Spinning workshop – Days 2 and 3

Monday was rather a whirlwind of learning. Workshops are strange because in a lot of ways they’re easier than school (less responsibility in the studio because you’ll only be there for a week, etc) but they’re also a lot more difficult because you’re trying to learn a new technique (or perhaps multiple techniques) in just a week’s time! It’s exhausting. It’s a lot easier to stretch the whole thing out over a semester.

Anyway, it’s been a lot of fun despite the amount of work. So Monday we washed out a raw fleece right off the sheep, dyed the clean wool and began spinning.
My first effort was…well it’s technically yarn, but it’s so overtwisted in some areas that it’s probably not actually usable. haha. By the time we’d finished dyeing everything and cleaning the dye kitchen, I was so worn out that I could hardly focus on the motions my hands were supposed to be doing.

Tuesday was strange. Just as Jeanne said, I walked in and could spin…? What?! How did that happen? I’m not really overtwisting much and my yarn is much thinner and more even. (I still need practice, but I’ve got the hand motions down) We fluffed up the dyed fleece (which is beautiful and you’ll get to see it at the end of the week) and learned how to use hand cards and a drum carder. I, surprisingly, like the hand cards. I spun up a lovely (although still totally uneven and slubby) skein of many colors. πŸ™‚ I still have to wash and stretch it to get the kinks out but I’m quite happy with it. I’m thoroughly enjoying the stage of spinning slubby yarn. I know eventually I’ll wish I could do it more easily so I’m quite pleased with everything I’m making right now.

Mom and I also finished picking out my fleece from my sheep and washed it yesterday. By the time we were done washing it, it was 4:30 so we didn’t have time to dye it but at least it’s clean and I can dye it later this week. πŸ™‚ It’s very different from the fleece we have from the Shepherd’s Path (local farm that supplied the wool for the class). I have no idea what type of sheep they have though. That’s the one thing that has been slightly frustrating about the class: Jeanne and Claudia don’t really know much about sheep breeds and don’t really care to learn more. Even before I wanted sheep I was interested in what breeds produced what wool. More than just “Merino sheep have nice soft wool with less scales than other breeds.” But that’s how I am. I guess not everyone cares about that. They both said they prefer to spin from roving and normally don’t mess with buying a whole fleece and washing and dyeing it. So why would it even matter what type of wool it is? Well…I guess the local food movement that I’m now a part of (since I live on an organic farm) has influenced me in other aspects of my life because that’s not good enough for me. I want to know the animal that my wool came from. Weird? Maybe. But I don’t think that’s wrong. It’s just different. And if it’s important to me I think that’s okay.

Anyway, I have no idea what my wool will be like to spin since Suffolks are primarily meat sheep but I figure my sheep are growing wool every year and it has to get sheared so I may as well try to use it. In the hand out we were given at the beginning of the class there was a chart with info on different breeds and their wool quality. Suffolks were listed as, “lightweight, airy fleece, easy to spin.” So that was encouraging.

Perhaps in the future I’ll investigate getting my wool sent off to be processed. It’s so nice. You send it off and it comes back in rolled up balls of roving. πŸ™‚ Well anyway, I need to go get ready for class. Hopefully it’ll be another good day in the studio. I think we’re supposed to be learning to ply today!


Spinning workshop -Day 1

As this week starts, my mom and I are going to be taking a spinning workshop at the craft center!! Ben was so cute he said, “Well it’s repetitive and back breaking so you’re sure to love it.” πŸ™‚ Love that guy. He’s so funny. I have wanted to learn how to spin for years and although it’s rather impractical from a business standpoint, I feel that as a fibers artist, it’s sort of in my job description to learn all that I can about spinning and fibers in general.

We had the basic introduction to the class last night. Jeanne Brady (My fibers instructor from school) and Claudia Lee (a WONDERFUL paper maker/ former full time fiber artist) are co-teaching the class. Jeanne will be teaching the dyeing aspect of the class (Acid dyes!) And Claudia will be teaching the spinning aspect, with assistance from Jeanne. Claudia actually taught Jeanne how to spin when Jeanne first came to the craft center. Claudia was the artist in residence for a year before Jeanne began teaching here.

Anyway, they are both really cool gals and it felt WONDERFUL to be back in the studio where I fell in love with fibers. Last night was so fun! It was just great to be around other people that are excited about fibers and yarn. I didn’t feel like a complete nerd like I normally do when I start to gush over a beautiful hand dyed skein of wool. (While my in-laws love me, they think I’m an EPIC fibers nerd…which is true…but it’s good to know I’m not alone at least)

Speaking of wool, it was EVERYWHERE last night!! I brought my wool from my sheepies (Of which I am quite proud, even if the quality isn’t great and there are second cuts mixed in with the top wool) another lady brought a HUGE bag full of Alpaca over which I was drooling! (She said she’d share though) Plus we get two huge roving balls each (one white, one greyish/tan) and we get to process a raw fleece.

