Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Inspiration / Perspiration

Last weekend I got a bee in my bonnet when I saw something on Facebook about a fiber festival being held in Bouckville, NY. The CNY Fiber Artists & Producers were putting on an event, complete with lots of free demos and lots of tables under tents. Bouckville is near Oneida, where some friends of mine live, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I'm not good at estimating, but they had 7 or 8 really big tents and at least 40 different vendors. I concluded it was well worth the trip, and I'm putting it on my list for next year.

So my original plan was to meet up with my friends at the fair, but then I thought, maybe I can kill two birds with one stone and do the festival and then go do crafts with my BFF Becky, who LOVES to do crafts. So I scoured the festival for my inspiration, blissfully found and purchased it, and then headed up to Oneida to see what could be done there. Oh, and I've taken to toting complete craft projects around with me, because you just never know when you'll find a like-minded soul who's in the mood to do some creating.

So I concluded that the most inspirational fiber came from a place called Spin-Culture, owned by Eleanor Thomas. You can spot more of her treasures on Facebook and Etsy, and she has a blog at Here's what caught my eye:

Wild, don't you think? For a brief moment, I wanted to slap my head, because my latest project is... well, it's GREY. Not hot pink and gold and orange and glitter. Grey. So, we'll call this my first round of inspiration for the day. One must be sure to reward inspiration, so I bought two rounds of this lovely fiber:

Stay tuned to see what lovely yarn this turns into. If you look closely, you can see lots of firestar, strands of sari silk threads, and short pieces of yarn. I saw another booth that had pieces of silk tied into art yarn, which made me think that since I have a ton of my Dad's old silk shirts, I might be able to come up with some really interesting concoctions.

After the festival, I moved on to Oneida, where I got my real workout. I showed up with t-shirts and pillowcases, already batiked with a tjap imprint of a fish that I've been using a lot lately. I brought along my carcinogens - dyes, urea, baking soda, paint brushes, and eye droppers, and set to work with my friend Becky on batiking. Now, you'd think that we'd get through maybe one or two shirts, but Becky was UNSTOPPABLE. We did every shirt, every pillowcase. And they all came out different, because she has a real eye for color, and she's the ultimate partner in crime, because she builds on ideas and adapts them and improves them. The results were amazing!

That's me, Becky, and Becky's mom, Cathy. If you're wondering why my hair is standing on end, it's because Becky worked me so hard!
Becky is also on my list of things to go back to. I'm thinking silk batiking... or maybe it's time to teach her to spin.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

If I Were a Moonshiner, I'd Make Very Smooth Shine

Nope, I don't own a still. But I do like things smooth, so this week I've been working on my e-lectric Patrick Green Drum Carder, making up some exceptionally smooth, soft fiber.

Let's start with my recipe. I filled up my little green produce cartons with half an ounce of dark black alpaca and half an ounce of super super soft angora. Look how shiny the black alpaca is.

You might wonder how I decide how much yarn I'm going to make, and I have to admit, I follow a pretty simple rule of thumb on that. I find my fiber and I consume it all. So in this case, I had 3 big hanks of this black alpaca, so that's how much alpaca I carded. I have tons of the white angora, so I just consumed what I needed to deal with all the alpaca.

I experimented a little on blending and tried putting all the black down and then all the white, but I didn't like the effect, so I settled on this - lay down some alpaca, top it off with angora, and lay another layer of alpaca on top. It goes through the carder easier if you don't have the angora all by itself.

Here's how it looks all carded up, before I pull it off into rolags:

And here are the rolags. Not all of them... by the time I took this picture I had already started spinning up the yarn:

Living in a male-dominated house, I do have to make some concessions about how best to display my completed work:

Here's how it looks as I'm spinning it. It is sooo soft. Very soothing for the soul.

And here's a closeup.

At this point, all the yarn is single ply. I could ply it to itself, but I'm thinking of making up a batch of 75% white angora, 25% white wool. Let me know what you think!


In order to get through life, I've concluded, you have to have rules. And if you have a fiber fetish, then you have to have some serious rules. Like, everything has to be sealed in a container to keep the moths out. And, only take cash to fiber festivals.

So a couple of weeks ago I convinced my Sweet Patookie to be my Wingman and go along with me to the annual Shepherd's Market in Rush, NY. Wisely forgoing the credit cards, I scoured the house and found $6 in my coat pocket and $18 on the floor next to the couch. Unfortunately, I got a little hungry on the way, so we stopped off and bought a bagel, leaving me with a mere $22.

What to buy, what to buy? Well, the rules are:

1. Whatever it is, it must be soft
2. It must be a color combination I don't already have, since I do a lot of dyeing myself.
3. It must cause my Wingman to put his damn phone down and contribute some enthusiastic Wingman chatter.
4. It cannot be for more money than I have.

Ultimately, we found this:


Our vendor, Black North Fiber, from Hilton, NY, was kind and gave me 6 ounces of this luscious concoction for $22. It is 40% Wool, 40% Dehaired Cashgora, and 20% Alpaca.

Another of my rules is that new purchases do not become stash. They must be immediately consumed and pickled. So from the 6 ounces I ended up with 3 single ply balls:

There's a lovely dark purple vein going through all the green-ness, so I thought I'd try to make a complementing yarn to ply with it. I had purple angora and purple wool in my stash, so I carded up 50% wool, 50% angora and got a lovely super-soft single ply from that, but it is light purple, not dark purple, so I can't quite convince myself to put them together:

Nope, that just doesn't do it. See that other color in there?

I thought maybe this luscious pygora that I bought from Pat Gesler at Firefly Farm, but even that isn't quite pulling on me. 

So, for now, back into the jars it goes. What do you think?