Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Arkansas Fiberarts Extravaganza 2012

Whew! I am totally exhausted. This past week has been an exercise in endurance. With a full-time job, online business, family and the holidays, I've been running a marathon of events all month. It's such a blessing though. I am glad to be surrounded by a family that loves and supports me, friends that inspire me, and customers that make everything they buy special.

With that being said, I returned to Arkansas Fiberarts Extravaganza for the 4th year. It has grown and changed so much the past couple of years. I just enjoy it all. I truly feel though this quote says it all:

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
-M. Scott Peck 
I am always looking for ways to improve myself and the products I offer. I had several wonderful discussions this weekend that has left me brimming with ideas. How could you not be inspired when surrounded by such positive and creative people?!

Friday night was tough, my friend Kate (Lowder Colours Farms) and I left Oklahoma at 4 am. It's wonderful to have such a  friend that you can count on. Kate has always been an inspiration to me. She has one of the largest flocks of fiber sheep in Oklahoma. She is a true Shepherdess who deserves more respect than sometimes given. 

We got to the facility early to set-up our booths. Throughout the years, I have become good friends with several of the other vendors, so it feels like a family reunion when we are together. We discuss past events, new techniques, and stories, whether funny or scary from recent times. We learn from each other, which is how I believe it should be. Though we all are in similar fields (selling yarns and fibers) we each are individuals with different things to offer.

That night we listened and enjoyed the wonderful musings of the Mason-Dixon Girls. I think several of the attendees were smitten with getting to meet them. All the registrants got a book and were able to get it signed at the event. 

Saturday was far more leisurely than I expected. It was refreshing to talk with knitters about their purchases and projects planned. I love hearing about what others are planning to create and why. Let's face it, if we are going to spend hours, days, or years creating something, we have a lot of thoughts concerning the project. I think sometimes it is surprising for me, a "competitor", to show interest in another shop's yarn/fiber. Heck, I buy for other vendors too! I'm still lusting to get a LOOP batt to spin some day. 

I had an absolutely lovely afternoon teaching Drop Spindle to several ladies. I made sure to bring lots of fibers to test. They were fantastic! They had open minds and hearts. I know learning to spin can be confusing and frustrating, but they handled it all very well with grace. I'd love to see where they go with the skills I taught them. In the end, they all walked away spinning anywhere from bulky to even lace-weight yarns! I feel satisfied they got what they paid for. : )

Saturday evening, we wrapped up the show sadly. A few friends offered to buy Kate and I dinner after helping them load up their trailer. We ate at Colton's, who had the best baked sweet potato I've had in a while. Afterwards, Kate and I drove down to Knitting on the Corner, which is maybe a block from the convention center. It was a perfect way to end the evening. I did not have a project, but I gladly sat in the company of several knitters joking and chatting the evening away. It was the calm after the festival storm. I even walked away with some yarn! Thank you for keeping the shop open late that night!
The next day, Kate and I took the scenic route back to Oklahoma. We visited the Heavener Runestone, which Kate had never seen before. The lady in the gift shop was so warm and  passionate about the park. Apparently, the government was going to close the park several years ago, but some locals stepped up to take it over.  She even had some handmade jewelry that she made herself to purchase. She told us that it had been hard keeping it going, so I made sure to pick up some items like a necklace and bag, and make a small donation. Share the love right?

I'm still working on inventorying and relisting everything on Esty. I'm sore and tired, but truly feel great inside. Nothing like a great weekend with friends and fiber to lift the spirits. 

Sorry, most of the pictures I put up on my Dawning Dreams Facebook Page and Kate has the rest on her camera.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a great and memorable weekend.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kid N Ewe 2012

Ah, the joys of friends and fiber! I'm still reeling from the fantastic weekend at Kid N Ewe in Boerne, TX. My friends, Andrea of Natural Obsessions, Laurel of Spinatude, Emily of BuenaSuetre, and I, spent three incredible days visiting with friends, making rugs, and creating general mayhem. It's always such a pleasure to help customers choose fibers and colors for projects, but to have such a fun group of ladies makes it an experience!

Getting the Fiber Party Rug laid out.

Another Vendor Building.
Someone brought Angora Goats!

My Okie Friends in another building.

Checking out Dawning Dreams Batts.

Oh, the fun shopping! 

