Last month, record-breaking snow. This month, so far, rain rain rain! But as that snow was getting washed away, the tips of the first spring flowers emerged. Another sign of spring are these baby lambs whose picture I took last week when I helped my friend Deb with shearing at Forevermore Farm:
I came away with fleece, of course, which will eventually get cleaned and carded and show up in my shop. But in the meantime, thoughts of spring have been inspiring my dyepots, which have been busy lately with new colors of wool top:
and Bluefaced Leicester top:
Also dyed, and premiering this weekend at the Homespun Yarn Party are kettle-dyed spring colors of Falklands top, and lustrous, deliciously soft shades of mulberry silk top!
Speaking of which… if you’re in the VA/MD/DC area, don’t miss out on a great chance to visit my shop, and 39 other indie spinners/dyers/fiberistas this weekend in Savage Maryland, at the Homespun Yarn Party. Date/time is Sunday March 21, 12 – 5 p.m. More details and directions to be found here: http://homespunyarnparty.blogspot.com/
Whether you’ve spun miles of yarn or your first ‘beginner yarn’ is still in the future, wouldn’t you love to spend a day playing with fiber and spinning wheels, making friends and mastering something new? That sounds like my kind of fun!
I’ll be leading three spinning workshops this spring for the Heritage Crafts Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia (in the eastern panhandle, so close to MD/VA/DC). Which one is right for you?
Wow, it was a busy fall! Max the cat is doing great– healed up nicely. Somehow Christmas came, and went. I guess you could still call it a ‘white, Christmas’ since the remains of 21 inches of snow were still on the ground. My street became a winter wonderland:
I didn’t do a lot of holiday gift knitting this year, but I did manage to fulfil my 11 year-old daughter’s request for a scarf made from handspun yarn (blue, with silver sparklies). She helped me select the fibers (merino, silk, tencel, bamboo and angelina) and card up a batt, which I corespun to make this yarn:
Which became this knitted scarf and fingerless mitts:
I’m spending the last week of this year making plans for the next. I’ve created a ‘Clearance Sale’ section in my etsy shop (http://www.wildhare.etsy.com) and filled it with handspun yarns and spinning fibers marked 25% off — lots of good stuff in there, I’m just ready to spice up the shop with some new items for the New Year! Here are a few of the sale items:
First there was the Fall Fiber Festival at Montpelier.
Then I had a spot in the traditional handcrafts section at the ‘Festival of Leaves’ in downtown Front Royal – mostly I was there to demonstrate and only took a small part of my inventory, but I did sell some things, and got to meet a lot of local people, both other knitter/crafters, and some people who had never seen spinning before!
Next, it was to the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in Berryville – I love this show! Indoors, nice people, great attendance, but not too crazy. Lots of people took the opportunity to test drive one of the Spinolution wheels.
The highlight for me was when Barbara D, a brand new spinner who tested a Mach II at Montpelier then ordered one came to my booth to show off her first skeins of handspun - and they’re gorgeous!
Barbara gives credit to the wheel, which she said is so easy to understand and spin on — but I know natural talent has something to do with it too! Congrat, Barbara, on some lovely handpun (I’m sure there are baskets-ful sitting around your house by now!)
That’s it for 2009 as far as wool festivals are concerned, but I’m only mid-way through shows this season.
Next up — the DC Craft Mafia ‘Holiday Heist’ at the Soundry in Arlington, VA on November 21st. I’m really excited about this one – it’s a juried show, with an ‘urban vibe.” I was really excited to be selected to participate – I’ll be focusing more on handspun and finished items, though I’ll still have some spinning fiber along, for anyone who wants to stop by for a fiber fix.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I’m considering hosting a Spin & Knit-In at my house. Maybe with some warm cider, a few cookies, wheels to test and yarns/fibers to fondle as we sit around and work on Christmas knitting. Does that sound fun? If you’re nearby and would like an invite, please send me a note.
Soon after than, look for me at the ‘Downtown Holiday Shop & Stroll’ in Silver Spring Maryland on December 5th, another juried show, this one outside, so I’ll need to be wearing as well as selling my woolies!
