Monday, April 23, 2007

Getting ready for MS&W!

First, I want to show you what is happening in my part of the world right now:

This is a Stayman apple tree. We live on almost 6 acres in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It's a long, narrow piece of property, and most of it is in disused pasture, but when we bought our house, the whole front section was an orchard. There were mainly damson plum trees, with two apples, a few apricots and four pear trees, but the trees had been neglected for many years and although we carefully pruned them every year, eventually almost all of them died.

The two apples remain, and they are so beautiful this time of year.

Here is another color riot to share! This is my order of Fleece Artist and Handmaiden yarns to sell in my booth at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. I have gotten everything priced and ready to go. I've got lots of Merino 2/6 sock yarn and the new Seawool sock yarn - a wool and Seacell blend that is very soft with a lovely sheen.

I ordered an assortment of rovings in merino, BFL, wool/silk, and alpaca/wool. And a little bit of cashmere...and puppets!

Wooly sheep from Folkmanis:

And the
new fluffy ram hand puppets.

We will have an entire menagerie to play with in the booth.
If you want to see more, come and visit us:
- Peace Weavers - in the big building, 3rd booth on the right hand wall.
We will also have lots of Peace Fleece yarn, patterns, needles & buttons.
My sisters are all coming to help, Miss R & friends, nephews, nieces.
It's going to be a lot of fun.

I'm knitting up a storm - I've finished my Clapotis scarf in Fleece Artist Scotian Silk. This is the yarn that I tried to make into an EZ Ribwarmer vest. I have two skeins of Scotian Silk in a lovely blue-green mix to have another go at the vest now.

I've got a plain sock finished in the Seawool, and the Bordello sock pattern to the heel flap. I felted my Fiber Trends Felted Clogs this morning - I'm still trying to rinse the soap out. The clogs are knitted in Fleece Artist BFL Aran - they look great. I'll try to get a photo up tomorrow.

I've got a Fiber Trends Nuts About Squirrels felted squirrel about halfway done - I'm working on the tail. I need to finish the squirrel so I can felt it next weekend so it has plenty of time to dry.

And the Peace Fleece corgi is languishing...I have two sides knitted but I am hung up for some reason on the underbelly. I think I just need to draw the colors in on the chart and get back to the knitting. I'd like to have it done to show off the new Lauren's Coral color. We will see.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spring Break

We've been taking our annual family vacation during Clarke County public schools spring break for the last 6 years. Because our Bluemont events are so busy all summer long and over the winter break, this is the best time for us to get away.

This year we returned to Sandbridge Beach, ten miles south of Virginia. It was our third visit to Sandbridge; we like it there because it's only 4 hours from home, and it's convenient to Richmond (Lily) and Irvington (Peter' Mom). So with a little planning, we can get both our Moms and most of our daughters together.

Hannah actually flew to Richmond midweek and did some interviews there for prospective internships for the coming summer, and then she & Lily drove out to the beach Thursday night - so we were all together Friday and had an early birthday party for Mrs. D (Peter's Mom). Between Lily's friends and Ruby's friends we had a total of 14 people staying at the house, but not all at the same time!

Hannah cut her hair off when Lily's hair began to come back in, so they both have very, very short hair. They both look really cute, but Lily's hair is soft and fine and Hannah's is coarse and thick - like mine. I didn't take many photos at the beach, but I got Hannah & Lily in Richmond:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Visiting Penland

My friend Beth Johnson is teaching an 8 week fiber intensive class at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. She invited me to come down to be a guest instructor for 2 days and although the timing was tough, my husband and my work partner said I had to go - so I went!

Spring is a wonderful time to drive south. Every hour brings new species in bloom. I got so excited when I spotted the first redbud blooming! Here is a view from the school:

And the weaving studio:
My primary role was to conduct a wool waulking - the traditional Scottish method of finishing wool tweed and blanketing after it comes off the loom. The web is sewn end to end into a loop and wetted thoroughly. Then it is placed on a table, and a group of people grasp the cloth, thump it down on the table and pass it to their neighbor, in a sunwise or clockwise direction. The rhythm is maintained with songs sung to a steady beat: the singer sits or stands at the head of the table and starts the song. The songs generally have a chorus, which the participants join in.

We had lots of cloth to waulk:

And we had a blast, singing, thumping, laughing. There were libations, and snacks - Marge Warren supplied shortbread and haggis rolls! Here is Marge in her traditional garb:

Marge and Beth both teach at the Campbell Folk school - that is how we met. They both teach tartan weaving, among other things. Marge very generously shared with me her notebook from her District Checks class. I am planning a Tweeds & District Checks class to teach the The Mannings this fall, and I was glad to see her work and talk with her about yarn sources.

I also did lecture/demos each morning on 18th c. rugs, Acadian weaving traditions, and early linen weaves.

Beth has studied weaving in Japan, and the students were wrapping skeins of cotton for Kasuri ikat weaving. I wound a set of skeins and dipped them in the indigo pot and brought them home to weave sometime. Ikat is a fascinating tradition - I just love the cloth. Here are skeins ready dyed and a student sample on the loom:

Beth had a book a fabric samples from one of the studios where she had studied.

I'm going to try to get her to come up to Virginia and teach a class on Kasuri/ikat dyeing and weaving. Anyone want to come?

Here are my skeins drying on the clothesline and the bucket with all the resist ties - I liked the way they looked...

OK, I've been busy!

Really, I have. Since I last posted, I have traveled to:
Medina, Ohio to teach a tartan weaving class
and present a program for the Medina Guild meeting,
Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina to be a Guest Instructor for 2 days,
and Sandbridge Beach for a week with my family!


It was all good. I managed to fly out of Dulles airport in spite of the ice and then snowstorm on a day when 40% of the flights were cancelled. The Medina Guild was delightful and I've started a new set of tartan weavers on the road to happy tartan weaving. I sang a program of sheep/spinning/weaving songs for the guild meeting and gave a brief talk about tartan history and design.

I had a great time staying at Laura's house and talking for 5 days - every once in a while, I meet a woman who is nearly my same age and there are chapters of life context that we already share and we can just plunge into the serious female life talk, like sisters. It was fun.

Here is a blurry Laura, feeding her sheep.

She & her husband live in a wonderful old house full of antiques, old stuff. They are 17th century re-enacters,and Laura is an accomplished seamstress. She showed me some truly beautiful clothes she has made - gowns, tartan trews for her husband, a truly hysterical wig made from merino roving! I had to confess that the dress I wear for 18th c. fairs has a zipper in the back... but it's always covered with shawls. I'm inspired to make a better costume now.

We visited the Shaker Museum in Shaker Heights, spent a happy hour in a terrific Goodwill store and she gave me a lesson on making shirred rugs. She has made several - there was one in my bedroom, and a chair pad on this rocker:

I will leave you with some tartan richness and do a separate post about Penland.