 The Fiber Party group includes:

 Natural Obsessions
 Dawning Dreams
Onto the rug... I decided to make my own rug on the second day using one of my batts and lots of locks I had stashed away. Laurel and I did most of the work. We have several stop in with a helping hand. It became a group project, which was wonderful for me. I always love doing projects with others. Also, if you stop in to see the rug, try to find the Tardis time machine we added at the last moment. It'll be our little secret...

Laying out the rug:
I had some helpers, especially Laurel. It makes it more special!

Yes, we were having a lot of fun!
Though you can't tell since I stopped a lot to take photos, I actually did work on it mostly.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Math of the Granny Square

I'm a nerd, there, I admit it. (Though it never was truly a secret, but only we know that.) I love Sci-fi Novels, my favorite being "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury, of whom just recently passed away. I love to figure things out. One of my friends nicknamed my "DIY Dawn" a couple of years ago. I found it so true. I don't just want to know the end result, but the process of how it is achieved.

For the past year, I have been working on the most glorious afghan. It a simple Granny Square, really.   Start with four stitches of three double chains, and add an extra group to turn each corner. I've taken it across the United States to various Fiber Festivals and friends homes to work on (and show off on occasion, since I love it so much). It started out as a way to use up all those 20 yards sock yarn Phat Fibers samples I had been gathering from the various participants. I had a basketful of tiny hanks of bright and plain yarn love. I decided to make a mammoth project of these tidbits. Heck, the artists worked so hard to bring me a sample of their colors and fibers from the shops, I had to pay homage somehow. Thus, the Great Granny Blanket began.

For months I worked on this blanket. First it was big enough to make a pillow. Okay, that was great, but I wanted bigger! Then, it was a baby blanket size. No way in heck was I giving this beauty away! Soon, I ran out of samples. Okay. . . I looked in my scrap pile from various projects and pulled out all those left over bits. 50 yards leftover from the shawl I knit last Fall. . . another 100 yards from the socks I knit my mom for Christmas. This blanket kept growing and growing. I finally had to halt all production since I didn't have any more yarn. Gasp! How can that happen? It sat in a basket for several months before I purchased a special hank of yarn at a fiber festival from a friend. It's the only hank so far that I've bought for it. I finally gathered enough samples to work on it again on my 12 hour drive to visit my Grandmother. Yay!

While busily hooking away on my baby. I start thinking about how much time I actually put into this. I hadn't been keeping a log or anything. It's that project that you pick up whenever you have a few extra minutes. So, I started pondering about an equation to figure out the estimated time. (Did I mention, I'm a geek?) For the life of me, I couldn't figure it out. I knew with the simplicity of the math (starting with four groupings, and adding four on every row) a solution was possible. I looked everywhere online for the solution to come up empty. There might be an answer somewhere, but not where I could find it.  So, in my infinite wisdom (insert laugh here) I posed the question to my father. Now, this could be unusual for some, but my Daddy has an Engineering Degree and was a Captain/Pilot in the Air Force. He loves math and thinks very logically. He and I played around for about a half and hour discussing different equations. It was always that first increase from 4 to 8 bunches that got us off kilter. I actually even started writing down what the total stitches would be for each row completed by simply adding four each time. Let me tell you, that took 15 minutes, in and of itself!

Here's the basic Granny square diagram:

Finally, though, we figured it out.

You want to know the answer? Here it is...

The answer is:
1/2 (4X+4) x X = total groups
X = the amount of rows. 

Yep, that's it. To me it's like God finally answering, "What is the meaning of life?". Now, here's how to figure out, roughly, the amount of time you put into your simple Granny Square.

So, if you plug what row you just finished as x. You will be able to figure out how many groups of three you get. Remember, simple granny squares start with 4 groups of 3, then go to 8 groups of three, then 12 groups of 3, and so on.

With this number, all you need to estimate the amount of time you've put into a blanket is to time how long it takes you to do a bunch of groups.

For example, I was on row 95 when I figured this out.

1/2 (4X+4) x X
1/2 ([4x95]+4) x 95
1/2 (380+4) x 95
1/2 (384) x 95
192 x 95 = 18,240

Then, let's say, I can complete 6 groups in a minute.
18240 divided by 6 = 3040 total minutes
3040 minutes divided by 60 (minutes per hour) = 50.66666 hours total time
So, it roughly took me 50 hours to complete the afghan to row 95.