Last, but not least by any means, is the ‘Handmade Holiday Boutique’ in downtown Front Royal. This is in my hometown, and I’m one of the organizers. It is being held in the Blue Ridge Arts Council gallery on Main Street, and is also a juried show, for quality handcrafts of all kinds (made by the vendor – no imports, resells, etc). Vendor applications are still being accepted through November 16th, so if you know of someone who may wish to participate, please let them know! Contact me with an e-mail address and I’ll get an application to you right away. Oh, and mark your calendars for these events, and come see me! If you can’t make it, you can always shop online! My etsy shop is stocked and ready!
After weeks of frantic preparation (many many pounds of wool dyed), the first festival of the fall season is now a pleasant memory. This weekend Wild Hare Fiber Studio set up shop under a tent at the Fall Fiber Festival at Montpelier (http://www.fallfiberfestival.org). Gotta share the pictures!:
Here’s the first sight people saw as they approached
Spinolution wheels to test-spin, and a baker’s rack of hand-dyed wool top and crazy blended batts.
Handspun yarns of every kind
Local Coopworth wool rovings from my friend Debbie’s ‘Forevermore Farm” — some dyed by me, others blended with silk, sparkles or other add-ins to make specialty tweeds.
And in the midst of it all, a big display rack of handpainted superwash merino braids!
If you were there too, thank you so much for stopping by! If you missed this festival, never fear. This weekend (Oct. 10th), I’ll be demonstration spinning with a limited selection of shop items at the Heritage Crafts Village in the Front Royal Festival of Leaves. Then, on October 24th and 25th, on to another big 2-day wool festival: The Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in Berryville, VA — a great location for folks in the DC metro area! That web site is http://www.shenandoahvalleyfiberfest.com if you want to check it out/get directions. I’m still working on a few new surprises for this show that weren’t at Montpelier — and if you can’t make the shows, keep an eye on my etsy shop, and I’ll be adding more new fall items all the time!
See those pretty colors? Can you believe that they all came from natural dyes? What you see are the sample rovings that resulted from the first day of the Sheep Shed Fiber retreat with Carol Lee that I attended recently (and blogged about in my last post). Now that I’m back home, one of my goals is to spin these natural colors up and use them together in a project. So far I’ve completed:
Cochineal with alum mordant (cochineal is from little red bugs that grow on cactus — and if you think that’s icky, remember that silk comes out of a worm’s backside … eeewww!).
Black oak bark with a copper mordant
And these two skeins, which are dyed with logwood. The darker bluer one is with an iron mordant. The purpley one is with alum.
I’ve barely scratched the surface with natural dyes… not sure whether to plunge in and get wrapped up in another fibery-obsession or not! There’s always something new to learn! As I try to restrain myself and at least spin up what I’ve already got, I couldn’t resist signing up for another one-day Natural Dye workshop. It can’t hurt to see how another person does it, right? So assuming I get a space, next month I’ll spend a Saturday doing natural dyes with Priscilla Blosser-Rainey at her farm in Virginia, to complement my day with Carol Lee at her Wyoming homestead!
Spinning doesn’t usually top the lists of portable activities, but that’s starting to change with the increase in the number of portable spinning wheels that have become available in recent years. My personal choice is the Bee, by Spinolution, which was designed to fold down and fit under an airline seat! Lightweight in size, but not features: the Bee has a full range of ratios (1:4 – 1:36), and 3+oz bobbin, rocker-treadle, and open orifice, all weighing in at 13 lbs!
I recently returned from a wonderful mini-vacation, spinning and dyeing with Carol Lee at the Sheep Shed Studio in Wyoming (that’s Carol in the dyepot picture). I took my Bee along, tucked inside a 20″ rolling duffle along with my clothing. I made it through airport security without a hitch, and it fit nicely in the overhead bins as I flew from the east coast to Dallas, then in to Denver. I did gate check it on the final leg of the journey home in order to get a stand-by seat on an earlier plane. That went fine too, although I did have the bag packed tightly, with lots of padding around the flyer assembly. There is a custom-designed bag available for the Bee that will allow it to fit under an airline seat, but I wanted the wheels (and room for my other clothing), so the duffle worked for me! If you want more info on this wheel, please send me a note (I’m a Spinolution dealer and would love to help you out!)
Here are some more pictures of all the fun Bee and I had in Wyoming: