Everything for the weaver, spinner, knitter, felter and dyer...

Everything for the weaver, spinner, knitter, felter and dyer...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Gift

I just presented my SIL with a gift. This is a special birthday for her and I wanted to create something special for her. First I hand painted the silk fiber.

Then I spun the yarn and plied it.

Next I warped the loom and wove the scarf.

The pattern is called Swedish Lace.

Happy Birthday!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fiber Kiln...

I have been dyeing ever increasing amounts of spinning fiber and yarns. Between stocking the shop, providing for the monthly fiber clubs, and selling to other shops around the country, wet yarns and fibers can be seen drying on any given day everywhere! This was behind the inspiration for the fiber kiln. In my experience, a lot of good ideas begin with a glass of wine. A lot of bad ideas begin with too much wine; but that's for another blog episode. This idea occurred over a meal and a glass at 3 Tides in Belfast with my husband Chris, brother-in-law Phil, and sister-in-law Karna.

What I needed was a way to decrease the amount of time it took for the dyed fiber to dry. If it was a warm, sunny, slightly breezy day here in Maine, great! If not, I could plan on 3 days from dyeing to packaging. How could I shorten that time frame? The Swedes use a drying cabinet in the Tvättstuga  (laundry room). Those Swedes are so smart.

First Karna found 9 doors at an auction for $5. Phil picked them up and delivered them to Purple Fleece. A few days later, tools in hand, assembly began. After measuring, cutting, and removing old hardware, one door became the floor, 2 for the back, 2 for the front, one for either side, and a piece of plywood for the top. An exhaust fan was mounted through the plywood top ($11 at Lowe's, thank you friend Richard), a socket for a 200 watt light bulb for heat with dimmer switch was mounted on the floor, some exterior painting to jazz up the doors, weather stripping pasted on the front 2 doors where they meet and voila! The Fiber Kiln was born.

Here are the first hand painted rovings hanging in the Fiber Kiln. The light bulb elevated the temperature in the enclosure by almost 10 degrees. The exhaust fan kept the air circulating and the moisture was expelled into the room air.

Less than 24 hours later, I'm packaging up "Purple Reign". It's a huge success. Thanks to everyone who helped to make this a reality.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Common Ground Country Fair...

All of Maine awaits the 4th weekend of September. That's when the Common Ground Country Fair takes place each year in Unity, Maine. Unlike any other fair in the country, it is host to an amazing display of vendors, demonstrations, classes, performers, and fair goers from all walks of life.

Katie Jarius displays her knitted shawl from her new wool/mohair yarn.

Carriages pulled by horses, oxen, and tractors abound here at the fair...

Water whirligigs across the road from my booth.

The Morris dancers preparing for their performance...

The bicycle brigade...

Walking on stilts is a great way to get around.
Put it on your calendar for next year and perhaps I'll see you there...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to weaving...

Some days are more frantic than others. Every now and then, I have a day where I feel like I've almost caught up. Today is one of those days so I headed to the loom for a bit of weaving. I'm down to a grand total of 5 sets of cotton hand towels for sale in the shop so guess what I'm working on?

Friday, August 12, 2011

More techie stuff...

I'm planning some travel in the spring. More about that in a future post. I'm trying to get all my ducks in a row and want to be able to blog on the fly. So here's my first attempt from my smart phone.

I've been feverishly weaving hand towels. There's been a run on them lately. I've wound my longest warp ever this time; 25 yards. That should keep me out of trouble for a while!

Back to weaving...

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, July 18, 2011

A day off the farm....

I spend a lot of time at Purple Fleece. As a matter of fact, I've been known to tremble with excitement if I go to Searsport or Belfast. So imagine how I felt yesterday climbing into my friend Colleen's car armed with a GPS and appointments to visit 3 fiber businesses in Waldoboro, Maine.

Our first stop was Cloud Hollow Farm. Owned and run by Bob and Erin Weintraub, this sustainable practice farm has geese, ducks, horses, and 40 alpacas. We had an incredible tour of the farm, a delicious lunch prepared by Erin, and an education about breeding alpaca for fiber with fineness and crimp comparable only to the vicuna.

Who wouldn't love this face?

Mom stands still as her baby nurses....

Three baby cria...

Bob and Erin Weintraub of Cloud Hollow Farm

Next on our list of fiber places to visit in Waldoboro was Rite-Way Scouring, owned and operation by Mike and Tina Fairfield. What began as an oriental rug cleaning business has now expanded into a fiber washing business as well. They have the amazing capacity to wash 200 to 300 pounds of fiber a day with the help of a beast called "the train".

Welcome to Rite-Way...

Mike explaining how the train works...

