Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fiber is Soft. Metal is Not.

One of the reasons I like working with fiber is that it is soft. Even the most coarse of wools is softer than many substances around us. And, to me, soft means “safe”. I’m unlikely to hurt myself with yarn.

Metal, on the other hand, is something I need to be cautious around. Knowing this, before I started working regularly with hand cards and hand combs, I got a tetanus shot. Good thing, too, because I regularly get poked by those tines. So I’m clumsy. So sue me…

Well, I may be metal and wire phobic, but I’m happy to report that other spinners and fiber artists are not. Meet Kathi Pecor. She took a couple of my classes at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival earlier this month. In one of those classes, we played with core-spinning (wrapping fiber around a core yarn). She then took core spinning outside the box. In an email, she told me, “…I applied what I learned to something I saw on the internet-core-spinning with wire as the core. I used 24g wire and some wild glitzy stuff I carded and just spun away-the hardest part is that the stuff doesn't wind up on the bobbin-you have to do it by hand-which isn't all that bad….”

Here’s the picture she sent me.

I asked her what she planned to do with this fiber-wrapped wire. She replied that it might find a place in jewely or book binding. How cool is that! For more, visit her blog.

Over this last weekend, I met another fiber artist who is combining metal and fiber. Her name is Emily Wohlscheid. Her business name is Bricolage Studios. She was a vendor at the Northern Michigan Lamb & Wool Festival
. I was quite intrigued by her jewelry and her orifice hooks. The orifice hooks had tiny bits of fiber encased in plexiglass (I think) and copper. Charming! She has a few examples in her etsy store and she discusses her art work on her blog . Take a look.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Page 32

Two wraps-per-inch events have recently collided in my universe. Perhaps not of astronomical proportions, but noteworthy to me none the less.

At the recent Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival
I helped one of the other instructors, Nancy Shroyer, by giving her rides between the motel and the fairgrounds. Nancy is the owner of Nancy’s Knit Knacks , and she makes marvelously ingenious and useful tools for spinners and knitters. On the last day of the festival, she gave me a handful of her wraps-per-inch tools, hoping that I could use them in my teaching. What a sweet gesture. And, yes, I certainly can use them!

After she gave them to me, I sheepishly said, “I have to warn you….” I told her about an article I’d written that was on the verge of being published in Spin Off magazine
about the wraps-per-inch measurement. In the article, I presented evidence that the WPI measurement is lacking “reliability” (from a research methods point of view). I didn’t want Nancy to think I was utterly opposed to the measurement or that I didn’t like her lovely tools. She responded with grace and equanimity.

A few days after I returned from that trip, my copy of the Fall 2010 issue of Spin Off appeared in my mailbox. My article is on page 32. I structured the article on the standard format for a scientific paper: introduction, methods, results, and discussion. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sheeeep! Sheeeep!

I got home late last night from my trip to Jefferson, WI for the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival . It was a terrific trip. The highlight was after the festival: my stay overnight Sunday at the home of Carol and Paul Wagner. They own and run Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill.

We three left Jefferson on Sunday (after a good dinner at a local Mexican restaurant) at about 7:30pm. It was a three-vehicle caravan. Carol was in the lead with the truck and trailer, then came Paul with the van and camper, and I brought up the tail in my trusty Subaru. We arrived at their farm at about 9:30pm. I was exhausted, but I imagine that both Carol and Paul were more so! The sky was clear and the Milky Way was visible. Ah!

After a night of sleeping deeply, I got up to fresh coffee, eggs, bacon and toast. Yum! I wandered around the near surrounds of their old farmhouse (which had earlier belonged to Paul’s parents) and took pictures.

Carol and Paul showed me the workings of their fiber mill: washing machines (old ringer types), drying racks, picker, post-picker room (that’s what I call it; I don’t know the official name), roving carder, quilting batt carder. All were awesome machines. The building that served as the retail store was a fabulous space. I walked up the stairs and promptly asked if I could move in. They have so many wonderful ways of displaying their wares. I especially loved the “cabinet” that had once been a paper press.

