Parvana Creations

I have been watching a fellow fiber artist now for a while.  Nicole does amazing felt shawls and scarves.  The other day she put up a shawl that she had “felted on a whim” the night before and my heart about stopped.  OMG this was beyond stunning.  I have been chatting back and forth with her about this particular piece and various felting ideas and she agreed to let me write about our conversation, this particular piece and to include some stunning photos.  Are you ready?

Felted Capelet

1. What is your favorite fibers to use for felting and why?

My favorite fibers are silk and Merino. Specifically the 50/50 15micron Merino and mulberry silk roving that I use. It is so luxuriously soft and has the perfect shimmer. The high silk content is hard to felt with but the results produce a very beautiful drape in the finished product.

2. What fiber arts do you do and what draws you to each?

I am a felter and also hand dye almost everything that I create. My favorite is to take the white roving and turn it into a beautiful scarf or shawl.. then when the piece is done it’ll tell me what color it should be. Dyeing after felting gives me a better sense of control for where I want the colors to go and how they will combine.  

3. What is your felting process. You mentioned that you use the dryer exclusively. Explain how you used to do it, what has changed and why. Folks that don’t felt need to know that hand injuries can cramp your style but a dryer opens your world back up.  I struggle with hand and back injuries daily so that is important to me.

Close up of fibers in the before felt stage

My first step in the felting process is laying out my bubble wrap. Next I lay out my fibers.. deciding if it’ll be a nuno piece, a cobweb, etc. After I am all done with the design I wet it down with cold soapy water, I almost always use cold since I usually use a silk/wool mix and you don’t want the fibers to felt too fast. Then I place a thin piece of plastic over my work.. I prefer this instead of netting, as netting tends to felt into the project. It is the rolled up in two towels and tied together with stretchy pantyhose then put into the dryer for four ten minute increments. I used to roll by hand, hundreds of rolls.. but as I have a bad back it was too difficult and I wasn’t able to produce as much or as fast as I’d like. The dryer has saved me back pain and time! 

I understand not using the netting.  I have always thought that the netting would end up being felted in and that was not something I wanted.  I would use that plastic myself as well as I plan on using a power sander to do some of the fulling process and need that plastic barrier between the electric sander and my WET felt! haha

4. What inspired you for this whim? It is different than the other pieces I have seen on your page recently. I love it and wondered what inspired you to leave your comfort zone and try this?

Close view of the mohair locks, just stunning!

I think I was inspired by the mohair itself. I was looking at it and wanted to create something very organic and decided that since I didn’t have enough to make a full length shawl, a capelet would be perfect! It was my first time making one, I am hoping to create more.. getting better with each one. Sometimes I have to push myself, even though you worry you are going to waste time and fiber (which I have done before) the only way to become a better artist is to consistently put yourself out of your comfort zone.

5. How long have you been into fiber? How long doing felt?

I started off crocheting in 2009, just the basic stuff.. and using the normal yarn you would find at a craft store. I wasn’t satisfied. It didn’t speak to me in the way that I really wanted it to. One day I saw a felted piece on Etsy and instantly fell in love. From that moment on I researched and watched videos.. anything I could get my hands on to learn how to create fabric with just wool fiber, soap and water. Two years ago I bought some supplies and have never stopped felting. It’s hard to describe what felting means to me.. it is apart of me now, part of my soul and it makes my heart so happy. 

6. Can you tell me about banana fiber? What is it? Why banana fiber? What does it do or not do for felting?

Banana fiber yarn is made from banana stalks. It has incredible shine and is so soft, you can dye it any color you’d like, but you can’t use acid dyes since it is not a protein fiber. I really enjoy using it in my work, when it felts it scrunches up and gives great texture.

7. This piece from your description seems to be a medium to maybe a smallish large. How big is it when you start out?

Hmm, I can’t remember the dimensions exactly (this is what happens when you work late into the night and forget to write stuff down!). But, it did shrink quite a bit. At least 40%.

8. Merino from my own experience really felts up and shrinks. I sometimes have a 40% shrinkage on my warp when I just Full a piece. Does silk shrink as much? The shine comes from the silk, the soft as well but what does silk give to felting that just a different wool would not?