I’m honestly not sure what I’m more excited about, learning to wash, card and dye a raw fleece or learning how to spin it into yarn. Claudia showed us a bunch of things that she’s spun and plied last night to give us an idea of what you can do with spinning. There’s such a COOL design factor you can add by making your own handspun yarn. I’m so glad we’re learning to ply in this class because Claudia had a TON of stuff that was actually just commercial yarn that she plied together. When you ply yarns, you can insert paper scraps, other fibers, bits of yarn (Finally a use for thrums!), even feathers! (which looks awesome, btw) I already have an idea for a cool plied yarn. I saved all the excess fringe I cut off from my hand dyed pillow fronts that I wove for the spring TACA fair because they were so pretty and I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. They are GORGEOUS! Anyway, I think it would be AWESOME to ply some of those into a yarn. πŸ™‚

Class starts at 9:00 today and it can’t come soon enough! Today we’ll be processing the raw fleece. Washing and carding and we’ll do some practice spinning to try to get the hang of it. Jeanne said that it’s horribly frustrating at first but all it takes is one full dark day of spinning and then you’ll get the hang of it. πŸ™‚ I’m sure I’ll get frustrated, but I think going in with the knowledge that it’ll keep breaking and look awful the first time helps and perhaps I won’t get as frustrated? I mean I made it through timing drills in the throwing class. Gracious that was embarrassing. But by the end of it, I had improved my throwing skills so much that I couldn’t make a basic thrown vessel take 5 minutes. I had the thing formed in about a minute.

Anyway, I’ll try to get some pictures this week. I’m basically stealing my mom’s camera. πŸ™‚ Love it! …I need to get a new one. I miss my dear little point and shoot. 😦 Well I have to go get ready to go!

Life update!

I’ve been so busy this past week! (Do I start all my posts like this? …Can’t help it…) Lately I’ve been working mostly on the house and that’s about it. Ben finished building the floor and last wall for the bathroom so my job this week was to find the studs in the wall, screw in the sheet rock, tape the joints, mud everything and then sand it all down. I did everything except the second coat of mud and the sanding in one day. It was intense! But our bathroom is nearly to the same place as our kitchen. As soon as I have the bathroom done we can run electricity to the kitchen! The box is in our bedroom which is next to the bathroom which is next to the kitchen. So logically the bathroom has to be ready for electric before the kitchen can be done.

I still have the living room area, spare/kids bedroom and our bedroom to mud, sand, mud and sand again. AND Ben still has to build the laundry/closet/pantry(?) room yet. (which won’t take that long, really) But it does mean more sheet rock and more insulation. ICK! Satan’s cotton candy!

In other news: I went to the Junior Sheep Expo (4-H) in Cookeville this past week! I dragged Tara along with me (But I think she enjoyed it too!) so I didn’t feel so alone. It was SO fun to see all those lil’ sheepies!! I’m really glad I had someone there to make contact with or else I would have been COMPLETELY lost and uncomfortable. I still felt a little silly but I feel like in just talking to that one lady and her very knowledgeable daughter, I learned a lot about sheep. I still have about a million and one questions, but now I feel like I have this contact in the sheep world that I can call up and ask questions if I need to. I’ll be sad to not be at the farm this week but exciting things are happening!

New look!

As you can see, I played around a bit with the look of my blog and changed the title. I have been meaning to change it to Orchard House Studios ever since I decided on the name of my studio last year…I think I’ve been intimidated to change anything on my own. But I get bored with the same look all the time so I figured I’d switch it up for a while. πŸ™‚

As for a general update on life:
I haven’t been weaving much which is a TOTAL bummer but I just haven’t had time.

We’re trying to do a lot of work Β on the house right now (I seriously need to get another camera….) and it’s coming along slowly. The big developments recently were, obviously, paint colors being chosen, work in the bathroom and most importantly, a window shaker AC unit in our bedroom. I don’t wake up to damp sheets and blankets anymore from all the moisture in the air! Also we can actually sleep now because it’s not scorching at night. The downside to having “air con” is that I never want to leave my bedroom….lol. Of course I’m still doing stuff and don’t actually spend much time in there but I think about it often and fondly throughout the day. hahaha.

Anyway, we bought a gallon of primer and a gallon of paint yesterday so painting can commence! As soon as I’m done with this post…and market day prep…Eww.

Paint! …Soon.

I am hoping to be done mudding the walls and ceiling in the kitchen this week so we can finally PAINT something!! I’m SO excited! We also chose paint colors which means I’m SUPER excited. So within about a week or two from now, I could have a functioning kitchen… πŸ˜€ I can’t get the picture to upload, but here’s a link to the paint color that we’ll be using on the wall…Unless it’s too intense when we get the sample. In that case it will be this color.

We’ll be using either of these colors in combination with greens, browns and grays (and a splash of red in the kitchen and perhaps elsewhere). The idea being something like an impressionist painting. Neither Ben or I are really huge fans of painting as a medium (thanks craft school. You rock…) but we agreed that if you’re going to paint, impressionism is the only real way to go. It’s just beautiful. Anyway, that’s kind of the theme. I think it’s going to be so cool.

I can’t remember if I mention this in my last post but I applied for the fall TACA fair! YAY!! I will find out August 1 if I got in or not. And then the fair is…September…something… 23-25. I looked it up. Β So that will give me about two months to prep and do inventory build up. I need to weave up a bunch more scarves. They sold like hot cakes. So did the berets. So I’ve been knitting like a crazy woman.

The other possibility that I’ll have with the kitchen being painted is moving my other loom out here. Ben said we could possibly put Mac in the kitchen before it’s an actual kitchen. So that would be awesome.

It shouldn’t take me too long to have the living room ready to go once I get going with it. I have a second coat of mud on everything (I think…possibly not the ceiling but I can’t remember right now) so all I’d have to do would be sand, third coat and corners. The corners are kind of annoying but Ben helps me out with them and they go a lot quicker. I WANT MY HOUSE DONE!!