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Homespun Living in a New England

Technicolor Fleece Wall Hanging

Friday, November 07, 2014

I used a peg loom and a mix of natural and dyed shetland and lincoln fleece locks to create this fine fluffy object. There's something about this particular piece that makes me smile…just so cartoony, somehow? Either way, another version in pink and oranges in already in the works. This version is mounted on copper, which adds a certain something.

Also, now seems as good a time as any to a quick weaving process pic. I'm planning on talking a lot more about the wonders of peg loom weaving soon, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, here's a piece made with a variety of wool, handspun and recycled yarns, and some vintage floral ribbon. Pardon the mess, but also please feel free to admire my desk, which makes me feel very official as I work from home (probably because it weighs a gazillion pounds and looks like it belongs to in a 1960s elementary school classroom; head of the class!).

Life in the Country…An Estate Sale Outside of Eugene Oregon

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Goodbye to the old...

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

We left Portland!

Peter and I are settling in to a new life in lovely Eugene, Oregon. I have to say, it's a positive move in nearly every regard. The major exception is that I need to set my studio back up from scratch, which is a pain…plus, man I really loved that space.

Well, I have a new office space and garage workshop here. About a week in, there remains much to do in getting everything set up. Baby steps. But I assure you and myself that it will eventually be awesome.

More weaving with handspun, raw fleece, and some other odds and ends

Friday, July 18, 2014

As promised, I am here to share some more weaving projects from my very obsessive past few days. Weaving in such a simple format like this is so satisfying; compared to using a massive floor loom, this process is so much more experimental and free form. I totally understand now how craftspeople in the 1960s and  70s fiber arts explosion got so caught up in this kind of work! The possibilities for color, pattern and texture are much more open than you would think, even given the limitations built into the process. It's elemental - plain weave is the basis, but from there materials take center stage. 

Wall hanging by Romeo Reyna; 1960s, California. Source
And so, here are the three weavings I've completed in the last week! The first one is fairly small, about 14 by 20 for the frame. There is BFL roving, Lincoln fleece, raw flax fiber and, of course, some of my handspun. The hot pink is nylon twine.

This one is the same size, and uses similar materials. The primary difference is that I added in some bright red nylon pom poms. I quite like how those came out.

And here's the largest piece, about the size of small entryway rug. I like the look of these weavings still in the frames/looms. It sets them off nicely. This piece features fleece and handspun, in a wide variety of color and material. 

And now, some close ups of texture!

Off topic, but not really - experiments in wood turning

My stepfather, Bob, is a very talented woodworker. He has made musical instruments, lovely wood turned bowls, and many other pieces. Lately, he's been spending a lot of time on making pens on the lathe. While I was in Philly a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get a quick tutorial on this process. 

We used a small piece of buckeye burl, which has a mix of gray and blue-ish threads running through it. The woodturning process smooths and polishes the wood down so that you end up seeing the natural detail in the wood much more than you do looking at the raw materials. 

Buckeye burl, in a much larger format. Source.

This video shows a bit of the process, starting with the wood in two blocks, and gradually smoothing it down with chisels. Once the shape is achieved, you switch to progressive grades of sandpaper to get it mirror smooth. Pardon my nosy questions in the background of the video.

And here's the finished piece, sanded, lacquered and drying - look at how beautiful the wood looks after being smoothed down! The last step in this process is adding the pen hardware. 

I'm so grateful that there are a million different tools and techniques to make stuff, in the world. I'm never, ever going to run out of new stuff to learn about and try. 

Getting on the weaving bandwagon

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I've noticed that there are an awful lot of rustic weavings/wall hangings showing up in the blogs I follow, lately. For instance, check out this abundantly helpful tutorial at A Beautiful Mess.

This internet-y influence coalesced for me when I discovered a cheap kid's toy at the Goodwill by the pound - a small, fully functional peg loom. And so! It was decided. I've been playing around with tassels, fringes, rya knots and, most excitingly for me, the use of unspun and raw wool locks!

Stay tuned for a much bigger project in the near future, with a janky but effective handmade loom. 

A Little Piece of Good Advice

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I choose to believe that this is referring to a spinning wheel. 

A messy but productive studio

Sunday, June 29, 2014
I have been going through my collection of Lincoln wool locks, and been forced to come to the realization that I have a few too many colorful odds and ends just hanging out. So: I used them! One of the best things about throwing yourself into a craft, in my experience, is that you amass a great store of supplies and materials. With the right mindset, going through your back stock can be a very freeing creative process. See - crazy quilts, collages, anything in a million different color ways and materials. This, as an artsy/crafty person, is why I never have been, and never will be, a minimalist when it comes to possessions.
Lincoln, Shetland and llama fibers, all washed and dyed by yours truly. Not pictured: two other equivalent bins. 
So I spun up an array of mixed up singles from this bounty. I didn't card the wool in this case; I was going for very textural to a little shaggy yarn. The finished product I had in mind would look handmade, in the best way possible - uneven, unexpected, random-but-deliberate. 

Handspun singles - a little bit of everything.

And - there you have it. Above, here is two mega bobbins full of bright, fuzzy, unpredictable yarn, hitting all the color notes I personally love so well - turquoise and fuchsia, dusty pink and warm orange, and natural cream and charcoal gray, among ever so many others. See? Productive.

But wait - there's more: 

You know, I think I've always been someone inspired by three things, primarily:

  1. Process (I love to create something start to finish, and to lose myself in the familiar rhythms of washing, carding, dyeing, etc…); 
  2. Materials (fiber, metal, vintage fabrics - taking a collage/assembly approach to creating); and
  3. Tradition (once again, it's all about losing one's self in familiar rhythms, including those that have existed long before I was born).
I may never be able to pack all my belongings in a single suitcase, or even a car, but I've come to peace with it. Frankly, at the moment, I feel like I'm living the dream.

Ever so many more handspun cowls

Monday, June 23, 2014

I recently got back from a three-week long work/family visit trip to the East Coast. I brought many skeins of handspun - mostly Lincoln wool and llama, hand dyed nice and bright. And I left with eight completed cowls!

My goal is to line these with some reclaimed silk fabric for extra warmth and softness against the skin. Stay tuned for an update on that project (I just got a brand new sewing machine, so fingers crossed that I can make it work properly).

Rainy Day in Portland

Thursday, May 08, 2014
There are certain days here in Spring that make all the colors seem supersaturated - that this coincides with cold, spitting rain is a bit of a necessary inconvenience. 

 I've been quite busy lately, working on a major shop update. I've also been creating a great deal of yarn in bright shades with deep texture and luster - I have gotten a gorgeous hoard of local Lincoln wool, courtesy of my new friends at Growing Seeds Farm, twenty miles away in Corbett, OR. I was lucky enough to be invited to a sheep shearing there last week, which I must say, was a very cool and interesting experience (which I fully intend to document - stay tuned). 

This is a cowl I'm working on which some of that Lincoln, plus a touch of Llama from the same farm. I'm loving the bright, crayola colors and quirky, unpredictable mix of stripes. I'm hoping to list a whole batch of these cowls sometime in the not too distant future. They are incredibly warm, will wear wonderfully, and each one is unique and unreproducible. 

The work in progress is accompanied by a toy llama that I picked up a few months ago in Santiago. Just seemed fitting.