Yes, Merino does shrink a good amount, I have set dimensions I use for my shawls, but even following the dimensions they sometimes come out different sizes. Felt has a mind of its own! The silk that is in the blend will shrink with the wool, so I find the 50/50 mix will shrink just the same as if I used pure wool. The silk just allows the product to have a very nice drape, it allows the fiber to “bend” more and not be so stiff (As long as you don’t over-full). Also, when dyeing, the silk produces brighter colors so your over-all piece is more vibrant. 

9. You mentioned that you do your felting by dryer, but your fulling by hand. Why can’t you full by dryer too? Can it all be done in dryer? Fulling by hand is still the rolling correct? What about those that are disabled and have a lot of pain. Is it possible to not do by hand or do you lose too much control that way?

You know, you might be able to do it all in the dryer. I have always fulled using my hands. After something is done felting I take the felt and rub it between my hands, sometimes smacking it down onto the table, as long as it’s not supposed to be a delicate piece. My technique is felting THEN dyeing. So a lot of the times I only full a little tiny bit because I find when I dye the piece after it’s going to full on it’s own from my moving it around in the dye pot and heating it up in the microwave. At the end when it’s all dyed up I take it and shock it in cold water, which again does more fulling for me. I have learned when to stop fulling and leave it be, it has taken sometime to figure it out though. 

I would say for someone who really can’t use their hands.. maybe put it in the dryer for extra time, so it shrinks really well, then take it out and gently smoosh the felt in your hands and shock it using cold and hot water. 

Thank you so much for you thoughts and insights on your creative process, the things you have learned and what you like to use for felt.  I love this piece and it is currently for sale HERE in Parvana’s Etsy Shop.  You can also find Parvana on Facebook and follow her there if you want to know more and see more stunning felt work.

For anyone that has ever admired, drooled over, and wanted to know more about felting but never thought they could… Nicole has broken it down and let us in on how she has adapted around her physical limitations.  I know that I have been planning on felting for months now, have all my tools and fibers gathered and will be starting soon.  I had a spin job that needed to be finished first and because I was a little scared.  After chatting with Nicole, I think I am going to get over being scared and just go felt.  You might even seen some creations here soon.  Ta for now!

Marinated Goat Cheese

Marinated Goat Cheese….brings my taste buds to attention and they yell yippee!!

It is hard to describe the fascinating blend and meld of various spices and flavors along with texture.  YOU must make this and try it for yourself.  The key is the longer that it marinates the more flavorful the cheese becomes.  I have found this personally extremely difficult as I have made batch after batch in the last month and they usually only last 24 hours.  Some may make it to the 48 hour mark but my marination time limit seems to be a few hours as I can’t stop eating this cheese.  I usually say I am going to have one piece of cheese for strength to do such and such and before you know it I am eating the cheese out of the jar straight and foregoing any proper meal for a cheese meal.  It is heaven.  I would NOT call this a low fat cheese.  I mean come on, it is goat cheese from Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats which are a goat breed known for extreme HIGH butter fat, marinated in OIL for heavens sake.  If you are looking for low fat.  Leave my blog now, run…screaming!  If you are looking for real taste and intense flavor that is so lacking in prepared modern food, well put your feet up, read, print, and get to making your own cheese.  Trust me, I am NOT sharing.  I have been trying to make a batch to take to my BFF for weeks now.  By trying, well I make it and end up eating it before I go see her.  It has happened more than once.  I thought there was something wrong with me.  Instead of a crack addict, I am a cheese addict!!  I thought making her a jar of her own when I made a jar for me would do the trick.  NOOOOO….I finished mine off and sat and looked at her jar for 2 days.  I lost it yesterday and ate her jar for brekkie.  I had to hurry and make a double batch that afternoon so I had a full jar of my own and a jar for her.  I knew that I could pace myself to at least manage to make MY jar last 24 hours.  She got her jar.  OMG, talk about catching.  This cheese addiction.  She ate almost half her jar in just a few minutes and was bemoaning the fact that she wanted to eat it all right than and there.  What to do, what to do.  She asked me if I wanted a piece.  I said no, yes..but no.  She said you do realize how hard that was for me to ask to share.  To which I responded yes and  you do realize how hard it was for me to say no.  Before you feel too sorry for me, I consoled myself with about a third of my jar when I got home instead of dinner.

