Sunday, July 06, 2014

Felted Drier Balls

 I have a group of drier balls ready for the upcoming Farmers' Market.  I thought you'd like to see them before and after final felting.

Here they are ready (or almost ready...note the color of the bird's beak) for final felting:

Then they get stuffed into an old stocking or two.  I use twisty ties between drier balls to keep them separate.

The balls get soaked in a bucket of water, squeezed to get some water out, and then they go through a cycle in the clothes washer and the drier.  After that, I do a little bit of touch-up needle felting and they are ready to pair together and use.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Farmers' Market...The Experiment Continues

I was at the Farmers' Market again this week and a friend sent me this photo that she took.  This was my third time at the Saturday market.  I had some plans change at the last minute last week and my husband invited me to spend the day at the market, so I did!  Both weeks the weather was beautiful and the crowds friendly and full of familiar faces.  One of my favorite aspects of the market so far is the number of old friends and acquaintances that I see!

On the experimental side...the addition of my new sun umbrella is a big bonus.  It is a "joeshade" umbrella, designed for parents attending unshaded sports events.  It's just the right size for my little set-up.  I'm using about 50 lbs of sand divided into three bags to keep the base stable.  Dryer balls have been a big hit.  Some people are buying them to test the concept.  Others buy them because they are pretty and will make good gifts.  Towels are also selling.  None of the towels sold the first time I was at the market.  People weren't prepared to spend that much money that day.  But the last two weeks I have sold towels as well as the dryer balls, and most of the sales have been to people who saw my things previously and came prepared to buy this time.

I'm not expecting to get to the market again until the second Saturday in July.  I have a new set of towels to weave and more dryer balls to felt, but I'm enjoying the experiment so far!

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Pixie Claws/Wool Combs

I have a new set of wool combs!  These are "Pixie Claws" made by Beth Duncan.  I picked them up on Wednesday, and immediately got to work with some Border Leicester fiber I had washed.  The combs do a great job of opening the fiber, removing vegetable matter, and making ready-to-spin top.  I was  thrilled!  I ordered my set of combs with two rows of tines on one comb and three rows on the other.  My hope is that this will give me the extra combing power of multiple rows of tines, but the lighter weight of a comb that only has two rows of tines.  So far, I have kept the three row comb stationary and have used the two row comb in my hands.

 Here is the Border Leicester after a few passes (I think I was doing a total of four passes, then dizing the fibers off).  You can see the "D" shaped handle on the comb in the back.

 The combs have a holding block that allows them to be used as a hackle.

  Turning one comb upside-down on the other  gives a safe way to store the tines.(which, incidentally are not sharp, just pointed.)

 One comb has two rows, the other three (my preference).  These are the medium tines.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Check out what I'm wearing these days.  :(  It's a wrist brace to help keep my hand in a neutral position to help my poor overworked wrist to heal.  Last week while getting things ready for the Farmers' Market, I hurt my wrist--just doing regular stuff, I had just done too much.  It hurt so much I immediately stopped working and put ice on it.  Ouch.

Now it is doing better.  It's better enough that it is often easier to use my braced hand than it is to slow down enough and use my left hand.  That means I am using it again.  I have to keep reminding myself that the body needs time to heal.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Research and Experimentation

Today was the first phase of my latest research/experimentation.  I had a booth at the local Farmers' Market! The weather was beautiful-sunny, warm, and dry--perfect for being outside!
My "booth" is a 2'x4' folding table.  I was selling my handwoven towels in two sizes (19"x29" and 10"x15") and felted drier balls.  The drier balls were a hit and sold.  The towels were considered "beautiful" and "lovely", but none sold this week.  I'll be back at the market the second Saturday of June and will run the experiment a second time.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bicycle Spinning Wheel

Someday, I would like to have a great or walking wheel.  In the mean time, my husband and I put together this bicycle wheel.  I hope to use it for the 4th Grade Pioneer Day demonstration in May.  

The wheel has a frame built from 2x4 lumber.  All pieces were screwed together using long (~3") deck screws.

The bicycle tire rim is attached to a short section of angle iron which had pre-drilled holes.  Our first version had short (1") screws holding the angle iron to the upright, but it was not stable.  The longer deck screws do a much better job of holding it securely. The axle from the bicycle tire rim is bolted through one of the holes on the vertical side of the angle iron.

The upright is an "L" shaped piece with a slot in it.  It is able to move back and forth and twist a little to tension the drive band.  It is held in place by the wing nut and washers on a bolt that comes up through the 2x4 of the frame.

The spindle is a knitting needle.  I originally used a us#10.5 needle, but recently swapped it for a us#9, because the 9 fit into a straw, which I am using as a bushing to make it easier for it to spin.  The drive band is waxed linen from my leather toolkit.  It does a good job of grabbing onto the slick needle and making it turn.

Many thanks to the following blog posters for their contributions:

 Rosemary Knits --proof of concept that this type of wheel could work!
 Ed Jenkins --beautiful walking wheels, and the idea for the L-shaped upright.
Alden Amos --I discovered Alden's t-frames after constructing the first version of this wheel.  This is cheaper, but I imagine that his require less fiddling! (And they look so pretty!)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Color Blending for Fiber Artists

I was thrilled to have students sign up to take my color blending class at the Fiber Event this year.  My four students blended their own 12-hue color wheel, each color blended from combinations of red, blue, and yellow.  We spent some time identifying colors in photographs and discussing different ways to use those colors in a fiber project.  It was a fun class!  A big "thank you" to all my students!

Supplies ready to go for the Color Blending class at The Fiber Event.

Here are some photos from a color blending project I finished this week and took to show my class.  The little baggies in the center contain fibers.  The bag on top were the original colors.  The lower bag are the colors after I blended them.  I ordered the original colors into an approximate color wheel and then blended each color with some of the colors to each side of it.  50% of the blend is the "main color"; 25% of the blend is from the adjacent colors.  I love how blending the colors ties them together!

The scarf is a modification of the pattern "Wingspan" from Ravlery.  It was once a free pattern, but has been expanded and is no longer free.  I liked having the information on how to tweak the pattern that is included in the paid version.  The scarf is a series of shifted triangles which gives it a tendency to curve.  It didn't take much to make the scarf into a circle for this photo! -- The cast on color is the red; the cast off color is the red-purple.

Here's a closeup of the colors of the Merino fibers.  As dyed on top; as blended on the bottom.