tough paper and you can use the stencil over and over.  From MAIWA in Vancouver, I have purchased all of the supplies I need to do Katazome over this summer.  I am also planning on using other natural dyes, such as lac, weld,  and madder, as well as my indigo vat. 

For this week, though, I am up in Morro Bay with my husband.

Another exciting venture coming up is a workshop September 8th thru 11th with Pam DeGroot an amazing felt artist from Australia.  I just happened upon something on the internet that led me to her website only to find that she would be teaching a four-day workshop at the Eugene Textile Center in Eugene, Oregon.  Of course, I signed up immediately.  I can hardly wait.   

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Tale of Two Good Kittens

Just a brief checking in.  I'm still having fun knitting kittens.  These two good little girl kittens were commissioned by my daughter-in-law for her nieces, ages 4 and 6.  It was quite fun making dresses and headbands so that they would look more girly.  I still have to name them. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

More Kittens and Bunnies, Too

At the end of March, I spent a couple weeks in Issaquah, WA, near Seattle, house and pet sitting for my son and his wife while they soaked in some sun and warmth in Maui.  My friend, Melody, who lives close by came for a visit for a few days and we embarked on a knitting marathon.  Melody has been knitting the most fabulous stuffed animals and cats and so under her tutelage, I learned how to knit my first stuffed animal, a rabbit, and there was born a new obsession.  Here are the fruits of my labors -- all knit since the beginning of April:

I cannot begin to tell you how much fun it is to create these little critters and dress them up.

There is a bit of a story behind the materials I used in these little animals.  Before my trip to the Seattle area, I of course had to search out nearby yarn/fiber stores that I might need to visit.  One of the stores that popped up was Tolt Yarn and Wool, which looked like an interesting shop in the farming community of Carnation about 20 miles from my son's house in Issaquah.  So, Melody and I decided to take a field trip to Carnation in the Snoqualmie Valley. The drive there was so picturesque as the road followed the Snoqualmie River through a beautiful farming valley. 

The town of Carnation is about two blocks long so you can't miss Tolt Yarn and Wool.  What a delightful shop.  I have to say it is one of my most favorite shops. Beautiful yarns, very friendly staff.  It reminded me of an old timey rustic general store, warm and homey.  One of the things I most loved about this shop is that they carry a variety of yarns from locally sourced wool, grown by small farms in Washington and they also carry handspun yarn and some spinning supplies.  (

As soon as I walked in, I saw a cute hand knit rabbit that looked like a good starter project for me, so I got the pattern, "Bunny Love" by Susan B. Anderson.  Because I was drawn to the local yarn, I decided I wanted to knit my animals with natural locally sourced wool, so I set aside some yarn from Snoqualmie Valley Yarn, a Blueface Leicester and Clun Forest wool yarn.  I bought three of their natural colors and several that had been dyed by Local Color Fiber Studio on Bainbridge Island. Local Color used indigo, madder root, grape skins, and rudbekia for their natural dyeing. I also bought three natural colors of yarn from Small Blessings Farm from Enumclaw, WA, 100% Romney wool.

Naturally dyed by Local Color Fiber Studio

Once I got home and had knit up my first bunny, I decided to embark on the cat pattern, "Meowww Kitty" by Sherry Moore.  And . . . I took off.  Using the wool yarn I bought at Tolt, I combined it with some of the Cormo wool yarn I have purchased at the Taos Wool Festival from Elsa Wool Company of Colorado, another family owned sheep ranch.  And some of the clothing for my little critters was knit with natural dyed yarns from Rainshadow Farms (Kingston, WA) that I bought at the Black Sheep Gathering.  I also used some of my handspun yarn that I have dyed with indigo and eucalyptus. It remains to be seen how big my stable of kitties and others is going to grow.  Many ideas swirling around in my head -- which is not a bad thing.

So that's about it for now.  I am motoring down to San Diego tomorrow to spin with my spinning buddies down there, a great group of women. Love the camaraderie that the fiber world nutures.