Jill, one of my Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats

By now I am guessing you are about salivating.  So without further ado, HERE is my old post with my basic goat cheese recipe.  First you start by making the cheese.  If you don’t have goat milk and can tolerate cows milk, you don’t have to use goat milk.  This recipe will work with any real milk.  None of that low fat crap.  It has to be milk with FAT in it, so you need to go for FULL WHOLE MILK at the barest minimum.  Raw milk from a high fat cow or a high fat goat is best for a higher yield cheese and a milder flavor.

Once you get your basic recipe made, put it in a cheese press and press the whey out.  Press it maybe an hour or two.  Flip the sides and press the other side for another hour or two.  Take it out of the press and slice it into little bite size cubes.  You can go as little or as big as you want keeping in mind a simple limitation.  Your mouth is only so big and it doesn’t hinge top.  Smaller cube size like you see on cheese party trays with toothpicks is better because you can pack more cheese in the jar which means you get more tasty cheese and use much less oil.  This marinated cheese does not need to be refrigerated.  The oil and vinegar combo preserve it for a fair amount of time and the cheese is preserved in the mixture as long as the oil covers the cheese.  If you somehow can leave it for a long time enough that it goes bad, your olive oil will be rancid and stink and you will be able to smell it.

While the cheese is pressing is when I get down to making taste bud happiness.  Find a jar and make sure it has a lid that will fit tightly so you can turn the jar up side down now and than to mix the spices.  Also make sure the lid is one that you can open relatively well as when having a cheese craving it is horrid to not be able to get the lid off.  My jar is rather large.  It holds a net weight of 2 lbs.  (yes I know that is a lot of cheese to eat in a 24-48 hour time frame but you haven’t tasted THIS cheese yet so shut up!)  This is where the creation part comes in.  I take about 10 nice size cloves of garlic, peel them and maybe slice them in half.  If it is a smaller clove I leave it whole.  Throw those in the bottom of the jar.  I take a Balenese Long Black Pepper corn and break it in half or 3 pieces if it is long enough and throw in.  You could substitute regular peppercorns and I would probably use about 5-7 round peppercorns whole for that size jar.  I usually throw in about 2 TBS of dried minced onions, sprinkle in even more garlic powder as you want it very flavorful.  Throw in 1-2 Bay leaves whole.  1-2 TBS of Rosemary, not the ground type but the type that still looks like it just came off the plant.  Now comes the time that I impatiently wait for the cheese to finish pressing so I can chop it.  Once the cheese is chopped into your bite size pieces, I gently set those down in the jar on top of the spices filling the jar to the bottom of the threads of the screw cap.  I take an extra virgin olive oil, which if it is fresh and has been processed correctly will be GREEN not that horrid amber brown crap in the store, and pour it gently over the cheese and spices to fill it up to just over the tip of the top piece of cheese.  I take a lovely Balsamic Vinegar made right here in Canon City, CO at our Holy Cross Abbey and pour several Tablespoons over the top of the cheese and oil.  The vinegar will be heavier than the oil and settle.  I personally think that the vinegar with the spices MAKES this cheese.  Since it always settles at the bottom, I take the jar with lid firmly attached and rotate the jar from top to bottom slowly to get the spices and vinegar to move around.  I do NOT shake the jar as the cheese is fragile and will crumble into little bits.  It will taste wonderful but how do you get it out of the oil it if is in little bits?  Put the lid on, set it on a folded piece of paper towel as no matter how careful you are the oil will leak, and TRY to wait for a while to let it marinate before you devour it.

Sweet Pea, Jill’s Mom. Both are my main milkers and cheese makers!

I just finished my jar off this morning.  Record in that it was about 48 hours.  I have that oil with all those spices and little bits of cheese crumbled up in it.  Did I mention that the cheese doesn’t really melt like a traditional cheese.  It does however fry up nicely.  I bought a lovely Tri Tip Steak and a Top Sirloin Steak.  I am thinking those steaks in that oil with spices and crumbled cheese, fried all together…..get out of my way.  Where is my cast iron skillet??