This gives you a better idea of how massive the train is.

Mike and Tina Fairfield of Rite-Way Scouring

By now we're running a bit behind schedule but a quick call from NEWAIM Fiber Mill gets us right back on track. Off we go to see how the fiber gets turned into roving and yarn.

Our hosts for this part of our adventure are Al Maloney and Nancy Williams.

Washing 9 pounds of alpaca fiber. Alpaca likes to float so the plunger is used to submerge the fiber.

Once dry, the fiber can go through many machines: the picker, the de-hairer, the carder, the roving machine, and perhaps the yarn spinner, plyer, and skeiner or coner.

This is "007", a rare breed CVM/Romeldale ram, saying goodbye to us...

Thank you to all these wonderful people who gave up a Sunday to share their experience and wisdom and hopes and dreams with us. We loved every minute!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More geekiness...

There's a teeny-weeny part of me that loves new technology. This month I purchased a new "smart" phone as opposed to my old "stupid" phone. So now I'm the owner of new iPhone 4G in white. Apparently a white iPhone is really a coveted thing so I had to get one along with a purple rubber protection thingy.

I had a very good reason for justifying the expense of a smart phone. I had seen the Square in action at a fiber festival a few weeks ago. The Square is a little gadget that plugs into your phone and allows you to swipe a credit card for a purchase on the spot. You know right away if a card is good. I can also accept cards that I haven't been able to in the past such as American Express.  I've been using it in the shop and it is really cool.

I'm also assisting on a fiber event taking place this fall. I've been working on the website and making it possible for people to sign up for classes online and pay by credit card. This has been fun and has gone relatively smoothly.

Now back to our regularly scheduled fiber-y things!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spring is in the air....

Spring here on the Maine coast has been postponed for lack of enthusiasm. It's been cold and wet. It's the end of May and the lilacs have at long last budded. I can't wait to sniff that first full scent of lilacs in bloom. Despite the weather, the spring fiber festivals have been exceptional. Next weekend, June 4th & 5th, will be the last one in a long series for me this spring. The 11th annual Fiber Frolic will be held at the Windsor Fairgrounds in Maine. I am both a vendor and an instructor.

On Saturday morning, I'll be teaching "Spinning 101" for those that would like to try their hands at a spinning wheel. I have two more wheels to assemble this week for students.
In the afternoon, it's "Drop Spindling" time. Looking for an inexpensive, easily transportable, way to make your own yarn. Here's the class for you. Learn to spin using a hardwood top whorl drop spindle.

I've kept the dye pots going all week getting hand painted roving wreaths ready for this weekend. The display stand was looking a little bare. Now it's fully stocked again.

Stop by the booth and say hello. I'll look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A few days in Texas...

I'm recently back from visiting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law at their home in Texas. It had been 12 years since our last visit and long overdue. The lure of warmer weather after such a long winter sealed the deal. My husband and I left Bangor with many layers of clothing but by the time we landed in Austin, they had been shed. Here we are being met by the newest member of the clan, Chanel.

March was yarn bombing month in Austin, Texas. We visited the local art museum and the trees have all been dressed in colorful knitting.

We made a few outings to "local" fiber shops. (You know that's what I do when I'm on vacation.) You'll notice the parentheses around local. That's because everything is relative in Texas. Fifty miles is still considered local. The first one was Old Oaks Ranch, an alpaca farm with a lovely knitting/spinning/weaving shop. I met with Sue Ellen, the owner, and we compared notes on the fiber industry.

This is wildflower time in Texas; bluebonnets (similar to lupines), Indian paintbrush, and cacti are all thriving. There's been a drought so it's not as green as it might otherwise be.

The other shop I visited was called Yarnorama and the owner, Susan, is also a weaver, spinner, and dyer. We chatted about roving clubs, dyeing, marketing, etc.

Last, but not least, I taught my sister-in-law, Carolyn, to weave on a rigid heddle loom that we had delivered to her home just in time for my visit. She wove her first pot holder using her very own hand spun yarn too. Nice job, Carolyn!

Now it's back to work. Lot's of exciting things coming up soon....

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm all about color...

Color is important; especially at this time of year. Everything outside my window looks so muted; gray skies, dirty white snow on patches of brown, gray water, and, of course, it doesn't help that we have so few hours of sunlight on those days when the sun shines.

Natural colored fleece is great; whites, grays, black, moorit, tan. Natural dyes are great; shades of yellow and green more often than not. Give me a vivid purple (of course), fire engine red, cobalt blue, fuchsia pink, a lime green and I'm happy.

So here's what I'm working on currently. The woven hand towels on my loom:

and I'm designing a thrummed hat:

and recently out of the dye pot:

Take that winter!