The theme for April is The Secret Garden and my samples are on its way to the PF headquarters. This month I decided to participate with my Woodland Gnome colorway using BFL as a wool base.
I’m always happy at how this wool pick the color with so much intensity. Here is a picture of Woodland Gnome with the Mixed BFL which consists of white and brown fibers combed together.
I hope to get the full version of my samples listed in my shop on the 15th which is a day after the box goes for sale. If you are interested on knowing more about Phat Fiber, visit their website for more info.
I discovered the world of felting several years ago, through the guidance of Polly Stirling, the pioneer of Nuno Felting and I vividly remember the feelings and excitement I had when I first dove into learning a whole new language that wool and silk speaks when they get together. Polly used to come to SF to teach her workshops at the Sewing Workshop, and I was one of the lucky ones that got to sign up for a couple of them on two consecutive years. Both classes were filled with so much information about how to lay the fabric, fibers, and how to get different effects and textures.
Years have passed ever since, and my felting went into a sort of a halt… until the day that I stumbled upon the work of Vilte and Irit Dulman. When I first saw their work I was taken aback by the beauty and the complexity of their pieces. The textures and layers express an organic rawness that almost look like the pieces are taken from tree barks, waterfalls, sand dunes, etc. They are photographs of nature captured into beautiful garments. I learned that they where offering workshops. Unfortunately for me, the workshops were held in far away places… bummer. But not for too long.
Work by Vilte
Going Beyond the Surface
I heard that a new workshop was going to be held here in California. In Monterey to be more exact. I signed up almost immediately and I started gathering my materials for the workshop with lots of excitement. I drove to Monterey with my car filled with smelly raw fibers, boxes packed with all kinds of leaves that I started gathering, since who knows when, bolts of silk, fibers of all sorts, and an unending list of accoutrements… and big expectations. I should have taken a picture of my car. It looked like the car of one of those homeless guys that hung out here in town. With all due respect…
I won’t go into details about the workshop, but it was a wonderful experience. It was intense and filled with so much information that I’m still slowly processing it, but I came home with a set of new tools that I will be able to apply to my work and renew that first love that I felt for the first time I encountered felting. Irit and Vilte generously shared their knowledge, but furthermore, what they truly do is plant the seeds for more experimenting and exploration, which enhances the true value of their workshops.
I retured home tired, but happy and with several pieces, some felted, and some pieces of silk dyed with different kinds of leaves, and an immense amount of inspiration that will last me a lifetime.
Rose leaf details
I’ve been spinning for a few years now, and my stash of hand-spun yarn keeps growing and growing. I know this is not news for any of us that spin our yarn, but I’m selling and using less of my stash and producing more. When I want to knit something in particular, it gives me a special joy going through my stash and finding something suitable for that particular project. A few days ago, I came upon a “forgotten” skein hidden in a bag inside another bag. It is single strand dyed in a variety of pastel colors spun from Merino wool. At that moment I didn’t know what I wanted to knit with it, but I left the skein sitting in a place where I could see it form time to time. I wanted to knit something in the round, but not another hat. Since Merino is perfect for next to skin garments I thought that a scarf would be suitable for my skein of yarn. So, I started my project with a crocheted circle made with 16 sc, and then I casted on 16 st around a to start knitting my circle.
I’m using 9 inch circular knitting needles, which is a little pain in the… It took a while for my clumsy hands to get used to handling such a small length but after the second circle, I got a bit faster. I can’t imagine people with big hands being able to use these needles without any problem. The next day, my hands were a bit sore and I’m suspecting that it is from using the needles. I might switch to double pointed from now on.
I managed to finish a couple of circles for my scarf. The idea is to connect them later on using a crochet hook.
There is a nice pleasure that comes from knitting with a hand spun yarn. I really enjoy when small bumps, color changes and twists pass through my fingers. It’s something that I don’t get when I knit with mill spun yarn. It has a different character that shows well in your project. The yarn blooms with every stitch and I love that unique quality and funky look that it gives to my projects which I don’t usually get with commercial yarns.
I still have a few more circles to do at this point, but I won’t be knitting today. I will be busy working on some felting pieces for an exhibition at the Bolinas Museum this coming March. There is so much preparation to do that I better get back to work…
I’ve been itching to knit something using this new yarn that I bought a couple months ago. I felt that a shrug would be very appropriate since the weight of the yarn (fingering) seemed light enough for a pattern with an easy lace stitch. Easy peasy… Twirl yarn is made with local wool (Napa Valley) from the sheep of Mary Pettis-Sarley and dyed using local plants. How cool is that! Check out my palette: Twirling Moona (CVM-Merino), Rudus (sp) Calcyanoides (CVM), and French Toast.
I was able to knit this in week in a half, which for me, it is really fast, considering that I’m a slooooow knitter.
I will put it all together sometime tonight. It was definitely a fun knit.
Mark your calendars!
I will be vending this year at the Dixon Fiber Festival. Boot # 65. Come and say hi and meet my products in person. This is a great opportunity to visit a great variety of vendors that offer from raw fleeces to already processed fiber, ready to be spun. There will be demonstrations, classes “sheep to shawl” competitions and more.
The Dixon Lambtown is an annual festival celebrating the rich agriculture and lamb industry of the local region. The festival will be held at The Dixon May Fair Grounds, 655 South 1st St., Dixon. Click here for a map. Just an hour away from San Francisco.
We are also trying to beat the Guinnese Book of World Records record for the most knitters knitting in one place at one time. So, if you are planning to attend, please bring your knitting needles and help to break the record, we need 1200 knitters to knit at the same time for 15 minutes.
I hope to see you!
This month I decided that it was the time to show off some of my Finnish wool to the people that get the Phat Fiber sample boxes. After I packaged and sent out the 50 samples of my Arabesque color way to the PF headquarters, I had some leftover wool, and I decided to give it a try, and boy, it was a good spin.
I was surprised at how soft this wool was. Usually Finn is crossed with other breeds to increase the lambing percentage because of the hig incidence of multiple births, but going back to the spinning, I strongly felt the need to keep my Navajo Ply momentum going, so I spun a fine single to be N-Ply later on.
Since I dyed the top with long color transitions, I wanted to take advantage of this by spinning the wool without breaking it into sections, and that is where the beauty of the N-ply falls into place, it keeps those transitions even after plying the single.
Finnish wool has a nice crimp, so the yarn that it yields is soft and bouncy. This is one of those versatile fibers. While it can be perfect for socks because its durability, it also can be used for outerwear garments or even lace and it is not difficult to get those saturated colors with Finn. I just love unfolding the wool bundles after they are steamed.
Finnish sheep is one of the ancient breeds. They have been in Finland for over a thousand years. In Australia, they have been crossed with Merino to improve softness.
Well, spinning Finnish didn’t feel unfamiliar to me like spinning for example, Bamboo or Milk Protein, and the best part is, that I still have to knit my small swatch. : )
One of my biggest pleasures of spinning is the fiber preparation that goes beforehand. Finding the right compliment that won’t overshadow each of the fibers that I have chosen to blend together can be a little tricky with some risks involved. Here is where planning, discovery, and a little bit of serendipity takes me to new appreciations where my own expectations takes a second role.
But that is exactly what makes it fun and almost addictive. And I know I’m not rediscovering the wheel here, but I still jump screaming “Eureka” when I get something soft and pretty. I’ve been spinning a batt lately made with Icelandic lambswool, alpaca and border leicester.
I find the alpaca and the soft undercoat (thel) of the Icelandic similar in softness and it produces a yarn with a pretty halo that I suspect will be just more obvious once I soak it and full it.
This is another good combination:
Gotland, Wensleydale and Mohair, and all three of them take the dye with so much vibrance. I have about 7 more pounds of the Gotland to go through, so I hope to post more of my progress before I find another thing to do…