Spiced Green Tomatoes

I have been canning and putting up things the last week off and on.  I am specifically using a water bath canner so mostly tomatoes, pickles, and chutneys.  I was first introduced to Chutney in Scotland.  One of my all time favorites is a mango chutney at the local Indian Restaurant in Turriff, Aberdeenshire.

I have discovered that I do NOT like relishes but adore most chutneys if they are not spiced too hot. I am not quite sure what the difference is but a relish and chutney are NOT the same.  I know the definition of a chutney is a fruit and vegetable combination, with spices and vinegar cooked for long periods to develop flavor and texture.  They are highly spiced and have a sweet-sour blending of the flavors.   Relishes are prepared using chopped fruits and/or vegetables cooked in a spicy vinegar solution.  Sometimes sugar is added if a sweet relish is desired.  Often hot pepper or other spices are added to flavor relish.  I suppose the big difference is the sweet sour factor that the chutney has and the relish does not.  As well as the extra long cooking for the blending of the flavors and spices.  Any way you look at it, I like chutneys and do not like a relish!

The last two years I have had lost my tomato crop to the cold.  Two days of cold frost this year and over 12 inches of snow last year.  I suspect with my altitude and short growing season  that this will happen every year.  Both times, temperatures were back up in the 60-70′s within a few days but my tomato vines were in a brown dead dry frozen heap with literally HUNDREDS of little green tomatoes dead everywhere.  Oh what to do??

I know what to do for the future.  In fact, this recipe that I tried is so fantastic that a tomato will struggle to ever ripen on my ranch again as I will more than likely pick them as soon as they are decent size so I am make spiced Green Tomatoes.  This recipe is courtesy of Jackie Clay who writes a lot for Back Woods Home Magazine.  She has put out a collection of her recipes into several books.  This recipe is specifically from “Growing and Canning Your Own Food” by Jackie Clay and is on page 108 -109.  It is so fantastic that I even had a non tomato person try them, under protest mind you, and he liked them so well that he went back for more.  The only thing I regret is not trying this recipe sooner so I could have known how wonderful they were.  I would have harvested the 400+ tomatoes off my vines before they froze this year.  Instead, my compost pile is tomato rich again this year and I only have a few jars to last me until next year.  I will be lucky if I can make them last until Charlie is back here from the ship in a few weeks.  I can easily sit down and eat the jar with a spoon.

Without further ado, here is her wonderful recipe.

My garden last month, when my toms were still alive!

 

Spiced Green Tomatoes

  • 6 lbs. small whole green tomatoes
  • 1 Pint white vinegar
  • 4 lbs. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Cloves
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Allspice

 

 

 

Make a syrup of the vinegar, sugar, and spices.  Drop in the whole tomatoes, with stems removed, and bring to a boil.  Simmer until tomatoes become translucent.  Pack tomatoes into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Ladle boiling syrup over tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

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I reproduced the recipe exactly how she had it.  Any spelling errors were all mine.  The changes I made were a much longer water bath time because I am at 7500 ft altitude.  This you need to adjust for your altitude as the 15 min is at sea level.  And I added in heavier cinnamon, allspice and cloves.  I adore that combo of spices and the cabin smelled like Holidays.

I am going to use this same idea with these spices, change the green tomatoes out for some apples with a bit of pears, raisins, sultanas, currants, onions, red and yellow sweet peppers, garlic and other assorted stuff and make my own version of a Spiced Apple Pear Chutney in a few days.  That should go very well and taste even better!

Artful Women’s Exhibition with Zonta in Canon City, CO

The international organization, Zonta, has an annual fund raiser.  This fundraiser is for their scholarship fun and local and international service projects.  It is called the Artful Women’s Exhibition.  An Art Show that has 3 categories.  Drawing/Painting, Photography, 3D and Fiber.  I have 3 pieces that will be in the Fiber category.

Pastels

We will be having one or two fiber artists from Ft Collins, Colorado judging the 3D and Fiber category.  I believe this is the first Art Show that I have entered any Fiber Entries that will be judged by actual Fiber Artists.  Most times, the judges are NOT fiber Artists so I have never been able to understand how they could JUDGE Fiber.  I am looking forward to this.

