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The Adventures of two Fibre Artists.



Contributing Artists

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Demonstrating at the SC State Fair

Each year, for the past 6 or so, EM and I have been invited to demonstrate various stages of our craft, namely spinning but on occasion I would bring one of my looms as well.

This year we both had an extremely busy week prior to the event and it was obvious, once we arrived and began setting up, that we were not as prepared as we would have liked to have been. The essentials were there but left behind were little things like oil for the spinning wheels. While both of us had oiled our wheels recently, the day of the demonstration was cold and rainy so the wheels started stiffening up as a result, and neither of us brought a niddy noddy, fortunately there were extra bobbins and finally I neglected to bring a single finished project, Where was my head? Fortunately EM brought a few of her fabulous bags and shawls. So all in all we had enough to offer to present a good demonstration.

Even though we would have liked to have been better prepared, the crowds showed real interest, they especially enjoyed being able to touch the various examples of fibre we displayed, which included Coopworth and Merino wool from sheep, Mohair from Angora goats, Llama fibre, Angora from Angora rabbits, and even dog hair, along with examples of dyed fibre and handspun examples of each. The children, as usual, loved sitting and watching the wheels spin, asking all kinds of questions. They are always our best spectators.

I also brought the Tapestry loom that dh recently built for me and offered some demonstration on that as well. Even with the good lighting we had in the building I had to don my +3 magnifying glasses. While I still feel a little strange wearing them, especially in public, they are a wonderful tool for working with some projects, especially when knitting lacework.

One special young girl took a sincere interest in watching me weave, she told me she had enjoyed some weaving in a school project. She asked the appropriate questions, ever so politely and watched intently. I can only hope that anything I communicated to her either vocally or visually while she watched, will encourage her to explore her fibre interests. I had a special feeling about this beautiful young one, I imagined her to be what people mean when they talk about "old souls", She had a stillness deep down, no need for chatter and fidgeting that goes with nervous energy. I suspect she will have a lot to offer whatever she does with her life. This is what brings EM and I back each year, as well as accepting other invitations to demonstrate this craft. Not to show off our skills, but to educate and do our part to keep this craft alive.

Since the fair, but not necessarily due to this particular demonstration, EM and I have had conversation with others interested in learning to spin. It is our hope that we may actually have a guild represented at next year's Faire. This would not only help take the some of the load of my fibre sister and I, trying to do everything between the two of us, so that if one of us forgets anything chances are someone else will have it. It will also offer a wider range demonstration in Fibre arts, such as knitting, needle felting, inkle weaving, to name a few.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Celtic Cross

For my first project on the tapestry loom I initially thought I would like to weave an icon of Christ but since I have no formal instruction, save from what I am able to procure from a book, I thought better of it and opted for a simpler design. I am a little nervous about the circular knotwork but this being my first attempt I am not going to worry so over it not being perfect.....yeah right....ok let's just say this will be an exercise in resisting the temptation to rip out anything that does not look exactly perfect.

On our recent trip to Earth Guild I found a Dover stencil edition that featured pieces from the Book of Kell. Interestingly enough at the time I had no real plan for it, but being of Celtic descent I was indubitaly drawn to the artwork, so I purchased it anyway. When I decided to try my hand at tapestry weaving I pulled it out and found some really good ideas for future projects. Funny how these things happen. I pulled this design up and took it to Staples, it cost about 0.06 cents to blow it up in black and white. After weaving a few foundation rows in a contrasting colour I pinned the bottom of the "cartoon" to it and then tied each upper corner to the frame of the loom by using clear packing tape to fashion a tag on each side and punching a hole with a hole punch to lace the string through.
I choose some merino that I spun up earlier this year (see archives, January 26) for the background and I am thinking of gold for the knotwork, I will have to look for some fibre commercially dyed that colour as it is impossible to attain through natural dyeing, or even something already spun, depending on what is available at SAFF later this month. I have some rose colour fibre I may use for the cross but I think green would look better, again we will see what pops up.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bunnies and wheels

I have seen some very creative work done on spinning wheels, not just the obvious yarn, but literally on the wheel itself, as a way to personalize the tool of one's craft. I've always held the theory that said decoration is an expression of the owner's personality. Having said that, those who know me might not be surprised at what you would find decorating mine.

An animal lover and welfare advocate, I have always found great joy in caring for house rabbits, even before I became interested in fibre art. My home and property are punctuated with their likeness in the semblance of stepping stones and statues in the garden and figurines given me by family and friends who know my love for these little furbabies and even a needlepoint tapestry I completed so long ago that all I can remember about working on it was that it helped relieve the stress while a family member was in the hospital. There is even an association between rabbits and my patron saint, St. Melangell. The grounds on which churches have been built and bear her name in Wales all include rabbit sanctuaries, as she protected one from a hunter while praying in a field one day.

All I asked the wonderfully talented artist who decorated my wheel was that her work include 3 rabbits. I, as you can imagine viewing her work in the picture above, was very excited with the end result. Now my wheel offers a bit of my personality, in my love for God's gift of animals, as well as a bit of the artist, a very talented and good friend, which makes it all the more special and me the happier as I spin.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Recent Sunday Spin-in

Last Sunday we were able to find time to get together for a much needed spin-in. Summers, as wonderful as they are, come and go before you know it. Gardening, trips on the river and other activities fill each day so that time seems to speed up so, that I always look forward to fall when life begins to move at a slower pace and the cooler weather puts me in the mood for working with heavier fibres like wool, mohair, llama etc. There is nothing better to help unwind from a busy season than getting together with fibre friends.

Recently a knitter, whom I met online and found out lived quite close to EM, expressed an interest in getting together for a spin-in. She had some experience with drop spindles but none on a wheel. EM and I were most happy to meet another fibreholic. She arrived, bringing her spindles and some rovingg she acquired from a recent trip up north and very quickly picked up spinning on the kiwi spinning wheel. Instruction was primarily focused on treadling since she had pretty much mastered drafting working with her spindles. She was so impressed at how much faster it was to produce yarn on a wheel vs drop spindle she, or her dh, quickly began researching wheels online.

Usually always smiling EM was suffering with a bad toothache from some recent dental work which also prevented her from participating much. She did bring a knitting project, another colourful bag, I will say it again she has such a wonderful talent for colour. I was busy overwhelming our new fibre sister with the many spinning and weaving tools, along with what little instruction she needed on the wheel and snapping a few pics that I did not have time to work on anything myself but all in all it was a very productive and relaxing time and I look forward to our next spin-in.