Then Carol took me to the sheep pastures. They raise Coopworth sheep. First off, we visited the lambs (now weaned). There were over 150 of them! Cute cute cute! And Frenchy, the guard llama, was right in the mix. Paul arrived and asked Carol and me to help move the lambs to the next pasture (they rotate pastures frequently). Those lambs did not cooperate! Carol and I tried to chase them around; I was next to useless. Finally they figured out which way to go. Hey, they’re young, like teenagers. No wonder they don’t want to follow directions!

Next, we went to the pasture with the ewes. When Carol and I drove up, they pretty much ignored us. When Paul arrived he said, “Hey, Amy, watch this.” He cupped his hands around his mouth and hollered, “Sheeeep! Sheeeep!” As a group, all the sheep (many more than I could count) swept down the hillside toward Paul, hoping, I’m sure, that he would have something wonderful for them. It was a sight!

The rams were in a third location. They were not at all interested in visiting with us. They were too busy eating some luscious clover.

After we had a delightful lunch of ground mutton burgers, Carol and Paul bid me adieu with some peppers, squash, and eggplant from their garden and a hefty chunk of lamb/pork summer sausage. I drove off to Manitowoc to catch the ferry to my side (the “good” side) of Lake Michigan.

Rich! I tell you I’m rich to know such wonderful people. This past week could not have ended better. Thanks, Carol. Thanks, Paul.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Treats for Teachers

An apple for the teacher. A sweet, kind gift to show gratitude and admiration.

I sometimes get “apples” from students in my workshops. It always surprises me. It always delights me. And it makes me think I must be doing something right!

One such gift I received recently was a charming piggy bank. Not just any piggy bank! This one is meant for fiber fiends. One of the folks who was in my beginning spinning workshop at the Michigan Fiber Festival gave it to me. I was so stunned by the gesture that I failed to note who exactly gave it to me. (How rude!) If anyone reading this blog knows the culprit, tell me. I really must send her a proper thank-you.

I began putting coins in this fountain right away. When it’s full, I will spend the money on something fibery, of course, and completely for myself.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rare Threads

I just met with Sylvia Walworth in Traverse City to deliver my wall hanging, “Petosegay – Sunbeams of Promise” (see my blog entry June 30, 2010
). She is one of the organizers of the upcoming fiber arts show, “Rare Threads – Eclectic Meanderings”.

This juried show will be held at the Jordan River Arts Council building in East Jordan, Michigan. There is an opening reception Sunday, October 3, 1-4pm. The show then runs October 3 through November 12, 2010.

In conjunction with this show, the Jordan River Arts Council
is sponsoring a number of fiber arts workshops. Topics include batik, shibori, porcupine quillwork, beading, knitting, and others. You can check their website for details on these workshops.

I’m thrilled that my wall hanging was accepted to this show, and I do look forward to seeing all the other wonderful fiber art on exhibit.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool

Next week I’ll be travelling to Jefferson, Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival
. This’ll be my third year teaching at this delightful event. I can hardly wait!

For one thing, I get to travel by ferry (“The SS Badger
) across Lake Michigan. What a treat to be on that inland sea for 4 peaceful hours. A perfect opportunity to knit!

Then, I get to teach workshops for all three days of the festival. My workshop, “Plying Balanced Yarns” filled rather quickly. The other three workshops still have spaces available. I’m especially looking forward to my workshop, “Spinning with Commercial Yarns” in which we play with re-spinning commerical yarns and various crazy ways of combining handspun singles and commercial yarns. Here’s a picture of some of the stuff we’ll do:

I like that this festival has a very strong emphasis on agriculture. The “lambing barn” and the “hall of breeds” are both wonders for visitors. In addition to the large selection of fiber arts vendors, there are many agricultural vendors. You really get the connection between those who raise the animals and those who use their fiber.

On the cover of the festival’s magazine this year is a print by Joan Arnold . I love her work. A few years ago, I bought a print of her piece, “The Gathering”. I’d love someday to get an original. I will certainly spend some time at her booth admiring her art….and maybe purchasing some!