ALSO, you could also use the total groups number to estimate yardage. Let's say it take one yard of fingering yarn for two groups.

Divide 18,240 groups by 2 (groups per yard) = 9,120 total yards.

Of course, this would be an estimate since joins would add some more yards that don't contribute to the groups or if I were falling asleep and slowing down, my time would increase. At least, though, you can know get an idea of how much time it takes to make a simple granny blanket.

Who said Algebra would never come be handy in the real world? Now, grab your calculators and get to work!

Monday, July 30, 2012

6th Annual Fiber Christmas in July 2012

Fiber Christmas in July has a special place in my heart. It was the first Fiber Festival I had ever attended, and the friends I made have grown into lifelong friendships. We gather, discuss, promote, and generally make fiber mayhem for everyone to enjoy year after year.

Now, that means a full year of planning that you all don't see see from creating advertising, handing and mailing fliers, setting up the buildings, and finally managing the chaos that is the festival.

This year, we wanted to do some new things. We had two contests: handspun and chemo hat. One was to promote your skills as spinners; the other to gather hats for charity. Both wonderful in their own rights. The variety and quality of entries blew me away! I swear there was one particular handspun yarn that was so perfect, it looked machine made.

Another was the Passport Card, in which we handed out sheets with all the vendors names had to be marked to be put into a drawing. I loved seeing just how excited everyone got when they were looking for vendors. We were surprised by just how many finished getting their papers all signed.

Classes were a huge hit! We had several classes, some new, some repeats. We asked several months ago what classes everyone would like and found teachers for what we could. Each class wound up being filled to the brim with eager students.

I actually was able to take two myself. First was a soap making class. I had been asking for this particular class for a year or two now. I learned so much as to the hot process of making soap. The mistakes we made were nicely trouble-shot, so I know what to do the next time I make soap. I came home with 12 bars of handmade lavender soap that should be hardened and ready to go by Christmas. Aren't they lovely?

 I taught a class on Solar Dyeing. A technique I use every summer to get deep, rich colors using natural heat. I always worry about not giving enough info, but am always pleasantly surprised by just how thankful and open the students are. We went through several techniques and tips. They enthusiastically absorbed all the info and left with mason jars full of fibers and dye.

I also was excited to run some projects through a Felt Loom. This ingenious machine can needlefelt fabric into fleece fabric to make the most beautiful sheets of color. This first is a two sided tree with a rainbow background. It took no time at all to finish.


The second is a landscape of a mountain by a lake.We had to work carefully as to not move the fibers around too much. I have so much more detail to add, but it's on its way!

Finally, I took a wonderful class from Kate Lowder of Lowder Colours Farm. She is an expert on sheep and fleece. I could sit and pick her brain for hours. We all discussed a variety of sheep breeds, their history, and how that changed the way the fleeces are. It was very informative. Though I have a baggies full of fleece to sample and write down my findings. We hope to discuss them next year in a follow-up class and to cover new breeds of sheep.

All in all, I am joyously, exhausted. The whirlwind weekend of friends and fibers have me thinking ahead for new things to plan for next year. There are more photos on the Flickr Group if you want to see. We may have some exciting news on the horizon if all goes as planned, but you will have to stay tuned to see.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

DIY Giant Spinning Wheel Sewing Bobbin

Here is a new one for you. I'm always looking for fun and interesting ways to show off my favorite hobby, spinning yarn. I also love over-sized, jumbo creations such as pillows that look like buttons or knitting needles the size of your arm. Recently, I can across these big cable bobbins from my friends' husband who works for a cable company. For $5 a piece, I couldn't pass them up! So with a little bit of imagination and elbow grease, here is how to turn that ugly roll into a giant bobbin.

Empty Cable Bobbin (comes in many sizes so the choice is up to you)
Wood Conditioner
Wood Stain
Soft towels or rags for staining
Yarn/Roving (the bigger, the better to give a more accurate visual)

1. Take your bobbin and clean it up. For mine, I had to remove the stickers and clean it with a little soap and water. I also sand the rough edges to keep them from snagging on the yarn.

 2. Condition the wood. Unless you want to stain to appear muddy and antiqued, this will make the plywood stain better.

3. After drying the appropriate amount of time, take a soft cloth and apply stain as directed on the can. I choose a dark stain to completely change the look and feel.

4. Seal all the stained pieces with Polyurethane. This will protect the wood as well as keep the stain from getting on the yarn, you, or the other things.

