Thursday, May 31, 2012

Newly Spun Yarn!

I set myself to the task of spinning an entire braid of wool on my drop spindle in order to hone my skills (they need much honing!). I present 200 yards of yarn with a somewhat consistent diameter. The braid was purchased at the Allegan, MI wool festival in August 2010. The info tag is missing, but I think I remember this is Falkland wool???

 The colors remind me of peas and carrots!
This is a squishy, soft yarn. Despite some areas of unevenness and some overspun sections, I'm so happy with how it turned out! This will knit into some thing very warm for this winter - a hat or mittens perhaps?

Lest you think I have a quiet life where I can sit and spin while dreaming of great things, here's proof that you never know what the day will bring. My son gashed his leg at the beach and had to have 6 stitches - all the day before his birthday! Poor kid! But he was tough as nails and never flinched while the doctor was sewing him together. 
a birthday badge to remember his last day of being 7 yrs old

Friday, May 18, 2012

Development of a painting

This afternoon I holed up in my garage to work on a canvas that's been waiting for me for too long. Many years ago, when I first learned to use a brush, I used acrylics. They're easy to mix, have great coverage, and are pretty forgiving to work with. Somewhere about 10 yrs ago they got boxed up and put away. Today I dusted off the box and gave them another chance.

I thought you might enjoy a step-by-step (sort of ) showing the birth of this painting:

Hm......adding book pages was fun, but I can tell I'm used to using washes and watercolors! Can you believe I went thru 4 years of art school and this is the first canvas I've ever painted on!? No kidding! I'm not 100% pleased with this composition, but it was good practice for other techniques. I still have some ideas kicking around in my head that I want to try out, but first I need to replenish my paint supply. Most of my acrylics are not very good quality, and it was a bear to work with them. They felt sticky, goopy, ugh. Good tools make life much easier.

My husband loves it - must be the book pages featuring a conversation between Luther & Zwingli as well as a bit about Bucer. :) 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Maryland Sheep and Wool - the takeaway

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival came home with me - in a small way. 
I forced myself not to stop in or even look at the auction tent - I caught glimpses of beautiful spinning wheels and looms from the corner of my eye. Someday, the right spinning wheel will find me. It's like waiting for the right guy to show up in your life....much patience and restraint needed in the meantime!

There is sooooo MUCH YARN and other fiber goodness that one could blow their entire savings in a gluttonous frenzy. Aware of that, I decided to approach this festival like a museum curator - searching out just the right pieces that would round out my collection. I also took along an 8x11" bag and limited myself to whatever it could contain.

I've been trying to spin a bit more, both on my great wheel and the drop spindles, so some fiber was in order. The multicolored batt on the left seemed to have a well-combed preparation, perfect for the great wheel. The yellow ball is basic 100% merino. The bottom fiber is 100% silk - I was hunting for something new to tackle, and this silk called to me. Now to figure out how to spin it!

Black Laceweight Merino - for a gift. I suspect this JaggerSpun is a mill end, thus the handmade label.
 Malabrigo - oh how I love thy colors! One of my goals was to find a yarn I've never knit - and this famous brand fit the bill. I'm a bit wary about how a single will wear (pilling??). This will likely become a scarf or cowl for a gift.

 50/50 merino/silk "Solo Silk" from a vendor from Texas (I'm so bad at remembering names!). The colorway is a bit more subtle of a gray-neutral-cream than what the photo shows. I fell in love with a (free!) scarf pattern and decided to knit something for myself. I'm usually drawn to red or blue yarns, so picking this colorway was branching out for me. This is for the "try something that pushes my color envelope" category.

And some non-fiber goodness: heavenly delicious Maple Cream from Justamere Tree Farm (and the kids don't like it! Wahoo! It's all MINE!), an antique egg darner which will be put to good use, and ceramic buttons from Melissa Jean Designs to go with a sweater on my to-knit list.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Maryland Sheep & Wool Fest - Part 1

Saturday found me at the fairgrounds in West Friendship, Maryland for the annual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival! Every form of wool was present, but first you had to fight the crowds. No worries, friends of sheep are quite pleasant to be around.
 Cuddly alpacas (did you know they hum? Hmmmm?)
Some very hard working sheep dogs (and very stubborn sheep)
 This is Fred, the sheep
 Brand new wool, um, I mean lambs, born that very morning, yet unable to stand - awww!
super cuddly angora rabbit - with nasty, pointy teeth! Just kidding, she was so calm her owner held her on her lap and spun the hair directly from the rabbit! I want one!

There were all forms of four-legged wool - didn't see any llamas, camels, bison, muskoxen, or yaks, though (but I did see the yarn made from them, even 100% dog hair yarn - ewww). I'll show you the products from these beauties in my next post.