Some Pics of My Felted Scarves… Color on a Cloudy Day:

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Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 5:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Improv” Yarn Spinning

I’ve been blessed to experience the pure pleasure of quite a few (never enough) live jazz performances; and it’s thrilling to hear, see and feel the synergy of music being created, in the moment, as a kind of dialogue. In particular, the intensity and playfulness of improvisational music is so energizing: it makes you feel more alive!

What does this have to do with felting and spinning?

Well, for a start there’s inspiration, common to all who create:

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And there’s practice, and seeking feedback from those who have mastered what you hope to learn, and more practice. It’s what puts the “work” into art work. It’s not essential to creative work of any kind, to build on a solid framework of diligent and disciplined practice; but it is essential for mastery and for the confidence and competence that is always evident. Even in very abstract art work, mastery in drawing is somehow visible. A skilled musician can play just a few notes, and you are brought to attention, and perhaps to tears. If mastery of your craft is what you’re after, there may be few who will comprehend your drive and priorities: it is so hard to value that which is invisible except as the glimmer of a dream in one person’s imagination. As an artist gains mastery, with some luck, this dream may be shared — and even felt by others to be a kind of gift of the spirit. It may offer a moment of transcendence. And this can be music, or painting/dance/writing… or even yarn spun with all one’s heart and ability…

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Published in: on February 20, 2014 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dear Gentle Reader(s),

According to the info that WordPress supplies about visits to my little blog here, yesterday’s visitors included readers from the U.S., Denmark, Ukraine, Australia, Sweden and Canada.  So I want to take a moment and say “thank you,” and reach around the world, in particular in light of the turmoil in Ukraine — to wish each reader peace — and freedom to create and express yourself! 

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Published in: on February 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

One more pic of a batt waiting to be spun into art yarn…

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I carded this batt from merino wool, silk, recycled sari silk threads, alpaca fleece, alpaca top, cashmere, camel, Finn wool, curly wool locks, CVM and firestar. (It’s very, very soft…) To add interest and texture to the yarn I’ll spin from this soft-toned batt, I’ve gathered some curly wool locks in two different shades; and I prepared strips of hand-dyed silk fabric. As I spin the yarn, using a drop spindle, I’ll add in the curly locks and silk fabric strips. You can watch me spin — this Saturday, February 22, from 11:30 – 4:30, at The Gallery Shop in Lemont, PA!

Published in: on February 19, 2014 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

This Saturday, February 22, from 11:30 – 4:30, at The Gallery Shop in Lemont, PA…

“Starling” Batt, formed into “rolags” for spinning woolen, carded from merino and silk fiber:

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…I’ll demonstrate how I spin art yarn, using a simple, inexpensive drop spindle, from batts and rolags I’ve carded. I’ll bring some examples of my lightly-felted, hand-spun yarns. I hope you’ll have time to stop by and say hello!

Published in: on February 19, 2014 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Felting and Spinning: Images from My Studio on a Wintry Day

Little Hand-spun Rainbow Scarf for Camilla, almost finished:

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Detail of felt yardage that will embellish yarn necklaces:

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Spring-toned “Watercolor” felted scarf, with fringe that includes three different curly locks: kid mohair, Border Leicester, and Teeswater; as well as hand-spun yarns:

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A detail of the scarf fringe:

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My hand-spun and lightly-felted small skeins and balls of yarn, waiting patiently:

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Published in: on February 18, 2014 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Passion Flower” Rolag Set for Woolen Spinning

There are two basic ways to spin: worsted — in which the fibers are lined up and there’s little air in the twist of fibers and the aim is to create dense, strong yarn; and woolen — in which the fibers are directionless, and air is retained in the spinning, and the aim is to create fluffy, warm yarn.

I’ve recently learned how to card batts on a drum carder, and just today learned how to roll a batt into “rolags,” which is a fiber preparation for spinning woolen yarn. My inspiration for the colors was a card I’ve had for years; the image is art work by Emily Burningham titled “Passion Flower.” Her website is exquisite, and her fabric and other designs are classic and beautiful:

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This rolag set includes some of my hand-dyed silk fiber, as well as merino, a polwarth/silk blend fiber, and other silk fiber. I’m looking forward to spinning some fluffy, warm yarn in these colors:

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Published in: on February 14, 2014 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Quick, the Antidote!

View from the front porch: about another three inches have fallen since I snapped this photo, and it’s still snowing hard; forecast calls for snow for much of the next ten hours:

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View from the inside of the house: this yarn has been crocheted into a little scarf since I snapped this photo: forecast calls for snow shoveling, as well as carding and spinning fiber for much of the next ten hours:

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Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 6:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

February’s Fiber Focus exhibit in the Atrium of The Gallery Shop in Lemont, PA:

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Thank you to Suzanne McCracken, for your help setting up this exhibit!

Published in: on February 11, 2014 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Spinning an Art Yarn with Alpaca Fleece

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There’s so much to love about alpaca fiber: silky, fine and lustrous; similar to sheep’s wool but warmer and not prickly; and without lanolin — which makes it hypoallergenic. Alpaca fibers are not hollow, but most alpaca fibers have a core of trapped air, which makes alpaca a very light-weight and warm fiber. I was given the gift of a local alpaca fleece (that’s the fiber from shearing, a hair cut…). This buff-toned fleece is from a young alpaca, and it’s so shiny and soft with a subtle crimp that adds texture and enhances the luster. To use the alpaca, I applied fiber in small amounts directly to the large drum of my Louet carder, combining it with alpaca tops, silk, camel, merino, an oatmeal-toned cashmere, Finn wool, recycled sari silk threads, and some dyed Cotswold locks…in shades of peach, coral, carnelian, burgundy, brown, white, saffron, plum:

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I’ve been reading a wonderful book, “The Gift,” written by Lewis Hyde and first published in 1979. The subtitle is “Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World” and the back cover describes it as “a brilliant defense of the value of creativity and its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities.” This good read was recommended by fellow artist friend Beth Aten. One of the ideas of the book is that creativity is a kind of gift that should flow along to others. Since the alpaca fleece was a gift to me, I’d like to pass along some aspect of the gift to others; this thought really energizes my studio work.

For about ten years, our family has donated to The Heifer Project, an organization that helps poor people around the world by giving them animals to raise, and by teaching them how to feed and care for the animals. One of the Heifer gifts is called “Knitter’s Basket.” For $480, the donor can give a poor family a llama, alpaca, sheep and angora rabbit; and most importantly, give instruction and support about proper feeding and care for the animals. Heifer has been working in an area of Peru to refine the local alpaca breed to produce healthy animals with high-quality fiber, and to help bring products made from alpaca fiber to market. I love this idea, of raising animals for their fiber, and raising them with care; and helping communities be self-sufficient. I’ll be donating a portion of any profits from the sale of work incorporating my “gifted” alpaca fleece towards the purchase a Heifer Project “Knitter’s Basket.”

To begin, I’m spinning a thick and thin, fluffy single from this first carded batt made in part from alpaca fleece. I plan to spin enough yarn to knit a long scarf with an nice, open stitch so the curly locks have room to twirl…

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Published in: on February 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment