Monday, April 30, 2012

I'd Love To Resist...

but I can't! I mean oh yes I can! lol
Last weekend, I had the joy of taking another resist dyeing workshop with Chad Hagen! The class was through the Weavers Guild of St. Louis and was held at Craft Alliance. What do you get when you put 10 fiber ladies in a room with a crazy talented teacher? Look above! These are my samples of resist dyed merino prefelts that I came home with.

Here are pictures of some of the sample pieces laid out so they can be better seen. Everyone's turned out so different, yet alike. I came home with a renewed interest in dyeing. I think I will be getting out the big pots for this spring. We spent the first two days dyeing. The third day we learned book binding skills. I chose one of the felts and made a book!

This is my book. I love my book! she says with a stupid grin on her face while clutching it to her heart...

Chad taught us the technique of hand stitching the paper into the binding of the book. I already have started another. I finished my book with two vintage bakelite buttons. It has 144 pages. I still need to look at it and have it age a bit before I can use it. It is very precious.  I'm not the only one from the class with a precious book, though. The other fiber mavens went home with one of their own.

And how cool are these?! It was an awesome, awesome class and I am very fortunate to have been able to take it. These are skills I will be able to use for a lifetime.

                                                         Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

True Colors

                             I see your true colors shining through and that's why I love you.

Yes, I have been singing that song to myself for a couple of days now when I look or think of my dye samples from my workshop this past weekend. I enjoyed the weekend so much! I have jello jigglers for brains now and can at least talk in sentences. I was on sensory overload. I did so much in a short span of time. And made some new felting friends along the way. Chad Hagen is a riot to be around. And her energy is infectious. I have had a love for dyeing since my fiber journey began over 15 years ago. And now I find it is still there. I have added to the storehouse of knowledge I have and discovered the need to re-arrange my boxes. We all do that, I think. Put some things on the back burner and then shuffle (or stumble over some of it) and when  you see it again it is like finding something new! It is very exciting! and that is how I feel about it right now. A toy that was crammed under my bed in the back by the wall and I finally cleaned out from under the bed and found a new toy!

Not only did I rediscover resist dyeing, I learned a new craft too. Book binding. Albeit it is beginners book binding, it is still book binding. It was hard to go to sleep last night because my brain is on overload thinking of new projects I can now accomplish. Did I tell you I love my new book? I love my new book! I can sit and stare at it. I'm like a little kid again bringing home my clay ashtray from Girl Scouts. (ok--it was a much different time and kids made ashtrays in craft class and brought their dads a beer from the icebox. it was the way of it then. today, it would get you your own file in DFS.)  For the unveiling insert drumroll:

And a fine book it is! with a hand stitiched binding. I'm tired again now. I think I'll go hold my book and take a cat nap.

                                                          Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, April 23, 2012

on the road

I am in St. Louis taking a dye workshop through the Weavers' Guild with Chad Hagen. I have drug into my room the last two nights with jello for brains. But with a smile on my face! The first night I finished knitting and blocked a lace shawl I had been working on. But since then--total jiggly jello salad. I will catch up on posts and pics after I crash back at home.

Talk to you soon, Tammy

Friday, April 20, 2012

Two Blues

I entered the MOPACA show's fiber contest again this year. The show was held in Kansas Cityand encompassed 14 states. I had two entries, one of them being this skirt. I won two first places! Whoot! (tooting my own horn) The skirt is hand felted, nuno felted (which is wool on silk) and then went through 3 dye baths. I call it the Morning Glory Fairy Skirt. I received a 96 out of a 100 in it.

Why do I call it a Morning Glory Skirt? Because if you lift up the hem, it looks like a morning glory flower inside.
I left the silk tail on it on purpose. I liked the hem sort of free flowing and unsculpted. I was very pleased with how it turned out and it won in the garments category.

The other entry was this pillow. Yes, its a pillow. But it is not a tanned hide. It is felt. I used a small portion of prime fleece but mainly the 2nds and even the 3rds of the fleece to create this pillow. I wanted to show how a very attractive item could be made using the fleece that most people throw away. I have been working on this technique for almost 2 years. I used the fleece from a spotted pinto. It is not the softest alpaca you have ever touched, but I really like the way it feels. and looks.



This is the backside of the pillow. Or maybe the front. It turned out well enough that it could be reversible. I used the short neck wool for it. Again, not as soft as the prime fiber is, but suitable for a pillow. When I have an alpaca shearing 10lbs of fleece in one year and half of it is considered seconds, I need to come up with a market for the 2nds wool. This pillow is a good use! I used black cria wool for the black edging which is what gave it the sort of ruffle effect. I spent over an hour looking through my button stash when I happened across the perfect button. The dots on it echoes the texture of the ruffle. 


You see, I'm a sort of competitive person. When I submit an entry into a competition, I fully expect to get the maximum number of points. 100 out of 100. I fill the description card explaining the purpose of this item. It wasn't supposed to be super soft. I stated what kind of fiber I used and why, ie. neck fiber for the back. I joined the seams using a sewing technique from the 18c. so that the seams were flat. Not thick and bulky. I stated all this. So when I only made 94 pts on the pillow I was saying, "What? you took off points for texture? "

You took off points for the final finishing? I know I sewed the seams by hand. That what makes it rustic. And you don't like spotted alpacas? This pillow looks just like Sequoia and I can make another without having to skin him to get it. Look. It is his back leg." (and she keeps ranting on....)

That is what is darn cool about this technique. The visual appeal for all those patterned alpacas. I want those points back. Then I smack myself on the back of the head and remind myself that I did win 1st place and got the big blue ribbon! Sheesh. Sometimes I get carried away with the competition.

But don't get me started on how the free form edges and dangling unfinished silk on garments are all the rage by designers in Europe. I need those pts back, too.

                                                        Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, April 16, 2012


This is my worktable in my workshop. I can't find the top of it. I know there is a table under there somewhere. I was frantically getting roving together last week for the local sheep festival when I had
a death in my family in Arkansas on Wednesday. I left Thursday for Arkansas and arrived back home
last night. I think it might take me days to sort stuff out, put it where it likes to live and get back to my
work routine. That is if I really ever had a work routine. I did learn a few things this past weekend:

People do not like to go out anywhere when it is pouring down rain. It is easier and drier to stay home.

When traveling in southern Missouri, do not confuse a restaurant named Apple Barrel  with either
Cracker Barrel or Applebee's. It resembles neither. Neither does it resemble a restaurant.

When knitting while traveling, if you think you might be off a stitch on your pattern, don't continue talking
and knitting for 300 plus stitches before you stop and check it out. Knitting does not correct itself on its
own. You are only fooling yourself.

And, merino/silk yarn is very, very slippery. don't just push down the stitches on the needles and stuff it
in your knitting bag. It also ravels easily. Its not so relaxing when you are knitting the same rows several
times. Yes, I said several. It took more than one time for me to learn this lesson before I put the green stoppers on the needles.

These are handy little things that are priceless when you need them. When you don't, they cost about $2 for a package of 4.

Need yarn? Need roving? Just let me know.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Carding We Will Go

a carding we will go, hi-ho-the merry-o, a carding we will go. (I think I watched waaay too much 3 Stooges growing up. I guess I think of it because there is a remake movie coming out soon. As a Stooge purist, I doubt I will go see it.)

My usual carding outlet has been having some health issues so I have been burning the midnight oil trying to get fleece carded in time for Waterloo Sheep Festival this weekend. I have a Patrick Green Supercard, so it is making the job easier. I love my carder! Even though yesterday, I was feeling overwhelmed by it all and while I was cleaning it out of unwanted dirt and junk, I'm embarrassed to admit this! But I forgot to unplug it and got a snap-crackle-pop and thought I blew it up! After about an hour of sheer panic, my husband helped me to realize I just threw the breakers in workshop. I'm such a dummy head! But I'm better now and back to carding.

My biggest obstacle has been to keep all the fiber in the workshop and not be a carrier into the house. After several days and fuzzy drinks, I have been using an apron and it helps keep the extras contained. Don't look too close at my Easter ham. It was before the apron idea. But it ate just fine anyhow.

                        Of course this is the before picture. You really didn't want to see 'the after'!

                                                         Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, April 2, 2012

And I'm Not Kidding

About learning alpaca handling at Illini Alpacas. Even yesterday, on April Fool's Day, it was serious business around here. In our working manual, there is no such thing as too young. So, as I was babysitting my grandson yesterday, we began our journey down the "packies" path.

                                        We started with him trying to give Georgie a kiss.

Then, he and Lincoln became friends. I guess it was the similar size that attracted them to each other. I started teaching him what behavior the packies liked and didn't like. He was a quick study.


He already knew all about a hose. It started getting hot and I mentioned giving the alpacas some water and off he ran to turn it on. As you can see, he already has the proper attire. Boots. He loves his boots!

We filled all the water tanks with water. Not much training needed here. He was already pretty good at it. And very willing. The two most important attributes in a ranch hand. Size doesn't matter as much.

Lincoln's mom, Canela, was a willing participant in teaching how to hose off alpacas. My grandson did ask why there wasn't a spray nozzle on the hose. Not much gets by this boy! Last fall the one I had broke and this unseasonable 90 degree heat has caught me off guard. I'll have to get one soon. The 'packies' are in full wool and get hot very easily right now. I might have to shear early if this weather continues. All and all, we had a full day of training yesterday. I can see my grandson is going to be alot of help to me in the years to come. 

                                                      Talk to you soon,  Tammy