Do you remember this CVM and BFL Lockspun Textured Art Yarn?
Well that yarn is now this…..
It has been ages since I have posted to my blog. There is a reason. I had an accident in February that crushed my head between and beneath about 40-50 pounds of wood, ice and snow. I dropped the wood box lid with all the snow and such on my head when my head was in the box. It crushed my head in between, hitting me both in the back and front of the head, broke my nose, split my face open and required stitches and an emergency visit. That has all healed up, but the head injury part did not heal as quickly. It has been a long hard six months but I am starting to feel better and starting to create again. Before this it was very hard to be on the computer, type, text, talk on the phone ect. Just too much input causing too many headaches. That is why I have been absent….along with a smart phone and internet that has refused to play nice….or smart!!
This last week, we have been building stone dyke walls outside around the flower beds. Dry stacking sand stone and doing some in round field stones. It will make it much easier to strim and mow. I have found that all my lovely plants do not always obey and stay in their beds. Some of the plants like Lily of the Valley in particular, like to wander out of their beds all over the yard.
We have had some super fab lilies this last week pop their flowers. I love my double and trumpet lilies. For a week, every time I walked past the studio the scent in the evening was almost over whelming. Their blooms are past now and I am finding I am missing their scent.
The Sunflowers have started to bloom. I planted a lovely variety of RED sunflower that I am still anxiously awaiting to open. They are sooooo close. The birds however, planted loads of Black Oil Sunflower seeds absolutely everywhere and those have been blooming ….well…everywhere!!
I have been working on my final project and should have it finished shortly. The Fiber Face piece is complete. The backing is sew together, hemmed, pressed and sewn to the front Fiber Piece. I have to add two more tabs to finish out the top and steam block it. Than it is done and photos will follow. I stitched the entire backing, tabs, and hems with my new to me 1954 Singer 99K. I adore this sewing machine and with it being a hand crank, I can go as slow as I want to. It is wonderful. I have been afraid of sewing for years and avoided it since my childhood. It is so good to be creating and making things that I want to. Isn’t this machine gorgeous?
I found two lovely hand cranks. This 1954 Singer 99K and also a 1957 Singer 15K-80. Charlie has used the 15K-80 to sew himself a felt quilt padded pouch for his new lap top that is too big for his old computer bag. We went to the Hen House on the east side of the state and met a lovely group of ladies that were quilting. One explained to Charlie how to do a “french seam” and he did it for his first piece. I didn’t pay any attention to them as I was more focused on sewing a regular seam somewhat straight and not my fingers included. I thought he could show off if he wanted to.
I did get several other sewing machines as well. Five all total. I already showed you and told you about the 1926Singer 31-15 treadle. She is an industrial sewing machine. I also got a 1941 Singer 66 treadle. I will use these two once I want to go faster than my hand cranks allow.
Last but not least, I got a 1949 Singer 15-91 electric for when I want to go really fast. All told I bought five vintage Singer machines and have plans to get my sewing, weaving, and spinning nook sorted soon. Currently they are spread out all over the place and it looks like a fiber and sewing shop exploded in the house.
Good News: we finally located my brand new never been used Juki Serger and the box of all the threads. We haven’t been able to locate it in the storage units or semi for the last two years. I was convinced that it was in a specific storage unit which was the only one of our units that was broken into last fall. I was correct and it was in that unit but was not stolen thank goodness. It was just very well buried and hidden….enough so that in about 4-5 trips both Charlie and I couldn’t find it. It is found now so more progress and learning is on my horizon.
Goat Kidding Spring Season was in May. We had five kids total born this May, with three being sold to new homes. Fall Kidding season is about upon us. I have several goats getting ready to kid at the end of August and into September. Sweet Pea had a single doe in June and it was a hard one for her. Her milk didn’t come in as good as it should have and the doe kid was very weak. I was out there when she delivered so I sat with the kid wrapped in a towel zipped inside my carhart for hours.
She was so weak she would have died had I not taken her into the house for two days. She is now fat, sassy and running around every where. A blue eyed blue pinto roan off one of my best does. Her name is Aileen, which is Gaelic for “sunbeam”. She is Sweet Pea’s last kid as we will be retiring her and finding her a pet home for her golden years.
All the llamas that we gave away have all come back to the ranch. We decided to get two of them back around Thanksgiving and let the other two go for good. However, those two also recently came back to the ranch. All of them we think may well be pregnant. So we are watching them as certain ones are getting rather plump and heavy.
It has been very busy here on the ranch. Trees coming down, walls going up, flowers being planted, weeds being dug up, goats coming and going, llamas coming back. So much activity.
I have started to learn how to sew with a vintage hand crank machine. I did my first quilt bit that I made to be a pad under the dog’s water dish for drips. I have been spinning. Finally I have made three scarves with the Broomstick stitch in Crochet. I had planned on doing that several years ago but moving state and injuries got me side tracked a bit. Now that stitch is super fun! I have woven for the first time with a bulky weight single ply as my warp and silk hankies shredded and used for weft. There has been so much going on I forgot to tell you all about it. I know that this is a feeble catch up for so many months of silence but I will do better as I am able to put in more computer time. Off for now…..