The opening night is October 5, 2012 from 5:30-7:30pm.  The show will also be open October 6 and 7, 13 and 14th, and the 20th.  It will be at the old Sunflower Bank Building at 531 Main Street, Canon City, Colorado.  Admission is $5.00.

I plan on getting to know more about the Zonta Organization and the local chapter.  Their mission statement is:  To empower women to improve their status through education, economic stability, health and wellness, to serve our community through local and international projects and through contributions, and to further the mission of Zonta International.

Bits and Bobs

This is a good thing and I hope to find out more about them.

The 3 pieces that I am entering will show hand spinning, hand painting and dyeing, spinning from carded art batts, spinning from locks, crochet, weaving on a rigid heddle loom and free form crochet.

Beehive Art Yarn Shawl

My three entries are Pastels, Bits and Bobs, and Beehive Art Yarn Shawl.

Pastels is an 8 ft triangle shawl.  It was woven in continuous warp method on an 8 ft triangle loom from yarn that I hand painted.

Bits and Bobs was hand spun from art batts, rovings, and various other bits and bobs of fiber received over the years.  It has alpaca, merino, wool, angora rabbit, angelina for sparkle and glitz, and other assorted fibers that I have no clue about as they came in art batts.  I hand wove panels on my rigid heddle loom and free form constructed this jacket.  I also wove a bag that I later felted for extra durability and wove a panel to be used as a wrap skirt to complete the outfit.  This outfit has not been exhibited in Fremont County.  It was my entry into the Art Prize Competition in Grand Rapids, Mi in 2011.

Beehive Art Yarn Shawl was spun from locks and hand painted in vibrant colors.  The yarn is extreme chunky and bulky.  I used a crochet hook that is much bigger than my thumb and free form crocheted this into a unique OOAK shawl.  Ribbon was added for a nice touch and to close the front of the shawl.

I am looking forward to this exhibition and hope to see you there.  Come Look for me :-)

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Update:  “Bits and Bobs” won Third Place in the 3D and Fiber Category at the Artful Women’s Exhibition.  The judge particularly liked the different textures, colors, and seeing the “hand” of the artist in the weave and spinning.

Hand Painted and Dyed Yarns for the Store

 

All 57 hand painted skeins drying in garden

I have over 60 new skeins of yarn for the online store. I did a massive dye project and hand painted 57  200 yd skeins in less than 24 hours.  They were at the Salida Fiber Festival and are now going into the Alba Shop to get ready for the Holiday Shopping.

Here is a shot of them all hanging on the line to dry in my garden.

Most are in colorways of about 6 skeins, with each skein being 200 yds.  One 200 yd skein will make a lacy scarf and 2 skeins making a lovely shawl.

Purple Mint 60/40 merino mohair

I have 21 skeins of 100% pure Angora Rabbit lace weight 2 ply yarn.  This yarn is a stunning 28 wpi!  Such a delicate fine 2 ply lace yarn.

 

 

Pure Angora Rabbit Yarn in Pastel

I have 36 skeins of a blend of 60% merino and 40% mohair.  This yarn is dyed in about 8 different color ways.  This fiber was grown here on Alba Ranch in the Colorado Mountains.  It came from 2 white merino sheep, White Mama and Crazy 208.  The 3 white angora goats were Michelle (grandma), Lucy (mom), and Sami (wethered grandson).

I also have a six skeins of Baby Woo Boo.  This yarn is 35% baby alpaca, 30% merino, 30% bamboo and 5% nylon binder.  It is a wonderful soft, stretchy boucle with lots of bounce and is still very lightweight.

WooBoo Green

I hand painted all these skeins myself and love the colorways.  I am just starting to photograph them and will be uploading them to the shop here shortly over the next week.

Red Fall 60/40 merino mohair

I have taken over 100 photographs of the yarns and all the Lincoln Long Wool Locks.  Now they are all edited and I will be uploading them in the shop as I get them done.

I have decided to include a few photos of the yarns just to tease you.  Keep an eye out here as they come your way.