5. Allow it to completely dry overnight. Yes, please remember to be patient. Nothing like fingerprint all over your project. : )

6. Wrap yarn around the center. I used a super-bulky hand spun yarn that I spun up just for this purpose. You could also use a roving instead if you don't have anything else on hand. As you can see the smaller super-bulky looks like thread, whereas the giant bulky (1 inch wide) looks more like a 2-ply yarn.

7. Enjoy! Sit back and appreciate your ingenuity and creative endeavor. Most will never imagine or even attempt such a project.

Whether you want to make one to add a little whimsy to you creative environment or a a display stand for a craft fair, these make your space a little more unique. I can imagine these for a Cinderella themed little girls playroom. Can't you just see the little mice rolling these out to sew her dress before the ball?

Thank you for reading!

If you like this or any other DIY tutorials, feel free to donate directly to me using the link below. I truly appreciate anything you can offer to keep me creating. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Recap of Yellow Rose Fiber Producers Fiesta 2012

Whew! What a whirlwind weekend! I've been hard at work getting reorganized after the wonderful weekend in Seguin, Texas. If you have never been to a festival before, this would have been an excellent one to start with.

My mother actually came with me for the first time. I have been doing festivals for several years, but she had never attended with me before. Being retired now, it was the perfect opportunity to join in the fun! Besides, having someone there to help is always wonderful. Even if it is just watching the booth for a minute. I believe she was blown away by just how many people love fiber as much as I do. I've included some random shots of everything so you can get an idea of what was available. A pictures worth a thousand words!

Gritty Knits
Knitting Lagniappe
Royal Oak Alpacas

Dawning Dreams

Oh, and we were in for a treat! Sheri of https://www.facebook.com/withthesehands444 brought one of her goats for a visit. For some who have never seen an angora goat, it was a big eye opener as the where this fiber comes from. That poor little guy was so worn out by the time they left. I truly appreciate them bringing him though. 

Of course, the best time I had was with my fiber friends such as Emily of BuenaSuerte, Andrea of Natural Obsessions, and Laurel of Spinatude as show below. We all met at the Phat Fiber Reunion last year and were lucky enough to get together this weekend to share stories, jokes, and ideas over dinner. Nest year we have plan to create an awesome booth for everyone to join in the hilarity that is us! You can see more on Ravelry at http://www.ravelry.com/groups/the-fiber-party.

 On Sunday I had the pleasure of using the Felt Loom machine to create something
 that has been in my head for years. One of my local alpaca farms purchased one of these machines, but I haven't had the chance to use it. Luckily, I had some time to run over and create this beauty before the masses hit. It's massive at about a yard wide and two long. I enjoyed laying out the fiber and creating my logo. Several of us employed the machine. I know Gritty Knits made an awesome textural piece and someone else did a giant dragon fly. I just love sharing in the creativity of the moment.

 There was such a variety of vendors spanning from knitwear designers, independent yarn dyers, and farms, I was blown away by the variety. If it had to do with fiber, it was there. I chatted and hugged with just about everyone that I could. In the end, I walked away with a bag full of goodies from Natural Obsessions, BuenaSuerte, KCL Woods, Spinatude, and Gritty Knits.

Alrighty, the fun is over and now it's time to get back to work. Batts to card, spindles to photograph. . . Thank you to anyone that attended and made the weekend outstanding. I will see you all next year there!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sometimes I Just Go For It

There's this great song I ran into many years ago named "Sometimes I Just Go For It" by The Used. The passion behind the strokes of the piano make me stop and breathe. It doesn't have any words, nor does it need any. The amazing thing is that it's not a composed or written piece, just a man who sat at the piano and hit record.

    That is the exact way I feel about all the art I make. I don't always have a plan in place or pattern in mind. I don't read through magazines and blogs to see what's in style or the color palette of the year. For me, it's not about making something to sell, though I love it when you do purchase them because without you, I wouldn't be able to make more. So, please, keep those orders coming!

    This is my art. This is my hand and imagination at work. This glimpse of my interpretation of the world around me culminates into these pieces of art.  I paint my collections with wool and a hook (or knitting needle in some cases). 

So when you see one of my creations, feel the passion and intent I put into each piece. They take lots of inspiration, hours of concentration, and days of hard work to create and bring to you.

Sometimes I just go for it. Maybe you should too.