Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tunis Fleece Makes Good Yarn

Way back in the spring, one of my co-workers gave me a fleece (wool from a sheep) that she wasn't going to have time to spin.  It was a Tunis fleece from one of the sheep at Conner Prairie and it was lovely!  The wool is soft enough to use next to the skin, and so springy that it is fun to spin!

I started spinning this back in March and had it all spun into singles a month or two ago, but it wasn't until yesterday that I finished plying.  Hooray!

The fleece yielded 8 skeins of 2-ply yarn, 200-300 yds per skein.  That's 1600-2400 yds of yarn. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rapunzel's Tower

A few years ago I made a number of felted pieces on fairy tale themes.  This is Rapunzel's Tower.  She's headed out of the house today and I thought I'd at least post her picture and some text I wrote when I made her.

- - - -

Rapunzel’s Tower

Did you ever have something you wanted to keep safe?  How did you protect it?  Did you put it in a tower and lock it away from the world?

Did your safety measures work?

I used to work in the aerospace industry with solid rocket fuel.  I remember discussions about keeping the fuel and engines loaded with fuel safe from contaminates.  And then there were the reports that even in special, clean storage facilities insects got into the engines…Our attempts at keeping the fuel clean failed.

The wicked witch’s attempt at keeping Rapunzel safe failed too. 

My great-grandmother made pillows as gifts for my brother and me.  Each had an animal cross-stitched on front.  They were fun pillows! They were just the right size to lean against for reading, comfy to hug, and dense enough that they were GREAT pillow-fight weapons.  Unfortunately, my grandmother was visiting when one of our pillow fights broke out.  Oh, the scolding we received!   The take home message from the scolding was that we should treasure these gifts and keep them safe.  I don’t think my grandmother knew that we did treasure them.  We used them, we loved them, and we made great memories with them.  Eventually, they wore out. The physical pillows are gone.  The memories remain.

I wonder about all the things we keep safe.  Are we doing ourselves a dis-service?  Are there other ways to keep something safe and to protect it, while still allowing it to function?  I wonder what we will change because we have considered Rapunzel’s tower.

Keep safe!  Stay warm!  Enjoy the journey!
Jessica Madsen
Fiber Artist/needle felter


Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Joy of a Little Jog

A friend of mine asked if I do commissioned work.  She needed some felted animals with poseable limbs.   I had done some felting over wire armatures, but not enough to know if what she wanted was possible.  So, I did a test.  The prototype worked beautifully.  Now I'm hard at work on the four animals my friend wants, but I've also started exploring other ways to use wire armatures, like making bodies for the heads in my felted head collection.

This gal is felted mostly from Romney wool roving.  I chose to start with her because that I knew that her face was made from the Romney wool and thus it would be easy to match her face color with her body color.  Under the wool of her body is a wire armature.  I have enjoyed watching Sara Renzulli's YouTube videos on using wire armatures.  I intentionally did not spend much time sculpting or hard felting this doll's body.  I just wanted to see if the concept would work.  She is roughly 1 foot tall and her dimensions are based on the artistic idea that humans are roughly 7.5 "heads" tall.  (Check out this reference.)  I am thrilled as all get out!  Now I can move forward and provided bodies for more of my heads....see them waiting patiently for their turn?! :)

Many thanks to my friend Kathy H. at Athens Art Gallery for a little push in the right direction!

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Hurry Up (Slowly) and Wait

I put on a long (for me) warp as an experiment over the Christmas Holidays.  I thought that I was going to have lots of time to sit and weave and that this project would fly off the loom.  It turns out I was wrong...all around!

It's February and I am beginning to see the light at the end of my seven yard tunnel.  The piece is deflected double weave, 36" wide, in 10/2 cotton and fine wool (18/2??).  And, I am embarrassed to say, the entire piece is a sample.  I want this to shrink and puff to make some shawls, and I think it will, but I haven't proved it yet!  I am slowly making progress...between 4" and 20" a day.

The current challenge is that I'm not finished with this piece and I have already warped the next loom.  Here are the dobby bars...

...and the threaded loom:

 And everything is waiting for me to free up some shuttles!  Here are the five I am using on my plaid project!
Gah!  Guess it's time to get back to weaving!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Christmas Quilts, part "finale"

I've been working on these quilts for some time now.  It was 2010 when I realized that my children were growing and we would someday no longer be able to fit all five of us on the couch comfortably and snuggle under the Christmas Quilt.  That's when I decided that each of my children needed their own quilt.  These are small--~60"x70"--but big enough to snuggle under while we read from our advent story book.  I took a year and made all the blocks, one pattern each month.  Then, one per year, I made the quilt tops and quilted them.  Yesterday I finished the last one.  
Each of the quilts is unique...the backings are different, the order of the blocks are different, even a few of the blocks were intentionally put together in different ways.  I love having each of the kids snuggled under their quilts.  I love how they carefully fold them when they are done and choose which pattern will show.  I am grateful for these peaceful moments!

Here's a piece that I've just started to weave.  It's a wide piece--~34"--about as wide as I like to go on my 36" loom.  The plan is to weave differential double weave and have the cotton colors form bubbles as the wool (it's a tan--four threads between the cotton colors) shrinks.  We'll see if things go according to plan!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Green Projects

This photo is green, but in reality this project has lots of colors....red, green, white.  It's my daughter's Christmas Quilt.  The odd pin-like-thing is a basting pin.  The top and back are done.  The two are pin-basted.  Now it's time to decide if I'm going to quilt with or without a frame.

This green project was a gift to my daughter.  She designed a doll recently and the poor doll had no clothes.  So, I used some quilting scraps (see project above) and made a pair of pants for the doll, then found a bit of t-shirt ribbing and made a shirt.  Viola!  Green outfit!

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Yesterday was a good day to harvest tomatoes and peppers from our garden.  I got over 5 lbs. of orange tomatoes!  These are roughly baseball sized fruits and taste wonderful!  I chopped everything up and made salsa.  The photo above shows everything except the 4 cups of onion in my pasta pot.  That was when I realized I needed a bigger pot and brought out one of my big applesauce pots!

Here it is already to cook (in the bigger pot!).  As I filled canning jars I was asked, "Have you tasted it?".  True to form, I hadn't!  We tasted some right then and declared it good! Whew! I do love the bright orange color that these tomatoes give to the salsa!