I have finished Module Five yarn, set the twist, photographed it and wove a circle weaving with it. This module was supposed to focus on mastery. Specifically mastering a spinning technique spun previously, showing several variations in small yardage skeins. I did not find the module enjoyable because I personally hate doing small yardages, samples and other assorted test your technique stuff that many people do. I personally find it annoying and a waste of time as I tend to want to just get on with a project and spin or weave.
Since I have been focusing a lot on Spiral techniques in this course, I decided to spin 4 variations of a spiral yarn. In order to really show off the technique, I still followed my previous outline which was using the same commercial prepared combed top preparation of 15.5 Micron Merino wool in white.
All the photos have the basic spiral, extreme spiral, beaded spiral and super coil core spun style spiral in that order from left to right.
I spun a basic spiral, a extreme spiral holding one ply with tighter tension to create more spiraling, a beaded spiral with a silk thread and freshwater pearls, and a super coil almost core spun version of a spiral.
I accidentally did the super coil core spun sort in a different module but this time wanted to do it on purpose and see if I could over come the original design problem of so much twist that the yarn was coarse feeling and darker in color. When I spun this super coil core spun sort of version this time, I did keep the softness and loftiness of the merino fiber as well as the white color and I just loved it.
I am finding that with each module I have a large amount of yarn spun up that I don’t use in the final project weaving. I think that I will be weaving some circular and square wall hangings as I have had requests for more baby room wall art, as well as some scarves and maybe shawls. You will find those on my shop on Etsy.com so keep an eye out for Alba Ranch’s shop and some new projects.
I got my Fibery Goodness Module One Yarn done quite a while ago but never managed to post it or photos up here. I used a 15.5 micron combed top of white merino. I have it for sale in the shop in 2, 4, 8 and 16 ounce lots. I included a link above directly to the 8 ounce listing. It was a pure dream to spin and I have not allowed myself to spin it until this course.
I enjoyed it so much that I decided to spin all the modules using the same combed prepared top and see how it goes doing 7 different yarns with the same fiber and prep. I am going out of my comfort zone on this particular course to spin with direction and precision and learn new techniques rather than spin my easy go to yarns.
Having said all that, the first module’s task was to spin your “go to yarn,” so I did. For me that “go to yarn” is a 2 ply that has some thick and thin qualities but is mostly balanced. I pre draft the combed top into manageable lengths and widths by separating the combed top. I spin it in a short forward draw on my Majacraft Little Gem 1. I don’t ply too heavily with my Country Spinner 2 and still managed to give it some woolen characteristics instead of it being a straight worsted yarn. The prep is worsted and supposedly short forward draw is a worsted spinning technique but my yarn always comes out semi woolen. I have no idea how I do it but there you go.
The resulting yarn is very soft, squishy and a joy to touch. I think that I will be weaving a scarf, hat and maybe shawl for myself out of these module yarns as I no longer have anything that is pure white. Everything I made from white fiber in the past has sold in the shop.
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?
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.
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?
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!
Celebrating Small Business Saturday with Swag is what Spin Artiste is doing today. She has a wonderful Give Away going on right now over at Spin Artiste and you must hurry as she is picking the winner on Wednesday.
Her Swag: a tee shirt, a bottle of spinning wheel oil, a tote bag and the rarest item of all…a skein of my own yarn — 62 yards of “Mad for Plaid” in the colorway “Kilt”, hand dyed and hand spun in a mix of Shetland and alpaca.
Yahoo, this is a fantastic Give Away and an even better Blog that is a must follow in the fiber and bloggery world! I have just started in this journey of getting to know Arlene, the voice behind Spin Artiste and can’t wait until we know each other even better.
This Give Away that she she has going right now, has given me an idea for my own contest. so Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled as Alba Ranch will soon announce a new Hoof to Wardrobe Contest. You can see all the Alba Ranch Contests and Give Aways at the FREE STUFF link on the blog. I will always post things in that location so you can always find it and be in the know! RIGHT NOW: on Alba Ranch, there is a current Give Away going on in connection with the Blog, Face Book and Twitter. come read about it, follow the instructions and get your free stuff. Everyone likes FREE STUFF right?
Don’t forget: BLACKFIBER is the code you use at check out in the Alba Ranch Fiber Shop for your discount off all this weekend. I decided to mix and match the discount and change it around several times over the weekend and Monday. Friday the code was worth 10% off. Saturday and Sunday the code is worth 15% off. Monday…you will have to wait and see but it could go up or down……Have fun!!
I have added a few new handspun art yarns that I hand painted to the shop.
I haven’t left the ranch in almost 13 days and have been spinning enough to make Rumpelstiltskin proud!! I think I may have handspun as much as 1500 yds of 2 ply medium worsted weight yarns. I will include a few pictures of them here but you can see them all in the Shop Online Fiber.
These yarns are great for crochet, knitting, weaving, and felting. Have you worked with a handspun yarn? They have so much character and are such fun to play with and look at. Enjoy.
Alba Ranch is in the Autumn Fiber Fest 2011 on Facebook. Many Artists included each offering at least 20% off during the 3 day only sale on November 1, 2, and 3.